Helllllooooooooooooooooo out there!
As you may have noticed, I’ve been on somewhat of a blogging hiatus. After a year of minimalism, I lost my “groove” there for a while.
Truth be told, my Minimal Challenge was one part desire and many parts necessity. I started the challenge after we unexpectedly had to move from our dream home into an investment property in which we had *already* invested too much time, money, and emotion … the last thing we really needed to do was live there. To say “our lives were turned upside down and our finances spread thin” would be a solid contender for “Understatement of the Year,” but I’ll save you that sob story. In a nutshell, my ascetic journey into minimalism was as much a coping mechanism as an experiment in financial austerity.
But what I discovered throughout that year was that when I minimized my consumer behaviors, I was able to maximize my mental, emotional, and spiritual peace.
Late last summer, we were able to break free from the “Albatross House,” as it became known in our family. We moved back to the community that we love, and took a big, deep breath of fresh air. You’ll remember that my son thought the house felt lonely, and I had this nesting desire to make this house a home–nice and cozy, filled with “stuff.”
Well, I have to tell you … I ventured to the thrift stores. I browsed the Pottery Barn catalog. I roamed the interior design stores. I considered window treatments. But at the end of the day, I could not bring myself to purchase anything. The Minimal Challenge changed me. It changed the way I think about “stuff.” And it changed the way I consume goods. It made me conscious of every purchase and every decision. It made me no longer function like a willing robot to corporate greed. There have even been a couple of times that I’ve really WANTED to go shopping. Therapeutic shopping. Just to wander around with a coffee in hand, looking at sparkly baubles with my little girl. I’ve tried it. It kind of sucks. Now I walk around the stores thinking (sometimes out loud)–don’t need it, don’t want it, don’t like it … who would spend money on that?!?!
I’ve (gasp) officially FAILED at shopping. If you knew me before, you would know that shopping was never a problem for me. My college roommates (and my credit cards) could attest to that fact. But today, I really don’t need anything. Or even want it.
Meanwhile, my aunt and her family have just started a similar adventure. They call it the Year of Austere, and are blogging–as a family–about their experiences. I have to chuckle as they suffer through the challenges of giving up Starbucks and purging their comfortable shopping habits. Been there. Done that. But at the same time, it has brought me full-circle in my thinking. In the beginning, it was difficult. I had to make calculated choices about what to minimize and when and how to spend money. Today, it is second nature. I don’t even think twice about whether I need something or not, because the defacto answer is–I can live without it. There are some necessary purchases, like a new pair of glasses, which I really need to make. And, since you are aware of the health insurance situation in his country, you realize that I have to save up for that new pair of glasses. But today, I even have the self-discipline to plan in advance for that purchase–so it has minimal impact on my monthly budget. Rather than rushing out and paying for them and then finding a (painful) way to cover those costs later.
So, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, I’ve been reincarnated … Those greedy caterpillar days of consuming everything in sight are gone. Those painful days of transformation have come to pass. And today, I stand before you … light, airy, and colorful in my new incarnation …
I don’t think I have to force myself into the “minimalist” mindset anymore. (An aside–I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography. A true minimalist … that guy was looney tunes.) I don’t feel like I have to be driven by a strict set of minimalist mentality. But I know from experience that I’m not about to over-consume any time soon. I think it is safe to say that I’ve fully become a “moderate.” Here I am. Stuck in the middle with you.
Look for more moderate musings to come soon, as I flutter through the blogosphere once again. It’s good to be back.