I feel like I need a name for the Angie version of Minimalism, something that conveys my aspirations for all this simplifying activity. Joshua Fields Millstone and Ryan Nicodemus from Minimalist website have an ideal that is impressive, and I know that my ultimate spin on it will look like quite different. I admit that I am envious when I see images of the pristine JFM apartment with the brick walls, a lone piece of art above a simple quality chair. He has an immaculate closet with five identical white shirts hanging ready and 2 white candles on the desk with 5 select books stacked neatly nearby. The Angie version, of course, has to accomodate for my hobbies, passions, spouse and idiocyncracies. As JFM said, they are offering Minimalism up as a recipe for others to consider; their goal is to show people ingredients which might add value to their own life. That is where I am right now, playing with ingredients, seeking my own version of the recipe.
I’m not sure how close I am to the national average of 300,000 items in the home. On the one hand, I already had a habit of keeping a box of items to go to Goodwill near the door at all times, so that the amount of stuff coming in at least matched the amount of stuff leaving. When I look at my tidy decor, I tend to think I had a bit of a minimalist aesthetic already working, but when I look at my closets and garage, I know there is plenty of opportunity for aggressive purging. Instead of counting items in the home, I instead will measure my progress by number of trips to Goodwill and boxes to Lisa for eBay, as well as number of empty shelves and drawers.
So far in 2017, I have filled an entire car for Goodwill and have 5 bags ready for my next trip. I have packed 3 boxes of nicer items for Lisa to sell, with a fourth box started. Yesterday I took pictures of old plaques and awards, casually tossing them in the trash or donating the frames from the certificates after posting the photos on my Facebook page. I kept 2 Leadership Augusta keepsakes, one for graduating the program and one for serving as Board Chair. I also kept the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction clock. Those are big deals to me. Today I plan to play a game with Kevin called 1 in 10, where I present him with 10 objects I suspect he wants to keep, and ask him which one I can give away. I’m hopeful for some baby steps but do not expect him to embrace my same level of streamlining.
So far the process has been easy and fun, and serves as part of a larger plan for mine and Kev’s future. I feel an enhanced appreciation for the items which have thus far made the cut and remain in place, and a sense of purpose for my activity. In the past, my constant rearranging of stuff had a little bit of senselessness to it, a busy work or excuse to clean around things. Now I am motivated to reach a place of calmness and an aspiration to focus on more important uses of my energy.
I started reading “Everything That Remains”, which is as awesome as I knew it would be, based on the blog content from the website. It is personal, relatable and inspiring. From it, my biggest take-away so far is the warning to always remember the “Why” behind the purging. It is much like going on a healthy diet with the intention of truly changing one’s life with better choices, so that old ways don’t creep in down the road. There is a need for thoughtfulness in my decisions and consciousness of why I allowed myself to purchase so many superfluous items in the first place.
I’ve read of people of who purged most of their excess material goods within a year and others who have taken a decade to gradually reach their goals. I hope to land somewhere in between. Paying off debt, making better purchase decisions, eating more thoughtfully and living more in the moment are certainly part of the Minimalist mindset which I am excited to embrace, but which will take time to form as habits. For the present time, I am happy to have a plan which helps me to feel less like a hamster stuck on the wheel of crazy work hours and impossible visions for my oversized home. Finding the right balance has helped me to enjoy my job more, where I also have done some reducing, and appreciate the non-material aspects of my life more, like family, friends, reading.
While this progress report is helpful, I’m still left without a name. For now, because I’m focused on thoughtful balance, I’ll call it meditative minimalism, so that I am encouraged to slow down and really think through the meaning of physical stuff, including items that I own, as well as those that I feel the urge to purchase. I have no doubt that this lifestyle will translate into less stress and more gratitude, and look forward to sharing more updates in the future.