Lessons in Minimalism

Snow Heart

by Dmitry Maslov | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Saturday was a day filled with snow and biting cold wind, and so after a few excursions into the snowy hills with puppy Leo and an adventure out to do some shopping (okay, mostly to get away from the house, because I work from home and sometimes I need a change of scenery), hubby and I curled up and watched Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. I loved it.

I am not and probably will never be a minimalist. Maybe if I’d discovered the philosophy when I was twenty, but not currently. But I think we can still learn from the philosophy. Thanks to reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve already let go of a lot of excess stuff, and am continuing to. For most of us, decluttering is an ongoing process, and that’s what makes it such a challenge.

But what minimalism teaches us, and what the documentary stresses, is emphasizing relationships and purpose over stuff. Our stuff can take over our lives, and to be honest, sometimes that’s what it feels like for me. I feel like I spend so much time dusting and organizing and rearranging. How much easier would it be to live in a small home and own a minimal amount of items? How much more time could I devote to what really calls to me, to magic and the Goddess and writing and creativity, if I owned less?

And so that knowledge drives me forward. Watching documentaries, reading books and articles and blog posts about simplifying, minimizing, decluttering, help me on my journey. And that’s what it is. A journey to less stuff–and more living.

That being said, here’s a brief check-in on my goals for this round, which are fairly streamlined, in keeping with the minimalist theme for today:

  • Write 300-500 words daily. Week One is a success! I wrote 3,349 words this week. My highest word count was 696; my lowest was 337. Not a bad start.
  • Stay close to sources of inspiration by meditating, doing yoga, journaling, spending time in nature, and exploring other creative outlets. (See specific, measurable goals below.) Walks in the snow, bought some healing crystals for kitty Roo, who has a heart arrhythmia that’s triggering seizures, and some lapis lazuli for hubby’s headaches.
  • Journal at least three times a week. 2/3. Friday’s journaling was cut short by a very poorly behaved puppy.
  • Explore another creative outlet at least twice a week. 2/2. Tried a new recipe—broccoli cheddar quiche. Baked chocolate chip cookies. Hoping to paint the trim in my office today and then next week get the library set up so I have a sanctuary for reading, writing, and journaling in the evenings.

What about you? Are you interested in minimalism? Are you a minimalist, or do you incorporate any of its teachings or philosophies into your life? How was the first week of 2017 for you writing-wise?

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12 thoughts on “Lessons in Minimalism

  1. I so much want to down-size, get rid of all our stuff and buy a smaller house. The hubby refuses to budge. He borders on being a hoarder, actually. I’m going to keep working on him though. Simple is so much better for mental, emotional and financial health.

    • I think you and I are of the same mind, Chris! Yes, I’m obsessed with decluttering, and I can tell every time I get into one of my decluttering moods hubby starts to get nervous. He likes his stuff. And I like my stuff, too, just less of it. More quality, less quantity. It’s a compromise. I think he figures I want to get rid of everything and move into a tiny house. But while I find tiny houses fascinating, I’m thinking more of a 1,000-square-foot cottage with a minimal amount of stuff. We’d still own things, just things we cherished, not a ton of everything. I’ve decided to consider it a process, getting rid of a little bit at a time. It took years to accumulate this much stuff, so it will take a while to pare back down. I’ve recently discovered “cozy minimalism,” and that seems more my style. Good luck with convincing your hubby to downsize!

  2. I love shows about tiny houses, but I can’t imagine living in one for more than a short vacation. I’m all for decluttering, though. Following Flylady’s system, my basement is almost empty, where before it was almost full! Not much writing for me, but hoping that will change. Good luck to you!

    • I’m the same way. Tiny houses are interesting, but I couldn’t live in one year-round. Maybe if I owned a small plot of land, a tiny house could be a little writer’s retreat? Or as a guest house? But living in one full-time probably wouldn’t work out.

      I haven’t tried Flylady’s system, but I’ll look into it.

      I hope you’re able to get back to your writing soon, but sometimes we need our ideas to steep before we put them on the page. Good luck!

  3. I like the idea of minimalism, but man….I don’t know. I do have a lot of stuff that’s important to me. But maybe someday I can make the leap.

