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Seeking Minimalism

Seeking Minimalism

Have you discovered the movement towards living a "minimalist" lifestyle?  How intrigued are you by the premise that living with less reduces stress, provides for more time, and allows you the opportunity to better experience every minute of every day?

I have too AND I was intrigued....

Naturally the idea overall sparked images of living with few items, very sparse and cold.  This was not an area that I wanted to venture into.  But then I discovered another discussion that suggested by simply eliminating clutter, and everyone's idea of clutter is different, a refreshed feeling would take over.  This clutter fills many holes including household, clothing, financial, and mental health.  I have noticed a refreshed feeling when I deep clean a room or a dresser drawer and I have to agree, vacuuming and dusting that room suddenly felt easier and folding laundry into that drawer was a nice experience.

As I moved forward with research on minimalism, I felt this re-occurring dread of the word "minimalism".  It felt cold, empty, and sad.  At the same time it sounded fresh, clean, and simple.  A mental war back and forth ensued and it became time to bring peace to the brain cells.

Another minimalist blog suggested that not everything needs to be eliminated down to the bare bones in your arsenal of possessions.  Just those items that serve no purpose.  Each of us has items in our life that are important to us and these can be saved if chosen.  That is the trick....determining the importance in our daily lives.  Whether it is an heirloom, a pair of jeans that we will fit into again, collectibles, souvenirs, duplicates and extras of this or that, we need to decide if they bring us joy and peace or are they are just things we have around that have been there for so long they have become part of the scenery.  

Some add value to our being and make our hearts smile.  Some just simply exist on a shelf, in a box, or laying about and ignored.  You and you alone decide what can stay and what can go.  My belief with this thought process is once the purge train has left the station, more and more would be loaded on.  

While evaluating the importance of these things in your life, take a long, hard, serious look at each one and make sure it needs to be hung on to.  Have you actually used or thought about this item in the last year?  Six months? Last week?  Would this item be perfect for someone else?  Will my life literally end if I got rid of it?  Is this truly irreplaceable? Only you can decide the answers to these question.  If not, it may be time to donate, sell, or toss.

I suddenly began to feel better about "minimalism:.....

Another suggestion I read that when beginning a minimalist lifestyle plan was to begin by deciding "why" you may want to make this change.  A chance to really reflect and dig deep for the specific reasons is a good idea.  A chance to be completely honest with oneself.  A chance to get excited about a new way to LIVE!

This was the perfect suggestion for the note-taker in me and I began some deep thinking as to my real intention of changing my lifestyle.  

I want to share my reasons for seriously considering a minimalist lifestyle, on my own terms, and would encourage you to think about yours.  Write them down if this is a path you wish to look into as well.

Here are mine.....

  1. I am 51 years old and realize my mortality.  I plan to live for many more years and want to make these years the happiest, stress-free, and most purposeful of my life

  2. Become financially savvy.  Become a saver.  Eliminate unwanted debt and be better equipped for financial emergencies or to effectively plan for a major purchase - become more "money mindful"

  3. Purge, clean, and organize our entire household.  Make the process of daily household chores easier and more efficient, eliminate the "scenery clutter" of stuff,  and unneeded material items.  Create a fresh, open, and airy living environment

  4. I want to be in a position to make every minute of my life content, enjoyable, and happy.  This positions me to be stronger to take on the challenges life will bring and to handle them with more grace.  Challenges are sure to come and I wish to be better prepared!

  5. Learn to relax and draw from daily life experiences through all of the senses to not only add to my personal happiness but allow me to be kinder and more giving with other human beings

This list really solidified my resolve to DO this.  What was most exciting about this list was that I was in charge of my goal.  I was the decision-maker in what would stay and what would go.  It was all on me to succeed or fail.  What was the worst that could happen?  If I succeeded, a new and purposefully fresh life phase would begin OR if failure were to happen, I still had a beautiful life but with the same self-induced headaches that I currently tackle everyday.

Seemed pretty obvious to me to make the decision to DO this lifestyle change!

(....notice I didn't say "try"?  As Yoda says, "there is no try...there is only do"...I love this expression and think of it often....)  

The first ownership step I took was to remove the word "minimalist" from the equation.  I needed something meaningful and inspiring to me for motivation and relevance.  I decided to call my process...

THE KEY INGREDIENTS LIFESTYLE

Every recipe contains key ingredients for the perfect outcome, every photo I take has key ingredients for the visual I want to capture, and every day of my life has key ingredients that make it a good day.......The Key Ingredients Lifestyle was born!!

The next step was to develop a plan of action.  It is easiest for me to tackle a new challenge with a list of steps, a list of "to-do's", and a way to measure progress.  I also realize that this is a plan that will take time in order to achieve success.  There will be progress along with set backs.  There will be trying times along with elated feelings of simple accomplishments.  These are all of the key ingredients to accept and own while on this journey.

KEY INGREDIENTS LIFESTYLE - INGREDIENTS OF ACTION

  1. HOUSE 
  2. FINANCES 
  3. WORK

There they are....3 specific, straightforward, and simple ingredients.  

What is ideal about leaving this list at a count of 3 is that the end result of each ingredient of action affects myself and all those around me in a multitude of positive ways.

