clear space to be

a calm living space  (photo by Jo)

I recognize that I like things. Shiny glass, strong wood, textured fabrics. My senses resonate with the things I can look at and feel. (I really hate not being able to touch art at a gallery but that’s a post for another day 😉 However, I also like clean, open spaces with little clutter. A friend recently asked me where does my minimalist self come from? Hmm…let me think about that and I’ll reply at the end of this post. Meantime…

On the internet recently I tuned into the television series, Consumed with Jill Pollack. Families have their homes completely cleared out and they live for 30 days with the bare essentials. Then they return to their boxed up items in a warehouse and reduce a lot of it before bringing some things back home. Meanwhile, Darren Doyle builds solutions in the home and Jill decorates to make it even more inviting to remain junk free.

Okay, I enjoyed every minute of it! As I expected, there is an adult that has emotional ties to their stuff (memories, keeps them busy, helps avoid looking at what is going on..) Jill made a great statement off the top about “clearing clutter leaves room to see yourself – past, present and future.” (It was interesting to see how the kids quickly embraced the idea) I knew how this story was going to end but it was fascinating to see the transformation be realized through various stages. Words were expressed by the families like empowered, less stressed, lighter, peaceful, happy, everyone smiles… “I don’t know myself” to “I hope we deserve everything”. Overcoming the emotional hurdle of letting go of objects full of memories. Bless one of the daughters for saying: “You don’t have to live with things to be happy. You can live with people”.

I often hear the word ‘overwhelmed’ – people are drowning in stuff but can’t face the effort (physical and mental) to get through it all. Hopefully for viewers who haven’t quite got to this stage yet will take a look at their habits and slowly make lifestyle changes so they don’t get ‘consumed’. Harder to back out of a overloaded state (stopping negative action). Better to just replace with positive, healthful choices and keep at it! Less work in the long run.

Another comment I heard on the show was a reflection of consumer habits. A Mom remarked about the amount of shopping that she must have done over the years (translate – spending dollars!) to accumulate boxes and boxes of clothes, toys and memorabilia. Something to think about. Goods bought and sold makes the world go around but I recommend getting what you need and not filling a space more than it can handle!

For some folks, their clutter may not be due to owning too much – some just need a plan to be better organized. Again, too much to think about! But if an hour could be spent every weekend just completing one project (add a shelf, buy some baskets, create a system for dealing with mail..) then slowly a house can become a home.

I need my space to be organized – I truly breathe better. So I know how good I feel in a home appropriately filled with just the right stuff. Now I’ll attempt to answer the question where does my desire to keep organized come from. Well, the obvious answer is I do something because it makes me feel good. But let’s dig a little deeper and do some math.

By living as consciously as I can, I evolve and therefore my tastes change. I don’t want to ‘make do’ with things that don’t fit me – from cups to couches to friends! So no looking back.

I surround myself with what is meaningful and works for me – a well turned mug by a local artist pleases me. I will eat at my counter until I can afford a solid dining table that fits. I invest in a positive support network. How about a career that turns me on? And love. Only investing in a relationship that fills me with light. What does this have to do with making an inbox for my mail and donating books? Haha!

I recognize that it has to do with control. There are many surprises in life – the number of deaths near me this past year attest to this. But the every day trips me up as well, like a big work load threatening to tip my desk. Or even something as simple as I can’t find my keys. What I can control is having a place for everything in my life. With not too much in the way, smooth surfaces let the air flow and nothing can block the light. When the big deals plop down in front of me, I have the energy to deal with them. No overloaded phone lines at home. A peaceful place and a quiet mind.