“Are you a minimalist?” a friend asked when I told her that once again I’d spent the day downsizing.

I’m not sure I really fit the definition, but two nicknames that do suit me are “The Queen of Shredding” and “The Yard Sale Queen” (the hostess, that is).

Downsizing takes up a good part of my spare time. I’m not sure if it’s a hobby or a way to keep busy, but doing so seems to instill a sense of order in a life that doesn’t always feel orderly.

Whenever I moved, I cleaned out, donated and had yard sales. But for the past several years, I’ve taken these talents to a whole new level.

When I moved into my parents’ house a year after they died, I had to consolidate their belongings with mine. Going from 550 square feet to 1,470, I also had to upsize, adding a few pieces of furniture and furnishings. If I bought something, I operated by the rule of “If something comes in, something goes out” – a rule which I still faithfully live by.

For the past nine-plus years I’ve been going through items carefully, asking myself: “When I move, what would I take with me?”

Much of the bulky furniture is gone, consigned or donated. I like open spaces. In fact, a couple of people have commented, “You don’t really have much in here” when I bemoan the thought of moving everything someday.

But how much do you need? I admire the concept of minimalism. A student of mine gave a speech on a micro house, and I thought I could aim toward that space some day.

I donate or consign my clothes after I’m done with them. Occasionally I get overzealous in my cleaning out, such as this past winter when I started out with the basics of a pair of black slacks and one skirt with a couple of sweaters for the season.

I like being able to control the adding and subtracting of my things. I can’t always control the events in my life or memories that won’t go away.

My shredding can be premeditated or done on a whim. I shred the usual old bills, checks and documents. Shredding unnecessary stuff, I’ve consolidated my father’s five disintegrating scrapbooks held together by twine by donating two of them and keeping photos and clippings from the rest in a box.

I’ve shredded painful items like sympathy cards, thus trying to shed sorrowful memories.

One day I took an old envelope of former flames’ pictures I had kept for years and shredded them with no looking back. So freeing!

Because of the amount of stuff I started out with, I have hosted many yard sales at my address. Sadly, as they were a social event for my friends and me, they have come to an end as my belongings have dwindled.

But happily I have so much more space and seemingly a less cluttered mind.