My sister B was the only one to suggest a topic on the blog's Facebook page posting, so her suggestion of "minimalism" is the winner!
I started out by googling "minimalism", to be sure I knew the correct definition of the term, and found a LOT of information out there. I read several articles and blog posts, and then I thought about them as I went about my day. This subject could be the entire focus of a blog (and in fact, it is, for many bloggers!). There are plenty of people who have written very informative pieces on minimalism, which leaves me feeling woefully inadequate to broach the topic.
But my little sister asked, and so I will write about what minimalism means to me.
First of all, what is minimalism? Google defines the term as related to the arts and music: a style that uses pared-down design elements. The same can be said for a minimalist lifestyle: a lifestyle that is pared-down, uncluttered. Most people who adhere to minimalism reduce the stuff in their lives to focus on what is important to them. Some minimalists go to the extreme of living in tiny houses and not owning any vehicles.
Hmm...this does not seem to be reflected in my own life, considering that I live in a moderately sized farm house, and we have cars all over the place. And then there's my tendency to collect things. You know my love of fun socks? I've got one regular sized drawer FULL of them; not one of the little top drawers designed to hold undies and socks - one of the large lower drawers. And to fit more socks in the drawer, I store them stacked upright, like recipe cards in a box.
Not to mention my collections of Frankoma pottery, scarves, vintage pins, shoes, Federal glass snack sets, teas (loose leaf and bagged), printed leggings, books, nativity ornaments.... I like stuff. Much stuff. When something makes my eyes widen with hearts zinging from them, I want to gather as many varieties of that thing as possible, for the cheapest possible price. Because I'm a frugal hoarder, you know.
There are times when the volume of my collections overwhelms me. I begin to feel ruled by my things, instead of me enjoying them. Here is where minimalism comes into play for me. When my collection overflows and I'm feeling Frankoma fat, I know that it's time to purge.
"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo hit the blog world by storm last year. I borrowed the book from the library; liked it so much, I bought my own used copy on eBay (to add to my collection of books, of course!). And while I haven't KonMari'd my entire house, I have employed her method of culling. When I felt the need to reduce my Frankoma collection, for example, I gathered all of it together in one place, then evaluated each piece individually, deciding whether or not it "sparks joy" in me still, or if I had enjoyed it enough already and was ready to let it go.
This is a great way to keep my possessions from owning me, or becoming overwhelmed by them. And once I've pared down a collection, I remind myself to be content with what I have when the temptation to purchase a new piece arises. (This is really difficult to do sometimes, and I'll admit to buying things because the price was so low it was irresistible! A Frankoma snail vase for 99¢? How can I pass that up?!)
There are more reasons to keep my collecting in check. All this stuff is temporary. None of it is going with me when I die. One brief encounter with a Kansas tornado, and it's all a pile of rubble. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it." (1 Timothy 6:6-7) The only things that will go with me when I die are my faith and what I've done in response to that faith.
Minimalism, for me, I think, is a balance. A balance between enjoying the things that I have and not allowing them to overtake my life. I like fun socks, but I don't need every pair ever made. I can enjoy my collections, but not allow them to clutter up my life so that I neglect what's important. Minimalism is also a tool that I can implement to ensure that my life is balanced. It's a way to keep the proper perspective.