Being in tune with one’s body requires discipline and focus. And most of us are too distracted by technology or attention-needy spouses/friends/children to take the necessary time to build up a practice of inner reflection. But the payoff — when we do — is pretty amazing. And no one knows this better than Bellevue resident Stacy Sims, founder of City Silence, an international network of community mindfulness gatherings. She also has a few other impressive CV line items up her sleeve, but we’ll get to those in a minute.
The reason we wanted to talk to Sims is simple: She has a gorgeous, yet understated, home in Bellevue; and we know how much our audience loves homes. But we figured, as long as Sims is kind enough to invite us into her home, we should take the time to get to know her world in intimate detail, and why, with practice, we too could implement a little more refreshing silence into our lives.
With that, I’m going to turn over the figurative mic to Sims.
Cincinnati Refined: When did you buy your house? How big is it?
Stacy Sims: I bought my home in August 2016. It is a shotgun-style cottage, four rooms in a row, built in 1900. When I bought it, the house was a bank-owned property and stripped bare of all wiring, heating, and appliances. I wasn’t looking to purchase, but it captured my imagination.
CR: What did you do to renovate it?
SS: It was kind of great because I had limited time and budget to do the renovation. Also, it was clear what it needed—everything. I replaced the roof and installed new HVAC, plumbing, and electric. Structurally, it had great bones. I widened two of the interior doorways significantly, and I don’t think I would have bought it had that not been possible. I put in the kitchen, tore up all the layers of flooring to the original wood, painted everything white except a splash of turquoise in the bedroom, and turned a closet into a built-in bookshelf.
This summer I will get to the backyard!
CR: How would you describe your decorating style?
SS: Minimal, eclectic. I was going for “very cool AirBnB” vibe. I wanted everything to feel clean, spare and considered.
CR: How did you land on Bellevue? What makes it special?
SS: I lived in OTR since 2001. I loved it there, but got priced out. I found a Bellevue rental home in 2015 and came to love the neighborhood and location. As I said, I wasn’t looking to buy, but this particular cottage got under my skin. I realized I could take my savings and buy and renovate this house for well under $80K. So I have a paid-for home now as an investment in a neighborhood I like.
CR: Do you have a favorite place to hang out in your neighborhood?
SS: I have a hard time leaving my house. It makes me exceedingly happy. If out, I am inclined to head to Schneider's for ice cream in the summer and the Bellevue Bistro for brunch. I also LOVE the Bellevue Beach Park; and in the warmer weather, I lead movement and meditation classes there twice a week.
CR: What changes do you hope to see in the local community?
SS: This is an empowered time in our community for creative, innovative solutions to some of our biggest social problems. We have incredible resources, and it seems more and more that our creative class is staying around to make Greater Cincinnati home. I used to think I would ultimately leave to live elsewhere. Now I feel committed to making this area my base as there would be so much to lose by leaving.
CR: Tell me a little bit about your work projects. How did you get into them? Why are they important?
SS: This is the best time in my life, work- and life-wise. There isn’t a single thing I do that I don’t love to do. I have three wellness initiatives that I nurture. The one that is growing the fastest is Mindful Music Moments, a daily mindfulness and classical music program for schools, now in over 50 schools across the state and widening its reach every day. The other two are City Silence for community mindfulness and True Body Project, for trauma-informed social-emotional workshops, classes, and trainings. I also continue to write; currently children’s books and a play. I am off to Cambodia next week to lead a cross-cultural leadership training in trauma and resilience. Then I come home and leave again to be part of the On Being Gathering (Krista Tippett and co.) in California and work on some Mindful Music partnerships on the west coast.
[Note: The Cambodia trip was slated for January 15 - Feb. 1, 2018.]
CR: What else should we know?
SS: I am sitting in the Tampa airport writing this. I just helped my 88-year-old aunt clean out her house so she could move to St. Louis to live near the largest number of our relatives. We shipped one box and packed the rest of her things in four suitcases. I was even further inspired to continue to dedicate myself to a daily ritual of removing an object and obstacle each day. I love lightening the load of things, ideas, worries that no longer serve me. I want to be of greater service and to be more present to others. Dancing helps, meditation helps, and laughing helps.
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Don't forget to scroll back to the top to take a peek inside Sims' lovely Bellevue home.