Simplicity

I love homes that are clean, simple, and cleared of all clutter.  

Homes where everything has a place, and that place is in a drawer or a closet or put away, and that drawer and closet is subdivided into categories so clearly that you never lose the keys to your car again because if they’re not in the cubbyhole meant just for them then they must be in your hand.

Homes where the items on the shelves all either have a specific purpose or a strategic goal and are clearly separated so you can easily see what they are.

Homes where every curio or statue or vase has been placed with intention, there to draw the eye and add beauty, able to be appreciated for its uniqueness as it stands alone or in a small grouping as if in a museum display.  Shown in such a way the viewer notices the perfection of the placement in relation to all else.

Homes where not only the floors but the baseboards are clean, the furniture is classic, and the rooms are uncluttered.  Homes where you feel you can stretch out and breathe.  Homes that feel luxurious because of their design, flow and overall attention to detail.

This is not my home.

However, since I do love these kinds of homes, I have attempted to Marie Kondo my home, to pare down the chaos of clutter that I call my bookshelves, and the knickknacks which fill them (alongside said books which are stacked not just on the shelves but on top of one another as well).  

I have attempted to tone down the many items of interest on display in every nook and cranny, the numerous paintings, the various “junk drawers” in which I may find at any given time a variety of tools, some coffee stirrers, a set of crayons, twine, various electrical and charging cords, and at least one glass flower for a hummingbird feeder.  I intend on creating that beautiful, classy, cleared out home that I so admire, and I started in my bedroom two years ago during Covid.

So far, the dresser in my bedroom is a shining example of Marie Kondo techniques at their best.

At least the inside of it is.

The top of the dresser used to be… until a cat dish, a lighted oil diffuser that was a gift, and several framed photos needed a home.  Oh, and a plant.

The rest of the house… especially the closets… let’s just say I’d be at least a two-part special on her show.

So while I love simplicity, it doesn’t seem as if simplicity is exactly the thing which rocks my world on a personal level.  Or that I’m able to create it in the realm of my daily living.

And yet, it does.

Because in its own way, my home is very simple.

It’s a home filled with artifacts from travels around the world, most collected by my husband and I, others given to us by people we love.  All are memories that spark the adventure in me whenever I look at them or touch them.

It’s a home filled with soft chairs, sofas, pillows, and couches.  It’s a home filled with vases of flowers, and yes, lots of books, and many, many plants both inside and out.

It has an entire outdoor patio with more soft chairs, pillows, and places to sit because I love to have people over (or did before Covid) to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and chat awhile and be comfortable as they do so.  I enjoy sitting and reading or writing in these cozy spots myself.  It is, in fact, what I call my “sacred space” where I do most of my writing and work.  If I could drag my Avid out there to edit, I would.  It is also packed with plants.

It’s a home that may seem cluttered, but is actually very simple – it isn’t grand or large or filled with beautiful expensive things.  But it is filled with a lot of love. And has as much peace, laughter and joy as I can bring into it.

(And, OK, maybe a couple of beautiful, expensive things.)

The point is, simplicity isn’t necessarily tied into how much of something one has.  Whether a large home or a small one, it can still be a very simple place to live.  It can be easy to walk in the door, the space giving a feeling of calm even as the people within it greet you with love.

Simplicity is really a state of the heart and soul.

People will say; “I am a simple person.”  What they are really saying is they’re easy, they don’t need a lot, they find their desires in life are generally met because what they desire already exists around them.  They require only a few things to really get by or be happy.

So we see that simplicity is generally connected to a state of being at peace.

What are the things in your life that, in their simplicity, bring you joy? 
Or create a sense of calm and peace?
Can you think of any? 
Or do the things that you feel you “need” to experience joy or peace also require a lot of effort, money, things or time?
And if that’s the case, what can you do to help you pare down and come back to the basics?

Walking the Camino

I am about to embark on a journey where my entire world will be reduced to as simple as possible.  At least for a couple of weeks.

I’m heading to Italy to walk part of the Camino.  For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a journey, a road, a pilgrimage that’s been around for about 1000 years or so, starting traditionally in France and ending in Spain, with millions of people over the centuries taking the same pathways along the pilgrimage through nearly every European country.  

