I’m taking a week at home. Time away from work, from the busyness that’s kept me focused on the external, leaving me feeling a complete stranger to the interior me. I need to spend time in this nest I call home. It was fairly sparse when I moved here last August—intentionally so. Until last week, apart from blinds, I hadn’t purchased a single thing for my home in 9 months (and barely anything for myself). The thought of bringing another piece of furniture or knick-knack into this space flooded me with anxiety. The prospect of feeling hemmed in left me in a state of panic.

Over the past 6 years, since moving from a long-time, three-story family home that was filled to the brink, I’ve become a magician at pairing down and making things disappear. The more belongings I’ve given away, junked or sold, the more I’ve relieved myself of clutter, the more spacious life feels. There’s a fine line between feeling unbound by having few belongings, and feeling ungrounded without things that provide you connection and calm. I’m continually moving that line. Mostly, I ferociously protect my space from interloping “stuff” that has no true function or beauty or takes up too much real estate. Although my two-bedroom apartment is considered quite generous (five closets, don’t you know), it’s an apartment after all.

Last weekend, I bought a much-needed desk for Kieran. Let me just say this: my 14-year old assembled it on his own while I futzed about, offered useless advice, and damn near lost my marbles. The exhaustion of this past month slammed into me with one fell swoop. All I was good for was standing about lamely, handing him parts on request, and balancing the base as we lowered the desk top. Truthfully, I had no idea my son had that much patience. Take that, IKEA. (But if you ever hear me murmuring about any future purchase that requires assembly, SHAKE ME.)

And so begins The Week of Calm. Thank you for being here with me.