Saturday, June 3, 2017

Minimizing. The 30-Day Challenge

My daughter and son-in-law are embracing minimalism.  Vaguely, I remembered hearing about the concept. It's a quest to live with less and not go down the path of major consumerism. The Minimalist web site defines minimalism as a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

I know it can be taken to the extreme--like owning and living with 100 items or less. Good for those who do that, but that sounds like a mere survivalist existence. Not a lifestyle I wish to embrace. I don't want to choose between owning a camp stove or wearing makeup.  

For Matt and Paige, though, it's just about simplifying their lives. Having a two-bedroom home and two small children, they were feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff they had.  I completely understand. Until our oldest was in her teens, we raised our three children in a small one- and a half-story. Keeping a small house clean with kids is like shoveling while it's still snowing. I kept a relatively tidy house when my kids were growing up (except for the girls' room for which they were responsible and I avoided entering). It wasn't easy keeping the house from getting trashed. I was crabby much of the time as I was constantly picking up or telling my kids to put their toys away.  

A solution is to simply have less stuff. Paige and Matt are making great progress in purging their house of anything that, as Matt says, "doesn't bring them joy." Daily they send me a photo of something else they are tossing overboard.

They gave me the 30-Day Minimalism challenge to do with them. The challenge is to get rid of excess stuff for a month. The first day you get rid of one thing.  The second day, two things. Three items on the third and so on. By the end of 30 days, you'll have gotten rid of something like 930 items. You can donate, sell, or trash, but each possession has to be out of the house and your life by midnight. 

At first, I didn't think I needed to do the challenge.  Except for my buying high-end lattes (a habit I have been recently curbing), I don't feel like I'm into mass consumerism. If you walk into my house, it's usually fairly uncluttered.  I don't have many clothes, other than my work scrubs or what I get free at Gap with my reward points. I'm pretty good about making regular trips to Savers or throwing things we no longer use.

But then I realized there was a lot I could purge.  It's the junk that's been traveling with me every move I've made since college and after Dave and I were first married. Basically, stuff that is out of sight and out of mind, but feels somehow sacrilegious to get rid of. Semi-sentimental stuff I haven't wanted to tackle. Photos Dave took when he was doing weddings years ago. College textbooks. Music CDs and VHS tapes which we no longer have a way of playing. Binders of material from retreats and conferences we've attended. Duplicate photos of the kids. The pair of pants I wore in 1988 and said I'd keep until the day I could fit into them again. 

Recently Mom and Warren moved to an apartment in Lake City. I and my siblings helped her box up the things for the move. We had three piles. Toss, give away, or keep. When Mom was distracted, we stealthily put things in the toss pile. Much of it, she and Warren spied and pulled out and put in the keep pile. Their new apartment and small storage area are crammed full. 

I thought of what it will be like for our kids one day when they move us to assisted living. I joined the challenge.

June 1, I tossed the entire contents of the top left drawer of my dresser. I considered the drawer as one thing. It was full of mostly slips, negligees, and camis given to me at my bridal shower 31 years ago. Somehow, it seemed wrong to throw them. Why, I don't know. I haven't fit into them since our second year of marriage. And, good grief, does any one even wear slips anymore? 

Yesterday, I got rid of an old TV that doesn't get sound and a coffee thermos cup that leaks.

It might take me towards the end of the challenge before I hit the Rubbermaid tub holding the pants I haven't worn since 1988. Pretty sure I won't be able to get them up beyond my knees.

Join us if you like.  Let me know how it goes. The 30-Day Minimalist Challenge 

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