Tuesday, May 23, 2017

living simply, my ongoing journey

When I first set out to read a book a month this year, I did not have specific books in mind.....it sort of evolved as friends loaned me books they were reading or as my interest was peaked about certain books. But now that I'm nearly 6 months into the year, I can look back and easily detect a theme- less things, less on the calendar, less social media......just less of it all. I don't think it started with the books I've been reading, but with moving to an expensive area (supposedly only after after San Francisco and NY), living in a smaller space, and wanting to be intentional about what I bring into it. When we lived in Indiana, I was still very conservative with purchases by most standards, but I was not forced to think "where will this go?". We had a huge walk in closet that could have been the size of a small nursery or office, and 2800 sq feet. Thankfully we were aware that we would not live in that house long term and did not attempt to "fill it up" so to speak......Connor made our dining table and a book case for the office that were cheap and could be used outdoors some day down the road, and we were fine with having empty corners. Looking back though, I realize that I wasn't super intentional about the smaller purchases like the $20 variety from Target, or a shirt here and there. Now that we are in Boston, I can feel a shift in the air of how I want to live.

So, what have I been reading around that theme? Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, The Life-Chainging Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and currently The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. If you were sitting in my living room I could go on and on about each one of these books (I loved them all for different reasons), but again, it also started before reading these books when we moved to Boston and we could not comfortably fit a lot of furniture in our home. We stored a few things that we loved (because we are renting and didn't want to sell everything), but a lot of furniture we sold- mostly things that I liked but didn't love ....even sentimental things. Each time we sold something it felt like a huge load was lifted off. As I started taking less trips to Target because I didn't want to spend money unnecessarily and didn't have any more space for things, I also started buying less "small" purchases online, and there was more time in my life because I wasn't running as many errands to return things. Life was made more simple because of this in a lot of ways. I don't think I realized  how much time those things took up until they were removed from my life. In her book Present over Perfect, Shauna Niequist talks about how the amount of time we spend "managing our stuff", whether it's cleaning and organizing those things or running errands to buy/return those things. This is something that really rang true to me as I looked back over the past year and saw how much more time was added to my life just by living simpler.

Here's the thing with minimalism and slow living....it's trendy right now. I have no desire to buy a tiny house, and I will probably not limit myself to a specific number of items in my closet, but I do think I am moving in the direction of a slower paced life and I think that there is something to be said about living that way. First and foremost, there's more time. More time with people you love, more time to do the things that you love. There's less time spent picking out what I'm going to wear for the day, because I have fewer items....I'm still in the process of doing this, but the idea is that what's left in my closet are only favorite items.

I've been really torn with my feelings regarding instagram lately. Instagram tends to celebrate more.....the more beautiful clothes you have, the more exciting things that you do, and the more new things you buy oftentimes make for more beautiful and interesting instagram feeds. In fact, fashion bloggers have to showcase new material that is available for followers to purchase now (last year's shoes will not do) , so they have to constantly be purchasing (or be gifted) new clothes just to keep it all going. At least interior designers can use client's homes to show new material. As one who follows and has benefited from a number of fashion bloggers and  various creators, I'm not dismissing what they bring to the table, just seeking balance in my own life. I have started to be more intentional about which feeds I follow.....asking myself which ones are focused on celebrating life vs. ones that make me want more.  It's completely subjective, because the answers would vary from person to person, but these are questions I'm starting to ask myself.

Because it's trendy, I think there is a danger that being minimal can become the new standard for things. Such as, you are not living life well unless you live it this way. I don't agree with that message at all. First and foremost, I realize that I come from a place of privilege to even talk about living slower....I don't have to manage two jobs just to make ends meet. Men and women that do that to provide for their families have my utmost respect. The older I get, the more I realize how many different cultures and backgrounds people come from and I don't think being minimal necessarily benefits everyone, and it should never be a new standard for judging others. There are seasons of life where you are in survival mode (and depending on the girls and the amount of sleep I'm getting, I move in and out of that season), there are seasons when your schedule is full because it has to be (doctors appointments, illness, taking care of a loved one etc..), but for me slow living means that I don't over-schedule unnecessarily. I have close friends who live beautiful lives and are incredible mothers and are present with their families who would not be categorized as "minimalists" and I respect and admire them and love the lives that they lead. I don't even think my own life would be truly categorized as "minimalist" by a lot of people. I just realize that I am happier with less and when I live more simply my focus is not on accumulating more because it's focused on enjoying what I already have. For those of you who have hung in there for this whole thing, that's really what I'm getting at. I promise less words and more pictures next post...