Jan 7, 2010

Cherishing and Clearing our Bustlings

We're clearing. Again. Sarah's been on the rampage wanting to get rid of things, so I figured I'd better get on the bandwagon and agree to eliminate 5 items per day for the month of January. "Only if I can blog about it" was my deal.

This isn't new, this decluttering. We offloaded about 3/4 of our worldly possessions when fleeing the Dubya regime and claiming refugee status in Canada. Then after making the deadly mistake of buying two successively bigger homes (the latter of which we filled with five newly donated couches on move-in day. Five.), we once again downsized to a single 20' moving truck to come to the island.

That process was made easier by the intention of living for a year in a yurt. We held each item up and said, "Will we need this in a yurt?" If the answer was no, the next question was, "If we can live without this for a year in a yurt, do we really need to store it for when we buy a bigger house?" There are precious few things that can stand the double-edged yurt test.

Instead of a cosy yurt, we spread our few surviving things out around this 1300 square foot house, plus the dangerous out buildings for non-essential storage. But we honestly haven't re-accumulated that much, so the idea of shedding 155 items was a bit daunting. OK, not so much daunting as unnecessary, or not where my energies really felt needed. For me at this point, decluttering/simplifying means getting some major projects off the list. Like finishing the luxurious 49 square foot basement office for Sarah so we can reorganize our living space up here. Finally laying that plastic down in the crawlspace. Finishing the foundation wall insulation to get our eco-audit rebate. Those are things that will free up my energies much more than saying goodbye to an extra egg beater or unworn sweater.

As it turns out, the process has been creative, freeing, and bonding in the quirky way that Sarah and I always come together when organizing (on our second night ever together, I helped rearrange her bedroom furniture, and in that moment she Knew i was Mr. Right). We zone in on a shelf or cupboard or collection, waltz together through the memory or energy each item holds, then either release it into the sunlight behind us or place it back down with conscious intention into the ongoing flow of our lives. Then we pat each other on the back as we gaze lovingly onto the cleared, clean, clutterless space we've created.

Tonight was book night. 17 books gone. Some we'd intended to read since as far back as 1998. Some well-meaning gifts we never intended to read, and some that would be good but we just don't need to read (atleast not as much as the ones we did retain.) Then a reshuffling of the survivors into front-room books to remind/inspire us daily, and back-benchers in the office for reference or future indulgence. Not only does it look and feel better, but I feel a renewed desire to read, and renewed clarity about where to start.

In the process we re-opened some old classics, sorted through files of beautiful letters and scribblings, and made the first hand-written entries into our boys' journal since 2006. We also found a Quaker philosophy book that describes this whole obsession of ours in a beautiful phrase, "avoid bustlings."

Ah, still curious about which 17 books are about to be released? OK, I'll leave you with the list, while I go snuggle up on the couch with either "Gardening at the Dragon's Gate" or "Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep."

Buddha Mom; The Wars; Living Simply with Children; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Momfulness; The Bhagavad Gita; Classic Ghost Stories; Draft Faith and Practice; From Poverty to Power; Grow It!; The Time Traveler's Wife; The Upanishads; 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting; Race Against Time (Stephen Lewis); Breeder: Real Life Stories from the New Generation of Mothers; Love in the Time of Cholera; Between Interruptions.


  1. YES!! "Gardening at the Dragon's Gate"

    a very wise keeper! wendy johnson is a blessed sage.

  2. We want "Grow It"!!!!! And that Storey's Sheep book sounds awesome, unless you meant you're keeping it :)