Looking Back

It’s the Day of Goodwill. The morning is crisp, and the rural landscape a hero dazzles at subzero temperatures. I watch tits through the window gently jostling each other as they feed from the bird table. They seem oblivious the year is winding down. But I take stock. How did I fare on my intention to simplify?

I smile. Not because when I answer the question, “What did I do right in 2019?” I can tally a handful of achievements I’m proud of. But because a squirrel that has been scurrying around a tree, from branch to branch, measuring distance to jump in order to reach the bird table, finally gives up.

Simplifying turns out not to be as simple as the word implies. I’ll say this, clearing physical clutter is a yawn. But the emotional one…try your hand at grasping a shadow! In a nutshell, 2019 had been a year of accepting things as they are, aligning values with action, and letting go of what no longer served me.

Tits remain active, flutter from feeder to the tree and back. They are in their element. And their freedom of being is just so natural as they occupy that space. I ask myself, “What stops me from taking up space and expand?”

Great Tits sitting on a branch

For Poets and Storytellers United.

note: Happy New Year, Everyone! 🙂 Hope it started well for all. As it always is, with updates and changes, my site is sometimes unresponsive. Please bear with me as I try to fix this issue.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. Perhaps the squirrels and the birds have the true secret of simplicity. 🙂 This beautiful piece of writing seems to put things in perspective.

  2. To be in one’s element is one of life’s greatest pleasures!

  3. It is, indeed one of life’s greatest pleasures. It also motivates us to push boundaries and expand in pursuit of what makes us happy or enjoying doing.

  4. Dear Kaya
    we envy you. You have freezing temperatures and snow we very much miss here on the Norfolk coast. We just got the idea that winter is simplifying: all structures of the landscape get minimalistic and there are less sounds. We lived in the Artic for quite a while and loved it there very much because in a way life was simple there, not so many distractions and not such cluttered surroundings.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. After reading your post, I let my eyes wonder around the room, land on all the things I have but don’t need… I’ve been doing the same search inside–I have so much I should let go of. Perhaps I’ll clean up in order to let something else in, but… the in-between moments (and space) will be a victory.

  6. This is wonderfully deep and resonant, Khaya! ❤️ I too am letting go of what no longer serves me 🙂

  7. Dear Hanne
    Lovely to connect again, I use to follow your adventures via my personal blog, which I let go a few years ago. 🙂 Anyway, the weather is also unreliable here on my side. Depends on whether one is in the northern or southern part of the country. We were lucky during the Christmas holidays to have a wonderful weather and snow, and did a lot of snowshoeing. But I hear you, the landscape somehow lack some of what makes winter a joy.

    And the Artic is simply one of the best places to live; no distractions, no clutter. We can only hope it stays that way, with the climate changes and all… 🙂 All the best to you as well!

  8. The act of simplifying is always ongoing. Because it is important to get rid of “stuff” (physical and emotional) we don’t need to make space for what gives us joy. It’s not always easy to declutter but the feeling after…priceless. Treasure those in-between moments and space, for as long as they last. 😀

  9. I have caught up with your posts now, Khaya! I have been slow at getting around, myself. I always enjoy reading your perspective on life. Wishing you a wonderful 2020!

  10. Hi Lavinia, thank you so much for taking time to read my doubtful and insignificant jottings. I really appreciate a lot, and pleased to hear you’re enjoying reading my perspective on life. 🙂 I wish you a wonderful year ahead, as well!

  11. I’ve been finding myself on a similar journey. I’m finding it so much easier to breath. 🙂

  12. We we live who we are and walk away from those who try to change us we have made great progress. I learned a great lesson from house cleaning, clutter removed will be clutter regained if I am not diligent to not allow it.

  13. I like the way the squirrel and the year in a nutshell work. I didn’t get “tits” until the last stanza. The tits in the picture look like chicks to me (chickadees). My titmouse are tufted!

  14. I like your summary of 2019 – acceptance, alignment and detachment. Those are good goals for 2020 too.
    Enjoyed your writing.

