We’ve been living in our laneway for over three months now, time for the first inventory of how living here has changed our lives. The differences are subtle, but telling.
I feel more in control of the changes in my life these days. I’ve always been aware that I couldn’t complain about my job or my home because as an adult I had made every decision that had landed me where I am. Of course those were always restricted by the available options, but it was my choices that had determined where and how I lived.
So I like to keep track of how these decisions have steered my life in slightly different directions. Since moving into our laneway,
1. I know more about what’s going on. I never used to watch the news. In the morning I was busy in the kitchen and bathroom getting ready for work. In the evening I was busy making dinner in the kitchen. Then I was in bed before the late night news. But now I watch the news while I prepare breakfast and dinner — I’m paying more attention to it. Whether that’s better for my peace of mind or not, it’s probably much better for me.
2. I like shopping again. I don’t buy as much stuff. That was going to be a given. Our cupboards and closets are full. But I am pleasantly surprised how much more fun it is to go shopping. For one thing I will not buy anything that is not exactly what I want and need. You must have been poking around a store and thought “I could probably use one of those” or “I need something like that” then you get it home and put it away and forget about it because it’s not exactly what you needed, it’s just sort of what you needed. No more of that. If it’s not exactly what I need right now, I won’t buy it.
3. I enjoy mornings more. In our condo the clothes closets and dressers were in our bedroom. I get up earlier than DH, so I had to get everything ready the night before so I wouldn’t disturb him rooting around for the clothes I needed. The door to the ensuite where I performed my morning toilette opened so that any light would shine right on his sleeping face. Small things, I know, but now when I get ready in the mornings I can shut off the closet and bathroom with a sliding door, creating a little dressing area for myself (this isn’t a lucky fluke, BTW, our designer created this for us). That gives me a lot more options when I dress.
Plus the light pours into our upstairs even when the day is grey. It makes it much easier to get up and go. That means the whole day gets off to a good start.
4. We are eating better. I used to make up meal plans at the beginning of each month. It meant we were not duplicating meals but it also meant we were getting into a rut. We would do a big shop on the weekend because we had a big fridge and lots of cupboard space. But now we have a tiny fridge we can’t fill it up with food we are not going to eat right away. So we shop every day, luckily we are right down the street from three major grocery markets, and we are trying out new foods. Polenta. Kale. Quinoa. Radiccio. Plus we don’t throw food out because there is no room for leftovers to become science experiments, they are used up within a few days. DH is anticipating grilling season (and his brand new natural gas barbecue).
5. I worry less. Because there’s less for me to worry about. It’s very odd. The less I have, the happier I am or at least the greater my sense of satisfaction. Of course I don’t worry about our laneway home because everything is brand new, so I am not concerned about things breaking down. And since it was built specifically for our needs everything is right where we want it all the time. But experts at Baylor University have found that materialists — people who have to have things to be “happy” are less happy than other people because they have no gratitude. I am grateful every day for our home and our new life and that gives me a sense of satisfaction and, yes, happiness.