Before I begin, I am giving all of you a homework assignment.
Will you watch this if you have Netflix:
It is very quirky and some of you might find it odd and some of you might not even like it. But we fell in love with the principal character, Dick. Yes, we fell in love with Dick (insert immature snickering) and I think you will too. I was crying like a baby at the end of this documentary-like he was a family member and wanted to share this with you. I just couldn’t wait for the next tater tot post.
On to the real post.
When I began my journey as a Minimalist over four years ago, I didn’t even plan on becoming one. We saw a documentary on Netflix one night and thought it would interesting to watch.
But slowly and unintentionally we* became minimalists over several years.
*I have to say that the rest of my family wasn’t too happy at first about it. I mean, they didn’t go kicking and screaming but they also didn’t go, YES! LET’S GET RID OF A LOT OF THINGS! AND GOING FORWARD, NOT BUY A LOT OF THINGS! AND GO OFF INTO THE SUNSET AND LIVE IN A COMPLETELY EMPTY HOUSE!
But now that we have been living this way for several years, they are seeing the result and appreciate it for how it makes us feel while living inside of this home.
I think Mike finally got it when this past summer we went to IKEA for the first time in years, to pick up something for Ella’s room and we walked out of the store with only four items and spent less than $40.
I’ve written about this lifestyle before and won’t bore you with the minutiae but thought I would share what minimalism isn’t because I have gotten some questions and I think many people think it’s essentially living with absolutely nothing.
That’s not it.
Here is a spoof video from one-half of the creators of The Minimalist documentary.
This is also not it.
It’s also not a trend, well at least not for me, anyway.
It also isn’t tiny-house living. I mean, that might be part of it for some people, but that is an extreme form of minimalism.
In the simplest terms, it is making do with what you have.
It in no way dictates how I decorate my home, but we decide what we want to do with the items we keep within our home.
So I guess in a way that dictates inadvertently how I have decorated.
The word Minimalism actually pertains to a particular art trend that began in the 60s.
The minimalist/minimalist lifestyle is about living with less.
The “creators” of this lifestyle (and I put quotations around the word because they themselves would probably hate that term) sum up minimalism in this sentence:
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important – so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
This summer, I followed a challenge that helped me get rid of a lot of things in our home that were weighing us down physically and emotionally. We found that the less that we had in our possession, the more time we had to spend with each other and because of the fewer items we had to clean and maintain, the fewer responsibilities we all had around the house.
It was freeing.
We all were happier and more enjoyable to be around because we didn’t have as much stress and I don’t think we even thought about how it was happening while it was happening. It was a natural thing. I am sure my family didn’t even think, “oh yeah, we feel like this because my mom is buying less stuff for the house or because she is dropping things off at Goodwill.”
And because there is less stuff lying around all the time, there is less chaos. Less chaos on the inside of your home in a time where there is chaos all around you is so completely underrated. I don’t think we are talking about how important that can be to your mental health.
Listen, this isn’t for everyone. I get that some of you are rolling your eyes right now. This isn’t your “jam” and that’s okay. Not everything is for everybody. We are all different for a reason. It’s what makes the world go round.
I am not trying to get you to drink the Koolaid. I don’t get paid; I have no affiliate links in this post. I am simply sharing this because this has brought me so much sanity in such a chaotic time. I have felt so much control of the inside of my home in a time when I felt so out of control of the world outside of my home, and that is pretty huge. If it has brought me so much joy in such a crummy year, I hope it can bring joy to someone else too.
It has helped my mental health so much in a time when my mental health has taken quite a beating. In a time when my mental health had to be at its best so I could take care of my people.
In a time when we need to be in our homes more than ever, seeing the need to take care of our possessions, to take care of our bodies, of our families, now more than ever? This lifestyle has served me and my family so well.
It was like the Universe had prepared us for this upcoming pandemic ahead of time.
I love that now when I go to a store like Target, Hobby Lobby, or HomeGoods (three of my Achilles Heels for shopping), I can now rationalize what is a need versus what is a want and I don’t even feel cheated or even sad when I walk out with nothing.
I am also spending money on quality items instead of spending little on quantity. I used to go to Goodwill and have no problem dropping 30 dollars on several items of non-quality, but spending $30 on one quality item would be very difficult for me.
Last weekend, I noticed that I didn’t have a long-sleeved knit top for myself while going through my winter clothes. In the past, I would’ve run to Kohls or Target and spent maybe $20 on two cheaply made knit tops that would most definitely shrink in the wash and would eventually end up at a Goodwill or even in the (gasp) trash, and then I would have to run and spend another $20-$30 in a few months.
