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Minimalist Me

Posted on Jun 24, 2014 by in Art, Faith, Family | 2 comments

Abby sunlight in hairHi, my name is Ashley and I am a minimalist.

It’s a deep part of who I am. I’ve had this part of me hiding nebulous under the surface for years, without really understanding what it was, which was constantly putting me in conflict with my world and causing me to ask, “is this ok?  Is there something wrong with me?”  The answers, I am happy to report, are YES and No, by the way. 🙂

The term minimalism can be summed up this way: Less is more.

Ah, it explains so much.

To choose a greeting card at the store, I would open the cards, glance at the amount of words, and discard, discard, discard, until I found one with only one, perfect sentence. I am a writer, I like words, but my favorite cards have always been the ones with a simple, short, sweet message.

The term minimalist came from architecture: minimalist architectural designers focus on the connection between 2 perfect planes, elegant lighting, and careful consideration of the void spaces left by the removal of three-dimensional shapes from an architectural design.

Careful consideration of the void spaces.  Ahhhhh, I love that.  When Tim and I are cleaning out a room, deciding what to keep and what to toss, and I am struggling with a decision to toss, the best inspiration for me is to picture that space without the object. Empty spaces, clean, simple, peaceful.

I am a minimalist.

Seven years ago, I remember walking through the aisles of Babies R Us, feeling so very overwhelmed at the amount of STUFF and GADGETS you needed for a baby. If I had understood myself then as I do now, I would have told myself that it’s ok for me to be counter-cultural, to choose to do without all the stuff I am supposed to buy. (It’s also ok to get all the stuff and enjoy it, if that’s your jam.)

To this day, I still use receiving blankets to double as burp cloths, snot wipers, lap pads, and nursing covers.  This is my way. I would rather have one basket of receiving blankets to use for everything than to keep ten other types of items organized and on hand.  For years, I said I was bad at organization, and while that is partly true, what is more true is that I don’t enjoy spending my time that way.  Life is so fleeting, so brief, and I don’t want to spend more time than necessary organizing a bunch of stuff.  I’d rather be creative any way possible: baking, writing, reading, exercising, ANYTHING.

In order to live the way I want to live, I have to accept that I am a minimalist.  Minimalism is counter cultural. Being a minimalist means you guard the door of your house VERY CAREFULLY. You don’t let just any old stuff make it through the door, because you know you will then have to MANAGE and ORGANIZE that stuff at some later time.  OR you will have to store, stuff, or closet it, which, for minimalists, just creates more stress.

Stuff is stress to me, and maybe to all minimalists.

Before we set up Abby’s new room in our new house, she and I pulled out all her toys (at the old house) and evaluated them together. To my surprise, she willingly chose to give away almost all her toys.  I realized in that moment that at six years old, she rarely played with toys. She spent her free time, drawing, writing, reading, or glued to my side. In her new room, we took a minimalist approach, putting her few toys away in the closet and saving the space in her room for her bed and a writing desk. Not surprisingly, her room is one of my favorite places in the house. When she is at school, I go there to nurse Susanna or have some quiet time, soaking up the minimalist peacefulness.

It applies to our entire philosophy of life, too. I love to be at home, creating, playing, reading, baking, learning, being with those I love.  I don’t love to be on-the-go all the time, rushing hither, thither, and yon to one hundred fun events.  Busyness is not fun to me; it’s exhausting. (Did I mention I am also an introvert?)  So not only must I guard the door of my home from stuff, I must guard our schedule from excess stress.  Just managing a home of six people is a full-time job, period, and I want to do it well. I have to learn to say “no” and be ok with disappointing people. Letting my schedule be determined by others makes me feel like I am being pretzelized into a mold that doesn’t fit. It’s the fastest was to stress and exhaustion.

The concept of minimalist architecture is to strip everything down to its essential quality and achieve simplicity.[5] The idea is not completely without ornamentation,[6] but that all parts, details and joinery are considered as reduced to a stage where no one can remove anything further to improve the design.[7]

As we evaluate the overall quality of our lives, Tim and I flourish doing a few things well rather than a million things stressed and rushed and not enjoyed.

Less is more, addition by subtraction, clean, white space for thinking, reflecting, being with myself and God, this is what makes Minimalist Me happy.

Any other minimalists out there?

 

2 Comments

  1. After reading your article, I am wondering if I might be a minimalist. One could not tell that by looking at my house or garage. It is an accumulation from years of children, hobbies, and businesses I have enjoyed to the max. But having enjoyed these accumulative blessings, I realize, by your words, they have caused me stress! Now the stress is how to downsize, unload, and keep what is really needed. That which is needed becomes less and less as I see the days rush by. So now, less is more, and I can see how I might have said no more often in my past to keep all these things at a minimum.

    • Pat, I should clarify, too, that being a minimalist doesn’t mean you don’t have a wide variety of interests. In fact, I think being a minimalist means that you reduce the clutter as much as possible so that you CAN enjoy your interests, hobbies, and children. I used to enjoy scrapbooking. It was so fun! But after adding two more children to our family, I realized that I wasn’t ever scrap booking anymore. All the tools I used were making me feel guilty, so I gave the whole lot to my sister and felt so free! Free to do something new, which in my case, was this blog. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

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