This morning I experienced my first minimalist fail in two years: I threw away our extra coffee pot. I don’t know when I did it, though I know it was sometime during the moving process. I don’t know why I did it, possibly some form of moving delusion or purging euphoria. What I do know is that I wanted coffee and thirty seconds prior to discovering my purging error, the bottom cracked out of what I now know to be the only coffee pot in the house. . Fortunately I had not disposed of the camping coffee cups my brother purchased for us the year four hurricanes marched through Florida and we went weeks without power. Eventually, a lovely friend came to the rescue with a spare coffee pot, the result of a very recent marriage and the joining of two households.
Then my power when out.
Then my internet went out once the power came back on.
I looked outside to see if the sun had turned red or a black hole was forming but that didn’t seem to be the case.
Oh, and right now, I’m blogging from my phone.
Normally I would simply grab my things and head to Starbucks for a few minutes of wi-fi and maybe a bagel. Instead I’ll be taking my daughter to chemistry lab in a few moments. After which my mom is arriving from Tennessee. This is why going to Starbucks is out.
It also means that once again, I am delaying the “kids stuff” post. But I do have a few observations in the midst of my first world crisis. Often times we, yes even me, hold on to things “just in case.” It’s why I kept a spare coffee pot for two years. But there comes a tipping point in our lives where we have to decide if we are to continue to rely on the accumulation of stuff and money as wards against just in case, to keep life constantly convenient, or are we going to stop grasping so tightly to everything but the one thing that will keep us from drowning? Let it go. We cannot be prepared for every blip, bump and eventuality. We sure can’t guard against real catastrophe with stuff and money. When chaos strikes, and it will, it won’t be our stuff that saves us. It is entirely possible we won’t be saved at all but will have to walk right through the fire from beginning to end. When that happens, it will be what we’ve gained in the letting go that carries us: the relationships, the family, the friends that have taken root and flourished in the open spaces of our lives. We weren’t meant to get through life on our own, but we keep building these imaginary castles of self sufficiency on foundations of a greedy American dream at the expense of the people who are simply waiting for us to need…something.
I’m not at all saying that today was a catastrophe. It has been particularly frustrating. Take it from me, home school becomes exponentially challenging when there is no power on a heavy technology day. Frustration, catastrophe, these things happen no matter how many coffee pots we store in the closets. But had I only needed to reach for a spare, I would have missed out on the pleasure of allowing someone to touch my life in the simplest of ways. I’m glad I threw my old junk away after all.
***Edited to add: after I typed this with my thumbs on my phone, I couldn’t get it to post no matter what I did. It took the Hunky man coming home and unsnarling all the technology to finally be able to say anything at all.
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.
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.
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.
If you’ve been here before and you are looking for the 31 days entries, you can scroll down to the bottom of this page for an index of all the entries for the month. Thank you for stopping by!
Chances are if you are landing on this page, you wandered over here from the 31 Days project page from the The Nester. So let me take a moment to introduce my theme (I introduce myself on my About Me page which you can find HERE ).
What is minimalism?
The odd thing about minimalism is that for a such a simple concept, it’s very hard to define. Every minimalist looks different from the next, and we’re all convinced that we’re doing it the exact right way for us. We defy being thrown under one umbrella definition because at its heart minimalism isn’t about living with as little as possible. It’s not even about meeting a list of specific sacrifices. It’s about making more: more time, more money and more room. You see, minimalists think today’s culture which teaches Stuff = Joy has it all wrong. Stuff doesn’t bring joy. It buries joy. Stuff requires care and maintenance. We have to clean it and house it and feed it – gas, time, money, electricity. Stuff costs far more money than most of us have so we work harder to pay for stuff we couldn’t afford in the first place and now we don’t have time to enjoy. This isn’t the kind of more I am talking about. Minimalism is a living model of addition by subtraction. To the last man, woman and family, minimalists agree that by reducing life to the things we love most deeply, we will exponentially increase our joy. We all look so different because what we love is highly individual. What is it you love most? What would you sacrifice to have more of it? When you stop thinking about making those changes and actually begin changing…then you are a minimalist.
I first started really examining minimalism two years ago for the 31 Day Project. My theme was “31 days of Simply Living.” I had no idea then which direction the path would take when it forked from simplifying my life to radically redefining the way I thought about pretty much everything. It’s been quite an adventure. I’ll talk about it here in the next 31 days as well as examining where the road may lead next. Which leads us to the next question:
What is ‘HNL”?
