Minimalism Maintenance

A few years ago I got this crazy frustration with the STUFF in our house and went on a massive purging project that lasted most of the year. That involved going through everything, purging what I could, and boxing up what I couldn’t purge so there was more space.

For example, I had a substantial book collection. This is not a joke, the previous purge when I moved out of my house and into the divorce involved giving away enough books to fill the entire back of a friend’s suburban. And there were still literally hundreds of books here. I purged a few more of those, but most of the books I was willing to part with had already been purged at that point. So instead we put the books in file boxes and used a software program to index and sort them, so I can put my hand on any book in less than 5 minutes, but the boxes are in the storage shed now.

However, it’s been a few years and the hidden story of minimalism in your home is that basically it’s a diet for your living space. You have to maintain ruthless vigilance.

We have not been sufficiently vigilant.

Result: I can’t deal with the random crap around the house. I’m boxing up knickknacks this week, and going through boxes of random stuff that has been accumulated in the last couple of years.

Really, we need to clean out the shelves in the closet, where we had placed boxes of stuff we weren’t ready to purge during the last purge. We should also make another run at the storage shed, which requires regular purging to keep it from getting stuffed full.

I really believe that the less stuff in your space the calmer you are. Clutter begets clutter. A cluttered mind and spirit leads to clutter in your home, and clutter in your home makes you feel blocked and generally stuck.

I did a massive brain dump yesterday because I was feeling frazzled and scattered mentally. I think that helped a lot, because it is the same for mental clutter and the ability to be functional. I had too many open loops in my head, and I couldn’t focus on anything for any length of time. This, too, is the goal of meditation, to help keep your head clear and allow you to focus more easily.

My therapist wants me to be meditating far more than I am. I’m working on trying to get a single meditation session in every single day. My therapist thinks the only way to really get a handle on the ongoing anxiety issues is to do 5-10 minutes of meditation 3-5 times a day, at a minimum.

The issue with that, of course, is that I have a baby I’m caring for, and you can’t really meditate with a baby. Therefore I have to wait until he’s asleep, and that means that during his brief nap periods, I have to add meditation to the list of everything else that I’m doing. Anything that isn’t directly focused on him, or that I can’t do easily with him in the room, I have to do during his naps. What that means is that although some chores (dishes, laundry) can be done with him awake, most of them can’t be done unless he’s asleep. Neither can I get any writing work done while he’s awake, of course.

The restriction on my free time is why I have started to pare down on my daily list of things to do. My habitica dailies got up to about 35 tasks per day, and I’ve eliminated a bunch of them. I’m down to about 20 tasks per day but even that is difficult and I might have to purge even more.

Minimalism is, at heart, simplicity. The less stuff you have, the simpler your house, the simpler your life. Minimalism means a less mental clutter, more mindfulness, more being present in the moment. But it’s not a destination. You can’t purge all your stuff and be finished with the work of minimalism. Minimalism is an ongoing way of living, a deliberate turning towards less, a refusal of complications in your life.

You can’t avoid life complications altogether, of course. But by deliberate avoiding it as much as possible, you keep that emotional and mental bandwidth available for when it hits you unexpectedly.



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