Today has been sort of a reset/renew day for me. I’ve been dealing with a pretty harsh cold the last few days, and so this day of reading, writing and a bit of decluttering was much needed.
When I get sick, I can generally look back and understand why it came on. Stress and a lack of self-care usually triggers something. This time it was too many weekends in a row with too little sleep, too much work and too little play, and a general feeling of being out of control.
I don’t believe I need to be completely in control of everything. In fact, I believe relying on God (who of course knows what’s best,) is the best way to go. I have learned that giving up rather than trying to control every outcome is best. Not giving up in the usual sense of the word, but giving up control, worries, fears and anxious thoughts to God. Of course I find myself far too often hanging on to these things when I would be much better letting go, but when I do remember, it is always a great relief and release.
As one of my favorite quotes goes, “Struggling against the current will cause you to sink. But when you go with the flow, you float.” I know this to be true; and it creates so much peace inside when I remember to just go with the flow, no matter how turbulent the waters seem.
BUT—of course there is a but—there are many things in this life within our control, and also our responsibility. While what happens to us is our fate, how we react and what we do about it is our destiny. I believe whatever happens to us is meant for our own personal growth, and whether or not you grow from your trials is your choice.
For me, my health has been my all time greatest challenge. It has also been my greatest teacher. I have never looked inside myself or learned so much about what truly makes me happy until my journey of self healing began. Through the books and everything else I have read, I have learned that health is sooo much more than what you eat and what vitamins you take. It is also about doing what lights you up inside, doing what you love for work, your relationships, spirituality, creativity and environment.
I am now just about in the best place I have ever been in my life. I have a job I absolutely LOVE. My relationships are all great—with my family and my awesome friends. I have my faith, which has helped me more than I can say, and I now have time to let loose my creativity quite often. Whether that be violin, piano, drawing, sewing…it gives me that healing relaxation. And now, my environment. That has definitely changed for the better, and the main reason for this post!
It started a little over a year ago. I like to research alternative lifestyles, and one day I came across minimalism. It struck a chord in me, and I watched video after video on youtube of real people’s stories of how it changed their lives, and how-tos. I wanted the freedom they all portrayed, the satisfaction with their lives. I see the rat race all around me every day—bigger, better, more expensive, more-more-more! That life, I knew, didn’t hold any joy for me. It all just looked stressful.
And so I started my own minimalism journey with great enthusiasm.
Looking back, it seems so ridiculous the things I was holding on to. Things that brought no joy into my life, yet for some reason I thought I needed them. I now laugh at how hard it was for me to part with the stupidest little things that just sat in my drawers going unused.
I did not downsize in one fell swoop as Marie Kondo, creator of the Konmarie method (a method of tidying up and minimalism) suggests. Well, in a way I did, but after the first purge I still had an astronomical amount of stuff and I ended up downsizing countless times since. I’d declutter, let go and downsize, then a month later realize that I had more I truly did not need, use or even enjoy. And I’d redo the process.
Each time I declutter, I feel like a weight is being lifted off my chest and shoulders. The feeling is so real, that you cannot understand it until you go through the process yourself! It feels so good and I feel so much lighter that I may as well have just lost 10 lbs.
To me, decluttering is like therapy. As I declutter physical items, I feel as though my mind and life are being decluttered as well. I end up feeling so at peace and renewed, and basically like I pressed a reset button for my life. It’s a win win situation!
I have talked about minimalism (and how great it feels to live with less) to my friends soon after I started, but I’m still constantly in wonder myself just how much it does for me. These days, I no longer have bags upon bags of junk to get rid of. Now when I purge, it’s generally borrowed books I need to return, lotion bottles and containers now empty, medical papers I no longer need, and now and then some clothes that have gone ratty or I’ve lost my taste for. It’s not as much as it used to be, but that weight lifting and feeling of having just meditated is just as strong as ever.
In the pictures, you see most of my belongings. All the clothes I own fit in the bins on the shelves and on the hanging rack, besides some outdoor winter gear packed away. The shoes on the floor are all I own—and all I need—besides three pairs of fall/winter boots. And yet, I have never in my life been happier with my wardrobe. Everything I own are pieces I feel comfortable in and enjoy wearing, and in general they are all nicer than what I used to wear. (Even though most of them are from Goodwill. I up-cylcle clothes, as you can see on my other blog Lines And Linen.)
Life for me now feels so so so simple! I look back at how hard simply getting ready to go somewhere was or how packing for a trip used to take all day (takes like 20 minutes now) and can only shake my head at the ease of my life these days.
You may think more is better, but less is definitely more. Here are more perks I have found to living a minimalist lifestyle:
1. Cleaning – Cleaning is so fast and simple and fun! Any tidying takes just a few minutes, and wiping surfaces and sweeping just a couple more.
2. Enjoyment – I constantly enjoy my space and surroundings.
3. Love everything you own – I love every item I own. The few I don’t love, I look forward to replacing with something I truly do love.
4. Spend less – I save so much money on shopping, because I stopped buying things I don’t absolutely need or isn’t going to make my life so much better.
5. Shopping – Shopping is so much more enjoyable, because when I do need something, I am on a mission. I know what I want and I know what I need. If it’s there, I will find it. I search for only what I need, and I make sure I love it and it’s of good quality. If what I need is a white or cream shirt and that is my mission and I go to Goodwill for it, I generally find it. Also, I no longer feel panic when I shop. I used to feel a bit stressed that I wouldn’t find anything good or that fit when on a shopping trip. Now, it doesn’t matter if I don’t, because I don’t need more anyway!
6. No more guilt – I no longer feel guilty about things I own but don’t use. Because now I only keep things I do use. When you first declutter, you may experience some regret at the money you spent on things that you really didn’t need or even love. But once you get rid of it, it’s gone and done for and the relief is HUGE. No more guilt over what you own now.
7. Freedom – I just feel so much more free. And I am: if I want to move, so much less to pack up.
8. Time – Much less time spent cleaning, organizing, or moving my stuff around. Also, time spent getting ready. And, time finding things. I know where everything is now. “A place for everything and everything in its place” as Benjamin Franklin said.
9. A new sense of value – On one hand, material items don’t hold as much meaning to me. They are just things—expendable things that are far less important than I used to think they were. On the other hand, what I do own I enjoy so much more than I used to.
I enjoy experiences much more than things, and I use my resources for good experiences than spending them on things I don’t have time to use.
10. Inner peace and happiness – I worry less. I stress less. I have less anxiety. Hallelujah!
11. More productive – Less procrastination. As strange as it sounds, my possessions consumed way too much of my time. Also, my surroundings now elicit motivation rather than procrastination.
It is so worth it. But don’t take my word for it. Read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and go watch a bunch of the hundreds of minimalism videos on youtube. See the different ways people live minimal and tidy. Minimalism is different for everyone, and it’s not about owning as little as possible or only a certain number of items. It’s about enjoying life to its fullest, with only the best and without the rest.
Thanks for reading!