Sunday, May 3, 2015

Embracing Minimalism and Letting Go of a Cluttered Life

I have been reading a free ebook by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, better known as The Mininalists. Perhaps it's because May is my birthday month or I am just feeling a need for letting go and moving on from many aspects of my past, but I have embraced the minimalist philosophy with an almost obsession. How else am I going to downsize to a tiny home? And do I really want my children going through boxes of crap 40 some years from now after I am gone wondering what the heck I was thinking keeping all of that?

Minimalism isn't to be tackled overnight. It is probably going to take me the entire summer, a couple yard sales several trips to the donation drop box, and lots of trips to the recycling bin to get rid of all the stuff I no longer want to carry around with me. Today I threw away a broken carousel horse from high school prom 30 years ago, recycled old play bills and movie tickets, anniversary cards from my first marriage, and letters from people who I don't even remember anymore. I still need to go through stacks of handwritten poetry and photographs taken before digital became the preferred imaging device. Then there is the rest of the house to sort through...

What is minimalism, anyway?

To me, it is a welcome remedy from the uber consumer driven culture we have created. It's a lifestyle placing more value on time and people than on stuff and "keeping up with the Jones's". For a single mom like me, it means taking a lower paying teaching job at a small private school in exchange for more time with my kids and grandkids. It means no car payments in lieu of that new car smell. It means having less stuff equals having less burdens to carry. Less to maintain, less to have to work for, yet more time to spend how ever you wish, with who ever you desire. 

In a way I have already been living a minimalist life. Like I have mentioned before, I haven't had a TV in years. I purchase nearly all of my clothes at thrift stores. But I still feel like I have too much stuff. Nostalgia is not necessarily a bad thing, but when you carry a broken horse around for 30 years in a box of other "mementos" gathering dust in a bin in the garage, it is time to let go.

Embracing minimalism is the art of letting go of all the things holding you down, letting go of the layers of your life that no longer matter. 

Not to say that it is easy. Letting go rarely is. The hardest for me has been culling my books down to a more manageable library. I love my books, but it no longer serves me to hold on to books I will never again read. I will also hold on to my mountaineering boots a little bit longer. One day I may be ready to say goodbye to them, but they symbolize the strength I have within me. The day I summited a mountain changed me forever, and I am not quite ready to forget that even though I don't know if I will ever wear them again.

I'll continue to write about my journey with minimalism from time to time as I progress. I feel like it is going to be very profound and freeing. I'd love to hear from others who have jumped in with both feet. How did you overcome challenges? Or, if you are just getting started, what propelled you?