How Far I’ve Come

With things so crazy and hectic right now, it’s hard not to day dream about this summer, and all the amazing things I hope to get done. My biggest goal this summer? To complete a conclusive purge and to actually get rid of all the stuff we’re not keeping.

I subscribe to a lot of blogs about minimalism and since most of the personal blogs I follow aren’t updated as often, minimalism can be the main topic of my reader a lot of the time. That means I end up reading a lot about minimalism, which in turn means I end up thinking a lot about minimalism. And then I go home and see all our shit and think, I still have such a long way to go.

And I do have a long way to go, but only because I want to go that long way. I don’t subscribe to some definition of minimalism, some description of how a minimalist lives. I believe minimalism means different things to different people. I’m not even sure my idea of minimalism would even qualify for anyone else. All I know is that embracing the concept (in whatever way I might embrace it) helps me to make hard choices I wouldn’t push myself to make otherwise. So while I doubt that my brand of minimalism is anyone else’s, it means to me what I need it to mean.

And surprisingly, most of what I read about minimalism jives with my mindset. I have yet to come across a post that inadvertently calls me out as a fake or a fraud. Minimalism is what people want it to be. It’s a journey, not a destination. It’s a tool to build with, not an assembled product.

So when I look around and see how far I still have to go, I’m not deeming myself a failure, I’m simply acknowledging that I haven’t yet discovered the life I want under all our stuff.

But I’m getting closer. The positive effects of my efforts are obvious, and they are everywhere. My life has fundamentally changed since I embraced minimalism, and that change has absolutely been for the better.

I was appreciating how far I’ve come this past weekend as my husband and I picked up for the house cleaner. There was a time when the pick up necessary for someone to be able to clean was a terrifying proposition. The sheer time and effort involved was overwhelming. It would take hours to sort through the shit of just one room, let alone get them all to a reasonable state simultaneously. We lived in constant chaos, there was crap every where.

Now it takes a few hours to get the house where it needs to be for a cleaner to come. Even when the house is a disaster, I never look around and see a mess I can’t manage. I know I can get it picked up, if I just take the time to do it. That alone has been life changing.

We’ve gotten rid of so much stuff: an entire bookcase and all its contents; my daughter’s toy and book shelves (the ones we replaced them with, which came with her loft bed, are not even 1/5 the size of the originals); two giant toy boxes and dozens of stuffed animals; a 300 DVD capacity rack and all its DVDs; a stereo cabinet; tons of crap in the kitchen. Our house is only 1200 sq ft, so the absence of these big pieces of furniture is very noticeable. Our house feels lighter now, less cluttered, more inviting.

And there is still so much stuff that we have and don’t need. And there are so many things I’ve removed from the house but left in the garage as I await an opportunity to donate them. This summer I plan on executing the ultimate purge, a culmination of this two year effort, a final attempt to get our stuff where we want it to be.

I know I’ll keep needing to purge, that shit will come in and I’ll need to work hard at continuing to move it out. But I also know that despite so many attempts, I’ve never arrived at that sweet spot, where I truly feel like we have what we need, and nothing more. I’ve gotten close, and I’ve come so far; I know now that this is how I want to live. I feel my mindset has finally shifted enough that I’m ready to really embrace this choice fully, to live this life with fewer things. I’m excited to get to that space, to have a genuine starting point for this journey.

This summer I intend to make it happen. This summer I will finally achieve my own personal interpretation of minimalism–a jumping off point, for our unique attempt at living with less.

Thank you for accompanying me this far–I hope you’ll join me for the rest of this journey.

6 Comments

  1. I know this isn’t really the main point of your post but…I was a house cleaner in college and I remember going into houses when people would forget we were coming. The place would be a disaster compared to what it normally looked like when we came. I always though, what the hell? Why would you clean before the cleaning people came? Then I had kids and now I completely understand.

    Also, I’m moving back to the Midwest, having finally admitted defeat living in Seattle on a social worker salary. I want a house, damn it! Anyway, I am having to purge so many things and it really feels amazing. We’ve lived in our place for 13 years so there is a lot of stuff to go through but it’s worth it. I refuse to cart crap across the country. I often got caught in that trap of not knowing whether to consign, donate or craigslist, then just shoving it back into storage rather than deciding. I’m still not sure what the best option is, but now at least I’m being forced into making a choice. Here’s to not having to do it again!

    1. Moving is a such a great motivator for getting rid of stuff. I hope you get to a place where you feel good about what you’re packing up and shipping across the country. Good luck with your move!

  2. I thought your biggest goal of the summer was running a half marathon but minimalism is cool too, I guess šŸ˜‰ I want so badly to get rid of crap, especially kid crap, but I don’t feel like we can until we’re done fostering. All the too-young toys and clothes get tossed into our third bedroom where they collect dust. Shudder.

    1. Running a half marathon is definitely in my top three goals, but I have a few others too. I’m a woman of many goals. šŸ˜‰

      Knowing we are done family building and that I can get rid of all the baby stuff has been so freeing. I’m sorry you’re not there yet. That must be frustrating.

    1. I sold a few to a local music store that has an extensive Used Movies section, but most of them I just left on the side of the road with FREE signs on them and they were picked up.

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