September 18, 2013

Making Space for Joy, Love & Dreams. ~ Natalia Chouklina

Photo: Eve Wentworth on Pinterest.

One of the downsides of moving in with your boy friend is the fact that you now have twice as much stuff and half as much space to work with.

His art-deco one bedroom was cozy, cute and cool in the summer (huge bonus); however, it simply wasn’t big enough for both us. I adored the guy but I made him promise me that this living arrangement was temporary.

We tried to downsize, we really did! He refused to part with his base, it mattered not that he never learned how to play it, and I told him to beat it when he suggested donating my 10-year old jeans.

So here we were—swimming in useless stuff we stubbornly held on to. I daydreamed about shelving units and spare bedrooms. It was never ‘my’ apartment—it was ‘his.’ We will move soon and our life could officially begin—I thought.

Then I got laid off my job and started my coaching business. We had to choose between my passion and additional space because we didn’t have the budget for both.

Shortly after I discovered Hannah Marcotti—her story caught my attention. She shared a tiny, 900 sq. ft. house with her husband and three kids. She adored the place and the thought of giving it up and upgrading was unbearable to her; instead, she committed to making the best out of what she had:

“I started to focus on less stuff and sought out simplifying. Making Space became my daily mantra. I painted the kitchen white and spent so much time deciding what would be part of that space. I took the cupboard doors off to give the illusion of space and so I could see my dishes. White space became the truth of the home.” ~ Hannah Marcotti

Our ‘tiny’ one bedroom was almost as big as Hanna’s house. If a family of five could make space out of nothing and capture the gift of joy, was the same possible for us?

This got me thinking about how easily I convinced myself that I needed a bigger place in order to create spaciousness.

I thought:

  • I required more room for my stuff.
  • My business necessitated an extra bedroom.
  • I lacked the room to breathe.

Was that really the truth? Did my well-being, success and happiness depended upon that extra footage? Or was it simply a nice to have and I didn’t like giving up things?

To be specific—changing plans, letting go of the old and being flexible. I noticed a pattern.

There’s a reason why our dumpsters are overflowing with unopened food packages, our closets are full of unworn and still tagged garments, and our spare bedrooms are full of unused stuff.

It’s a global problem and I was a part of it. My default was to jump to an easier and faster solution to satisfy my perceived need as soon as possible instead of taking the time to think, to look deeper and to squeeze all the goodness out of what I already had.

What would happen if, instead of enlarging my footprint with a bigger home that needed constant attention, I used that energy to make space for more love, play and care in my heart? What if my legacy wasn’t the bigness of my home but the bigness of my ideas?

I looked around and realized that we had plenty of space. We also had a bad habit of poor organization and a lot of old crap, which wasn’t nearly as meaningful to me as doing the work I loved and a loving partnership with my man. A man I loved so much and couldn’t wait to spend the rest of my life with.

We let go of our opinions, our individual pasts and rigidity, and committed to pouring our hearts into playing with possibilities of how to make use of every square foot.

We drew, we dreamed, we measured, we laughed, we looked at catalogues and lovingly questions each other’s must-haves and dire needs.

Finally, we were creating our life—we moved in.

After days of brainstorming, clearing out the old, a short trip to Ikea and a whole day of building, rearranging and organizing, we ended up with more space than we ever dreamed of.

These days I’m in love with my place! It’s so spacious and open! Ideas flow freely. Work is joyful. Love is abound. I haven’t thought about moving in weeks.

Why would I?

My man is here. My home is here. My life is here. I’m here. I’m happy. After all, that’s what I wanted the space for!

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Assist. Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Sara Crolick

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