Senior Lifestyles

Downsizing with a 'Hart': Los Altos author writes book on eliminating clutter


At 73, Sara Hart is not ready to retire. The Los Altos resident is too busy for that.

Hart is president of her own company, recently completed the AIDS bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles and wrote a book, “The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.”

Released last month, the book deals with the emotional impact of downsizing. When Hart first started writing about the subject, she didn’t intend for it to become a book. It was a way to deal with her personal reaction to downsizing, a process she describes as “very painful,” as she was moving from her house in Palo Alto to The Terraces at Los Altos retirement community. Eventually, with encouragement from her soon-to-be publisher, the writing morphed into a book.

“Maybe by hearing me talk about my experience (with downsizing), people would hear that they’re not alone in the feeling, that this is something that many of us go through, and that you do come out the other end,” Hart said. “I really wrote it because I wanted to see if I could make it a less painful process for people who find it painful.”

Hart said she spent a year and a half working on the book. She said her favorite aspect of writing it was “having an idea, sitting down, writing about it and then ending up with something.”

Hart noted that her publisher and editor, Amy Collette, served as her best motivator.

“From the very beginning, she thought the book could be really helpful for people and she kept encouraging me to do it,” said Hart, introduced to Collette by a friend. “She was unfailingly supportive. I never had any doubt that she thought I could do it and that I should do it and that it would be a good book when it was done.”

Overcoming overconsumption

Hart said the aspect of downsizing she found most painful was letting go of the historical value of items, while others she spoke to found it hardest to dispose of items that belonged to their children.

“It was not so much these things that were valuable to me ... it was that nobody was going to know the history,” Hart said.

The main theme of “The Upside of Downsizing” is overconsumption – something Hart said is a major concern of hers, especially in the Bay Area. According to Hart, the theme connects to one of her other personal projects, her blog “Sign of Enough,” which she created in the 1990s.

“I think I get upset and feel like I absolutely have to say something about things,” she said.

Hart’s drive to act on her passions was also evident in her other recent accomplishment – the 545-mile AIDS/Lifecycle ride in March.

Hart said she initially felt as if her age would hinder her from completing the ride, but after much encouragement from friends, she decided to try anyway.

“I got so disgusted with what the Trump administration is and is not doing for AIDS. One day I was reading a bunch of stuff and I got so angry, I thought ‘We are going to be right back to where we were before and we can’t let that happen,’” she said.

Hart added that her compassion for others is a trait everyone should strive for.

“So many of us are so blessed, and I don’t think we have a right not to give back, in whatever ways we can, to help other people,” she said. “I think we have an obligation to try to take our gifts, our skills, our abilities and our passions to make a difference for people.”

Hart plans to keep giving back as she remains the president of her company, Hartcom, a consulting firm she launched in 1996 when she moved to San Francisco from Connecticut. She noted that her main plan for the future is to continue her project Prime Spark, which encourages older women to stay involved in society.

“There’s no time in recent history, that I’m aware of, when the world more needed older women’s wisdom and experience and sensitivity than right now,” Hart said. “I want to encourage women not to buy into the message that our culture sends us about the irrelevance of older women.”

To purchase “The Upside of Downsizing” and for more information, visit Hart’s website at signofenough.com.

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