October 5, 2008
September 29, 2008
an interesting conversation occurred with my wife last night when she informed that a good family friend of ours had offered to give our 2-year old daughter a large box of hand-me-down toys that her daughter had outgrown. included in the collection is a large-wooden dollhouse. my wife was interested to see how i would respond based on our decision to become minimalist.
as i began to think through what it would mean to bring in a large number of toys, i had a number of questions for my wife.
- are the toys something that our daughter will enjoy playing? easy answer – yes. she absolutely loves dolls! that’s her thing – playing with dolls. i can picture the joy on her face already of having a dollhouse to put them in. shame on me if my quest to become minimalist would rob her of that joy.
- are the toys something that the other family wants to use to bless our family or just get out of their own house? we all know the family that graciously offers to give you their old treadmill or foosball table – not for the sake of blessing, but for the sake of removing the clutter from their own house. my wife assured me that they were genuinely hoping to bless our family - even to the point that the daughter ran up to her excitedly to tell about the toys that she had picked out for us.
- do we have toys that we can remove from our daughter’s current collection to make room for the new ones? absolutely! there are many toys in the toy room that my little girl has outgrown or no longer has an interest in. we will sort out some of those toys and remove them to make room for the new ones.
i can’t wait to see the joy on my daughter’s face when the new dollhouse appears in our toyroom! and i am very grateful for the wonderful family whose generosity will bring her that joy. thank you.
September 23, 2008
sane minimalism is not a term i would have picked, but i appreciate the thought.
September 20, 2008
it wasn’t too long ago so i still remember the conversation vividly. i told my mom that we had decided to become minimalist. she called me back a few minutes later to report that she had talked to my uncle who was intrigued with the notion. he had gone straight to his computerto google “minimalism,” but was dissapointed in the results. he wanted more information. i said to myself, “i’ll give him more information. i’ll start a blog about we’re doing.”
i saw several benefits to starting a blog about our journey to become minimalist:
- it would keep us accountable. even if i didn’t know who the readers were, i’d still feel accountable to follow through with the decision to become minimalist because “people are reading.”
- it would encourage others. reading about our journey towards this better life would surely encourage other to do the same.
- it would serve as an on-line journal. a fun way to look back and see where we’ve come.
as this blog goes over 10,000 hits today. i’m reminded of the many unforseen benefits that have come along with its creation.
- i’ve gotten to meet new people – albeit, only digitally. nevertheless, i’ve gotten to meet many like-minded people through the comment sections of the blog. people i never would have met without it.
- i’ve been forced to think through minimalism on a deeper level. creating a blog post takes effort. it takes thought to write down what you did, how you did it, and why you did it.
- i’ve been encouraged myself. what began as a desire to encourage others has become an encouragement to me. thanks for everyone who has visited and posted comments. they have helped in our journey to become minimalist.
thanks again for stopping by.
September 17, 2008
i’m digging out my desk after a busy weekend of work (40 hours just on friday-sunday). when i get rushed, papers and files just pile up on my desk until i can catch my breath and sort them out. that’s what i’m doing today.
i just cleared 2 stacks of papers from my desk and found an important note scratched on a sheet of paper. it’s a letter of sorts. it was such an important letter that i put it on my desk right in front of my computer so that i would be reminded all day long. but alas, it got pushed aside and buried under piles and piles of papers. and when it “became out of sight,” it became “out of mind” as well.
i found it this morning and was reminded of its importance, weight, and promise. oh, how i wish it had not been crowded out by the accumulation of “stuff.”
too often this metaphor defines me – not just in pieces of paper, but in life’s joy and value. this “find” has become my encouragment and challenge for the day – don’t let “stuff” push aside the important things in your life.
now that my desk has been sorted and cleared, this note and its message has again returned to prominence in my life and attitude. thank god.
September 14, 2008
this evening i was talking to a friend. during the convesation, he asked how the “minimalism” was going. i replied, “i feel bad. it’s been so hectic at work the past couple weeks, i haven’t been able to do much around the house.”
something hit me as i finished the sentence – for the first i recognized fully that becoming minimalist is not an easy thing to do. it is hard work! it takes time and energy to sort possessions. it takes effort to decide what we truly value. it takes time to determine if an item is necessary to keep or can be removed. it takes time to sort, sell, recycle, or discard. it takes time to reorganize and find “homes” for every belonging.
stuff… takes your time when you own it and takes your time when you try to get rid of it. i think the best solution is to not buy it in the first place. and that’s something i wish i knew 10 years ago.
