The Bare Minimum

If you haven’t watched the Netflix documentary, Minimalism, you should. It’s only a little over an hour, but the wealth of information and inspiration packed into it is worth more than that small cost of time.

We are a culture who loves stuff.

I’ve always struggled with clutter in my space. When I was younger, it was because every item I owned was a treasure to me. My mom would savagely go through my room when I went off to summer camp and I’d come home to Mapleton Drive. At first I was upset she took some (half) of my belongings without asking, but her argument was that I wouldn’t even notice what was missing. And she was right. I rarely did.

As an adult, my problem with clutter has nothing to do with the inability to let things go. My problem as an adult is when I look at a cluttered space, I feel so overwhelmed that I become paralyzed. Brent has to pry the matches and lighter fluid from my hands because I feel that’s the only way out. Something is melting down: either me or my space!

About a year ago, I was chatting with my girlfriends at dinner group, and they mentioned Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’ve never read a book on organization or de-cluttering. I always thought I just didn’t have enough storage solutions or space. I found out that my problem had nothing to do with space. It was that I had too much stuff!

In a nutshell, according to Kondo, you should only keep what is an absolute necessity and what brings you joy (or according to the Minimalists, what adds value to your life). She has a whole system to help you let go of all the excess we are prone to accumulate.

One of the most eye-opening exercises in Kondo’s book is when you have to sort through your clothes. She requires you take every single item of clothing out of your closet and drawers and place it in one big pile. You are then required to pick up each item individually and ask if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t? Sayonara!

So, I did this. I placed every single item of my clothing on top of my king size bed. And it was absolutely shameful. You do not realize how much you actually own until it is all corralled in one place. By the time I finished sorting, I had half of my wardrobe in the donate pile.

Last year, I went through every room in the house getting rid of everything that didn’t add value to our lives. It was embarrassing how much stuff we donated. Our contact at the Christian help center asked if we had anything left in our house. We did. And lots of it. You wouldn’t even be able to tell we got rid of anything.

You’ll never see me live in a tiny house, even though I think the concept is really cool. And I’m not ready to try a capsule wardrobe. But, thinning my possession out considerably has affected my mental health! Have I missed or regretted anything I’ve gotten rid of?

Watching Minimalism was a great reminder to let go of the clutter and embrace a fulfilling life, free from the weight of material possessions (along with the debt that often accompanies excessive spending).

It’s an hour and eighteen minutes that could impact years of living. And if you’re a reader, you should definitely check out Kondo’s book. Want to get organized once and for all? To me, she’s the be-all-end-all on the subject.

The calming peace that accompanies simplicity? You can’t buy that in a store.

2 thoughts on “The Bare Minimum”

  1. After reading your blog, I decided to watch the Minimalist. What an eye opener! We have been thinking about downsizing our house and getting rid of “stuff”. Thank goodness we have never been people that had to keep up with the Joneses! We have lived our lives on our own terms and lived within our means. Living that way means that we don’t have to get rid of too much “stuff”.

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