Curating a life I love

Thursday, July 19, 2018 Permalink

I have a gazillion browser tabs open on my iPhone. It’s because I tend to click on items of interest when I’m on Facebook or similar. At the moment, there are articles open called: “5 Things People With Tidy Homes Don’t Do”; “The Beauty of Being Single”; “How to Reframe Your Skills When It Feels Like You’re Going Nowhere”; “A Message For The Ones Who Feel Defeated”… and others. Many have remained open for months. I’ve read them (via sites like No Sidebar, Tiny Buddha; Collective Hub etc and kept them open to revisit or ponder further.

One such article is a No Sidebar article called, The Secret to Curating a Life You Love.

It talks about all of the things that resonate…. our need for whitespace (which I tend to think of as headspace – or spare mental / emotional capacity). It also talks about minimalism, but in a less simplistic way than it’s often discussed: ie. not just about ‘things’.

The piece by Melissa Camara Wilkins (published in April 2016) talks about obvious stuff:

  • collecting / doing / keeping things…. ‘just in case’
  • saying ‘yes’ because it’s convenient rather than ‘no’ which can be uncomfortable
  • noticing what lights us up and what sucks us dry
  • getting rid of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’
  • not using ‘things’ (material things OR commitments) as therapy or consolation.

The concept of ‘letting go’ of material things and minimalism is pretty much everywhere at the moment. I ADORE the idea of minimalism because I hate clutter.

But the thing that’s been on my mind (increasingly) as I start to consider my possible looming unemployment and accompanying financial challenges are the things I’ve perhaps bought and not needed. Things I (possibly) see as frivolous.

My recent sofa purchase for example. I hated my old sofa. It came in the wrong colour and I had no recourse as I’d gotten it on sale and they’d stopped making it. So I accepted the horrible beige colour, which immediately became grotty. And despite covers my mother toiled over making, the feathers stuck through the cushions. (Not something that had happened with my previous feather sofa which had lasted over a decade!)

A new sofa was something I fantasised about ‘when I could afford it’ but not a priority. Until I stumbled across a sofa I loved. It’s completely inappropriate (in that my mother won’t be able to get on / off easily – nor will I as I get older / less mobile; plus it’s velvet so it’ll go out of style quickly). But I didn’t care. I loved it. And after only a few weeks of prevarication I bought it before it went off sale.

curating a life I love

In reality, the sofa is just a sofa and I know I don’t need to lose sleep over making a purchase that is (at least) vaguely practical.

It’s become the poster-child however of the ‘things I wouldn’t buy if I was more responsible’ movement and played on my mind a little. Like a recent shoe purchase. And three tops I bought for work, that I wear weekly but could have done without.

This is on my mind at the moment as I had drinks with a colleague after work today and we were talking about the whole work / life balance thing. I mentioned the fact I tend to strive for that balance, but the moment I get there I…. want ‘more’ upgrade my property, or buy loads of shit etc.

I talked about my longer-term goal of a ‘tiny-house’ and living minimally.

Yet I worry that I’m far too materialistic.

What I realised however is that even the minimalists – well the more realistic of those who talk about living simply – recognise that we need to ‘keep’ or ‘focus on’ the things that bring us joy.

And for me it’s my house. It’s my new sofa. It’s my bathtub (that accommodates me and my books for a couple of hours most nights). It’s my $80 flamingo flannelette sheets. It’s some of the quirky art on my walls. It’s the ease with which my fingers whip across the keyboard of my laptop.

It’s not travel. It’s not my car, although my current car is a luxury car I bought as part of a whole mid-life crisis thing 7-8yrs ago that I intend to run into the ground. I don’t want or need stacks of clothes. Or jewelry. Or weekends away.

Which (eventually) brings me back to curating a life I love. And that’s recognising that for me my HOME environment is all important. I’d prefer the new sofa than a trip to Thailand or Bali or America.

And of course, that’s where we differ. I know people who prefer to put money aside for travel than spend it on their houses or clothes; or buy a new car every few years; or have a massive TV and media room. And those who prefer to rent and have a nest egg than a mortgage. Each to his own really.

It’s a realisation which has eased my guilt a little. Every time I look at my sofa or climb into my flannelette sheets I feel joy. I feel happiness and even contentment.

So, it’s taken me a while but slowly but steadily I think I’m curating a life I love.

I realise this is probably just a way of setting goals or identifying passions. Is it something you find easy to do? Do you ever feel any guilt about your preferences or decisions?

The Lovin’ Life team includes:

28 Comments
  • Jo
    July 19, 2018

    I think you’ve hit it – we all have different priorities. I’ve just booked a weekend away with hubby in October – glamping – when we really can’t fford it and I should instead be buying clothes that look even passably ok. Once the basics are covered though, for us it’s about the experiences – someone else will say that’s a waste of money. Horses and courses.

