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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

The Aspirational Lightness of Being, part 3

Truth be told, I kinda forgot I even had a blog for a few weeks there. I’ve been busy with Life Without Envy revisions (it’s in the spring 2017 catalog! eeeeeeeeee! and we almost have a cover!), redecorating my room (after my landlord painted it while I was away in Ireland and Georgia), holiday prep, and various social outings (more than usual; that time of year, I guess!) And when I did think about the blog, I remembered all the projects I have temporarily abandoned—the indie bookstore appreciation, Hinduism 101, Vegan by the Seat of Your Pants, travel recaps, and a few more besides. Blogging is no fun when you start thinking in terms of shoulds.

Well, if every other year has started with resolutions about new projects, maybe this time I’ll resolve to wrap up some projects that are already on the table. For now, because of all the room redecorating, I’m still a little bit obsessed with what I’m calling aspirational minimalism—so here’s a post I started writing before I left.

* * *

Some of you lovely blog readers prefer to reply via email rather than commenting below. I received this response to a recent post about recycling my grade-school artwork:

But if you are photographing it, are you really tossing your artwork? Are you REALLY shedding that skin?

Touché, my friend. Maybe someday I will be the kind of person who burns all her old journals and lives with little more than basic cooking utensils and a few sets of clothing, but I am not there yet. (HAAAAAAAA.) I know that if I had trashed all those drawings and paintings without taking some photographs, I would already be regretting it. The main thing for me right now is to get rid of all the old stuff that is taking up physical space. I believe that domestic clutter is always a reflection of emotional and psychic clutter; and if this new mantra sounds simplistic, it really doesn’t matter, because each time I get rid of a bunch of stuff I feel noticeably better about myself, noticeably lighter. So if you are beginning to suspect that there may be many more installments of this “Aspirational Lightness” business, you are probably correct.



Our cousin Ann was over for a kaffeeklatsch while I was decluttering. “I gave your mom one of those clowns at her baby shower,” she said. “I got it at a church bazaar. It IS creepy and I’m totally cool with you throwing it out.”


Because my landlord was painting while I was gone, I spent a few days before I left boxing everything up and hiding it in my closet and crawl space. Ideally I would have sorted through the paper piles—yes, those notes from my NYU days are still here—but I only managed to get rid of what was obviously a waste of space and could be recycled with little effort. At first I’d bristled at Marie Kondo’s declaration that NO ONE needs to hold onto ANY PIECE OF PAPER, EVER. I am a writer, you know. I write on paper. I neeeeeeeeed it!

Well, I need some of it, but only for now. Notes for current and future projects? Yes. Drafts of books that have already been published? No. Why am I saving this?




It’s not just writing, of course. I’d started a file (“file” as in another paper bag, haha) called “read and recycle.” Then I realized I’d been collecting these articles to read since I moved to Boston two and a half years ago, and in those two and a half years I had not gotten around to reading any of them.

Life is short, my friends. I recycled the lot.

I also got rid of a bunch of Christmas, birthday, and thank-you cards. I’d strung these up in festoons from the ceiling, which made my space feel a little like a dorm room. I took them down and recycled most of them.



Clean slate! It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint can change a room’s atmosphere. It feels calmer and cleaner and more peaceful in here.


As for non-paper clutter, last week I finally bought myself a dresser. I’d been stacking clean clothes on a shelf in my closet, but I have to push the hanging clothes aside and reach into the dark for what I need. Not at all ideal. I got an unfinished dresser from the Bookcase Factory Outlet (not far from Porter Square) and at some point I’ll finish it myself. Thanks to all the sewing I’ve done this year, I’ve found it pretty easy to “edit” my wardrobe down to the things I actually wear—but I still need a convenient place to store them.



This is NOT what I want my creating space to look like.


I’ve sorted through my fabric scraps, so I have a big bag of stuff to Freecycle. The fabric I’m keeping is folded away in a set of plastic drawers under my work table, but as you can see, I still need neater and more attractive ways of storing my art supplies (and current sewing projects and stack of mending). I’m thinking I’ll cover some cardboard boxes with pretty paper.

That box at the top left is full of old notes though. My new strategy is to bring all that stuff to the Writers’ Room, parcel it into manageable chunks and go through one stack at the beginning or end of each writing session. We’ll see how that goes…

* * *

And on a completely different note, I have some SUPER EXCITING NEWS…

Happy couple!

Two of my very favorite people in the whole universe are getting hitched! (Can you see the post-proposal glowiness in that picture?? I have never seen Elliot so excited!)

I actually want to write about how these two totally having their s**t together inspires me to follow suit. Yet another post to add to the 2016 to-do list.  😉


3 Comments to The Aspirational Lightness of Being, part 3

  1. Ang's Gravatar Ang
    December 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to Kate and Elliot!!!

  2. December 15, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I wonder at the wisdom of Kondo. If every writer in history destroyed all their notes and ‘versions’ of their work, we would have no insight to how they thought, their process, the steps from beginning to end. Just pondering out loud here. The other side of that is, do writers want that? Do creators of art want their work to stand on its own, without discourse, or judgement? Here it is – take it or leave it.
    Leaving future generations wondering how someone got to where they are, not able to see mistakes, or learning curves…
    I know I have thrown a LOT of my work away. Some I regret, some I lost, most I don’t care about.
    And on another topic, if we are simply moving clutter from one form/medium to another, are we really decluttering, or merely hiding it in a better place?

  3. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    December 16, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Just reading this is inspiring me to go through some crap and organize!

    Aww shucks 🙂

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.