LESS IS MORE: White space is a joy

Mulberries foraged during a moment of white space – empty moments in our schedule that can fill with the unexpected. Picture: Tricia Hogbin

Mulberries foraged during a moment of white space – empty moments in our schedule that can fill with the unexpected. Picture: Tricia Hogbin

ONE of the benefits of simplifying is that my life now has white space. Pockets of time where nothing is scheduled. 

In graphic design, white space is the empty space between the elements on a page. It can improve clarity, make viewing easier, and ensures the purpose of a piece is clear. 

The space left empty is almost as important as the actual content. Fail to leave sufficient white space and a worthwhile message can be lost among the clutter. 

Empty space is equally important in our day-to-day lives. Time intentionally left empty is as valuable as the scheduled moments. Without the white space we can lose sight of our purpose and become lost in overwhelm. 

In my experience, white space rarely stays empty. But it being there allows me to better respond to challenges and grab opportunities. A sick child home from school for the day; no internet for a week; or a broken down car. These unexpected hurdles would have once caused me stress. I would have bemoaned the time wasting. 

Now that my schedule has a margin of error, I find it easier to turn negatives into a positive. A sick child is cause for a slow day at home cuddling on the couch. No internet is embraced as time to clear the clutter from my mind. And being stranded for a few hours evolves into time to wander, read and enjoy lunch in a cafe. 

The broken down car happened in the midst of writing this piece. I’m certain that if the idea of turning a hassle into something to appreciate hadn’t been at the forefront of my mind, being stranded would have left me frustrated at the time I was wasting. Instead, I was grateful for a few rare hours to relax and eventually returned home feeling like I’d had a mini holiday. 

A margin of error in my to-do list also gives me time to embrace positive opportunities. If our schedule is full to the brim, opportunities aren’t even noticed, let alone embraced. 

I recently spotted a mulberry tree laden with fruit. There was a time when I would have felt too busy to stop. Or perhaps I wouldn’t have even noticed the fruit. I would have rushed on by. Instead, I stopped and enjoyed picking fruit with my daughter. We shoved sweet berries into our mouths and laughed at our mulberry stained hands. It’s these little unexpected moments that I’ll remember. 

The following day a farming friend, knowing that I like making bone broth, offered me as many chicken frames as I wanted. The catch was, they weren’t gutted. If I accepted I’d have to drop everything and gut the chickens that night. 

The old me would have said: ‘‘No thanks. Not this time. I’m too busy.’’ Instead, the less frantic me said: ‘‘That would be unreal thanks. Would you like some garlic and zucchini in return?’’ I now have a nice stash of nourishing bone broth – and it was free. 

For me, stopping to forage and trading home-grown food fills my heart with joy and  nourishes my soul as much as my belly. The unexpected moments of joy that fill your white space will likely look different to mine. 

Not all white space is filled by the unexpected. Sometimes it remains empty. It’s these moments I enjoy the most. Time to breathe, reflect and dream. 

I’ll be back next week with tips for clearing the clutter from your schedule to create white space. 

Tricia shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints.com and on Instagram (TriciaEco)

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