More is More

November 9, 2020 | My Jottings

Have you heard the phrase “less is more?” I’ve heard it used when referring to minimalist decorating, about writing, and about decluttering and getting rid of excess possessions. And I usually agree with the idea that “less is more” and that fewer words, fewer items, can have a greater impact artistically and aesthetically.

Unless you consider my bedroom mantel.

My little fireplace mantel is a “more is more” sort of mantel, and I’m okay with that, for now.

I am continually decluttering and donating things, although pretty slowly. I have been told that my decorating is spare and minimalist, but I don’t quite see it that way. I don’t like a lot of visual clutter, but as you can see, one exception would be all the things I keep on the mantel.

Each thing means something to me, or is useful or sentimental. Well, there are a couple of things that aren’t that useful — I don’t usually light the candles, but visually they seem to add height or texture or volume in a place it’s needed. I think you can click on this photo to enlarge it. The print on the left was a gift form my daughter Sharon and quotes the song “Count Your Blessings” from the movie White Christmas. I’ve been literally counting my blessings in print for so many years now, I’m not sure how I would go for very long without this practice. I come from a family with depression and mental instability, and I was not exempt from this. Writing down my gratitude to God I believe has changed my brain chemistry.

The fox in the middle is astounding to me. My oldest grandchild Clara did this on a scratchboard with a scraping tool, pulling away tiny strokes of black until the fur and smile of the fox and the stars in the sky were revealed. Her talent is amazing, her heart so lovely.

The word board on the right is a gift from my daughter Sara, who knows I love words, love the Bible, and need reminders each day to calibrate my mind and path. I chose this verse from the ninetieth Psalm because I have squandered so many days and opportunities in my life, that I’m asking God to help me remember how quickly I’ll be gone, and to live more fully for Him.

The little wooden blocks were gifts from my daughter Carolyn, and I especially love the one on the right. I feel that above all else, I am a mother, and I want to be a better mom the older I get. I may not see my children as often as I did when they were growing up, but I certainly pray for them more, bring them to Jesus so often for every little thing they need, and hold their hearts and concerns so tenderly in my heart. It may sound cliche, but my daughters are truly woven into my very being.

The little black and white transferware plate is there because it’s the right size, is round to add visual disparity and interest, and because I am drawn to toile and transferware and don’t know why.

The cross on the left was a gift from my friend Vicki, and is quite intricate in its woodworked detail. Vicki has brought so many important things into my life and how we met was sort of miraculous — another story for another time.

The large round candle on the left was a gift from my dear friend Pat, a fellow SAG member. I love its container, the bear, and it reminds me of her. She is fun and smart and supportive, and so loving, and I’m reminded of her when I see it each day.

The Bose speaker on the doily isn’t necessarily pretty or sentimental, but I use it every single day. I have playlists on my phone and I don’t go a day without music. Right now I’m listening over and over to The Poor Clares of Arundel. My friend Lorrie in South Carolina recommended their music to me and I can’t get enough of it. It’s sacred, soothing, ancient and transcendent. It feels like my soul is being fed when this album is my background music all day.

Behind my Bose speaker is a Sequoia pine cone. I brought it home from the Sequoia National Forest last March when Lloyd and I visited California. Sequoias are the largest trees on earth. Some in California existed when Jesus walked the earth. They are resistant to disease. They have super thick bark, and depend on fires to regenerate. There are so many life lessons to be learned from a Sequoia, and I want to be like one — thick-skinned, fruitful in hard times, quiet, straight and true, resilient.

The little black remote is how I turn on the fire in my electric fireplace. It has a realistic flame, really puts out the heat when needed, and is so comforting when I sit in my plaid overstuffed chair to read and study and pray.

The little wooden cross on the right is a gift from my friend Penelope Wilcock in England. If you haven’t read her books, you must. Start with The Hawk and the Dove. You will be overwhelmed and blessed, and will want to give that book as a gift every time you can. The little cross was carved by nuns in England and fits perfectly in my hand; I sometimes hold it when I pray.

The black candles at the right I had on hand from years ago and I thought they added height to this little crowd of items. I plan to donate them someday.

And the cardinal? I have many cardinals which have been gifts from the most thoughtful friends over the years. If you don’t know why cardinals are so precious to me, you could click here to read a short semi-autobiographical children’s story I wrote about a cardinal years ago. Plus, some sort of color was needed in among all these black and white items, right?

I love Monday mornings. I write down all the things I need to get done on my to-do list/daily planner: do laundry (except my dryer died with a deafening, scraping scream yesterday), write a foster care report, finish my CBS lesson, run one errand, reconcile my bank statement with my checkbook ledger.

Next time I might share how Lloyd recently rescued a slug (not kidding), how Madge the Muskrat made eye contact with me and made my day, and how I’m doing with only one kidney, whose name by the way, is Verna. In which case, I’m hoping less is more.




