Every once in a while I can feel myself grow and change.
The 6 Most Important Learnings From My Summer
Even in conversations I can usually tell when some new light bulb has gone off for me. I try to capture these moments of personal growth and refine them down to easy to remember principles that I can hang on to. I have a really bad memory. This summer was an exceptional period of personal growth, so I am sharing the 6 most important learnings from my summer. This started as a quick hitting, bullet pointed blog post that somehow turned it’s way into a mini-novel of sorts with a growing expanse of back story that I didn’t really anticipate. So, I have broken the one blog post into a series of six blog posts. Like other things that I write, I hope you enjoy it. If nothing else, some of you will at least get an inside peak into what kind of crazy is going on inside of my head. Let me start with the easiest things and work my way towards the ones that are hardest to explain. First there was VALUE, and now…
#2 – Minimalism
For years I have fancied myself a semi-practicing minimalist.
I don’t know where it began or how exactly this strain of my personality has evolved. Maybe it started during my teen years when my family was uber poor. I can’t recall how many eviction notices I saw served to my father while living in a very small rental home in a fairly cruddy neighborhood. There were weeks where it was a classic case of a can or two of food lining the shelves. We received groceries as gifts from friends during holidays. I slept on the couch for three years while I was in high school, my “room” being the hallway coat closet to contain all of my possessions. Yes, I do realize that this is still a very rich existence compared by global standards. My only point being, this was a refining period of life in terms of my relationship with stuff, or lack thereof.
Through college and after, I went through the normal accumulation of things typifying the modern American dream.
In my mid-thirties I sold the only home my boys had ever known and as a family we began a vagabond of sorts, traveling across the US twice in an RV, living in Seattle for a year, living in Maryland for six months, always coming back to Arizona as our home. My friends joked that we were gypsies. I held fast to a principle that I still utilize today: “God owns everything, I just need to find a way to borrow it.” We had a blast and so many amazing memories from this this era. During this time, for practical purposes and because of the experience of freedom, we de-collected with non-essentials. Each time we traveled or moved, we got rid of more and more stuff.
Pushing fast forward, I moved in a big, new direction in January 2013 when I separated from my wife of 18 years.
I will write more about this later, in a blog called PEACE. Through the last year and a half culminating in divorce, stuff has continued to not matter to me at all. In fact, even the financial aspect of divorcing (minimizing my banking account) hasn’t been that big of a blow, although it certainly has been expensive. I moved into my own house in June 2013, taking only what she didn’t want for herself. I was left with a few very personal childhood, familial possessions and of course, my mountain bike.
A friend gave me the book “Everything That Remains” by Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.
These yahoos author the site TheMinimalists.com. Inspired by this book and the challenges within, this summer I began purging my home anew. Not out of a hate for things or white American guilt, but out of a desire to rid myself of items that take up space, create clutter, consume my time or attention and which I never, ever use. I find peace in owning less stuff. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me.
A simple and wonderful practice outlined in the book: Get rid of anything that you have not used in more than 30 days.
Initially I took that quaint thought, made my own time parameter of ‘anything I haven’t used in the last year’ and started piling things in my garage to donate. I never sell things, I always donate. I have carted off 3 full car loads of things so far. The hassle of selling possessions (unless it is a really, really big item) is never worth the time. Besides, donating is always a chance to bless someone else who has a need for the things that I am not using.
My minimalist list to my minimal ways:
1. I rent a home instead of owning. It’s cheaper, more flexible and much, much easier.
2. I purge any clothes that I haven’t worn in 3 months. I save winter clothes purging for winter.
3. I donate unused items.
4. I own my car until it dies.
5. I borrow, whenever possible. Vacation homes (I go with friends cause it’s more fun when they are there). Expensive recreational vehicles like boats, atv’s, etc. For the record, I also freely loan out what I do own.
6. When I purchase, I buy items that will last and that I really enjoy.
7. I ruthlessly go through closets and cupboards to donate more.