But this year, I ordered two quality knit tops from L.L. Bean and paid $50 with free shipping, knowing that they will last me for years. I will end up saving money in the long run even though I paid more upfront but I am saving myself money, time spent shopping, and I am also saving the environment by not buying cheap products, by not dumping them, and then going out to buy even more cheap products.
This is when I appreciate my new minimalistic lifestyle.
Minimalism doesn’t mean going without. It means taking care of what you have, not over-consuming things, but buying quality items that are built to last and taking care of those things.
For example, automobiles and phones.
We just paid my vehicle off for the first time since I was 25 years old. I worded that wrong.
It has been 25 years since I HAVEN’T had a car payment.
Why? Because my husband works in the auto industry and when my car would make noises or get older, we would just trade it in instead of fixing it. We would get great deals, get the newest model blah blah blah.
We drank the Koolaid. We bought the schpeel. You know the one. The one they give when you sit in front of them at the dealership? AND HE WORKED AT A DEALERSHIP.
Now? We buy an extended warranty, we take care of our car. Because now we have an older child in college and she needs a car as well, so we can’t afford to trade in cars like we did before.
Before, it would be easy to say “let’s just get a smaller, more affordable car” but we are taking care of things and showing our children it’s important to take care of the things you already have instead of always getting a brand new everything.
Our children don’t ask for a brand new phone anymore. They ask for things like screen protectors and good protective cases. Actually, now that I think about it, they don’t ask for a lot anymore. They ask to “earn” money; Ella by doing chores around the house. Anna by working jobs even in a pandemic and while taking a full course load.
I am so proud of this lifestyle for so many things, but it’s the life lessons that we are teaching our children that I didn’t even think would come out of a documentary on Netflix.
I am not trying to sound all righteous with this post, so I hope that isn’t how it is coming across. We have made huge mistakes with our finances and we are still making them, which is why we began this lifestyle years ago. It exhausted us living those mistakes and wanted a change for our family. It is within this year I wanted to share this with all of you and if you could give a shit about this, pass it on to someone who you think could use it.
Because I know someone out there would love to feel lighter, emotionally, physically, and financially.
So here will be a hard rule for some of you that is not a rule for minimalism but has become a rule for mine: I won’t buy anything used going forth.
Old Kari was a garage sale/thrift store maven. Goodwill was a store I used to shop at weekly and in fact, upon searching my blog, I found 78 Goodwill-inspired blog posts.
But I won’t shop at a Goodwill or resale shop or a garage sale ever again.
Now, I am not a snob and I love to save money, and no; we aren’t rich in monetary means but I don’t want other people’s energy in my space ever again UNLESS it is from someone I know well.
For example, my grandma’s beloved rocking chair.
I do still have a couple of things in my home that are from some resale shops over the years, but I have had them for many, many years and I have saged them over time (yes, I am that person).
But when I was doing the minimalism challenge over summer, I got rid of most of the Goodwill, garage sale, thrift store items we had that had belonged to other people and if they haven’t been purged already, I am still looking to get rid of the rest of those items.
Did I feel a shift in the energy in our home?
You bet I did.
It is within the worst year we have experienced in our lives I don’t need to stack the deck against us within our home. Some of you might have superstitions or little things you believe in.
This is what I believe in: I don’t want someone else’s bad vibes all over my stuff, in our personal space.
I work hard to create a positive, happy nest in our home ESPECIALLY during this time. I don’t need a cheap coffee table coming from someone’s home who doesn’t believe in being a good human being or who kicks their dogs or who roots for the Chicago Cubs.
Kidding. But you get the idea.
No price tag is worth the bad juju.
If you really need to save money on furniture, go to IKEA. Or go without.
Maybe you don’t need a coffee table or a recliner or an end table. Society tells you that you do, and if we’ve learned anything in this pandemic, it’s that your home is your haven. Make it your space. Do with it what you need to be the soft place you need. Don’t let Apartment Therapy or Real Simple or even my blog tell you how to decorate it.
My minimalist journey is still a work in progress. There are days I go to Target and see things in the Dollar spot and think OOH THAT BLACK $5 JAR IS SO DAMN CUTE I MUST HAVE IT! WHERE IN THE HELL WILL I PUT IT?!
But it makes me stop and think about that five-dollar bill (or debit card because who has cash anymore?) in my wallet more than I ever did before.
Will that cute little black jar make me happier?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
It makes me think about money in such a different way. It makes me think about material things in such a different way.
I don’t care anymore if I have the latest of anything.
Who I am isn’t wrapped up in anything I find on amazon or on Instagram or on a lifestyle blog.
Our home is enough.
For the first time in its existence, it is enough.
I am in love with that.