Editor Note: This is a guest post by my mom, Vickie Sloderbeck. She blogs with me at our site Sidetracked Moms.
When Faith first started talking about minimalism, I remember thinking, “Okay, so what’s the big deal? I’ve been dejunking and throwing stuff away most all my life.”
You see, I grew up in the military and when I married my husband, he went through medical school on Navy scholarship while attending medical school. Upon graduation, we then served with them for five years. When I calculated how many times I’ve moved in my life, I came up with 24! That’s meant I’ve dejunked a bunch so this concept was not a new to me.
I’ll admit that I was quite surprised to learn there was a whole movement happening “out there” about this topic. I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was at first. However, what really caught my attention was Faith’s sudden passion of this area for her life. I haven’t seen her on fire for anything quite like this in a long time.
In the beginning of our combining our households, many things happened quite naturally. When you put two households together under one roof, you suddenly don’t need, nor can you fit, two dining room tables, china cabinets or outdoor grills in the same space meant for one. Yet, as things progressed, I also found myself desiring to “declutter my life” of stuff.
- Things like many of the children’s books I had accumulated over the years to bless my children’s learning and to share with other homeschooling moms began to find their way into boxes and be sent to new homes to bless friends and others I will never know. In the past it would have been difficult for me to part with so many of them; however, re-selling and giving away about 50 boxes of books while keeping some “treasures” felt like the right thing to do. I couldn’t believe how good it actually felt.
- Clothing I hadn’t worn in a long time finally made its way into big black plastic bags and dropped into bins for charity so that others could wear them.
- Kitchen appliances and gadgets that had been sitting in a drawer or on a shelf unused either made their way into the trash or were passed on to friends and other family who appreciated them and would use them.
- Good pieces of furniture were donated, too, which helped to make room for some extra floor space.
As I’ve participated in minimizing my possessions and watched others in our family do the same, I noticed myself not only needing to downsize, but also desiring to do it with a new purpose in mind.
I can’t tell you whether it stemmed from having a bunch of “stuff” in storage since February 2007 when we first started our venture of trying to sell our home (which didn’t sell after 51 months and is the one we all live in now). Having to pay money all that time on stuff I didn’t even miss after a short period of time may be a big part of why minimizing attracted me. I just didn’t want to have to find places to put all that stuff back in!
Like Faith shared with me along the way, it started becoming something I desired to do rather than something I had to do. As we worked our way through each room, it almost became like a game for me as we tackled each room—what did we really need to keep in it and what could we realistically get rid of?
Over the last 10 months we’ve cleaned out Faith’s house while my family has been “moved back in”—all in such as way as if it is a new house for all of us. And in doing so, I’ve experienced and learned a few things that might help you.
Lessons I’ve Learned:
- Whether you call it “downsizing, dejunking, or minimalizing,” it definitely brings a sense of calmness and peace to your spirit because there isn’t as much stuff around that needs a place to be, or needs cleaned, or requires money to be spent on it. Maybe you’ve heard the same saying I heard years ago: “The more you own, the more it owns you.”
- So many of the things I got rid of I haven’t even missed!
- It saddens me to realize that so many of the things I gave away were ones I thought I just had to have at the time. I don’t know if it’s age or what, but I find that it just doesn’t take much to cause me to feel content anymore. Minimizing has really been very therapeutic for me.
- As I’ve learned about this movement and how some people try to reach a particular number of possessions, and somehow by doing so, they become a minimalist. I have to tell you that I just don’t see it that way. It’s like saying that what I wear to church on Sunday is what you should wear too so that we both can be considered “Christian.” Instead, I see this as a movement where there is room for everyone—no matter how many things you’ve decided to keep that are important to you versus how much you get rid of.
- I’ve come to realize that my husband is never going to cull out his library of books like I did. They are so much a part of who he is. I remember him having a bigger library in his bedroom than our family did in our whole house, and that was back when we were 15! Plus, unlike me, he has read most every one of the thousands of books he owns. At over 100 books read every year, his books are definitely his friends. They are important to him—his “treasures”—and that’s just fine with me. He has been great about everything else.
- I never want to go back to where I was before all this started! While I realize there will always be a need to clean things up and declutter items in the future, I don’t want to be a slave to any of my possessions anymore.
Do I now consider myself a minimalist?
In some ways, I guess. I’ve certainly downsized my possessions a lot and I’m starting to enjoy getting some free time back into my days now that the dumpster has left. However, whether or not I label myself as a “minimalist” doesn’t really seem like a big deal to me.
Instead, I have found a tremendous freedom in not having to maintain, or even think about certain possessions anymore. Now, as an added benefit to all our hard work (and it has been hard work), I find myself enjoying more time to spend talking with family, participating in meals together, reading, listening to music in the evenings again, settling down from a crazy routine and lifestyle that occurred before we moved in together, and even finding the time and having experienced these things so that I could write this blog post!
You can read more from Vickie and our multi-generational family of 10 living under one roof at Sidetracked Moms. Please feel free to ask questions, comment, or just say “Hi” in the comments of today’s post. Thanks, Mom!
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Article originally published on 02/21/2011