Having grown up in a Swedish influenced household, the thought of having just enough isn’t a foreign word to me. It’s how we lived, while I was little. We didn’t have an overabundance of things. We had our family time. We played out of doors a lot. We learned to horseback ride. We had a routine for each day of the week and our Saturday sweets. Sunday was a kick back day, and Dad cooked a huge breakfast, played music, before relaxing with his newspaper. There was a feeling of balance. There was also a feeling of comfort.
So what is lagom? And what does it mean to live lagom?
Lagom is a Swedish word with no direct English word partner. The best meaning I’ve seen is: just enough. Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Things are not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft, not too big, not too little, but they are just right. (Although, going into someone’s house, without their permission, breaking their furniture and eating all of their food, is not lagom!) It means having what you need, but not so much that you can’t use or appreciate what you have. Lagom extends out to nature and to the communities we live in. It balances between our own individuality and the understanding that we need communities to thrive.
For me looking at things in a lagom way hit home again after I had decluttered my own place. Even though a lot of my clutter had been all of that inherited stuff from my family, I did have my own crazy stashes of things that I take full responsibility for. I didn’t want to constantly be struggling with this, and I wanted to learn to set limits on the things I brought into daily life.
With the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, I learned about my relationship with my things; why I had them; why I kept them. I learned to let go of the guilt of keeping other people’s belongings, just because. Best of all, I learned to put the “stuff” into perspective and focus more of relationships.
But I also realized that KonMari’s book, wasn’t a destination, but a part of the journey. After you tidy up, how do you maintain that? After you figure out everything that sparks joy in your life, what happens when it changes? Because, it will. We outgrow hobbies. We have more experiences and meet new people. We create new things. How would I manage that, so it didn’t become what it once was?
I wanted to learn how to trust myself not to let things go backward. I figured there had to be another formula or something I didn’t know about, that I should learn, to perfect this.
I checked out tiny houses; not because I wanted to move but because I thought I could find some great living small ideas. But then I realized that compacting my living space, long term, might be too confining for me. I like a more airy feel and I tend to get a little claustrophobic. So, while I admired the whole smaller living feeling, I had a limit on how small I could go and still feel comfortable. It would be hard to fit myself, my hubby, two big dogs and two cats into tiny. We just aren’t tiny.
Then I looked at minimalism. I liked the open feeling of the rooms, the lack of clutter. I liked knowing that everything I had would be used regularly and that I didn’t have to dust a lot of things that I wouldn’t use. So I joined minimalism groups online and read blogs; a lot of blogs.
After awhile though, I noticed a common theme. 1) They always talked about their stuff: having too much stuff, enjoying lack of stuff, curating their stuff, there were contests to get rid of their stuff, and counting their stuff to see just how minimal they could be. 2) Belongings in general seemed to be the enemy. They were cursed and there was a constant war about what was the right number of things you could have to be truly minimalist. Their things were called “crap” and “junk.”
But if the goal of a minimalist was to live your life unencumbered by things then why was there so much attention on it? Sure, I understand that you have to think about your stuff to let go of it, but when does it stop? When do you move on to joy?
I realized this wasn’t my answer either. I like my belongings. I call my things “belongings” because I’ve chosen them to be in my life. They have purpose. I feel joy when I use them. They aren’t the enemy. Besides, I still have a collector husband. I have no plans on minimalizing him anytime soon, so a minimal life wasn’t going to work either. I decided to move on.
“How do I find that perfect life? What was a perfect life, anyway?”
And then I thought, “Do I really want one? Hubby and I aren’t perfect.”
I found myself back at KonMari and her joy sparking life. What sparks joy is different for everyone, so I would think that applies to how you live your life as well.
What I wanted was a life of enough. Not too much, not too little; just a life that fit us.
Why was this so hard to figure out?
Life wasn’t so hard to understand when I was a kid.
I didn’t think about it this hard, either.
Maybe that was the problem. I was over thinking it.
So I decided to just sit back and remember. How life felt back them. How it smelled. How it just … was.
That’s what I want.
A home that’s flexible; that adapts to us as we change and grow.
A home where we can just be ourselves, whatever that may be.
A place where we can curl up, and read, or talk, or write.
A place where our belongings ebb and flow with the rest of our life.
A place full of love and inspiration, with freedom to create.
A home base, where we find a place of restoration after journeying out into the world.
Then I realized I already knew what it was and that I already had it.
It’s lagom. A relaxed life. Not too little; not too much.
I’m getting there, slowly. We are getting there, in our own lagom way.
A place to just …be us.
In truth, I already knew what I wanted. I just had to listen to my heart and not over think it. The lessons I learned in my tidying led me to my next steps on how to live.