Yesterday I had a conversation with my friend, Paula, who has been one of my favorite people on the planet since I was 18 and we worked at Maison Blanche together. She said "remember when we were talking about minimalism stuff the other day? Well, I'm minimalist now." I adore her sense of humor and am thankful for friends like her. I don't know that I could have been making jokes after my home filled with water. She helps me grow! Most of the flood victims I have talked to are finding healing in humor. I know many tears have been and will be shed but humor really is a beautiful thing when the options are laughter or tears. There is space for both.
Minimalism, relatively speaking, is a current favorite topic of mine. It hasn't always been. I began to crave a more minimalist lifestyle a few years ago but the idea of achieving that made me dizzy. I had so much crap! I would say it has been a 5 year journey for me to get from there to here, here being dramatically less stuff but not anything extreme, thus the "relatively speaking" preface. It's definitely something I am continuing to both learn about AND put into action.
My story...... We lived in a house with plenty of space. I went to garage sales almost every weekend. I had tons of space to store stuff. Why not accumulate stuff to store, right? Every wall in every room was covered with numerous decorations. Every surface perfectly arranged with bowls, books, candles, etc. Then one day something shifted. I found myself asking why I needed stuff that I didn't really like much or use? I kept things "just in case". Accumulation was easier that the feeling of discontentment. Nothing was ever enough. That was my thought process at the time. Can you relate?
My first step, years ago was, I had 3 large garage sales. We sold our house with less stuff after the sales but still enough to fill every cabinet, closet, and wall in our new home. I continued to accumulate, although to a lesser degree. My desire to simplify and streamline continued to grow. I began to learn and understand the "why" to my accumulation. Four years went by and I began to spend my time learning more and accumulating less. I began to "un-decorate". I started to see the beauty in a blank wall, a clear counter, an organized drawer. I am not a naturally organized person AT ALL!!! I know people that are and I hate them! Ha, kidding, I'm just jealous:). Clutter in my home began to feel overwhelming. I wanted less.
I read The Magical Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and Essentialism by Greg McKeown, both great reads. I listened to podcasts. Lots of passive action, filling my brain with what I wanted. Visualizing a life with less stuff and more freedom. Then I moved into massive action, I started doing the thing! I gave away probably 75% of my clothes. I had a lot. I gave away most of my decorations, only keeping things that I truly loved. We are now living in an apartment 1/3 the size of our previous home and I am realizing even more what I really love and need. Those will be the only things I am allowing to follow us to our next house.
I now see blank walls as a prop for handstands (that's the yogi in me) instead of unloved junk to fill space. Blank counters have become opportunity to create recipes with my son instead of storing cookbooks that I never even open. Empty coffee tables are for feet propping or impromptu expressions of creativity. I am only buying clothes that I love enough to replace something that I don't quite love anymore. I would be lying if I said I never shop. I love fashion. I love art. I love stuff. I don't love ALL the clothes, art, or stuff that I see. I no longer feel compelled to buy things just because they are on sale. I no longer feel like gravity is pulling me towards a garage sale when I see a sign. I don't need 20 pairs of yoga pants, 50 pairs of shoes, 10 different perfumes, nor hundreds of books. I don't need to collect things. I can collect experiences, knowledge, hugs, love. I can be sentimental and keep things in new ways. (More on that later)
If this makes me sound elitist please know that is not my intention. The natural desire to fill my life and home with stuff is strong. I cave sometimes. I sometimes find myself getting rid of stuff because I shopped when a better option may have been to have coffee with someone that inspires me to grow. I am not doing this perfectly but I am doing it. The freedom I feel from this change in my life is amazing. I promise you if I can do it you can too!
So why this topic and why now?
As I was walking the other day an idea came to me for the people dealing with the loss of so many material possessions after the flood here in Louisiana. I texted my friend and pastor, Kate, another of my favorite people, to tell her about it and she was thinking the same thing! We have had numerous conversations over the last few months on this topic so it was just natural. Next week we will be launching "The Minimalist Project". We will be posting a video to introduce this idea and we REALLY hope it catches on like wildfire in our area and not only do we help those of you who are ready to clear some space in your homes and minds, we also help flood victims create NEW spaces filled with quality things. This disaster in our area IS a transformational experience for all of us. Let's allow God to use it to increase our capacity to grow in every way. Be sure you like my coaching/yoga Facebook page and follow the posts.