This week I was inspired by bloggers, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists. They write about living a meaningful life with less stuff. Joshua wrote an essay about owning just 288 things and published a photo of his apartment. Minimal is an understatement. Also beautiful.
Although I have quested after simplicity for years, this photo and their writing has inspired me to a new vision. I am far from owning just 288 things, and it’s not as if we’ll end up with a bed, a sofa, a table, two lamps and a chair, …
But this week, I have four fewer pieces of furniture in the house and less clutter.
When Ben moved in five years ago, he brought with him a beautiful work table he had made. We put it in the short end of our L-shaped living room along with his computer desk, printer, and filing cabinet to create an office space for him. The table was to be a photography work area for me. I thought I’d mat and frame photos. Instead, the table collected clutter. Plus, there was no time to putter with the mat board or framing. Then, it was mom’s stuff; her boxes that had to be sorted sat under the table for months, her briefcase of papers spilling over the table. After getting her things sorted and the paperwork done, there was still my stuff left.
Saturday the table went out and all the clutter removed or stored.
A long desk that was painted turquoise (yes, turquoise), sat against the opposite wall from the work table next to Ben’s filing cabinet and desk. A sewing machine we never use was on top of the desk. In the drawers were photos and sewing paraphernalia I also rarely use. Out went the desk. An old dresser we were using for storage also left. An old sofa was jettisoned a few weeks back.
We moved a computer hutch from my office (actually the original dining room) into the space formerly occupied by the desk. It now holds my photography equipment and albums (behind closed doors).
We created a living area where the work table had been and moved two teak bookcases that had been in that room (yes, crowded room) into my office. Now, behind my desk, but visible from the living area, are my favorite framed family photos, precious keepsakes, and writing books. It’s orderly, my desk is clean and when a client came yesterday I wasn’t embarrassed.
Another way Joshua and Ryan inspired me was with a blog post a few days ago, Struggling with Choices, under Essays. I was struggling with a choice, hashing over mind clutter through a restless night’s sleep. I read, The truth is that many things in our lives have dozens of correct answers. And we can pick the correct answer that suits us best. Sometimes we don’t know if our choice is the right choice until after we make it—and sometimes we never know. Often, the most important part is that we make a choice and stick to it.
That morning, their words were exactly what I needed to read. I made a choice, made a phone call, went for an appointment and discovered that my choice was correct. Those choices have come with more difficulty these days and I was grateful for their straightforward advice. (It occurs to me that dealing with physical clutter is just another series of choices. Make a choice, throw it out!)
Thanks to Joshua and Ryan, I am breathing a little easier this week as my house and thoughts get more organized.
But I must also mention that this reorganizing, although partly inspired by Joshua and Ryan, has been an ongoing quest inspired of late by more time to actually do it and good friends to help me.
Friend Angie and her husband and son helped move mom’s things into the house after mom died. Angie then helped to figure out where things should go. Then friend Deborah, a home organizer, came to give me a push in the right direction. Then Angie and family came again Saturday for the recent push and moved out the furniture and reorganized what was left. She then stayed for hours helping me sort through the clutter we had unearthed. She even tackled my desk drawer. I am grateful.
There’s obviously much more to do in the ongoing quest for simplicity. Now I must begin sorting through the bins of photos I have collected for decades. Any suggestions, Josh and Ryan?