The Year of Living Minimally – Week Thirteen


A quarter of the way through this year-long project. The focus is still on ‘the other house.’ But what a lot of work has been done in just a few weeks’ time! Seven rooms, an attic, a basement, and a garage. Donations and discarding. Discarding isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists posted this (excerpt): “Initially, I didn’t want to let go of anything. If you’ve ever lost a parent, a loved one, or been through a similarly emotional time, then you understand exactly how hard it was for me to let go of any of those possessions. So instead of letting go, I wanted to cram every trinket, figurine, and piece of oversized furniture into that storage locker in Ohio, floor to ceiling. That way I knew that Mom’s stuff was there if I ever wanted it, if I ever needed access to it for some incomprehensible reason. I even planned to put a few pieces of Mom’s furniture in my home as subtle reminders of her.”

We felt the same way – Jim had the emotional ties, I was being practical (don’t toss it if it can be used). But the clothes, the coats, the hangers, the photographs, the curios, each item held a small memory for my husband. The memories would remain, even without all the stuff.

We are not defined by what we own. Not by the car we drive, or the square footage of our house or apartment. We’re not measured by our possessions. There is joy in knowing some things will be put to use by others.

In California, some folks have literally minutes to evacuate their homes. Minutes! What do you grab? (My external hard drive – it holds my books and my wannabe books).

As Joshua noted, he didn’t need his mom’s stuff to remind him of her. We don’t need Ray’s houseful of stuff to fuel our memories. 

I began this project by tackling little things – a couple of drawers in the bathroom, the kitchen. I donated some books, some clothes. Larger projects await me in my own house (the garage, my writing space), but I’m ready.

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3 Comments

I’ve also been thinking hard about the folks who’ve had mere minutes to grab stuff, and those where everything has been reduced to ash. I think it hits the message home that, ultimately, most of what we own is just “stuff”. When I look around my house at what (inanimate) is *truly* irreplaceable, there isn’t much. The human occupants, and our health: that’s where the love lies.
You might also think about a cloud service back-up, Martha?

I was reading a book on decluttering a while back. It had a great idea for those precious things you just hate to get rid of. It suggested making an album of them. Take a picture of the treasure, paste it at the top of a page, then beneath it write about it. Why it speaks to you, who gave it to you, etc. The author said she found it much easier to let go of things after she’d done that because she could still look back and see them. I thought that was a great idea!

It is a truly hard thing to go through. I really like the excerpt post from Joshua. It’s a good reminder of what is really important, and we all know it’s not “things”. Good luck with the project.

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