Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sudden Desire for Minimalism

So throughout this entire process of changing our lives, creating a life more centered around Christ and His desire for our lives we've found ourselves doing everything possible to simplify in so many ways. The biggest is that we've downsized our home. We had our dream home and it turns out, that dreams when envisioned don't give you all the details and it was actually more of a nightmare. Jason was stuck in his job with no way out, our budget although loser than it ever was in California was still really tight, we couldn't keep the house full enough or clean enough and we felt major guilt every time some one made the comment about how well we must be doing to have such a plush home.

I have always found myself liking things simple. The less detail there is about things the more you are capable of noticing, enjoying, loving, learning and enduring the main focus (sometimes good, sometimes bad). This may have to do a lot with my upbringing and not having a lot of things. You know children identify their life based on the things they have, they are very tangible beings in some ways. However, I find myself now, many blessed years out of my bare childhood with so much stuff that even when we cut our belongings in half you can't hardly notice a difference.

Despite our smaller home and less belongings I still find it difficult to keep the house clean, not everything in our home has a place to go and so we have clutter. I think we had that problem before in our dream home but with so much space it was easier to stick things in this closet or that cupboard without noticing how much crap we really had. I should have noticed that when we moved and it required 1.5 loads of the biggest U-haul truck they have!!!!

And please don't think I'm a pack rat because I really do give things away all the time. We've had 1 donation truck come to our new house to pick up things, 1 yard sale that made us a nice wad of cash, and now 3 full van load trips to the salvation army. We've gotten rid of so much and here I sit still with toys strewn everywhere, piles of stuff on my kitchen counter tops, our art center spilling over and our desks piled inches high with stuff (both important & unimportant) and our closets full to capacity. I secretly dream of figuring out how to create future projects of utilizing the closet spaces more efficiently and of remodeling the kitchen to add more useful storage. But I think it's time to be realistic.

Today I have the desire to go through and get rid of it all!! I have several large empty boxes that we just received full of wonderful surprises that we have yet to open and will need to find a home for in just a few days and ALL of our cabinets and closets are full. There is no where for anything else to go. I have plans and want to get on with updating this house so it can feel like our new dream home as we continue to live intentionally. I think I will not allow this project to overshadow Christmas and the season and our opportunities to spend intentional time with others over the next two weeks, but I would like to start the new year fresh & ready.

My e-mails will be something that I purge also as I've signed up for a few too many junk notifications but one came across my screen this morning that I find very helpful for this current desire.

You might want to be a Minimalist if...

1. you spend too much time cleaning?

2. you are trying to get out of debt?

3. there is too much stress in your life?

4. you would like more time in your day?

5. you are environmentally conscious?

6. you are frugal?

7. you enjoy financially supporting other causes?

8. there are things you value more than material possessions?

9. you are not afraid of change?

10. your life is too valuable to live like everyone else?

Well, I'm pleased to report that we aren't in debt other than our house and we are planning to pay that off before the scheduled 15 year note. But I'm disappointed to say I'm not nearly as frugal as I should be. I've allowed my whims and desires to take over me this Christmas. I've again gone overboard and bought too much, planned too much, crafted too much, even baked too much. All to enjoy the season. I dream right now about what a minimalist Christmas would look like and how if I had stuck to the plan of getting each child 3-4 small things (allowing their grandparents to spoil them) they'd still have more than most children could ever dream of. I worry a little this Christmas that even though they understand we are celebrating our King's entry into the world that they only associate that with lavish gifts that unintentionally overshadow Christ.

After I say that I think about how much I really wanted to go to Disney for Christmas next year. I think, or hope rather, a minimalist would say that's ok, but then no presents. Can I do that? I will have to take that challenge seriously and not sneakily purchase gifts while grocery shopping or justify it with they have to have something under the tree. They will have something under the tree, there are many people that love my children with gifts. Will it allow them to focus on the meaning of Christmas building a great memory in the process? Maybe as a family we will have people we can focus some of that energy and resources on to satisfy our desire to give and love this time of year. The options do seem endless.

Ultimately, in living a minimalist life I think we will begin to remove the unneeded things (something we are already trying to do with our activities and interactions). As a result, we should hope to find space to intentionally promote the things we most value and remove anything that distracts us from it. I guess it's time to start filling those big empty boxes now=D And who knows, maybe this will even convince Jason to clean off his desk (/laugh!).


  1. We are trying to minimalize's kinda scary, kinda exciting. =o) I can say yes to almost every one of those things on the list!!