A Season of Less is More

Smokey sleeps where he wants. Photo (c) Brown, 2017

"Less is More."

In writing classes, we're taught to write lean, trim out the fat, cut all words that don't add power and punch. Less is more.

Recently, in Arizona, I trimmed back palm branches that leaned over our patio, thinking less is more. Now our patio looks bigger, and we no longer have to brush aside fronds to move about. Trimming improved the livability of our small patio. More importantly this season, serious buyers may linger longer and consider buying our patio home.

I've been living less is more for a season. We're moving to Vancouver. Right now more is in Arizona. Less is in Washington state.

At first it was fun. There is nothing like getting in touch with college days when money was tight, jeans were tighter, and skin clung tighter still, than camping out in an empty new home. Only a few material possessions sat here, hung there, or broke up empty spaces in empty rooms and on empty walls.

Can less be more in this season of transition?

I've been meditating on living simply for months now. When we finish moving our more to this place of less, we'll have to make choices of what to keep, what to store, what to let go.

Living simply isn't simple.

At first living with less was an interesting challenge, a spiritual discipline, a practical way to bridge this transition time. It gets complicated sometimes having only one pan, one blow-up bed, or one comfortable chair when two of us live here or people visit.

My young grandchildren have no problems with a less is more season. The seven-month-old twins don't mind where I spread a blanket for a nap. They love to watch waving Douglas pine branches out widows and skylight. Mirrors are amazing. The dining room chandeliers can stop crying at only the flip of a switch. A few toys are enough for small fingers. They love to be held, and I love to cuddle them. One comfortable rocker is enough for all three of us.

The three-year-old and four-year-old run into our new home. We sprawl on the carpet and play games. We huddle by a lap top and watch cartoons. We kick balls. Inside. On rainy Thursdays, balls smash walls and rebound, hurting nothing. Is less more? Do I really want to fill my room someday with a curio cabinet and knick-knacks I love to see and yet force myself to dust at least once a year? Something to consider. At least today, I kick balls, and we play catch inside, and in the yard. Good times. Yes, for now, less is more.

The school-aged children run from one echoing room to the next, playing hide and seek. Go figure. Where do you hide in an empty house? Well, we have a few doors to rooms or closets, even a Harry Potter closet under the stairs, and they seem to manage. I was surprised to see the five-year-old walking stealthily just feet behind his older brother as they circled from dining room, to kitchen, to hall way, to living room. It brought back memories of the fun of being invisible in plain sight. Perhaps children don't always need the more we think they do.

Smokey found several hiding spots when guests come over -- behind my purse on a counter, behind a door while peeking from the crack, or, his favorite, a perch on the tub between the shower curtain and liner. He hunches in a compact, low-profile position, and he fasts there until busy fingers and running feet leave for their parents' home. Then, when I return to my favorite chair, Smokey curls on my lap. Neither of us move right away. In those moments, it seems he may agree, less is more.

The older boys would love to "camp out overnight," their mother says, but I'd really prefer to have them over for a weekend when I have a comfortable place for them to sleep and more toys for them to play with. Is that pride? It isn't as easy to believe less is more with bigger guests.

A few stools at the kitchen counter seem to suffice for crafts and meals when I only have a few guests over at a time. There is plenty of food, but not many places to sit, unless you count the floor.

You see, I'm trying not to buy what we are planning to bring from Arizona. We don't want more of what we won't need later. Less now is better than more of more.

We made an exception with a bathroom scale. Weighing in daily helps us stay accountable as we work on goals. I don't regret buying that additional scale. (Girl Scout Thin Mints we have much less of today. That, I do regret.)

Overall, living with less has fallen into a comfortable pattern. That is, until I started thinking about having people over for an Easter dinner or when out of town family began planning to come out for a few days. Then, living simply suddenly got complicated.

Do you inflict less is more on guests when you don't have to?

What to do? We could go out to eat where comfortable chairs abound. That is one solution for a holiday meal. I don't think a picnic on the floor is a holiday memory I want to make. Jesus may have reclined at the table, but I think my grandchildren, ages 9 and under, would enjoy that way too much. Something is liable to get spilled, and I don't have a mop or a wet vac.

What about out of town company? Unlike the grandchildren, they may not want to camp out on the floor. Even if they have an entire empty room to themselves. Even if I bought sleeping bags without Paw Patrol.

So, my meditations on living simply now include decorating for guests. 

Should we buy twin beds instead of bringing a queen bed from our guest room in Phoenix? When grandchildren stay for a weekend, twin beds could be useful. Would a couple think it weird, though, especially with Pokemon or Star Wars sheets? I bought a bed for Smokey and he sleeps anywhere but the cushy place I thought he'd love.

Should we get more seats? Eventually we would want patio furniture, a swing or benches. That might work even better than a blanket for indoor picnics.

My hope is that until the end of this brief season of less, we can find simple ways to make room in our home and our hearts to include more guests big and small. I'd like them to feel comfortable. That isn't always about more furniture. It has everything to do with love.

What do you think? How would you live simply and provide hospitality? Your comments would be welcome.


  1. 1) I tried to leave a comment but the button doesn't work.
    a. When my hubby and I combined a household in a second-for-us-both marriage, plenty of less! 27 years later and more of more proves to be clutter-inducing. (Not including the expanding library of books!   )

    Making a habit of annually taking stock of items to keep, give away or throw away hasn't helped much...

    Being an if-it's-not-in-front-of-me-it's-forgotten gal, I tend to be a messy creative.   Organizing guru friends added input rarely sticks for more than a year...okay, six months...alright...a few months!

    This year the plan for holiday gatherings with family will include renting hotel rooms for some of our guests. Though squeezing them into our mid-size home could work if we crammed...

    As I thought about what I would do in your situation, Connie, regarding meals...I'd probably rent tables and chairs (or borrow them from church!) and provide simple arts, crafts, and games for the kids. (Although I do know what you mean about the Paws Patrol line of fun products! I just priced a toddler bed at a local retailer and am still considering it, though our grandson won't likely be here more than two weeks this year!   )

    I agree that hospitality is all about the love and "carpe pulchra memorias".

    2) Whatever happened to the e-salt and light blog?

    1. a. Thank you for sharing.
      b. I couldn't keep up with all the blog ideas -- life happens. Or, I let life happen. I'm trying not to let writing get crowded out during this season.

  2. Hi Connie, great insight in this season of your life. Your reflections remind me of God's word, "be still and know that I am God." With less to occupy our homes and hearts we can be quiet, listen and see the value in things (or the lack thereof) we wouldn't otherwise see.

    I suppose my response to your question is to keep living as simply as you can being sure to make room for your needs, i.e. guests, grandchildren, etc. I'd say making them more comfortable is a show of that love and hospitality but doesn't have to be extravagant.

    Just a few thoughts! Blessings on you and your family this Easter - wherever you sit!

    1. "With less to occupy our homes and hearts we can be quiet, listen and see the value in things (or the lack thereof) we wouldn't otherwise see." That is so true, Callie.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. May God also generously bless you and your family this Easter, wherever you sit.


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