Lessons Learned and Simplicity

IMG_3723This might be the year I finish my never-ending de-cluttering project. I have been at it since we moved to Miami 13 years ago. Yes, that is a long time, but I did have too much to get rid of. All in the pursue of Simplicity, a simpler life. It’s a long story, so bear with me.IMG_3725

In 2003, after more than 20 years in Curaçao, my husband and I made Miami our home. He came to work here and I followed. At the time, it was the thing to do, but that did not make it any easier. I did a lot of throwing away, donating, selling and packing. In the end, I had still too much because I was holding on to memories in the guise of possessions. It was difficult to just let go of them, so I brought them with us.

I have learned a lot since then. Every move we have made here has resulted in more donating and throwing away….no more selling for some reason. Since we have moved three times, you can imagine how much I have de-cluttered. Still, it has not been enough. So regularly, I go through our closets, our kitchen, our books, CDs and DVDs. I have participated in two de-clutter projects as well. I have one day every two weeks when I shred papers that are of no use anymore. I must have done some damage to my storage space, you would think. Not so fast…

IMG_1697It is true that we started with two storage cages in our first apartment building. They were full to the top, mostly with boxes that came from Curaçao, boxes our children brought to us when they moved from place to place. We now have only one storage cage, but it is full to the top!!

Having decided that we need to move on, look for a more relaxed place to live than Miami, I have started again in earnest to diminish the clutter we brought and the one we have accumulated. I kid you not, sometimes I feel our things just multiply!!

IMG_4985Now, I have learned one important lesson: this is not de-cluttering anymore…this is downsizing!!! All I have done is a preparation for this most important ritual in our lives: moving on and live in the day. Memories will be there, but our  are being weeded out. I have taken many photos  to have a record of what I am getting rid of. A less complicated home is coming soon.

IMG_4989The other lesson I have taken away from this long process is that I will downsize my way. Simplicity is not the same for everyone, each of us have our own definition. Mine is, well, simple!!! I will keep my photographs, my videos, my books, my photo albums (remember them?). They tell my story, they are my memories and in the great scheme of life, they take less space than furniture, china, glassware, silverware and other assorted items I have dragged with me for years.

It is liberating and I am enjoying it so far……of course there have been some emotional moments along the way. That is part of the process, part of what life is all about. I will keep you posted on this leg of my Simplicity journey.

What is Style?

The idea of this post came to me last Saturday when I went to watch a documentary about a most fascinating woman. Iris Apfel, 94 years old, is stylish. She has been praised over and over as someone who knows about style. So what is STYLE, really. In the case of Iris, see for yourself, not many of us could pull this off!!

I know this is a topic everyone talks about, not everyone understands and everyone wants to have. This doesn’t mean I know what I am talking about, but I have decided to explore the meaning of this elusive quality.

Starting from the beginning, let’s what the dictionary says. Conventional idea, but a safe one, I feel.

noun: style; plural noun: styles
  1. 1.
    a manner of doing something.
    • a way of painting, writing, composing, building, etc., characteristic of a particular period, place, person, or movement.
    • a way of using language.
    • a way of behaving or approaching a situation that is characteristic of or favored by a particular person.
      noun: one’s style; plural noun: one’s styles
    • an official or legal title.
  2. 2.
    a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.
  3. 3.
    elegance and sophistication.
    synonyms: flair, stylishness, elegance, grace, gracefulness, poise, polish, suaveness, sophistication, urbanity, chic, dash, panache, elan; More

    informalclass, pizzazz
verb: style; 3rd person present: styles; past tense: styled; past participle: styled; gerund or present participle: styling
  1. 1.
    design or make in a particular form.
    synonyms: design, fashion, tailor

    • arrange (hair) in a particular way.
  2. 2.
    designate with a particular name, description, or title.
This is a very long definition, but it has most of what I was looking for: flair, elegance, sophistication, trend, vogue, pizzazz…..you get my meaning.  If we keep digging, we can find other definitions: a distinctive manner of expression, a phenomenon that gives birth to an art motif, a specific manner of behaving. This is also why, writing about style can be a bit complicated.
Not trying here to make-up a new definition of the word, only trying to convey the fact that, regardless of long and complicated definitions, style means different things to different people. Consequently, we can all achieve our own!!!
Coco Chanel, for many the ultimate arbiter in style, once said: “Fashion fades, only style remains the same”. That is a mantra to live by for many women, but not enough yet. Most modern women live to follow fashion regardless if it looks good on them or not. What a pity!!!
If we consider this, then style is very personal. Still, there are certain requirements. Who decides these? and should we care? Also, we all can come up with a variety of women and men with a kind of personal style, but who are not considered stylish. Is this only a preference then? Are we to follow someone’s idea of style? Or are we going to follow our own and be happy with who we have become? From sophisticated to trendy, to in-vogue, from lavish to simple…..from striking to chic, from having or not that special flair: we all have our styles. Be proud of yours.
To help me along the way, I try to concentrate on another quote that I have striven to follow for years with mixed success. “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”. I am most definitely NOT Iris Apfel, in the sense that I am not going to become famous for my style. On the other hand,  truthfully: I feel very stylish…..most of the time!!!