Monday, March 30, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up…Your Homestead

Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  has a lot of wisdom. In fact, when it comes to decluttering, she’s nailed it: Keep what makes you happy and brings you joy, and let go of what doesn’t. So simple, so elegant...right?

I only wish it were that easy! Tidying up Berryridge Farm, I mean. The stumbling block to making magic happen is that country life, food gardening, and generally living closer to the land requires a ginormous amount of…stuff.

My wake-up call occurred recently, when we undertook a major muck-out of our shop-garage: spring cleaning, de-cluttering, and generally tidying up the place. Just having finished Kondo's book, I was sure the job would be pretty straightforward, although (embarrassing disclosure here) we'd left the shop to its own devices for a couple of years. Trying to follow her suggestions, I discovered that all the good intentions didn't matter, because the stuff  is in charge:

If you, like us, are running a small country place without benefit of a tractor, rototiller, or any other large, labor-saving equipment, you need a lot of hand tools. A lot. And you will find that you never met a tool of any kind you didn’t like. 

Engaging in all kinds of homesteady activities—cutting and splitting wood, digging garden beds, clearing ground and cutting brush—you will find that you’re always needing this or that tool: a new hatchet or splitting maul, cultivator, shovel (after you’ve worked your previous tools so hard you’ve rendered them unusable) to at least try to keep up with your workload.

If you’re not having enough trouble keeping your place tidy, you always find yourself needing a bit of wire, a length of rope or twine, a chunk of pipe, a piece of lumber oh, how I could go on. And where are you going to put it all? Well, in addition to all your chores, you'll need to keep building more and more sheds to hold your stuff.  

You may ask, how in the world did you get yourself into this mess? Well, the reason you have so much stuff is directly related to the Number 1 Rule of Homesteading: you never, ever toss something out because you might need it…Someday.

Which goes along with the Number 2 Rule of Homesteading: you never, ever toss out a busted tool or broken piece of equipment because you might find the time to fix it…Someday.

If you’re also married to an ardent hobbyist (say, a sportsperson, a woodworker, or keeper of the family media archives) who’s too busy to do these fun, relaxing activities but has many, many plans to take them up when he or she has the time, you discover that on a homestead, Someday is a hotly anticipated date. 

I was a very tidy person before we moved out to the Boonies. My house and yard was in order both literally and figuratively. Now, however, each day I cultivate not the habit of tidying up, but being able to walk past a mess without my tidy gene having a spasm.

And here’s the other thing: there’s a really, really unfortunate result of not finding the time, energy, or fire-in-the-belly to tidy up your country place—but that’s for another day.   

Friday, March 20, 2015

International Day of Happiness!

What a happy coincidence (or not), that this year, the first day of Spring coincides with the third annual International Day of Happiness! I'm celebrating the day by sharing my favorite "happy" quote (which I found after an hour of tearing my office apart but it was worth it!):

"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." W.B. Yeats

Today, I'm very happy to announce that my 3rd Irish novel, The Hopeful Romantic, is now on Amazon pre-order! I imagine that the angsty fellow Yeats was talking about, whoever he is, probably would not have appreciated today's festival of happiness. But I hope you're having a day full of joy, serendipity, and hopes for a fun Spring ahead!