I need a bin…
Do you really need another bin to hold all your items? I was one of those that headed to the store to get yet another bin to hold the items that I knew would drop to the bottom of that bin never to be seen again! Why do we do this? Let’s STOP the madness!
So what was my light bulb moment? I was sitting at my mom’s group anxiously awaiting my favorite part, the Craft. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the cute paper and frame we would be making. When we were excused to grab our items I jumped up and ran to the table that I had already scoped out knowing it had the paper I would need. When I hurried back to my table one of my friends was sitting there drinking her hot cup of coffee just enjoying her quiet time. I asked her why she wasn’t doing the craft and she said she didn’t need it and that she works hard to keep her home from getting cluttered. She grew up in a home with a hoarder for a mother and she wanted something different. I sat there stunned by this, and suddenly the craft I was making didn’t seem so important.
I went home that day and realized how much excess I had. Was it all worth it? I knew I wasn’t a hoarder but that short conversation made me realize that my own stuff was weighing me down. It was keeping me from what I really wanted. I had this sense of urgency in me that I needed to change my ways and work towards having a full life with intention.
I was ready to tackle my entire house! I started getting right to work “researching” what minimalism was. Of course that freaked me out slightly and gave me some anxiety thinking my home would become cold and uninviting. What if I actually was cold, and I didn’t have any more blankets to stay warm?! I know that sounds a bit crazy but that is what my initial thought was when I searched minimalism.
Minimalism can be whatever you want it to be. It is full of grace! You don’t have to get rid of every item in your house. You are only getting rid of the items that don’t serve you. It looks different for every person. My husband of 15 years has always been a minimalist. Not just because he doesn’t own much, but because he was always mindful of his spending. Those that know him are laughing right now! Most people think he is cheap, but I realize now that he was on to something before any of us were.
He stopped the flow of incoming items long before I had. He rarely shops and sadly I had to come to the realization that I was the problem. I was the shopper in the family. This is when I started becoming ruthlessly honest with myself. How much was I spending each month on items that were not serving me? It wasn’t just the money either, it was the waste that really woke me up.
Which brings me to my next point. Are you ready? You are wasting money. If you start pairing down your items you need to understand that at some point you are going to feel the weight of how much money you are literally throwing away. It isn’t wasteful getting rid of the items, understand that it was wasteful to have purchased them in the first place. That is a tough pill to swallow. Here’s the best part though…There is HOPE! You can change your patterns and move forward in a healthy and happy way.
The first trip I made to drop my items off for donation, I partly wanted to cry and the other part wanted to scream. I was angry with myself for wasting so much time, money and energy on things that I knew were not going to last me a lifetime. Then the exchange happened and I felt a wave of relief. As the items left my possession, I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. I was free!
I went home and filled 5 more trash bags with items that were not needed any longer. This sounds overwhelming to some but to those seeking simplicity it sounds like the smoothest chocolate melting in your mouth! Here’s the thing though, we have to stop the flow of incoming items.
After parting with so much I realized I still had SO MUCH STUFF! This takes time. We have been collecting things for over 15 years. This is the hard part. I had to take a hard look at some items I had and know that it wasn’t the item that was special, it was the person that gave it to me that was special. I couldn’t move forward at times for fear the person that gave me said item might find out and wonder why I didn’t love the item they picked out for me as much as they did. I had to stop feeling guilty and start taking my own feelings into account. It isn’t your fault that someone bought an item for you. It is okay to tell your friends and family that you are steering clear of more stuff and would rather just spend the day with them.
Making more time to spend with those you love is a greater gift than an item that will be placed on a shelf or in a drawer. I have a dear friend I met in my 20’s and we choose to not exchange gifts at holidays or birthdays. Instead we take a night to get together and have a meal together. We enjoy this time so much. It gives us a reason to get together and it frees us from finding the perfect gift that shows how much we care. Being together shows that better than any gift could.
So how do we politely tell our friends and family we don’t want more stuff? This can be really difficult. Sometimes those you tell, won’t understand your decision. They may become critical and poke fun stating you have too much stuff to be a minimalist. Take that with a grain of salt and know that your journey is your own. Continue moving towards the life you want. When they do ask though what you want for birthdays or Christmas gifts for yourself or your kids, this is your open door! Give them some honest ideas. Tell them a meal out with them would be nice. Experiences are always great gifts. Let them know your kids are wanting to try out horseback riding, or a new class. Maybe they want to see a new movie at the theater. There are plenty of gift ideas out there that don’t require adding to your stuff collection.
Lastly remember to give yourself grace and time. Your house will not be finished over night. It takes time to go through an entire home full of collected items. Give yourself the time to go through it all. Sometimes it may even take 2 or 3 passes to get to a place that feels right. I know from personal experience that my closet took several passes. It is still not exactly how I want it, but each time I do it I realize items I kept last time are items I can let go off this time around. Don’t wait to get back into those size 6 jeans you wore pre-pregnancy. Let them go and if you ever get back to that size, tackle getting new jeans then. Don’t keep those items that don’t fit.
Enjoy the journey and… don’t buy any more bins! Let your journey be your own and allow it to be full of grace and intention!