“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris
I know these words well, I bet you do too. They've served as a guide for many years - a mantra to help navigate my place in a consumer world. But lately these words have interrupted my process on more than one occasion. You see, several months ago we decided to embark on a slow and steady downsizing project. As it turns out, I have many useful and beautiful things in my life. Too many. At this point, keeping only that which is useful and beautiful is not the answer. Keeping just enough to support a home centered life of productivity and creativity is a tricky balance. I mean, I do use all 200 plus canning jars, my food dehydrator, the fermenting crocks, my carefully collected fabric stash, the precious healing goods in our apothecary closet... and while I can't speak for Adam, he seems to always have just the right tool for the job. Around here, the tools for living are many and they require a certain amount of real estate.The goal is not to reduce our goods so that we may live in a tiny house, the goal is to have just enough for the hands on, simple life that we currently live.
But... it's everything else that I've got my downsizing eye on. Many things that remain from my time selling vintage on Etsy - the beautiful china set from the 1930s, the vintage duvet covers and yo-yo quilt... the pyrex that seems to multiply around here... the spools of antique thread that are cute but the strength has deteriorated and will never be something I put to practical use... the list goes on. When I look at the overall list (or piles, more accurately), I can't deny there is monetary value to it. Money that could translate to a semester of debate classes for Emily, or perhaps a semester of piano lessons. Perhaps it could even pay for that intersession college class she'd like to take.
More than anything I'd love to just part peacefully with these goods and simply donate them. But there is a part of me, the "be a good steward" part, that recognizes I have responsibilities as a parent and adult. I need to honor that which I've earned, invested in, or been given and find a way to channel these resources into future projects. I need to do the right thing here, not the easy thing. Donating is good... but setting myself up with a new set of tires this winter is also good.
So I've opened a little booth at a vintage resale shop in my community. It's just a few shelves really, but is a place for me to offer up some lovely items that have mostly been in storage since we moved to this house. I probably have enough inventory to carry my booth for a few months, with weekly restocking. Donating these things would swiftly answer our desire to downsize and free up space, but I could also roll up my sleeves and dig into the work of sorting, cleaning, tagging, transporting and displaying items that remain from my time selling vintage on Etsy.
The healing properties of clear space are powerful, for sure. I'm glad we're finally sending these things off to new homes, hopefully they will bring great beauty and usefulness to their new owners. As for me? I'm breathing easier already.