Getting Your House In Order

On Monday I attended a funeral. It was a sad and unexpected occasion.

Part of the service concentrated on how such untimely deaths (and death generally) can focus the mind. The priest spoke about how death reminds us we aren’t infinite beings and to not waste time on the mundane. Even if, for some, that reminder is fleeting.

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. DO IT NOW” Paulo Coelho.

It was the devastating and premature departure of someone, I loved, that started my journey toward a simpler life over 5 years ago. I picked up two books on a life-changing visit to the local library back in 2009. One book has been quoted time and time again, here at the blog, but I may not have given the title of the second book. It was ‘The Courage To Grieve’.

Death focused my mind. I knew something had to change. I fully, and painfully, understood how time on this planet is so precious, and so short. It was time to go simple.

My first step on the path toward a ‘family life simply done’ was to get my physical house in order. To reduce clutter and to improve the organisation of our home.

Losing someone put everything into perspective. The clutter I’d been collecting for years lost its value. Slowly but surely the clutter reduced, along with other investments of my time (and energy) that no longer seemed important.

I’ve written this blog post a hundred times in my thoughts. I’ve physically written it down twice on paper. What I type today will be different to what I wrote previously, because we evolve. Every day we change and grow, our emotions and memories change based on our life experiences.

One time it was written as a potential guest post for another blog. I’ve tried to find that draft, but can’t. I’m thinking it’s may be for the best. Yet another 12 months on it’s less raw.

But I do remember what I titled the never-submitted guest post.

It was the same title as this post – Getting Your House In Order.

But the title of this post has a double-entendre.

At the back of my mind, in my deep subconscious I carry a strong desire ‘to get my house in order’ should I not return home, unexpectedly, one day.

This may sound morbid. I assure you it isn’t. I try to skip through life with a light-heart – but with my feet placed firmly on the ground. There are no guarantees, and when that realisation is spun as a positive it can bring many benefits. Among others, here are 5 that spontaneously spring to mind:

1. The ability to keep things in perspective and remember that ‘this too shall pass

2. A deep appreciation of the passing of precious time. For example, each day I just observe my children’s faces for a minute or two (a bit scary for them maybe?)

3. It reminds me to be mindful

4, It reduces what I take for granted

5. And ultimately – I don’t take life too seriously. After all no-one gets out alive 😉

 

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Susan July 3, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Jo, this post really speaks to me, and was obviously well thought out and crafted. I wish my response could be as well worded, but I can only speak from the heart when I say I completely understand what you are saying and couldn’t agree more. You may have realized younger than most how fleeting life and time are. I lost the central person in my life very suddenly and unexpectedly over 20 years ago, and have never been quite the same since. Every day I appreciate my family, friends, and the things that I have. Not to say that I don’t let the usual stresses and aggravations get on top of me like everyone else, but my overall life view is for gratitude and mindfulness always.

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 10:58 am

      A lovely comment as always Susan. And well-worded. The loss I experienced almost 6 years ago, pales into comparison with what other loved-ones experienced at that time. To lose that ‘central person’ is devastating. Not that such a description even scratches the surface of the true emotion. Your sentence that you have ‘never been quite the same since’ I totally understand. I’ve seen someone I love completely transform into a person managing to carry-on one day at a time (and build a new life) after death. Her courage (as I am sure yours was) has been inconceivable.
      I too sometimes get stressed and irritated – wrapped up in the mundane. But I always regret allowing that to happen. The little things, really are little things. Don’t sweat the small stuff 😉
      Much love x

  • Susan July 3, 2014, 5:38 pm

    Jo, this post really speaks to me, and was obviously well thought out and crafted. I wish my response could be as well worded, but I can only speak from the heart when I say I completely understand what you are saying and couldn’t agree more. You may have realized younger than most how fleeting life and time are. I lost the central person in my life very suddenly and unexpectedly over 20 years ago, and have never been quite the same since. Every day I appreciate my family, friends, and the things that I have. Not to say that I don’t let the usual stresses and aggravations get on top of me like everyone else, but my overall life view is for gratitude and mindfulness always.