  15. Your question, “what stops me from taking up space?” lingers with me. Perhaps there’s a clue in how you’ve described the birds natural in their element. It is true, I allow myself out to take up space when I feel in my element – but I rarely do. I find it interesting though, that I feel most in my element when, like the birds, I am out in nature and what I see around me actually agrees with my knowledge that I am but an animal like any other. The human world fights so hard to deny this elementary fact of our existence, and yet we would be so much healthier and happier, I believe, if we remembered and embraced the fact.

  16. Hi Colleen, thank you for your visit and reading. Sorry you got confused by the term “tits”. The birds in the picture are the kind of tits (Great Tits) found in Finland, and are generally nonmigratory. They are a bit bigger than the chickadee found in the US.

    If you like reading about birds, here’s a link for your perusal. 🙂 http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/linnut/great-tit

  17. I did a bit of the declutter/simplify thing last year, and no, it is not easy, not at all!! Happy new year to you, Khaya.

  18. I echo Vivian’s comment totally
    Thank you for your very interesting post.
    Anna :o]

  19. You are so correct, Susie. One has to be constantly on the lookout for any removed clutter that might creep up again. Decluttering is a surely a work in progress.

  20. You get me, H! Thank you for your wonderful response and insight into this sometimes daunting concept of taking up space. The clue, indeed is in how birds occupy the space. They are at an advantage, of course, because that space is favourable and even designed for them to grow, roam around, partake in all sort of activities or simply be.

    You’ve also put so well what often seems to be an obstacle and prevent some of us to take up space “The human world fights so hard to deny this elementary fact of our existence”.

    YES, I believe we would be so much healthier and happier, if we simply took up space. And even force those limiting spaces, not designed for all, to be “redesigned”.

    And to answer my own question… Everything and Nothing stops me from expanding. So, this year I’m challenging myself to stretch beyond my comfort zone. I challenge you, too. 🙂

  21. I freaking love this reflection! LOL, and not just because I spent the last two weeks of 2019 decluttering like a madwoman. It was the quiet moments I found during the decluttering process, when I could just drink in all the good around me and just be, that made me the happiest. But I still need to tackle the basement next. 😀

  22. Thank you, Rajani. I’m glad to hear you were simplifying too, last year. 🙂 I second on that, it’s not easy to simplify but important for a healthy state of mind.

  23. Aww, thank you Rommy! An image of a madwoman made me laugh out loud. But I totally understand, the act of decluttering, especially of physical spaces, can be disorderly itself. Unless of course, you are Marie Condo. 😀 But good for you, and all the best with the basement.

  24. I do think at times we all tend to make our lives more complicated than they need to be.
    Take time to think, clear our minds … it all helps 🙂

    I do like your photograph of the tits sitting on that tree branch …
    I saw a squirrel today climbing up a tree so quickly, their balance, speed and agility is amazing.

    My good wishes for 2020, I hope it’s a good year for you.

    All the best Jan

  25. I think I’ve already said this elsewhere, but HAPPY HAPPY New Year Khaya! Wishing you a prosperous and full 366 days!

  26. You’re speaking my language Khaya and put it so beautifully. I appreciate your insight on life as much as your wonderful writing. Thank you as well for the imagery of the squirrel it made me chuckle. Happy New Year Khaya!

  27. You are so right, we do tend to make our lives unnecessarily complicated…*sigh

    Thank you Jan for reading and good wishes. I wish the same for you!

  28. Thank you so much, Kathy. Here’s to wishing us all a prosperous year! We even have an extra day to make the best of this year. 😀

  29. Tits carry no baggage and sing all day. We have a lot to learn from nature

  30. I’m so glad to hear that I speak your language, Steph. Sometimes I feel that I’m not expressing my thoughts/ramblings/musings clearly. 🙂 Thank you for your kind and encouraging comment. All the best to you for 2020 and beyond!

  31. Such a lovely photo! So true about how complicated simplifying can be. And I love your message of accepting and letting go! (Easier said than done sometimes for me, haha.)

  32. Hi Heather, thank you for your visit. It’s true accepting and letting go is easier said than done but liberating once achieved.

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