If you had asked me what I thought minimalism was a few years ago, I would have said something like, “I think it’s when crazy people get rid of their TV and choose to own practically nothing.” I would have considered these “crazy” people to probably have no children, a cold and uninviting home, and live in a big city with consistently nice weather so that they are able to walk or ride a bike everywhere.
I’m really not one to join a random trend or movement. I think I may have been the last person in America to finally purchase a pair of skinny jeans. Change just isn’t my thing. I’m never going to go paleo or do a juice cleanse or commit to something like an entire year of no purchases. You certainly won’t see me willingly part with wine, gluten or God forbid…dairy! I try to work toward a consistently healthy lifestyle with, as Oscar Wilde said,
“Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Slow and steady wins the race.
When I shared our new adventure with some of our friends and family the reaction was pretty consistent. Eyebrows raised, half smiles, with a condescending nod. I heard a little of, “But you have a car.” “So are you going to get rid of your TV?” “You have a cottage! You can’t be a minimalist with a cottage” “I’ve seen your basement. You’re not minimalists!”
It was true. We’d been living the complete opposite of a minimalist lifestyle for about, well, our whole lives. I fully acknowledge the irony.
So why did the idea of minimalism pull at my heart? Why did I conclude, in a moment, that this was exactly what my family and I needed?
Sure, the idea of fewer toys, less laundry and a home I could manage was a major selling factor. However, deep down my minimalism was an outward expression of an inward transformation.
Striving for perfection was getting me nowhere. It was exhausting and I had had enough.
Those dead ends, rock bottoms and brick walls allow us to see more clearly. It was there I found hope. I chose to stop sleep walking through my life and started living it.
Here are just a handful of areas of the heart that shifted for me as I moved toward a more minimalist state of mind.
Fear and worry had been the theme song to my whole life. I was constantly waiting for the shoe to drop. I worried about everything and that fear snowball had started to suffocate me.
Life has so many variables and my inability to manage them all had become glaringly obvious.
I realized my fear was rooted in the idea that I maybe, just maybe, I could control outcomes and prevent tragedy. As I loosened my grip, the fear began to life and it deepened my trust in God as my provider of peace in all circumstances.
The same went for every physical item I was holding on to. I was able to let go and bless others with what I’d been richly given because I knew my needs would be met, just as they always have.
Learning to be fully Present
Life seems to go by in phases. I kind of view the phases of my life as: prior to college, then marriage, before my first child, then my second, then my third. Previous stages allowed for more free time than the next, but I can’t say that during the earlier stages I was more present than the next.
Looking back, I’ve never been a very good steward of my time. I mean, I did a wonderful job of filling that time, but I think I was always planning for the next phase. How tragic is a life spent always looking to what’s next or what was in the past.
Simplifying my life, from appointments to belongings, has helped me make tremendous strides in being free to soak up each moment. Even if those moments are hiding in the laundry room, with a child crying on the other side of the door, so that I can just finish scheduling the carpet cleaner. I certainly don’t always enjoy those kind of moments, but they are my moments and I want them.
You will never be able to buy enough stuff to free you from wanting more stuff.
It always seemed normal to me that we would constantly doing some kind of home improvement project, upgrading our phones, or buying new back packs for each new school year.
Contentment was a struggle for me and I didn’t even know it. We won’t wake up one day and just have it either. We must choose it, look for it, practice it.
Besides, how can we possibly be present if we are never satisfied with where we’re at?
The “stuff” side of minimalism is just the tip of the iceberg. As you peel away the layers and let go of your excess, you just may find more than you ever thought possible.
For more inspiration
Declutter Your Life
It’s time to stop managing our families and start leading them!
2 years ago I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I had no capacity to mom on purpose.
Living with less has gifted me time, space and some much needed perspective of what truly matters most. Below is the link to my FREE Beginner’s Declutter Like a Minimalist Guidebook. It takes a deeper look at the 7 Steps to getting started highlighted in my popular post, Declutter Like a Minimalist.