Friday, January 25, 2013

I Almost Became a Minimalist


I've mentioned before that I'm not much for trends, trendiness, and/or being trendy. I'm the type of gal who can never justify buying ten different colors of skinny jeans because I'm afraid the trend will be over in a year and I'll have nothing to wear again. I mean, really... retro can only be retro for so long, right?

 Anyway, there's a parenting/life trend going around these days, and I must admit I've been interested. It’s all about de-cluttering your life, simplifying your lifestyle, living greener and swapping all your children’s stuffed animals for lessons in needs vs. wants.

Maybe you’ve noticed some of these great people. They call themselves "minimalists." I’m pretty sure most of them live in big cities, because I certainly don’t know any personally. In my experience, we country folk tend to be a bit less… enthusiastic when it comes to free-thinking, world peace, make love not war kinds of ideas. Most of us are like… well, “Heck yes I will spank my child! And in public, just to avoid stares and judgment, I pinch their thighs instead!” I’m not sure that’s a minimalist method.

Anyway, these minimalists. 

Bless their hearts. 

They set out on a journey to simplify their lives in every way, and many of them blog about the whole process. I got started reading a few of these blogs. I enjoy reading tips from a minimalist blog called “Zen Habits.” 

But it’s written by a man. And a man don’t know nothin’ ’bout being a woman in this here crazy world. 

So I thought I’d check out some minimalist women too.

I must say, when I began to read, the idea really appealed. Wouldn't it be great to throw out all my worldly distractions and focus on what really matters?!!! 

Wonderous idea.

I am not a clutter-lover. I mean, I like a few things lying around. Toys, usually. I feel like my house is just more “homey” with a few things out. But I’ll tell you what I hate. Wall to wall junk that I can’t get the energy up to sort through (aka: our basement). So reading through all these wonderful minimalist proposals was motivational, to say the least.

But as I continued reading, I began to realize something. 

I just don’t think I can commit. 

These people have every reason to be admired. They are frugal, enjoy their families, and try to live without going AWOL and breaking the bank to pay a shrink like the rest of us. I’d still like to be like them. But there a few things about the minimalist lifestyle that I found to be 

BIG. FAT. DEALBREAKERS.

Minimalist Living Dealbreakers: A List

  1. Some of these brave people actually combine households with other people. I’m talking move in with their in-laws. As much as I love my in-laws (don’t smirk, that’s a true statement), it ain’t gonna happen.
  2. Minimalists tend to become vegetarian or vegan in the long run. Girl, please. My husband spends hours in the woods killing wild animals with a bow and arrow. We will be eating meat.
  3. These guys give away everything. My husband worked hard and I shopped even harder and we paid for our crap. We paid money. I have approximately 23 plastic garbage bags full of clothing for children ages 0-6 in my basement at this very moment. We need that stuff. Preparedness and all. Not to mention the boxes of maternity clothes, baby blankets, winter coats, and camping equipment. All needs. You don’t give away what you need, right? Validate me here, please.
  4. Minimalists practice a lot of discipline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not too bad at self-discipline, but when it comes to cookie dough, well… self-discipline what? And I’m really, um… chill, you might say, when it comes to my kids, too. If they want to ride bikes in Walmart, I really don’t put up much of a fight – unless they crash into something. Then the fun’s over and it’s time to run in the opposite direction. Seriously. Run.
  5. Minimalists hoard nothing. I’m not a messy hoarder. I don’t {think} I belong on TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. But I am an organized hoarder. A file box with pages and pages torn from magazines on every topic imaginable (perfectly categorized, thank you). A (surprisingly heavy) box of National Geographic Magazine. Books of all kinds. Craft supplies. Fabric for sewing projects I want to do. Boards upon boards of "stuff" on Pinterest. Things that will surely be useful… someday.
  6. Minimalists don’t spend a lot of time in front of a screen. I live in the middle of nowhere. It is winter. It is cold. I have three young children. I have no car. I have no friends. We are going to watch TV. Possibly all day. The noise calms me.
And perhaps the biggest dealbreaker of all:

  1. Minimalists learn to disconnect emotionally from their crap… and I just cannot do it. I’ve always had a problem. I was one of those little girls who would pile all of her stuffed animals on her bed at night because I didn't want one of them to feel left out. In fact, I still have some of those same stuffed animals. They have feelings too. And that scribble (one of millions) on a scrap of paper that my daughter drew for me? Heaven forbid I should ever carelessly discard a sweet memory of my sweet child.
Ah, the simplicity.

