Embracing space is a key to happiness

#6/11 in my "Joy of Less" series of personal discovery

Space the final frontier….to boldly go where no man has gone before!

Capt. Kirk was too busy exploring new galaxies and civilizations to accumulate. He had his phaser and was good to go.

Previously,  i wanted to be free to adventure but felt anchored by an overwhelming load of stuff and responsibilities. Before, i lifted off i had to rise above the day-to-day tediousness of life by clearing surfaces, particular the space I use most often, our kitchen counter top.

Philosophical Concept: Embrace Space (Ch. 7) and Modules (Ch. 16)

Think back to when you just moved in to your home. Remember the empty space and that terrific feeling of opportunity?

Get rid of an item, and voila! Space. (p.33)

I get anxious and tense with clutter and disorganization. Since our home is the container of our domestic life, i can’t relax, prioritize or create if i don’t have some semblance space.

Hint to self #9: To decrease anxiety in my home i need: 1) modules and containers to stay organized, 2) limits to assure what comes in = what goes out, and 3) commitment to constantly keeping surfaces clear.

Joy summarizes that a module is set of related items that perform a similar task, like all the stuff needed to pay bills, to cook, to exercise. To create modules you divide a complex system into smaller task-specific components. First 1) consolidate like items, e.g. all forks in your kitchen, to see what and how much you really have; 2) cull/discard what you don’t need, what doesn’t match or is not useful, then 3) contain and organize.

Hint to self #10: Always cull before containing,

How you contain depends on size, degree of organization desired, and if the container will be visible. Personally, i hate ugly container; if I can’t find a container that blends into the surrounding area in a way that appeals not distracts, the container must be hidden in a drawer or cabinet.

STREAMLINE: All surfaces clear (Chapter 15)

My last post on “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” outlines the details of simplicity. On the flip side, “all surfaces clear” is the big picture the joy of simplicity. For without clear space and time we can not create opportunities, truly relax or let go.

Jay believes that by nature surfaces are sticky. Once an item lands on a flat space, it sticks, and is liable to stay there for days, week or even months. We grow accustomed to its presence.

I’ve i’m in a cluttered environment for too long i become a sick, lethargic, couch potato, rather than then the caring, carefree explorer and source of light i seek to be.

Jay encourages us to create more serene, useful and easier-to- clean spaces by imagining our surfaces as slippery, so slick that everything we place on a surface leaves with us when we leave the room. The only exception is the functional or decorative.  Maintain clear surfaces by diligent scanning: Every time you leave a room, if a space isn’t smooth as it should be, you spend a few minutes clearing its contents.

Kitchen makeovers take time (Ch.26)

Our kitchen is where I accumulate: leftovers, partly used, once used, never used but supposedly important, hand-me-downs, and expired stuff.  Duplicates dominate; buggies are bothersome.  It’s a constant source of in and out; use, clean and put away, our essential hub of daily activity.

Even though i sometimes think “Chuck” is my middle name, this kitchen makeover took me months. I proceeded drawer by drawer, layer by layer of grime, cleaning, purging, rearranging little by little – I culled, debated, rearranged, culled, debated, rearranged, iteratively –   i let go in stages.

In the process our black and white set of everyday ware got packed for our oldest daughter who is now living independently. The good china got downsized to 12 settings and is usable daily.. The crock pot, unmatched stuff, waffle iron, griddle, tea-pot, several large serving dishes were insufficiently used to justify keeping.  Everything i need to reach on a daily basis is now located in the front of the two lowest shelves or in a drawer. The toaster and blender, which we use almost daily, moved from the counter to a lower shelf; the knives and coffee pot traded places with the drain rack to create a new “coffee and cutting” work station module that now allows my husband and i to concurrently prepare our breakfasts without bumping into each other (not that i mind bumping into him…just not when i’m hungry before coffee!)

Value of daily maintenance. Jay is right that it takes continual dedication of the entire household to keep “all surfaces clear,” but it’s worth it.  I have a better attitude, cook more (which saves money and keeps the hubby better fed), and truly am happier. More me, having less stuff was the starting point for the upward spiral of simple living.

Hint to self #11: Less Stuff = More Simple = Easier = Higher quality of life = Happier.

“The Joy of Less” series is a key component of my personal quest for simplification and my annual New Year’s Resolution Plan for 2017.

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