BY KIM THOMPSON
Minimalists have got something figured out. I don’t adhere to the extremes; however, it is clear to me that careful selection of what sits in my home actually impacts how I feel when I’m there. And, according to my guests, it affects them as well.
Shallow materialism or flaunting the latest trends means little to me. On the other hand, there is a spectacular capacity to create a beautiful and nurturing space one calls home. What I have on display represents who I am, the image I choose to present, the very clothing my house wears to the party. Moreover, those who think tossing a free curbside treasure onto their bare wall just to cover a hole leaves me empty. I can’t enjoy nothingness. I’m not particularly impressed with that brass-and-oak-framed ruffled grouse among beige weeds either. It whispers in a smoker’s raspy voice, “I don’t care.” This is not a compliment.
All I’m saying is please do care about what you do with your domicile, your pad, your abode. This is sacred space. It’s not the back shed. It’s not a tent on the river. It’s your home. I’ve seen birds put more effort into their nests than some people put into their homes.
I’m not talking about spending a lot of money. I’m talking about priority and manageable decisions.
Our environment not only affects our experience, but it also reflects our internal world. Chaotic home, chaotic life, chaotic mind. Illness ensues.
Calm, simple and clean equals tranquil abundance of the spirit.
People often tell me they’re astonished at the cleanliness and comfort of my home, despite the constant traffic, despite the full-time career and single parenting. Yet, I don’t actually clean it more than twice a month and that’s a simple run-through. Solution: I keep it clutter-free.
When a home is orderly, one can feel it. It brings a calm. My home is far from sterile. Yet, having much in the way of knickknacks or unusable décor or even oversized furniture in a too-small space can mess with the mojo. One basket for current mail only. A single bowl to hold that tape, sundry pens and that strange clippy thing. A solo flourishing plant and candle used weekly, then half the battle is won!
This means we toss the doilies. And the picture you only put up to please someone else. All the rock-hard pillows that came with the couch — gone! Keep only the soft cushy pillows everyone wants and only fabrics and colors I relish. We keep all but one pair of shoes in our bedrooms. One jacket goes on a hook. Your personal items belong in your own room where you can determine your own rules. In the general area, we purge. I recently realized I only like one of the three paintings sold as a set. Out with two of them! This rug is irreparable and has a stain from someone who doesn’t even live here. Bye bye!
Honor yourself. Honor your family. Honor your sanctuary.
Now what do I add? Lots of white on white paint, with splashes of color to remember I am alive. It doesn’t hurt to have one set of chimes, a small system for music, a bowl of fresh fruit. Load up the book shelf with books you most cherish. Eradicate the stupid ones.
Louvered blinds collect dust. Pull shades do not. Shams have no purpose.
Blankets are usable — keep a basket of them. Are we catching on? If it has no purpose, you might want to shed it. Transformation requires courage and clarity.
We stimulate the senses in sustainable ways. We don’t overload them or let them get bogged down in grime. We set up some basic rules. Garbage and dirty dishes are vile and must know you are the boss. It takes about 12 minutes a day to win that war. We each make a small effort; we get to be a part of this lovely thing.
You are building a world in which people will want to commune. They will want to be there with you. They will laugh and cry with you. They will listen when you need them. They will long to return and revel in their open invitation.
Make meals that require time. Stick around for rich coffee afterwards. Use cloth napkins.
If you are a hermit, a jeering recluse, you find people repulsive, let the calamity wash over you like a shroud of scratchy wool. Snuggle into your pile of excess and madness. You will get exactly what you have created.
Kim Thompson has three sons and taught high school English for 26 years, 20 of them at Stillwater schools. She is a “guardian” of The Shire Literary Center for Youth. Her family has resided in Stillwater for six generations.