There is a certain sense of accomplishment that comes along with having a clean home. I find there is pleasure not only in the final product, but also in the process. I wouldn’t say I love to clean, but I do love when it is clean; but to get to that point, the action has to be taken.
I devote certain days to cleaning. I do a seasonal deep cleaning, so like spring cleaning four times a year. I love the freshness of this routine. It helps me get to the areas that I may have forgotten or overlooked during my routine cleaning. It is also that sense of accomplishment that rewards me every time I do it. It also helps me to flush out the unwanted clutter that somehow always seems to make its way back into my spaces.
Yesterday was one of those seasonal deep cleaning days. It was the three of us working away at it. Ok, it was mostly me, and my older son was a great help, but the younger one did minimal work because he has been down with a hefty cold and lacking on energy. Still, that feeling when you sit down, sore back and dried out hands from soapy water washes…that feeling is so rewarding. Good, old fashioned manual labor. It still has a place in our technologically driven world.
With a minimalist-style lifestyle, the seasonal cleaning sessions, as well as the weekly and daily I might add, they have become easier and shorter sessions. They no longer take a week, or a weekend. They take an afternoon, give or take. Another reason why I adore this philosophy. Now there is more time to do what I want, and I was able to sleep well last night knowing that the chore of house cleaning was completed.
We live in a world where everyone is busy; the faster the pace, the better. But what would happen if we chose to slow down, even for a day? What would happen if we said no to all those things that are supposedly so important that we can’t make time for ourselves or our loved ones?
With the spending season upon us, and Black Friday happening a mere two days ago, we are being bombarded with advertisements and flyers to buy this and spend our money on that. But the things the stores are selling are far from the greatest gift you could give your child, spouse, or even your best friend.
My Black Friday evening, because I worked all day, was not spent shopping the so-called deals. My Black Friday was spent enjoying the company of one of my very best friends in the world. We gave each other the best give we could: our time and our attention. It was a lovely three or four hour visit, sitting in the corner of a quaint tapas bar. We enjoyed a couple glasses of red wine and a cheese board together as we took the time to catch up; to fill each other in on our lives. There we were, sitting inside in the dim ambiance, with a tea light candle at one side of the table, and beautiful pieces of art on the walls next to us. Outside, there was the bustle of the winter festival where we could see families passing by and enjoying the mild winter evening together. We watched as children explored the fire truck parked just across the street, and the horse drawn wagons pass by with children happily waving at patrons as they glided by, courtesy of the team of horses and their driver. We saw couples hand in hand as they walked past the window, smiling and clearly enjoying each other’s presence.
Time is more precious and more valuable than money. In my world, if I want to show someone how much I care, I give them the gift of my time. It is the most precious commodity I have. Consider this, as we enter into the holiday season. Consider re-thinking that expensive give in exchange for something that is far more precious and valuable. Give the gift of your time.
With November comes the prelude to the holiday season. The buying season. It makes me cringe thinking about it sometimes. There is nothing that I need, except for a few renovations around my house. My children have everything they need too.
The holiday season is that time of year where you feel that push…that obligation to buy things that really have no business coming into my home. I do not need more kitschy knick knacks. My kids don’t need more useless toys that they won’t play with. And I certainly do not need to get deeper in debt for a holiday that seems more and more to be focused on spending money instead of time.
I am digging in my heels this year. Yes, we have preplanned gifts from my parents, and that will still happen. But, I have already forewarned my children that there is a strict budget in place for Christmas spending, and I will not go beyond it this year.
The great thing is, they are old enough to understand that the less we buy, the more money we can save for vacations and adventures. This appeals to them; well more so to one of them, but the other can be fairly easily convinced…
As a minimalist (in the making), I feel that I need to cultivate the principal of spending more time together over spending more money on each other. I hope this will become a trend with my loved ones. Life is expensive enough without having to keep up with the Jones’, or even the exes for that matter. I hope that one gift I can give to my children is the understanding that the holidays are meant for spending together, and not for overspending on the budget.
