“Minimalism is not defined by what is not there but by the rightness of what is and the richness with which this is experienced.”
I’ve always had a taste for minimal. I’m a big fan of white space and my last two homes being airy lofts set the stage for an environment I’ve always craved. For me minimal is very similar to that above quote. It’s not about “little” or “lacking” but about having the space figuratively and literally to enjoy what you do have in your life. And while I’ve longed for a cleaner simpler life for a long time creating it was much harder. As letting go always is.
I was brought up in a very consumerist household. Possessions were a replacement for parental presence and affection. I had a lot of “stuff” growing up and looking back on it the poor spending habits of the adults in my biological family (I was eventually adopted out of that home) probably highly contributed to their poverty level. I promised myself when I started a family it wouldn’t be like that. Experience and relationships would be more valuable than things, my children would grow to appreciate, and earn everything they had. And I started this from day one with G.
Though through the rough patch in my personal life, my divorce and such I did struggle to keep this environment, so many things from my first marriage had accumulated. Physical baggage that was a direct reflection of the emotional baggage consuming me. It was incredible before our move to LA as I took stock of our possessions how much stuff I carted out of that Brooklyn loft and gave away. Funny thing is I remember panicking a bit in the moment of letting go but now here in LA I can’t even remember what those items were, even though there was a small apartments worth of stuff!
When we made the jump west we packed everything into four suitcases. We’ve kept our BK loft as our second home for when we need to be in NYC so some of my larger household items are still there like the bench my grandfather built and my still (even after giving away 300 books) massive book collection (Brooklyn is the BEST for stoop books this time of year FYI). Do I miss those prized possessions? Yes, I do. Can I live without them? Yes, I totally can which I realize now with the distance.
Our new loft is large but empty. Eventually I would like to add a little art to the walls and maybe some select items from our upcoming travels but the minimal “things” in the space actually works really well for our family. We’ve actively created this environment around us.
W and I have a healthy way of keeping each other in check when shopping which has been working out great and stopped un-needed things from accumulating. When at a store and we both don’t agree we need it, it goes back on the shelf. This process has cut down a full shopping cart at ikea to 1/3 of the items actually leaving with us. I often look back and think “wow we actually didn’t need that glad we didn’t buy it”. Also the internet has become our best friend. We’ve been more intentional with what we purchase everything from light bulbs to arrow root powder has been researched and ordered online at a more affordable price than the local stores. Intentional is a great way to describe our current living actually. With the cheaper lifestyle I no longer feel guilty splurging on the healthier, organic, or better brands for my family like I once did because I’m being intentional in my spending.
Another thing we’ve started doing with this move is reusing everything we can. Water bottles and yogurt cups have become planters, old wine bottles have become lamps, and G’s school work has become the flourishing art on our walls. Everything is so much more personal and knowing we’re doing good for the planet than sending more waste out the door feels good too.
I’ve learned with G that the less toys available to her the more she will play with them and the more her creativity will flow. In BK I made an effort to keep everything out and available to her. In turn some toys would never get touched or played with. Now one of the coolest investments for our new space was a couch with a hidden storage box inside. We store all her toys out of sight except for a few that get rotated every so often in her room. Now she plays with everything that’s out and available and it’s exciting to her on weekends when she can dive into the big collection in the couch. We’re still working the 1 in 2 out rule with her which with any kid I’m assuming is hard, they just don’t want to let go. And I’m not going to lie she did say on her birthday she wish she had received a “lot” of toys but I still think she’s a little young to fully grasp why we limit what comes into our home. Someday she will understand and hopefully appreciate how we’re raising her. Someday.
Have a wonderful weekend friends. Hope it’s full of peace, love, and simplicity.