December 11, 2014

Embracing Minimalism

I think this post has been dying to leave my fingers for, like, ever. I have been so antsy getting through all the other ones I've written these past couple weeks just so I can get to this one. Because this is the post where I explain how my life was changed.

OK, I don't mean to be dramatic but, well you know. Kind of changed then.

A few years ago, in our little old house with not a lot of storage (but a helluva lot of memories), I finally said ENOUGH. Because of remodeling and having babies I was constantly moving stuff around and organizing. (And organizing and organizing. And cleaning. Oh the effing dust.) Being organized is good. But I realized something very powerful:

I do not want to spend my life moving around/handling/fretting over/dealing with STUFF.

For every hour, every minute, I had to spend dealing with stuff was one less hour, one less minute, I had to LIVE. To be with my kids or read a book or sit in the backyard in the sun or make memories. Both over time and in a moment I realized that I would rather own (way) less things but make (way) more memories. 

I was discontent. All this stuff was pulling at me - begging for attention. I get that we need *stuff* to live, but when we become attached or it takes up too much of our time (or it stresses us out or we keep wanting more) then it's time to say ENOUGH.

So I began. One bag at a time. 

For Lent a few years ago I made the promise to get rid of a bag of stuff a day. It could be a grocery sack or a garbage bag, donated or thrown away. It didn't matter. The first day: 3 garbage bags of crafty things I kept around "for the kids someday" were heaped into the recycling. Believe it or not, we were better able to do crafts (which I hate) because I could actually pull out the crap I needed without getting frustrated. Maybe it was the random stickers I hated and not the crafts itself! Revelation #1.

Revelation #2: for every bag, every item, I got rid of I felt more FREE. Like I was shedding this huge giant weight around my shoulders and I could breathe again. Once I was done with those 40 days (and probably 500 bags) I saw that, yes I still had too much, but also that I finally loved the little space I was blessed with. My eyes were opened to the fact that I don't need a big house just to fill it up with stuff but that I was content with a little house that I could fill with memories instead. What a gift of wisdom that was!

And looking in hindsight, without this purging we wouldn't have been ready for God to call us to move. You see, a year-and-a-half ago Michael and I had the conversation that we wanted to be in our house 5 more years. But a week (and a whole bunch of crazy circumstances) later we had our house on the market. And 4 days later it sold. And 4 days after that we had a new one. What the hail?! If I hadn't done my Lenten challenge we wouldn't have been ready. I had to stage my house for pictures and showings ONE HOUR after we decided to put it on the market. Crazy. 

If *stuff* had held us back from this major life change, I would've been pissed. And I would've only had myself to blame.

Embracing minimalism (the desire to own just enough) has changed my heart in so many ways. It is freeing me (constant process) from the desire to want more. It is opening my eyes to all the exciting and unconventional things we can do with our time and money. It has allowed me to value people and use things (not use people and value things) to an even better extent. It has allowed me to be more hospitable. It has kept me from going crazy being a stay-at-home mom because everything has a place and the kids can pick up their playroom in 10 minutes. (I have a 10 minute rule - whatever doesn't get picked up in that time GOES. Like, forever. Donated. So long. I'm mean, get over it.)

It has also changed my kids' hearts. They actually (OK, most of the time) take care of their things now because they know if they don't, it's gone, or they won't get more. (Yes, I threatened to take Christmas away when two special books got ripped after being left on the floor. I'm mean, get over it.) I have also noticed that, with less things, they are so much more thankful. And detached. When making their Christmas lists they each only had one thing listed (Avila, an American Girl doll, Max, earplugs so he doesn't have to listen to his brother snore, and Levi a car). They each get three things for Christmas so I had to help them think of more! The shine of new things doesn't last very long with them and then they go back to Legos and creating one-man plays and doing puzzles and playing dress-up. Their little hearts are learning that joy is found in using your mind and your imagination - not in something that will rust or get broken or lost a year from now.

Actually, in this very moment, they have built their usual fort with a hundred blankets and pillows and chairs and are playing campout and their awesome DisneyWorld dolls are thrown in the corner - haven't been touched in a week. See, experiences over stuff.

Except now that they've used all the chairs we have no where to sit for lunch....

For a deeper and even better look at minimalism check out the links below. I'll post more as I come across them but for now this is a good start:

Becoming Minimalist - I read this blog everyday. A-MAZING.

The Art of Simple

Stockpiling Treasures in my Junk Closet

Embracing and living out minimalism will be a constant journey for me in this over-advertised world. It takes a lot of thought to be simple. It takes intentionality and swimming upstream and facing weird questions. But oh man does it bring peace. And it has made me content with less and less and no one can take that away.


Jen Y said...

I remember when you were doing the bag a day thing, it prompted me to do the same thing, and it does feel so good to know you only have what you need! It's never ending though, I still get rid of at least a bag a month, and constantly keep a GW pile in my closet that I take in once a month. Crazy, because I don't horde or shop that much. The other thing I started doing is for every new clothing item I purchase I get rid of two items in my's really helping me get down to having only those items that I love, look good on me, will last, and that I'll wear every week.

* Chrissy * said...

I think I just found what I'm doing for Lent. Such a great idea. Once a week I try to go through one of my hundreds of buns full of stuff that I swear I need but I truly haven't seen the stuff in 6 years. It feels great when it's done so I'm excited to see what I can accomplish in 40 days. Oh and as for the comment above...I Can't count how many times I've tried to get rid of a shirt in exchange for another...good job staying consistent...and for donating 2 items!!!