September 9, 2008
for three months, i have been set free from the bounds of time… or at least a clock on my wall. when i minimalized my office, i removed my clock from the wall and had not returned it – partly on purpose and partly because i hadn’t found the right one to put up.
what began as just a search for the right new clock, became an interesting study in western culture lifestyle. every time my head jerked to the upper right corner of my office to check the time, i was reminded of how our culture is held captive by the passing seconds. and because my wall was vacant, i was able to take special notice of my longing to know the time. it was just an empty wall with no answers. (if you would like to try it yourself, tape a piece of paper over the clock on your wall – you will also take special notice of how often you check the time during a typical day). and that didn’t even count the number of times i checked my watch or computer clock. to further the experiment, i even stopped wearing my watch for a few weeks.
after the first 30 days, i looked to the wall less and less often. i rarely do anymore. unfortunately, it is not because i have been set free from the tyranny of the clock dial. it is only because i became accustomed to using the clock on my computer.
and thus, today, i returned a clock to my office wall (pictured above). my enslavement to the passing time is far greater than the removal of the hands from my wall.
September 8, 2008
as i sit in my office on monday morning, i have a difficult phone call on my to-do list that i need to make. i found out about it last week, but have put it off until now for the very reasons that make it difficult.
unfortunately, it ruined my weekend. starting on friday when i got home from work, i was unable to relax. whenever my mind found a spare moment to wander, it immediately wandered to the phone call that i am dreading to make. i could have spared myself two days of anguish by making the phone call right away and getting it off my list and out of my mind.
i couldn’t help but be reminded of the book by karen kingston, clear your clutter with feng shui. in it, karen wisely recognizes unfinished projects around the house as a major contributor to physical clutter in our homes. after this weekend, i would like to add the truth that putting off projects causes clutter in our minds and lives as well.
now, where is it that telephone…
July 26, 2008
reader caron recently asked:
“how do your children feel about living the minimalist lifestyle?”
my simple answer is “very well. better than i expected. and better than their parents in many regards.”
to give you a little background, my son is 5 and my daughter is 2. my daughter has had little input in our minimalizing, but we have worked hard to include my son in the process. we feel that it is important for him to understand what is happening and feel included in the process. wefirst noticed his better-than-expected attitude when we minimalized his bedroom. he loves reading and we were dreading the process of going through his books. but we were shocked when he pulled out far more books to sell at our garage sale than we envisioned. next, he picked out more stuffed animals than we had pictured. thirdly, he cared little about his clothing and didn’t object at all to removing the things from his dresser top. after his bedroom came the big test when we moved downstairs to his toys. again, we were surprised that he had little hesitation in getting rid of many toys that he no longer uses. i even wrote about it here.
the only hiccup that we have encountered was when we removed the toys from our living room and moved them downstairs in the newly formed toy room. as a compromise, we decided to keep some of his books on a shelf in the living room and reminded him that he could still play toys in that room – he just had to return them to their new home downstairs when he is done.
the thoughtful question from caron has caused me to ask the follow-up question: “why exactly has it gone so well? why has my son adjusted so much quicker than his parents?” and i think there are a number of reasons.
he didn’t pay for the things that we’re discarding.
he’s still got more stuff than he could possibly use in one day.
his security is not found in his possessions. his security is found in his stable family.
his memories are not wrapped up in his possessions but in the people he loves.
he doesn’t look for joy in his possessions. he finds it in living life to the fullest.
which makes me think that we’ve all got a lot to learn from 5 year olds.
July 18, 2008
over the past 45 days since we intentionally decided to become minimalist, i have had scores of conversations with people about our decision. and it usually happens the same way…
my wife and i are sitting at a table with a group of people when one of our friends will say, “joshua, you should tell so-and-so about your minimalism decision.” i am usually reluctant, but often oblige when so-and-so reiterates the question. i try to begin as close to the beginning as possible (read it here) and take them through our journey while the parties ask questions along the way. somewhere about half-way through, i inevitably find agreement on the part of the listeners.
typically, they will respond with statements like, “i have so much stuff that i need to get rid of too,” or “you should see my basement, it’s a disaster,” or my favorite, “i can’t wait to get home and start throwing things away.” a smaller percentage will email or post a comment the following day journaling the boxes of junk or bags of clothes that they have removed from their lives.
the attractiveness of minimalism (to date, only two men have outright determined that they would never get rid of their stuff) seems so universal that i can’t help think that this is the way life is meant to be lived and when a soul hears the invitation, it responds favorably. we were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. we were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the God of life – not the things of life. i just wish it hadn’t taken me 33 years to figure that out.