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My word for the year 2015 was ‘declutter.’ I worked to minimize clutter – physical, mental and emotional – while making more space for who and what truly matters in my life at this time. I will continue this practice of simplifying, of minimizing noise and clutter in order to maximize my creativity and become more present, connecting to who I am at the core, instead of allowing my possessions to define me.

I have minimized the number of projects on which I’m working at this time. And yet, the projects are still there, still beckoning me forth, seductive in their command. Writing, yoga, music, and crafting do define me and always will. I have designed a schedule that allows me to maximize my time at work, at home with my family, and my time alone, used for creativity and exploration. I reshuffle, re-prioritize while wondering whether the current model expands or hinders my potential and the potential of my family dynamic.

Some days, the pieces that make up my identity are naturally, easily woven together; on other days, they pull apart at the seams until I tend to them again with pins, needles, thread, and soothing whispers. I remind myself to slow down, to let the pebbles scatter as they will. I can always pick them up later. What is in front of me now? Where should my focus be? How can I shift my priorities at a moment’s notice while maintaining balance? Then I remember to focus on the hug, to inhale, deeply savouring the scent of the head of silky soft chestnut hair that presses against my chest. I exhale into the softness and remember to listen to the subtle pleading sounds that are so easily missed when I go through my ‘to do’ list, checking off one item after another, feeling productive yet missing what is before me.

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I choose to linger. I choose to pull my arms around my sons and my husband into a tighter embrace. I choose to be present while trusting in the knowledge that creativity is borne from moments that challenge us to acquiesce completely. What is before me, right here and right now? What demands my attention? The dance of balance inevitably continues as I delicately tiptoe from one element to another, trying to stay grounded and reminding myself of my myriad roles. Will they still be here? Will they continue to transform me, or will I become a different person? I entertain the possibilities while remaining curious, retreating to my comfort zone of boundless daydreaming before gently, reluctantly, bringing myself back to the moment, adjusting my focus, amplifying the whisper-thin message: Presence. Presence. Presence. 

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Image: https://unsplash.com/

It started with a typical Saturday afternoon, during a weekly house cleaning session. One moment, I was wiping dust off the floor-to-ceiling book shelves in the basement, which serves double duty as a playroom, and the next, I found myself starting to pick up toys with which our children no longer play, putting them into an empty cardboard box. The children were playing upstairs at the time, but upon hearing me make noise in the basement, they came downstairs to inquire.

“Boys, you have many toys with which you don’t play anymore. Correct?”

They both nodded.

“I’m wondering whether we can share these toys with children who might make better use of them.” I watched their faces for a sign of understanding.

They nodded again and agreed with me when I explained that this meant we would collect toys that are no longer needed or wanted in order to give them away. I clarified that we would never have the toys returned to us.

The boys readily started to pick up one toy after another, considered whether they need it, and then added it to the box, which filled very quickly.

The children got to keep their favourite toys (mostly Lego) and are now able to easily find the toys they need when they need them. Not surprisingly, they realized they don’t need very many toys at all, and since they naturally gravitate toward Lego and other building blocks that encourage the use of imagination and creativity, I have a suspicion they will not be easily bored anytime soon.

This impromptu de-cluttering session led to a change of perspective. For the remainder of that day, whenever I stepped into another room in our house, I asked myself whether we need all the material items we managed to acquire over the past 7.5 years after moving into our current home. Pawel and I have never had a fear of letting go of material objects. Neither are we serious collectors of random tchotchkes. Yet, there seemed to be too much stuff that we do not need. I grew tired of seeing busy kitchen counters. I spoke with Pawel and explained to him that I wanted to edit our home and throw out, sell, or give away various pieces that we do not need to keep and/or do not enjoy. To my relief, he told me he’s on board.

I will continue to write more about our project to ‘edit ruthlessly,’ inspired by the Ted talk by Graham Hill. I will also share photographs of our home as it looks now, after our most recent de-cluttering session.

For now, let me leave you with a few of our reasons for choosing to de-clutter our home:

  1. Having fewer possessions that need to be maintained and cleaned / dusted on a regular basis allows us to spend less time cleaning our home and leaves more time for family fun.
  2. Getting rid of old stuff simply feels good. We like to think of it as a home detox. We have more empty space in our home, which feels refreshing. I used to feel the need to fill every empty spot, but that is no longer the case. I want to live in rooms that feel comfortable but appear more spacious.
  3. We don’t like to feel that our possessions own us.
  4. Editing our possessions helps us to appreciate the items that we do have and use on a regular basis. We don’t need 10 different pots and pans in the kitchen, but we appreciate the two large pots we use for cooking soup every week (one to reheat and bring to work in a thermos for our lunches and the other to enjoy for dinner, at home).
  5. It’s easier to find something in an uncluttered home. We know where every item is located.
  6. Our style has changed in the past few years and our design philosophy has evolved.
  7. I was inspired by the numerous minimalist bloggers who have emerged in the recent years. I enjoy reading about families who have drastically reduced the size of their belongings and moved to live in small apartments or tiny homes. I have always preferred to live in a smaller home, so I’m intrigued by the tiny home trend.

How do you feel about minimalism? How would you describe your own lifestyle when it comes to collecting possessions? Perhaps you also have recently gone through a substantial de-cluttering session. I would love to read your story.

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