This quote explains the basis of why I am minimalist. I want what surrounds me in my home to be supporting who I am and who I want to become.
I’ll start with my kitchen for an example. If I walk into a dirty kitchen with dishes and clutter all over the counter, I’m not going to want to cook myself a healthy meal. I’m going to pick up the phone and have pizza delivered. And then hopefully I can clean up the kitchen so that tomorrow I can be more healthy. But probably I’m just going to be so stressed out and down on myself about it that I’m just going to gorge on the pizza and a bottle of wine and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy and mope about it until tomorrow. So that’s the mess from my past cluttering me up from being the healthy eater and person that I want to be now and grow into in the future.
The same idea applies to my closet. If I come home from work ready to change and go for a run, but all my clothes are dirty, and everything is piled up all over my room, that’s a major deterrent. I can’t find my tennis shoes, who knows where they are, one’s over here, where’s the other one, looking all over the house, then I’m not going to go for a run because it would take me 3 hours of work just to be able to change clothes and go. I want to be able to come home, have all my running clothes and shoes within reach, and head out the door joyfully with no stress. So I want my home to support the healthy person that I want to be, not all the ghosts of workouts past.
I also want my home to be a place that inspires my children’s creativity. When my son walks into the living room wanting to read a book and draw a picture, he can’t because all of yesterday’s toys are everywhere. He can’t find a book, and there’s nowhere to sit to read one anyway. Where’s the paper? Where’s the crayons? Everything’s scattered everywhere.
I want my daughter to be able to walk in and say, “Oh my gosh, look at all these great Legos! I feel like building something!” But she can’t when the Legos are scattered 1 over here, 5 over there, and 10 more over there. And not only that but there’s like 30 toys that she doesn’t even care about thrown everywhere in the way of the Lego. She just threw them everywhere the last time she was looking for that one toy she really wanted.
I want to get rid of all those 30 toys they don’t care about so that when they walk in, there’s Legos sitting there inspiring them to build. There’s books sitting there wanting to be pulled off the shelf and read. There’s paper and crayons ready for drawing. Get rid of all the bells and whistles baby toys everywhere so that there’s room for who they are now and who they want to become.
Give those toys to somebody who needs them now and make space for them to be who they are now and grow into who they are becoming. And with kids, that is an ongoing process, because every time you get your house set up for who they are now, that only lasts for a couple of months before they hit a new stage and everything changes and you need to get it reorganized and reset up for the next stage.
So I learned to have methods put in place like before their birthday we would purge things. And I made it into more of a sorting game. Wait until their room is good and messy and they ask, “Mom can we go to the toy store and buy a new toy?”
”Sure we can! Let’s just clean up your room first to make room for a new toy!”
As we’re picking up a toy that doesn’t have a home, we would put it into 1 of 3 piles:
- stuff that we play with every day,
- stuff we don’t play with much anymore,
- stuff we don’t want anymore.
And the stuff that is played with every day would have a designated home prominently with in arms reach. Stuff we don’t play with much anymore gets put in a box in the closet. Stuff we don’t want gets boxed up and put into the trunk to get dropped off at Goodwill on the way to the toy store. If the stuff boxed up in the closet hasn’t been touched by the next sort, it goes right to the trunk with the donations.
Now that my kids have moved to college, I continue to downsize and downsize and downsize. I still have goals for my future. I have a goal to move to New York, live in a faculty dorm, and work for a college as a travelling staff developer. So I am downsizing to an amazing degree. And it feels so good. I feel like every step in my minimalism journey has been preparing me for this next goal.
As much as my kids want me to, I don’t aspire to be a storage unit container and monitor, or a full time historian and caretaker of all their memories. I want to take that stuff, put it in storage for their future home, and my home now can support who I am now and who I’m growing to be.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on your own journey through clutter, here are my top 3 recommendations:
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – What inspires me most about this book is the focus on joy. Analyzing the vibe something gives you. Getting rid of anything with less than joyful vibes raises the vibration of your home. I often pick a chapter to re-read when I need some motivation. It’s a constant reference for me. I would suggest starting any minimalism or even just decluttering journey with Marie Kondo.
Be More With Less – Courtney Carver – Project 333 – The reason I love this website so much is because it gave me permission to just wear my favorite things all the time. You know you have those 2-3 favorite outfits that you just feel so good in. For some reason, we just save those favorites for something really special. The Project 333 gave me permission to wear those favorite things all the time. I made those favorites what I wear most days. The just that I put aside, boxed up, I ended up getting rid of and buying a couple of things similar to my favorites so I could feel that good every day. I don’t count anymore, but my wardrobe fits in a tiny little closet. It is probably very close to 333 because I only keep my very favorites. And that goes for workout clothes, pajamas, swimsuits, everything. If it’s not my favorite, I tend to move it to a “just in case” drawer, then at the end of every season, whatever stayed there needs to go away.
Becoming Minimalist – Joshua Becker – This website tells the ongoing story of a family‘s journey. He is married and had kids and it’s a family mission for them. They all buy into it and they all agree.
That was not the case with me, so I read it kind of with envy of how a family could take this journey together because they could all see the benefits of it.
The thing that strikes me is that my family always enjoyed going on vacations together, especially to Austin. We called our favorite hotel our Austin house. I would discuss with them how one reason we loved it so much there was that without all the clutter of home, we could just come “home” to relax and shower and rest in between fun. It was small, so we were always together. I would try to point out that’s why I loved minimalism was so that the vacation lifestyle could be our lifestyle all the time. If we didn’t have all the clutter in the way, we wouldn’t need a bigger house. We could live like we were on vacation all the time. They didn’t buy into that . . . .
Minimalism is definitely a journey and not a destination. It’s one I enjoy. Thank you for sharing part of the journey with me today.