Celebrating white space

Our home operates under a “No Knick-Knacks, No Pets” policy. It’s not that we have anything against animal companions, or other peoples’ treasures — our aim is simply to feel unencumbered.  We’re looking for white space.

It wasn’t so long ago that my desk overflowed with books and notebooks, to-do lists, doo-dads I just enjoyed looking at, or thought I wanted to have close at hand, and always a vase of flowers.  Perfect for a big procrastinator — it gave me an excuse to putter around, shift things from one spot to another, add to lists, pinch off faded buds, and let my research veer me off topic  — until a deadline stared me in the face.

Two major downsizing moves in the past year have forced me to clean up my act. Having to pack up all that stuff only to have to find space for it at the other end is a strong motivator, but I highly recommend the process for anyone moving or not. It’s remarkably Zen to have fewer items encroaching on your space.  I won’t be giving up flowers on my desk — but now there is plenty of open space to really enjoy them. And a clear(ish) desk has provided me fewer opportunities for procrastination.

My new mantras are:

  • Everything In Its Place
  • If It Only Takes A Minute, Do It NOW, and
  • The Job’s Not Done Until You’ve Put Back What You Used

Our most recent move has shown me that I’m living more in the present than I realized. But while I’ve been able to let go of old memories and move forward, there are still some areas I’m having trouble with.  One is a fairly large British pottery collection that has faded from interest — mine, and as it turns out, other collectors as well — which is now housed in two big boxes in our basement awaiting an upturn in the pottery market.

Another problem area is books. Although being around them fills me with joy, I realize that they are starting to crowd our house — cutting into our white space. So instead of adding to my collection, I am now making weekly visits to the library  to soak up the atmosphere and to borrow titles. I’m also going through the shelves at home and asking myself whether I will ever re-read the books there. I’ve “edited” hundreds of books from my shelves — but  I do have my limits. The ones written by friends will always have a home there.


When I need organizing inspiration, I turn to what may just be my favourite radio ad ever. It’s for an Ottawa moving supply store, Patafie’s. The award winner was created by Rob Mortimer, Barry Hayes and Mike Glustien of CHUM Radio Ottawa and is a take-off of a certain saucy skit by Justin Timberlake on Saturday Night Live:



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