Good day friends,
Thanks so much to all of you for your loyalty and support. So sorry I’ve been MIA. This post should have run as a guest blog over a week ago (at another author’s site) but the world wide web seems to have eaten it twice on its journey through cyberspace. On a more personal note, the school year got off to a rough start and things continue to jump out of place on a daily basis. I’ve barely started bringing work home and still find myself bogged down with the day-to-day (and not enough of it relative to my writing, blogging, etc).
Anyway, these are the thoughts I wanted to share about ten days ago:
Downsizing. In today’s less-than-stable economy, the word can inspire anxiety or even fear. I look around at a house, basement or garage full of stuff and apply the term differently.
Not too long ago I read an article about a man who downsized from a large home to a tiny cabin-like structure he designed and, I believe, built. (He now makes a business out of designing and crafting these minimal-square-foot living spaces.) He knows exactly what he needs to live within that tiny space and has opted to do without a lot more.
My little cottage in the woods, built somewhere between 1872 and 1905, gives me a sense of what it is to live that way. When we first bought it—as is—it was crammed to the rafters with stuff. Three layers of rugs on every floor kept the place damp and musty-smelling. A dry-rotted player piano took up a whole wall. Five coffee pots and no one drank coffee! More cups and glasses than an average-sized family could ever use at one time, even if the previous owners did live there six months out of the year. Outdated encyclopedias, a gazillion 1980’s paperback romance novels (at least they were readers, lol). My little enclosed sleeping porch where I now write, a storage closet that had to be emptied one item at a time before I could even set foot in it: rusty exercise bike, volleyball, a cot with over eight layers of blankets on it that no could access because of all the clutter around it. Closets and dressers stuffed with towels, sheets, blankets, clothing, shoes—name it: it was there. In a word, we filled a twenty-ton dumpster in the course of a few days (and I still emptied stuff, got to the last closet last year).
Since we purchased that cottage five years ago, we’ve pretty much weeded out most things we don’t need. When I tell you I bought almost nothing for it, you can trust I mean what I say. (I do, however, keep a second coffee pot on my little porch for those rare occasions when I don’t feel like going down to the kitchen. And I still like the hand-held kerosene lanterns lined up in my closet—keeps that late 19th century feel to the place.)
More and more though, the lesson of downsizing comes home to me in various ways. My home is relatively small. This two-bedroom colonial houses four of us and three cats. None of us are hoarders but we’re not necessarily ‘tossers’ either. (For a while one of my sons wanted to keep his old toothbrushes!) I can’t begin to tell you how much clothing and other domestic items we got rid of after the small house fire we had two years ago and still that clean contemporary country look evades my humble home. (There’s a blog for that: https://joannaaislinn.wordpress.com/page/6/)
Remember (or ever hear of) comedian George Carlin? One of his routines talked about how clearing out stuff is akin to creating a vacuum for more stuff to find its way in. I used to love garage and yard sales and still stop by them on occasion, but I’ve got a new rule (besides ‘don’t let my husband loose with expendable cash anywhere,’ lol.): no cash gets handed over unless I know exactly where that item will go in my home. (I may mentally toss or donate another item before I buy and try hard to stick to that once I’m home. Being someone who doesn’t tire of a color or a beloved object doesn’t help but I’ve improved.)
And once that stuff is gone? When I walk back into that downsized, now open space, I feel as though I can breathe better (could be all the dust that went with it ). Definitely something to be said about Feng Shui! BTW, many organizations will come to your house and carry away your donations—a search on the net can yield the names of those who do in your area—a few clicks and you’re scheduled. (I often use Vietnam Veterans of America—vva.org. Very easy.)
I’ll stop here for now and look forward to your thoughts on the subject. Tomorrow I’ll apply these ideas to writing.
Until then, have a great day,