My daughter moving out last year has changed every aspect of my life. Being perpetually single I realized there’s no one to take care of for the first time in my life except me. It’s not a negative by any means, but it’s different.
I heard the sound of the big truck pull into the neighborhood and park nearby. Within minutes you hear the purr of the riding mower in my neighbors front yard and I know that my yard is next. I don’t have much grass and it’s mostly weeds, but even weeds need to be mowed in Spring. I used to enjoy mowing my yard myself, but my neighbor, Hercules, and I found a guy who’ll mow it whenever needed for $25. That is an immediate yes.
The next morning I stepped outside with a cup of tea and sat down to gaze at the freshly mowed yard. It was early, so the air was cool and crisp, but I was still wearing my fluffy robe and pajamas as I surveyed the flowerless flowerbeds. I haven’t planted anything yet and not sure I will. Over the years this yard has consumed hours of my life with watering overflowing flowerbeds by my design, but they look quiet and peaceful while empty.
Maybe instead of me taking care of the yard, the yard wants to care for me by offering the option to take care of less.
Last year when my daughter moved out to begin living her young adult life on her own, it ignited an interest in decluttering for me. Our stuff was no longer mingled together because she took some of her things with her and what’s left is either mine, or not needed at the moment.
One of my jobs is working with a company called Zen Habits, so Minimalism is a way of life for most of the people I work with. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to that level of simplistic living, but I’m making a valiant effort for Barb. The actual Minimalists are friends with the owner of Zen Habits, Leo Babauta and you’ve probably heard their names, Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus. In their book, ‘Love People Use Things’, they unravel a fascinating tale toward their minimalism, but it’s not how I perceived it to be.
Minimalism is not about having less. It’s about making room for more of what matters.
It all began when I started questioning my belongings by looking at each item and asking, “Does this thing add value to my life?” At one time it did and it may not mean much to me anymore, but I bet someone else would be thrilled to have it. This is where 30 in 30 comes into play by asking another question from The Minimalists, “What if you removed one material possession from your life each day for a month-just one-what would happen?” I walked next-door to borrow a giant box from Hercules and plopped it in the middle of the house.
This morning I was eyeing my wooden credenza where some of my favorite things are displayed, looking at each item and asking that question about value. I surprised myself by removing something I’ve had for years, but rarely use. This will bring joy to someone else, so into the box it went which already contains a few things because I began this practice days ago. This feels different than cleaning out cabinets, closets, or decluttering. These are items I live with everyday, and dust when required, but do they still add value to my life today?
As soon as I removed that one thing, I saw an empty space and was able to give the other items more space. I’m really starting to thrive in empty spaces.
With time this credenza could hold even less than what’s pictured here. The candle will burn out and be removed and the plant has numerous places to dwell in my home. What adds value to my life in this photo is my favorite lamp and some artwork is stored in the envelope propped behind the lamp waiting to be framed, but the most meaningful item is in the picture frame. It’s a notecard of a whimsical Emu I received from my friend Dawn at Aging With Grace.
I hope this inspires you to take a look around at everything you live with and as far as I know, 30 in 30 doesn’t include people, but I suppose it could.