Thoughts on Minimalism and the Story of the Move

Surfing the Internet again, up way later than I should be, and I come back to reading some old posts from one of my favorite blogs. I love the blog, Miss Minimalist. In the past year since I have moved to PA and had to cram my life into 400 sq. ft., I’m finding that I don’t miss the extra space, or the extra stuff I’ve had to give up to get here and be comfortable.
collect moments, not things

Speaks for itself.

Growing up [I now think] I was seriously spoiled. I believed that I had an average childhood as far as home-life goes. My parents bought my clothes, fed me, made sure I had shoes on my feet and toiletries – and that’s good! But I have to say that, looking back on my childhood with what I know now, I had TOO MUCH of that stuff and not only that but I had toys and other things I didn’t need in [what I feel now] was excess. I remember being a little girl and liking to collect things. I collected rocks, glass bottles, at one point I collected stickers (yes, stickers) and memories, and by memories I mean STUFF. I remember keeping my memories: boxes full of things I had acquired from places and milestone events that I HAD to keep. I remember this well because I kept these boxes up until recently when I paired down to ONE box. I paired down other things too, but not until I realized what a burden it was carrying things around…

When we moved from SC last year we hadn’t had our “new” house long: 7 months, approximately. In December 2010 I was beginning to pack up everything I had for a second time. Having already moved recently, I soon found just how much stuff I had. I had managed to take it all and move it from our first house to this one but now, as I sat in the bottom of office closet looking at the “memory boxes”, it occurred to me that I did not want the added stress of moving EVERYTHING AGAIN. For starters, we were moving long-distance. I didn’t know at the time exactly home long, but I remember finding out.

Tristan and I had been planning a move to Savannah, GA, about 45 mins. from our previous home. We were counting on our [soon to be] land lord (or so we thought) to have us move in by February 2011, so we waited…and waited. By the time we had to leave our house, my mother had offered to let us stay in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. I was a wreck. Here we were, stuck in limbo, our stuff packed into a storage unit we had rented earlier in Savannah for the transition, living out of suitcases. We assured my parents that we’d be out in a week. That week quickly turned into two, then three. Presently, my mom gave us an ultimatum. We had to leave and had no where to go. So I prayed.

My prayer was answered a few days later in the form of a phone call. My mother-in-law offered to let us stay with her. But wait…could I just up and leave SC without warning? I felt like I had so many “strings” hold me down. If I was to move that far and into a single room, I had to get rid of even more. Even, regrettably, my two other cats. But, thanks to staying with my parents, I had had a taste of living with less. (They would take care of my cats for me)

We had made a decision that night, we were going home; back to PA where we were both from and the next day, we drove to our storage unit. It was on our 4 year wedding anniversary that we spent all day there in front of that unit packing up this big moving truck in the rain. I again realized how much stuff I had been moving and how much was yet to be moved. And what would happen when we had to unload it? I was exhausted but still, we pressed on, leaving behind the things we knew we couldn’t use again. That’s when it started. WE starting getting rid of things. I tossed some, donated others, we gave a few things away to friends I knew needed them. “I would need any of these where I’m going”, I thought. Gradually, we paired down enough to be able to make the trip with room to spare. We left the next morning. Tristan drove the truck, I drove behind. We had to make a stop first to get the car trailer so that I wouldn’t have to drive the rest of the way. We got the trailer and hitched the car to the back of the truck. Tristan, Jinx, Giz, and I squeezed in the cab and made the 12 hour journey north.

When we arrived in our new “home” in greater Philadelphia in March of 2011 we had a bit of attic space and 400 sq. ft. to work with. My purging of things before the move hadn’t amounted to much. Somehow though, we did manage to fit everything that made the trip into the house. Still, I wasn’t satisfied. When we finished moving into the basement of the house and I immediately felt overwhelmed by all the clutter that we actually had, which was now very visible. I knew I was becoming starved for space after leaving a 2,400 sq. ft. home.

One day, months later, I found a blog about minimalism. I read through all the posts and the stories of real people who were perfectly happy living with less. I was enchanted but my research didn’t end there. If you know me at all these days, you know I like to research the crap out of something before I invest my mind, heart, soul or money in it. So I decided to do my homework, and over time I found more and more how lovely it was when things were simple. Through that one blog, I was led to the trend of minimalist and tiny housing and I was floored, I watched video after video on YouTube of how people had build houses smaller than my living space with all the amenities (which I currently lack) and how much happier they were with less. I also found myself meditating in the beauty of simplicity in my devotions. I thought about creation (one of my favorite things to mediate on), the simplicity of God’s love and provision and Jesus’ words all over the New Testament about simple living; how He was always explaining things in their simplest form and giving simple principles to live by: I think of Luke chapter 12 a lot, also of Luke 18: 15-17 when Jesus blessing the children and saying, “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17 NLT). If you’ve ever seen a child love, you know what this means; it’s the simplest, strongest love I’ve ever seen. Keeping these things in mind, a determined to make space for myself and my boys (hubby and cats) and I set to work! Over the next months I remember going up to the attic and throwing things out, breaking old dishes and stuffing things into trash bags. It felt so good!

Now, I am pleased to say that a year after I moved in, I have about half of what I moved in with and the I’m still throwing things out and donating things where I can…I don’t consider myself a hardcore minimalist, I don’t think I ever will be, but I am pursuing a simpler way of life, A life where God’s grace and love and the love of my husband (and the essentials, of course) is all I really need. Everything else that God has allowed me to have is just extra blessing =) and He’s allowed me many other things, things that I may not need, but they make me happy. And now I have a rule for smaller items (clothes, make-up etc.): When I bring something home, I MUST get rid of something. So far, it’s working and keeping the clutter down and you can bet that will continue. And when God finally sees fit to bless Tristan and I with our own place again it will be clean, serene and UN-cluttered.