When I tell people that I am an aspiring minimalist, the usual response is “mina-what?” Those who have heard of minimalism usually assume this means I’m going to purchase a tiny house, sell my car, have four shirts and two pairs of pants in my wardrobe, and travel the world. None of those things are true for me, but I do plan to simplify my life and the things I allow in it. My personal response is a complicated one as I see this as a journey, not a specific destination.

Photo: Pexels

Minimalism means many different things to many different people. Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits, defines minimalist living as “simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.” Now with that being said, this can be interpreted in different ways and at different extremes.

I began my journey to minimalism after my husband decided to end his career in the Army and we relocated back to our home state of Georgia. We had so much “stuff,” and about 50% of it had no sentimental value or any value at all. We donated a large portion of our belongings before packing up for the move, which made things much easier. This sparked a fire within me to challenge myself to get rid of more “stuff,” and it simply became a habit to keep a donation box in our storage at all times to make the process of letting go a part of our daily life.

Photo: Pexels

Minimalism doesn’t have to be a time commitment or a burden because as I stated earlier, it can be what you make it. For me, I became a de-clutter Queen. I started with simple items like excessive flip-flops, mix-matched costume jewelry, and old college t-shirts. Next, I stepped things up a notch to party dresses, blankets, and duvets. If you are wondering how, here is my system for letting go:

Have I worn or used this item in the past year? If not, do I plan to use it soon?

Does it still fit or does the item still work?

Do I already own something similar?

Am I keeping this for sentimental reasons?

If I were shopping right now, would I purchase this item?

Now some of you may be thinking, “I could make an excuse for any question if it meant I could keep my stuff.” To that, I say you have to figure out what it is that keeps you from letting it go. Minimalism is not just about donating old goods, but letting go. Letting go can be a daunting task for us all, but I think this is where reflection plays a big part. It is essential to get down to the nitty-gritty of what has you holding on to things.

I remember watching A&E's Hoarders and initially being a bit judgmental until I realized that we all have some kind of emotional attachment to material things, and that is okay to a certain extent. It is when we allow these things to crowd our space and create an environment in which we spend hours organizing, cleaning, and clearing space to only start all over again the next day — that, is where the problem exists. Having less can often make cleaning easier and less time consuming, which could ultimately free up more quality time with family, with friends and with self. 

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