Every January I get an urge to read self help books. Now these self help tomes have a related theme: they all revolve around living a simple yet elegant life. I have a vision in my head of clean lines, clear surfaces and well chosen accent pieces. Of a closet with a few thoughtfully chosen clothing. Of a house that radiates refined elegance and calm. Of a mind that radiates elegance and calm.
So every January I read a few of these books. I recently finished “Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life” by Shannon Ables. I read through the wisdom of the author, I find things I agree with, and things that I don’t. But basically I try to find one or two little tidbits of information that will make my life better. The two tidbits I got out of this book were 1)the best way to lead a simple life is to be yourself, and get to know yourself, and 2) end each day with an exquisite chocolate truffle. (Honestly don’t know how I never thought of number 2 before reading this book). This assessment is not necessarily fair to the author- the book was quite good, but at this point I’m almost an expert on this subject. She didn’t tell my anything I didn’t know.
So what are my issues?
How much time do you have?
I live in a small space. We have things. It’s hard to fit all the things in a very small space. But the real question is, why do we need all the things. So I am constantly on a quest to get rid of “things” in our home. We adhere to a strict one in, one out rule, which just means we only buy something as a replacement, or if we need to have something, we need to get rid of something else. I also make everyone donate/dump one item every week. We are not a family that has a junk drawer with things we couldn’t list. I could probably tell you the contents of every drawer and cabinet in the house. We are not a house with pens that do not work- my family is well trained in throwing those out. But we still have “stuff”.
And this stuff makes me agitated. This stuff makes my not so calm self just a little bit crazier.
I have a strange battle with want vs need. Do I need the cake stand where the top doesn’t affix to the bottom anymore? No. I do not need broken things Yet why do I keep it? Well, in this case, it’s actually an expensive piece and I’m too lazy to sell it on ebay. It was also a wedding present. But yet it sits on display in my living room. And it mocks me every time I look at it.
There are times I wish I could just throw everything out in my house and start fresh- buy items thoughtfully and individually based on what I actually needed and loved. I did this with my wardrobe to a certain extent. When I began using Stitchfix last fall, I basically got rid of every item of clothing in my wardrobe. Other than athletic wear, I left myself with about 15 basic pieces that I either absolutely loved, or were perfect comfy writing clothes. (yes- if I’m not in gym wear while writing I’m in the softest sweats and t shirt imaginable)
And it felt great. It feels great. It is nice to get dressed knowing that whatever I put on will make me feel great because I absolutely love it. I like having very few items, because it makes my choices simple. If I’m going on a date night with my Husband I have three outfits that I love- he doesn’t care if he’s seen me in them. He’s happy that I feel great walking out the door. Because that’s the point of clothing- to make you feel confident and beautiful. No one wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t feel great.
I want the rest of my house to make me feel like I do about my closet/wardrobe. I want to love every item. I want to sit in my living room and find the peace and calm I need to combat my mind which is always on overdrive.
And every year I work on it a little bit more. Every year I take a fresh look at the items that make up my space and decide if they are needed in the inventory of my life. The statue my Father gave me for my 50th birthday? I don’t really like it, but my Father never purchases things for me- this he went out and specifically bought for me. i will keep this- because it’s special in other ways. The vase I don’t even remember acquiring and I don’t really like? Well, that gets ditched. My Yurtle the Turtle book from when I was a child? The one that made me a lifelong reader? Hell no. That’s not going anywhere. But other books, well, unless they’re signed or written by my friends, they’re gone. Pictures are a keep. Bric a brac is a toss.
And every year my space gets a little closer to my ideal. My desk is now perfect for me. I spent the first two weeks of January making it my ideal space- it is a place I now look forward to going to every morning to write. I’m sitting here now, and I look up and around me and my mind is at ease. My mind is focused. My mind is happy. I am happy.
Every year I feel a little more peace in my mind.
Every year I feel a little bit better about myself.
What a concept.