Once upon a time, like September 2012, I came out as a minimalist on my blog Pointless Ramble:
I am a minimalist.
Okay, I’ve been a minimalist for like a day and a half. Longer maybe if you count all the blogs I’ve perused to get a handle on what minimalism even is. But I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that I need to own it, take it on, say it out loud. Because just thinking about it isn’t making it happen.
I did that for accountability — I was never really one for stuff, but somehow it was taking over our lives, and I was afraid that if I didn’t own the title, we’d slip back into old habits.
I could tell you how I came to this conclusion, or I could just steal from myself. Here’s how I explained our minimalism journey on The Simple Year (my very first post, in the comments). Keep in mind I was just starting a zero waste year and was explaining not only how we ended up as minimalists, but why I wanted to tackle that project:
What led me to minimalism was just getting to a place where I was tired of looking at all that stuff. I had been an independent kitchen consultant for a couple of years, and had a kitchen overflowing with items (this seems very ironic to me now when I look back). We had two small kids and all the paraphernalia that comes with them. Eric’s grandparents were moving into assisted living and, in cleaning out their houses, my mother-in-law was constantly finding things “we needed.” (And how do you say no when it’s grandma’s?)
But I didn’t see it as a “stuff” problem — I saw it as a cleaning and organizational problem. So I went online and started looking for solutions, and found the FlyLady’s website. That was the first time I’d ever heard the phrase “You can’t organize clutter.” That really hit a chord!
I started with the kitchen (since that’s basically my domain) and it took three tries over the course of a year or two before I finally got it truly whittled down to just what we needed. I realized that I was holding on to the dream of what my kitchen items could do — like, I could make a torte because I have this pan and wouldn’t that be fun! — and not just accepting the fact that I don’t cook that way. Once I accepted THAT, it became easier to get rid of stuff, not just in the kitchen, but everywhere (i.e., am I holding on to this because of what it represents, or because of what it can do?).
Most of the stuff we ended up shedding (I hadn’t really said much about what I was doing, but when Eric saw how awesome the kitchen looked, and how that spilled over into the living room, etc., he came on board and started going through his own items) were things we could donate. I listed some of the bigger items in the classified ads, let family and friends go through and pick stuff, and then the rest was donated to our church’s annual rummage sale. (I am not emotionally stable enough to handle throwing a garage sale.) So I didn’t have to worry about throwing things away. Although at that point, I was focused on minimalism, not zero waste. I didn’t know what zero waste was. That came later and is a different story.
But I think having gone through all of that for the last five or so years has been helpful in getting me to where I am now. Zero waste seems like a natural extension of minimalism to me.
Here’s what I’ve learned about minimalism in the five years I’ve been a card-carrying member: It is what you make it. Life is messy and complicated and hard, even if you’re a minimalist. But there’s a certain amount of peace that comes from this lifestyle, too — and that’s why we are big fans.
Anyway, that’s the whole point of this new venture of mine: Just sharing what minimalism looks like in an average family situation. And this is how we got here.
Wow, so many words, not enough cats. Let’s fix that right now: