Saturday, June 25, 2016

Stuff and Space

Our Hope St. Home with Dream by Ashley Woodson Bailey 
If you know me, you would never think to call me "A Minimalist".  Because I'm so not.

I am the person who always takes home leftovers just in case, even though 79% of the time I forget about them.
I usually have at least 4 beverages scattered throughout the house at any given time: 1 tea mug, a large glass of water, a non-water drink, and the water I get when I can't find the first water.
My kids artwork is kept far too long because someday I might want to frame it (yes, I've even already taken a picture of it with my phone).
I have several projects going around the same time.  Always.
I still have notes from high school best friends and old boyfriends.  (yes, I am 33 and I have been married for 10 years!)
Our Hope St. Kitchen I designed with the help of good 'ole IKEA and a custom ETSY shop

So, I never thought I would fit into this Minimalist Paradigm.  In fact, I like keeping things just in case.  Every six months to a year, I actually can dig around and happen to find that one random item, like a single hole puncher or the tiny screw driver for the tiny toy batteries, and think, "Aha!  I knew I kept this for a reason."  And every six months or so I'm trying to find that hard-to-find random item and I can't (it's not anywhere!) so I go out and buy it instead- adding to all the stuff.

But lately, I've been feeling that something has changed within me...something is not the same...

I've talked a bit about my sensory challenges.  I talk a lot with moms and online about sensory issues/ sensitivities/ sensory rich activities for input/ etc.  We parents deal with all the sensory stuff too, just like our kids do.  One of my main issues is visual clutter, and that is why this post is filled with lovely simple photos of my spaces I have created in all our many homes to try to deal with the rest of the clutter in the home that oppressed me.
An inherited couch and smattering of other items we have inherited and bought in our Memphis Home.  The other side of this pictured room had a stack of boxes, I think :)
We have just found out some interesting news that we will have to move....again.  Our third move in 14 months, our family's fourth home in 14 months!!  Each move over the last year has been on-to-the-next-better thing.  I have loved all of our homes, but we accumulated So. Much. Stuff along the way.

When my mother passed away in 2013, we inherited all of her things.  Many items were my childhood things that she kept because she was a woman who kept things.  It was sweet to see what all she had kept and cherished of mine and other friends and family through the years.  Growing up, I thought that was what you were supposed to do: keep all the things.  All the reminders of the wedding showers for that friend of the family, all the party favors from birthdays, all the art projects, all the christmas cards, all the pictures, all the memories...right?  (Right about now I'm picturing my sister-in-law, Sarah [world class at only keeping the essentials], cringing!)
I'm wondering if memories can be stored, though, in my head.  I'm wondering if it might be time to let go of the last of the things I have been holding on to of my mother's things.  And if I'm being completely honest, the 15-20 boxes of her and my childhood things--I truly have no clue what is in them unless I go into the attic to find out!  If I can't remember what is in them, can't I let them go?!

When we moved to Memphis, we bought our home fully furnished.  We moved from 1600 square feet to 3300 square feet and we thought we needed things to fill the space.  Our previous homeowner had nice things, so we kept many of those things.  When we decided to move to Austin, though, we pared down a bit because we wanted to fit it all in one moving truck to save money.  We sold some and thought we were in a good spot with the amount of stuff we possessed.  

Our Austin home is 3700 square feet.  I thought when we got to Austin with just one truck's worth of stuff and even more space, we would feel even more at peace and relaxed...We had this great, aesthetically pleasing home, wouldn't we all be happiest here?

What happened was that we filled this home up in 6 short months with too much for my brain.  Half of it looks like the picture below, and half of it looks like a lot of places for tiny piles of clutter to hide.  Too many dishes (I own four different sets), too many craft supplies (and too many stickers to get stuck in my vacuum), too many stacks of paper (oh elementary school, you fill my life with way too much paper things).
The home we are leaving behind in a few short weeks on our next adventure!
We asked the kids what house they liked best (out of the three we have lived in the past year).  I thought they were going to say the one we are in now.  They didn't have to think and said, "The Hope St. house".  The 1600 square foot home in Marietta, GA, our smallest one so far.  I think they felt cozy there, they felt secure.  It was small, but we didn't have all the stuff we have now.  

Here in 3700 square feet they tend to just stick to the kitchen or their bedrooms anyways!  But the kitchen and the bedrooms are always so very crowded and cluttered with things, tiny things.  They don't even have very much in the way of toy sets, but after each playtime their rooms are so filled with trinket clutter, like they need to fill all the space with something.  It almost seems like more space invites them to fill it with something...too much space is unsettling and needs to be inhabited?  I gave away seven dress up purses for this very reason, always being filled with nicknacks, tiny things....sticky things.  We keep donating the kids' stuff and they keep finding more and more things to fill the space!

So what if it's not about just less stuff but more space, but what if it's about less stuff and LESS space?

These are the questions I'm pondering.  If you have downsized or headed towards minimalism in any form, I would love to hear from you!
Can mental clarity be better gained with less space?  The freedom from all the things?
What if less stuff means more mental space no matter the square feet?
What if the kids had less space AND less stuff to deal with?  Would that be better for their tiny burdened brains and my big burdened one?  
Less space and less stuff.  We don't know where we will be end of July, but we are thinking it might be somewhere with less of everything!  I'll keep you posted :)

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