A few weeks ago, while cruising through Flipboard I came across a new to me magazine titled Minimalist Living. To be honest I am not sure if it is an actual magazine or a collection of blogs dedicated to living a minimalist lifestyle.
The articles talk about everything from living with less, to finding peace within. Each article reminds readers that we are more than what we possess. Admittedly some articles do not seem to have anything to do with being a minimalist, but they do offer insights into better living. One, titled Give it five minutes, is a lesson on taking a deep breath before acting. The author, Joshua Becker, shares his past as a hothead and how he learned to rein in his knee jerk reactions. He has learned to be calmer and think before he acts. Becker shows us there are many ways to simplify our lives.
Since I found the iPad magazine I started to notice other sites that talked about living minimally. Just a few days ago The Huffington Post had an article on the subject. The comment section was laugh out loud funny (like most comment boards). Some people boasted of giving it all up, moving into their back yards and foraging for food, while others whined they just wanted more counter space. The majority of the comments talked about how hard it would be to give their beloved knick knacks up even as they feel overwhelmed with all the stuff in their homes. Giving up stuff is not as hard as you may imagine, it is keeping things from sneaking back in that tests our commitment to minimalist living. Yes, I said our, because you see, I am in the minimalist camp.
3 1/2 years ago (how time flies) I was rushed to the emergency room on a Friday morning and spent 4 days in intensive care with congestive heart failure. The doctors decided I needed a pacemaker and when that did not help, I was sent home to prepare for major heart surgery and to possibly prepare for the inevitable. I was born with a congenital heart condition that may not allow me to live a long life, on the other hand, I have lived a lot longer than predicted at my birth.
Lying in bed a few nights after coming home the thought of death kept me awake. I have a son and mother whom I love very much. As my thoughts drifted to them, it occurred to me that if I died, they would be tasked with cleaning out my house. The more I thought about this, the worse I felt. How could I ask these two grieving people to clean out my junk? I mental walked through my house, looking in closets and drawers. I always prided myself on not having a house full of stuff, but the more I mentally took my tour, the more I realized I hold on to some rather silly stuff; did I really need a pink piggy bank with sunglasses?
For the next week I went on a purging spree. I started with the top shelves of my bedroom closets and ended with my over stuffed junk drawers. My son followed me from room to room as I asked, “do you want this, does this mean anything to you”? “Ah, no”? was his bewildered reply. Many things he did not want went to Goodwill, some went in the trash, and to my neighbors surprise, many went out in to the driveway in boxes marked Free.
As I decluttered my house, I found my mind becoming clear, and as I found space in my home, I found space in my heart and mind. When I was done I realized I felt lighter, I had no idea i was mentally carrying so much! The things I kept were things that meant a lot to me. Now as I tour my home, I look upon my stuff fondly. Everything has a purpose, even it that purpose is nothing more than to make me smile.
I still have a long way to go. Walking in my garage is almost as bad as walking into hoarder’s house. I have way to many Christmas decorations, even after giving my son two boxes for his first apartment. I have stuff I could not get rid of. Who would guess it would be so hard to sell a swimming pool filter in a state that hits over 105 degrees all summer? When did I become that person who keeps empty boxes?
Getting rid of my stuff was easy, keeping it out, now that is the hard part. My mother tried to give me yet more Christmas decorations, but I was able to say no, even though she has some great stuff! I no longer haunt garage sales and stay clear of clearance sales. Yes it is hard to keep things from trying to come in, I better read some more articles.