Clearing physical clutter is important. It is important not just because it cleans the space you live in, but it cleans your mental space too. Having stuff linger in your space affects many aspects of your life, whether you realize it or not. It hangs over your head. It’s one of those things that you think you will get to…eventually. But when is that? When does eventually come?
I had a garage full of waste. I had a deck that needed work, and the debris ended up in my garage. I didn’t think it through, I just knew that the deck needed to be fixed, and I would deal with the debris after the fact. It was hidden in the garage, right where I should have been parking. But for over two years, that clutter invaded my space and was constantly on my mind. Not only that, I also had debris from some minor renovations I had done inside my home from up to four years ago. It was sitting in my workroom in the basement and sitting on my mind, knowing full well that I needed to manage it at some point.
On an unrelated topic, but still relatable, I have a fantastic friend who pushes me to do things from time to time, in the best possible way. He also needed to remove clutter, so we made a plan. Yesterday, we were able to clear all that debris away for both of us. We both have a clear space and that opens up mental space also. I am able to park in my garage once again, and I have the ability to free up some of that mental space all that debris was taking up for something much better.
Sometimes we do not realize how much space and energy that physical clutter takes up in all facets of our lives. If you consider one simple thing: I had two winters of not being able to park in my garage. That means two winters of wondering how much snow we received overnight, and expending energy to clear snow off my vehicle in order to get to work in the mornings. Had I taken the time to remove that mess when it first was created, I could have spent those five to ten minutes every morning in a more relaxed way.
Clutter is a burden in many ways. This long weekend is a perfect opportunity to tackle some of those burdens. I have taken care of what was burdening me so that I can now appreciate the fruits of my labour. I hope you can do the same.
Summer days are meant for doing a certain amount of nothing. It rarely seems the case these days, as I watch my friends and their children rushing to summer hockey camps, day camps, intensive swimming lessons, and a plethora of other activities to fill their summer days.
What happened to just having nothing to do? To the days of going to the park and playing, or reading? What happened to just being a kid?
This isn’t a popular perspective where I live, and I would wager it isn’t where you live either. These days, everyone needs to be scheduled to the hilt, because if you aren’t busy, you are wasting your time, right?
There is so much benefit in just allowing yourself time to be. Time to sit and just watch the day go by is so mentally therapeutic! Being busy does not equal being productive. This is something I have learned after years of having too much going on in my life. There is still too much going on, but I am still a work in progress too. I am officially on holidays for two weeks, and while my time clock may be stalled, work wise, my actions have not. I still have lists of things I wish to accomplish during my time off, but I know full well that there are too many lists and too little time. Where do I fit in time for me?
It’s ok to let the dust settle in the corners once in a while, or for the dishes to wait until morning. We all need to recharge our batteries once in a while so that we can function optimally. Don’t forget to take time out to relax and do nothing. There is so much value in just being.
I was fortunate enough over the past couple weeks to gain some perspective on the philosophy of minimalism. I spent the better part of a week away, cultivating relationships with family friends. During this time, I needed to choose what I would do with my down time in the evening. I brought a couple minor things…a tablet to continue with my writing, some kitchen cotton to crochet some dishcloths-a minimal mental task that keeps my hands busy when I’m feeling tired, and my aromatherapy studies.
During the course of the week I discovered a couple things: The space I was spending time with was peaceful with minimal items in the room. It simply allowed the mind to rest. I spent more time with people, interacting instead of spending time in front of distractions. The tablet never came out until everyone was settled into their beds. It was a good exercise in being present.
A valuable lesson came out of this experience for me. I discovered that even though I hold on to the ideals and philosophies of minimalism, I am still finding that there is a lot of stuff that lives with me in my house. After returning home, I looked at my house with a refreshed minimalism lens and began going through things to donate or discard as needed. It was quite satisfying to shred fifteen year old documents, and provide a new home for clothing items that were gently used, or not used at all. In the kon marie way, these items had served their purpose at the time, and now they needed to be thanked and sent on their way.
I still have a way to go, but it is a journey. I am still ever grateful for the experience to refresh my determination to live a simple life.
