These days it seems like time passes so quickly.

We’ve spent the last few months in a whirlwind of spending time with people we love, meeting over tea with a contractor, filling out forms for entrepreneur grants, and forging ahead with the start of our home business.

A lot of it has been uphill – and there have been plenty of learning curves.

But, it’s been worth it.

Everything has been in shift – and while last year most changes happened gradually, suddenly change is as rapid as the growth of the weeds outdoors. 🍃

The reform of the building where Once Upon a Time will open later this year is underway, and there are boxes of multi-generational family belongings strewn about the house that were pulled out of storage. We are in the process of sifting through what to keep and what to throw away.

Most of what we have sorted through so far has been nothing more than the usual accumulation of junk that piles up in a home that has seen a lot of life lived.. but, we also found a few dusty treasures, such as a tiny carousel music box that plays “When You Wish Upon A Star”, and a set of Japanese carp streamers (Koinobori).

As we organize the mess, we find value in the old, and also in the new.

There is something distinctly Japanese about mixing ancient culture and spaces with modern innovation. In keeping with this, we continue to create our own blend between the pull of family history and customs, and the new memories and traditions we’re making.

Clearing out storage is an opportunity to remember, evaluate, and make space to create anew.

(above: a sculpture entitled “愛”, or “love”)

For those with a desire to get organized, Marie Kondo’s catch-phrase “does this spark joy?” has recently become a cultural phenomenon. Kondo, an “organizing consultant” uses this question to help people figure out whether they value items in their home enough to keep them or throw them out.

In fact, I’ve seen the phrase referenced so many times that it’s begun to drive me crazy.

However, while on our own adventure of home organization, I can’t help but consider the process through a similar, but slightly different lens: does this cultivate love?

This belonging, this custom, this behavior, this idea – does it cultivate love?  Does our home cultivate love? Are we cultivating a culture, and a space, of love? 

It is not uncommon for international and blended families to entertain anxiety about how to integrate two different cultures and upbringings under one roof. Yet, this standard makes it much easier. What nurtures a lifestyle of love?

If something doesn’t serve this purpose, we should be questioning why, and whether it really has value for our home and family. Just like weeds have the ability to choke out the life and health of a garden, so it may also be necessary to remove whatever brings down rather than elevates the home as a place of love and peace.

Not everyone’s garden (or home) is going to look the same. Some people like wildflowers, while others prefer succulents. We have different backgrounds of a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. However, a blended garden (or family) can be beautiful when it is cultivated in love.

How are you cultivating a culture of love in your home? 

Please leave a comment below. 

Forest hike photo credit: by our friend Aaron