Around my home, we use the term HNL often. It’s the acronym for ‘Hole Notha Level. In other words, I’ve written about these things before. But when I wrote about them, I was a beginner, examining and dabbling, with more questions than answers and very little experience. Two years later and hundreds of pounds lighter, I think many of my early philosophies have changed. I want to think about what has worked, what has failed, and what just needed a different approach. I have so much more to learn, however I also know it’s time to share some of what I have learned already and possibly convince you that there’s more joy and time for you too. It’s just buried under a lot of your stuff. There’s a manageable solution for that. Let’s talk about it for the next 31 days.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about expectations lately.
I have many. Whether that is a good or bad thing doesn’t matter because anticipating the future is part of my personality, a part which has led to some of my most enjoyable seasons and also some of my hardest. The problem begins when expectational me hangs out with perfectionist me. Perfectionism is a trait I am retraining slowly. I apparently overlooked it in this area of my life as I find it running rampant. Expectational me hopes things will be a certain way, then perfectionist me sweeps in yelling, “Wrong! wrong! wrong! None of this is how it should be. IT IS ALL A CATASTROPHIC FAILURE!” When I allow perfectionist to be the only voice I hear, I allow myself to be robbed of anything that is good about the situation, and even worse, feeling as though I was cheated out of something that was owed.
Robbed and cheated: I’ve heard about someone who works in exactly those ways- seeking to kill, steal and destroy.
It’s a difficult realization. I’ve been using the enemy’s own weapons against myself, and doing it so perfectly that he doesn’t even have to come near. But as in all things, something difficult has a positive side. Despite the fact that I may have been my own worst enemy, I also have the most deeply vested interest in changing this pattern of behavior. I can control the way I respond and react, not quickly or all at once, but slowly, changing small behaviors one at a time which eventually leads to big change.
I believe expectations are good, but I also believe that I need to stop expecting events to unfold just-so. Life happens. Usually it happens without input, advice or direction from me, but my response doesn’t have to just happen. I don’t have to let the perfectionist run around screaming and pointing out all the flaws. I could, in fact, let the wide-eyed wondering me take over. She likes to point out the beautiful things, the things that are seldom noticed by a frantically screaming perfectionist. She has mastered the art of being still and observing small miracles, but she is inherently quiet, so she seldom receives my full attention. It’s time to change that too.
The words “slow, small and still” continue to speak wholeness over my life in the most beautiful ways. Their very unassuming nature waits on my reflection and acceptance of what is and who I am and guides me gently in finding the answers to the differences I seek. What I am learning is not to let go of my expectations, but to temper them, and to allow reality the grace to be different then I imagined but to be beautiful anyway.
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
A terrible thing happened to me today. My baby grew up.
I realize that as of 4:23 PM EST she’s only a day older than she was at this time yesterday, but in my heart, she is so much closer to grown than I anticipated.
For those of you that don’t know me well, I am a mom to three gorgeous and amazing teen age daughters. As of this summer, they are all high school age. In parenting time, I am only five years from being able to say, “I have three grown children.” Intellectually I know this. It makes my heart squeeze, but at the same time, watching them become is so captivating that I can’t spend my time dwelling on the past or I will miss the fullness of now. Oh but sometimes, I am allowed a rare glimpse into the future and then, then the shortness of time slams home, and I’m left gasping at the brevity and breadth of time that we have to really raise our children.
I didn’t suspect when I signed Lindsay up for a high school chemistry lab that it would suddenly change the parameters of time and cause her to age. I never thought that the location of an event could be so traumatizing, but today I drove to a college campus, and watched my little girl walk away. With each step she grew taller, older and became more of the woman she is becoming. I know that every foot of distance wasn’t actually a year in time, but to my eyes each step was a mile further down all the roads she will one day walk. I watched her walk and at the same time my mind went back to the last day I stood in my parents’ home, with my brand new husband, and said goodbye before climbing into a Uhaul with everything I owned.
How do we do this?
How do we walk around with our hearts not entirely contained within our bodies?
How do we complete the masterpiece that is letting go of our children grown?
Fortunately, instead of being hundreds of miles away for decades, my baby was only two miles away for ninety minutes. I picked her up and brought her home full of smiles and chatter about density and Dr. Who and friends she hadn’t seen since the spring. She’s still very much fifteen.
Except that she’s also the woman she’s becoming, and that becoming means she’s still walking away.