I’ve never felt particularly attached to things. Sure, if you’ve ever been in my space, you know that I like to have beautiful little items to curate my home but besides the storage bin of relics I keep always, it’s never felt hard for me to let go.
I’ve bought and sold over a dozen houses without any attachment. I’ve helped design and build our home, birthed our first baby there, and promptly listed it as soon as it was complete. I’ve rented out our house, fully furnished, then cashed in my RRSPs to buy all new furniture for our next home. (Follow me for super counterculture financial advice 💃, JK…) I’ve had no problem giving away what I’ve had, often before I had replaced it — realizing the hard way with the cold winter air biting our cheeks that I had previously unloaded our snow gear and not bought the next size up. I’ve revelled in emptying out, giving away, decluttering. Favourite dollhouse not played with in weeks? Gone. No need for more than one mixing bowl, give away extra. Books gathering dust? Out. All the furniture I brought up to Toronto to make my rented room cozy when I was in college I left to the next tenant. I couldn’t have cared less.
I travelled through Australia with a backpack filled to the brim of what seemed like essentials only to leave more than half of them at a hostel to lighten my load. I physically felt the lightening, not just in the pack on my back but in my being. I felt better without stuff.
I’ve definitely taken the stance at times that being interested in material goods made you selfish and shallow. That caring about tangible things meant you were disconnected from who you really are, from a more pure spiritual version of wholesomeness. I’ve felt that if I maintained distance between who I am and what I have that I wouldn’t suffer from greed or be overly desiring for stuff.
At times I've adopted minimalism as a concept, thinking it was a more righteous way to live. Look how easy it is for me to move often from place to place with just my small amount of belongings! But when I honestly view the flip side, doesn't it also become a convenient excuse to stay small? It certainly has cemented a belief that keeps me from getting comfy somewhere and staying put, building a life and legacy — this is a new theory I’m coming to understand about myself in the last few months.
When we decided to leave Canada last fall I relished in the sale or donation of all of our
belongings. Our furniture, our linens, our clothes, our art, our baby grand piano. I listed each one with detachment and was grateful at how quickly someone was waiting on their end of their laptop or phone to buy what I no longer needed. In the last flurry of days, all our toys, books, winter gear, dishes, pots and pans, house plants, all got donated by the car full to whoever wanted to come get them.
In my heart I felt certain that as I gave things away they would flood back as we needed them. I had no doubt, I had a vision actually as seeing each item we let go of come back in due time, in some condition. As we traipsed through the beaches, jungles, mountains and dusty villages of Costa Rica I kept searching for that place I held in my mind. If you’ve read my previous chronicles on our adventures in the south you’ll know we never came upon it, but in all honesty we didn’t give it much time.
It just felt obvious. There was a severing that occurred when we left home and it was more intense than I had given credit to. There was a comfort that was lost when we left Canada.
It took two weeks to unburden ourselves but it will take us much longer to replace. Moving to our house in Barriefield Village has been a balm to a wound in our souls we didn’t let ourselves speak of. There was an aching that left us off kilter and bewildered; I see us in Costa Rica now and imagine us like spinning tops, not being able to find a place to ground and be quiet. I question how bold and flip I was a year ago but I know that who I once was is who I am not now, and I know the rightness of how everything transpired - it’s still just falling into place. And my perspective on appreciation is different.
I know it because we are home now. For the first time in years, I walk through this house, this garden, this neighbourhood and every cell is relaxed in my body. Every piece of me feels at home. I have no desire to be elsewhere, for now. Logically I know that our time here has a limit, I’m not fighting it or thinking beyond it. I am just fully immersed in being here. With so much gratitude my heart could burst at times. I feel as if I see each flower, each leaf, each snail, each blade of grass with new eyes, everything in sharp focus.
Recalling that vision of finding everything we needed, it’s happening here. In a different version than I had considered, certainly a different locale, but it’s happening all the same.
I now see that my relationship with stuff was confused. I believed I was above needing things to make myself happy but really that came from a generations old belief around scarcity and lack. I just tricked myself into not wanting things, telling myself it made me a better, more enlightened person, but really I just gave into popular belief.
