Saturday, January 14, 2017

How We Started Minimizing in a Nutshell

Yup, those are all empty hangers. I couldn't even get them all in the frame. I'm a closet clothes hanger hoarder. Say that five times fast. Makes our moleskine addiction seem tame.

Alright, so the latest update regarding our minimalism experiment. Today I'm taking another five garbage bags and two boxes to our local charity. These are items we cleared this week and my husband tackled his closet. I've sold a handful of items as well. I shared this post on Facebook last week and received several text messages as well as had many conversations on the topic because of it. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels overwhelmed by stuff and craves simplicity.

A couple of people asked for tips and let me be the first to say, I'm new at this! I can only tell you our experience thus far. Also, I think this process will look different for everyone as well as their reason for why they are pursuing less.

Here's what I'm hoping to get out of it:

  • Less time tending to our stuff. Such as cleaning, repairing, picking up stuff, researching, cleaning, organizing and oh yeah, picking up stuff. Can I get an amen?
  • Space. Breathing room. On the walls, in the cabinets, in the closets. Most importantly, in my head. Cluttered life, cluttered mind. Or at least that's how it is with me.
  • Time to focus on the things we really want to: time with family, experiences with kids, reading, Bible study, writing, our marriage, our friends. A big one is being freed up to be available to others as well.
  • Focus on eliminating debt. Now, we are not in major debt. We have what's called "good debt" - i.e. car, mortgage. Here's the thing though, it's not true that you will always have a car note or a mortgage payment. At least it doesn't have to be, so this is both short-term and long-term financial goals. We want to be freed up to be open to opportunities for which God wants us to be financially available.
  • Change my mindset. This may be the toughest of all. I want to be more conscious of what I'm pursuing and why. For me, this is pursuing what Jesus wants for our life. Thankfully, I just need to be open and he will do the heavy lifting.

Regarding those tips...

I'll start with the first question of where to begin. That's the reason I just shared the list above. Start with your 'Why'. Think about it a while. Come up with a list of why's and share them with someone.

Read a few minimalist blogs. I like Nourishing Minimalism, Becoming Minimalist and Simplify and Pursue. There are many more that I have been reading, but these are just some of the ones with which I can relate.

[Actually, you may want to reverse the order of these first two steps simply because you might find benefits listed in minimalism posts that weren't on your radar.]

I started with one area: my closet. It was a big, yet easy one to tackle. Big as in big return. Easy, because in the past three years I have gone between four clothing sizes (had two babies during this period) and I have quit a professional job. Also, I'm now a stay-at-home mom and what I much of what I wear is on repeat. There were clothes that hadn't seen the light of day in three years. It took me several sweeps to truly clear it out. I think I am probably at 80% of my original wardrobe.

From there I was hooked and on a mission because I saw so much space and it felt so good! I gradually moved all over the house. The sentimental stuff was by far the hardest and going to have to revisit those. (more on that later) There are a few small spaces that I still haven't touched, a bin here or there. I would also come back to areas I had previously gone through to weed out even more. And then there's the garage. Whoa. It's been my holding area and it was bad before I started this process. It will be the last frontier.

Also, know that this process will most likely occur in waves. It has for me. Since this process began in October, there have been few days that have gone by that I didn't get rid of something, but I would say I've gone through my house once and now I'm on my second run through. I've become better at this, but I've finished with the low hanging fruit and moved on to "the hard stuff".

Those are my nutshell starter tips.

Remember the 'why' list I made above? So far, positives all around.

One last note. Something that I have discovered in browsing minimalist blogs and considering my own nature. Yes, we can make gods out of our things. But, I also have to be very careful not to make minimalism a god as well. I could become addicted to editing my life because I feel like something isn't right, when truly, it's that I need more. More Jesus. I could use it as a way to control my life instead of allowing God to bring me peace in the midst of chaos. I just wanted to make sure you know that - if you want to pursue peace, there's only one place you can really find it. We will never find true peace outside of Jesus Christ.

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - John 10:10

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