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 10:58 am

      A lovely comment as always Susan. And well-worded. The loss I experienced almost 6 years ago, pales into comparison with what other loved-ones experienced at that time. To lose that ‘central person’ is devastating. Not that such a description even scratches the surface of the true emotion. Your sentence that you have ‘never been quite the same since’ I totally understand. I’ve seen someone I love completely transform into a person managing to carry-on one day at a time (and build a new life) after death. Her courage (as I am sure yours was) has been inconceivable.
      I too sometimes get stressed and irritated – wrapped up in the mundane. But I always regret allowing that to happen. The little things, really are little things. Don’t sweat the small stuff 😉
      Much love x

  • M July 4, 2014, 12:09 am

    Dear Jo

    I have never commented on anything I have read online before….until now.Somethings stop you in your tracks-you have written this beautifully and it comes from the heart.

    Keep it up

    M

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 11:03 am

      M thank you. You probably do not know how much this comment means to me. I’m a rather private person, and do try to keep things very light generally. Here and in my real life. It was hard to write but something, in my subconscious, has given me a nudge a few times to share this motivation for choosing to slow down and start simplifying our family life. Thanks again.

      • ccattwood July 16, 2014, 5:38 pm

        this post pierced deep…it’s as if you took my thoughts out of my mind and put them so eloquently on paper…my journey is 2 years in but began the same way yours did, so I thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • M July 4, 2014, 12:09 am

    Dear Jo

    I have never commented on anything I have read online before….until now.Somethings stop you in your tracks-you have written this beautifully and it comes from the heart.

    Keep it up

    M

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 11:03 am

      M thank you. You probably do not know how much this comment means to me. I’m a rather private person, and do try to keep things very light generally. Here and in my real life. It was hard to write but something, in my subconscious, has given me a nudge a few times to share this motivation for choosing to slow down and start simplifying our family life. Thanks again.

      • ccattwood July 16, 2014, 5:38 pm

        this post pierced deep…it’s as if you took my thoughts out of my mind and put them so eloquently on paper…my journey is 2 years in but began the same way yours did, so I thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • Clare July 4, 2014, 5:21 am

    Firstly Jo, sorry for your loss xx
    The first time I really thought about ‘getting my house in order’ should anything happen to me unexpectedly was during my first year of teaching. I realised one day that if I didn’t have my filing ‘just so’ and have my results labeled in a sensible folder on my computer and in the back of my planning book, not to mention student work stored in labeled folders in my filing cabinet, that if something happened to me unexpectedly, it would be a gigantic pain for everyone else, and could possibly jeopardise my students results! Needless to say, that was when my work life became very organised and clutter free 🙂 Still working on home (after 15 years…)

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 11:08 am

      Thanks Clare. When my Gran died (this isn’t who I am talking about above) she left everything just so! She was a natural minimalist. And has an amazing back story. She was inspirational. Very much missed – but we were so lucky to have had her in our lives.
      It really helped those who were left behind. We knew what her wishes were, where everything was etc… Her send-off was just as she wanted also (and paid for! – she was very independent!). All we had to think about were the happy memories.
      Keep decluttering that home 😉

  • Clare July 4, 2014, 5:21 am

    Firstly Jo, sorry for your loss xx
    The first time I really thought about ‘getting my house in order’ should anything happen to me unexpectedly was during my first year of teaching. I realised one day that if I didn’t have my filing ‘just so’ and have my results labeled in a sensible folder on my computer and in the back of my planning book, not to mention student work stored in labeled folders in my filing cabinet, that if something happened to me unexpectedly, it would be a gigantic pain for everyone else, and could possibly jeopardise my students results! Needless to say, that was when my work life became very organised and clutter free 🙂 Still working on home (after 15 years…)

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 11:08 am

      Thanks Clare. When my Gran died (this isn’t who I am talking about above) she left everything just so! She was a natural minimalist. And has an amazing back story. She was inspirational. Very much missed – but we were so lucky to have had her in our lives.
      It really helped those who were left behind. We knew what her wishes were, where everything was etc… Her send-off was just as she wanted also (and paid for! – she was very independent!). All we had to think about were the happy memories.
      Keep decluttering that home 😉

  • Apple July 4, 2014, 10:15 am

    I am sorry for your loss, Jo.
    Your thoughts very much resemble mine. Since my mid-twenties ‘getting your house in order’ has always been a motive for me.
    On a sunny Sunday afrernoon, just a few months after getting married, I was involved in a head-on car crash which left the young man who ran into me dead, and me in hospital for months with severe brain, facial and leg injuries. Life has never been the same since. Obviously I have life-long consequences of my injuries, but also the car crash has been life-changing as regards prioritizing what is important for me in life.
    The way I see it, is that ‘stuff’ can make life easier or nicer. People can definitely make life easier and nicer. But at the end of the day it is only ourself and our mind that makes all the difference in how we feel, behave and relate to people and things. I believe that the ultimate minimalism is when you are contented with yourself and your life enough to be able to not need but enjoy or accept things, people and events.
    …sorry for being so philosophical on a Friday morning! 🙂 Enjoy your week-end!

