Coming Home with Fresh Eyes

If you’re anything like me, you sometimes wish that you could step back and look at your life with fresh eyes. A new perspective on your time spent, your priorities, your living arrangements…what would it look like?

Well, I’m lucky enough to be experiencing just that. I’ve just returned from a three-month trip through Asia. My house looked pretty unfamiliar when I first stepped in the door, let me tell you — and not just because I haven’t lived here that long. I’m still working to get a handle on post-travel life, but here’s what I’ve got so far…

0. We’re lucky to live in a first-world country. There’s a lot we take for granted in countries like Canada. But you knew that, and I won’t elaborate on it, because for the purposes of this post, that’s not what I’m interested in.

1. I have too much stuff. I spent three months living out of two backpacks (more about that in a future post). Did I miss my closet, let alone the entire rest of my house? No. Do people over there own as much as we do? No — of course there’s a lot more poverty, but even the middle-class homes we visited were compact apartment-style residences, not overflowing with stuff. Now that I’m back, I can’t remember what I actually liked to wear, for example, and what was just in my closet because I didn’t want to get rid of it yet. There’s stuff everywhere and it all looks strange to me. Calling FlyLady

2. I don’t have enough places to put things. I’m not sure how much of #2 is because of #1. All I know is that my house is always messy, in part because there’s nowhere to put stuff away. IKEA tells me I can organize my stuff. FlyLady tells me I can’t organize clutter. If I can get rid of some things and acquire more storage (shelving, baskets…) to keep the rest in, surely there’s an equilibrium to be found.

3. The Internet isn’t that important. When I was travelling, Internet time was severely limited. What did I spend it on? Email and Facebook, to stay connected with people back home. Blogging. Travel research. A handful of other sites. Everything that didn’t make the cut is superfluous. Instead of being bombarded with a flow of information and LOLcats, I was bombarded with new sights and new experiences…in other words, with life. As a writer, I can’t stay away completely — I need to keep up with blogs and other social media, publishing news, and so on — but I can take a good, hard look at my Internet usage.

4. A comfortable bedroom is important. When we were out all day, exploring a city, having a comfortable hotel room to come back to was a high priority. Comfortable didn’t have to mean pricy. It meant enough space to move around in easily. It meant bedside lamps or other mood lighting. It meant a place to put our stuff out of the way (back to #2 again!). It meant a clean, nicely made bed with a comfy mattress and pillows. My bedroom is missing some of these — now I know what to work on.

5. It’s good to be home. Even though I’m re-evaluating some things, fundamentally I’m happy with where I live and how I live. It’s a relief to be back.

I’m lucky enough that I don’t need to go back to work right away, so over the next couple of months I’ll be working on some projects (both writing-related and house-related) and working to set up some habits that I can sustain when I return to work in July. Stay tuned for updates…as well as more travel tales and pictures, of course!

Have you had the opportunity to examine your life with fresh eyes? What did you learn? Why not try it right now — and let us know what you find?

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10 responses to “Coming Home with Fresh Eyes

  1. Welcome home Siri!
    I have also done the 3 month out-of-country thing. Agree it’s exciting and eye-opening. Agree it’s wonderful to come back home 🙂
    Once in a while, I head over to Fly Lady for tips. I understand the concept of getting rid of clutter. I don’t always follow through. I don’t know what will FORCE me to do that. Just do it bit by bit?

  2. I find no matter how long I’m away for, I’m always pleased to be home. I know what you mean about having too much stuff. I’m trying to find the headspace and time to declutter as well. I seem to have trouble throwing things away, because I’m sure the week after I get rid of something will be when I need it. 😛
    Enjoy your time off. It’s priceless.

  3. Suzanne, thanks for the welcome! What I’ve found helpful with decluttering is to keep coming back to the same area. Each time, you’ll find one or two more things you’re willing to get rid of. Repeat often enough, and you’ll have a tidy area. Or at least that’s my theory! 😉

    Ellen, there is always that fear. “But what if I need it?” I try to counter with “But I haven’t needed it yet!” Say it often enough and it starts to sink in. Good luck with your decluttering!

  4. I’m not sure I could be away from home for three months…but there’s a side of me that would love to try…

  5. Liv, I highly recommend it — even if what you learn is that three months is too long for you (as it was for my travelling companion), it’s worth pushing your boundaries to learn that!

  6. This is a really interesting assessment. Traveling always makes me appreciate little things about my own home and also frustrates me for the constant messiness and work around the house. I never thought to look at how I could change home. So smart, Siri! Thanks for sharing what you learned. I may borrow some of these tips.

  7. Sherri, I’m glad my post provoked some thinking on your end — that’s what I hope for when I write on these sorts of topics! If you do make some changes at home, I’d love to hear about them. Good luck!

  8. …I’ll have less clutter when I live alone. *sigh*

  9. Pingback: After the Plane Ride Home | Turtleduck Press

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