A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Simplicity....

Almost as soon as M and I bought our house we had buyer's remorse. It isn't that we hate the house itself - it's a lovely place, classic and full of character. I love the built-in cabinets and weathered wood floors. The shiny glass door knobs and skeleton keys. I love how if you shut all the windows and pull the curtains it feels like there's air conditioning when you walk in from a hot summer day. I love that I have the kind of neighbors who pot extra herbs every summer and put them on our porch when we aren't looking. I love the terrific amount of space in the driveway to hang wet clothes and having a garage door with an automatic opener. And who doesn't appreciate the cozy heat our ancient boiler kicks out on cold January afternoons?

We have great access to public transportation. Frick Park right down the street. Walkable restaurants and groceries. Diversity that is not common in most Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

(We won't talk about the plumbing. The burglaries. The traffic. No place is paradise, after all.)

So, the buyer's remorse was not really about the house, or its location.

M has his own reasons, and maybe he'll comment on them here. For me it was about the space. There was too much of it, and we started to fill it up, consciously and unconsciously, with stuff and obligations and things to take care of and things that were supposed to make something easier, but were in fact harder. Like the vacuum.

So, we started to pare down. Summer break hit and with a sudden influx of time, I started to think about how we could simplify our cleaning and cooking, to prepare for the next school year. I decluttered using Flylady techniques and got brave enough to break out the tools and try my handiwork on a few nagging home improvement issues. Slowly, but surely, the house started to look better. Gradually, there was dinner on the table most days at 6 o'clock and the dishes were done and the sink wiped shiny by bedtime. I started to relax a little more at home. It felt less like the dorm-room we happened to crash in each night while we recovered from our busy lives, and more like a place to Be. A Home. I sold things on Craigslist and repurposed furniture and made some thoughtful additions, like houseplants, which help to clean indoor air.

With the decluttering of the house, I began a sort of decluttering of my soul. I started to examine the things that took up my time each day and considered what was beneficial to me and my family. A clearer picture of my hopes and vision emerged.

I got excited about what I was discovering on the internet. I clicked here and here and here and here. I read inspirational stories and poured over how-to's. I heard a whole lot of people saying things that I rang true to me. Consumerism will wear you down! Live more slowly! Be thoughtful about your contributions to the planet - whether it's your work or your garbage - and keep in mind that your neighbors are both down the street and in some hard-to-get-to slum in East Africa.

A funny thing happened.

I looked up one day and realized I was spending way too much time reading minimalist blogs, looking at systems to simplify and trying to streamline my life so that I could enjoy it. Trying to figure stuff out so I could get more done. More. Better. Faster.

This blog started off as a travelogue, because M and I were wanderers.

Our wanderlust was fueled by a life that had gotten away from us a bit in Phoenix. Money, cars, commuting, neckties, Teach for America. We desired simplicity. (You really can't get much simpler than backpacking. It's you and 30 pounds of stuff. And Nature, of course.)

That road, of course, led us on a 32 state camping trip and up and down the backbone of the Appalachian mountains. It brought us back to Pittsburgh and introduced new careers and along the way we acquired a daughter and a mortgage and volunteer work on various boards of directors. It started out as a pursuit of simplicity and it's led us back to the same place.

Now I could classify ourselves more as wonderers, as we watch Laurel explore and learn and grow, but it's all taking place right here in our house and our local park and the grocery store. And it's awesome.

I like telling these kind of stories, and I know you like reading them. But I've had the nagging feeling that I've allowed this blog to become too limiting. I've been censoring myself too much about what life is really like around here. It's not a true reflection of who we are or who we hope to become. I'm an honest writer, but I tell a very incomplete story.

I'm going to take a little blogging break. As my uncle described me during our recent family reunion, I can be a prolific writer, so I don't want you to think something awful happened when no new blog posts go up. I'm just at the park with Laurel, or maybe cleaning the basement. Life goes on, whether I document it or not.

This blog has been a marvelous outlet for my writer's spirit, and I think it captures a lot about me and our lives over the past five years. I especially like this post and this one about hiking in Vermont and maybe this one here, which sort of captures the lesson I keep learning over and over again...that I always feel like I'm searching for an answer about who I'm supposed to be, and it turns out I knew it all along.

So, I don't know what my plans are for this blog, only that I'm taking a bit of a break from it. Maybe we'll carry on in September, maybe something new and better will come out of it.

In any case, if you have any opinions on whether or not you'd like to see this blog continue, or questions about us, or other ideas you'd like to see me write about, feel free to leave them in the comments.

And until then, have a very nice summer.


Anonymous said...

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo, I check this blog at least 2 times a day!!!!!
I will miss it . . . . but I understand
love always,
aunt laine

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog but it shouldn't be a chore for you. With everything else going on in your life you have to fill what free time you do have doing something that satisfies. Even if that is nothing at all :)
Take a break and enjoy your beautiful baby girl.
Aunt DC

Anonymous said...


Aunt Laine

Unknown said...

Hi Katy,
If you blog I will read. If not I will wait for your book :o)
Uncle Joe

Anonymous said...

Hi Katy, I will really miss your blog. I enjoyed reading your opinions on issues of the day, and reading about Laurel,but i will be here if you decide to start your blog again. Love, Aunt Donna Belski

Anonymous said...

I read your blog all the time and if you stop writing for whatever reason I completely understand. No one can chronicle every moment of their life and all its experiences. Life itself is too rich for that. Besides, one's life is not necessarily ment to be recorded from start to finish, simply highlighted along the way with stories and photos.
I started reading this blog to learn about who you and M were, what you did and where you have been. I got hooked. I started reading to see how you lived week to week. I've seen you guys take on a new house, live through a pregnancy, learn about caring for an infant and help shape her life to what it is today. I've watched your family grow and see how you deal with the stresses of juggling work and home and everything else life throws at you - usually at once. Most of all I've see the joy and happiness you create for yourselves by the way you live.
I briefly got to spend a small amount of time with you and M personally but feel like I understand and respect you on a deeper level because of this blog. I like to think I helped with your transition into the current chapter of your lives because I helped you to find your home. It's nice to see that you are all doing well. I'll check back from time to time to catch up but maybe I should just stop by and visit :)
- Matt

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the month of August as a vacation? with an occasional return when you feel like it?

The computer can become addictive, and time off is good.

Your readers will always welcome a word or two. Facebook just isn't the same.

Love, Mary

Anonymous said...

No, Katy! Nnnnnoooooooo! I've always looked forward to reading your blog. But you need to be happy. :(


sarah said...

Hey Kaki (Kai's way of saying your name right now),
I miss your blog too, and hope you can find some time to carry it on this fall. I know you're busy but your writing is very refreshing and often captures what I'm feeling too.

I understand what you mean about needing to be honest, though. I recently reread an old journal, and it was amazing how much more interesting it was when I stopped writing it for other people, and consciously only wrote it for myself.
with a hug,