In our tiny front porch, most days, there are squat shoes, deadlift shoes, knee sleeves, belts, climbing shoes, a bag of climbing gear, a flute, dog leashes, easily half a dozen pair of running shoes, hiking staves, hiking boots, a camp stove, a cooling casserole (kept safe from the cats and dog) and other oddments whose household location depends largely on the most recent adventure. There is also usually a bizarre collection of outerwear (it’s Newfoundland and anything goes, even in August) and a goodly drift of sand, dirt, leaves and whatever else trailed in on clothing.
We are a busy family.
We climb, hike, walk, lift, run, bike, swim, eat, and explore. There is a bike and trainer in the master bedroom. Shaker bottles are exploding from a cupboard. The kitchen is frequently tidied (the second spice cupboard is my nemesis) and falls just as quickly into disarray from overuse. Our cupboards, walls, and floors have been abused by children and dogs. The basement is either a goldmine or disaster, depending on how you view accumulated objects from a history of divergent activities.
We live from this house, but not for it.
The backyard has a greenhouse full of grapes and raspberry canes burgeoning with berries. The wildflowers are everywhere, complete with butterflies, bees and birds, and we make little attempt to tame them. In the night I can lie on the still-unstained-this-year back deck and look at the stars shining so brilliantly and feel small in the cosmos. I can step out my door and step on to the East Coast Trail, walk to Middle Cove or Flatrock in a matter of an hour or less and then home again.
Our house for us is our Base Camp for this grand mountain climb of Life, and our refuge. It’s where we rest between excursions, refuel, restore the soul, and launch into the next adventure. It’s not a showpiece; it’s where we keep the things that we need to live the life that matters to us. We have no intention of “moving up”. It’s small and somewhat overcrowded with stuff, at times, but we see this as a sign to need less and cull possessions rather than an indication that we should spend more on a housing image that means little to us. We invite relatively few people over because home for us is a private place and honestly because there are relatively few people whom we trust to “get” that we have chosen to live more modestly, to place actions before acquisitions, to put our energy into fitness and living rather than an image of someone we are not.
I used to envy people whose houses were grand or pristine, but now I see those as the houses of people who simply have different needs and priorities and I accept those values as they are and can enjoy touching other lives without needing to absorb them. We have chosen to spend our time, energy, and money on exploring and becoming, which often looks more chaotic, has an awful lot of crumbs, and seems to result in a whole heap more laundry, but suits us well. Choosing a house less expensive to purchase and less costly (in money and time) to maintain has allowed us the freedom to make other choices, like travelling or taking additional vacation time or pursuing fitness activities that bring us joy. Other people choose to invest in their homes and possessions and that’s perfectly cool for them, but it’s not the choice we have made and we’re content, both with what we have chosen and appreciating the decisions that others have made.
Our house is our Base Camp. It’s where we eat well, sleep deeply, pack up diligently, plan, dream, love profoundly and from which we live the lives that are meaningful to us. There’s a never-ending list of chores or repairs that need doing, but the big, important stuff in our lives is well taken care of. Because that’s what a Base Camp is; a place where people work as a team to build success in challenging adventures.
Note: I wrote this because I’ve chatted with quite a few women recently who have expressed guilt, frustration, or feeling of inadequacy for not keeping a luxurious, manicured, and perfectly-appointed house while attempting to work full-time, raise children, stay fit and also have a social life.
These standards are horseshit. You need to understand this.
No one who matters judges you, on your house, your body, your clothing, lifestyle, activities or anything. You cannot possibly be everything to everyone. You MUST make choices about how to spend time and money and make the ones that matter to you. Live your own life. Love what you have created for yourself and keep at it. Keep people close to you who “get” this. If you are the best You possible, you will attract those people anyway.