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.
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: