I was talking to my friend the other day and we were discussing simple living. The idea of striving for simplicity in all areas of our lives and scaling back on the stresses of our life.
Then she started talking about, "Visual Stress".
I had never thought of our "stuff" that way before.
As much as our family tries to live on a simple schedule and eat simple food, we have a tendency to live like a big house in a small space.
There are a few reasons for that.
1. This wasn't the house we were planning on staying in, so we will sometimes accept gifts or make purchases for "our next house", capitalizing on a great deal. What that really means though, is that we are just hording more stuff. We have lived in our home for 12 years now, 10 longer than we intended. So how long should we keep making purchases for our "Next home".
2. We love art and books and so have become collectors and encouragers of painting, drawing, coloring, creating. We have purchased and collected lots of art tools and our whole house has been turned into an art gallery.
3. I love being surrounded by family heirlooms and things we love. That's all good and fine, until you don't have a clean surface to put a cup down.
I came home from talking with my friend and saw my house through a new pair of eyes. I was sad and overwhelmed. We weren't a home of peace, we were a house of chaos. It looked like a kindergarten classroom.
Now, don't get me wrong, it is a creative house, full of life and art and literature and music, but there can be too much.
You can find art and creativity in a peaceful space, but its really hard to find peace in chaos.
It's called visual stress.
I am not talking about a mess. What I talking about is when everything is put away and your house is clean, is there still an abundance of stuff out and littering tables and shelves and counters?
This week is our spring break and we are taking on the challenge of decreasing our visual stress. We are striving for minimalism in the family space and bedrooms. (Still including photos on the walls and our art dresser totally stocked.) With a family who has a child who leans towards ADD/ADHD and sensory issues, I am sad to admit I didn't make this move sooner. This is not to say we will not encourage and still participate in art and music activities, or make a big fun mess out of our batman toys. This is all to decrease the unnecessary American idea of stuff we have on display all the time that adds to the chaos of our home.
So here is our goal:
1. Rearrange our things to keep the stuff we want and need in a more organized manner, getting rid of clutter.
2. Challenge ourselves to see if we really need certain items, or if we have even used them in the last year, and if the answer is no, then we get rid of it.
3. End up with a house that feels and breads a sense of peace and joy, while maintaining our flair for creativity and love of art and music.
I am hoping this project helps us all on multiple levels. For me personally, I hope my stress level is reduced and I am a mom who plays more because I don't have to use all my time managing our stuff. It is also my hope that the messes we make in our play isn't as stressful because we eliminated the base of the stress with all the the extra stuff.
Sometimes we can't do a whole lot with the stress of work or family or friends.
But what would it look like if we decreased our stress and lived a bit more simply with the stuff around us? We wouldn't have as much to manage, I know that for sure, and our hearts would be more open to life and joy and love and others.
Less stress to manage means more life to be lived.