This month I wanted to tackle a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time: living a more minimalistic lifestyle. I tend to be more of a long winded writer so I’m going to do my absolute best in this post to write with minimalism in mind and keep it streamlined…here goes nothing!
I remember our foray into a more minimalistic lifestyle quite clearly - Mike and I had gotten back from a wonderful weeklong vacation in N. Myrtle Beach in May of 2017. I always suffer from the "post vacation blues" but this time it seemed there was more to my unhappiness. I felt like the walls of the condo were closing in on me and had the strangest sense that everything was all wrong. I honestly can't even put it into words. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our condo. It was our first home together and full of memories. However, while we were living there, we had no clear idea of what our next move would be. As a result we found ourselves accepting all sorts of hand me downs or things we thought we would use in the future. It started to feel like our home wasn't our own. As cliché as it might sound, I felt like there wasn’t any sense of fung shui and that the energy was stale. I was yearning for a change, but I didn’t know what it might look like. I just knew something had to give.
Mike and I got "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Book of Decluttering and Organizing" book by Marie Kondo. The whole philosophy is rooted in the notion that you should only keep belongings that "spark joy" and that you truly connect with (or are absolutely necessary), everything else can be thanked and sent on its way. You'll find that this process is actually quite intuitive. And going back a sentence, yes, I said you were supposed to thank your belongings. The book actually encourages you to touch each item that you are organizing and if it doesn't truly add joy or purpose to your life to thank it and then give it away. I thought it sounded absolutely insane at first too, but it is actually quite powerful…and gratifying. Many items served a particular purpose in our lives but are no longer relevant. It is not necessary to hang on to all of your possessions. When going through this processes we donated every single item that we could. It was extremely rewarding to know that clothes, books, supplies, knick-knacks, you name it would go to someone less fortunate than us, someone truly in need. I don't think anyone who had visited our home would have thought we had too many things or a cluttered space, but we ended up donating 5 pick-up truckloads of things in the span of a weekend! We simply couldn't believe it. I don't want to focus on the in's and out's of her process and how to do it...for that you can simply check out her website and lifestyle brand at: https://konmari.com
The other big aspect of all of this is the focus that each and every item deserves it's own place and your home and life should be surrounded by the items that mean the most to you. This mirrors exactly how I feel about the people in my life - I'd rather have a few close friends that I absolutely adore then a bunch that I only kind of like. Additionally, instead of spending our money on things, we chose to spend it on travel. The world is so big and we are here for such a small amount of time, we want to explore as much as we possibly can. And rather than stress over presents for each other we instead go out for a nice meal, go on an excursion, or plan a trip. After all, as my mom loves to say, "what is life without memories?"
We ended up relocating to a 650 square foot apartment this past May. On top of the 5 truckloads we had already gotten rid of, we easily got rid of another 5 truckloads of stuff plus 2 entire rooms worth of furniture and things. In our new apartment we have one closet (aside from the semi-closet that our washer and drier is in) and it's not a walk-in. We lost our linen closet. We lost our pantry. We lost the room for a second dresser and a second closet (sorry Mike...but the Ikea wardrobe has worked just fine!) We lost the kitchen table. But what we gained was so much more. I instantly felt freer, Much less confined. I saw a decrease in my anxiety and an increase in my happiness. We have floor to ceiling windows and a beautiful view. This is truly the most content I have been in quite some time. Every aspect of our quality of life has increased. Our home truly reflects our personalities and showcases the things that are most important to us. Within the first two months of moving in all of my family and our best friends came to visit. Our space couldn’t have possibly been fuller of love.
Ironically, we also parted ways with the pickup truck that we had owned for 5 years and was the driving force in accomplishing our decluttering. Although we didn’t plan it this way, we are now a one car household. At first this seemed insurmountable, but it has actually been wonderful. Our stress levels are down. Our financial status is up. Our environmental impact is down. We are truly loving the one-car lifestyle and are lucky to have access to nearby public transportation.
So…what else might you gain by adopting a more minimalistic lifestyle? As I said above, a sense of freedom. More time on your hands to pursue your passions. Less to clean. Less stress. Financial well-being. An improvement in your mental state. Room to grow. Not feeling tethered to the past. The list goes on and on.
As I close out this post I'll leave you with another great resource: The Minimalists. You can check out their website here: https://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/ and also find them on social media. As the minimalists so eloquently put it, "Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution." And as one of my best friends (& the one who took the picture I used in this post) said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” I couldn’t agree more!