Before I Die

I have thinkerly days sometimes. Usually when the wind blows wild and I feel restless.
Today is the perfect culmination of thinkerly conditions.  Fall is like that.
I spent some time thinking about what I want the last week of the 31 days project to hold, now that we’ve looked in my closets and discussed what’s in the pantry.  Where to we go from here?

I think we’ll spend the next week going outside the box of house keeping and talking about what to do with life once we’ve eliminated the things that weigh us down and steal from us.  Clearing our homes is just the first step, there is a life to be lived after that, and maybe its time we examined more closely what sort of life we want that to be.

A few months ago I watched this inspiring talk. It entered my mind again today in all my thinking. It’s the perfect prelude to what’s coming next. I hope you’ll take a few moments to watch it. It’s worth your six minutes.

Intermission

Having blogged nearly 15,000 words in fifteen days, today I am giving my words and my fingers a rest. And sharing this instead. Take a moment to breath and hear some beauty, and watch the joy in people’s faces. It’s almost better than the sound…almost…

More minimalist instructions tomorrow. We’ve still got kid stuff and kitchens to cover this week.

Begin with the End in Mind

I think these words often. We live in an instant society where it’s easy to get discouraged by things that take time. I say I have been a minimalist for two years, which is mostly accurate, except when I trace threads of thought back over more years than that, some even a decade. I have said time and again that being a minimalist is a process. Just because we claim the title doesn’t mean we are finished with the work, or that we have it all perfected.  But we have begun, and having begun we should develop an idea where we are headed. What is it that I want out of minimalism? What is my purpose, ultimately, on this journey?  Each day work towards it a little bit, as much as you can. Don’t be discouraged that it seems slow progress.  It takes time to prioritize a life, or if we are part of a family, a whole group of lives.

This week, I’ll be sharing some of the things I have changed, purged and minimized in my home, going room by room. Because we’re beginning with the end in mind, I’m starting in the bathroom. Also, bathrooms are smaller rooms that actually can be processed in a day if we set our minds to it. They are good places to begin.

*Linens  Oh my dear people, I could go on for days about the linens we keep. I realize that there are extenuating circumstances when we have babies and littles who are potty training, but the average American person does not need three sets of sheets per bed in the household. Yet we have them.  We have sheets that are twenty years old, and crib sheets, and toddler sheets and grandma’s sheets and guest sheets and flannel sheets…Do you see the madness? And the towels. My lands! We are not a hotel. Most of us do not have regular houses full of guests.  Stop. Just stop the madness.
*If it’s threadbare, stained or unraveling, it is trash. No one wants that. Throw it away. Don’t keep it for rags if you have rags already.
*Towels.  We have a bath towel per person and about three spares. That way if we suddenly have three people in the tub at once and all our towels fall in with us, we can still get dry. We wash them about twice a week. I’m not even discussing using and washing a towel for your hair and a towel for  your body every single day. Linens aren’t your biggest problem if you do this.
*Wash cloths. In the adult bathroom there are four. In the teens bathroom there is a stack of ten for three girls. They get washed about every other day. With five people we generate enough laundry that we’ve never gone searching. Laundry gets cycled beginning to end (most days) so it’s put away before dinner.
*Sheets – we do have regular and flannels per bed. So there is always one set of sheets per person in the closet (we do not currently have a ‘linen closet’ but the linens share an area in a larger closet pictured yesterday).  We also have three ‘spare’ sets (twin size). I keep these for camp and guests. There are times when all three are actually in use.
*blankets – these can take up quite a bit of space if you are a blanket loving family, which we are. It’s fall now so our blankets are out on the backs of furniture. They don’t all match but they are all right where we want them. In the summer we put about half of them away, usually in the bedroom closets.

Medicine Chest – this is also a breeding ground for evil. If it’s outdated toss it. If you have fifteen half empty bottles of tylenol, combine or toss. We really only need one type of medicine per ailment (children’s and adult versions if you have littles) Ours currently houses tylenol, cough syrup, one box of sinus meds, naproxen, one tube of neosporin, one box of multi-size bandaids, one ace bandage, saline solution, glasses/ contact lens cases, my current cosmetic needs (all under 6 months old), Hunky’s shaving things.  Everything is in date and used at least once a week, most of it daily. Stop shoving things in your medicine chest and thinking they disappear. They don’t.

Cosmetics – I am not a fashionista or a make-up guru, but my friend Cheri has taught me well: find out what looks good on you and stick with it.  I keep my make-ups very basic anyway, but this gave me “permission” to wear what I like consistently and not be all over the map experimenting. I don’t keep old stuff. Use it up; move on to the next. All my cosmetics fit into one clutch size bag which they live in in the drawer. I can literally grab and go for travel. Keep it simple.

Under the cabinets – Look, if it’s half full and it’s been under there for more than three months, it’s trash. Please don’t hang onto a half bottle of shampoo and the fourteen scented lotions and shower gels from Bath and Body works you’ve been getting for Christmas for the last five years. Most of us don’t need to keep spares since we’re less than ten minutes from a store.  We actually use very little of our under cabinet space.  Two cleaners (please don’t keep eight half empties of this either. No one is that dirty.) The toilet brush.  It’s pretty uneventful, and very uncluttered.

