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Sunday, July 31, 2011

100 Today

sunflower tower

Today marks my 100th blog post!
Rather exciting.

ripening alley plums

To celebrate the occasion properly, I thought I would give you all a little glimpse into a topic that has been occupying my thoughts for many waking leisure hours: minimalist-ish living.

(Also, full disclosure: I am feeling a little sad today, really missing my family far away. I'm so happy for all the adventures they are having, yet feel very distant, and truth be told, a little left out from their overseas experiences. However, I promised myself before they left that I would not mope. So, in the interest of keeping the blues at bay, I'm trying to focus on thoughts and activities that are positive and somehow enhance my life & theirs...)

neon calendula--it really is!

I have been lately loving the feeling of space in our little home. I love to think of space as a positive, full of possibility. It feels like there is ample room to dream, write, stretch, dance, draw, spread out a puzzle, cook, wrestle, read, drink coffee, watch a movie, snuggle up...whatever it is you want to do. When I walk into our home and see the airy space, it feels light and free. This sensation has kept me going on my quest to see what else I can live without, or put more positively, to find out how much is just enough for me and my family.

For inspiration, I have been reading a wonderful book (I checked it out from my public library--request it from yours if they don't have it!) by Francine Jay, aka Miss Minimalist, titled "The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide". The first part is full of the philosophy of minimalist living, the second a guide to the STREAMLINE method of clearing your space, and the third, which I'm just starting,  is a practical room-by-room plan.

This process has already led me to pare down a lot, over the last few years, and I must confess that as someone who does not love to clean, it has made the process of housekeeping a lot easier. But more that that, it feels better...more spacious, more organized, less chaotic. Although I still have a long way to go, I can find things more easily, because they have designated homes. It's easier to clean up for the same reason, as well as not having as much to pick up before sweeping and mopping. Having just the amount of linens and towels needed makes a lot less laundry (hooray!). And having only clothes that actually fit and look good on each family member makes it so much easier to find something to wear in the morning.

We have made a lot of progress. Although I think this process has made my family nervous at times, they have seen that I respect their individual possessions and I think they have benefitted from the increased feeling of calm and organization. (I invite them to weigh in with comments!)

For me, among the items that have been most difficult to let go of are things from my kids' baby days. Considering the age of my boys, we still have a surprising amount of baby and toddler paraphernalia (clothing, blankets, books, toys...) lingering around our home. Minou and I are equally sentimental on this point, which doesn't help (I'm usually much less sentimental about objects). I rationalize it by the times that we have young friends over and pull out the books and toys (which happens at least several times a year), or by thinking that if/when the boys have kids of their own, they might want those adorable little shoes and coats....and certainly the Playmobils...Maybe, maybe not, but for the moment they stay.

What I am looking forward to clearing right now, however, are several large items of furniture that will create significantly more empty floor space. At one point, we had two couches in our little living room. It was very cozy, and avoided overcrowding and brotherly elbowing while watching movies, but it grew a little claustrophobic over time. Since the futon couch can double as a bed, I want to keep it for out of town guests. The red couch, on it's way out the door, made a brief stop in the kitchen during the process of furniture rearranging. And somehow it made a good impression there, and was granted temporary permission to stay, with the excuse that it gave our kitchen an artsy coffee-house feel. It was a little awkward for eating, however; the chin of whoever was seated there just barely cleared the table. So eventually the table moved into the living room, and the couch stayed in the kitchen.

And there it's been for the last two or three months. I'm tired of it. Mostly the cats use it. The couch is so very comfortable, great for naps and sinking down into, but also incredibly dusty and cat-hairish and tends to consume many objects in its ravenous cushions. Once it moves along, the table can return to the kitchen....

...and then, just imagine all the glorious space that will be ours for whatever!
(Ignore that ugly exercise bike--it's on temporary loan for virtuous solo movie-watching). I think I have finally come around to loving the white tiles Minou wanted and I protested adamantly against. We ended up getting them because of a great sale. While they are rarely very clean, they do make the room look light and so much bigger.

At any rate, I will save the next piece of furniture earmarked for passing along for another day's post. I'm going to go and see if I can rustle up a little help and a truck to take Dusty Red to my local Goodwill donation center. I want the house to be beautiful and feel full of possibility for when my boys return.

How about you? Do you have anything that you don't use much, but find hard to part with, or something that mysteriously stopped and stayed on its way out the door?

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