This week I had an image of Cinderella’s sister trying to squeeze her foot into a tiny glass slipper. That’s me, trying to fit myself into our tiny, one bedroom condo.
I’ve watched minimalist videos, downsizing videos and decluttering videos. I’ve practiced gratefulness and berated myself for my lack of contentment. But in the end it is what it is. Eight years of trying to squeeze into a space that is too small for me.
I’m definitely open to suggestions if anyone has figured out how to do this.
I’m particularly fascinated by people who live in tiny houses. I wonder if they really live that way, or secretly stash their stuff in an off-site trailer? Maybe they don’t have any hobbies that take up space. Maybe they don’t entertain. I can’t imagine reducing further to fit into such a small space.
One day, in a radical moment, I gave away my acrylic painting supplies and canvases, keeping only my watercolors because they take up less space. They went to a good home, and I have no regrets about that. My sister, when I told her about it this week, exclaimed, “You don’t get rid of your hobbies!” Oh, you don’t?
I am struggling to shove my big foot into that slipper and not only does it pinch, it doesn’t go in all the way. Maybe I need to “lose weight.” Maybe I need to “trim” my foot, surgically. There is something fundamentally wrong with my foot. With the basic bone structure.
I don’t actually have a disorder. I mean, I’m not a hoarder or anything. Well, maybe just a little when it comes to books. I admit I have a box of cards I’ve kept over the years, and a few impractical gifts by which to remember my grandparents. I have two shoe-sized boxes of photos and half a dozen albums. I also have a couple of small boxes of craft supplies and I own a sewing machine, but have no fabric in the house unless I’m working on a project.
Seasonal decor takes up considerable space — one box of items for fall, several more for Christmas. There is the toy cupboard for the grandkids and I’ve held on to some table games to play with them when they are a bit older.
Camping supplies, lawn chairs, a set of golf clubs and a sound system are relegated to our condo storage “cage” which is crammed. My husband sold his radio control equipment, which probably felt similar to me giving away my painting supplies. Every few months I rearrange things in storage and throw out anything I can possibly part with.
We like to entertain. Our kitchen has the exact dishes and baking utensils we need. My recipe collection dates back to when we owned a Tea Room and overflows onto a second shelf in a shallow pantry that also holds medication, candles and dried goods.
I am trying to be transparent, as if this might help.
I’m digitalizing my recipes, now, as well as my journals. I’m trying to minimize paper storage. Every month or so I “skim” and get rid of something. Earlier this month I gave away a box of nice decor items. My previous cull was of recipe books. A funky backpack, a pair of fashion boots and a plastic storage cabinet are ready for a trip to the thrift store. If I don’t go back to work at the office, I will cull my shoes next.
I want the feeling of calm I get when I look at the serene homes posted online. I do feel this in our living room, which extends, shoe-box style, into the kitchen and dining area. But the kitchen and dining area ruin the feeling. The space is too small for our large table, a hutch, two bar stools and a piano. This week the bar stools are going.
We’ve built extra IKEA wall shelves in the dining area and the bedroom, which also houses a full-wall bookshelf. I have art books, music books, books on writing, leadership, theology, family, politics, counselling, etc. I tend to cull novels and memoirs, but not reference books.
Last Christmas I gave each of our sons a small banker’s box of school memorabilia, once again “skimming” and clearing a few more inches of space.
This is an ongoing struggle. Whenever a new item needs a place in the house, there is a domino effect as I move things along and try to condense a few inches of space.
My home is a place to relax and entertain. But it is also an office, art studio and music studio. It might actually look minimalist if I gave these up.
If you can’t change your circumstances, change yourself, the saying goes.
It seems the solution is to stop forcing. Give up my obsession with having a peaceful feeling. Just put the slipper of perfection aside as a nice possibility which may never happen.