Monday, March 16, 2015

my take on minimalism

I feel kind of ridiculous calling myself a minimalist.  I have a day-per-page planner imported from Japan, for pete's sake, and I like bath products from Kiehls.  I salivate over Mini Boden, and often order even when I know kids don't really need fancy (but adorable) outfits that they will grow out of in approximately 2 months.

BUT, I kind of still think I am one.

To me, minimalism means:

1.  Valuing experiences over things.  In particular, I hate spending money on home decor, furniture, cars, and the like.  I would SO MUCH rather travel or see a concert or provide the kids lessons -- or hire a babysitter! -- with that money.
((ASIDE: Material things that I do still spend some $ on/collect:
  • clothes (because I feel that for me, wearing something that I like actually does contribute positively to my experience, and I enjoy this aspect of life.  I guess I would say the same holds true for children's clothing.)   
  • stationery products -- although I don't buy nearly as much in volume as I once did.  The joy/purchase price ratio is excellent, and I like that these things are consumable.  
  • books, although I almost always buy the kindle version unless it's a book I feel I will want to refer back to/underline/write in/use for reference))
2.  Eschewing excess.  Yes, I splurge on outfits for A&C sometimes, but I try to keep the volume of clothing to a reasonable minimum (example: C owns one swimsuit in his current size; A has 2, and they swim at least once weekly).  I have donated/sold a lot of my clothes, and now own a fairly shockingly small volume of things.  (I'll have to list/count them out one day, but I know that compared to most women it is a very spare number of items.)   

EVERYTHING in my closet fits, or I have donated/sold/given it away.  And when I inevitably come upon an item that I just don't want to put on for whatever reason, I put it in the donate pile.  Because usually if I am finding an excuse not to wear something, it means it's not going to work -- probably ever.

We also rarely buy A&C any toys.  They get enough from relatives, and we'd rather buy them books or experiences, or replenish consumable art supplies.  I'm sure this will change somewhat as they get older, but I'd still rather them have a handful of cherished quality items than a huge pile o' plastic.

3.  Not spending time on things that are not right for me.  This is still somewhat of a work in progress, but I think I have made a lot of progress in this arena.  

4.  Clearing clutter.  I'm not talking about having every surface perfectly cleared of toys at all times (not worth the energy).  Instead, I'm referring to excess stuff that tends to magically fill nooks and crevices in most houses (including ours) unless one is paying active attention.  I have gotten to the point where I actually LOOOVE getting rid of things.  Josh and I have 'Kon-Mari'-ed several categories already, and we are looking forward to going through our (bursting) file cabinet and doing a giant paper purge one of these days.  We don't have a huge house compared to many Americans (just over 2000 sq feet according to Trulia) and I am happy that it doesn't feel overstuffed.  

5. Not being sucked in by slick marketing or the need to keep up with anyone else.  I used to lust after the latest technological products, but now I feel at peace with my iPhone (5S) and MacBook Pro (2010).  When they stop working, I will replace them.  Admittedly I did have a FitBit (and it was kind of fun for a while!) but when I lost it, I didn't replace it and I don't feel much of a void in my life.  

I suppose that's mostly it.  I also tend to be rather minimalist with my eating -- preferring a short list of ingredients, and avoiding complicated food most of the time.  But that could be a post in itself.  

What is your take on the minimalist movement?  Do you think one can still have a minimalist mindset but love for certain material things?  My favorite minimalist blogs/sites are Becoming Minimalist and miss minimalist.  I also find that The Simple Dollar has some great posts (especially the ones by founder Trent Hamm) that lean towards minimalism.  

Of note, I'd love to keep minimalism in mind more professionally.  As in:  fewer medications, avoiding unnecessary testing, and more focus on lifestyle.  However, there is definitely a balance to strike there!

Gratuitous pix that have little to do with minimalism, except . . . weekend fun!  Experiences over things.  Scenes from the 2 bday parties:



Playground bash: A is playing "mermaid"


A doing some kind of Crossfit move with C as the weight
(our niece's bday party @ the karate gym!)