Tag Archives: Lighter Living

Moving Forward While Staying Put

We’ve been making some pretty big life decisions around here lately. The lists of pros and cons have been written, or spoken, again and again and again. The ideas have been flying and the different paths have been considered and laid out and weighed.

The simple question with a not-so-simple answer? Do we stay or do we move.

I’ve blogged about our house before. It’s a total love/hate relationship that I’ve got going on with the thing. When it’s clean and working as it should and our family life is flowing smoothly, I love it. When it’s a disaster, when I notice the half-finished state of things, or when everything else is stressful, I hate it. Fairly standard I’m sure. Most people don’t love their living accommodations 24/7, unless you’ve just built yourself a dream home or lucked out on the perfect place in the perfect neighbourhood (which is totally subjective, obviously).

We live on a good block in a “sketchy” area…although having lived here for 7.5 years is changing my mind on just how sketchy our area is. We have a lot of seniors and young families around us. There’s the odd house that is run down and filled with questionable people, but we’ve started saying, “If you live in Winnipeg, you live in a sketchy area” because the truth is, crime happens everywhere. However, we are on the outskirts of this sketch-hub and we’ve only had a couple run-in’s over our years of being here.

We’re also outgrowing our house, or rather, how our house is set-up right now isn’t working for us. Storage is minimal, our shed is dilapidated, our garage is filled with water in the spring and has mould growing in it, we have three (large) children in two small bedrooms. What do we do?

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, I’m sure you’ve noticed a fairly consistent theme that I struggle with; the overwhelming part of me wants a simple less-is-more life. Living pared down, not following the buy bigger and shinier and spiffier trend always wins out in the end with me. But it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. I really like shopping too. But I also like thrifting and making my own things and thinking through a lot of what we bring into the house (this is seriously hard with 3 kids!).

So, after all of our talking and list making and path weighing, we’ve, again, decided to stay put as we move forward in life. We have some exciting projects happening around the house that will help make this place work and, hopefully, enrich our lives over the next 10 years. I’ll delve into those a different day. But, truth be told, after we both continually came to the same conclusion about our housing arrangements and what this means for how we live our lives, I had a huge light-bulb moment. I don’t want to move! Seriously! I just don’t want to pack-up and move somewhere just because it’s the typical “next step”. After I realized that was a massive undercurrent of how I was feeling, I felt so freed-up to be excited about how this place can serve us and how we can make it even better.

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Good Reads

There are some seriously good and inspiring books being read over here these days.

photobooks

“As I looked more closely at the role homemaking could play in revitalizing our local food system, I saw that the position was a linch-pin for more than just making use of garden produce and chicken carcasses. Individuals who had taken this path in life were building a great bridge from our existing extractive economy – where corporate wealth was regarded as the foundation of economic health, where mining our earth’s resources and exploiting our international neighbors was accepted as simply the cost of doing business – to a life-serving economy, where the goal is…to generate a living for all, rather than a killing for a few, where our resources are sustained, our waters are kept clean, our air pure, and families can lead meaningful and joyful lives.”

-Shannon Hayes. Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

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Here We Are.

We are now living in 660 sq ft.

I have moments where I totally freak out and wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Why would we move? Why would we give-up our yard, our space, our big bedroom for something so small? Why would we knowingly enter into so much change? It’s a totally different way of living. I’m now tied-down to a place, to a job. We can’t just up-and-leave at the drop of a hat. I need to be reachable at all times.

Then I have moments where I think that this is just brilliant; a forced down-size. Something totally different is often what we need. A new beginning. A chance to see life from a different perspective, a different angle.

Paring down has been good. We still have so much stuff left in our house and I only find myself with a small(ish) list of things to bring over still. I’m sure we will end-up filling our storage containers with all of the camping/hunting/sewing gear, but other than that I can’t think of what we still need. Man, we have so much junk.

