Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Really Noticing, and Thoughts on Simplicity and Enough-ness

natural decor dried hydrangeas antique books display
antique books from my mother, antique creamer, hydrangeas
Today I took just a few minutes in an exercise I call "purposeful noticing". I do this when I find myself sinking into the cavern that sometimes opens beneath my feet if I let it. It begins with pangs of self doubt, a bit of worry, thoughts focused more on the lack than on the abundance...and before the pit opens and I fall in, this is what I do. (all of the photos you see here, came from the same ten or so minute exercise this morning).
vintage linen curtains sacred cake blog
vintage linens in the bedroom window
I find it is always the simple things during this awareness exercise that catch my eye. The shadows of the old linens in the windows, the one favorite sugar bowl filled with dried hydrangeas; that I've taken from one end of this country to the next and back again; intact, I might add...and I remember when there was a simpler time, when that one sugar bowl along with one favorite plate was all I really had, on a shabby little white mantle in the country in the deep south. It was all I needed. It was all I could afford. And I was still a happy person.
There has been a noticeable little undercurrent throughout my life since the days of my walks in the woods as a young girl of 9...and the undercurrent consists of the love for the simplest things. Poetry stuffed into an old suitcase. One extraordinary wildflower. A shabby old book. Vintage linens. Pressed leaves...the shape and look of hydrangeas...painted white walls and salvaged furniture....a favorite old brooch...walks in the woods...laying beneath trees...

When did my life become so complicated? The sugar bowl has now become a vast collection of antique ironstone platters, plates, pitchers and vases and a big 'ol cabinet to house them all. The brooch has turned into vast amounts in stacked boxes and containers of vintage jewelry pieces and parts that I can never in a lifetime use up, because I keep buying more before I use what I have. The old suitcase has turned into at least twenty two vintage suitcases, along with countless little boxes, antique trunks and containers.
vintage assemblage bridal jewelry french nouveau sacred cake ooak
bridal earrings I made, atop little antique paper boxes from my (shrinking) collection
I feel like my life has lost its simplicity somewhere and there has, along with that thought, come the revelation that I am not being true to myself in so many ways. I'm not honoring my true spirit.
Fear is what is keeping me from myself... it took writing that word, "fear" just now, for me to realize exactly that.
What if I do simplify back to the days of that one suitcase? Back to the days when I made jewelry to please myself...before it became all about selling jewelry that I cannot even afford to buy for myself...while my first love, vintage assemblages, gathers dust on my desk? I fear what will happen financially if I stop creating the jewelry that has now become what I sell most of and most often. The jewelry that is of my alter high society event ego?
Maybe I fear how empty this big house would look without the stuff that it is stuffed with and then maybe realize that this much space isn't really necessary. Maybe I fear my Etsy shop will just be overlooked.
And in exploring this feeling of not enough-ness, and fear, which comes right along with the cavern that I discussed in the beginning of this post, comes the camera exercise. If you try it would you share your thoughts and photographs with me?

morning feet

I am asking myself lately, what exactly can I live without? What possessions do I truly need to be happy? Are any extra possessions needed at all? And what is considered extra?
I heard of the 100 thing challenge awhile ago, but never thought I could do it. While writing this post, I realized that I already had done it by 1998. I really had. Before Dave even began talking about it I think. But then came the backslide into acquiring more and more.
You can read about the 100 Thing Project at

What is enough?
I want so much to get back to that one plate, one sugar bowl, one suitcase let go of the material things that need dusting and shuffling around and finding a place for.
Even if they are just cheap old things that only cost two dollars and it was such a great old pitcher how could i go home without ONE more old pitcher for two dollars?

This word was brought to me yesterday, with a visit from a dear friend, Michelle Stambaugh, an amazing potter whom I adore. And my word mantra has become this~
A One Word "simple" Bowl by Michelle Stambaugh on Etsy
A glorious soothing pool blue swirl of simple. (that is far from simple!)(her work is extraordinary, highly detailed and vibrant)

I think I'm going to call this "The Simplicity Project". I don't think I can narrow it down to just 100 things like Dave. At least not just yet.

**More of Michelle's Work Can be found right here:


  1. Hi Jennifer, this is a beautifully written & thoughtful post. xo Karen

    1. Thank you Karen! Thank you for taking the time to comment. : )

  2. This is wonderful. I'll be following your journey.

    1. Thank you Dana! So great to see you here...I've already begun. More soon.


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