Day 16: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Today, Bonnie Gray used her blog post to write about the first step to soul intimacy (something deep that happens when we take time to feed our souls), and to share a story from one of the readers of her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.

Reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace inspired stay-at-home mom Janine Crum to make time for art and open an online shop of original prints.

If you follow the link to Bonnie’s post above, you’ll find a free Whitespace Printable art piece (Find Rest for Your Soul) created by Janine that you can download. And you can read her beautiful story about what it meant for her to make room for spiritual whitespace in her life. It’s so amazing to hear about the different ways that Bonnie’s words have touched others and reawakened their heart’s desire.

Although I have been done with the book for a while now, I still open it up now and then to read some of the passages I highlighted. This is one I like that Janine also included in her post:

When we make room for spiritual whitespace, we step into the beautiful journey of letting go to discover what’s really worth holding onto.

Noah's Big Fish

One of the fish my stepson, Noah, caught while out with his Dad this summer.

These words remind me about the importance of letting go of stuff and holding onto people, relationships, nature, and activities that bring us joy.

Recently, I started following blogger Rachel Jones from Nourishing Minimalism. She says:

“I don’t believe minimalism is particularly about a small amount of belongings, I believe it’s about being content. That one can come to a place in their life where they don’t need ‘more’ and we can spend our time impacting the lives of those around us, rather than caring for ‘things.’ People are the true things that matter.”

I really relate to a lot of her ideas for simplifying. In fact, I created this simple graphic from information she shared in one of her newsletters.

Simplifying

Rachel describes the lifestyle many of us seem to live with these words:

Feel like you’re running in a million different directions?

Most of the time, I think Americans run their life from 3 feet above their head. We don’t take time to sit and be here. In the moment, in this room, on this chair. It’s a rather disjointed life.

Rachel is describing the life of someone who has not figured out the importance of spiritual whitespace or the need for rest, whether physical or mental. On a related note, too much stuff really does cause stress. And more stuff does not lead to contentment as many seem to believe. You can read more from Rachel on simplifying here.

Tranquil Waters

Even Pope Francis (in an interview published in part in the Argentine weekly “Viva” July 27 ) listed leisure time, or rest, as one of his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one’s life. Another had to do with connecting or building relationships.

“Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

“A healthy sense of leisure.” The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said.

“Consumerism has brought us anxiety” and stress, causing people to lose a “healthy culture of leisure.” Their time is “swallowed up” so people can’t share it with anyone.

Spending time with those we love is so much more important than working harder to climb the ladder of success or to acquire more things. Holley Gerth says it best in yesterday’s post:

Jesus didn’t climb ladders … He built bridges.

Instead of reaching up for success He reached out in love.

We can do the same.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

“There is no reason to complicate your family culture just because the culture at large is complicated. When you choose the simple road over the one cluttered with gadgets, theories, and systems, your whole family will probably have more peace and less stress.” Tsh Oxenreider from her book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living.
(Great book!)

The simple road … that’s the path I’m trying to take these days. It’s not always easy, you know?Some people pair the words “simple” and “easy” together as if they automatically go hand-in-hand. But they don’t. My friend Ben explains the difference a little better in his recent blog post “Simple vs. Easy.” The bottom line is – although it’s not always easy to simplify, it’s definitely worth the effort.

To me, simplifying is all about being who you were meant to be and taking the time to determine what it is you value the most, what your priorities are, and where you are spending your time vs. where you would rather be spending your time. We have to be more intentional about the decisions we make as far as spending money, bringing more stuff into our homes, scheduling events and activities, and just plain living everyday life if we want our lives and our homes to reflect who we really are and what matters most to us.

So, I’m working on that. One of the first steps for me is decluttering … learning to let go of the things that are just taking up space and weighing me down. In fact, I think I’m a lot like Gretchen Rubin from Good Housekeeping who says, “For most people – and this is certainly true for me – outer order contributes to inner clam. When I’m surrounded by a mess, I feel restless and unsettled, but clearing clutter gives me a surge of energy and cheer.” I want the calm that comes with a simple and orderly home.

Before 1This past weekend, I tackled the office closet. Here, I keep shipping supplies, binders, copies of completed jobs, suitcases, electronics, extra tote bags, a couple jackets, and my wedding dress. Quite an assortment of things. If we owned our home, I would redo this closet to include a better storage system, but since we rent, I found an inexpensive way to make use of the space. I use hanging closet organizers that are meant to hold shirts and sweaters and other types of clothing. The only problem is – I’ve been tossing miscellaneous items in them lately rather than using them in a way that makes the best sense for my office space. Before 2

When you’re decluttering and organizing, if possible, use items you already have around the house (boxes, crates, shelves) to help you corral your stuff; if you need some good ideas or want to purchase new supplies, one of my favorite places for organizational tools is The Container Store. Love that place!

Anyway, back to the task at hand. My first step was to take everything out of the closet. When I did that, I found several electronic items that we really have no need to keep anymore: a printer that doesn’t really work; a scanner that I don’t need because my new printer has one built in; a fax machine, which is unnecessary because I can scan and email documents; a DVD player, which we don’t use because we play movies in our XBox, etc. I pulled all of these items aside to get rid of them.

Electronics

Did you know that Best Buy has been advertising a new Trade In Program for old electronics? You can get credit on a gift card for “gently used” electronics and games. Of course there are some conditions on what they’ll accept, but it’s certainly worth checking into. And anything that doesn’t have a trade-in value will be recycled for you, so you won’t have to worry about non-working items ending up in a landfill. I’m going to look into this trade-in concept this next week. At this point, we’ve got nothing to lose, but clutter.

After 2As I sorted the remaining closet items, I filled up a trash bag and a recycling bag, and then began to place things back into the closet in a more orderly fashion. It really didn’t take that long, and it wasn’t that hard to do. But it felt good to cross this project off  my list (I’ve been meaning to do it for two or three weeks). When Bart got home, I had to show him what I had accomplished; I was proud of myself. He was impressed that we could actually walk into the closet once again.

After 1As I closed the door on this particular project, I felt good. Not from achieving perfection, but from creating order out of disorder. From knowing that this was a simple start to a lifelong commitment of creating a more peaceful living space where things become less prominent, and what I do have is organized, easy to find, and much easier to enjoy.

“The surprising effect of getting rid of the things that you don’t love is that you grow deeper in love with the things you choose to keep.” Tsh Oxenreider

The hall medicine/linen closet is next on my list. What about you? What choices are you making to accomplish great things (or even small things) in the name of order and peace of mind?