Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Minimal Minimalism

I've been reading quite a bit lately about the minimalism movement.  I have to say that it certainly sounds appealing.

The idea of having just the bare necessities sounds wonderful.  So much less to worry about, to move about while dusting, to hunt through while looking for something else.  Sounds like my idea of heaven on earth.

But actually making it happen in real life?  That's a whole other matter.  Most people have an abundance of personal possessions, things that they cling to for better or for worse.  This can range from sentimental treasures picked up while traveling to every little doo-hickey or gadget that ever crosses our paths that we keep because "someday it might come in handy."

Having recently helped a friend as she packed up to repatriate back to the US, I was struck by the amount of stuff we accumulate.  (Yes, Melissa, should you ever read this, this means you.  Still love you!) I started to think ahead to when we move back home, hopefully in about 2 years.  I decided then and there that I needed to streamline my life well in advance of that move.  Not just for the sake of a smooth move, but for the sake of my sanity every day in between now and then.

Some of the minimalist blogs I've been looking at are a little too radical for me.  Selling off their cars, moving in with parents, only owning enough towels for one for each person in the family.  I'm not quite there yet.  I don't know that I ever will be.  That's why I'm calling this post "Minimal Minimalism." I just want to simplify without hardship.  To me, that seems to negate the point.

In the course of my brain processing all this, I actually discussed with Hubby perhaps getting rid of one of our cars.  After all, I live less than a 10 minute walk to school.  Couldn't the kids and I just walk to and from each day?

Hubby patiently listened and then reminded me that right now, in January, that might seem like an ideal plan.  But soon enough, January turns into April, which eventually brings June when the temperatures at 7 am during our morning walk would already be over 100 degrees and by 3:30 when we head home it would be well over 110.

This is why I married him.

I think that minimalism is great - but it should bring relief and happiness to our lives.  It shouldn't be just  getting rid of stuff for the sake of it. Maybe being car-less works for some people but it wouldn't for us. So here are a few areas where I think I can whittle away at the amount of "stuff" in our home and have it be a positive thing rather than a negative.

  • My closet - I have a rather over-stuffed closet, but rarely use more than half of what is hanging in it.  Some of it I just have grown to dislike over the years, but some of it just doesn't fit.  Instead of telling myself, "I'll get back into it someday!!!" I should tell myself, "When I get back down into that size, I'll have worked hard enough at it that I will deserve a new wardrobe!"  Time to donate those clothes.
  • Paper - I have tended to keep every paper that is some what official.  For years.  I have a filing cabinet that we moved over here with us five years ago that Hubby and I went through over Christmas break and weeded out maybe 75%.  I guess I don't really need maintenance records on cars that we no longer own or insurance policy documents on policies we've let lapse.  Who knew??
  • Kitchen gadgets - Oh, this is getting a little sensitive now, I know.  I fancy myself somewhat of a good cook and have amassed quite a little stockpile of gadgety items in my kitchen.  So much so that I can barely close a couple of cabinet doors and drawers.  I need to ask myself - how often do I use this and does that make it worth me dealing with it taking up space?  The espresso machine that we bought two months before moving to Doha where we can't use it because it's a different voltage?  5 years it's been taking up massive space in my kitchen cabinets.  The rolling pin that I never really use because I can't make a pie crust to save my life, but I keep hoping I will  magically become a pie-maker extraordinaire?  It needs to go.  I'm going to try this plan - if i haven't used it in 6 months, put it in a box and move it to the storage room.  If by that time I haven't had to dig through the box looking for it, to the end-of-school-year garage sale it goes.
  • Books - This is a real sacred cow for some, especially us homeschooling types. (Yes, yes, I know I haven't homeschooled in 4 years, but it's still in my blood.)  Hubby and I have 4.5 bookshelves of books, and the kids probably have enough to fill another one between the two of them.  We need to seriously assess what we need to keep (any material which enhances our spiritual life, for instance) and what we need to part with (school materials the kids have outgrown, fiction we won't ever read again, etc.).  I'd like to get it down to just three bookshelves, working our way down to just one eventually.
I'll keep you posted on my progress.  Things may get a little complicated because Hubby, well he's not as into this minimalism thing as I am. 

And, well, there's an IKEA opening up here soon.  


Denise said...

Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on decluttering the closet, file cabinets and kitchen drawers. Those are actually all on my "Not Really A New Year's Resolution But I'm GOING To Do It in 2013" list. But books? Uh, not there yet ... :-)

Erica said...

Brad and I were just saying not long ago how much we would have appreciated an IKEA when we were in Doha. :)

Laura said...

Yay, I found you again! Ok, first, jealous you are getting an IKEA! Wish we had one here in Mozambique1
Second, I too read blogs about minimalism (three fork tines instead of four, because really, do we need thr fourth tine? - seriously, people think about these things?!?) and am inspired by them but I don't think I'll eve join their ranks truly. I prefer the FlyLady system of getting rid of clutter. I just decluttered my toiletries last night. I already had a tendency to hoard (not as in stacks of newspapers lining the hallway, more like eight different bottles of lotion!) and living in Moz makes that tendency worse because you can't easily get things here. But, I'm on a journey -have fun on yours! Laura


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