Monday, January 21, 2013

The Challenge of Less

New Years Resolutions....Why? What’s the purpose? Who started this anyway? Is it really worth the time and effort? Do they work or do they set us up for failure? Studies show that most people will abandon their resolutions by the end of the 1st month.  That’s it, 4 weeks is tops for most people. That’s all that they have in them to resolve to change or improve themselves or their lives.  My son even informed me that January 17th was national give up your New Years’ resolution day...Wow!

I confess that most years I haven’t bothered with a new years resolution, it seemed like a big fuss or hype more than anything else.  However over the last few years I have attempted the one word challenge introduced by a blogger a few years ago. She challenged her readers to pick one word for the new year and apply it to as many areas of your life as possible. This one word is to help define your year, give it direction. You can choose any word but only one, just one word to guide your actions.  Words like hope, light, reflection, rest, renew or beauty, you get the idea. How you apply the word is also up to you. Where do you need hope or beauty in your life?

Seems easy enough, but when you really stop to truly consider which one word would have the most impact or is most needed in your life, choosing becomes difficult. What needs changing or improving in your life or that of your family and how can one word help you get there? What is it that you want the new year to hold and why? Suddenly one word is now pretty important.

After a lot of reflection of how the last year had been my one word presented itself to me and I could not argue, I knew that my one word had found me.


Yes, Less is my one word for 2013. 

Less stuff, less stress, less debt, less worry,  less of the things and trappings that tie us down. All of this less has me hopeful that our family can have more. More time for each other…more time to relax and enjoy life. Less debt, for more savings and hopefully more opportunities to be spontaneous.  I want less clutter to take care of and clean and more time and energy for our family. Less processed foods and more real foods.  Less take out and more home cooking. Less time with things that take away from our family and more time for each other and the activities that we enjoy or want to try. Less stress and more joy and happiness, more of what's important!

You might even use the old saying that I want quality versus quantity. I'm not looking to lead some minimalist lifestyle with only the bare necessities. Although selling it all could knock out a lot of those at once. I love color and pattern, I can't have or want a bare home.  I do want to love what's in my home, for it to speak to me in some way or in it's way make me happy. That when I pass by it or spy form across the room, a smile comes on my face. Because it has some meaning or reminds me of a special time or person.

I was a historic preservation major in college, so I had lots of designer friends. So often they would tell me about or I was even able to witness them with their clients, a lot of the  clients were trying to achieve a look; I assume in some cases to create an image or even dare say an illusion of the life they want to have or to be believed to have. It's not really them, they may love the style, but none of their true personality is in their home, only the one they want you to think they have. For many there is this need to cover every inch of their home, no blank space, so put something there, anything, everywhere, just don't leave it blank; undone. I know that our home at least in places unintentionally became like those my friends would design for a client, here's the look I want, here's a check when will it be ready? I'll need to get the invitations for our party out soon so everyone can come see it. {No a lie here, I was witness to this more than once}.

I recently discovered a designer the talks about embracing the white space. I think that when you can embrace that, a clam, no frills spot or two, then you can better enjoy the other. I want little white space, I want our "look" to be about our family, not an image of what we might be, but who we really are and what we love. I want to love every aspect of our home and life; not be bogged down by all of the stuff that needs our attention.

In some ways I have already gotten started. I honestly was not in the mood to decorate for Christmas. It really felt more like a chore on the list to cross off instead of part of a wonderful holiday time. I feel certain if I didn’t have young children that kept asking when it would get done and who even helped make it happen; it wouldn’t have. Our tree came home on December 1st and wasn’t touched until about the 16th. In addition to the busyness of the holiday and normal activities, my son came down with the flu.
So December 16th was the first time I had the energy to tackle it.  By the time we finished our decorating, I had scaled back what we put up. A little less of everything, but enough to feel like Christmas and enough for the house to seem bare once it was packed and put away.  It really helped me to embrace the idea of less, that less is more.  We enjoyed Christmas every bit as much with fewer decorations and trappings as we have had in the past. We had enough to enjoy the specialness of Christmas and more energy with which to enjoy it. Plus the clean up was faster and less stressful.

It really helped the idea of less seem even more attractive to me.

I’ve chosen a biggie for our family and myself; thankfully I have all year to meet the challenge of less.

Yes, I want less this year, so that we can have more!