Rita Wilkins lived in a lovely 5,000 square foot home in nearby Landenberg, with 11 closets and 9 rolling racks of clothes. In her TedX Talk in Wilmington, Rita said that “I convinced myself all this made me happy, when the truth was I was drowning in my big house- My life was spiraling out of control….and I saw no way out and I was afraid.”

It took a trip to a third-world country, to Senegal, where her son was working to rethink her life and choices. The village where her son was working was rural, and did not have what we would consider basic amenities. Rita was struck by how happy the villagers were, even if they seemed desperately poor by comparison to her life in the States. Yet the people had so few possessions- the juxtaposition between them made her rethink her approach. “Does stuff make me happy? Does adding stuff add or detract from happiness? What really gives me joy?”

Designing Your Life

As a successful interior designer, Rita had been designing spaces for people and how they live all her life- now it was time to do the same for herself. She said out loud that she would move into an apartment in Center City Philadelphia within a year, but she wasn’t sure how she could possibly make that happen. And she faced the huge challenge of downsizing her life, too.  She decided to reframe the issue and make it a game. She called family and friends and involved them in the process. Week by week, they worked through the house, disbursing stuff that had been collected over many years, and finding a good home for everything.

Stuff has a lot of memories attached, and that can make the process hard, but going through this process, room by room, week by week, with friends and family made it easier, and allowed Rita to realign her values along with her possessions. Now she is living in 867 square feet in Philadelphia. 95% of her possessions went to people who needed them or wanted them. “I have all I want and all I need and I have never been happier.” Additionally, Rita adds that “I have more time and more resources to live the life I designed for myself.” And by also re-designed her workplace, they are working 3 days, playing 4 and still grew the business by 27% last quarter. 

What Will Your Process Be?

Rita’s story is similar to the process many of our residents go through when preparing to move to Kendal-Crosslands Communities. Not everyone gives away 95% of their possessions, but it’s clear choices need to be made about furniture and collections, to keep what’s most important, and let go of a lot that is no longer as essential as it once was. Your new home on campus will likely be smaller than your current home, but by choosing well, the design of the new cottage or apartment can create a perfect living environment for your current stage in life.  

For some, going through the process of downsizing with friends and family is a way to connect and share memories as decisions are made about what to keep and what to pass on to others. However, sometimes the process in and of itself can be emotionally difficult and time-consuming. There are people who specialize in helping Seniors through this process called Senior Move Managers. Here at Kendal-Crosslands, we regularly work with a variety of managers who can help you with everything from making choices to best fit your new home, to packing, moving in and even taking things to resale if you choose. This can mean making the whole process as easy as making choices on what you want to bring with you, and what to relinquish before your move.  A senior move manager can even put all of your belongings away, taking the stress out of moving.

What’s Rita Up to Now?

Rita has written a book about downsizing and has a great blog she contributes to, “60 and Me” where she talks about downsizing and changing your life so this next phase is one of the happiest of your life, filled with much more enjoyment and less weight of obligation.  You can read more by clicking here and you can watch her inspirational 7 minute TedX talk below.




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If you’d like to find out more about Kendal-Crosslands Communities, and how our residents are living the life they’ve dreamed of, without the worries or hassles of homeownership, just download our digital brochure and find out how you, too, could be playing more and working less.