What Minimalism Has Taught Me
I've learned a lot from embracing minimalism. It has taught me so much. More than I ever imagined. What began as getting rid of clutter in the house and things we weren't using in the garage became something totally different. I did a search one time about downsizing life and belongings based on something Dane said to me. From the first conversation with him forward, we changed our entire lifestyle. Sometimes something so unexpected creates such an amazing result. That internet search sent me on a journey to know what minimalism really was, how it worked, and how it could potentially change our lives for the better.
I've "met" (online) people I didn't know, I changed so much in our home, my mindset, social media, the blogs I follow, how I spend my time and where I focus my attention. I am much happier, much less stressed, more organized in my thoughts, and deliberate in my relationships. My long term goals have been re-identified, I strive harder in my desire to have no debt, to retire, to spend time doing things I love to do. I still don't know how it works exactly, or how to explain it. It's kind of like anything else you've never done. Describe the feeling a woman will have after having a child. Explain what salt tastes like to someone who's never tasted it. You really just have to trust in the journey and go for it. I had nothing to lose (except the stuff I didn't want or need) and I wanted a change in our lifestyle so badly that it seemed like a good option. I'd capped out in the stress department, spent hours cleaning and organizing, and felt overwhelmed. I took the leap because any option seemed better than how we were living. I heard it described as feeling lighter and certainly, that's true.
Here are just a few ways minimizing has taught me something.
The habit to minimize email, Facebook, and other social media is ongoing but worth it. Open, scroll, unsubscribe, and enjoy what remains is my new mantra. I unsubscribe from email more than I thought I would on an ongoing basis, but it's worth it. I unfollow anyone on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc... that is posting things I'm uninterested in. It's amazing how negativity and just plain crap sneaks in there. Initially getting it done wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Staying on top of it is worth the small amount of time. It takes far less time to look at social media now because there is so much less to look at.
I'm not as sentimental about things as I thought I was. It really is the memory that's important - the moments surrounding the "thing". I took pictures of the things that were more difficult to sell or donate and once I knew I had the photo as a reminder, letting go was easy. I may not even look at the pictures, it's the calm you get from knowing they're there if that makes sense. What I kept shines through now, and those are the things I love most anyway. Unload, unload, unload. I love coming home, cleaning is far easier and clutter isn't invading my life. I have more time to spend doing what I want because the things I didn't want to do (cleaning, organizing) take so little time now.
I love an adventure, I love revisiting the memories of said adventure and I love looking at the pictures. I'm so glad our kids want no Christmas presents because the trips we take and the things we do together are so much more fun. Minimizing was also a reminder that travel is top on my list of things I want to do. Hello? Did I forget who I was along the way? Yes. I did. We get caught up in cooking, cleaning, working, kids, appointments, stress. By removing so much of what was causing stress in my life, by streamlining and minimizing, I could focus more on my family, the love of my life, and myself. With the stress decreased, I remembered the things I really do enjoy. Adventures are the things we remember from the 12-mile trail run and conversation I had yesterday with Lisa to date nights to family vacations.
When I need to buy something, I buy it. When I want something, I save it and let the thought simmer. I looked through purchases on eBay for the last two years to see what I still have and use. There was a little of everything - things I kept and got rid of. I'm more mindful about what I want now and I take a lot more time deciding. I also get higher quality, so saving takes a bit more time. That means I have time to change my mind. I allow myself to percolate on what I want in the hope that I make fewer (or no) unwanted purchases. I also need and want less. Minimizing does feel lighter and you come to realize things aren't what makes you happy so I don't try to fill a void. I need sheets, so I'll buy them.
I love fashion and I love to shop. That's not something I need to give up. It needed to change, though. Now I have a system. If I purchase something, I let something go. As I replace the clothes that I have, I buy up and am replacing them with something of better quality. There are some things that I love and I won't replace and others I'm willing to change out. I'm sure my love of fashion will mean that I switch things out maybe a little more often than other minimalists, but maybe not. Recently on date night, Dane decided to go to the mall. Generally a place I avoid like the plague. He wanted me to go into stores and show him the things I like. I'm not good at that, but finally, I decided the hell with it and brought him to Express. This is shopping heaven to me. We had a blast and I showed him all the things I would grab and try on. That doesn't equate to purchasing - even if I had tried everything on. Generally, as a woman I spend a lot of time trying things on, but it means I don't get things I don't love. Plus, I shop with a purpose. What am I replacing? Where are there gaps in my clothing? It was fun to look and walk away. I shop now for things that are needed or bring me joy. Clothes fall into both categories but I can still stay minimized and not gluttonous.
The things I forgot I liked, I really like. Who knew? Renting movies, following a couple of shows, writing, running, date night, chatting with the kids, cooking. It's not just those bigger things, though, it's the little things. That dark chocolate peanut butter bar from Seattle Chocolate I love, tea, making cookies. Little things I didn't even think about because I was overwhelmed with crap I hated. Date night is something I look forward to - it shouldn't be something that gets checked off the list. It should be savored and enjoyed. I'm very mindful of the time I spend and how I spend it. And I no longer feel guilty when I plop myself on the couch to watch a movie and wiggle my feet under Dane's legs. I savor it.
Minimizing allowed me to let go of emotional baggage. Weird sounding perhaps. Getting rid of all the unwanted social media was a start. Negativity drags me down. It doesn't matter if it's a family member or someone from when I was in school. If they are negative, they aren't on my social media. Having less stuff and less stress and more time and more energy means I actually focused on even my thoughts, actions, and memories. I don't want my emotional baggage to drag down my current relationships that are positive. That crap belongs where it is - in the past. It's amazing how my mindset changed and how much we allow in our lives that we really don't want. I started writing more and some of it is about my past. Healing is great, sharing your struggles in the hopes it helps someone else is great. Allowing it to hurt the good things you've got going on is counterproductive. Let stuff go. In all areas of your life.