I’m not sure what this means, but I’m going to run with it.

Dear friends,

I’ve been in a phase lately.

And in this case, phase means obsessed. (Because I’m known to be a little OCD that way.)

You see, this has become a metaphor for my life:

Source: New York Times

I find myself drawn to this photo because it represents what I want my life to look like.

Spare. Minimalist. Clean. Uncluttered.

For a woman who called herself the Magpie for many years (with good reason), this turnabout is odd. After years of collecting every shiny thing that caught my eye, I’m suddenly looking at things with a new eye. And my new eye wants less stuff hemming me in.

I don’t know why. I just know it’s calming me to pare down.

I spent a few hours on Sunday editing. Editing tabletops. Drawers. My purse. The fireplace mantle. And even, gasp, the kitchen desk.  (Everybody knows the kitchen desk is like a junkyard of clutter. A single piece of mail can live a long and happy life on the kitchen desk.)

It’s not easy. Even though we downsized last year, this Magpie has years worth of stuff tucked away. And my changes are small. But I can feel the tide turning. I can feel it in my bones.

It’s almost as if my soon-to-be-empty nest is becoming literal.  I’m looking at every single surface and asking myself “Is this pleasing?” And if not, are there things here I can do without? Clutter I can remove, objects I can find new homes for in my my quest to pare down?

I’m not sure what this means, but I’m going to run with it.

With gratitude {for the inclination, momentary or otherwise, to take stock, clean up, and streamline at least a little corner of my life},

Joan, who always believed for everything there is a season, but isn’t sure what the reason for this season is


  1. Greg Lawrence says:

    I am going through a similar phase. But I am running into problems with books. How are you handling that dilemma?

  2. Maridel says:

    Does this mean no more flea markets? I could embrace minimalism if I didn’t love weirdness so much.

  3. elizabeth says:

    Funny. I am doing the same thing. There is something appealing about clearing out.

  4. Greg — I have been a hoarder of books all my life. It’s almost as if they are badges of honor, lining my shelves. But just last night I decided I was going to thin the ranks — maybe as much as 25% and eliminate an entire bookcase. We’ll see. I haven’t made the transition yet to e-books, but I’m just feeling the need to pare down. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    M-del — Lord knows I love the weird, and eclectic and vintage, too. I’m still trying to devise a scheme where I can display a “nod” to that side of my personality without having entire collections. Do I really need two dozen cake stands anymore?

    Elizabeth — You, dear, are my role model in this area. Every photo I see of your home and your tables makes me want to run more toward your clean style. You hit the balance of “lovely and warm but clean” better than anyone I know.

    • Maridel says:

      OK, good to know you aren’t banishing everything that doesn’t look like a Piet Mondrian….

      • M’del — My god you are cultured. I had to look up Mondrian. I am chagrined that I am a fan of Kandinsky and Klee, who were Mondrian contemporaries, and yet I didn’t know about him. Maybe I should read the HuffPost a little less in favor of something more . . . educational.

  5. M’del — I forgot to mention! In my editing spree on Sunday, every single one of your letters and notes made the cut. They were in a precious stack on my littered kitchen desk. And I couldn’t bear to toss them. So I tied a ribbon around them and put them in a drawer. I’m going to lose the knick-knacks, but my children will have to toss my correspondence after I depart this world.

    • Maridel says:

      If I ever write The Greater Gatsby, you can donate them to an archive…. But I am honored they were spared the Minimalist’s machete.

  6. First? Awww, you guys are so sweet.

    I occasionally go through a de-cluttering phase and it is always a good thing. Even magpies have limits.

  7. Every time I relocate anything (either somewhere within the house or, when I’m really lucky, to the dump or thrift store), I get chest-clutching drama from my husband about how that whateveritis has been there since he was a boy. It’s really, really irritating for a person who can’t stand clutter.

    Sometimes I dream of hiring several dumpsters and just starting to dump desk and dresser drawers into them. We could easily fill a couple of dumpsters just with newspaper clippings from 1962 and books no one ever reads. Penalty of an old family home.

  8. I’m right there with you. Currently no pictures hang on my walls and I just hung white curtains which go with nothing else in my earthy house. I have just discovered an app called Houzz. It is wonderful. Photos according to the style you like. Best of all it’s free.


  1. […] minimalist phase continues (new books notwithstanding). I spent the last couple of days de-cluttering my master […]

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