Archive for February 2014

Yellow House

A happy home has flowers growing out its windows...

A New Year

Obviously things are a little behind if I am just now posting about 2014...things are busy, and that makes finding time to blog somewhat of a challenge. However, 2014 is off to a promising start, and that is good. I am taking part in a studio tour in the Pontiac, where I grew up, this coming June, which is very exciting. I am also attending the spring edition of the Urban Craft Market on March 15 with lots of new cards and prints and possibly a new stuffed creature if I can get one finished in time. Kokito, a lovely little shop in Bloomfield, Ontario that specializes in Canadian Design, is now carrying Butterbean Design's iconic creature, the yeti! And last, but not least, two of my submissions to Minted's  State of the Art Challenge back in November were selected as Editor's Picks and will soon be available in the Minted shop. Thank you, Minted!
It has been a long and cold winter here in Canada, which is the way it should be, but spring is hopefully on the way. Here are a couple of bird pictures to put you in a spring mood:

 These are available in the Butterbean shop as cards, along with some other new cards and prints. Happy Valentine's Day!

A Giant Step Forward

Last week, my wife and I took a giant step forward in our journey to becoming even more stream-lined.  We went through pretty much every area (excluding the garage) of our three bedroom, one bath, twelve hundred square feet home, including all of our closets, and got rid of everything we felt that we could let go. It created enough space to organize all of our clothes inside the closet that we no longer needed any dressers. It took about two days to throw away, donate all the stuff, including three dressers (2 children's), two book cases (both were children's), an Ikea table ( I had 2 for my office), tons of clothes, and about 10 grocery bags full of toys, books, blankets, towels and other miscellaneous items. This was quite liberating!!!

Last night or I should say this morning, (1:30am) I was up pretty late reading a CNN on-line article entitled, "McMansions are making a comeback" written on June 4, 2013. The article describes the trend in the average Home size in the US and gives Census Bureau's report released few days earlier from the day the article was written. It reads:

"in 2012, the median home in the U.S. hit an all-time record of 2,306 square feet, up 8% from 2009...."

As mentioned, my wife and I have been on a quest to downsize, and to eliminate as much material possession as possible, not out of necessity, but as a choice because we want to live simply.

After reading the article, I did a quick research and found that an average home in the 50s and 60s were about 1100 sq ft, which means the size of average home now has more than doubled since then. But while the houses are getting bigger, most people find that there just isn't enough room to fill all of their "stuff" that they have accumulated. The bigger the house gets, the stuff we accumulate seems to grow right along with it.

My family and I happened to be living in an older home, built in the mid forties and it falls right in line with the average size homes built around that time.

For many years, like most other families in the US, we wanted a bigger home, bigger closets, preferably a walk-in closet, an extra bathroom, a family room, and the list went on but not anymore.

By critically examining our own life, and really making intentional choices about what we choose to buy and what we choose to bring into our home, we are discovering that we don't really need a bigger house but rather we need to learn to better utilize what we already have.

If you compare your home as your body, you can draw some interesting parallels. A healthy body requires healthy diet and activities. A healthy person has to watch carefully what he puts into his body and regularly maintain it by engaging in some healthy activities such as exercise to keep his body in good shape. Conversely, an unhealthy body is the result of unhealthful diet, inactivity, but more to the point, consuming much more than what the body requires or needs.  Consequently, the body no longer functions as efficiently as it should.

Similarly, for many decades, our homes have become obese.  The home owners have been consuming much more than what their homes can handle and the homes are bursting out of its seams from all the stuff it has accumulated.  Rather than purging and getting rid of their stuff, they opt for bigger homes so that they could consume even more stuff. If having bigger homes is not enough people also resort to renting storage units because there's just isn't enough space. Storage units are typically rented as a temporary solutions but most people end up keeping them for months or even years while paying the price.

Is this the kind of path you want to continue to pursue?  Perhaps it's a reflection of something much more profound.  But what we can do is to just take a moment and look around and think about all the things that surround us in our home; the things we have accumulated over the years and ask a simple question I posed in my earlier post, "Do these things honestly add value, meaning and usefulness to our life?" If the answer is no, then "Why do we have them around?" 

The Minimalists

My wife happened to stumble upon these two guys, on the Yahoo home page a couple of days ago. Joshua Fields Millburn(right) & Ryan Nicodemus(left) are best friends and they left their lucrative corporate careers at the age of 30 to become full-time authors and speakers. After publishing their bestselling book, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, they embarked on an international book tour and eventually began contributing to people through their online writing classes and private mentoring sessions covering a wide array, from simple living and pursuing your passion, to writing, publishing, entrepreneurship,  health, relationships, personal growth, and etc.

My wife and I have been reading their blog and watching their presentations online and found that their minimalistic approach to life in so many ways reflects what we are striving to do. My wife and I have been thinking a lot about how we want to streamline, downsize and purge as much material possessions in our life as possible. This has been a deliberate quest for us for some time now to live more simply with just the bare necessities.

Just yesterday, we got rid of more clothes that we haven't worn in a long while and even gave away our dresser that used to take up space in our bedroom. We are also looking for solutions to downsize our library of books. We have quite a few books that are taking up a lot of space and our first option is utilizing an e-reader such as Kindle or Nook to replace the books that are available in digital format... still going over all the pros and cons. I'm echoing many of the things both Joshua and Ryan are speaking, writing and advocating about but one of the biggest challenge in downsizing is to really define our values and priorities. It forces us to become much more conscientious in evaluating things we buy, things we already own and how we choose to keep or discard each item. It makes us question, "Do these things honestly add value, meaning and usefulness to our life?" If not, then "Why do we have them around?"

We're both encourage and inspired by Joshua and Ryan and we hope to glean some new insights from them. Check out their blog: The Minimalist.

Powered by Blogger.