My Journey to Minimalism

by - 8:00 AM

In yesterday's post, I briefly mentioned my recent transition into a [semi-]minimalist lifestyle. Adopting principles from this kind of lifestyle has helped to simplify my life in ways I did not expect, but I sure enjoy and appreciate.

Before we go any further, I wish to explain what minimalism actually is, or at least what my version of it is: a minimalist lifestyle consists of living life with intention. "Living with less, consuming less, and using what I have more" that's the way Sarah Therese (one of my fav. YouTubers) puts it and I'm all about it. I'm not talking about extreme minimalism, that would be too... well, extreme for me. I still have a bed and a kitchen table and all of your basic household items. I simply choose to have things that simplify my life, rather than complicate it. The purpose is to have more of what matters, and less of what doesn't. Less clutter, less duplicates, less stress.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Hayden started researching the minimalist lifestyle shortly after we were married. I would roll my eyes at every YouTube video and every podcast he would play. He wanted me to start getting into it and I was far from interested. I couldn't live without my 6 spatulas and 13 Bath and Body Works candles! How dare he suggest such an outrageous thing!

However, in January of 2019, I set a small handful of goals for myself that I would like to achieve throughout that year. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and listened to several podcasts (sound familiar?) about zero waste, clean eating, budgeting, and lots of other things. As I did that, I realized that this "minimalist" thing my husband had tried to explain to me went hand-in-hand with a lot of what I was already trying to achieve, and it became more and more appealing to me.

Let me back track for a minute. I grew up with a family of seven. I also feel like its worth mentioning that we always had pets. Like multiple all at once. So needless to say, we always had a lot of stuff. That 6 spatula thing? Yeah, that stems from my upbringing. I mean with 5 kids who can blame a person for having a lot of duplicates? Especially in the kitchen. (Dishes, am I right?) But in my case, I didn't need lots of extras. I don't need any at all, really. 

In addition to the big family thing, I think that a lot of us in this generation are still recovering from our ancestor's habits they developed during/after the Great Depression. I remember when both of my grandmothers passed away, we spent days going through their things, and I know there's still more to sift through to this day. Again, who could blame them? Their parents lived through a time of not having much at all, so once they got out of it, they started keeping anything and everything they could, "just in case". And understandably so. These habits were passed down to my grandparents, then my grandparents' children, and now to me and my siblings. 

While I believe it is important to keep a stock of the essentials for those "just in case" times, I personally don't find it necessary to have a box full of empty picture frames, or a drawer full of multiple notebooks and 50 different pens. Like I mentioned here, we don't need to hold on to numerous cereal bowls in a house of two people, and we don't need a whole collection of cookbooks that we only hold on to for one or two recipes.

I've collected a lot of items throughout my life that I've intended to use for my future"forever" home. I've collected throw pillows, signs, technological gadgets, and so much more. When we got married, Hayden and I sifted through so much of it and got rid of the vast majority. The thing is, fads fade. Your personal style changes. And thank goodness for both of those or we would all still be walking around with gauchos and those dangly sequin purses from 2005. By all means, hold on to special keepsakes and mementos, and don't feel guilty about storing a few items away for the future (just don't forget about them!), but don't bulk up on too much of it. 

We're all guilty of accidentally stocking up on duplicates--seasonings and spices, condiments, makeup... I mean, I can't even count how many lipsticks I used to own in the same shade. Simply because I forgot I had one (or seven) at home already. And I think the reason that happens is because we don't use what we have. And then when we do bring home a duplicate, we rarely take it back to the store, or gift it to someone else. So it piles up in our closets and cabinets, it travels with us from house to house, and continues to take up space in our homes for years until we find it later and oh look, now it's expired. Wasted money, my friends. And not only money, but time spent organizing, cleaning, and packing.

When I came home from my mission, I literally spent one whole FULL day going through the 6 boxes of clothes I had packed up prior to leaving. And you know what I did with 80% of it? Took it to Goodwill. A lot of it had gone out of style, didn't fit me, or I just never really wore it to begin with. So I spent hours, days even, packing and unpacking and sorting through clothes that deep down, I had no intention of keeping. Then on top of that, my family moved in the middle of my mission, so they had to lift and transport those heavy boxes of fabric from one house to another (which was probably one load in itself in their car; what a waste), and store it until my arrival. Sorry Mom & Dad. 

One motivator for getting rid of so many things is that Hayden and I have big plans to move in the near future and we know that we won't need all of these things where we're going, and we don't want to spend the money it would take to pack it and ship it, either by mail or via U-Haul. That stuff gets expensive. And when its something that is so replaceable and has zero emotional attachment to you, its easy to get rid of.

Another big bonus is the shortened cleaning time! When you have fewer dishes, it takes less time to wash them. Yes, you have to wash them more frequently, but for me, it's a motivator to continue to keep my kitchen clean and ready to use so I don't have to stop what I'm doing and wash the dishes I need for my meal. I have fewer things to dust, fewer things to fold... it just simplifies my chores and I love that. 

This journey has taken many months, and I assume it will take months, or even years, longer. I didn't just jump right into this life style and get rid of everything all at once. I think that that "band-aid" effect would be quite drastic for me personally. I simply slowly implemented certain principles into my life. Whenever I was cooking and would rummage through a drawer to find the spatula I always use to cook with (I don't know what it is with this post and spatulas, guys), I realized that I probably didn't need the other 5. The one I always use serves many purposes and the rest just take up space. So I chucked them (into the donate pile, of course). When I would reach for my favorite mascara, I would likewise throw the rest out (not into the donate pile). 

We are so accustomed to consuming products regularly, and filling all of the space in all of our places. But something Sarah Therese has also said helped me realize that that doesn't have to be the case: "just because we have space doesn't mean we need to fill it up; there is something beautiful about empty space". I find a whole lot of truth in that. Not just the beauty of the clutter-free space itself, but the beauty of all that surrounds it--the lack of energy used to fill it, the lack of money, the lack of time, the lack of labor put into making it... think of all that is saved because of one empty space in your home, or office. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with this lifestyle and learning about how others go about it. If you have questions, I would love to offer some insight! 

Thanks for sticking with me, and have a stress-free day!

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