Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Update and a new perspective's been a while.

What have I been up to? Plenty of things! Here are a few:

  • I renovated my bathroom (it's 99% done).
  • I've recently discovered podcasts (I know I know - I'm clearly not an early adopter!)
  • I got into cycling in a big way 
  • Started a new job almost two years ago
  • Lots of work travel to amazing destinations - got to go to China and Vietnam for the first time!
  • Lots of friends have gotten married and had kids, including my baby brother! I'm now the proud aunt of a gorgeous little nephew. He had some struggles as a newborn that gave us all lots of heartache and worry, but he's a fighter and is doing really well.
  • Said good-bye to our beautiful family dog - she was 17 years old and she wasn't living a good life anymore. I miss her!

If I think about why I haven't posted anything for years, I think it comes down to this: I wanted this blog to be a beautiful space to showcase how I transformed my house from a seventies relic to a fresh, vibrant, happy place with paint and elbow grease. And I've put in plenty of work, but every time I thought about taking photos, the excuses went something like this: "everything looks messy - I'll have to wait until I do a big tidy up" - and then, after a big tidy up "oh the lighting isn't right so another time", and so weeks turned into months turned into years, and here we are.

I was so used to reading these successful home blogs with gorgeous photography and thousands of readers that I thought if I can't reproduce that, then why bother? But everyone has to start somewhere, and it's really not my dream to have a 'successful' blog with thousands of readers. It was really a way for me to document my journey of home ownership, renovating and exploring my interest in home design and decor. 

Lately I've been listening the The Minimalists podcast, and while I've been watching plenty of YouTube videos about minimalism and decluttering, for some reason this is what really spoke to me. I think it's because they really tackle the why behind being a minimalist, rather than just the how

After many times of getting home after a busy day only to be confronted by mess, clutter and stuff, I was feeling overwhelmed, depressed and suffocated. On more than one occasion I thought to myself "if my house burned down tomorrow, it would almost be a relief, as I could start over and wouldn't have to deal with all of my stuff." Yeah...that's a sobering thought. (I have zero intention of letting that happen, but why even invite the thought into my life!)

I am also letting my conditioning and family's influence get in the way. We have always had a lot of stuff and struggled to let anything go. We've moved house several times (once halfway across the world), and we have dragged all our stuff with us every time. I was talking to my mom about this the other day, and when we lived in South Africa things seemed less cluttered, more tidy. I think there are two reasons for this: firstly, we had a much bigger house. Whilst we didn't bring everything with us in terms of furniture, I don't think we really left much behind in terms of decor, tchotchkes and personal items. The accumulations of 20 years of my parents being married, and two teenage kids. Secondly, in South Africa we had a maid* who worked three (full) days a week at our house (sounds extravagant, but I went to school with someone that had two full-time live-in maids!). So you could have your house clean and tidy virtually all the time, and you could get to the big spring cleaning jobs as needed. Both my parents have a hard time letting go of something - even if it's broken, my dad will save it to fix it later. Which invariably he does, but it may take years, whilst storing the broken items and random bits and pieces that might be useful one day to fix a broken item. 

And we all tend to get used to our surroundings - after a while the mess and clutter just becomes white noise, until we realise someone is coming over and suddenly you see your space through their eyes and run around in a mad panic shoving things into piles and behind closed doors. I hate the thought of someone dropping by unexpectedly, because invariably my house is so messy that I'm embarrassed to let them in the door. What a stressful way to live. If I really sit down and think about it, that is a crazy way to approach life. I would rather give up the opportunity to spend time with a friend or chat to a neighbour, because of my material possessions that I don't even care enough about to put away/find a place for. The Minimalists have a saying: "Love people, use things. The opposite never works." Based on my previous behaviour, I'd say I'm not living that at all. We are so caught up in material possessions and consuming consuming consuming - where does it stop? Yet it's so easy to do, because we're constantly bombarded with advertising and having the latest and greatest. I'm not one to keep up with the Joneses, but I still notice myself falling down the rabbit hole when browsing shopping catalogues or websites, or seeing a friend's new car, or newly renovated house, or trendy outfit.  

So, this is a bit of a random post, but I have to start somewhere. I think for the moment I'd like to use this blog to journal my journey to leading a more intentional life, surrounded by people I love and things I find useful or that bring me joy (had to sneak a Marie Kondo reference in there!), rather than being dragged down by the weight of stuff. And I'll be sharing changes in my home, whether the 'after' photos are perfect or not. 

The great thing is that this is also a way to be green - the best way to have less stuff is to stop acquiring it! 

Images: all my own. They might not make sense but they're all from the various things I've been up to in the last few years.

*the term 'maid' is no longer politically correct - the correct term is 'domestic worker', but I'm not sure that makes sense in terms of what role that person fulfils to anyone outside of South Africa. Duties varied from household to household, but included anything to do with the house: cleaning, ironing, laundry, washing windows, deep cleaning all those spaces you never get to with the regular cleaning routine, child-minding, picking kids up from school, cooking etc. Our wonderful maid was Johanna - she was a lovely lady and very loyal to our family. I hope she's doing ok these days.

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