    • Debbish
      July 19, 2018

      True. I must admit after I published this – feeling quite smug with the idea of being able to decide what’s important TO ME and what’s not, I thought of my mum’s neighbour. It’s a housing commission house and the 6yr old rarely goes to school. She rents a lot of homewares (fridges, tvs etc) and the rental places are constantly there trying to repossess them – which they do and then she changes companies – but she then buys ridiculous things for her child… the latest being a little motorbike!

      Maybe she’s justifying that to herself like I’m justifying the sofa?! Eek!

  • Sydney Shop Girl
    July 19, 2018

    Deb
    This is so true about life. Our goals, likes and loves are all unique when it comes to making our lives ones we love. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more about priorities and how I can’t have everything at the same time but I can have a bit now and something else later. The ‘something else later’ gives me something to work towards.

    But does that ‘something else later’ imply that I’m not content with life right now? Not at all.

    SSG xxx

    • Debbish
      July 19, 2018

      Ah yes, I like that concept of not just being a work in progress, but that what fits or suits now might change and differ down the track!

  • writeofthemiddle
    July 19, 2018

    I think I am very similar. My home is my haven and very, very important to me. I don’t lust after travel as much as most people. The extent of my overseas travel is minimal – very minimal. I would like to get to europe and the UK one day and possibly some other places but I’m not sure if it will happen. Time will tell. I get joy out of simple getaways. Staying in a cottage in the mountains. A beach holiday. Going to the country. Nature uplifts me. Many people would prefer to spend money on travel than renovating a kitchen but to me … my home is my investment and the money is well spent to increase it’s value. Priorities are different for everyone, you’re right! #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      July 19, 2018

      In my old Brissy life I rarely went away for holidays Min. Mostly home to my folks for a bit (or when I stayed with them after mum’s surgery etc) otherwise I just took time off work and veged at home. NOT going to work was enough! And of course now a beachside holiday is kinda pointless given I live at the beach. (In a house I love!)

  • Jan Wild
    July 19, 2018

    We wrote a post some time ago about knowing where the value lies for you. It sounds to me like you have that totally nailed Deb and thus there is no need for gnashing of teeth or guilt. Just enjoy the precious indulgences that have real value for you and bring jog πŸ™‚

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      True Jan and I realise I’m getting better at that – picking myself up when I’m thinking I’m being frivolous but really I’m making decisions that feel right for me and of course there’s nothing wrong sometimes with making frivolous decisions….

  • leannelc
    July 19, 2018

    I’ve lived frugally my whole life Deb and I find it ridiculously hard to spend money – my DIL offers to teach me because she thinks it’s something she’s really good at! But, like you, home and my life here and now are far more important to me than travel and expensive pastimes – so I’m practicing spending a little bit more here and there on things that make me happy – things I look at and feel glad I bought – and I refuse to berate myself over purchasing them – what’s done is done, so we might as well enjoy them. And I love your beautiful blue sofa! I could sit next to you and read a book πŸ™‚

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      I had my godson staying last night and watched as his red iceblock dripped onto the sofa and some meringue got mashed into it but I think something else I’ve learned is that we buy nice to stuff to use it and not keep it for special occasions. My mother talked the other day about all of these teacups she’s kept for ‘good’ that she will never use. I reminded her I got her old Mikasa dinner set (wedding present) and some glasses (engagement present) that she had never used after about 40yrs. As a result I try to NOT keep anything for special occasions only!

  • Denyse Whelan
    July 19, 2018

    This is all good thinking I reckon. We have been tightly holding onto what remains from our house sale in Sydney knowing that after I receive some inheritance money, we may be buying a house. Yet, in the meantime, and it’s 4 years at the end of this year, how do we enjoy the life we have now? We do little things like buy itunes vouchers (hub is a music fan) and book depository has done well out of me. However, now we are in a much more modern home with lovely spaces I wanted (and we finally got) a couch which I can lie on. I have not had one for over 5 years. We also got a rug that is 100% my choice and my hub went along with it. My clothes – bought out of necessity and then because i LOVED the shopping are now enough. I like that I can smile each time I see my lovely colourful rug, and also that I have choices of clothes to wear. We are also learning now that this part of our lives is about US. We are not making up a grandkid room any more as there are so few visits and with other complications at their end it is OK. So, we also think we will be retiring to a smaller place, on a smaller block and maybe it might have to be more inland but we will manage. Constantly evolving but I reckon if something makes you smile when you get home from work, then that is worth it. Great post. Denyse x

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      Oh yes Denyse it’s choosing those things that kinda sing…. which was the sofa in my case. (And you’ve reminded me a rug, in the past!) Usually I obsess about something for a while and if it stays with me then I know it’s something I really want and not a whim!

