Several months ago I had picked up, with the best of intentions, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I haven’t quite gotten around to finishing it…I just haven’t had the time.
Home a bit early today, so I sat down to sit and compose a two-nourish article. The boys are outta the house, a load of laundry went in and dinner is prepped. I turned the television on for some background noise and end up tuning into a documentary on minimalism.
This page sat blank as I watched each person’s story about having it all, but not having happiness. Stories, one after another, about losing a loved one, getting sick, lost time, lost relationships…only to find oneself empty in a full house.
Quality over quantity. Less is more.
A simple mantra. Too simple. Easier said than done.
See, the thing is, I want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle for so many reasons. Save money. Reduce my carbon footprint. Declutter our little home and get rid of the excess. Consume less, spend less, work less. Free up space. Free up time. Be home more for my family and find balance.
The “consume less, spend less” part of this movement seems easy to me. To not buy that thing I don’t really need isn’t that difficult. I’ve never been much of a spendthrift, and before I met my DH, I was probably practical and a bit stingy to a fault. But the letting go of stuff that meant something to me way-back-when, that’s where I get stuck. It may not necessarily give me joy now, but I remember a time when it did. Oh, and then there’s getting rid of stuff that might still be useful, not necessarily to me, but to someone…because I hate to be wasteful. Okay, fine, just letting go – period – it’s hard.
Another thing that is particularly tough is saying, “No, Thank you” to my husband whose love language is gift giving/receiving. I rather do stuff than to have stuff. But I see how it hurts his feelings when I tell him ‘thanks, but no thanks’ when he gives me a gift. It’s not that I don’t appreciate him or his thoughtful, generous giving – even though I’m sure that is not how it feels.
And the last piece of this that I can’t seem to shake is the consumption of time. It is part of this life clutter that this documentary didn’t really talk about. I get asked to be part of a project at work, I say yes. I see a project that can be done around the home…landscaping, renovating…I say yes. I can’t not see things that “have to” get done. I keep an infinite “to do” list.
Case in point, my sister and I started meeting up at a coffee shop to have time to unwind and let go of all the employee, housewife, mommy stuff. Free time. Of course, what happens? We started a blog and now we are embarking on a business together.
Where there is space in time, we fill it. I think, somehow, my sister must have more square footage in her life house than mine…I don’t know how she manages it all. But the point is, I can always find stuff “to do”…but, I admit, most – if not all – of it is not a “must do”. I have to stop buying into that mentality.
In any case, I am far from achieving the minimalist lifestyle. But, I think that recognizing these barriers is more than half the battle. Perhaps that’ll be a New Year’s Resolution for 2017: reduce life clutter – material or otherwise. I have to learn to just let go and to say no. I have to learn to take pause and be okay with…space.
In preparation for “Ousouji” (the ‘big clean’ that Japanese people customarily do right before the new year), my DH did clear some boxes from the garage and we took a carload of stuff to Goodwill. Of course, we still can’t park in our own garage because we have so much stuff. But, it’s a start.