Minimizing: On the Path to Living with Less

Since the beginning of summer, the idea of minimizing has piqued my interest. I think it all started when the Rowdy boys began destroying toy after toy. And with the toys they did have, they’d pile them all into a corner of the playroom just to see how high they could be stacked. Cleaning up the playroom and tossing broken toys was a daily battle for a while. Then I got smart (aka fed up), and I rummaged through all the toys one afternoon and threw away all broken toys and set aside others to donate. It was liberating to have less stuff and less mess, and to be honest, the boys didn’t miss those toys a bit. Instead, they’ve gotten even more creative and have constructed airplanes and bulldozers out of cardboard boxes (before recycling them and getting them out of my house, woohoo!). They’ve wrestled more and played tag more and played with Scarlett more and escaped on pirate pretending adventures more.

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After the playroom success, I started applying this downsizing notion to our whole house, because if there is any chance of our RV fantasy coming to fruition next year, we’d have to purge to the extreme anyway. James and I cleaned out our master closet and donated what felt like 100 pounds of clothing to a local Christian thrift store. I actually tried to consign some of my clothes, but apparently I’m out of touch with current style trends, imagine that!

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A couple weeks ago, I learned of a yard sale fundraiser for a great cause and donated a ton more stuff to it. And you know what? It feels great. It feels great to give away all my extra stuff to help others, but it also feels good just to live with less. It feels great not to waste a shelf in my cabinet dedicated to 20 wine glasses we’ll never need. It feels great to have less stuff piled high and hidden away in closets. It feels great to have one less unimportant thing to worry about.

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Minimizing seems to be quite popular as of late. Capsule wardrobes and KonMari converts are everywhere I look. And though I haven’t read the book or pared my wardrobe down to 33 items, I can’t say I won’t soon. Of course, I’m a work in progress because I caught myself in a moment last week when I thought that I had nothing to wear to church. Because in my mind, the four warm-weather church clothing options that I have pared my closet down to made it seem like I had nothing to wear. Because I had worn ‘that dress’ to church three weeks ago. In actuality, I had nothing NEW to wear to church, which is actually the point because in the process of minimizing I’m also focusing on not buying new stuff. It’s so hard to break free from a buying and owning mentality that has been decades in the making.

I have a long way to go before I’m considered a minimalist. My house is still filled with plenty of stuff that isn’t necessary for day-to-day existence. I still get my wants mixed up with my needs. I still worry if people will notice if I wear the same four outfits to church each month. I still wonder if I should have saved those 20 wine glasses because we might possibly one day have another dinner party and need to use them.

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But I’m learning that minimizing is different for everyone and I’m just starting to wade in its waters. I’m beginning my minimizing journey by pruning all our current stuff, because it’s the low-hanging fruit and I can see and feel big changes quickly. Less stuff means less chores and less upkeep, less cleaning and less tidying. It means less clutter for my house and therefore, less clutter for my mind. It means I have more time to focus on the things that matter most to me instead of wasting time maintaining too much stuff. It means I can leave all my stuff behind for the day to take my kids on a hike, to visit the library, to play at a park. It means I can spend more time freelancing or blogging or baking or exploring or serving others or working out. Because, theoretically, if you make space, you make time.

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Once I make it through the pruning stage, which has been easier than I anticipated (so far), I’ll focus whole-heartedly on the buy less stage, which is much harder to overcome considering that purchasing power is at our fingertips and every ad campaign tells us we want and even need at least one of everything. Then it’s on to figuring out how to embrace simplicity in other aspects of life so I can focus on spending quality time with my kids and family, investing more in relationships, and serving others and better utilizing my God-given gifts.

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