Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Minimalism: how I got started

Over the last few years I've gotten interested in a minimalist lifestyle.  I'm not sure "minimalism" is really the best descriptor of what I'm doing.  I think "intentional living" might be a better way of looking at it.  This shift in perspective has impacted so many areas of my life.  It has made me think differently about my house, my clothes, my kids, the food we eat, how we use our money, and our lifestyle.

Some people go whole hog into minimalism and take themselves down to some tiny number of belongings. That is not me.  I'm more of a whatever floats your boat kinda girl--you want to live in a dumpster with a mattress, three pairs of pants and ten bow ties?  Go for it, if that makes you happy.  I am not quite that invested, but I am interested in having less stuff in order to have more room for my life.

I've been following Jules's William Morris posts over at Pancakes and French  Fries for a few years now. William Morris is the source of the quote that is all over Pinterest:  "have nothing in your house that you do not know to be use, or believe to be beautiful."  That was where the first seeds of minimalism were planted--I can live without this stuff, because they are not contributing beauty or substance or helping me live my life.


Last year I read two posts by the Nester that really had an impact on me.  The first was This Is the Next House.  The point of that post is to stop waiting for the next house to make your life perfect---the house you are in IS the next house, compared to the last one.  After reading this I sold off and donated nearly everything in the Garage of Doom that was being held in abeyance for the next house. (Of course, six weeks later I bought a house that was twice as big as our rental and I could have used some of that furniture, but eh, I was happier without it.)

The second post that really resonated was Nobody's Dream Job.  This post is GENIUS.  Pure genius.  To paraphrase, it says that my job is being a stuff manager, I spend all day long organizing my stuff, yelling at my kids to put away their stuff, washing and drying and sorting our stuff, training my kids to be stuff managers, and dreaming about buying a bigger house so that I can hoard more precious stuff, and no, I don't get paid to hold that job, I have a different job that I get paid for and I use that money to buy MORE STUFF.

HOLY COW, people, holy cow did that one knock me over the head.

I would like to spend less time managing stuff.

At the core of intentional living is figuring out what is important to you, and then acting on those life values.  I've spent the past year reflecting on what my values are, and whether or not our lifestyle reflects those values.  I've decided that our current lifestyle doesn't reflect what I want it to.  It is not all hookers and blow over here, but our cash flow could be better allocated to things that are more important.

Choosing smaller, less expensive options is not a popular part of the American Dream.  It is sort of the antithesis of the American Dream. It is certainly not a popular choice  where we live in Orange County, California, home of conspicuous consumption and ridiculous wealth display. But, that is where we are headed.

We will be downsizing our big house.  Owning a nice big house was a priority that we thought we really wanted, but now that we have spent the past eighteen months with how much of our money it actually costs, and how many other things we are deferring in order to live in this house....we think we can do better.

More on this journey in future blog posts.

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