Now *That’s* Radical Decluttering

vibrant sunrise

Dear Blog,

It’s been a long time since I wrote—starting a new life is busy! I radically decluttered my life, went full Marie Kondo, keeping only those things that spark joy. What did I keep? We still have two cats, including the miraculous Potato who seems to be effectively self-medicating by eating kitty litter (yeah, weird). Since the vet gave him “days, maybe weeks” to live back in February, we might market it as a new feline home remedy. I still enjoy my adventures—hiking, swimming, paddling, forest wandering, writing, yoga, and on and on. I get to do way more of them these days, and I’ll get to that. I’m doing my freelance editing and proofreading, still enthusiastically. My nieces will tell you that I’m still a great aunt, but now it’s official! Baby Lilah, the sweetest little bean, graced the world with her presence a few days ago. She is a grand niece, indeed. I kept my minimal wardrobe, some kitchenware, outdoor gear, and four pieces of furniture (okay, okay, and all my pens and stationery 😁).

What’s new, you ask? Everything else. 

I live in a new place, not just new-to-me, but a whole new building. I moved from a falling-down-around-me house from the early 1900s to a condo built in the 2020s. I moved far across the province, leaving the Forest City for the Gateway to the Thousand Islands—city to town, landlocked to waterfront, west to east, content to euphoric. I moved from a life I fell into by chance to an intentional, chosen one.

I live in a fairyland.

It’s not the fairyland you’d like to live in, it couldn’t be. The things that light us up are marvellously diverse. But for me, it’s better than a dream come true. I’m bursting with joy every day, gasping at the beauty of each sunrise from my balcony and sunset from my front “balcony” (a large shared walkway surrounding the courtyard of the building—it’s like my neighbours and I have a big front porch on each floor to socialize and take in the stunning view). I’d love to describe details of all the delights I experience every day, but the list is long: Water. Nature. Warm, welcoming people. Beach. Parks. Yoga studio. Hiking trails. Swimming. Kayaking. Library. Boats. Lively independent shops. Thriving art culture. Stargazing. Old houses (and boathouses) immaculately maintained (and not by me). Bandshell with free concerts. Shawarma food truck. Forests and riverbanks full of wildlife, peace, and awe (and ticks, but that story had a bite-free ending, phew). All within steps of my home. Did I mention the water?

a woman in a red kayak wearing a sun hat and sunglasses (and pfd) resting on the water with islands behind
~ heaven ~

There’s even a golden squirrel. My daughter tells me it’s albino, but this is a fairyland and the squirrel is golden, end of discussion.

There are inconveniences and problems, of course, like pinches to prove I’m not dreaming. I find them easier to weather, though, here in paradise. Being by or on the water has always softened my bad moods and soothed my worries. I knew I needed to live where life revolves around water, and I had happy memories of visiting Gananoque as a child. I know nearby Kingston well and love its vibrancy (and waterfront). In a wave of unexplainable good luck, I found the exact condo I wanted to live in, in the exact location that works for me, at a price I could afford.

10-year-old boy standing on rocks by water with a stick in his hand and a smile, with a younger girl lying on a rock nearby looking out at the water.
My kids in Gan in 2015. I have no pix of me here in the early 1970s – not sure we even had a camera then, lol.

I’m not in denial about the problems of the world and I have no solution for the climate crisis or wars or skyrocketing cost of living or homelessness or patriarchy or racism or nazis or any of the other dumpster fires. I’m drafting a blog post about the dumpster fires. And hope. You may (not) be surprised to hear it features water. I have bad days and grumpy moods too. For now, back to paradise.

I set up my place mostly from scratch and it’s airy and minimal. I love every single thing in it. Funnily enough, though, I still found myself unpacking things and wondering, why on earth did I keep this? I’ve made two trips to donate items already. I don’t have a storage room here, and I do have some of my kids’ stuff, so space is at a premium and I can’t tuck things away to deal with later—I have to be certain about each item that gets to stay, and the whole place feels light because of it. 

I did leave dear friends back in London. My kids are away at university (we all moved to the same part of the province, so they’re close enough for easy day-trip visits ❤️). One joy I kept was my weekly walk with a friend—we just use phones and ear pods now. As I settled in and recovered from the stress and fluster of move upon move (the kids and I moved here, then I moved each of them to their new homes), having my usual weekly walk and chat grounded me before I’d realized I was a bit adrift.

I spent years dreaming about and months specifically planning this move. I would not say I handled the practical moving part well—I drowned in stress—but creating a sparkling new life? I nailed it. 

Years of decluttering and moving toward minimalism taught me the simple lesson my path started with: Clear out what isn’t working for you so that whatever lights you up has space to shine. Leaving the endless stress of an old house I’d never quite loved (in a neighbourhood I did love) was the biggest weight lifted. Moving to the water added more light than I can describe. I’ve been here a couple of months now, and each day I’m more sure it’s home than the day before, and I started with a lot of certainty!

What lights you up? What clutter is hiding it? It wasn’t the right time for me to move away and start a new life until this past summer, and all the work I did leading up to it helped me be ready to notice the moment my ship came sailing in. Find your light, nurture it, and make space for it. ✨

All my love, Karen xoxoxo

p.s. Gratuitous baby pic 😁 and my evening view 🌅

newborn baby being held; she's wearing a big pink head tie
peaceful late day scene with boats in the foreground and glassy water with a picturesque cabin on an island under a colourful sky
my front porch view

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