Minimalists and the Amish

amish

The past couple nights I’ve spent watching a PBS American Experience documentary on The Amish.  (Yes, I’m one of those PBS/BBC/Public Radio weirdo-s…)  Truth be told, I have a slight obsession with the Amish.  While I’m not ready to convert (okay, I’ve had a few moments where I wanted to) I do respect and desire to have some of their ways of life.

One interview really stood out in my mind.  It went something like this:

“Lots of people find our way of life restrictive; and in a lot of ways it is.  But I see the “restrictions” more as freedom.  We don’t drive cars so that arbitrarily restricts how far we can travel.  While most of America’s small towns are dying our small towns still thrive.   People with cars are happy to drive a few miles outside of town to go to Walmart but we aren’t going to do it because its too far.”

“Likewise don’t have electricity.  Think of all the departments in the store you can altogether skip if you don’t use electricity.”

And it’s true.  By arbitrarily cutting certain things out of your life you greatly simplify your life leaving room for the things that really matter to you.

For the Amish this would be their religion and their community/family.  Because they are not seeking after material wealth they have more time to focus on God and being good, service oriented people.

This really struck a cord with me and greatly reminded me of another on-again, off-again obsession I have: minimalism. In a lot of ways these two things have A LOT more in common than you’d think.

  1. They reject consumerism.
  2. They seek to simplify life.
    1. So they have more time for things they love.
    2. For less distractions
  3. It extends to all aspects of life
    1. Dress
    2. Uncluttered Home

Okay, so that may be where the similarities end but I believe there is a reason I’m drawn to both of these “cultures.”  I am constantly fighting a battle within myself between what our society tells me to want and what I really want: a simple life full of love, family and friends.

Hopefully, with time, it will be less of a struggle and more of just living my life in the way I am hoping to attain.  And for now I’ll admire those who believe in something so much that they can walk away from the way our culture tells us to live and be in the world not of the world.

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Finding Space for Memories

I have vivid memories of the excitement I felt when my mom got out her holiday decorations.  She had a box for nearly every holiday.  I’d get home from school to see our entry turned into a Valentine vigil/St. Patty’s Day spectacular/Autumn array or cozy Christmas cavern.  We had a lot of memories wrapped up in all of that ambiance.

And here I am.  Mom to three.  I am in control of crafting those memories.  What memories do I want them to have?

Right now I am struggling to find my balance.  I want to have a de-cluttered, organized home.  Some days I want to take all of my holiday bins to the thrift store and be done with it!  I can hardly handle the “stuff” that comes in daily from 1st grade, preschool, the vets, the post office etc.  How am I supposed to manage all of that PLUS all of the holiday “extras.”

On the other hand, I’ve seen the bliss in my boys’ eyes when we turn the house into a spooky halloween haven.  I love creating our own, little traditions with my wee ones.  I loved our “spooky” tours last year around our decked out, little house.  I love watching my boys investigating the pilgrims at Thanksgiving and asking questions about the Nativities at Christmas.

So today I’m getting out our decorations.  Just because extreme minimalism works for one person or family that does not make it right for everyone.  That does not mean it’s the right way for ME and MY FAMILY.  In my balance I believe there is space for my memory laden holiday decorations and the joy they bring.

Keeping it Simple

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About a month ago I purged.  Well, I didn’t technically purge for real but I did go through my clothes a drastically reduce the number of clothes in my closet.  The rest I boxed up and put in the garage for now.  I’m about a month in and boy does it feel good.  Everything in my closet and drawers is something I LOVE to wear.  I never could have imagined that having less clothes makes getting dressed easier.  I can grab anything and know I’ll like how I look.  AND, as an added bonus,  I can actually see everything I own.  No more stuffing clothes into drawers or shoving clothes back and forth in the closet trying to see what’s in there.  What you see is what you get.

IMG_5904-3I’m sure when the season finally changes (around here that won’t be for another month and a half) I’ll have to readjust what I have out but for now I’m loving keeping it simple and loving everything I have to wear.

A Recovering Hoarder

It all started last January.  My baby was sick.  Sick.  Sick.  Sick. He was just starting down the delicious road of never ending ear infections (of course, I didn’t know it at the time) and the only thing I could do to soothe him was to hold upright all night long.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried holding a baby all night but it’s not real conducive to sleep so I browsed the inter-webs.   My little family lives in a (relatively) small home.  There are (currently) five of us in our little home and we never seemed to have enough room.  It was driving me batty.  It’s hard enough to have a cluttered, messy home when you can escape during the day but, seeing as I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t go anywhere so I’m essentially trapped in my mess.  All day.  Everyday.

So, as I was browsing Google for ideas to “get organized” I happened into the world of minimalism.   I became obessed.  I spent all that night and several days following pouring through the archives of The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist, and Project 333.  I watched a full lenght documentary on tiny houses. (Watch it here.)  There was an entire world I’d never heard of but I heard truth in every word.  I felt inspired.  I was ready for change and I was ready to take the plunge.

I started small.  I went through my closets and drawers.  I took things straight to the donation center before I could change my mind.  I was on a mission.

And then I fizzled.

Time went by.

Life got busy.

And I reverted to my old habits.

Flash forward 8 months:

I soon found myself pining for a bigger house again.  I’d think, “when we have a bigger house I want it to have this and that.  I wanted another bathroom, a living room separate from the family room.  I wanted a place to put all my “stuff.”  Then a friend of mine texted to let me know they were building a beautiful, new home.  It had a kitchen of my dreams.  It had walk-in closets.  It had a 3 car garage.  And I was envious.  And it made my hubby feel bad, like he wasn’t providing the life I longed for.  And that was NOT the person I wanted to be.  I wanted to be a content, non-consumer driven person that was happy with the truly wonderful life she has.  But how did I get back?  How would I shake my feelings of envy and my desire to have more?

I dove back in, is what I did.  I “surrounded” myself with people I wanted to be like.  I found those same websites I’d forgotten about and read their new posts.

And I’m happy to say, I’m on the road to recovery.  I’m finding who I really am.  I nurturing habits I want to have.  I know it’s a never-ending path but I feel like, after wandering in the woods, dazed and confused, I’ve now found the route to enlightenment.  I’ve found my course and am plodding my way through the much to a new me.

I’m finding me.