I’m trying to find a spot for everything before it all gets unpacked. I think that living here will help me grow leaps and bounds in the way of organization and household responsibilities. I have to stay on-top of dishes and cleaning or else the place will drive us nuts. I have to plan meals better because we only have an apartment size fridge, stove and freezer. Planning and care will have to go into so many things. I will need to manage myself and my time well, something that I’ve always wanted to be good at.

So here we are. The space, now that we’re moved-in, feels very comfortable and seems to be a good space for us. All of our stuff that we wanted to fit in here does. We have a nice living room and a little office area for me (using my sorting table as the desk). The artwork still needs to be put-up, but there’s no rush on that.

I think that this is going to be a great learning time for us as individuals, as a couple and as a family.

 “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

 

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Making the Move.

Well, this is the week. We will be in transition for a little while, but Wednesday is our official ‘move-in’ day. I’ve been puttering around, trying to figure-out what we need and what we’ll need to leave behind. Up until this point it’s been all talk, “we’ll pare down, we’ll get rid of things, we’ll live more simply” I’ve told myself. Man, when push comes to shove it’s hard to actually do. When you’re holding the things in your hands trying to decide if that item makes a difference in your life it’s so easy to rationalize keeping it. After going through a whole room you’re only left with a single box to go to the thrift store and a small bag to go to the trash. I’m glad that I’m reading a book about simplicity while going through this transition. It’s helped give me focus and motivation where focus and motivation have been lacking. It’s helped to remind me that this move is much more than a relocation and a money-saving strategy for us…if we let it be. I’ve been repeating that old quote “change is inevitable – growth is optional” to myself over and over. James and I could easily move, get rid of a few belongings and be done with it, without a second thought. Our lives could change and we could stay the same. My hope is that doesn’t happen. My hope is that we use this crazy opportunity to allow ourselves to grow and embrace a more unconventional life.

“…simplicity must first draw the heart, appealing to the soul in some mysterious way; only afterwards will the intellect follow along, filling in the details of how to organize life around this new passion and dreaming up rationals for curious friends. The attraction of simplicity is mysterious because it draws us in a completely opposite direction from where most of the world seems to be going: away from conspicuous display, accumulation, egoism, and public visibility – toward a life more silent, humble, and transparent than anything known to the extroverted culture of consumerism.”

                                    -Mark A. Burch excerpt from Stepping Lightly

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Lighter Living.

We’ve lived in this house for just over 4 years. In that 4 years we’ve accumulated a lot of, well, crap. Things we don’t need. Things we don’t use. Things we don’t love. Things and things and things and stuff. We spend time trying to clean and organize. We spend time looking in and through it. We spend time shopping for more stuff because we can’t find the item we need in all of our stuff.

Why do we need so much stuff? It doesn’t make me happier. It makes me sad because it’s an anchor and a waste. It makes me sad that I have to spend time sorting and cleaning or I become depressed because I’m ignoring the sorting and cleaning. I ignore the kids so that I can clean. I yell at the kids because they make a bigger mess with all of their stuff which makes me ignore them more so I can clean more.

Is success based on stuff? If I go out and buy that new dress that I like people will then see how good I look and how on top of the trends I am and that will translate into the appearance of wealth which, in turn, must mean that I’m successful and happy…right? But a new season brings a new style and a new style means that dress I just bought is now out of style which means I need to buy that new dress which means that my closet is running out of room because I can’t bring myself to get rid of that old dress because I love my stuff so I just keep all of it..everything..so what’s the solution? Get a bigger closet! Buy a bigger house! If we have a bigger house then we need more furniture to fit into all of the nooks and crannies and then we need more things to put on the bookshelves and in the closets.

In my heart I don’t buy into the world’s version of square-footage success. Bigger house = More stuff. More stuff = More money. Money = Wealth. Wealth = Success.

Life is more than that. Life is more than stuff.

But in reality I have bought into a large portion of this. I don’t feel like my thinking and my living have aligned very well.

In the past few weeks I have been mulling over ‘Lighter Living’ and wondering what it can look like in my life.

What if James and I got rid of over half of our possessions and only kept what we truly need and love? Could we be happy? Could it work?

 Hm. I was awake for a few hours last night thinking about this.

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