  1. mariah ford says:

    Julie. I just love your posts. Your outlook on life is inspiring to me. Makes me want to press in all the more as a Christian, as a wife, a mom, a friend, a grandma, a writer, even. Your little snippets of life and slices that you share make me think how grateful I am for all that God is doing! I, too, come from a background of mental instability. I’m interested to hear in more detail how you’ve overcome personally. If you feel comfortable sharing it, please feel free to email me. I’ve recently started a practice of writing down things for which I’m grateful and sometimes it can be more of a discipline than something from my heart, but I feel that it’s very important none the less. Thoughts?

  2. Just Julie says:

    Mariah — your words blessed me so much. Thank you. I know we would be good friends if we lived closer. I will email you soon! Blessings on you and yours, dear Mariah. xoxo

  3. Nancy Roney says:

    I’m trying to declutter and simplify my life. A middle age friend was recently accepted to a monastary. He can only take two suitcases with him. Now that is simplicity. I have thought of taking photos and putting in album and then donating items to a charity. Photos are another thing. I have several generations of photos from ancestors and relatives including slide boxes. My husband loved photography and had extensive slide collections. Everything has a memory but only to you probably. Someone coming next won’t know about it unless you tell them. Your blog will be a treasure for your children and grandchldren and much more mportant than an ornament. It will tell them about your life. Good luck.

  4. Just Julie says:

    That’s amazing about your friend, Nancy. Have you read “In This House of Brede?” Very worth reading, and about a woman who enters a convent later in life. It made me yearn. 🙂 Yes, the things that are so meaningful to me, may not be to the others behind me, without the words going with them. I don’t think any of my grandchildren have read my blog, but maybe someday…. I would certainly be reading my mother’s or grandmother’s words if I had such a legacy! God bless you this week, dear Nancy. xoxo

  5. Sue raimo says:

    I remember a scene from one of my favorite movies called One True Thing. When discussing the concept of “less is more” the observation about the main character played by Meryl Streep was to her “more was more”.
    There is a place for more is more.

  6. Just Julie says:

    Dearest friend, Did I ever tell you that one of my very favorite movies is “One True Thing?” I had no idea you loved it too — most people I’ve mentioned it to haven’t seen it. I love the layers of meaning in that movie… how the daughter came to see that her mother’s “mundane” work in the home was deeper and truer than she ever thought it could be. I remember this phrase from that movie too. I’m holding you close as you ponder your mother seeing and hearing things now that no eye nor ear could fathom from here. I loved her, and love you. xoxo

  7. Kay says:

    Hello Julie
    This is such a lovely post. I’m glad you have your special treasures on your mantel. Nowadays, so many people are decluttering like crazy and a few years ago I tried to follow that route. But, for me, I NEED colour and interest in my rooms! I’ve suffered from depression for many, many years and I thought that perhaps minimalism would help. But after trying that experience and on reflection, I’ve come to realise that I’m not a minimalist, just someone who needs order and tidiness in our home. Untidiness messes with my mind, which can be a bit frustrating when I live with a messy, hoarder!! 😉
    We have come to a compromise (sort of) and Alan has his shed which is unbelievably chaotic and messy. He also has his music room which is the same. As long as I keep out of those two areas, we can live happily in tidiness in the rest of our home. 🙂 The only time there’s a problem is when he’s lost something in those areas and then I refuse to listen or I’d say something unkind.
    I would love to have a sitting area in our bedroom, but as you probably know, here in England space is at a premium. However, I now have a beautiful summerhouse in the garden that is all mine. It’s my peaceful space and all I need to finish it is a comfy armchair.
    I’ll look up that film mentioned above. Sounds just like my cup of tea. xxx

  8. Just Julie says:

    I think it sounds like you and Alan have reached a good compromise, Kay. And that is wonderful that you know yourself and found that the extreme minimalism doesn’t nurture you. One of my daughters is what she calls a “maximalist” and she loves a nicely busy room. Not messy, but thoughtful, interesting busyness, and some of the pictures she’s shown me of that kind of decorating are beautiful. I picture myself having tea with you in your summerhouse, and think with God, all things are possible. And thank you for your letter! I will be answering soon…. xoxoxo

  9. Nancy A Roney says:

    There is something about convent life that is appealing. I have 2 friends who have considered it. one in her 70s who is a widow but most convents don’t accept candidates that age (some do). She decided instead to go on pilgrimages. She has made her 10th to Medjugorje which is a very special place. Another friend in her 40s also is considering it. She does marathons so not sure how that would fit into a Carmelite nuns daily life. I saw a movie once called All or Nothing about young woman from Ireland who became a nun. Her name is Clare Crockett. She perished in earthquake in Ecuador but her journey from rebel youth in Ireland to convent is interesting. here is the link.

  10. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Nancy. I just got through reading about Clare Crockett, but didn’t know about the movie — I would like to see it. Also, have you read “In This House of Brede” by Rumer Godden? Highly recommended about this very topic. So beautifully written.

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