I sometimes feel that I don’t live simply enough. I feel like I have so much abundance, it might even be too much.
I lived in the world I now criticize for many years, though I was never comfortable in it. I used that system just enough to get to where I could leave it. I was in my early 40’s.
At the beginning, I was simply ignorant and following the ‘American Dream’ like I thought I was supposed to. For years, I worked as a designer helping people create wonderful spaces, and loved the creative process; but I always felt that it was so much for nothing. A lot of what I made money on was contributing to the unsustainable system we are now engulfed in and I could feel it. I did, however, live in a tiny, tiny (about 400 sq ft at most) apartment for 20 years. I only bought a house, after my mother passed, when I had accumulated enough to make a sizeable down payment toward what I thought would be future security. I was lucky enough to come out less scathed than many. Timing is everything.
Last night I made the mistake of visiting some of my old friends on FB that have achieved great monetary success and started to feel a sense of failure. I started feeling a little shame about the condition of my dilapidated home. I always come full circle after an episode like that and realize that I am exactly where I want to be.
I get up every morning with something wonderful to tackle. The fact that I have to find unconventional ways to accomplish most things just adds to the adventure and resulting sense of achievement. I guess for some, the achievement of so-called wealth is the goal; the material elements just an outward expression of that.
This particular person won’t read this, I’m sure. We’ve lost touch. We were roommates for a couple of years when we were in our 20’s. Even then, it was evident that nothing was enough for her. I soon backed away from involvement with her because I was quite content with very little and her lust for ‘things’ filled me with anxiety. She now has a huge ‘ranch’ with many horses, attends dressage events, (her daughter competes where she failed to), in a souped up giant motor home with amenities the rich and famous would envy. She has a second home in Hawaii and a shop for western wear that is cram packed with all manner of dead animal things, Swarovski crystal embedded handbags and authentic Indian jewelry she touts as “having great weight”; the bigger the better I guess.
Seeing all of that eventually gave me the same anxiety it did when we were roommates.
So, full circle, I’m up again this morning tackling some wonderful things. It’s so hot in the mid-afternoon now that I am finding inside jobs to do. I have lots of second hand furniture that almost all need some kind of amending. This is how I get my “Designer” on now. Years and years of accumulating ‘junk’ here and there is being transformed into a space I love.
As a designer, I was privy to left over materials and have quite a stash of great drapery and upholstery weight fabrics to play with. It’s now a matter of what to use for what.
This was a huge piece of a highly sought after, (at that time), Waverly pattern. Over 20 years ago, I cut off pieces of it to make little curtains for my mother’s laundry room. I’ve always loved it, but couldn’t quite find the right place for it. It’s cotton, so even after all of these years it is in excellent condition. There is enough to make two side panels for the big window in the living room. I’ve committed to using it as a jumping off point for what I put on or do to other things.
This is a chair I inherited from my sister. It is in horrendous shape because I tried to paint the fabric and frame and the cane sides have gotten punctured. It is really comfortable and guests seem to prefer it. Until I can make myself learn upholstery and re-caning, this fabric table round makes it tolerable. Another thing from my sister.
The floors are all getting a mosaic tile treatment. I ran an ad in our local trader not long ago and got quite a big stash for free from just two contributors.
I just brought some in and laid them on the bedroom floor to start washing and deciding how and where I want to lay them.
Years ago, when ‘head vases’ were all the rage, I certainly couldn’t afford them, but found a love of these animal vases instead that were just a few dollars each. For years they lived in boxes. Periodically being influenced by the minimalist mentality I would think, “I ‘should’ get rid of them”.
I’m so glad I resisted. After donating 2/3 of my books to the library awhile ago, I got the vases all out and put them on the highest shelf that I look directly at when lying on my bed. They make me so very happy. Little things, mean a lot, and… I built the shelves myself, (using closet brackets, planks and included poles), which adds to the satisfaction. I use the poles all of the time to sort clothes while doing laundry and for displaying things I’m working on up-cycling.
Okay, so this isn’t actually using the pole, but I do, I can assure you. There is a collection of things I made (or am making) hanging here and sometimes they are strung out on the pole to inspect. Here they don’t take up so much visual energy but are still available to remind me I’m not finished with them.
