“Simplify, then add lightness” ~ Colin Chapman
I saw this quote earlier in the week and thought that the concept of ADDING lightness was a bit strange. I totally get it, but if you think about it, it is an oxymoron. That said, I love the quote as it describes a lot of what Nat & I do here. We help people “add lightness” – in their homes and their lives. And we discovered it along the way by adding it ourselves.
How do you let the light in?
I used to carry the weight of our entire household on my shoulders.
ALL of it. Trying to be the best mother possible to my two kids (one at the time was still waking 4x per night & would not take a bottle), delivering as required in my high stress finance position, trying to grow my own coaching business, participating in boards and other groups as a volunteer, studying for my diploma in interior design, being responsible for our finances at home and all the household administration as well as renovations, all the while trying to stay looking good, be a great partner to my husband and keep up friendships across the globe.
I tried to have it all and do it all – by myself.
The weight of it almost crushed me. At the end of 2010, I got sick. I lay in my bed unable to function for two whole weeks which gave me a lot of time to think (in between sleeping). I was in so much pain that I vowed to NEVER go back to that kind of stressful way of living again, to let some things go and to ask for help.
I realised that I wasn’t superhuman after all.
I took a year off work to regroup and focus on what I wanted to do. Fast foward 4 years and a LOT of self work in between (also with Nat) and I have learned to let the light in. We started the same way that we start with clients – with physical action to literally shift the weight. A process of simplifying (my home and then my head) and decluttering – letting go of the to-do list, of unfinished projects, of one-sided / unhealthy relationships, of expectations (of keeping up or of what/who I should be) and then adding lightness.
I changed the colours in my home from fiery reds and yellows with dark browns to the lighter hues of light blues, sea greens, greys and pinks with white as a basis. The furniture got lighter too – out with the heavy wooden tables and solid sofas and in with lighter alternatives. I even started to dress lighter (and definitely wear a lot less black these days).
With hindsight I also realise that I brought more light in by literally bringing more lighting into the house (the sparkly shimmery kind) and there are now also mirrors in almost every room, to reflect as much light around this dark Dutch terrace house as possible. Many of our floors are white and I have recently been pondering going for white floors in the living area too.
The more light in here, the happier I am!
With the physical shifting of my house came much more though. As I have let go of the importance of things, they now actually feel less heavy. I still have a family home full of stuff but I am no longer attached. It is just stuff that is useful or makes me smile – I am still a huge fan of art and beautiful design and always will be. I am, however, worrying less about what other people think, what’s cool or trendy right now and focusing more on following my own inner light. I still occasionally fall into the trap of trying to keep up but soon realise that a purchase isn’t really me, and usually end up letting it go.
Nowadays, it’s the things that I love that have staying power (but I’m also OK when what I love changes too – life doesn’t stagnate, so why should our homes?). My work isn’t done, as there is still some weight now and then, but I am definitely living lighter (and happier).
So to bring my story back on point:
How could you add lightness? How could you let the light in?
Nat and I tell our clients to “just start with a corner” and that advice holds here too. Pick a particularly dark one or one that bothers you perhaps, and think about how you could make it lighter – with actual lighting, lighter colours (or add bright art), mirrors, a lighter style of furniture, burning a candle etc.
Once you’ve done that, go spend some time there and contemplate the next corner that you’re going to let some light into. And while you’re contemplating, is there a corner of your life that you could add lightness to? A one-sided friendship you need to let go of, a project you need to finish (screw perfection) or simply let go of an expectation of how something should be? Start there. And repeat.
If you need help to get you living a lighter life of ease and grace, you know where we are. Just hit contact and let’s start together.
With love and light,
Tipxo (& Nat)