i judge track and field at the local high school here in vermont.  this morning is the biggest meet of the year and i woke up to a steady rain.  because track and field doesn’t stop for the rain, i thought it would be a good idea to bring an umbrella.  that was until i started rummaging through our basement closet trying to find it…

now granted – the closet is a mess right now because it has not been refitted for the spring.  it is a big hodge-podge mix of winter clothes for four and spring clothes for four (snow boots, rain boots, gloves, scarves, snow pants, rain coats, etc.) all in one small closet.  needless to say, finding an umbrella was easier said than done.  at the end of the search all i could find was a blue umbrella with a big logo of a woman on it.  so unfortunately, i am off to judge the largest track and field meet of the year with a girl’s umbrella.  hopefully, becoming minimalist will come quickly…

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i just noticed that ehow.com has full room-by room listings of “how to decorate in a minimalist style” from living rooms and home office to selecting accessories.  i didn’t notice too many pictures which would have been helpful.  and i did notice that ratings for most of them were in 3-3.5 star range but i do think the thoughts will be helpful for something as we continue to become minimalist.

an exciting moment

May 30, 2008

you’ll have to cut me some slack – we are just starting down this journey.  but i am finding joy in some very small things.  i’m sure that after a month or two these things will seem like nothing to get excited about, but for now, i’m finding joy in them.

this morning was our first scheduled trash pick-up since my wife and i decided to intentionally become minimalist.  and it was clearly evident that something new was happening in my home.  instead of one full trash can, i took three overloaded cans to the curb this morning.  it was a great feeling for me to visibly see some of the things that we have removed from our room.  i found joy in the moment.  i’m unsure if my garbage man enjoyed it as much as i. 

sorry, bro.  but you’ll have to get used to it.

another benefit of choosing to live a minimalist lifestlye is that it sets a fantastic example for my children. 

my kids are 5 and 2 right now and soaking up so much from my wife and i about how we live and what we value.  becoming minimalist shows my kids that we do not need personal belongings to be happy, that our security is not found in the things that we own, and that the pursuit of happiness runs a different road that the pursuit of possessions.  those are life lessons that they will never learn at school.  and unfortunately, will not learn from us until we successfully navigate this transition.

my wife and i ran into our first question/problem as we were minimalizing the magnets on our fridge.  what do we do with pictures of relatives?

on one hand, we love the idea of our kids seeing their family and learning their names.  and we love our families.  on the other hand, there are so many relatives and their pictures are in so many different rooms – trying to design minimalist will be difficult with unmatching frames and backgrounds of dozens of relatives.

our first help – what to do with photos of relatives?  any advice/ideas of how to display them in a minimalist home?

starting easy

May 30, 2008

this past weekend, burlington, vermont (where i live) held its 20th annual marathon.  i think it is timely that the marathon was beginning just as we were beginning our marathon of becoming minimalist.  living as a minimalist is a lifestyle (i don’t argue with that), but the process of decluttering our home and reprogramming our minds is definitely a marathon.  i can picture regret at the end if the journey is a sprint – just going room by room and throwing everything away – that would be foolishness.

i have a good friend who is trying to get out of debt.  he was given some interesting advice by his counselor.  his counselor didn’t tell him to “pay off the highest percentage loans right away,” instead he told him “to pay off the smallest debts first.”  i thought that was a bit odd until my friend told me the rationale.  paying off the smallest debts first results in victory – one less monthly payment.  even though it wasn’t the biggest burden, it is still one less burden – one victory.  and victory breeds more victory.

with that in mind, my wife have begun our marathon.  we specifically chose not to start with the biggest burdens (basement, kitchen, toy room, we decided to start simple and gain some quick victories.  after one weekend, here is what we have done so far: minimalized a bathroom cabinet, minimalized a desk, starting selling items on ebay, began organizing for a garage sale, removed a few hangings on my son’s room that needed to go anyway, cleaned out the refrigerator magnets, and minimalized one-half of the living room (yeah, one-half).  even though the victories are small, every time i open the bathroom cabinet or look at the fridge, i am reminded that this is something that we really want to do.

victory breeds victory.  but right now, i’m going to watch the laker’s game.

it seems important to remind myself the benefits of becoming minimalist.  living minimalist is contrary to every advertisement that has ever been created and because we live in a country that prides itself on the accumulation of possessions, it can be a difficult proposition to become minimalist.

for that reason, an important running thread needs to be the benefits of minimalism.

benefit #1 – simple dollars and sense.  the bible says, “the foolish person spends all he has”  (proverbs 21:20).  yet, for some reason, whether my income is $30,000 or $60,000 i seem to spend every penny.  the change of lifestyle is so subtle, i end up spending my entire income no matter what it is.  i’m left wishing for a bigger paycheck over and over again.  only a fool spends everything he has.  it seems to me that the true secret to living on an income is just to spend less. 

one benefit of becoming minimalist is the simple reality that it costs less.  if you are accumulating less things, you are spending less money.  and if you are spending less money, you are experiencing countless other benefits as well (less stress, money for other experiences, etc).