Letting Go and Making Room

beautiful but way too complicated cross-stitch project.
This is the cross-stitch pattern I mention in this post. Isn’t it beautiful?

I had planned at some point do a write-up about all the different blogs and podcasts I follow, and maybe I’ll still do that, but perhaps it’s a better idea to deal with some of my favorites on a more individual basis. So today I’m taking ideas from two blogs, one a recent discovery and one that I’ve followed for some time. They each deal with the concept of simplifying and decluttering, and they each wrote a recent post that together form a unified whole. (I had a terrible time with that previous sentence.)

So the blog I’ve been following for some time is “Happy Simple Living” authored by Eliza Cross. If you follow me on my Facebook author page you saw the post I put up yesterday about her moment of truth in the garage as she contemplated two bins labeled “bookends.” She realized that those bins represented her dreams that someday she’d put them to use in a happy home; that those items represented the hopes she had going into a marriage that failed. I won’t try to re-tell the story here; I’d encourage you to follow the link above and read it for yourself. In the end, she decides to get rid of them. They represent a life she no longer leads, and they’ve been sitting unused for 11 years. Time to accept reality and move on.

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Thoughts on Intentional Gift-Giving

wrapped gifts under treeChristmas is less than a week away, a fact that prompts me to think about gift-giving. What a very fraught subject! I’d be more than willing to just forget about the whole process myself, being content with good food, decorations, socializing with friends and family, and special outings. But I can’t be a complete Scrooge, can I? So here are some ways that I enter into the spirit of the season without putting myself through the wringer or giving items that may not be used or appreciated:

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That First Step Down the Road of Choices

Stunningly attractive brown and cream tileWhat did we do in the kitchen? The floor was the first step, locking us in to certain future choices.

This is not a home decorating blog. Having such a blog is like having a food/recipe blog, for which the hapless blogger has to come up with new projects all the time. Hey, once I’m done, especially on the decorating front, I’m done. And while I’m a fan of new recipes, I’ll let others do the day-to-day work of developing them.

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Cutting The Gordian Knot of Possessions

the Gordian KnotAnother insight today from my latest podcast fave, “Need to Know.” More of a throwaway line as the podcast winds down than anything to do with the main subject of this episode. (The relevant section starts at 1:02:30.) Anyway, Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger are talking about whether or not Mona will be hosting the podcast the next week as she’s in the midst of a move. Jay makes the point that in every society that’s been studied, one of several constants is that people hate to move.

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How I Spent My 25th Wedding Anniversary

brown and gold stars on a brown backgroundJim and I have now been married for 25 years! Is that even possible? We had sort of planned to do something fun last evening—maybe go downtown to the Denver Art Museum and then go out to eat at our favorite restaurant on the 16th Street Mall (we’ve been there once), the Paramount Cafe. But Jim had a meeting that went long, and he’d been working all day on the kitchen . . . so we’ll do it this weekend. But we ended up doing something we really enjoyed, even though it may sound pretty boring: we figured out what we want to do with the dining nook in our new kitchen.

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What’s Your Signature Color?

color wheelThis may sound like a very first-world issue. If you’re a refugee, your signature color is whatever happens to be on the clothes and blankets you manage to find. You don’t have the problem of wedding out your closet. You don’t have a closet, or a house surrounding it. As I said recently about some small problem or the other connected with our move, “I don’t have to worry about getting to the well and back again without somebody shooting me, so I don’t have anything to complain about.” On closing day, that pretty horrible time, I reminded myself, “This day isn’t going to end with anyone diseased or dead. The worst than can happen is that we’ll have to pay that $100 penalty if we don’t do the closing today.”

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Do You “Respect Your Possessions”?

Pile of garbageYet another blog post generated from a Gretchen Rubin idea. (I guess at some point I’ll have to start paying her a commission.) She had an interview this week with Marie Kondo, the incredibly successful organizer/declutterer who has now written a second book, Spark Joy. I just went online and downloaded the audiobook from the library, so expect to hear about my going on another ninja clearing-out raid in the days to come, the same thing that happened when I read Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


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The Tyranny of Possessions

PictureSalisbury House, EnglandI was reminded of this principle awhile ago when I was in an enormous house for a meeting.You walked into the front door and there you were in a foyer with one staircase curving down into a family room with a pool table and a fountain in the floor and the other curving up to the main level with another fountain, this time as a sheet of water flowing down a glass wall. I sat in the beautiful living room facing a fireplace with some kind of fancy poured-concrete mantel and huge shelves on either side of it going all the way up to the very high ceiling, with decorative objects and photographs. All I could think was, ‘How on earth do you get up to that top shelf to dust?” It wouldn’t be a matter of a stepstool; more of a stepladder. Maybe even a crane.

Before I go on, I do want to make it clear (not that anyone reading this has the faintest idea whom I’m talking about) that I’m not in any way criticizing the people who own the house. I have no idea how they use it or what their rationale was for buying it. I really enjoyed being there, and I came home fired up with the intention of keeping my own house a little more pristine.

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Clear the Decks!

PictureThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, trans. by Cathy Hirano, published in 2014 by TenSpeed Press, Berkeley CA.

Now folks, this is a somewhat weird book.  I highly recommend it or I wouldn’t include it here, but there’s no question that Ms. Kondo has her own idiosyncratic view of how you should treat your possessions.  Being one of her clients must be quite an experience, as she insists that things be done her way or else.  (She has a three-month waiting list for her personal consultations, so people don’t seem to mind.) She has two central ideas.  The first is the one that’s the most problematic for me:  that you must do the tidying up of your surroundings all at once.  If you do it gradually, she says, you’ll never finish.  In an ideal world she’d probably be right, but most of us can’t really take a whole weekend to throw out stuff.  If we have to do it that way, we’ll never do it at all.

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