Episode 11 – Things That Give Us Joy

As I was eating Talenti chocolate gelato (dark chocolate with semisweet chocolate slivers and a touch of vermouth….amazing!) right out of the container this afternoon while binge-watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix, those two actions made me think about how much of what makes me happy involves people and food. (And to digress a bit, can I just say SOUTHERN BUTTER PECAN!!!)

My daughter-in-law is transforming her house since watching the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. The premise of Marie’s show, and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is that we should only hold onto the things that spark joy (her term).

I’ve written often about the fact that we’ve downsized significantly, but there’s still more to do. When we go back to Ontario at the end of April, we’ll retrieve the 4 bins that we stored with son #2, and I’ll subject them to Marie’s “method” : empty them all onto the floor and then pick up each item individually and see if it still “sparks joy”. Having happily lived without all those things for 5 months, I suspect most of them will get packed up for the local charity store. I hope the fact that I took good care of clothes and shoes means they will give someone else joy.

We donated our hundreds (not an exaggeration) of books to the University Women”s Club book drive as part of our first downsize from house to condo and now either read on our tablets or use the local library. Reading sparks joy for both of us, but we don’t need to own the books.

One down….. one to go!

We also had hundreds of music CDs, which Ted uploaded to the cloud before we got rid of the physical media. Now we can enjoy our music wherever we are.

Last spring when we decided to become nomadic, I took the thousands of 4” x 6” photos collected from 1978 through 2008, before we started keeping files digitally, out of their bulky binders and put each year into a 5×8 labelled envelope. They all now fit into a single file cabinet drawer. One of Ted’s ongoing projects when we’re not on the road is to scan them all to “the cloud”, where our kids can access them. There is no question that looking at and talking about those photos gives us joy; storing and transporting them does not.

We still have furniture, housewares and artwork in storage in Mississauga. Hopefully most of it will find a home with our kids as they expand their living spaces, but with every passing month, it becomes easier to envision selling or donating what they cannot use…. or what does not give THEM joy.

I won’t presume to speak for Ted here, but “stuff” aside, it feels like I have also downsized relationships as I’ve aged. You can’t dump all your acquaintances on the floor and go through them one by one, but that process seems to have happened organically. I’ve grown apart from some people with whom I shared great joy in my younger years. After both my parents were gone, I downsized relationships that were more like obligations on their behalf instead of joy for me. On the flip side, that has allowed me to reconnect with extended family in happy, positive ways, and take the time to nurture important friendships that enrich my life.

When I check in with friends on Facebook, Skype with my grandsons, Facetime with my girlfriends, WhatsApp across the ocean with my cousins, have company for dinner, make theatre or travel plans with family, share thoughts and experiences through our blog, or just share ice cream in front of the TV, it sparks joy. THOSE are the things I never want to downsize!


  1. You are amazing, my dear friend.
    You and Ted have certainly, in just a short time, captured the feeling of what “the next chapter” is all about. After 7 years, we have yet to come anywhere near!
    I admire your ability to be able to weed out and differentiate between comfort items and cumbersome clutter.
    Again, I take another page from your delightful book of life and try to live up to at least the first chapter!
    Bravo my friend.


  2. Rose, you and Ed have really imbraced this lifestyle. With almost five ( cannot believe that) years into this nomadic lifestyle ourselves, I feel like life sparks joy every day. I agree with so many of your points, especially the relationship part. We are constantly making new friends, but my best friend, John, is always with me. I am so blessed that he and I, like you and Ed, are both on board with these crazy lifestyles we lead. Enjoy!


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