    Awesome work on your goals!

    • I’m the same way. I just like the idea of having “just enough,” and not being overwhelmed by stuff. I’ve found with decluttering you have to take it one step at a time–one drawer, one shelf, one closet, one room. It’s a process, and something you have to continually work at.

      Thanks, Erin!

  4. I wouldn’t mind decluttering as long as it didn’t mean getting rid of my books. 😉 Actually a local used book store has a nice trade-in/credit system, so I do exchange a lot of my books. Of course I usually walk out of the store with close to as many as I took in. Haha

    Looks like you had a pretty good week

    • I have a large stack of books I’m getting ready to sell/donate–haven’t decided which yet. Parting with books is definitely difficult when you’re a bookworm like us, but I’ve found that if I just keep the books I cherish (or handy reference books), I feel lighter and happier. It’s a process. And even though I’ve gotten better at parting with books I’ll never read again, I still buy plenty of books, so I’ll definitely never be a minimalist in that department!

      Thanks, Fallon!

  5. I’m in the minority – I actually have LIVED in tiny homes, for years. My Accomplice and I first lived in a 20 foot travel trailer, then a 30 foot model, which is where our son was born. Having a movable home allowed us to have pets while we lived and worked in national parks. We could even live at home while we went on vacation.

    Today, we live in a mobile home with a generous addition. There are four of us, and we’re all adult-sized. I’ve been engaged in my own personal decluttering for several years, not always consistently. I’ve begun common areas as other family members agreed…but I live with three other people, and I’ve found that trying to force or convince them is less effective than showing them, by my actions, that there are definite benefits in owning less.

    My son, 15, is a minimalist by nature, but a messy one. I’ve introduced both kids to the idea of the 27 thing fling, and that gives both of them a finite, small goal to focus on, but enough of one that they can see a difference. My daughter, who turned twelve and a half yesterday, is expansive and creative. She has a long way to go with her own clutter, but growing up is showing her that it’ s better than living in complete, unlovely chaos. She’s begun with making space for and keeping a new bookcase organized, and she asked for and received a makeup/accessories caddy for Christmas, and has taken pains to keep that well organized.

    My Accomplice….well….he’s more entrenched in his own patterns. He does have bouts of decluttering, but it’s not anywhere close to a consistent thing with him, and it may never be. I love him, so I tolerate it as much as I can. However, a tiny house IS a dream we share, so we may end up dong a great deal of decluttering in the future.

    As for me, at this point: I’m learning to make a bit of decluttering a part of every week, and you can see that in my goals, and, comparatively, in the spaces that are mine, and, to a lesser, extent, those we all share.

    it’s definitely a process – not entirely like writing a novel!

    • Yes, I’ve had to work with my husband on the whole decluttering situation. Over the holiday break I did help him go through his dresser and part with some of his many t-shirts, so we’re making progress. The hard part for me is letting go of gifts, but it’s getting easier as I realize that you can let go of an item without letting go of the memory/sentiment attached to that item. I recently read an article about “cozy minimalism,” and that sounds more my style. Ideally I’d live in a 1,000-square-foot cottage. It wouldn’t be sparse by any stretch of the imagination, but it wouldn’t be overflowing with stuff. Just the right amount–that’s what I’m aiming for. I’d love to hear more about your adventures in tiny-house living. I’m fascinated by the tiny-house movement in general!

      • Somewhere I have pictures of our trailers’ interiors. We had to be masters of the space. Jeremiah was born while we still lived in Yellowstone, in the 30′ trailer. That took some figuring out!

  6. I have had friends tell me how much they enjoyed that documentary. Living with less is not so much a bad idea. It doesn’t hurt to shuffle through our stuff and rid ourselves of things we do not need or use. I know I’ve got to go there soon myself, although hubby and I downsized by cutting our square footage in half several years ago. And it’s worked out nicely. I don’t really miss the room. We simply don’t need it. I have actually talked about moving into a large fifth-wheel. With pop-outs of course. They have all the amenities and I like the thought of being able to move about as we grow to the age of retirement. So who knows what life will bring about? 🙂

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