As I read “Organizing is often well-planned hoarding", I smiled and clearly remembered myself in my basement in 2008. A lot of major changes took place that year.
Cleaning up the basement was always time consuming and I resented it. Constantly organizing and wanting everything to have a certain order was taking too much of my time. I had worked all day in the basement. Printing labels, organizing bin after bin, box after box, moving them from one end of the basement to the other. I thought to myself, “Both my kids are growing up and I’m accumulating more stuff every year”. 25 years ago, when I arrived in Canada as a refugee, I had only one suitcase. Now, I had a basement that was decorated with stuff and memorabilia taking space from floor to ceiling. I thought I could be doing more meaning full things than being down there shuffling stuff around.
Then, I had a moment of clarity. Why not get rid of stuff? I started questioning myself. Why did I hold on to this stuff? What purpose, if any, did they have in my life? Are they improving my lifestyle in any way? Are they adding value to my life? I realized that it was more of an emotional attachment than anything else.
My clutter, regardless of its organization, was just clutter - sucking energy from me leaving me exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically.
I became determined to go through the stuff and get rid of anything that I was sure had no use for what so ever. I started with the things that I had less emotional attachment to like my geophysics lab test that I got A+ plus on! I was proud of it but come on that was eons ago! What purpose did it have now? I snapped a picture of it and put it in the recycling pile. I did the same for the next two bins. For the other stuff, I started slowly with one box at a time.
Sometimes I had to put some stuff back and re-visit again to make sure I could get rid of it. Usually this happened around my kids’ baby stuff that reminded me of beautiful memories and made me smile.
As time passed by, I became better at letting go. After all, I had learned to let go of a relationship that did not work after 20 years. I certainly could let go of stuff sitting in boxes.
~ There is freedom in letting go. ~
A year later, I also had let go of my physical weight that was dragging me down to unhappy destinations. With my healthy lifestyle, I had been able to reach a size 4 and had piles of clothes that I had no use for and had no intention of getting back into. I had anything from size 8 to 16. I started giving them away to the women’s shelter. Lots of toys, books, clothes, and other stuff went to Goodwill or shelters. The basement was shrinking but there was much work to be done.
~ Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~
One day someone made a comment saying “I like the fact that you are a minimalist”. I knew the person was referring to how I kept my work area organized with absolutely no clutter of any sort. But I made a mental note to look it up when I get home.
I Googled the word “minimalism” and came across JoshuaFields Millburn (JFM) and his novel “As a Decade Fades”. I ended up reading the book, writing a review, and communicating with him which led to receiving a few more autographed books from him.
One of those books was “minimalism – live a meaningfullife”. As I started reading it, I realized that everything I had done or thought about was right here in this book and much more. I was delighted to learn that yes, I am a minimalist and each minimalist is different from the next.
These are some of my favourite quotes from their book:
“Minimalism is a tool to help you achieve freedom.”
“Minimalism looks different for everyone.”
“Minimalism is a tool we use to live a meaningful life.”
“Minimalism is a tool to achieve happiness.”
~ In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. ~
I also learned about myself and how I am more confident in evaluating my relationships. I have learned to let go of toxic, gossipy, shallow-minded, two-faced, negative people who only feel good about themselves by pulling others down. I don’t have time to listen to their bullshit!
My kids are learning through examples as well. We prioritize and assess our needs and wants. Every few months, we donate the stuff that serves us no purpose. I ask my son “Do you need?” or “Do you want?” He is learning that needs are different than wants. He can still get some wants for special occasions but he is learning invaluable lessons in not allowing clutter to fill up his life. We all have our vice. For example, my son loves his comic books and video games. My daughter and I are runners and love yoga. We eat very clean and healthy. We choose what we want to spend money on. We buy things that add value to our lives and have a specific purpose.
~ I don't own many things. But everything I own adds value to my life. ~ (JFM)
I still WANT some stuff in my life. But not stuff sitting on the shelf! Minimalism for everyone is different. I dream of having a small, ocean view cabin in a tropical island. But I really don’t wish for a mansion filled with stuff. I prefer to travel the world than having diamonds, clothes, and stuff! Everyone’s expectations and outlook on life is different. I don’t do fashion, fads, popular things; I don’t have cable. I don’t read advertising. I don’t watch commercials. I don’t let society tell me what to wear and what to eat. I’m not pressured to buy the latest model of things. I’m a much happier person with not having a lot of stuff. I do what makes me feel good and happy.
Today, I reflect on my own journey to minimalism which started in 2008. I evaluate my life more often and assess my relationships, jobs, volunteer work, health, and my personal growth. Assessing and re-assessing is necessary for me to guide myself on a healthy path in my life and to stay healthy emotionally, mentally, and physically.
~ Minimalism is simply about stripping away the unnecessary. ~
Life is too short and my time is too precious to waste it on meaningless talk, destructive relationships, and those whose only goal is to bring others down. I surround myself with kind-hearted people who can lift me up, accept my love and reciprocate with honesty and integrity.
Minimalism is about a meaningful life. Every day, I make an effort to make my life more meaningful.
If you are interested to find out more, check their website and read their books.
I have been following The Minimalist on Twitter. Currently, I’m reading their new book “Everything That Remains” on Kindle. They have started their world tour for their new book and will be in London, Ontario June 30, 2014. Register for free here, share with your friends and family and make sure to come and listen to these guys. You never know where your journey will take you.
Worldwide locations for Everything That Remains Tour 2014. If you are in London Ontario follow @ETRBookLondon to get up to date info about their book tour.
~ Much love to Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nichodermes of The Minimalists. ~
Follow them here @JFM @RyanNicodemus @Theminimalists
~ Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself.~