First, a little history….
My Parents: Minimalists By Default
I believe I was groomed for this lifestyle at an early age thanks to my parents. My parents came from nothing and now have something-a lot of somethings and investments in areas I don’t even understand. When I say nothing I mean they lived in a trailer with no AC in central Florida. They qualified for welfare, but refused to take it. My dad grew our food in the backyard. I was eating organic before it was a thing! But they worked HARD for everything they have from their college education to their current (paid-for) home. The struggle was very real for them–in a way I didn’t fully understand until I became an adult. My brother and I always had everything we needed, but just not everything we wanted. Even when the money started coming in, we never had cable or video games. I didn’t have a CD player until I was 20 and that was given to me by my brother-(I think out of pity watching me wind up cassettes with a pencil). By this time, my parents could afford all of those things, but they understood what was a necessity and what was not. They understood how to save and live within your means. They are the best at not falling victim to advertising. I don’t have cable by my own choice now and music is digital. My CDs and cassettes are long gone.
When I formally introduced Minimalism to my parents, the timing was perfect. My Dad had just bought a sports car! (It took him at least a year before pulling the trigger on that decision. Big purchases take FOREVER.). I saw the concern on my Dad’s face and quickly reassured him with the two qualifying questions: Can you afford it? Yes. Does it add value to your life? Yes, immensely since they can’t ride their motorcycles anymore. I love the car. I’m very happy that they have it. They deserve every bit of joy that car affords them. They will enjoy the memories and experiences.
Sidenote: My mom and all her sentimental knicky-knacks, Kay jewelry and doilies is still hoping I “come around” and decide I want them one day. LOL……no.
My Husband: The Hesitant Minimalist
I think its fair to say I’m an action-before-analytics kind of person. My husband, however is not. He reads owners manuals….for pleasure! Once I’ve embraced an idea, there’s really no stopping me. When things started flying out the door Eric said: what’s going on? I’m minimizing! Poor Eric, always the guinea pig to my wild ideas. I keep life interesting for him. He never knows what ideas I’ll come home with next. Below are a list of suggestions and observations, based on all the mistakes I made.
- Talk Before Taking Action: I did not do this. I explained OUR new lifestyle to Eric while I was tossing shoes and clothes out of the closet like a mole digging dirt. Needless to say Eric was confused and disoriented…possibly a bit panicked.
- Patience: Start with yourself and lead by example. Minimize your wardrobe and let them see how much easier it is to get into the closet.
- NEVER TOSS ANYTHING THAT ISN’T YOURS: Just like you can’t force an addict into recovery, the choice has to be theirs. It will mean more to them anyway when a decision they made (with only minor cohesion) results in a happy outcome.
- Compassion for Sentimental Attachments to Things: I didn’t have it. This subject by far lead to our biggest arguments during our minimizing journey. I also think this is the biggest stumbling block and causes the most discomfort for people. (Sidetone: I still have trouble understanding this and will probably write a full post about this at a later date.) I haven’t experienced the loss of a parent like Eric has and so he kind of had me over an empathy barrel on these discussions. So here’s the response I have come up with that allowed Eric to let go of a lot more things than before. He still retains some items, but I’ll take progress at any rate.
This thing is not that person. That person is always with you–in your heart and soul. And the person in Heaven wants you to be happy and live an extraordinary life. If some of their leftover stuff is preventing you from doing so, they want you to get it out of your way. They don’t need it anymore. The last thing they want is for you to hold on to something of theirs that doesn’t add value to your life–out of guilt and perceived obligation.
Or as one of The Minimalists puts it after losing his mother and having to deal with both his grief and her things…
“I am not my stuff; we are more than our possessions.
Our memories are within us, not within our things.
Holding on to stuff imprisons us; letting go is freeing.
You can take pictures of items you want to remember.
Old photographs can be scanned.
An item that is sentimental for us can be useful for someone else.”
-Joshua Fiels Millburn, LETTING GO OF SENTIMENTAL ITEMS
That being said, I still have the teddy bear my grandmother gave me I was 7. I have no intention of giving him away. If that’s the only hassle I leave Evan to deal with, I’m good with that.
Once Eric started to see what a relief it was to live with less and in his case, maintain less, he was onboard. Now we just walk around the house sometimes and point out more stuff we want gone. It’s kind of fun! Our once cramped 1260 S.F. home feels WONDERFUL, CLEAN and BEAUTIFUL. It’s the perfect size for E3 and Onyx.