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 11:19 am

      Thank you for sharing Apple. I did not know about your accident. I sincerely hope you are okay? Recently there was a local accident, where one driver survived, one didn’t. So very difficult for everyone involved. Life will never be the same again, as it hasn’t been for you.

      It’s been said time and time again (and it has to be said considerately – as the pain is still too raw for some to want to hear it) but out of such trauma and devastation good things can come. Life won’t revert to how it was (aka go back to normal) and there can be unresolvable dreadful loss or serious life changing consequences. But it can focus the mind. It can awaken a new realisation.

      I’ve never had a near death experience, but I’ve heard how this can develop a new found appreciation of life. Perhaps a little like losing someone you love.

  • Apple July 4, 2014, 10:15 am

    I am sorry for your loss, Jo.
    Your thoughts very much resemble mine. Since my mid-twenties ‘getting your house in order’ has always been a motive for me.
    On a sunny Sunday afrernoon, just a few months after getting married, I was involved in a head-on car crash which left the young man who ran into me dead, and me in hospital for months with severe brain, facial and leg injuries. Life has never been the same since. Obviously I have life-long consequences of my injuries, but also the car crash has been life-changing as regards prioritizing what is important for me in life.
    The way I see it, is that ‘stuff’ can make life easier or nicer. People can definitely make life easier and nicer. But at the end of the day it is only ourself and our mind that makes all the difference in how we feel, behave and relate to people and things. I believe that the ultimate minimalism is when you are contented with yourself and your life enough to be able to not need but enjoy or accept things, people and events.
    …sorry for being so philosophical on a Friday morning! 🙂 Enjoy your week-end!

    • simplybeingmum July 4, 2014, 11:19 am

      Thank you for sharing Apple. I did not know about your accident. I sincerely hope you are okay? Recently there was a local accident, where one driver survived, one didn’t. So very difficult for everyone involved. Life will never be the same again, as it hasn’t been for you.

      It’s been said time and time again (and it has to be said considerately – as the pain is still too raw for some to want to hear it) but out of such trauma and devastation good things can come. Life won’t revert to how it was (aka go back to normal) and there can be unresolvable dreadful loss or serious life changing consequences. But it can focus the mind. It can awaken a new realisation.

      I’ve never had a near death experience, but I’ve heard how this can develop a new found appreciation of life. Perhaps a little like losing someone you love.

  • Jo H. July 7, 2014, 6:11 pm

    Jo, I am a few days behind in my reading. This is a moving and thoughtful and well-written post. I’m sorry for your loss. I haven’t had that experience but I’ve seen a loved one’s life changed profoundly in the blink of an eye due to a medical emergency, and my world view changed as a result. I also think about the possibility of not coming home some day, and I understand completely when you talk about that. It’s why I started the decluttering process as well. At the same time, people became more important to me; some of them welcome being close while others don’t, and I’ve learned to accept that, too. Funny that so many of us with similar experiences found your blog, not even knowing that we had this in common. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • Jo H. July 7, 2014, 6:11 pm

    Jo, I am a few days behind in my reading. This is a moving and thoughtful and well-written post. I’m sorry for your loss. I haven’t had that experience but I’ve seen a loved one’s life changed profoundly in the blink of an eye due to a medical emergency, and my world view changed as a result. I also think about the possibility of not coming home some day, and I understand completely when you talk about that. It’s why I started the decluttering process as well. At the same time, people became more important to me; some of them welcome being close while others don’t, and I’ve learned to accept that, too. Funny that so many of us with similar experiences found your blog, not even knowing that we had this in common. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

  • bushra July 9, 2014, 1:40 pm

    Oh wow, it’s interesting how the death of a person is a theme I’m finding in common with those who I look to for inspiration when it comes to simplifying. I drew so many parallels in this post but find it difficult to express to others without sounding too depressing. I will have to save this post for reference as I have many others from your blog 🙂

  • bushra July 9, 2014, 1:40 pm

    Oh wow, it’s interesting how the death of a person is a theme I’m finding in common with those who I look to for inspiration when it comes to simplifying. I drew so many parallels in this post but find it difficult to express to others without sounding too depressing. I will have to save this post for reference as I have many others from your blog 🙂

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