If I weren’t already a fan of simplicity, this past week would have put me on the fast track. Last Sunday, we took everything out of our attic to make way for the installation of two new air conditioning units. Then, we moved to my mom’s house for the week, because we’re also addressing a few things at home that are affecting our son’s health, and our kitchen is temporarily out of commission. (Say no more, you may be thinking.)
I am not one to hoard. I try to let go of things when we’re finished using them, whether we offer them to family members, take them to resale, or our preference, give them to charity. And I make serious efforts not to buy items we don’t either love or truly need. Nevertheless, what I thought was a modest pile of storage bins and boxes up in the attic added up to A LOT. Not to mention all of the clutter in the kids’ rooms and in other pockets around our home.
And staying at my mom’s house has truly pushed me over the edge. Like many people (maybe even some of you, God love your hearts), Mom is not one to let go of anything. There is something around every corner here that boggles my mind, be it boxes of old rewards, disposable kitchenware (which is never disposed), or an endless array of knick knacks. I find myself wanting to return to our home and give away ALL of our possessions. I am DONE with STUFF!!!
My love affair with simplicity
Sure, when we’re back home in a matter of days, it will be harder for me to practice my righteous war on clutter, because the things we own can work their way into our hearts, especially when they are attached to special memories or people. But whatever blossoming love affair I’ve had with simplicity over the past 15-20 years just got serious, friends. I am on a mission.
In my early professional years, I was commissioned to write a worship service on the topic of Consumerism. (See Consumerism: Worship Service, published by the Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University in 2003.) I bought several books on the topic, including one on simplicity, and I was truly captured by this alternative outlook to our excess-driven culture. From that time forward, though it may not be apparent to the average onlooker, I have tried to practice simplicity in my daily life and routines.
Simplicity: Life-Changing Magic
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For me, simplicity has much in common with de-cluttering, organization, and tidying, all of which get me a little excited on the inside. I have read Marie Kondo’s fabulous little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, twice. If I lived by myself, I would have carried out the process in its entirety, no doubt. But I have what’s known as children. And a husband. And a dog. I have a blog to write. And hopes and dreams. You understand. You have these things, too. Sometimes it feels completely overwhelming.
And this is where I get stuck. Life is so complicated. How will I ever find the time to simplify? But maybe the better question is this: What is it costing me NOT to simplify?
The answers are many, and they are profound. But for the sake of simplicity, I’ll narrow it down to three. (See what I did there?)
Not simplifying is costing me…
- The peaceful home I so desire. Seriously, this is the number one thing on my list of wants. I know it would change my life. And I know it’s within reach. It will take time and commitment. But it is possible. And moms, we all know it’s true: if it is to be, it is up to me.
- Mindful attention to work, hobbies, and leisure. Having stuff all around us, even if it’s organized into neat stacks (guilty), keeps us distracted and agitated, our attention divided. I may be working on one project only to be distracted by another, or playing with my kids only to find myself organizing their toys instead (guilty again).
- A legacy I want to give to my children. Just like grownups, when kids are surrounded by “stuff,” they can’t focus. Not long ago, I read an illustrative story about a child whose grandmother noticed that he loved playing with one particular car. She then bought him ten more cars, just like the one he loved. And he stopped playing with the cars altogether. Too much of a good thing is still too much. I want to teach my children to value what they have and to understand what it means to be content.
Simplicity: living with intention
I don’t know about you, but for me, these three reasons to simplify are very compelling, because they touch my life every day. With these simple things in mind–creating a more peaceful home, where I can give mindful attention to my work and play, and pass that beautiful legacy on to my children–I will be digging in over the next several weeks and bringing my family along with me.
I’ve already asked my children the question, “If you could only keep three toys, what would they be?” (“Cars” and “American Girl Dolls” count as everything in that category. I’m not crazy.) And we very well may keep more than three, but I want them to come along on this journey with me to a more intentional way of living.
I will do my best to chart my progress and share lessons learned, and I might even include some pictures! In the meantime, be sure to check out my Pinterest boards, “Simplicity: Quotes and Tips” and “De-cluttering: Home and Mind.” And if simplicity is your jam or you find yourself inspired by this post, please comment below with your pointers and stories!