There is a lie as old as humanity that keeps us feeling as though desiring what we want is somehow bad. And especially if that’s material. We will believe there is not enough, that if we have something, someone goes without, that our having more means someone has less. Right now as you read that, many of you are saying well yah, that’s true. It’s not. There is so much abundance whether we think in terms of resources, food, money, land, clothing.
My friend told me, upon harvesting her garden recently, that the one squash seed she planted yielded 20 new squash. TWENTY from one. I don't understand it but here is the evidence that our 1:1 ratio of measurement isn't based in the deeply abundant universe we are a part of. There is a divine and sacred plan in place for humanity and having what we need and want is part of that.
Why am I saying all of this? I think partially it’s out of catharsis. As I rest into being where I am right now, in a beautifully appointed home with silky cotton sheets, all the bakeware I could need and ample space for everyone to spread out, I finally allow myself to feel how hard I’ve made things at times. We packed up everything we had into six suitcases and several backpacks last fall. And now, for the first time in my memory, I am wanting it all back. But in new form. It isn’t just about our journey last fall, this has been an ongoing saga I’ve relived in different ways for as long as I can recall. I have to believe we gave it all away one final time to make peace with this part of myself and to allow for all I desire to flood back in.
As soon as 2022 started it was as if I turned a new page in my story that spoke words I hadn’t heard before. My recognition was instant though and I knew I was living differently from then on. More deliberation, slowness, steadfastness and deep gratitude for the things that pad the life I live.
The things, the stuff, the material possessions, it’s not about them but it also is. It’s about finding comfort and security within this world, of claiming who we are and what defines us. I have long held a viewpoint that simply doesn’t jive with me anymore. I welcome in the things of life, the trappings that complete a rooted-down existence. To say here I am in the world, in my space of my creation, this is my place of comfort and joy.
I think there’s an unpopular lesson in here too, I share it because it feels true for me, even if it doesn’t for you. I feel unapologetic about desiring a life that is beautiful and comfortable, luxurious and full. And I think it’s important for someone else to hear that too. What you desire is important, it is the essence of you. We spend a lot of time dismissing our wants under the guise of selfishness and greed when really it’s just a story that we’ve accepted. How could it make sense? If you want to live on a 1000 acre horse ranch with a wide stream that cleaves the green hills below the bright blue sky, where your days feel peaceful and easeful, how could that be wrong? It doesn't need to be downgraded to fit a limited belief, it's a perfect ideal as it is.
We still accept the story of needing to toil, to suffer, to trudge through life. I feel so out of alignment with that story and for the most part have just kept quietly to myself, brightening my windowsills with crystals, adorning my nightstand with candles, popping flowers and feathers onto the dining table in quiet celebration of life. I share sometimes about how accessible happy life magic is to everyone and feel the eyes rolling in response to reading it. So I quiet myself again about it. The too-perfect pictures of a Sunday brunch, the torte teetering on a cake stand, my kids feeding chickadees in the backyard. Where’s the grittiness? It’s there too, but right now we have enough grit right?
To show the beauty and the joy and the wonder of life doesn’t mean I deny the pain, the sorrow or the hard parts of life. I honour it and I choose not to live in it, I feel the beckoning of the light and so I go back there. And then I experience more of that than the hardship. Because what I focus on expands.
If I think about what makes children especially wonderful and invaluable it's that they have an
unbiased pure perspective on life. That is inherent to children because they are born perfect. So it’s inside us all. It gets dulled, tarnished, disfigured as we grow. Is it because of the experience of a harsh life that that happens or is it because of the story of life that we have bought into? Our children show us constantly that delight, magic, wonder, awe, curiosity, gratitude are the birthright of humanity.
I feel certain that part of my purpose here is to share the lens I use to see the world through, I do that in my writing, in my photos, in my food. I want people to feel love, beauty and magic when they read my words or eat at my table. I want them to feel comfort. And I call that all back in to me and my family now, all the little bits and bobs, the art, the pets, the things, all of it and more. An overflow of abundance, of wealth, of health, of joy and of delight. I wish it for all of us, I’m going to keep pouring it in.