All that remains

I’m refining. I prefer the word refining to minimising. The latter feels like I am eroding my pile of belongings whilst the former hints at perhaps, using better judgement to choose what remains.

Writing, as a craft, is a little like the acquisition process. Eventually, after years of choosing far too many words and then paying the painful price of editing, culling, reducing, we become discerning. Words are more carefully chosen, thoughtfully placed. Much like the process I have been going through with my possessions.

I’ve been preoccupied on the process (which led to other processes), so no writing here on the blog. Although I did finish one journal and begin another, only to be quite the way through that one as well. Pages and pages of thoughts on minimising and reductionism. Ironic really when I think about it.

ATBOP headquarters used to be a space that didn’t have room for space – labelled “creative” it was anything but.

Creativity is snuffled by clutter, not enabled. I have been more productive in the last couple of weeks than in all of the months previous put together. The dying days of 2021 may just be the best for creativity all year.

This evening I sit at a long, empty bench, devoid of decorative items. My dodgy old MacBook has been replaced with an IPad (not new, but far zippier) and a small blue tooth keyboard. A chunk of rose quartz (the writers stone), is all that remains, in here at least, of what was once a sizeable collection of crystals.

There is a small bottle of Lemongrass essential oil that needs to return to its home in the cabinet in the dining room. It seems to be waiting patiently for me to pick it up and take it back to its mates.

That’s the thing about giving everything a home. They then have a place to return to and you know where to find them should you desire to call upon them again. The joy of needing a sharp pair of scissors and knowing exactly where to find them at any given moment is revelatory.

What else remains in here?

The bookshelf containing my camera collection and a couple of books that belong in this room.

I have my vintage swing around, tip back, red vinyl chair that I love, yet occasionally I do become frustrated at its lack of wheels.

Still, the tip back option and bright cherry red colour rather make up for its stubborn immobility. It contrasts nicely with the old blue couch that I sometimes loll about on whilst thinking. Lolling is very important to the dreamer, the thinker and of course the writer. Lolling is actually my primary source of ideas, apart from walking. Walking and lolling – imperative resources to the creative mind.

Which explains what I now see are an inordinate amount of seating options for a solitary person. There is also extensive floor space which is rather nice for practicing yoga or, again, lolling. Everything else has been taken elsewhere or thrown out.

That said, there aren’t a lot of “elsewheres” given that I have cleared every surface, every cupboard, every container and every room ruthlessly. I have developed an allergy to all manner of things that used to travel in flocks around my house.

Cushions make me sneeze in disgust

Paper piles – magazines, old newspapers, brochures, etc – itchy, very itchy.

Etcetera in general is gone. It used to gather dust and the funny thing is that none of those items are memorable. I look around and don’t miss a thing and yet so many things were picked up over the years and came home with me. I exchanged time and money for them – I must have found them attractive. It seems a little sad that I don’t remember them at all. At least not individually, yet I savour the places that they are now not. The great long expanses that are so easy to run a cloth over.

Even books are subject to furrowed brow contemplations at random intervals and a discreet pile is taken away almost weekly. My once packed shelves are looking sparse.

I like the word sparse.

I hate the word clutter.

When I talk with her of these doings, my sister contemplates me like a sibling of suddenly suspect origin. As children, we shared a room. Bindi’s was tidy, decorated just so. Mine was full of my gatherings, dried wildflowers, odd stones, a birdsnest or two, books, drawings, a toy or five, so much more.

It has always been so. She the tidy, organised one, me, the chaotic younger sister. Who are we now then?


People change, well I do anyway, all the time. It’s a good thing that we are able to, or life would end up boringly stunted.

I have become comfortably accustomed to simplicity, a tendency toward reduction gathers it’s own new pocket lint habits.

Peace, clarity, focus and an aversion to distraction, extraneous detail. All novel. I relish the opportunity to study these things more.

So that I can acquire more of less.

The pursuit of minimalism in all areas of life feels like something that is our birthright, an ancient artefact, covered up by the trappings that a consumeristic, progressive world told us were necessary. Rather than being awkward to learn it is easy, like a known skill returned to.

Life is spacious. The less there is, the less to organise, clean, repair. No loud object voices calling me to attend to the mess, the clutter, the memories, so many memories once trapped that have now been set free to visit less often, less painfully.

Without the emotional tug (most of it subconscious) caused by a history of photos galleried and displayed, a wander down the hallway is almost meditation. I notice the patches of sunlight on the boards. The clean, bright glass of the louvres. These things are far more beautiful then anything you can buy to add to them.

What no home decorating magazine has yet to publish is that expanse, space, sunlight, peace – these are far more important than nearly everything and anything that we could possibly buy to furnish our houses with.

And it’s certainly cheaper. But where would the economy be if we all had just one set of sheets?


Header photo taken above First Bay, Coolum Beach early one morning last week. I had Bodhi with me and she was in a hurry to get on with her walk but I managed this quick snap and chose it for this post. Serenity – such a lovely word.

7 thoughts on “All that remains

  1. Kate, I think of you so much. I’ve missed you and understand every word you write. Eloquently, you described exactly my feelings when I began my process, my refining, of minimalism nearly 6 years ago. Many, particularly family, questioned how I could be so content in my 335 ft. R.V. I moved into my small home nearly a year ago and at times, although it’s only 1,000 sq ft., I have felt it too cluttered~others laugh. Through “decluttering” my soul and things I found a peace and contentment. I will not let it go. All that remains is what matters most. Sending hugs and peace dear friends. 💛

    • Karla I think of you too. I think we may be birds of a feather in many ways. That’s the lovely thing (and one that I have missed) about catching up with people on WordPress. I don’t feel that same connection on other social media which is why I’ve deleted most of it. All that remains indeed is what is important and I am enjoying being back in the WordPress community where people tend to speak from the heart – or the ones I follow do anyway. Lovely to hear from you my friend X

      • Thank you, Kate. Yes, I think we are that way too. I understand about the social media. I still have IG {I haven’t been on FB since May of 2018 and I’ve never looked back} and I love sharing about my new adventures with my children’s book~but I try to post truly meaningful events. It’s a very small part of my life. And some days I’m not on there at all. Like you, it’s here in this space, I feel
        most connected with others. It makes my heart smile to see your name and your writings. Hugs and peace dear friend. ❤️🤗

  2. You’re right : the words “sparse” and “clutter” are almost onomatopoeic. One clear,empty, sibilant. Almost silent. The other clattering and chattering. This post resonates with me

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