Minimal Living

The idea of living as a minimalist is so interesting to me. We are lucky enough to have a guest blogger today, Keith Lawlor who lives (and loves!) the minimalist life. Enjoy the article below as he gives us an insight into his world! 

Minimalism is everywhere, and it’s awesome.

 

People often tend to envision minimalism as an empty space – white, bright and sterile. This is the image that is hash-tagged and tweeted. It’s the one we see from minimalist bloggers, and the one that naysayers love to challenge. But minimalism is so much more than a blank emptiness. It’s a form of freedom that we never knew we needed.

I found my way to minimalism from a desire to simplify my physical life at home. In the living room, I have a shelf under a wall-mounted TV which would gather layers of dust because moving all the items to clean it became too time-consuming. I ignored and avoided the chore at all costs. Yet I knew it was dusty and that irked me. It was a display of my things, but was also a source of dissatisfaction. I had brimming drawers of unused bathroom products, a closet full of rarely worn clothes, and kitchen cupboards with duplicates for no reason; two salad spinners, two can openers, two colanders. It goes on. For a long time, I never even consciously realized how often I had to dig to find something, or was pushing things aside in pursuit of something else. I’d explored some other areas of intentional living – personal finance, zero waste – and quickly realized the benefit of minimalism.

I started with my living room shelf. I looked at every item and asked myself – Does this add value to my life? Does this serve a needed function? Does this spark joy? I got rid of knick-knacks from my travels, I cut my book inventory in half, I tossed the piece of driftwood from Cape Breton. I took the time to look at each item and make the decision to keep it or remove it. I even got rid of all my picture frames. I kept the photos in a box for future enjoyment, but framed on the shelf, they were mundane dust-collectors that I never paid attention to. That’s hardly a way to cherish the people in them. I get more joy looking at them twice a year than I ever did with them on my shelf all-day every-day.

Once I was done, the image of the shelf was lucrative. Bare by former standards, it could now be cleaned in half the time, and the items remaining were the ones that I am most proud of. Newfoundland fiction (my home province), a silver Kiwi bird that brings me back to a solo 3-months in New Zealand, and a ceramic frog that I occasionally slip into Bobby’s boots for an ongoing laugh. Here’s the best part – it was easy. Or at the very least, far easier than I expected it to be.

I was hooked, and kept moving through the home. The bathroom drawers were emptied of colognes, and shaving cream. I got rid of extra razers, old hair clippers, nail files and tweezers, tiny floss containers, partially full travel toothpastes, shabby floor mats and more. I can’t even remember most of the things, which is indicative of how much crap I had. I do recall finding a single-use face mask in a plastic package. How did this come to me? How long had it been there? I still don’t know.

The kitchen was a landmine of excess. Table cloths I kept for ‘someday’ were donated, and excess glassware for ‘just in case’ moments were removed. I had leaky water bottles, and a Bubba Mug for resort-vacations. I had wine bottles lining the upper cupboards, which were promptly recycled. Good bye to the duplicate colander, and the pizza cutter, and the loose-handled frying pan, and the olive-pitter, and the brie baker, and the chip bag clips, and the clunky coffee maker that brewed far too much and caused me to waste coffee every day. None of it was needed, and none of it has every been missed. Not once. Ever. I’m not kidding.

The bedroom provided some of the greatest relief. I donated a huge portion of clothing point blank. With my newly-found minimalism focus, I could easily determine 20+ items that were better suited to be introduced to the second-hand market. From there, I took everything I hadn’t worn in the last 6 months, plus about half of my stack of cheap t-shirts and put it in an empty bedside trunk. I made a deal with myself that anything remaining at the end of 3 months would be donated. I took just two items from the trunk – a pair of running pants and a pair of hiking pants. Everything else was purged. My closet looks close to empty, but the truth is, I still wear all of the same clothes I wore before and nothing more. There’s some stat out there that suggests we only wear 20% of the clothing we own. I donated my 80%. I also opted to get rid of Winners wall art, cheap accent pillows, an unused desk and chair, an unneeded dresser and more.

Today, our home has only the items that serve us regularly, and a strictly-curated collection of keepsake items that truly bring joy. And we eliminated more than clutter. We eliminated stress, cleaning time, decision fatigue, and the impulse to purchase every little thing that marketers tell us we need. I’ve learned that the one extra throw pillow doesn’t make you happier – it does the opposite. It occupies space, it robs your money and its power to build future wealth, and it becomes one more item to tidy, move, and eventually toss (likely to just end up in the ocean).

Minimalism has also led me to even broader areas than clutter. I’ve minimized relationships, cutting out the take-take-takers and the toxic ‘friends’ that I erroneously allowed into my space. I’ve cut social media use, realizing that 7 minutes buried in Snapchat videos I don’t care for, and 20 minutes on Instagram browsing filtered versions of other people’s best-moments, added nothing to my life, and only detracted from it. I’ve allowed minimalism to focus my goals into actionable items. I’ve reconsidered the trajectory of my life and realized that when we strip everything away, all that truly matters is our health and our relationships, and that’s where I want to focus.

We should also acknowledge that minimalism is fluid. My minimalism experience will likely vary from yours, and comparison is often unproductive. But experimenting with minimalism is a valuable exercise nonetheless, and I encourage everyone to take a few moments to ask themselves what truly compliments their life, and then cut out the excess.

Minimalism is so much more than another trend – it’s a cultural shift towards intentional living and freedom, and everyone can benefit.

Keith

 

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