Allow me to break it down.....

HOUSE

De-clutter, deep clean, and organize every nook and cranny of our house.  Eliminate everything that truly has no purpose for us and donate it to someone who can make use of it.  Make our spaces open and airy.  Easy to clean.  Surround ourselves with ONLY the things we truly love and need everyday.

By focusing on our home first, this provides a foundation to provide more free time and less time "cleaning".  We all feel better and have more free time living in a clean and organized environment regardless of our circumstances, right??

FINANCES

Raise your hand if you dread paying bills, raise your hand if have unwanted credit card balances, raise your hand if you have car payments that are beyond what is needed, raise your hand if you have no solid savings plan or balance, raise your hand if you live paycheck to paycheck, raise your hand if you are at a loss of what you would fall back on in a financial emergency (job loss, medical crisis, etc.), raise your hand if money is a daily "mind weight".......nuff said......

While examining this specific plan of action, I will be honest in saying I asked these questions as I am guilty of several of these hand-raises.  Life has thrown curve balls, poor financial decisions have been made, and I look at a black hole when it comes to emergency back up funds....guilty as charged.

WORK

This ingredient step may seem very narrow but it actually encompasses a HUGE area.  Each of us has "work".  Whether you are a stay at home parent, work outside the home at a nine-to-five job, have an online business, looking for a job or perhaps an advancement in your current line of work, we all need to provide for ourselves or a family.  It doesn't matter how you "work" it is "what" you work and is that "what" something you enjoy or drudge though on a daily basis.  Are you getting your ideal personal or financial needs met?  Are you mentally fulfilled?  Are you making a difference?

Are you able to feasibly dream beyond what you are currently doing and hope someday to have a plan for a work change?  Would you like to retire early and work at your passion?  Would you like to work part time rather than full time?  Are you happy in your current line of work but feel you should be making more money to support your current lifestyle?  Do you feel trapped in your line of work?  Do you want more satisfaction from your work?

Would you simply like to make your "work" WORK better for you?

Again, me too..... 

So these are the ingredients with recipe instructions to follow.  I will begin with the HOUSE ingredient and believe me when I tell you, there will be plenty of "before and afters".  Yes, I am going to share, journal, and share again the before state of clutter followed by the result.  Additionally, if you are considering this type of change, I want to SHOW you what I am facing and HOW I handled it.  From sorting to purging to placing....the whole nine yards.

Sure it would be nice to do this process behind the scenes and when all is said and done, share the results.  But, in this case, I want to be "real" and maybe it will resonate with you.  I am also hoping that this becomes a true lifestyle change journal so that as time moves on, I can look back and continue to change, learn, and grow moving forward.

This is going to take some time.  This is going to be a slow-burn methodical process.  This is training for a new way of living!

Lastly, being a creative person at my core, I am still going to photograph many still life images, when the weather cools I will begin baking again and when the snow flies, I have some crafty projects I want to try.  All of these things are "me" and they are not going away on this blog.  The only things going away are the things that keep me from living with more fulfilled intention and happiness.

Let's start with the first HOUSE ingredient....our Guest Bedroom.  This is the room in our house that is starting the momentum.  It is one of my favorite rooms due to the color, light, and location.  It is currently filled to capacity with craft supplies, photography props, and a closet full of clothes that neither Mike or I have looked at in a awhile...

Ahhhh, but wait....what about him?  

How does Mike feel about this initiative?  I will be honest.  He is a saver.  A saver of clothes, a saver of stuff, an all out saver.  I have shared my plan with him and when he expressed interest in getting rid of some of his things, I was delighted.  BUT, expressing interest and actually doing it are TWO completely different things....  

I didn't hand him a bag and say "start the garbage pile", rather, I smiled and said, "Good, let's go!"

At the exact moment this conversation happened, it dawned on me that maybe I am in a position to document this journey with two different mindsets.  One that is ready to dive into streamlining an existence (me) and another who really has no idea what this encompasses (him).  Two people living in the same house with the same things....how will that work?  Will he see the progress and want to jump on board.  Will he appreciate the changes happening around him and our environment and remain in his habits?  Will he toss one or two things and call it good?.....Hmmmm....how will this work for two people with "odd couple" characteristics????

I see a story here!

How to live simply in an environment shared with a "keeper"....

Interesting....

So as I wrap up this introductory post on my "key ingredients" lifestyle, I would like to share that I emptied the clothes from the spare bedroom closet.  I put a large donation together to drop off at the thrift store tomorrow after work.  This simple activity released so much room for Mike to go through his things (if he chooses...ahem....).  But for now, my progress is starting!

I am going to finish up what's left of this work week and get ready to dive into the guest room fully.  This is where I will take some "before" pictures, share the decor updating plan, and finally, the "after" result!

So....what are YOU thinking....do you have any suggestions?  Have you already implemented this lifestyle change?  Do you have no interest whatsoever? (completely fair and understandable, I promise)  Do you have questions or thoughts you would like to share about minimalism and simplifying your life?

PLEASE leave me a note in the comments or shoot me an email...you know I LOVE hearing from you!

Next Up....The Guest Bedroom...

STAY TUNED FRIENDS!!

Joan

Cherries on the 4th of July

Cherries on the 4th of July