Wow, this title is a loaded question: How Do You Simplify Your Life? There are many ways to define this question. It could be just getting rid of clutter and trash in your environment. Or going completely minimalist where you only have in your surroundings the things you absolutely need to survive. I think I’m kind of in the middle.
For me, this is presently an ongoing process. The notion of simplifying and paring down my environment to the barest essentials is intriguing. I always compare it to when I’m on vacation. I seem to get by with a lot less “stuff” than when I’m home. Of course, when you are home there are bills to pay, a house to keep clean and more. But have you ever really just looked around your home, car, office, etc., to see if the things you have collected or are around you are the things you love or need? This is the question that I began asking myself as I started to declutter and simplify our home.
This process really started last year but it has been something I was doing a little bit here and there. I definitely was not consistent. But the last few months, as I began on the journey of becoming a novelist and taking my art more seriously, I found that I wanted to spend more time creating and less time having to take care of things around the house. Sounds kinda selfish doesn’t it? But I found myself torn between dusting knick knacks, feeling guilty for not using my latest kitchen gadget and more when I just wanted to write or paint or try a craft project that I suddenly thought of. Instead I’m cleaning house taking care of things that I don’t use or need.
So now I’m taking one room at a time and really examining what is there and what brings me joy. It is amazing to me the things I have that I haven’t given a second look at in years. This is a great example (I might have even used it before in a previous blog post): I was cleaning up my art studio and ran across some cross-stitch supplies. I had lost interest in this beautiful craft a long time ago. I like it but its not on my artistic radar anymore. After thinking about it, I had these items for more than 20 YEARS! I had that project stashed away, shuffling it from one drawer to the next, always telling myself that “I’ll get to it one day”. I had a feeling that if I didn’t finish it I was being wasteful and it made me feel guilty. Finally I looked at all the supplies and the partially finished piece and just admitted to myself that I just don’t like to cross-stitch. I did at one time but that season has passed. I’m finding other crafts that actually make me feel so good when I complete a work that I feel giddy. So out went the cross-stitch supplies and it felt good. That pressure that I felt to complete the project was suddenly released and it felt good. Really good!
I started thinking that this is just one item! What else do I have around me that I can let go? Can I pare down to just the things that I love and treasure? Will letting things go reduce some stress for someone like me that feels that they have to do it all and do it perfect? Well, if letting go of some craft supplies was any indication, I knew I was on to something that would reduce the stress in my life.
So the last two months, even though it’s been a slow process, I have already let go a huge box of items. And this is just the beginning. The feeling is so good that I want to rush and go through everything right now. But I have found that I have quite a lot of things to go
through and it is going to take some time. And part of this process is going paperless which involves a lot of paper scanning but that’s ok. The feeling I get when I’m able to release something is great and the house is starting to look and feel better little by little.
Also this process has heightened my creativity. The sense of pressure and guilt is lessening little by little. I don’t think I will ever become one of the Minimalists that you see all over the internet right now. I like electronic gadgets too much – I’ll admit it! But I am questioning purchases, trying to use what we have and repurpose things instead of buying new. These little decisions add up to big wins for me and my family. I have a feeling that this will always be an ongoing process because I have a tendency to gather and collect things then not use them (its the “crafter” in me). Sometimes I wonder if I could ever live in one of those tiny houses that are all the rage right now. Maybe because at one time I wanted to live out of a motor home and be able to travel when I wanted to. But that was before I met the wonderful Mr. and we bought a big house instead to accommodate the children who have now go out on their own. I love our house but I have to admit that if I could I would sell it and move to a little house on one of the islands we have right here on our coast! If I’m by the beach the size of the house wouldn’t matter! LOL!
So are you ready to really simplify and go through your stuff? Are you ready to ask yourself the tough questions of “Do I need this” or “Is this really important enough to me to keep it and keep taking care of it” or “Do I really use this”? Some items you come across will be a no-brainer. Other things you might have to think on the decision for a day or two. Most people advocate to make a decision quick and take action. Do what is right for you – a slow approach or a quick decision. Only you know what is right for your situation.
One thing I think you are going to find is that it really does feel good to have less stuff and the things you do keep and have around you make you feel good. And that is a great feeling!