This year, unlike past years, I came to my word with curiosity. I chose space to as much to challenge me as I did to have it empower me. It’s been an exploration in new territory, one that was needed and in many ways transformative.
If you’ve read many of my blog posts here, you know that I love to explore the boundaries just as much as the possibilities. I began this year seeking more space, but now I’m really thinking hard on how to quantify enough.
I had it on my calendar to write a completely different post today, but we are deep in the throes of this mini-season of life called house hunting. We might be putting in an offer soon.
For so long I was all about making the most of the space I had, maximizing space for efficiency, and creating more space through less stuff. And now, well, I’ve got a different perspective to consider.
Looking at homes that are absolutely nothing like where we live now (i.e. eleventy million times larger) has me deeply considering how much space our little family of three really needs. I’m considering ideals and compromises, features and functions, and most of all, what feels spacious.
(Not a home we’re looking at. Image by Frederik.)
This is an exciting and difficult time, but I am profoundly more prepared for it by all this work I’ve done on “space” so far. In the rest of this post, I’m exploring the boundary of enough as it relates to my progress in my three areas of focus for my word.
How Much Space is Enough?
Creating space in my mind. At the beginning of the year I realized I wasn’t having very much fun. I could never relax, always feeling guilty if I wasn’t doing house work or work work. Spending all my time connecting the dots in my brain left me feeling very disconnected in the real world. It quickly became clear I needed to chill the heck out. Back in March I wrote:
“I need to actively take light entertainment time in the evening like TV, movies, music, and reading, while also going to bed early enough to support easier mornings.”
I gave myself permission to enjoy not working, take time away with my husband, and to sometimes do nothing at all. I have found it critical to take near-daily retreat time in order to feel restored and clear-headed.
The thing is, when you finally do exhale it’s pretty easy to get caught up in patterns that swing too far the opposite direction. It turns out that a healthy balance of mental space requires not binge-watching multiple series in a row. (Duh, right?)
Over the winter I watched all of Downton Abbey. When you get wrapped up in something, it becomes such a huge let-down when it’s over. To cope, I roped my husband into watching all of Homeland. Fortunately the spring weather arrived and we could go outside, reminding me that relaxing with media (even in good company) can look a lot like disconnection too.
Creating space in my day. I ramped up on this front very quickly, creating a new morning routine and getting the help I sorely needed. I even admitted that business coaches could help me reach my goals faster. I’m doing OK with relinquishing total control, so the biggest challenge has been using that “extra” time well.
I’ve done more reading, thinking, and writing this year than last. But I’ve also puttered and flitted around on the Internet a bit more as well. Some days I end up procrastinating, leaving me to meet a deadline using my evening hours. I don’t like that at all.
I’m slowly learning how to optimize my time better as well as find (and re-find) focus easily. My timer really helps, as does taking the time to plan. I always know what to do next because it’s written down in Asana.
I don’t think balance exists, but I definitely feel a sense of ease in my life now. Frantic and always-behind were my steady states for so long; I think it will take some more time for space to feel normal.
Creating space in my home. Our basement flooded in August and it was one of the best things that happened that month. It was the kick-in-the-pants we needed to eliminate several layers of junk that had accumulated during our six years in this house.
Knowing that we were planning to start house hunting in the fall, it also opened the dialogue about what stuff we really needed – and what was silly to hold on to. For example, I threw away four file boxes full of Cottage Living magazines, knowing that all of my dream house inspiration will come from Pinterest.
It also intensified our desire to simply have a larger space for the amount of stuff we have now. We’re not interested in fancy features as much as we are in having room to breathe. In this I realized that enough is a actually delicate, yin-yang balance of more and less.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Oh I just loved this post!
Thank you Andi! I have really enjoyed writing on this topic.
As one who is excellent at filling every available space (mental and physical) with stuff and/or activities, I really love this post. Thank you for sharing your search for clarity. I have just added a part-time job with a variable schedule to my day…it is making the space-finding even more challenging. – Fawn
Can you look at your schedule and identify windows that you always have available? That will help you identify any shifts you need to make, like when you get up or go to bed.
Great thoughts. It’s amazing how the physical clutter crosses over into the mental clutter creating a chaotic disorganized self. I found I did better with a smaller space. It gave me limitations while still being able to breathe. There are ways to create breathing spaces in both the physical and mental spaces. Yet I find in my larger home those physically cluttered areas still weigh on my mind even as I sit in my breathing space. I just need to get motivated and move things on……
Keep writing Jennifer! Your posts are very helpful as you share similar journeys with your readers.
Thank you Cyndi; I love exploring these ideas. For me the sanctuary space does help a little, but I totally understand what you’re saying. For so many of us physical clutter creates anxiety and mental burden that impacts everyday living. Those who don’t experience that sensation *cough* men *cough* have a hard time understanding.
This post really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing insight on how you create your needed space.
I’m so glad Jesa.
I’m thinking 2015 is the year for simplifying, decluttering (mind and stuff) and creating space for a lot of people. I know that we are in the throws of it too–we are prepping for a summer move overseas–and the amount of “stuff” has GOT to be minimized. I’ve been purging by the box load lately–most is stuff we haven’t touched since we moved here almost 3 yrs ago. (we move every 2-4yrs for my husbands job). I’ve also been decluttering my calendar–slowing my volunteer time outside the home and commitments to extra stuff–to make room for the needed work that comes along with simplifying and moving! Thanks for a great read. Happy house hunting!