I about as good a minimalist as I am a yogi. This process of forced downsizing has been enlightening in that you cannot deny the choices you make about anything. What you spend your money and time on matters to your well-being.
As we go throughout our life we value different needs that are essential to our survival, and sometimes getting stuck in fulfilling one need and forget the others. This leads to pain. The elusive balance is in creative simplicity. A happy accident that has emerged from our downsized life is the choice and time for reflection that it allows.
I have lived in many large cities, but none for the long term. As a creative thinker, my mind is always moving, thinking, and wondering how what is happening can relate to something I am working on whether that be writing here or working on other projects.
I don’t want a simple life. I want a rich, creative, innovative life and that is not a minimalist attitude as far as I can tell. Some believe we have a limited amount of resources. I, on the other hand, believe that we need to have a simpler day-to-day life to create real art and see those resources.
In the War of Art, by Steven Pressfield he talks about winning the inner creative battle. This work is a great example of the resistance we all have to change, and how to propel your greatest work. Art is not just for artists. Art is a well loved family. Art is the legacy you leave on this earth. Art in your relationships. Art can be your work. It all starts with a creative plan for finding what is true to you and designing a life around that.
For centuries, creative thinkers have had moments of outright brilliance, but for many today our brilliance is hiding under a sea of possessions. If you love your collection of ____, then by all means keep it. If it inspires you, it is worthy of time and space. If it drains you – let it go.
For me the larger house was a drain, because of the resources needed to honor that space. I have family members with much larger homes, and due to that being an area of passion and creativity they love their large home and it in turn gives them juice.
It is not about your square footage. It is about the energy of the space.
Simplifying is only the first step and had I stopped there I would not be any further on the road to My Happy Place. I want simplicity of an environment that will create the happiest, creative energy.
Do you ever notice how some writers will go to the mountain to write? They have so many ideas swirling around in their head that they need a place of solitude to untangle them.
Now on the flip side of that coin, what if they never left that space? What if they lived in such simplicity that it did not replenish their inspiration bank? How much art would be left on the floor of that writing cabin, due to lack of variety and inspiration?
My mother-in-law just moved out of such a space. She rented a home in the Texas Hill Country for the last couple of years, that was formerly a writer’s retreat. It was a retreat. The back deck looking out into the hills and the wildlife that visited each day inspired me. She did not feel inspired after a time of being there, she felt constricted by its distance from the things and people she got her juice from.
As we look for our next move, I have been looking for research that would help me identify a neighborhood or town in the Austin area, that would be the right fit for me. So I could feel settled.
What I realized actually hit me after reading an article about personality type and Washington DC neighborhoods. It also seeped into my conscious thought again when I was at the farmers market event with the kids.
Expats experience this when they seek retirement on sunny beaches, only to get homesick and need to sell their real estate.
Knowing yourself and your needs is key, next asking your spouse or partner to do the same. We all need both variety and the stability of certainty in our lives, and it is up to us to find that.
Simplifying the areas of my life that are not a part of me that gives me juice was the first step. The next step is getting past looking at real estate in terms of square footage and price, but what need is most central to you.
Penelope Trunks talks about how living on the farm centers her, but she has a need for variety as well, as she travels to Chicago with her son weekly to music lessons, or her travels back to NYC.
I feel that same pull. A place that provides the solitude to be creative and in turn successful is key, but close enough to the things that give me juice are necessary like music, people, and the art of experiencing life.
This is something that is missing in the real estate profession. Understanding that families may say they need this many rooms, but what is missing in their needs list will make the difference in their happiness with their purchase.
I realize for me that minimalism does not work. I need a home base that is simple, beautiful, and full of a calm energy to be at my best, no matter what the square footage. Does your space make you more successful at home or work?
Working motherhood is the ultimate in terms of certainty and variety for me, but having a home life that supports that is the absolute key to success.