As a child living on a rural property, I spent a lot of time outside, mostly alone I imagine, absorbing seasonal stories as I wandered from flowering fields to deep stands of sumac. The shifting sediment in the quarry sometimes exhumed its natural inhabitants, as the pioneer rock piles handed over evidence of a past life, chipped and pretty.
The photo album in my head then flips open to images of roasting marshmallows over bonfires and sleeping in the treehouse. I learned to knit, play piano and Dad let us build things in the woodshop. New neighbours brought fun to the school bus stop on the highway. Newspaper clippings captured vignettes of sports, plays and concerts. Small town life.
As I grew taller, I spent less time at our house, finding it increasingly inhabited by strangers. Time spent outdoors had been reduced to hopping from place to place. The young adult’s inevitable self propelled exile ultimately led me to “join the circus” (my husband’s wry reference to the actor life) and the purpose of home changed.
Or did it?
I have lived under many roofs, each one providing a cozy nest of the familiar. From fitting into a few suitcases to requiring help from friends on the promise of pizza and beer, square footage grew and eventually I owned a condo. Walls held up pictures and bathrooms wore matching towels. Along the way I shared these spaces with partners, witnesses to my inside life.
Only in the past decade have I been able to articulate the growing realization that I never really invested meaning, and therefore longevity, into these places or in my relationships. Shedding people and stuff provided the best protection from the elements. With this admission, I am not surprised that I am a minimalist.
By my definition of minimalism, mental, emotional and physical decluttering reveals my truth so I can clearly see my position. “No one will take care of me except me.” When push comes to shove, this is my bottom line. Expressed with a sort of defiant loneliness, this phrase used to mean my house felt like it was teetering on stilts, thus I would evict myself and head to the woods.
However, my training and self work over recent years has shown me that this sentiment actually reflects resiliency. This is a foundation to coaching; a person is creative, resourceful and whole and therefore they have the answers to solve problems. The learning for me came when I was able to shift the intention from sadness to joy by connecting with my current story. Whatever colour the sky appears to be, I add this: “..and essentially all is well.”
Hmm, what does this have to do with home? This is my usual round about way of pulling the tangible out of minimalism to reveal the mind and heart. My husband and I are excited to downsize into a 640 square foot suite. My plan was to share with you our journey of letting go of stuff but I guess that will feature in posts to come.
For now I wish to blurt out that my home is in me. From the welcoming mat to the triple locks on the door, I am my own social tea shop, sharing library, private love palace and mindfulness retreat. Yes, I am responsible for my wellbeing. And in the house I have built, I am content.
Tell me about your perspective of house and home. What does it mean to you?