I’ve always believed in living simply, in living well and in not overly complicating any aspect. Since I held this belief for so long I didn’t realise that I had, over the past year, actually shyed away from it. Because my life, at the moment, is anything but simple and I am living anything but the ideas I actually believe in. Any task I’ve taken on, I’ve made it more and more complicated without any idea why.
A great example is that I have been craving an actual vacation; one place, no internet, no business, no people. Just a simple cottage to kick back for a few days. I found the perfect place but then I thought, why not go camping? So then I looked into all the gear, the spots, trying to figure out how to get it into a small car and how to deal with the dog. After a few days of just thinking about it, I was exhausted – how did one simple trip to relieve me of my stresses turn into a stressful trip? Why did I do that?
I think it’s so easy for us to think we’re living and being one way when the truth is that we’re not. How many of us have read books, intellectually taken in those beliefs on how to make our lives better but have not actually implemented change? How many blogs have we read that give us 400 million ideas and yet we haven’t done even one but keep reading for more and more ideas? How many of us have said our styles are X but then a quick glance around our homes reveal our style is actually Y. How many things have we added onto our lives without really enjoying what’s right there? How many of us are disconnected?
This web site is also a great example; I wanted to add a lot of functionality that people were asking for but integrate it in a simple, seamless way. However, my new design and gadgets just went too far. There were too many patterns, links, colours, images. It overwhelmed me but did I stop? Nope.
Although I’ve been known for my simple design and knowing when to pull back on any project, I unleashed a monster with this site. The values that are Hygge (cosy, simple, easy) were not reflected in the design (dark, complicated, busy). When I looked at it last night I realised the path my design had taken was as if I was wandering beautiful, simple Chateauxs in France and then wandered into the crazy, over-the-top architecture in Brugge and was left wondering what the hell happened! This wasn’t the right path but it’s where I ended up without thinking.
So I started thinking. Thinking about my values, my beliefs, this site’s purpose, what I’ve done in the past that’s worked. I remembered my favourite Antoine de Sant-Exupery quote that I always used to use as guideline for design:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Then it hit me; these words are just true for design, but for life. And so with several large cups of tea and a good soundtrack, I began a new design of pure simplicity and then bringing that into my life, connecting my beliefs with reality once again.
So I rented that cabin that had everything on 800 acres in the middle of nowhere – just drive up and be! I finished up a few work projects and turned a few down. I went through my wardrobe and got a batch ready for eBay. I deleted old files, old images from my computer. I bought The Art of Simple Cooking and let go of all the guilt I had for not wanting to cook elaborate meals that I don’t actually like. I donated a lot of my art supplies because I am actually not crafty and don’t really enjoy all that and feeling like I should. I got rid of excess dog toys and then I did something else – napped. And napped. This alone was huge for a girl who runs on 4 hours of sleep a night (if she’s lucky).
Slowly (and that’s the way to do this) I’m easing back into myself; merging my long-held ideas with my actual living self. The disconnect is getting smaller.