Some of it is rough terrain crossing over mountains where you have to be prepared to navigate some pretty intense hiking.  Some of it is a literal walk through the park in a quaint village town.  Some of it goes through industrial cities.  But along all of it you find places to stay that have been there for decades or even centuries welcoming pilgrims along the way, giving them a place to rest, to eat, to bathe, and sending them on their way the next day.  

Every day you walk, usually at least 10 miles from one bed to the next, often much more than that.  The entire route can take months to do, most people do it in sections.  There are as many reasons people walk the Camino as there are people who walk it, but the common factor is that every person has had to pare down their daily existence to whatever they can carry on their back.  

Getting in Touch with Me

Generally, you don’t bring any food with you except what you need for that day.  Each morning you have a breakfast and perhaps pick up some fruit and health bars to take with you on the walk.  You fill up your water bottles and you head out the door with your pack on your back.

Similar to backpacking and camping, but in this case you bring even less with you as you don’t carry much more than exactly what you need for a single day.  And then you allow each day to bring to you what it will.

I’ve never done this pilgrimage, it is my first time on the Camino.  I was inspired to do this by a friend who went a few years ago.  She walks all over the world, but the Camino changed her, and she decided to head out with a small group of women once more this year, myself included.

After the past couple of years, I wanted something to challenge me. Not just the walking, but the idea of living so simply from day to day, having no more than I can carry with me, appealed to me.  It feels like a chance to clear my mind and heart and get back in touch with… well, me, I guess.

mimosa

There’s also an element of Carpe Diem in my decision to go.

These past two years have hit me hard, I’ve lost people very close to me, and it’s caused me to see just how precious this life is.  How magnificent every moment is within each day.  How making memories are more important than making money or anything else.  Because in the end, that’s all we’ve got.  Those memories.  The simplest thing of all.

We can’t take it with us, any of it.  All we’re taking is whatever is in our heart, mind and soul.

And that’s about as simple as it gets.

So I’ve decided to clear out my heart, mind and soul by making a memory that I think will change me, hopefully for the better.  At the very least I know it will challenge me.

I’ll be walking with seven other women through the Tuscan countryside, going from Florence to Siena.  Just a small part of the Camino, only ten days of walking, but I felt that was a good start to it.  

I have to admit, I’m nervous.

Here I am, the woman who fills her life and home with knick-knacks and plants and just… stuff.  The woman who spends every day talking to her cats and her friends and her family, who is on the computer working pretty much seven days a week.  And I am going to leave all of that to go for a walk for ten days, not even taking a laptop (though I will have my phone).  I’m honestly not certain how I’ll react to it.

On the other hand, I love to go hiking and camping.  I was raised on camping, spending long summer days and nights out in the woods with my family, cooking over a camp stove and singing songs by the fire at night.  When we all could finally get out of our homes for the first time during Covid, my husband and I immediately took off camping for a week, living in a tent at a campsite where there weren’t even showers or running toilets – just a Forestry Servie pit toilet and a spigot with clean cold water you could fill your water bottles with, and that’s it.

Like I said, I love simplicity. 

I love being pared down to the basics and living in the moment.

So I have a feeling I will love this trip (especially because it’s, hey, Tuscany!) even as I am challenged by it.

But you don’t have to go camping in the woods or walking the Camino to get back to the basics or find the simplicity in your life.

As I said, my home, filled with things, is also a simple place.  Your life, filled with things and activities and people and events, can still be a very simple life indeed.

It comes back to: what is it that, quite simply, brings you into a state of being just, simply, You?

Pare yourself down to the basics.  If you took away all of the stuff swirling around you, are you able to find yourself in the center of it?  Are you at the heart of that whirlwind?  

Or does the wind take you and sweep you away with all of the things caught up in it?

For me, I guess I’m hoping to find the answer to those questions by taking a long walk in Italy for two weeks.

For you, I hope you find that challenge in your own life that helps you to see the simple sense of self within all of the things that may occupy the space in your life.  That is, if you haven’t done so already.

And if you have, kudos – or rather, I suppose, Marie Kondos – to you.  Rest in that sacred space of simplicity and allow it to nourish your soul.

By JEANETTE DUBOIS

Jeanette is a film & tv editor, writer, director and producer who’s worked on Emmy & Telly Award winning shows, movies, and music videos for a variety of networks.  She’s also a trained operatic who mostly sings to her cats now, though sometimes she expands her audience to her family & friends.  She loves gardening, good books, good wine, and good conversations, preferably all at the same time.

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