White Space

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I have become a bit obsessed with stuff.

The mountain of papers, journals and other bits of detritus left behind by my mother has me wondering what compels people to keep what they do.

Both my husband and I have spaces in antique shops. His is full of books, lots and lots of books, as well as cool old ads and a few chatchkes. Mine is the result of some of my mother’s stuff. Nothing really of much value, but I couldn’t just toss it. In truth, most of her things ended up staying in her apartment for her neighbor or at a thrift store close to her home. What was left that didn’t occupy a sweet spot in my history went to the antique store.

To furnish these spaces we often attend estate sales and sometimes garage sales. I can tell a lot about the owners of these collections of things. What’s important to them, what fads they succumbed to, how old they likely are, where in the world they have been and of course their personal taste.

And I often wonder why they kept what they did. And why they bought it or how they got it.

What makes our stuff so important to us?

Every antique store I have been in has been stuffed to the rafters with memories left behind. Yet we are still manufacturing stuff at an alarming rate. Furniture is no longer meant to last longer than the trend that created it. Appliances and technology have built in obsolescence. There is no restaurant without a to-go option that usually requires materials that never bio-degrade. And everything needs accessories now.

It’s all just too much stuff.

Part of this year was to be about counting my things and releasing what I didn’t need or no longer used. I was hoping to get to a sort of baseline of things. X number of shirts and shoes, the perfect amount and blend of furniture, only books that are used for reference or are waiting to be read, nothing other than holiday decorations in storage. And even those are to be pared.

I don’t know that I’m truly up to the task. It all just makes me so tired.

My intentions are solid, but my resolve waivers from time to time. Part of the process I guess. I hope.

I don’t want to leave behind cryptic notes and journals filled with repetitive and never resolved thoughts, but I’m afraid I’ve already failed on the journal task.

When I travel abroad, I often stay in Airbnb apartments. Recently I rented a tiny two bedroom flat in Madrid. It was done entirely in Ikea with the exception of the rustic wood doors that covered the French doors. Everything was white with clean lines. There were maybe 8 “things” that served no real purpose, otherwise a small sofa, a tiny table and two chairs, a TV stand, a lamp. That was kind of it. It may sound more like a cell than an apartment but to me it was refreshing.

It was breathing space. Room to think. It helped tremendously that I was six time zones away from my stuff and the projects that await me, but it was also a glimmer into the way things could kinda-sorta be. To not have that tug that I should be doing something or something else other than what I’m doing. Just this. Just space.

Now whenever I am confronted by a box, or a pile of papers or even the garage (THE GARAGE!) I close my eyes and let my mind rest on all that clean, white, simple space.

It helps. The work continues.

21 Day Challenge – Day 7 – Skulduggery Afoot

Diary Book

One week in and here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. I am still really good at tricking myself into and out of what is good for me. Like professional grade status.
  2. I’m getting smarter and quicker at catching the skullduggery and doing the right thing more often than not.
  3. I have not lost one ounce but I have gained a ton of energy. Before committing to the “work-out” I was fuzzy, forgetful, tired, whiney, angry and frustrated. Now I’m just occasionally and strategically forgetful.
  4. I don’t like being pushed. And apparently I “bargain” with my trainer. Whatever.
  5. And, I actually like raising my heart rate and sweating.

While all of this seems like good news – and it is – what I am lacking is routine or ritual. I need structure. I fight structure. Do you see the problem? I exhaust myself.

A year or so ago I went through some of my old journals, and there are millions. I was expecting to find witty remarks, deep thoughts and profound insights. You know, the stuff that would comprise the movie they make about me in 100 years after they unearth these tomes of brilliance. What I found between profundities were pages and pages, years and years of planning my day. Get up at 5, 6, 5:45, work out, eat breakfast and on and on.

How depressing. Not so much that I was planning, but that I never really worked the plan.

In almost every case, everything I wanted to accomplish during the day had to be finished by 11 AM, my high point of creativity and energy during the day, so I was progressively getting up earlier and earlier. What did I expect to do with myself after 11? Have lunch with friends, skulk around independent bookstores, chat up shop owners and do gooders, come home cook a gourmet meal and share my day with my husband?

Sounds pretty amazing, actually, perhaps I should revisit those journals.

But I digress.

So now what? Plan again? Start over? Wing it? It’s the act of planning that feels solid to me. I have always been this way. I am the idea person, I’m going to lay it all out and then YOU go implement it.

There appears to be a learning opportunity for me. Can I be the implementer? I know I will fight it. For the past 8 years I have had my own businesses and my time is my own. Schedules just happen organically.

I think if I have a short list of things I plan to accomplish during the day – whenever – I will get them done.

No. That feels like a cop-out. I feel like there is a huge opportunity for me to break through this resistance to what is good for me.

I need the structure. I need to create non-negotiables. I just do these things because they are what I do. I brush my teeth every day, shower, make my bed. Why not pranayama, meditation and an hour of movement? Why not indeed.

There. Now onto the schedule.

You should know that in my head I’m already coming up with reasons why this won’t work.