Heritage locations that showcase how life used to be lived can be a great reminder of just how far we have come. It’s also a reminder of how much simpler life used to be. People didn’t have computers, smart phones, or even robotics to help do their jobs. They used good old muscle power.
I spent the day at one of these such sites this week. I like to visit places like this alone and truly immerse myself in the sense of what it was truly like at that time. Why? Because I hope that the reminder will help me to appreciate what we have now. Also, to remind me that we don’t need everything we have in this modern life we live. It helps reinforce my minimalistic lifestyle and appreciate what I have and use daily even more.
We live a good life. We don’t plow the fields with a horse drawn plow anymore. Most of us don’t even have a need to grow our own food, so if we do, it is more of a hobby than a necessity. Imagine the wonder that our ancestors would have had if they were told that growing food would become a hobby!
We are beyond fortunate. We are spoiled with having immediate gratification. Taking time to remember this perspective is grounding. I am grateful for the reminder.
Creativity is a huge part of my world. I see my world through the lens of a photographer, remember things with a writer’s pen, and dream with a painter’s brush. My soul breathes creativity, and it warms my heart to know that my children have inherited that gene from me. While it sometimes breeds frustration when we cannot achieve the product that we have dreamed of in our mind’s eye, the process is still very important. As I watched my younger one crochet his own creations at the tender age of ten years old, he can see what he wants to create. He has taken my guidance and moved beyond what I have given him and created more…turned it into his.
What comes with this territory is frustration, upset, sometimes a couple tears, but then it ends in pure joy. The joy that you don’t get from buying an item, but one of soulful satisfaction for doing it yourself. It may not be perfect. It may not be the product envisioned, but it is a unique, one of a kind item that was created with love, determination, creativity, positive reinforcement, and joy.
I have had a week where I was able to spend time doing the things I enjoy. There were still things that needed to get done, like take the little ones to school and make dinner, but I did these things in a way that I preferred.
We walked to school, which is a convenient 5 minute walk. We brought the dog both ways. We didn’t need to use before and after school care this week, and that made a huge difference in how much time we had to do things together and the free time they had without having homework or meal time. Our days suddenly gained a lot of time.
We made meals that were fun and delicious with organic whole foods that were deliciously vegetarian. Dinner became a joy instead of a chore.
It’s amazing how the simple things take on more enjoyment when you have time. Less stuff means less to clean. Less to own means less to owe. This gives way to freedom. The less you need to work to pay the bills for the stuff you need to clean. Seems pretty straightforward, no? With less, you can do more of what you love.
There is a lot of discussion about Minimialism, particularly since the documentary about Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (http://www.theminimalists.com) came out. It really isn’t anything new, but perhaps new to the masses who are caught up in commercialization.
I have been on my in and out journey through minimalism for years and years. I know that I do feel better when my life is uncluttered. I feel stress and anxiety when there is too much stuff in my house and in my life. And I could suspect that you feel the same too, whether you recognize it at this moment or not.
I look at minimalism as a component of simplification of one’s life. I think simplification truly is an art to achieve these days, what with all the social media and marketing proclaiming how we need this and we must have that. Why you’re just not important if you don’t have x, y, and z. I call bullshit. We don’t need any of that stuff. The big corporations need us to want that stuff. The CEOs who make six, maybe even seven figures a year because they have convinced the masses that all this stuff is necessary in our lives.
They’re wrong. So very very wrong. We don’t need all that crap. We don’t need to have the latest and greatest phone or computer. We don’t need to spend a million dollars on a house just because that is what is expected.
What we need is to live within our means. What we need is to be comfortable saying no to consumerism. What we need is to spend more time with family and loved ones. To spend time enjoying life without worrying about debt or clutter or how popular we are or how many friends we have and how we compare financially. We need to get back to basics. To live simply in all aspects of our lives. To find joy everyday in the little things and be thankful for the chance to be here…the chance to wake up in the morning. Not everyone has that same luxury.
Life in its simplicity is finding joy in the small things. Recall that motto I posted a while back? Life is lived in the mundane. Let’s live.