I’m one of those people who gets distracted by ‘things’ on her way out of the house. I find myself going back to get a towel out of the floor, wash the dishes left in the sink, demand that the trash be emptied or checking the doors, etc. Last year, my resolution was to work on that. I gradually began consciously trying to leave earlier and ignore the distractions. I did really good, considering. In fact, I made it most places on time. Not early. But on time.
It wasn’t enough. I kept feeling inside that it shouldn’t be so difficult to get out the door. Why do stupid things distract me? Seriously, will anyone see that the empty water bottles are still on the counter while I’m gone? That I forgot to throw my laundry in the hamper that morning when I got out of the shower? Ugh… But what if….?!!?! What if what? Someone sees the water bottles and the laundry? Sigh. I know.
In early 2015, I had what you might call a wake up call. That’ll be in another post someday. But, in a moment of yelling at God, I’m pretty sure I had a “mental breakthrough.” I’ve always read about people having them and how they just “woke up” changed one day. I scoffed. Til it happened to me one afternoon. I remember sitting at my desk. I was praying and all the sudden, I could ‘see’ how I had been living my life, how my attitude affected my path. I realized I’d gotten depressed somewhere along the way. I’d lost track of personal goals, dreams and my energy levels. I knew that I hadn’t consciously chosen to get off track. I wasn’t even sure when it occurred. Just a rough idea. I felt simultaneously cut to the heart and incredibly happy. Regret for the time lost. But so grateful to get that moment of clarity that signaled transformation of heart and mind. In that moment, it was like someone wiped a very dirty window and I was finally able to see out of it again. There were other revelations and steps I took to put me on track. Long story short: There were other factors in my personal life as well but as part of my wake up call, I also realized that too much “stuff” had stifled my energy, my motivation and my outlook on life in general.
Compared to others, I wasn’t a slob. I had the same stuff problem as most Americans do. Too much stuff to go in your space. I’ve even had people tell me: “I didn’t think you had much stuff to begin with. What are you talking about? Minimalism? What’s that?”
The Minimalists define it this way: Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
For me, having to take time to organize unnecessary items and extra clothing impairs my ability to think straight, to get out the door on time, to keep my house clean and even to be in a good mood around my family. In short, ‘stuff’ stole happiness, freedom and fulfillment from me. And it was all my choice to keep it. Bleh! The good news? It was also my choice to let it go.
20 years ago, I had a lot less stuff. And a lot less stress. There’s a connection there. I promise you. You can have all the ‘finer’ things in life but if you are annoyed and stressed to the point of depression and impatience because you feel guilty for not organizing, controlling and managing it all – what good is that?
I decided I wanted more happy time. Once I made the connection that ‘things’ did not equal what was most important, it was easy. Internally, I accepted that unnecessary household items, bedding, decorations, appliances, books, etc. were not what held most meaning for me. The most meaningful things in my life weren’t sentimental items. They were my family and close friends. My relationships were my heart. Irreplaceable. So… in a heartbeat, literally, it became the most natural thing to box up a ton of stuff in my home and sell, toss or donate it.
And the side benefits began to show themselves almost immediately. When the stuff was out and the surfaces were all smooth and bare, guess what? I didn’t have all sorts of distractions on my way out the door. Getting ready to go somewhere? Takes half the time it used to take. I’m now early to my appointments and places I need to be.
I’m not so minimal that I live with only 100 items. Give me a break. I have kids, a dog and a cat! And my kids are boys. MESSY boys. Still, my rooms are now basic enough that they also take half the time to clean and my sister commented that it must feel like no one actually lives here.
I say someone here has finally started living again….