Less is More

In an effort to further cultivate the manifestation of Presence—and to help grasp the fact that my concept for an experiential e-commerce gift shop and gift registry was becoming a legitimate reality (because no one tells you that starting your own business can feel like you are playing a solitary adult game of ‘pretend’)—I decided it was completely necessary to create a space dedicated to working from home and processing orders. I certainly was not about to deliver all of this magic to you guys straight from my dining room table. I needed a space to keep things clean, focused and organized. And just as important, a space to host a constant flow of creativity.

Luckily, the previous owner of our home must have had a similar need. Half of our detached garage had already been converted into somewhat of a ‘she-shed.’ They installed drywall and trim, painted everything pure white (yassss), added electricity, a modern light fixture, and a plexiglass door to let natural light in.

It was rather industrial-chic with all the white paint against the original wood ceiling. This studio addition was a selling point for us when we purchased the home. Maybe I knew deep down that I would eventually need a space for sharing something special with y’all. But unfortunately, it immediately became our storage room. Overflow from our essentials. Boxes on top of boxes. Bags on top of bags. A waste and inefficient use of space for the last two years. 

Flash forward to this month. Here I am with the determination to make more room in my life for Presence. My boyfriend, Scott (thank the the friggen Universe for him), rolled the ginormous spool in the picture above to our front porch (still need to list that on Facebook Marketplace BTW, anyone want it?) My mom granted us permission to store the 1920’s vanity in her basement. And I stuffed all the other boxes, bags and oddly shaped objects into the other half of the garage for the time being. The game plan? Clean the space, craft some bad ass built-in shelves, then find new homes for all the other stuff. 

The shelves turned out great. I was beaming with excitement and inspiration for all that would come in and out of the new digs. But now we had to deal with all sh*t we had put in a corner. Whether it be stored differently, sold, donated, recycled, or thrown away—it wasn’t living in the new Presence HQ.

The timing to comb through our belongings couldn’t have been more perfect, TBH. As an “aspiring minimalist” I find freedom in owning fewer things. Fewer things to think about, worry about, care for, make room for, keep clean, maintain…and therefore more time to focus on what is genuinely important. You know, like people, dogs and experiences ;)

I believe that when we bring a new possession into our life, it becomes our responsibility. By actively purchasing a product, basic economics will confirm that we further the demand for that item and the finite resources from which it is made. And as we begin to recognize our continuous neglect for the environment, ‘demanding’ resources and determining where and how they take up space in our lives and on this planet is a privilege that should not be taken lightly. Especially when you have the financial means to be conscious about which products you buy and how you use and dispose of them.

I highly recommend watching a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism. It will deepen your perspective on consumerism and material commodities. It shines a bright light on our addiction to instant gratification, our reckless use of resources and constant need for more, more, more. But most importantly, it offers the start to a solution.

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (a.k.a The Minimalists) from the Minimalism documentary created The 30-Day Minimalism Game. An intimidating yet liberating 30-day game where you get rid of one item on day one, two items on day two, three items on day three, up to thirty items on day thirty. At the end of the game, you’ll have gotten rid of 465 items that had once mingled their way into your home. Scott and I were on day 23. Clearing out the studio was the perfect opportunity to get rid of more stuff.

Most items were easy to sell, donate, recycle or throw out. We had been surviving the last two years without most of it, anyway. It was obvious that we didn’t need them. But then I found a box. It was packed with all the letters and trinkets I had saved over the years. Words of encouragement from friends and family during major life changes like my college graduation and buying our first home. Small tokens of love, like small inspirational books and good luck charms. Photographs. Gifts. All the tangible memories that we often feel pressure to hold onto.

I was suddenly in a conundrum. To keep or not to keep? What if I want to look at these again one day? What if I get Alzheimers and need novelties to help me remember? What if I want to share these with my kids one day? These were legitimate questions that popped up when deciding what to do with 100-ish unorganized pieces of paper and small gifts that meant a ton but that I didn’t have time to look at often or that didn’t fit my lifestyle. Honestly, it was who these gifts came from and why that meant a ton, not the actual gifts themselves. So what’s a girl to do? 

Suddenly, amidst the frustration came a moment of clarity. A smile rolled across my face. This is my WHY! This is WHY I created Presence. I want to offer expressions of love that don’t collect dust in old garages. Love that doesn’t force you into frustration and guilt trying to decide what to keep and not to keep. Love that takes up space in your memories, not in your home. This is WHY I am building a platform for experiential and intentional gifts, not physical gifts, to express our love. Because, while there is nothing wrong with keeping a physical object that sparks joy or brings you comfort, we shouldn’t be encouraged to hold onto gifts just because. And our friends and family shouldn’t be spending their time and money on purchasing a gift that you won’t end up utilizing just to fulfill their social obligation. It’s time to get more thoughtful with the gifts we bring into each other’s lives. Presence is now here to help with that.

I did end up keeping a few long letters from older relatives that I cherish, stuffing them into a charming cigar box on top of our new shelves. I imagine I’ll be crying in this office one day as a lonely entrepreneur and their words will relish my desire to keep pushing. I also wanted to save some of my great-grandfather’s precious handwriting. But one must only keep the best of the best; the rest I simply let go. With gratitude, I freed myself from attachment and tossed those things into the recycling and donation bins. Fortunately, the people who gave those letters or presents to me are still in my life, and I do intend to keep them there.

By cleansing my belongings, I created more space for the people and activities I love. Instead of a storage room, I now have a space to build a business, connect with other entrepreneurs and bring awakened gifts to my community. A space to welcome a friend into for conversation and collaboration. A space to invite someone who wrote me one of those letters I recycled and show them that their well wishes for me came true. A space to make art. A space to get grounded and practice meditation and rituals. A space to open the door, lay on the floor, listen to the crickets, and stare at the moon. A space for the things that really matter. A space to be me.

In the end, I owned less, but I had more.

I am so eager to share this abundance with all of you.

Because moments > things.

2 comments

Olivia, you are beautiful. Tears of proud joy…

Bumpa November 17, 2020

Olivia,
This consummate endeavor of yours is perfection. You have achieved a goal that is earth/soul/life/love. This is future altruism as it must be.

The inclusions you have gifted this site are complete and splendid. Your authorship is astounding.

I am besotted with this whirlwind of experience. I am also beyond honored to share this amazement that you have dedicated to me and Sue and your Dad.

Boogie on, Reggae Woman ✌🏼❤️

Nam November 17, 2020

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