our homes, like a dwarf bonsai?

I can’t remember where I first read about bonsai trees but I’ve heard that bonsai trees will grow to fit whatever container you fit them in.  A dwarf bonsai is just that because of it’s growth in a small container and having it’s root pruned.  If you don’t prune a bonsai’s roots, "the tree roots
mature, get thicker and woodier and less efficient at getting
nutrients. The big roots completely colonize
the container, using up space, close the pot’s drainage, and eventually
kill themselves off. Pruning them restores soil and air space, improves
drainage and stimulates finer root growth." (from Garden Web member Mark Rowell)

The size of the average single-family home in the US has increased from 982 square feet in 1950 to 2,349 square feet in 2004.  (from NPR)I think it’s increased to about 2,500 square feet in 2007.  Conversely, the size of the average American family has gone down slightly.  A lot of people have been talking about our consumer appetite whether it’s for fast food (super-size), SUV’s (Hummer) or big houses (McMansions).  We buy stuff left and right.  There’s always someone on the TV or the internet telling you how much you need one thing or the other.  And as the size of our living spaces had increased, the amount of stuff we store in them has increased right along with it.
The boy and I live in a house that is about 1,300 square feet, which is small or large depending on who you talk to, but for the suburb we live in it is on the cottage size.  We’ve been toying with the idea of ‘upgrading’ to another house to 1. get off of the main road that we are on which isn’t so safe for small children, 2. have a little more green space around us for summer afternoon T-ball games and a garage and 3. a slightly larger house good for a family of about 4 and maybe a dog or two.  We have different ideas of what that will look like, but one thing we do agree on is we don’t want a house that is "too big".  For the boy it’s a money issue, but for me it’s my concern that whatever size house we live in, we’ll end up filling it with a bunch of junk that we rarely use.  Just like a bonsai.

It’s officially Spring and everyday I get a dozen emails from retailers selling something to help me organize one or more corners of my home and garden.  And I think that all the organizing tools, containers and contraptions in the world don’t make a difference if you just plain have too much stuff.  The first thing any professional organizer will tell you is to NOT buy any organizational tools or containers until you sort and purge the stuff you have.  The one and only organizing book that I can recommend with 100% satisfaction is Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.  There are no pretty pictures to look at, just plain old great organizing principles.   Buy it (see left), borrow it, get it.

I think no matter what size house you live in, tiny, huge or anywhere in between, we can all become overrun by ‘things’.  And ‘things’ not only take up space, but they take up our energy and take our time away, without us even realizing it.  That’s the key issue.


Order Antabuse