Over winter, when it was the opposite of now and too cold to be outside in the garden, I brought fabrics in to work on up-cycling projects. They are just being sorted to take back out to the studio; which is a ‘next’ project to get sorted and set up to use during these too-hot-to-be-outside days of Summer. Everything for sewing has finally made its way out there. It just needs to be tweaked into better organization for actually using.
I have a few nice things that need no help from me. Years ago now, when I opened a window coverings business here in town, I splurged on this mirror chest to act as a centerpiece in my tiny little shop. I just simply love it.
The electrified hurricane lamp sat on my mother’s nightstand for years. I was the beneficiary. These kinds of things I just can’t part with. I remember many days of sitting in her room with her and seeing it.
The green triangle bowl she bought from a thrift store. One day we were ‘mooching’ through and I was fondling it, too poor to purchase it. Sometime later, I was delivered her conventional brown paper bag with a ‘tear dryer’ in it. It was this bowl. She gave us things when she thought we needed cheering up.
This beautiful work of art was purchased just as it is in a second hand shop. I ‘needed’ it. It has all the colors and sensibility of things I like.
The dangling bookmark was my sisters. Some verse of wisdom was written on the back but has now rubbed off.
The cheap utility clamp light, $6.97 at Walmart, is perfect to read by. It reflects the light on the ceiling and broadcasts it softly all over the room.
The headboard, of which there are a queen and full, (the full is in the guestroom), were donated by a client of mine when we were setting up a home for my dear departed sissy. Now it has come back to me. It could easily be padded and upholstered.
I thought about getting rid of this old set of The Books of Knowledge. My father was a pushover for door to door salesmen. We got these instead of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Many reports were written from these.
Before parting with them, I sat on the edge of my bed with a random one and it opened to this page. The information is timeless and not often made as easily understood as this, so these books are staying. So much for a minimalist lifestyle.
So much abundance, sometimes I feel like it is too much. I’m just grateful that most of it is old, pre-owned, inherited and still of great usefulness.
There are projects at every turn. Again, my mother bought each of her three girls and herself too, this print; all of them second hand. The frame and glass have broken, I still have the pieces of the frame. It’s on the to-do list. Meanwhile the laundry basket, making its way to where it is supposed to be, supports it where I now want to hang it, reminding me to get both things done.
I dreamed about my old roommate last night. I guess that is how we process thoughts and get them sorted. I woke up feeling not one bit envious of her exorbitant lifestyle. Au contraire. I felt revitalized, convicted for having had such lusting thoughts and renewed in my confirmation to live as radically simple a life as I can possibly accomplish. And, happy as a lark about it.
Because I don’t use air conditioning, but rather fans blowing on me when I sit or lie, I get to enjoy the sounds of silence and whatever warm or cool breeze might flow through the open doors and windows; fresh air anyway and sweating just helps process toxins, right?
I hear bird song most of the day.
People refer to me as “the lady with curtains hanging on her porch like they do in Bisbee”. The curtains help keep out the morning sun from the East in the Summer, give me privacy from my neighbor all times, and help keep the cold out during Winter. The folding shutter is out there to make an enclosure for the kitties. That will be on one side for privacy from my neighbor and the other will have a chicken wire door for a catio of sorts. Projects at every corner. If I had no end of money, I could hire someone else to do it, but then what would get me up in the morning?
Soil is defined as that portion of the earth’s surface in which it is possible for plants to grow. It is the storehouse containing the chemicals which men and animals need to build their bodies. We do not get these chemicals directly from the soil. Plants draw them from the soil and change them into food that we can use. We eat the plants, or animals eat them and we eat the animals. If the soil lacks the necessary chemicals, the plants that grow in it are partly or wholly unfit as food for man.
Soil is made up of mineral and organic matter. The mineral part is rock that has been broken down and chemically altered by a process called weathering. The organic part is composed of decayed plants and micro-organisms (very small forms of life). Most soils are made up largely of mineral matter, but there are exceptions. Muck has about 50 per cent organic matter; and peat has more than 70 per cent organic matter.
~ The Book of Knowledge – Volume 7, page 2663 – ©1956
So, muck is a good thing.
It’s all about perspective. I’m glad to have had my perspective challenged and brought full circle back to being wholly satisfied with #VoluntaryRadicalSimplicity as my chosen style of life.
Now, what project to do next…