In a few days time, some of our beloved fam is coming to spend a few days with us. How blessed we are that they are travelling all the way up North here to see us, and we are so excited to spend some quality time with them again! Cody is so pumped, Scott & I can hardly wait…and yet…I find myself battling with worry…
The radio in my mind runs: “What if they don’t get our new minimalism lifestyle? What if they think it’s all ME? What if they think I’m just rigid and unable to adapt to things?”….
This nasty broadcast has run through my head more times lately than I care to count…and again on my lovely walk this morning with Evy, Lydia, and our darling English Springer Spaniel Gussy, it had the audacity to interrupt me. WHY do I even waste a moment worrying about such things? For one, the family coming to stay with us is not the judgemental kind, not at all. They are warm, they are giving, and above all, they love us and our children immensely. They may not approach life the same way that we do (let’s be honest, not everyone is a cozy minimalist, ha!!) but I know that they won’t JUDGE us for our new life philosophy. I can say this is %100 certainty!
So….why the worry?
I think it’s because until recently, I wasn’t even aware myself that I was heading in a minimalist direction!! I certainly didn’t bet on Scott actually liking (Or, dare I say it, even loving) what the changes I was making did for the way our household runs, and for our family dynamic. And I was oblivious to the fact that “minimalism” was not just some super-restrictive way of living, but that it actually can mean different things to different folks. That it can be a tool of freedom.
I become concerned about HOW to explain this new way of existing without sounding unbending, or cold. I feel some worry about others possibly misunderstanding (as I once did!) what minimalism means for ME, for US…or even worrying that they may judge me. (I say “me”, not “us”, because let’s face it, most people who know us both will absolutely know that it was ME who initiated such changes)
But you know what? I don’t worry TOO much, either. It crosses my mind, and yes, having loved ones coming to stay with us brings those thoughts more to the forefront of my mind…BUT I also feel so RIGHT in this new cozy minimalist way of being, that I can’t really worry too much. Minimalism has not restricted me, or us. It has not made things too stringent around our home. It hasn’t meant that the kids feel bored with a much smaller selection of toys…
Quite the contrary, actually; minimalism has given us MORE.
How, you might be wondering? Here are some of the biggest ways that minimalism has given us MORE (and I’m going to save the biggest and BEST way for LAST!!):
1. My capsule wardrobe: I have gotten down to a total of about 67 items of clothing, for the entire YEAR ROUND. It may not sound like many (and to some people, it may sound like TOO many), but you know what? I thoroughly enjoy each and every item I own now. Nothing goes unused. I don’t look in to my closet thinking “Ugh, I might feel fat in that…”. Nope, everything makes me feel GREAT!! Every item goes with any other in my wardrobe. I don’t need to waste any decision making power on what-to-wear anymore. Even if a medical appt for Evy pops up with barely any notice, or I get a call that someone needs me for something, I don’t need to feel flustered that I’m still in my pj’s and no make-up (and gigantic mama-bear bags under my eyes to boot!!). I can grab any top, any bottoms, brush my short blonde hair, throw on my glasses, and walk out the door. All-the-while feeling fairly put together! That’s a win in my mommy books! (To check out more about my capsule wardrobe, click here)
MORE self-confidence, and happiness with who I truly am and what my body has accomplished in this life!
2. Freedom for 1: I used to feel like I had to have backup for almost any material item that I really loved. Seriously!! If I found a tee shirt that I really loved, I was suddenly overtaken by this ANXIETY: “what if something happens to this one? And you really NEED another someday, but you don’t have one? What will you do then?!!!!”. And I would order another 1 (or even 2!!) of the same shirt, in different tones. I felt this way about almost everything that I used often. But something I have learned from my Happiness Project (by Gretchen Rubin, such an awesome author!!) is to SPEND OUT: and that doesn’t mean to go out and blow your $$$, no no no….it means to get the full amount of joy out of what you have. Don’t be afraid of using up an item, in fear of running out of it. Trust that there will be more. Because there WILL BE! That clothing company isn’t going to suddenly cease production of tee shirts! If some type of mascara is discontinued, don’t worry, because you can bet that there are a gazillion other (equally as fantastic) kinds out there for you. So now, for the first time in my life, having let go of anything that doesn’t A) serve a purpose, or B) spark joy, I am FREE to actually use my items up. Use them to their full potential, and then say goodbye. Senza fear.
MORE enjoyment to the fullest! Using every moment and everything up!
