Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple Living

As we finished off our holiday leftovers in the fridge, returned the unwanted gifts from each other and watched our Christmas tree wilt before our eyes, I finally had some time to sit down and reflect on this past year.  It was one of the slowest years I’ve experienced, maybe because there was so much that happened, most of which required a lot of faith and patience.

One concept Simon and I inadvertently adopted in the year 2011 was the act of minimalist living. Maybe because we’ve moved a grand total of 5 times during our 7 years of marriage, but the idea of having more useless things to lug around became extremely unappealing.  My goal going into the New Year is to clear all the clutter that can stifle my creativity, and make my life chaotic and discordant and make space for more beautiful and harmonious things. I want a lifestyle where I’m not attached to my possessions and if I have to pick up and leave, I can do so. I love the quote, “It is desirable that a man lie in all respects so compactly and preparedly that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety. “

In my opinion, minimalist living does not happen over night, it is rather a refining process.  Being a minimalist certainly does not mean to deprive yourself of what you love, throw out everything in your house or give up all your hobbies. It is about taking pleasure in more than just your material wealth, making every item that enters your household earn their spot, thinking twice, 5, 10 times before purchasing something from a store, being generous with your time and possessions, putting others above yourself.  Allow meaningful things, friends, family into your life. Clear out the garbage that enters your daily routine, invest in people who are willing to invest in you.  Be of value to others. None of this can be achieved when your life is full of clutter.

As we made our big move across the country this past year, Simon and I spent so much time figuring out what to do with our unwanted goods. “Should we sell it?” “Should we re-gift it?” “Should we donate it?” “Do you think this person is going to want it? “ “WHAT!!! You’re throwing that away???” “But we spent so much money on it!!!”  At the end, we just laugh at the amount of time and brain cells we dedicated to discussing our unwanted goods.

The older I get, the less I want and the smaller home I want. I used to desire a huge house, nicely furnished and a basement to store all my junk. Now I’d love to have a house that actually had little storage so I can’t inadvertently hide clutter. The less possessions we have, the less time, money and energy we need to devote to it.  It frees our time to do more meaningful activities. "Remove the extraneous to reveal the extraordinary"

I recently read the Kindle edition of “Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify”.  I’d call it an easy read, big impact type of book. She makes such great points that could potentially be life changing.

Here are just some points from miss minimalist that I thought was neat:
-       - Seek beauty in nature, rather than in stores

-       - Appreciate things without owning them

-       - Go with the flow, don’t control events, things, or people in your life with an iron fist. Let things happen of their own accord.

-       - A melody depends on every note being in the right place. Similarly, having designated spots for all your things makes your daily life much more harmonious.

-       - Think of every possession, every activity, every moment of your life as a note in your symphony. When a musician composes a song, he doesn’t fill it with as many notes as possible – instead, he carefully chooses just enough to make a pleasing melody.

-       - A musician, artist, or writer constantly edits her work, removing the extraneous to reveal the extraordinary. In your own life, always be on the lookout for ways you can simply.

-       - Every item in your home, and task in your day, should contribute something of value to your life. If something does nothing more than take up space, show it the door.

-       - As minimalists, we strive to be butterflies – living as lightly, gracefully and beautifully as possible. We want to flit through life with little baggage, unencumbered by excess stuff. Any excess baggage on a butterfly would only weigh them down.

-       - “It is better for you to be free of fear lying upon a bed of straw, than to have a golden couch and a lavish table and be full of trouble” - Epicurus
La- Lastly, my favorite quote from her book:
“I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough” - Diogenes


lynno said...

Thanks for sharing Jenny! Hope you're doing well. I think I'll do a major purge sometime soon. I did a first one for my wardrobe a few months back and actually felt like I had more clothes because I had less to go through to find items :)

glimmmers said...

Amen and Amen! We're slowly purging also, it does make like so much lighter and I feel freer to do things we really want to. :) I'm afraid it might be hard to be total minimalist while having kids. ;)

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