Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Keep it simple.

I tend to believe in minimalism. I enjoy simplicity and space. My first apartment was furnished to my liking, and included a fairly open floorplan and vaulted ceilings, I lived alone and I loved it!

Fast forward and my husband now lived there too. What was once open and free felt cramped. When we found out we were expecting our eldest boy, we moved to a two bedroom.

The space still felt small. Too small.

What happened?

In a nutshell, this lover of simplicity married a man who enjoys "collecting." ESPN magazines, baseball cards, and oh-so-many wires and computer parts. It was enough to drive me nuts! I wanted to toss it all. He wanted to keep it all. So, for years it moved with us.

More kids, more moves.

Over the years my husband has let go of a lot of his collections. There are some things he keeps, and they are (still) boxed in the basement. However, I have learned to bend, and so has he. Over time, he realized the freedom that comes from living a simpler life!

This brings us to the tie-in about our vacation:

While on vacation, we packed enough for our little family, and nothing in excess. We flew 5 people (one of them, an infant!) to a two week vacation using 3 suitcases and 3 small carry-ons (this included the kids' toy bag and the diaper bag)! Simplicity.

Things were organized, and made sense. We had what we needed.

We got back home and took a look around and both of us realized that we needed to make a change. Our home was stuffed to the brim with stuff! Without realizing it, we had allowed the stuff to clutter our hearts and our home, and we knew things needed to change.

I packed boxes of things we didn't need to have out. We packed some boxes of Kurt's grandfather's things (we are living in Kurt's grandfather's beautiful fully-furnished home). Kurt moved the boxes and arranged them in the basement storage room. We both took a look around at the finished project and let out audible sighs. Yes- a simple life for us!

It got me to thinking. How many other things have I allowed to become cluttered? More than my wardrobe or living room, what things are there in my life that could use a good cleaning?

I closed my eyes and thought back to my vacation. It was heavenly! Excellent company, good books, fun games, beautiful atmosphere. I thought of what I want long term, and what may be holding me back. What I realized was that I have a lot of decluttering to do in a few areas. I had been allowing things to get too complicated. I started to look at everything from our nutrition (we used to happily follow a paleo lifestyle, now there are gluten free store-bought cookies in my pantry?) to our homeschool schedule. I started thinking about our friendships and our spirituality. Yes, things needed to change.

In Luke 9, we learn that Jesus asked the disciples to go forth and preach. Jesus counseled the disciples not to load themselves with baggage, but instead take very little. The physical belongings the men carried was not nearly as important as the message they brought. Jesus also gave excellent advice regarding those who were less than welcoming: just leave. Do not make a fuss. Do not make a scene. Just leave.


In simple living there is room. There is space to roam, air to breathe, and time to ponder. With less "stuff" comes less clutter. With less clutter comes more clarity. This is true in every area I can visualize.

We will continue to de-clutter our physical belongings, I am sure. It is something we tend to do fairly often. It is a freeing feeling to let go of earthly possessions. Wonderful! For those who have trouble in this area, I highly recommend the book Sink Reflections. While it is mainly a book about cleaning habits, it is also a wonderful book for those who desire to de-clutter their lives and homes. For those who have time to be in front of the computer a bit longer, I recommend the FlyLady website.

Vacation was wonderful because it reminded me of what it is like to live a more simple life. Remove the desire for stuff, clear away the excess, take out the complications. Focus on the priorities, focus on the loved ones, focus on the scenery.

There is beauty everywhere, sometimes it is just hidden by clutter.

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