We stopped in at Hardy’s Cottage on our way back from Dorset over the Easter Holidays. The Visitor’s Centre offers plenty of amenities – bathrooms, a cosy cafè that serves breakfast, light lunches and cream teas with indoor and outdoor seating. The fifteen-minute woodland walk to the cottage passed den building families and stone-throwing children. The cottage is a self-build and the small rooms were cosy and comfortable.
As I stood in at the window in what became Thomas Hardy’s bedroom at the age of seventeen, I noticed the small desk, small box with writing tools and wondered again how much stuff do we really need. I’d like more time, like most people. Life is always too busy with a to-do list that stretches on, constantly topped up with new items and I seem to accumulate tasks much faster than the ability I have to carry them out.
There’s the house – and the cleaning, tidying, sorting, cooking, laundry and various chores that comes with living in a house. There’s the garden and the mowing, weeding, pruning, planting and tidying that comes with that. There’s the cats and the six year old and most of the house is always filled with toys, supplies and modern works of art. As I write I am looking at seven foil covered party hats brought home on Saturday and abandoned on my desk when they lost their lure to entertain. What shall I do with them now?
I sit down with my morning cup of coffee each day and look at minimalist design and manicured edible gardens and wonder where I’ve gone wrong. All I have is a pile of laundry behind me that needs sorting through, a bag from last week’s holiday that hasn’t been unpacked and three packets of half-consumed jelly babies filling up a shelf in the bookcase next to the sharps buckets and packets of lancets. I would love to be neat and tidy, but I don’t have time to be neat and tidy.
I’ve had a headache for three days. I say a headache, but really I’ve had a blistering migraine that’s so much more than a headache. Cass’ Diabetes management has improved, but the combination of EDS skin issues and pump use keep throwing us curve balls. When it works, it works beautifully, but when it fails, it does so spectacularly. We have quite a few products out for review this month and next, we’re knee deep in final assignments for university degrees and it’s the last term of school and we’re half homeschooling some days of the week most of the time. I don’t have time for my to-do list and I’m exhausted by multitasking to the nth degree.
I’d like to live the simple life. After our six year old lamented last week that she’d like to move into a caravan because life is better with less stuff and when everybody is always in the same room, we detoured to Hardy’s Cottage hoping it’ll spark her interest. It did. She loved the bread oven that’s heated by burning gorse bushes inside it first then using the heated bricks for cooking. She loved the cottage garden and rows of raspberry bushes. She fell in love with the notion of tiny homes and on our return have spent quite some time looking at the Tiny House movement in all its different permutations.
Is the complexity of life tied to how much stuff we own?
I don’t think it’s that simple, (looking at a huge cupboard of Diabetes supplies I can’t), but I do think that a paired down, simpler life with less clutter makes it easier to also declutter every-day life. I wake up every morning and I ask myself, what will move us forward? and what will add to my day rather than subtract from it? I really think that if your day is filled with chores you don’t want to do, it’s time for a change.
I enjoy most of the tasks listed on my to-do list, but I don’t enjoy any of them when I feel pressured to do them all at once. My grandfather used to say, you can only think of one thing at a time and you can only do one thing at a time, so if you want to do well, choose your thoughts and actions wisely. If I can’t do it all, well then the laundry can wait a day, the party hats can decorate my desk a while longer whilst I pull up my calendar and highlight the essential things in life I don’t want to miss. Walks after dinner. Cooking together. Planting seeds that will grow and flower. Building this website as a resource first and a business second.
We started Ergohacks because we believe that the things we use shape our daily lives. A good game, an excellent book, a nifty gadget that makes life easier to organise, a chair that makes sitting at a desk a pleasant experience, a screen that doesn’t flicker and fizz, a phone that always work, a cool place to visit, a healthy place to eat, a comfortable bag to carry around and if I’m going to only own three pairs of shoes, I want them to earn their space in my closet.
I do think that life is enriched by the things we use every day and when we choose them carefully, with thought and consideration, they suit not just our lifestyle now but our dream lifestyle of the future. We shape tomorrow today and I’d like tomorrow to be sunny and warm.