Thursday, May 2, 2013

Living well with less: Minimalism, a way of life




In my last post I mentioned I was recently introduced to the minimalist movement. Since I'm a newbie, I can't offer you an eloquent and informed description. No matter. Hang out a bit with me (which is what I really want) and you'll come to your own definition while I bumble along making minimalism my way.


What I'll tell you is that I'm a packrat. I keep stuff. I collect stuff. I hold on. I hold on to things, ideas and feelings, and all my life I've struggled to make some order of my stuff. Here's one rub: I'm also a scatterbrain, artist-activist, oldest child who desperately wants to save the world. Well, how do you organize your life if you're busy with causes and folks who need saving? Did I mention the hero child never figured out how to save herself?

Oh, off track already. Okay, back to minimalism. A peer at work turned me on to the idea of living with less. First you reduce your stuff. Along the way, you discover how to let go of the other stuff: worry, regret, fear and relationships. You get the idea. Daughter of a hoarder, recovering hero child approaching fifty wants to hang up her cape, and figure out what she wants to do when she grows old. Short order, in no particular order: I want to eat less and eat well, work because I feel like it not because I have to, move my body and enjoy it because I can. I want lay up under my man and take walks on a trail or sidewalk doesn't matter where as long as I'm walking with him.

What does this have to do with minimalism? Everything. A minimalist life means living debt-free so you can do what you want when you want to. It means mobility- the freedom to pick up and go with ease because you don't have a lot stuff to pack or unload. A minimalist life means the freedom to define and enjoy the experiences and relationships that matter to you. Does that kind of life appeal to you? Works for me.

So how am I going to get there? Well, starting. I started with something small and obvious because small efforts yield success and success breeds confidence. I started by de-cluttering. My mother load is books. In my former life, I was a literacy advocate, book blogger, book charity founder, avid reader and poetry lover. I have lots of books. I have books I've never read, won't likely ever read. One of the few habits that I have that drives DH crazy is the number of books I have everywhere (they're neatly housed on five bookcases in my bedroom/library and the entire double-width  living room closet shelf and behind a clothes bar on a closet shelf).

For a couple weeks now, I've been happily donating and rearranging the bookshelf at my neighborhood Panera. Makes me happy to be letting go, believing some anonymous reader is enjoying my donations ( because I have great, eclectic taste in books so of course anyone who pursues the shelves is impressed). I've bagged YA and adult fiction and happily shared books with co-workers, too. I'll continue to do this while reading some those books and then donating them, too. I don't know what will be enough, a basic tenet of minimalism, “How much is enough?” There are no hard rules how to be a minimalist but there are basic questions: What value does this add? What is enough? Does it bring me joy?

While I expected letting go would be good for me, I didn't expect that I'd feel happy, liberated, lighter. I'm telling you, I've been in a better mood since I began this adventure.

Have you made paradigm shifts in your life? Were they lasting? At this stage in your life, what kinds of shifts or direction do you find yourself moving?


Pull up a chair and sit a spell. I'd love to talk with you.

Be well.

2 comments:

  1. Me too! Well...me too, I'm trying to simplify. Me too, I was a an avid blogger until late 2009 and then...I'm not sure what happened. Maybe I had become too seriously involved with the online world and not involved enough with the real world. Last summer my man and I started gardening. He made me a vegetable garden, all fenced in with white pickets and we spent every day outside, with each other, with the flowers and the seeds and the tomatoes and the rabbits and it changed me. I know my neighbors now (who knew that being a hermit with my books and my laptop would cut me off from people literally yards away from me?) Next week, there's a neighborhood garage sale and I've been piling up things to put out there...and let go of. It's good. It's really good. Love reading what you have to say!

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  2. Hey, Lisa! Was it Shelfari on the book blogging world where we first connected? Ah, lost in the online world? I ventured into the virtual world in 98 and for years I'm not going to confess to, I spent too much time typing instead of enjoying face-to-face time. We grow though, don't we? I'm back online after a three year absence, and I'm far more confident and interested in balance. I'm not a great juggler, but I'm not the clumsy olf I was so I'm back and glad to be online because virtual friends are real friends, and many of you I would have not met otherwise.

    Thanks for coming by. When we retire from the concrete jungle I intend to stick my untalented, brown hands in the earth and see if I can make something grow. :-)

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