Bless you, those of you who live as minimalists. I envy you. But I’m just not ready to give up my crap. 

Ah, the crap.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Unresolved


Ah, a fresh new year! It feels great, right? Have you all got your shiny new resolutions of losing weight, living in the moment, quitting smoking, and getting out of debt polished and sitting on your mantel so you can sheepishly hide them away in two weeks when you’ve given up?

I almost put mine out. Almost.

There are a million resolutions I could have chosen to start this here year of 2013. I am just as full of imperfections and problems as I’ve ever been. Usually, I make resolutions. Usually, I put mine up with bright lights, flags, and trumpets in the darkest corner of my basement for all (aka: me) to see. Usually, I am so busy thinking and writing resolutions down that I never actually get around to doing them (hence the reason I hide them in the basement in the first place). Usually, my resolutions list starts like this:

  1. Be a better person
  2. Be healthier
  3. Be a better wife
  4. Be a better mom
  5. Be a better homemaker
  6. Be a better daughter/sister/granddaughter/cousin/relative/whatever
  7. Do more in my church callings
  8. Learn new things (any number above 25 new things will do)

And then, after defining and specifying each category,
combing the net for inspiring blogs, Pinterest boards, and web articles,
breaking each category into multiple subcategories, 
defining and specifying each subcategory, 
listing [tentative] dates of completion, 
writing stepping stone goals for each,
and then lacing it all with good intentions, 

I end with this:

  1. Simplify my life

I know. And then I subcategorize that one too.


I’ve tried not making resolutions. It doesn’t work. I write so many self-improvement lists, so often, that I eventually find myself titling some random page “New Year’s Resolutions,” and then my resolve to not make resolutions crumbles and, yet again, I am staring at a list of things I wish I already was.

So, as I am quite tired of my ring-around-the-rosie, never-accomplish-much resolutions, I have decided to make something called an “Un”-resolution.

What is an “Un”-resolution, you ask?

Well, I figure that in the past, I’ve always made resolutions to change myself, to do something new, to break a bad habit. And it doesn’t work very well for me.

So, what if I did the opposite of that? What if, instead of doing something to make myself a shining, wonderful example of all things beautiful, selfless, and healthy, I did something that could make me seem… worse?

That’s right. I’m gonna stick it to The Man (who is he anyway???) and drop the fa├žade I have so carefully constructed over the years to make people love me. I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do this year. I’m going to do things that will make people wonder what the heck kind of crazy I really am. I’m going to do things that will make other people (particularly my mom) embarrassed for me. I’m gonna do things like… like… like lick the spoon from the cake batter in someone else’s kitchen and then put it back in and do it again.

If making an un-resolution sounds like something you’d like to try, I’ve got a few more ideas for you, just to get you started. Pick one. Or make up your own. But don’t subcategorize, don’t research, don’t make a list, and don’t think about it. Just do it.


Some ideas for “Un”-resolutions in 2013:

  • Eat a cookie every day. Or a donut. Or chocolate. Or all three.
  • Scream at the top of my lungs once a week for no good reason.
  • Say “no” to whomever I please, whenever I really don’t want to do something.
  • Spend money on whatever I want once a month (the catch - there has to be money to spend).
  • Let my kids get whatever it is they beg for in the store once in a while.
  • Let people do things for me, even if I know I can do it myself.
  • Stay in my pajamas all day and don’t put on any makeup (gasp!) whenever I feel like it.
  • Don’t clean the house for a day or two once in a while.
  • Take the biggest slice of pie/pizza/cake/whatever once in a while – before all the men come into the kitchen.
  • Roll down my car windows every time a Taylor Swift song is on the radio and force everyone else on the street to listen as I sing along.

I hope you’re inspired. I can’t wait to get started.