Finding Minimalism

Minimalism: the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”  — Joshua Becker

My journey toward minimalism began – quite by accident – on a spring day nine years ago. At that time the term “minimalism” had not entered our mainstream vocabulary like it has today. So I did not set out to become a minimalist. I simply had a sudden burst of energy and decided to deep-clean my bedroom. Plus I had read an inspiring article about how any room could be cleaned efficiently in 30 minutes if you had all the right supplies (arranged in a cute and tidy cleaning bucket, of course). So after a trip to Target to get just such a cute and tidy cleaning bucket -and a few fun cleaning tools – I was ready to tackle the job. Or so I thought.

Having written down the basic instructions on a 3×5  card, I read Step 1:  Remove knickknacks from all surfaces. Are you kidding me? As I glanced around the room, I suddenly saw all my stuff- pictures in frames,  souvenirs, clay candle holders made by my children in first grade – in a whole new light. Determined to push through, I piled all the knickknacks on my bed, ready for Step 2: dust all surfaces, top to bottom and left to right.

Step 2 proved as daunting as Step 1. Who knew that much dust could fit on top of a ceiling fan blade? And of course the ceiling fan is directly over the bed, so all the dust fell on top of the knickknacks I had just placed there. Needless to say, things continued to go downhill as my dream of an efficient 30-minute cleaning plan disappeared. Three hours later, I was finally done – and done in.

I had known for years that I was an inefficient house cleaner. I could make the surface look good, but I knew what was hiding everywhere. What I didn’t know was WHY I was such a bad house cleaner. I had attributed it to lack of a plan, lack of self-discipline, a too-busy schedule, not making my kids help enough…all kinds of reasons. But on that particular day, I saw my house – and myself – in a new light.  My not-so-clean house wasn’t entirely due to lack of discipline. It was due to too much stuff. I had to clean before I cleaned. I couldn’t dust until I moved stuff. I couldn’t vacuum until I had picked up stuff. It was exhausting.

On that first day of my journey toward minimalism, I took my initial step to freedom:  I looked long and hard at my knickknacks, kept a few significant pictures to put on my dresser, and got rid of the rest. In fact, I took down two shelves on the wall that held those knickknacks so I wouldn’t have to dust those anymore. By the end of the afternoon, my room looked bigger, brighter and more organized. And I felt a greater sense of accomplishment than any dusting job could have given me.  I had truly made a difference- small though it seemed at the time – in my room and in my life.

Since that day I have maintained a slow but steady determination to understand and embrace a perspective of minimalism. I continue to learn more about myself and my relationship to things. Some of it has been easy, some of it has been hard. Sometimes I  laugh, sometimes I cry. Sometimes I have a plan and sometimes I am caught by surprise, unsure of the right thing to do. But still I press on.

Joshua Becker, on his blog Becoming Minimalist, once shared this quote from Henry David Thoreau: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”  Now when I face a decision related to the more-or-less of my life, this quote reminds me there is more to consider than just the actual price tag.

About Deb Ashley

At home, Deb is the wife of Mark and mom of three adult children. She enjoys cooking, taking care of a small but somewhat productive garden, feeding the local community of birds and other assorted critters, and taking naps with her dog Mandy. Her passions include teaching, writing and music. In the community, Deb enjoys working alongside her husband in his role as a pastor. She is involved in teaching and encouraging women from all walks of life through book studies, counseling, and speaking opportunities.
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3 Responses to Finding Minimalism

  1. Barbara Lane says:

    My husband and I (now in retirement) have began to downsize and I have been amazed at all the “stuff” we collected over the years – now we have to get rid of most of it. I wonder: why did we feel we needed all this stuff.

    • pwmja5 says:

      I agree- I have wondered the same thing! I think for the first 40 years of my life I was collecting stuff, and now I will spend the next 40 years slowly getting rid of it. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Minimalism: Painting 101 | Ponderings from the Parsonage

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