3. Food: Anyone who knows me well knows that cooking is NOT one of my fortés, ha!!! I have learned a lot over the last few years, and come a long way, but nonetheless I don’t actually find JOY in the art of cooking. For me, it doesn’t feel like an art so much as a nasty ball & chain that comes along with adulthood. Anyways, now that we focus on eating foods that are as whole and pure as possible (which means avoiding labels, for me avoiding gluten/processed carbohydrates, avoiding refined sugars…basically avoiding anything fake!) as a family, our meals and snacks have been simplified, BIGTIME!! No longer do I need to stress out about what meal to prepare for supper. How do certain things go together to create some masterpiece in a bowl…while chasing Evy, trying to keep Lydia happy, and help Cody with his homework? Instead I get to think about what is HEALTHY, what is PURE, and that means choosing real and basic foods. So, suppertime at our house now may consist of: eggs & meat, zucchini pasta & homemade ground meat sauce, salad with avocado and shredded havarti cheese, etc. Meals do not need to take an hour to prepare, or elaborate lists of ingredient options! No, they certainly don’t. We find it bother EASIER this way, and HEALTHIER too. (Both of us feeling more energetic, losing inches and pounds, bonus!!)
MORE health, less stress.
4. Schedule Stress: We now give MORE attention to the things that truly matter in our lives. We all know how desperately busy life gets: the kids need this….Mommy has a meeting… Evrett has an appt with this therapist/Dr/specialist at this time….Daddy needs to work late…Cody needs this for school tomorrow…..the baby needs to sleep at this exact time…and on…and on…and ONNNN!! It can feel like it never damn-well ends, am I right?!! Back in October, when we found out that there was something truly different about our Evy, THAT is when I UNKNOWINGLY began the journey towards minimalism. We knew deep down that life was about to get even more complicated than it already had been, and PERMANENTLY!! Little by little, we pared down. To not only the things that actually matter in life, but to the PEOPLE and PRIORITIES who are dear to us. And we now regularly set aside time to be with those people, or focus on those priorities. I see a very small group of mommy friends one night a month. We see my parents for an “adults-night”, when we chat and have appetizers & drinks, every 2-4 weeks (and wow, those are new, but such a BLAST!!!). Scott is going to being golfing at least once a week (once the snow is finally gone!). We have an at-home “date night” with a movie, popcorn, and drinks one night a week as well. And, we see our best friends, Jo & Paul and their darling kiddos, at least 1-2 times a month. Potential things that show up on our radar that won’t help with our well-being or happiness just simply do NOT happen. I used to feel the presence of the “s” word a lot (no, not “shit”, one that is even worse than that….”should”!!), I should go see these people….I should sing at this function….I should call so-and-so….but not anymore. Minimalism has given me the chance to focus MORE on the relationships and experiences that enrich my life, and as a result I am finding more JOY in daily life.
Much MORE time put in to relationships & experiences, this is the stuff that life is all about!
5. NO MORE WEEDS: I look around our home, and instead of sighing heavily thinking of something we have rotting on our dusty to-do list, I now see simplicity. Beauty. I see: Pictures that reflect happy times. (But not too many of them, too many would clutter my mind! And space, aesthetically, draws attention and focus). Shelves with precious keepsakes on them in Lydia’s room, the boy’s room, and our room; when I look at them, my heart fills with happiness. I see that everything has a place, so even when life gets overly complicated, I can still rely on where the basic necessities are (extra toiletries, first aid items, school papers, to-do items, etc). I see our children getting so much JOY out of toys that really enrich their skills, their bond, and their creativity, instead of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items in the play area.
Less weeds….MORE flowers.
6. QUALITY TIME: Last but certainly not least is the mega way in which adopting a more minimalist lifestyle has awarded us more QUALITY TIME. Time as a family, time to myself, time with my husband, time to enjoy nature, time to read, time to listen to audiobooks and podcasts that aid me in expanding my horizons and well-being….just more time all around. Even our 6 year old, Cody, has noticed how much less time mommy spends stressing about cleaning, how much less time it takes out of our weekday evenings and weekend days. Suddenly, mommy and daddy aren’t shackled down by “first we have to pick up all these toys, then vacuum the floor downstairs, dust, and wash the floor….THEN we can go for a walk together, buddy”. Our sweet children don’t need to wait 2.5 hours while mommy & daddy scramble likes chickens with their heads cut off to get some semblance of order in the house before we enjoy any true time together. Those days are over. Instead, we ALL spend tiny chunks of time tidying at different times of the day, and as a result, the house is clean AND we all get to play together and enjoy the gift that is everyday life.
MORE quality time together making memories as a family. Amazing.
It seems oddly perplexing that a term such a “minimalism”, which at it’s core has to do with LESS, can actually bring so much MORE peace and happiness in the little moments of daily life.
And those little moments add up to so. much. MORE.