  • Kathy Marris
    July 19, 2018

    I constantly battle with being minimalist versus materialistic. I love having nice things but at the same time see that there’s so much wastage in my world. I’m really struggling to declutter my life and house and not replacing things with more things. Like I said it’s a constant battle!

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      That’s exactly it Kathy – for me… the ‘living with less’ but still-what-I-want type of thing. And I guess it’s okay as long as I don’t just buy something for the sake of it but because I really want it. (I think the fact I’ve moved house pretty regularly helps me with the decluttering thing. I’m never more mercenary than when something has to be packed!)

  • Jodie
    July 19, 2018

    You always bring up the most interesting topics, Deb!! I think I finally realize that we are all different. Yet we read articles and such that make us think we need to be one way or another. It is about finding what works for you, and what makes you happy. And it’s not like you are irresponsible about it!!
    I love that sofa too—it’s so interesting, just like you!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      I sooooo adore my sofa. It’s very springy which is weird as I’ve only had feather sofas since 1999 or so. I flop on this and bounce!

      It’s funny as I’m buying a heap of furniture for my job and looking at sofas (for a group house) that I would NEVER buy for myself and it’s an interesting challenge – to take myself and my taste out of the equation.

  • sizzlesue15
    July 20, 2018

    Hi Deb, I loved your post and it reinforced that we should all just follow our own path to what makes us happy. For some it is travel, others it is finding a sofa they love, it all depends on the person. As individuals we still look at others and compare their happiness to ours. This is pointless because everyone feels happiness in different ways. Thank you for a great reminder to Curate a life we love and I also think this title is a perfect mantra for us all to follow. Have a great weekend!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      Even the title of the original piece jumped out at me Sue – which is why I bookmarked it. The notion of ‘curating’ for me reminds me that there’s a conscious choice to be made and they’re choices only WE can make.

  • Kristin Alicia
    July 20, 2018

    I adore your sofa. I think there is great merit to surrounding ourselves with things that bring us joy. I wrote several months ago about making over my dining room into a writing room, complete with new paint job, desk, chair, etc. It wasn’t the most practical thing to do, because now I don’t have a dining room. But the old room reminded me of my old life, which was painful. And now, every time I come down the stairs and see my writing space, I feel happy and lighter. Our homes are so important and it makes sense to me to make them feel welcoming and reflective of our deepest selves. You never know, despite the cost, your new sofa may have benefits in your life beyond what you imagine. πŸ™‚

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      Oh yes, the feel of a room is really important Kristin. I recently switched my ‘study’ with my spare bedroom. For some reason I’d stopped using the study. I don’t know why but I decided to give guests the nice ocean view instead of it being wasted on my desk I wasn’t using and – amazingly – I’m using the study in its new spot and it feels just right. (As does my living space. My fave part of my house!)

      • Kristin Alicia
        July 20, 2018

        How interesting is that, that you are using the room now that you’ve switched it? I know this sounds odd, but when I was remodeling, I would go into each room and β€œtalk” to the space, asking what it wanted. I would then tune in and see what I felt. It helped me determine how to shift some things around. And hey, how lucky are your guests?!

        • Debbish
          July 22, 2018

          Funnily I’ve only had my 6 (nearly 7) year old godson sleep over so far but have someone else who’ll stay in a week or so, so hopefully they’ll appreciate the view etc…

  • Natalie Peck McNamara
    July 20, 2018

    The beauty of never having an abundance of money means I need to work out what I want to spend it on and what will support my happiness. I would new furniture but a holiday is my priority now. I would love to change some of wardrobe but a holiday is my priority now. I would love to eat out more often but a holiday is the priority. Not too bad really.

    • Debbish
      July 20, 2018

      Ah yes…. my family grew up without a lot and then in stages earlier in my life I had good jobs and was able to live quite well. Leaving the workforce, taking the redundancy and then finding it hard to get a job was a useful experience as it made me appreciate money all the more. I felt ridiculous that I’d leave my lovely beachside apartment, in my nice car and drive up to Centrelink to get benefits that didn’t even cover my bills. A timely reminder. I think it’s made me really appreciate having money again this past year and some of my spending has probably been more frivolous as a result (which is interesting). (What’s that saying about making hay while the sun shines?)

  • Natalie
    July 22, 2018

    You chose the sofa that you love and it brings you joy every day. I’d say that’s a wise purchase. Curating takes time. I think you’re on the right track πŸ™‚

  • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
    July 22, 2018

    I think each to their own. If making your home homelier is what makes you happy and content, so be it. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong. The whole minimalist thing can be interpreted whichever way we want. For me, I am only just trying to figure out some things currently in terms of what is going to help me curate a life I love.

    • Debbish
      July 23, 2018

      Ah yes and the challenge is also that it’s something we need to work towards or a long term goal. I’m a bit like that in terms of current work vs where I want to be be eventually in terms of ‘balance’.

I'd love to hear your thoughts