We’ve slowed down our moving schedule. As with any initial wave of excitement of a major life change, the next step is to take a deep breath and sit down to think things through. Our current plan is to get rid of what we don’t want or need, store in our barn boxes of the many of treasures we want to keep, and have the downstairs and some of upstairs painted. Our goal is to make the house enjoyable to live in until we’re ready sell. We’re feeling relaxed with this simple plan.
I’m back walking. After strolling all over Florence early in December, and daily walks in Lancaster, PA with my daughter at Christmas time, my daily exercise came to an abrupt halt. We returned to a New England of frozen pipes, zero temperatures, and snow blocking the walkway in front of our house. I stopped scheduling a walk into my daily schedule. My bad.
Now, with the weather warming up, there is no excuse; only adjustments need. Today I drove half a mile up the road, parked at Our Lady of Fatima church, and walked my usual back roads. A simple solution. Don't give up walking.
One of my first visits upon my arrival in Florence is to the Convent of San Marco. I truly believe that with my longing for simplicity, I could be content living in one of the cells Fra Angelico decorated with frescos depicting the life of Jesus. I’d pick the first cell to the left, the one with Jesus and Mary Magdalene, ‘Noli mi tangere.’ They’d have to close the entire place to the public because I sure wouldn’t want tourists peeping in and snapping photos. Other than that, I’m a go.
During the fifteen century the convent was home to two notables. I’d be delighted to meet Cosimo de’Medici (1389-1464) in the corridor when he was on retreat from the bustle of his busy life as a leader in Florence. On the other hand, I doubt I’d have much in common with Savonarola (1452-1498) when he was in Florence, from 1482 until he was burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria in 1498. Besides, it would take over a half a century for me to overlap with them both.
These days I’m into simplicity more than helping the economy, but that’s been my way for at least the past ten years, maybe more. Partly it’s an age thing; I don’t need more stuff; I have enough. However….
Case in point. For years we’ve had two ovens, and I must admit that from time to time they have been mighty handy. Recently, however, one of them died. I mean died; it didn’t heat, and a replaceable part doesn’t exist. No transplant or replacement for this aged oven!
I looked into replacing it, only to discover that the simplest new oven would cost close to one thousand dollars, and that didn’t include delivery or installation. What to do? besides leaving it there.A friend who does some work for us suggested we take it out, and voila, now we have a cubby. He gave the wall a quick coat of paint, and now my coffee maker and cookbooks have a cozy new home.
Please note: my husband found the coffee maker, new, at the Put and Take.
I’m sitting here this morning feeling mighty calm. It’s a frame of mind, a way of being that I believe can be present to us no matter what’s going around in our life and in the world. I feel it today, but it’s not easy to be consistent. Summer company comes and goes, our floor is still being refinished, politicians are voicing fear, the humidity is high—blah, blah, blah.
So how do I keep the calm? It’s all in the remembering. Remembering to take deep breaths, to get off by myself, to sit in silence. Remembering to do this every day. Remember that we reap what we sow.
The carpet was removed, floor sanded and given a coat of polyurethane.No stain needed. As pure and simple as we could make it.
The room is really two rooms, divided by two steps, so now we’re going to have the second room refurbished. Painting the walls will follow. Although it was work getting the room ready, putting things back has been quite simple-- because of all the stuff we got rid of.
What surprises, and intrigues me the most, is how simple my life feels. The thirty-four year old carpet must have been holding all kinds of ideas and experiences that I don’t need any more. Vacuuming and carpet cleaning didn’t get rid of all that accumulated over the years. Wood, on the other hand, doesn’t absorb so hopefully I will stay free.
. In spite of the current heat wave, I plan to keep releasing what I don’t need or want. “Am I taking this with me, I continue to ask.
Today is the big simplifying day. We’ve cleared the bedroom and are now waiting for Handyman Russ to arrive to remove the carpet, and sand and stain the floors. We’re still asking that same question, as we pretend we are moving immediately (which we are not): “Are we taking this with us?”
The biggest challenge at the moment is deciding about the pictures on the walls. The paintings are easy—we’re taking them. But what about the prints of advertisements from magazines, or the millions of photographs of this and that? This is where my husband is not ready to ask the ultimate question.
Regardless, life already feels simpler and the energy to get rid of more stuff remains intense.
I’m finally accepting my older sister’s excellent way of simplifying: Out! Out! Out! She has always been a minimalist: growing up her room was immaculate, mine with piles of stuff all over the place. One of us would not be alive today if growing up we had had to share a room.
My husband and I finally joining her minimalist club. Here’s how we’re doing it. As we go through stuff we pretend we are moving. Our only question: Would we take it? We don’t ask subjective ones such as: Do we want it, like it, need it? Nor do we ask nostalgia questions. Of course, want, like, need and nostalgia become part our ‘would we take it’ response, but lots of stuff is going Out! Out! Out!
My husband and I are in the midst of a major purge of stuff. It started when our grandpet had a series of accidents on our wall-to-wall upstairs carpet; that led to the shameful confession that couldn’t remember when it was installed because it was so long ago--at lease twenty years, maybe thirty. It is time to get rid of the rug and think about hardwood floors.
This has ended up primarily being a book purge; many New Age—past lives, astrology, ‘para’ this and that. Just the thing for someone at the put-and-take. Fewer books means fewer shelves; so far we’ve emptied four.
I’ve been writing about simplicity on this blog for close to seven years. Passing these books on to interested readers opens up simplicity on many levels. When we decide to move, we will have already done some downsizing. If we stay here forever, it will be a BIG help to our kids. In letting go of all those ‘para’ books, I have released all obligations to pursue such topics. Simplicity on the material, physical plane; simplicity on the psychological, spiritual plane.
After letting go of my writing project yesterday, I found myself letting go of a bunch of papers stacked on my desk. There must be a correlation between the two. I need neither project nor papers. If pressed, most of us would say we want a simpler life. But this feels like a major step, not a cliché.
Although getting rid of papers simplifies the stuff in my house, releasing the writing project simplifies my life. On a practical level, it frees up time; the physical writing time, but more importantly, the psychological time consumed by thinking, fretting, delaying, and so on. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but I feel free, I have my life back.
Hmm, having my life back is no small obsession. When things are amiss, we lose our essence. Our purpose is out of sync, we are out of touch with our mission, our meaning, with how we are to spend the precious time we have been given.
Today, at this moment I am in sync. Knitting, visiting, sitting in the silence is feeding my simple soul. I am full. It is enough.
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4/30/15 Finishing up VG.