Our First Year as Minimalists

IMG_1929.JPGLast year about this time I gave myself the gift of minimalism for my birthday. I joined a class offered by Joshua Becker and bought his book “The More of Less.” I wrote at length about it here. When I wrote that blog, I was only 4 months in. Looking back now, I can’t believe how much I got done in a short amount of time. But the truth is, I was desperate. I had reached my limit. So I dove into the course full steam ahead. I pulled more than one all-nighter. It was a priority, an obsession, because the freedom I began to feel as I dug my life out from under all that stuff powerfully propelled me to push even harder. I gave away things I might need. I gave away things that I loved. I gave away gifts from people I love because I had no choice. We didn’t have the room. Our house was bursting at the seams.

SPOILER ALERT: At the beginning of the course, you are asked to think about your “Why.” And mine was simple. I wanted more time with my family. I wanted to stop spending so much time with their stuff and more time with them.  I have seen many people sharing their success on the Facebook page for the course. But I have also seen many people that don’t really move forward. And while there are obviously extenuating circumstances like a death or life altering event, for the most part, I would say that the main reason it doesn’t work for some people is that they don’t make it a priority. And the reason they don’t make it a priority is because they don’t understand how amazing their life will be when they finally do it. So I wanted to share some of the ways my life is exponentially better.

  1. My kids get it. We were never big consumers because we have never had a big wallet enabling us to do so. Therefore, my kids weren’t the type to ask for toys or candy at the store. But since minimalism, the reason is so much more grand. So much more noble. When it comes to getting a new toy/outfit/game they truly understand that we just don’t need it! They inspire me and each other. “We’re minimalists,” they say and move on.  This is way better than “We don’t have the money,” because it’s actually more true. Even if we did have unlimited resources, constantly buying the latest gadget isn’t good for anyone! It breeds discontentment and overflows landfills. My youngest regularly gives back the toy at Chik-fil-a, even when he doesn’t trade it for ice cream. Mind blowing. But they are tired of picking up stuff off the floor too.
  2. Our house is typically neat instead of always a mess. And even when it looks like a disaster, because there are still seven people in a 1700 square foot house, we are typically only about 15 minutes from it looking really great. The reason for this is two fold. First, we have less stuff which obviously means less to clean and put away. But the other less obvious and even more important part is this. Since we have purged and purged and purged all year, the stuff we do have, actually has a place. It used to be that if all my clothes were clean, I couldn’t fit them in the drawers. But now we live within our parameters making cleaning that much easier for the kids.  They can put toys in the closet because the closet isn’t bursting at the seems. They can put books on the shelves, because they aren’t full. The old adage, “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is actually a thing! Who knew??
  3. We have more time to do what we want. This year, like many years before, we hosted Easter. But this year, unlike any other year in my life, we went to the beach two days before. There was almost no stress about cleaning. Even when I looked around and thought, “This place is a disaster!” we were able to straighten up in no time. Now, for perspective, my children are older. I have three girls ages 10,12, and 14, and my oldest is fantastic at straightening up, when she wants to be. I don’t have babies anymore, and that makes a huge difference. But the stuff is just gone. And I DON’T MISS IT!
  4. I have new floors!!! They were literally a gift from God. Free. I wrote about it here. And because my house had been minimized, we were able to install them without a huge hassle. I looked at my husband, and we just marveled at what a mess it would have been had this happened months before. All this time I have been praying for new flooring, maybe God was just waiting for me to get rid of all our stuff so there was room! Think about that for a minute. You think you are saving money by holding on to all the stuff you might need someday, but all that stuff has a cost. And you never know what you are missing because of it.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I didn’t need to be more organized. I needed less stuff. That’s me. Some people are great at organizing and such. More power to you. I am not. And further more, even if I was, I would still rather be with people than at home organizing stuff. No offense introverts 😉
  2. This is not “Decluttering.” It is purging. It is uncomfortable. Some people say to ask “does this thing give you joy?” But I actually *did* get rid of things that gave me joy because I just don’t have room! Also people are constantly decluttering because they are constantly taking in stuff they don’t need or could do without. Of course you will have to get rid of stuff occasionally. But living a minimalist life means you stop taking in. It means you stop valuing stuff over people. It means you stop buying stuff just because it’s a holiday.
  3. You need real support that most people can’t give. I found some people are kind of intimidated by this whole thing. They feel judged. We all tend to do that when someone makes a big life choice that sheds a light on a possible problem in our own life. That is why the support you get in the course is invaluable.
  4. I was lying to myself. I told myself I was fine. Chaos didn’t bother me. I am laid back and fine, I rationalized. Nope. Not true. As evidenced by the way I regularly lost my cool when I couldn’t find something I lost in the piles of stuff or how I got so frustrated cleaning up before an event. It bothered me. I just ignored it.

Sometimes when I look at pictures of an old chair, or think about books I gave away, I do feel a bit sad. But when I look at my house any sadness is gone in an instant. And when I hear my kids say “We don’t need it mommy,” I feel relief. We are all So Much happier and more free.  I have struggled my whole life with keeping things neat. My mom always quoted this proverbs from the Bible: “A wise man prizes his possessions.” And now I finally can. But only because I have less.

The course is just about to start again and right now you can even use the code FF25 to get 25% off at http://my.becomingminimalist.com The deadline to sign up is April 30th.  I will be signing up again and again! After your first time through you can keep going over and over for free! If you still don’t think you need the course or the book, read here.

If you are minimizing now or have in the past, how has your life improved? What have you learned? Share in the comments and inspire!