That’s about it for us, no extra stuff in the bathroom. It isn’t exciting, but it is useful and clean. The hardest thing is often to convince ourselves that we don’t need to keep things for “someday.”  If something hasn’t been used in six months, it likely isn’t going to be. Let it go. Unless you are running a dorm or camp, you don’t need linens for twenty.  Bathrooms are easy places to start. GO!

31 days button

Numbering

I lost another friend today, a sister (sistah to be specific).  We probably would never have met had we lived normal lives in the normal course of time. Instead we got cancer.  Sheryl died leaving behind a husband, a nine year old daughter and a nineteen year old son. Because we shared so much for so many years, I can’t help but put myself in her place and wonder what I will think of my life when I reach the end of my days.

When I was twenty-two, I became mortal. Oh sure, we’re all mortal but there aren’t many twenty year olds who stare it in the face. I lost my hair and my eyelashes and my health and my dignity and for time we thought I’d even lost my fertility.

When I was twenty-four I became immortal again at the birth of my daughter, the first of three in the next three years.  I bargained with God for days and months. To see them be born, to see them walk, to live long enough for them to remember my smile.  I counted them off as though they were prayer beads, “Thank you Jesus, full of Grace for one more day.”

But time passed, and I began to count less frequently. Children walked and talked and ran. Days passed into years, even into decades.  I count infrequently now. Birthdays and anniversaries inspire me to look behind me at the string of beautiful shining days filled with so much more than I dared hope for so long ago when a gentle doctor spoke deadly words with tears in his eyes.

So many days.

These days are why I am passionate about living with less. It isn’t really less at all but a way to honor all the answered prayers for days I didn’t earn or deserve by living them with joy and love, not wasting them with grasping and fear.  I’m holding loosely to things because one day I will be like Sheryl, on my death’s bed looking back over my life. It won’t be the fashionable clothes or the investments or the cars or the rooms filled with things that I will want near, but the people I have made space to love deeply, the memories we have created and all the experiences I wasn’t to busy to do and enjoy.

This is why I am a minimalist.
Because life and time are finite, but they don’t have to be filled with finite things.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
    so that we may grow in wisdom. ~Ps. 90:12

31 days

Treasure

Yesterday I talked about minimalism and money. Today, I’m blogging over at Middle Places about my treasures. The simple fact is that we are all living for something regardless of your faith or belief system. My family lives to give back to the world. It is who we are at our core, and it’s the foundation for our lifestyle.

Compassion

 We want a little bit of Jesus; enough to get our sorry souls into heaven. We don’t want too much of Jesus; not enough to change the world. ~~Brian Zahnd

In my heart I am a missionary.  I didn’t know this about myself until I was married with children, which I don’t think is the lesser choice by any means. I dream of scooping up my family and setting sail on a Mercy Ship or relocating to the White River reservation in Arizona.  I conspire ways to sell everything and walk away together into the grasslands of Africa.  I wonder what the future will hold for us when so much of the world still so desperately needs Jesus.

For today, these options aren’t mine to choose. I can’t physically drop it all and leave town, so instead I raise children in my soul and in my heart…

Read the rest of today’s blog ‘Treasure’ by CLICKING HERE
If  you have questions about Compassion International or about a minimalist lifestyle, feel free to drop me a comment.

 

31 days

The Imperfect Minimalist

Why am I blogging about minimalism? Find out HERE


PicMonkey Collage a
I’ve talked a great deal this week about the reasons to clean out, pare down and dispose of our belongings. Today I wanted to share the things that I haven’t and don’t plan to dispose any time soon. Yes, I am absolutely a minimalist, but I do still have things I love. Today I am sharing the not-so-minimal areas of my home.

Starting at the top left and moving clockwise:

1. Hunky and I share one desk which means I have to be a little bit creative. Also, I have a bit of a pen and sharpie addiction. The shadow boxes and baskets hold some of my treasures, my pens, a few gifts from friends, and those odd papers that don’t fit anywhere but that you absolutely cannot throw away.  I do know what is there and where to find it, but it’s not a spartan desk top by any means.

2.  The Christmas shelf. A few years ago I decided not to put much effort into seasonal decorating anymore. In fact, other than the tree, stockings and ornaments, we don’t do really do any Christmas decorating,  though we all love Christmas. Enter, the Christmas shelf. The set of carolers and my tins, which say “Peace”,  “Joy”, and “Love” are some of my very favorite things, even when it isn’t Christmas.  I have them sitting in my kitchen window where I work every day, and where I enjoy them every day.  Even in June.

3.  This is my bedside ‘table’  It isn’t actually a table; it’s an antique crate (pictured) set atop two yarn bins (not pictured). On it you can see my stack of library books and my chapstick. I will always have chapstick by the bed. In it are various books I reference frequently, my kindle charger, some lotion for my rough ole’ runner feet, a book light and a flashlight.  I do use all the items all the time.  But it certainly doesn’t look minimal, and I love it.

4.  The picture wall. We’ve had these in our last four homes. We change the photos once a year to more recent shots to be displayed where everyone can see. It’s the happiest place in my home. I don’t ever plan to be with out it.

So there you have it. Being minimalist means making room for the things that work most effectively for me, not getting rid of things simply to do without.  I’ve shared with you a few things that work perfectly in my own home, but that seemingly defy what many would call minimalist.

31 days