An article about the Minimalist Challenge was posted on Treehugger.com last month. My interest piqued right from the get-go but, as I had fallen behind on reading my Treehugger newsletters, we were halfway through the month and, rather than play “catch-up”–which seems to be the story of my life–I decided I’d meet the challenge in December instead of November.
So, what is the Minimalist Challenge? Every day for the month of December, I am purging my home of unwanted or unneeded items based upon the date. In other words, on December 1st, I removed one item. On December 2nd, it was two. Today is the 5th so I will be removing 5 items, and so on, and so forth. By now, you get the picture. By December 31st when I remove 31 items, all total for the month, I will have donated, recycled, re-purposed or, as a last resort, disposed of almost 600 items. Can I do it? You betcha! But why not just pick those 600 items up front? Because that would the most daunting task. By selecting only a certain number each day, it breaks the task into smaller, manageable bites.
Why would I do all of this though? Because, unless we’re talking homeless, unwanted, abandoned, abused and/or neglected animals (within reason, of course…and insert cheeky grin here), my philosophy is “less is best”. While I joke that my dream home is in either Alaska or Maine, the truth is, my dream is simply a much smaller house. I really love the concept of a tiny house and this is just a step in that direction, a step towards living with much, much less. It is a much more inexpensive way to live. The less you have, the less you have to maintain. A larger living space equals bigger repairs, repairs that will almost always require a professional that I can seldom afford to pay. As a single woman on a single income, well, those of you who drive by the black house on Route 6 every day (and I seem to have started a trend as I keep seeing more and more black houses cropping up on Route 6 and many of the surrounding streets, too…lol!) are privy to the unkempt fixer-upper that never seems to get fixed up. Less is also easier on the environment. Less living space means a smaller area to light, to heat in the wintertime or cool in the summer. Lower energy usage is always good for the planet. And good for all of us who share it.
However, I’m not relocating to a tiny house…at least not for the moment. Tiny house living has been relegated to that never-reached point in time called “Someday”. Minimalizing today is simply to remove the clutter that distracts, irritates, stresses me out; clutter that loses important items in a sea of useless or unnecessary “stuff”. This is “stuff” that, oftentimes, could benefit others if I simply took the time to go through it and donate it to the appropriate places. For this purge, many of the items I’m purging are books that I know I will never read again; clothes that no longer fit, or else I never really liked the way they fit in the first place; extra jars that I saved for storing dried herbs in but I have a few too many taking up much-needed kitchen storage. I have old cellphones that could be donated to women’s shelters. And a mountain of knick knacks that always seem to end up in my possession after someone else’s purge. These will go into a box labeled “Yard Sale” for next spring. While I have a few choice what-nots, I prefer a very select few to a mountain of fancy dust collectors. I guess I’m a bit Amish at heart because I like plain, simple living. I’d rather have utilitarian items hanging on my kitchen wall–like measuring cups and pot holders and colanders.
I’m enjoying this challenge. Looking around me, going through items that I haven’t thought of or used in a long time, is proving to be liberating. Not only in the amount of space that is being freed up, but also, I am finding myself wandering down memory lane, remembering people and events in my life tied to some of these items. I confess, that can make some of this purging painful but, anything with a strong sentimental attachment, can stay. The idea isn’t to tear a hole in my heart. But allowing myself these memories is proving a great way to celebrate the yuletide season. I spend most of my year hustling and bustling about so much that, to quote Jewel’s song “Deep Water”, my “standard of living somehow got stuck on survive”. If nothing else, the house is also getting a good cleaning. And I’m remembering a book I read about the art of Feng Shui, about how doing these sort of purges, giving things away to those in need, opens the door for you to receive as well. I sincerely hope that doesn’t mean more knick knacks but I think this philosophy falls in line with the biblical truth of it being “in giving that we receive”.
Either way, I am accepting this challenge. And I am doing so with a smile. It’s actually fun. And I am looking forward to seeing those select few momentos taking center stage on their own little shelves…instead of hidden amidst the “busy”.
Are you ready for the minimalist challenge? Maybe more so than you know.
May God bless you & keep you!