1 Sunshine Coast | Traveling Light Blog by Travel Writer Colleen Friesen

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Just the Facts Ma’am


Jack Webb
“Oh,” she said, raising one eyebrow while laughing, “you can’t think of it that way or you’ll never get through it.”

The woman in question is actually my lovely niece. She was responding to our current downsizing. We had run into each other as Kevin and I were coming out of the liquor store with (yet another!!) load of free boxes.  As a joke I listed what we were trying to sort through in order to make our big (or should I say small?) move.

You might think I’d have said enough on this topic. You might, in fact, be secretly hoping that I couldn’t possibly have any more to say on this subject.

But I have been trying to understand why this whole effort seemed to be taking so much time and realized that the simple facts tell the whole story.

So here are just the facts, ma’am, nothing but the facts (you can listen to the proper intonation of those famous words at this link).

The facts then, are these:

  • 15 years ago we downsized from a 3800 sq ft house in Mission
  • We moved to a 625 sq ft house in Sechelt  (with a 600 sq-ft basement)
  • We lived in Sechelt for 15 years
  • During that time we ripped off the roof, added a second floor, built a myriad of outbuildings and stuffed the basement full of oddments
  • 7 years ago, along with another couple, we purchased a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver’s Yaletown. We shared it as our jointly-owned pied-a-terre, and then…
  • For 3 of those years we rented out the apartment
  • Nearly 2 years ago the renters moved out and we bought out our partners
  • We started living in Vancouver more-or-less full time
  • Whenever there was something we didn’t know what to do with?
  • We drove it over to Sechelt and dumped it there
  • Sechelt is now sold (though we still have more time to finish clearing it out)
  • The Yaletown apartment is now sold
  • We move to our new one-bedroom apartment tomorrow morning


If you add these facts together, you get this:

Collectively we are downsizing from two kitchens, two dining-rooms, two living-rooms, three offices, one guest room/office, one art studio, one guest cottage, one greenhouse, one full basement, three bedrooms, four full bathrooms, a garden full of lawn furniture and a partridge in a pear tree to a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, no-office, teeny living/dining room space, no guest-room 745 sq ft apartment in The Village at False Creek.

But hey! There’s one more fact.

  • There’s a 150 sq ft deck.

That should help.


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It’s All About the Story


“Your children things are not your children things.
They are the sons and daughters symbols of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you…” – Kahil Gibran

(With sincere apologies to Mr. Gibran)

The first phase of the downsizing is done. We have survived the three-day garage sale in Sechelt.

Garage Sales

Photo credit: Mark Turnauckas


To be fair, the first two days were mostly neighbours who’d seen the sign posted at the beginning of our road sign or heard the scuttlebutt about our pre-garage-sale-sale. It was the third day, Saturday, that was the biggie. This was the start of the official annual neighbourhood sale where cars back up on the Sunshine Coast highway to get in for the deals. A sale that starts at nine and had people stumbling around in our carport, flipping shells and picture frames, at around 7:30 a.m.

We literally sold truckloads of things at cheap, cheap prices.

Funny thing happened…all my treasures suddenly looked forlorn and less-treasure-like once they were piled on a table next to the old motorcycle helmet, bike rack and box of plumbing parts.

Seaside Dining - Colleen Friesen

But some treasures still held their allure. It was hard to set out my still-working old Remington typewriter. Hard that is, until a woman Chieri (Chee-Air-Eee) came along. I liked her and her gentle smile immediately.

She asked if the typewriter still worked and I told her that I’d used the typewriter to address envelopes when I sent out some of my published clips. “Oh,” she told me, “I’m a writer too. I’m working on my third children’s book.

And then she told me about some of her memories of when she was a little girl and how she would type on a similar typewriter of her father’s.”And then,” she said, “somehow it just disappeared from my life and I often think about that typewriter…”

I told her how I shared a similar memory of typing on Dad’s old typewriter. Sharing those memories and her obvious love of the old Remington, made it easy to release the typewriter to its new home. It was not just going to be flipped by some dealer. Instead, the trusty old instrument was going somewhere where it would be loved.

Kevin told me another story that made me happy. A young woman in her twenties discovered the brown gift bag stuffed with maps. The string handles had long ago torn off. The bag was dusty and ripped. It had hung, and then, after the handles tore loose, it had been wedged between our paint cans in the basement. We’d been stuffing our travel maps in it for over 15 years. Kevin was convinced it could be dumped in the recycling.

But our goal was to create  as little garbage as possible, so out it went on to the table. It was leaning next to the vases and assorted candle-holders. I had marked the bag – $2.00! It held maps from many of our trips; provinces, states, maps with some of our routes marked in flourescent highlights of orange and yellow, maps of France, Mexico, Morocco, Canada and Spain. Road atlases and city maps, the bag was very very full..

She carefully pulled out three maps and said, “Two dollars each, right?

“No,” said Kevin. “It’s two bucks for the whole bag.”

“Really?! Two dollars for EVERYTHING?” She gave him a twoonie along with a face-splitting smile and then hugged the bag like a three-year old crushing her favourite doll, “Thank you! I LOVE maps!”

And so. We’ve given our bags and boxes to charity, sold and given away tons of stuff plus we’ve put piles of things for free at the end of the driveway. The place is getting very close to empty. And…

It feels great. And just like all those books and columns advise, I really do feel lighter with each thing that leaves our the house.

If I have any regrets about this whole downsizing effort, it is this; I wish I would have taken some photos of some of these transactions. I would love a picture of my things with their new owners. Because it was their pleasure in the purchase that made it easier to release each thing back into the world. It is nice to know that these items feel valuable to the new owners.

My sincere wish to all the people who now own our things…May each treasure bring you as much pleasure in your life as it did while it was in ours.

Peace baby, peace. I am feeling the peace.


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