“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” Marie Kondo
Recently while I was at home recovering from a broken foot, a dear friend visited. We chatted comfortably, and as part of the conversation she asked me if I was still into “the minimalism thing.” Her question amused me, and I thought more about it after she left.
Being homebound much of the time for the past month has provided me with time to reflect on multiple topics and to appreciate our home and lifestyle. Here are a few musings on minimalism, more than five years into my experience.
1. Minimalism isn’t for everyone.
Minimalism is something I enjoy writing about and discussing because it has improved my life. I don’t push it on others or attempt to sell it; I share my experience with those who have an interest.
It has freed my mind to focus on enjoying life, nurturing health and spending time in personally meaningful ways. It keeps me present and allows me to be more mindful.
I spend a negligible amount of time shopping, caring for possessions and maintaining our home. I rarely experience a sense of lack, despite the fact that I have probably donated, sold or discarded more than half of my belongings.
2. Minimalism is not a fad or a phase.
I can’t imagine abandoning this simple and serene lifestyle. I wish I had adopted it sooner because it would have lessened my anxiety and allowed me to make better use of my time, attention and energy for connecting with the people and activities I love.
I no longer spend mindless time at the mall or harried mornings in my closet searching for clothing. I don’t stress over my hair not being blonde enough or beginning to turn grey. I embrace my natural state. I do not care what is in vogue.
I am proud to be a one-car couple and live in a small efficient home. I don’t envy my friends who choose to live in large homes and spend their weekends cleaning and caring for their lawns or paying for those services.
My husband and I can spend a weekend out riding bikes or traveling because we have chosen a simple life.
3. Minimalism does not mean a life of austerity.
When my friend asked her question, she was gazing at the shelves in our home where we display books and other cherished items. I suspect she was thinking that I had passed through my “minimalist phase” since she saw books, photographs and even a collection of sea shells.
Over several years, my husband and I culled our belongings and carefully chose what to display. We don’t have boxes in storage; what you see is what we own. We appreciate the furniture and other items in our home for either their purpose or beauty, or the pleasant memory a particular item elicits.
Minimalism does not equate to a life of lack and a stark home. It is a personal process to determine what to keep and beyond that how to approach new items of interest. Is it necessary to possess something in order to appreciate it?
4. Maintaining minimalism requires much less effort than the original decluttering process.
Ongoing maintenance for us has been fairly easy. We wear our clothing to the point that it needs to be discarded and replaced. We do the same for household items, replacing pots and pans or utensils as needed.
We borrow most books and movies from the library rather than purchasing or paying for streaming service. We do our best to ignore trends, sales, and advertising. This requires vigilance since consumerism is pervasive.
Our minimalist lifestyle has improved our budget. It was a freeing experience for my husband and me to downsize and enter the empty nest phase with a hopeful view of the future, rather than a wistful and clinging approach to a phase of our lives that has passed.
5. The lack of clutter is comforting.
There is very little to clean and maintain in our home. As I rest and focus on healing, I gaze around and am surrounded by things that I love to see.
Our home is a retreat; it feels cozy and calm. I don’t feel compelled to straighten or sort, because everything is pretty much in its place.
I am not stressed by visitors because our home is pleasing to us all of the time. A few dust bunnies or a stack of items to be taken out of the house or put away are not cause for embarrassment.
I am thankful that I learned about minimalism and that my husband and I have adopted it to create and lovingly maintain a home that is a perfect fit for us.
About the Author: Jennifer Tritt is a midlife minimalist who enjoys sharing her experiences in an effort to help those who are also seeking a more simple life.