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For the past two years I have had a very small office space because I am living with Larry’ at his Mom's house with two of his siblings and I am sharing my office room with Larry’s office space and a kitchenette, so it’s very small.
This is after coming from my 1600 square foot house where I had an entire room to myself for my office.
I have two large desks the size of library tables.
One I bought at a garage sale for $50. It is a desk that had been in an attorney’s office, made of mahogany wood with a leather top. The leather top was damaged, but the desk itself was fine. We brought it home and Larry removed the leather top, sanded it down, and we applied an all-natural finish. It was and still is a beautiful desk.
But then I decided I needed an additional desk in a different room, so once again we went looking for an old desk to restore.
Larry and I went to a salvage yard. We walked around together, I looking for “table” and Larry looking for “oak.” Well, Larry found the table, all taken apart, the pieces in a box. Didn’t look like a table at all, but he found it. It was a library table from Stanford University and exactly matched the desk I already had in size and style.
It was a beautiful table, but had a lot of water damage around the edges, so Larry cut off all the edges about an inch all around and replaced that wood with an amazing purpleheart wood edge. And then he made drawer pulls out of the same purpleheart wood.
This purpleheart desk is my favorite because it has so much love in it and Larry didn’t just restore it, he redesigned it just for me. I’ve used it as my primary desk since.
Except when we moved here.
When I moved in, I put the two desks together long-ways with a space in between for my office-chair-on-wheels.
I put the purpleheart desk under the window and the other desk facing out into the room. I specifically did that because I wanted to be able to sit at the purpleheart desk and look out the window and use it for creative activities.
But what happened was that I used the other desk as my primary desk and used the purpleheart desk to pile up papers. And the piles just overtook the desk until I could not use it as a desk.
But the desk arrangement never worked. The mahogany desk has my big 27-inch Mac computer and the printer and the keyboard, leaving very little space to do anything else. The phone has to sit on the other desk otherwise I trip over the cord. Likewise the adding machine. So its just always been awkward.
Two nights ago I woke up at about 4 in the morning and suddenly felt very strongly that I HAD to get up and clear off the purpleheart desk. I thought I would just pick up the piles and put them in boxes and deal with them later, but what happened was I started looking at each piece of paper, and many of them were outdated. I didn’t need them any more. So they went either to trash or shredding. One big pile disappeared completely using this method.
After more than two hours the desktop was completely clear. What I needed to keep was in two boxes and the remainder was in my trash basket or shredded (yielding two grocery bags of shreds!)
When I looked at the empty space of the desktop I laughed and said to myself, “There’s a whole desk here!” All I needed to do was clear the space.
Now I have a space to lay out projects and work on them, to see how the parts fit together as I create my websites. And I can look out the window. And there is lots of light. And the telephone is right where it should be. And my computer is on a different desk, so I have lots of space when I’m doing work that doesn’t involve the computer.
I had a similar experience about a month ago when I needed more bookshelf space. It appeared there was no more space in the room until I started looking at it differently.
On one wall there was space being used to pile up boxes of books. I could put a bookshelf there instead and have better access to those books and store more books in the same space.
On another wall there was an old gas heater that no longer worked. So Larry removed it and the resulting space was exactly the right size for the bookcase we found by the side of the road.
Since we are intending to move into a tiny house, I’m happy this ability to see space and make the most of it is emerging.
Life uses space efficiently for greatest good and greatest production. We humans tend to buy bigger and bigger houses and use more resources to build them and energy to heat and cool them, just to store all our stuff.
I’m learning that everything I actually need to sustain my life can fit comfortably in a very small space.
And I am being much more productive now that I have this empty space to sit down to every morning and say, "What shall I create today?".
DEBRA REDALIA, Co-Founder of Lifely, has been researching and writing about lifestlye topics for more than forty years. After her first book on nontoxic consumer products was published in 1984, she went on to be the leader in this field as Debra Lynn Dadd. In June 2019, she retired from writing about toxics and industrial consumer products to establish The Lifely Group with her llifepartner and soulmate Larry Redalia. This next step into life beyond industrialization is the result of a lifetime of research and making lifely changes in her own life that have given her greater health and happiness.