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Let's Make A New List

… not a shopping list, or a to-do list … but a list of all the things we do not need to have, to do, to want or to be.

I’ve just read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, Gift From The Sea, and, even though she penned it back in 1955, she talks about over-cluttered, over-extended and fractured lives … and this was well before we piled on things like texting, Facebook, personal trainers, Botox, on-line banking, gluten intolerances, reality TV, 24/7 shopping … and so on and so forth.

We accumulate stuff and obligations as unconsciously as we track muck indoors on the soles of our boots (or, perhaps the souls of our beings). So, what don’t we need?

What about all the modern gadgets and devices intended to save us time … do they? Or, are we simply spending the time we thought we’d gained on maintenance, repairs and keeping up with the latest version? For example, is whipping cream with an electric mixer any easier than using a hand one when you take into account the time spent assembling, cleaning and putting away the gadget and its parts? What about the noise and awkwardness of cumbersome vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers? They disturb our thoughts and come between our hands and the task being done.

My philosophy, as demonstrated in my book, Nest Building: A Guide To Finding Your Inner Interior Designer, asks that we step inside ourselves in order to find ‘home’. It requires us to look inside the inner void by becoming quiet and comfortable there. It is only from this position that the acquisition of stuff—useful and/or decorative—can be made with any personal integrity. It is also from this quiet place that one can choose when and where to participate in various aspects of life and to select only those that are self-nurturing and beneficial to friends and family, rather than filling up the void with more activities, obligations and social encounters that may have little or no value beyond other people noticing you were there!

To fill up a home with the stuff on offer in the outside world without consulting one’s inner-self is like indiscriminately satisfying a hunger with fast food and donuts … it leaves one bloated, sluggish and less nourished than before you scoffed it all down. A bloated house is the same. Stuff accumulated without self-consultation is a default regime steered by other people, short-lived fads, self-doubt and a non-conscious desire to simply fill up the spaces before the book club visits.

To spend time in the quiet spaces requires an inner surrender to silence and emptiness and an acceptance of the wisdom and kindness inherent in our personal inner voices. Measure success not by all the stuff you have and the appointments you’ve kept, but by the moments spent in the quiet spaces not marked on a calendar: the times when no one else is watching.

Build your lists from there. What don’t you need?

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