Taking Minimal Thoughts Deeper

I went home last night and as I was cooking dinner I was yanking stuff out of my cupboards in the kitchen. I pulled down that punch bowl (which was actually a salad bowl, who knew) and found some unopened fancy salad tongs. Twelve years without opening them? I think they can go. I hauled down a reusable Starbucks cup (I don’t drink coffee, I drink minimal tea and I never go to Starbucks). I got rid of half a dozen kids plates and another half dozen kids bowls. I found some food containers without lids and they got chucked. I went into my bedroom and looked at my bookshelves… and then started hauling books into my living room. I stopped at the 250 book mark and I’m going to let my friends rifle through them and make selections over the next 2 weeks and then I’ll take what’s left to the used bookstore that I frequent. It felt so cleansing. I can actually see part of my bookshelves right now – it’s a miracle! Maybe by the time that I finish with that shelf I’ll be able to put all my books actually neatly in it and not double and triple stacked or in shaky piles on the top.

I. Don’t. Need. Them. All.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am keeping books. I have probably another 500 books still on that shelf that I’m not ready to let go of. And that’s okay. I have my favorites and a few that looked super interesting and I want to read. Now, you may be wondering WHY I had SO MANY books if I didn’t find all of them super interesting or wanted to read them all and that is a good question. I was addicted to buying books. Library had used books for 0.25 each? Sure, I’ll buy a dozen. Grocery store had a box of bargain books ranging from 2.99 to 4.99? Yeah, I’ll take some of those bad boys home. And I also used to work in bookstores in high school and I’d buy like crazy in addition to bringing home advanced reader copies or stripped books. My book collection has been massive. Since I’ve switched mainly to ebooks, my shelves have largely been neglected and I literally have more books than I can, at my current pace, read in my lifetime. So why waste time on books that only look so-so to me? So they’re gone.

All this talk of books has gotten me derailed. I wanted to go DEEPER into this minimalism thing today and chat a bit more about the WHY of my struggles. These are the questions that The Minimalists put forth for Day 2:

What is standing in the way of my musts?
When did I give so much meaning to my possessions?
What is truly important in my life?
Why am I discontented?
Who is the person I want to become?
How will I define my success?
How will my life improve if I own less stuff?

So let’s talk about this.

What is standing in the way of my musts? Well, just my own brain, really. I won’t tackle each and every one of my musts for each question here (though I will on my own) just for the sake of brevity. For eating healthy I have got to figure out what my block is. I know the rules. I know what I should be doing, but I walk past something tasty and bad for me and it’s like a magnet sucks me in. So what am I afraid of? What is it about being healthy that frightens me? My bad eating habits are LITERALLY killing me. I am already seeing effects of too much sugar and too much garbage in my diet. These are effects that are incredibly embarrassing and uncomfortable even and yet, that does not seem to be enough to get me to lay off the cheesecake and the french fries. So what am I afraid of? I think this is something that I’m going to need to explore a lot deeper in some more personal writing because I honestly at this moment cannot tell you WHY this is SO HARD for me. And again, I’ll look at answering this question off the blog for each and every one of my musts.

When did I give so much meaning to my possessions?  I’m not sure when exactly it was, but I can tell you that a lot of the meaning behind my possessions is the guilt over the money that I’ve spent. Take my books again, for example. Say I spent just $3 on each book (some were less, a lot were more). At the 250 books that I just set aside to vacate my house, that’s $750. Wow. That’s a lot of money that I’m, ultimately, just giving away. Now add onto that the possessions that I have that cost way more than $3… there’s a lot of money about to be leaving my home that has done me zero good. That means that I have a hard time letting go of it because… I wanted it SO bad and I spent SO much money on it… how can I just… give it away? Or sell it for 1/3 of what it cost me originally?

What is truly important in my life? My daughter, first and foremost. My friends and family. Contentment. Happiness. Funny how I haven’t mentioned a single possession yet…  Knowledge and always learning.

Why am I discontented? I feel like I’ve let myself down in life. I don’t hold myself in high regard, that’s for damn sure. Even just looking through these archives, I see post after post where I swear I’m going to change. And I don’t. I just don’t. I’m tired of hearing myself talk talk talk and not seeing any real change and I can only imagine what the other people in my life see and how sick they are of the same. Talk talk talk. No change. I want to be proud of myself. I want to be able to say to myself, “Hey self. Guess what? You totally did that thing that you set out to accomplish.” I don’t feel that pride at all. I feel a lot of loathing about my poor choices – financially, socially, health-related…

Who is the person I want to become? I want confidence back. I want to know that I’m doing the right things and that I’m on the right path. I want to be a healthy, confident, not debt-riddled adult. And I also want to stop giving a shit about what other people think of me.

How will I define my success? Well, some things are simple-  I’ll be debt-free or a lot closer to it. I’ll look and feel healthier. I’ll not feel like a stress case after a weekend with 4 children. I can make it through an entire hour long yoga video or class and feel comfortable with the movements. I think I’ll know that I’ve been successful when my overall outlook is positive.

How will my life improve if I own less stuff? Well, for starts I won’t feel like a crazy hoarder person when I’m inside of my own home. I won’t have this pervasive feeling of being buried. Less stuff will also mean less cleaning and less cleaning is ALWAYS an improvement.

I clearly have more self-evaluation to do and a lot will be done tonight at home in private when I can go over my entire must list (which I read out loud to myself last night several times and will do again today). I’m really excited to start seeing changes in my home and, ultimately, in my life.

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