On living sparely yet generously


I’m moving in a few weeks. In preparation I’ve been sifting through my accumulated stuff. Interesting what I thought was essential when I downsized to move to my Chicago condo. Now I’m turning my heart and mind to starting a new, modified-minimalist approach to living–i.e., stop holding onto so many objects.

One nice part of this process is being able to choose things from among my Christmas candles and cookiessurroundings that I think my family members might enjoy having. Haven’t wrapped this many Christmas presents in a long time.

My daughter points out to me that it’s nice to live so that you have absolutely anything and everything you could possibly need should you decide one day to repair an appliance, wrap a massive package, or create a special gourmet dinner that requires an unusual herb or spice. Being able to be creative at will, without having to go to the store to buy items, has been fun all these years. But the fact is, the closer you live to the center of a great metropolis, the less space you get for the same money.

Now, as I read recently in Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat, there is beauty in planning what you will eat for only a day or two and walking to the store to buy just what you need. There is luxury in making and enjoying a very small serving of any wonderful dish that strikes your fancy–including those with such rich and decadent ingredients as heavy cream and dark chocolate.

In my current Chicago neighborhood I can walk to two different grocery stores, but neither one of them carries even slightly exotic or unusual items. I can’t get, for example, leeks at either place. Even something as basic as basil isn’t a staple in Hispanic groceries.

The new neighborhood, Lakeview, while it doesn’t have a reasonably priced grocery store in walking distance has dozens of other places to get what you need. I look forward to exploring it.

But most of all, I look forward to living even more in the moment. Like the Japanese who make a prayer out of making and serving tea, I will try to  complete the steps to each task with full attention and appreciation. From walking through a snowstorm to the store, to riding the bus through Lincoln Park to downtown, to lighting candles and gazing out my new windows down the lovely street where I had my first apartment at age 19, I relish the chance to practice living my life sparely yet generously.

May your thoughts be warm and your heart full of love this blessed Christmas week.

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