sane minimalism

September 23, 2008

sane minimalism is not a term i would have picked, but i appreciate the thought.

i once taught a seminar on “the personal benefits of serving others.” actually, i called it “the joy is in the serving” which is not all that more catchy now that i see them side-by-side. regardless of the boring title, it was good information and a good seminar. i especially enjoyed teaching it because i really do believe that there is personal joy associated with serving others.

this weekend, we received an opportunity to continue our minimalizing and mix in the personal satisfaction that comes from serving others – both at the same time.

at my son’s bus stop (of all places), my wife struck up a conversation with a lady who volunteers with Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. they help refugees and immigrants gain personal independence and economic self-sufficiency. the volunteer mentioned the desperate need the organization was having for donated towels, linens, and cookware. knowing that our household (along with most of America) has more towels, linens, and cookware than we need, we offered to help and quickly compiled several boxes of the desired items to be donated.

of all the minimalizing projects that we have done around the house, there seemed to be a special joy associated with this one. the special joy of knowing that our stuff would be going directly to people who need it. there is a satisfaction and sense of purpose that comes from serving others… almost like we’re not truly living unless we’re living for others. look up your local chapter of the USCRI and see what needs your local chapter is experiencing. you just may enjoy minimalizing more than you ever have before.

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celebrating 10,000

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. it would encourage others. reading about our journey towards this better life would surely encourage other to do the same.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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thursday evening is garbage day around my house. knowing that the trash collector and the recycling truck would take away anything i put out on the curb tomorrow, i got to minimalizing as soon as the kids were put to bed.

first, i spent some time in the fridge – i’ve posted about my condiment failure previously (and apparently raised quite a stir with the “condiment table” that i posted just for fun). i got the condiments a bit more under control now.

after the fridge, i went to the basement and continued going through old boxes of memories picking up where i left off. the old boxes of memories always slow me down – as well they should. they are filled with people, events, and places that bring back many memories to relive. and secondly, deciding what to do with the stuff can be very difficult depending on my mood. tonight, i kept more than i should have…

all in all, i ended with 2 large bags of garbage, 2 full containers of recycling, and one small pile of ebay items. magically, when i wake up in the morning, the garbage/recycling will have disappeared forever. the garbage man does bring a certain sense of motivation, doesn’t he?

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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.

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minimalism and happy meal toys

September 16, 2008

lex luthor is to superman as happy meal toys are to minimalism.

we took our two kids to mcdonald’s for lunch today. we like it, they love it, it’s cheap…not a bad combo. and while i don’t mind eating there, i do mind bringing home the two happy meal toys every single time. it’s not because i don’t want my kids to have toys, it’s because i don’t want them to have these toys.

somewhere in the multi-billion dollar research and development department of mcdonald’s, they have been able to recreate a 25 cent toy that is played with once and never touched again. yet, as soon as they are thrown away by parents, the child immediately wants to play with it the next morning – regardless of how long has lapsed since the eating of the happy meal. i don’t know how they do it, but they’ve got my kids figured out.

harder work than i imagined

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.

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