Saturday, January 7, 2017
Our Life Edited
Hello, faithful readers! Oh wait, you need to be consistent in your writing to instill faithfulness? Writing two or three posts a year doesn't count? Oh well. I really want to get back to consistent writing again. We'll see how it goes. I'm not committing to it yet because...kids, but I am so excited about what we're doing as a family and I want to document it. Warning, I may be going crazy - but I think it might be a good crazy. Only time and the ability to persist will tell.
We are simplifying our life. Minimizing. Editing. Getting to the good stuff.
I started this process about three months ago when our life was in full chaotic swing. Good, but frenzied. A blogger who writes on preschool education and whom I follow regularly, took a break from her traditional topic of learning to share her journey of having enough. Enough of stuff, chaos and distraction. She began minimizing their life in every area. Pulling decorations off walls, giving away toys, clothes - all of it to get down to what their family really needed and loved. I was intrigued and felt the exact same way. My toddlers' toys were taking over the house, our closets were bursting, counters constantly cluttered. My mind was consistently distracted with the mess. Much of the day was spent just moving stuff. I have been craving simplicity.
Her post led me down a rabbit trail of minimalist lifestyle blogs. It is fascinating to see how some of these people live. Among the completely counter cultural lifestyle blogs, I came across several that were more in line with doable for our family and goals. There were a few posts that really made me think. One writer said something along the lines of "Instead of getting a bigger house, why don't you just get rid of your stuff?" Wait, what? Why hadn't I thought of this? I just re-organize and re-organize. I look for better storage systems. You do this or go bigger, right?
Let me go back.
When we found out we were expecting our second child two and a half years ago, we decided to sell our house. We needed more space as we were outgrowing our home. Or this is what we thought.
So, we sold our 1690 square foot "starter home". What I mean by sold is that we signed on the dotted line and the verified buyer signed as well, only to find out hours later that the loan didn't fund. (If God doesn't want you to move, you're not going to move.) By this time, I was seven months pregnant and we weren't willing to go further through the process. We were not feeling very Joseph and Mary, so homeless and giving birth was not an option, deciding to stay for at least a year and revisit selling later. We are so thankful God put us in this position. He knew just what we needed and it turns out that it wasn't a bigger home.
Maybe we didn't need more storage space. Maybe we needed less stuff. Could we live with less? Could we stay in our home and completely pay off our mortgage? Could we eliminate the distraction in our lives and focus on what is the most important to us - our relationship with Christ and our family? So began our experiment.
I've been working at editing our life for three months now. I'll fill you in on what that looks like hopefully in another post. So far, I have gotten rid of probably near 1000 items, this includes 80% of my wardrobe and 70%ish ('ish' is so helpful isn't it?) of our toys. I've taken things off the counters, walls, floors. I've sold lots of stuff and given away even more. More on that later. I've only just dipped my toe into this, but I am really liking the result. Haven't missed one thing.
The process has revealed a lot of yucky stuff about my relationship to possessions. I've discovered emotional attachments to things that don't make sense. It has forced me to deal with my "internal stuff" during the process. Like the Rich Young Ruler, I have slowly become attached to my possessions without realizing it. I've put a lot of stock in things that "thieves can break in and steal and moth and rust can destroy". This process has revealed a lot of things about my heart that need adjusting.
The first couple of edits of our home have had many other benefits as well. Things are easier to clean
The kids are playing more with their toys, yet toys aren't everywhere. I know where most things are so I'm not wasting time looking for things. I'm saving money because again, I know what we have and don't end up buying extra things by mistake. We're also being more intentional with our money and resources because we're conscious of what we're letting into our house. Our house now feels spacious for our family. After the initial big purge, I've had more time to spend on the things that are important. That's the best one of all.
We're taking one day at a time in this experiment and not planning on becoming Tiny House people who live in a 186 square foot home without an inside toilet (what?!) or all sleep in bunk beds across from each other...yet. Just kidding. We're looking at experiences and time that we can give our kids instead of stuff. I just want to cut the distraction and focus on what's important.
Am I crazy? Maybe. I could rebound to start hoarding in few months, who knows (oh, please no!). At the very least, I've uncovered a terrible Moleskin collecting habit that definitely needed to be addressed. In seriousness, contentment is a beautiful thing and the best fruit yet is thankfulness. So far, less is more.