Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dare to Discipline: Minimizing

Truly this part of my journey to more self-discipline can not possibly be summed up in one blog post, but I am at least going to write about my beginning. Handprints on the Wall is doing a series called "Minimizing Mondays" which has really inspired me to clean out and de-clutter. The more things you have, the more time you will spend cleaning/organizing/shuffling through those things. Life is too short to be constantly "rearranging the chairs on the Titanic", which is what having too much stuff to worry about becomes.

Most of us long to live free of material burdens, but find ourselves stuck in a rut of needing what we have... and often more! I am taking up the challenge of "living with less" which will give me more time for the things that I enjoy and help me lead a life more focused on physical and mental well-being and spiritual growth. A lot of this process boils down to giving ourselves permission to get rid of - despite how much we used to like it, despite it's condition, despite any other excuse we've been using.

I started with Make-Up, an area of my life/closet that I have not bothered realistically cleaning out since... uh... pathetic, huh? In high-school I participated in several theater groups, starring in a few plays and enjoying an "Improvisational Team." (Think an amateur version of some of the SNL skits, but without the political edge.) During that period I used a lot of dramatic make-up techniques mostly for fun, and because I could. Needless to say, I do not habitually run around in glitter and dark wine colors anymore, but there they sat in 4 bags of make-up! I am now down to ONE "current" make-up bag, consisting of my 'everyday' stuff in which I can also fit travel toiletries, and one "future" bag for the back-up as I run out of my current. It was so simple, and took me almost no time at all.

The following week I tackled my shoes. Shoes are such a complicated accessory for women; there are dress shoes for summer, dress for winter, shoes for pants and shoes for skirts and walking shoes and running shoes and hiking boots and match-just-one-outfit-but-I-like-them shoes. Stop the insanity!!! After allowing myself 2 indulgences, I still eliminated 8 pairs of shoes!!! I don't need 2 pairs of black heels, just one that won't cripple my feet by the end of church. I DO still need my wedding shoes, because they are bright red sandals with 3-inch heels. Seriously, those things are going down in history. I allowed myself to donate a pair that I didn't get "full use" out of, because they are no longer my style and I have to admit I will likely not wear them again. After only 1 hour of my precious time I can fit ALL my dress shoes in a "shoe hanger thingy" (thrift store special) and my others are neatly lined on my half of the closet floor. I could feasibly give myself permission to buy another (on sale, super cheap) pair of cute shoes sometime in the future without too much guilt.

There is such a sense of accomplishment after achieving just these 2 simple tasks. Opening my hall closet no longer entails the "catching reflex" and selecting a pair of shoes takes but a moment. Think of the time saved already!

Although I enjoy having pretty thing in my home, I am striving to maintain a simplistic tendency toward possessions. My goal regarding worldly possessions is to achieve and maintain a balance between enjoying the nice things we own and using them as good Christian stewards of hospitality while being detached from the actual ownership of them.

Anyone else have good minimizing techniques? Please feel free to share! And if anyone else is looking for ideas, check out Minimizing Mondays - they tackle one project each week and then write about how they achieved their goal, and are even brave enough to post pictures!


Angela said...

I think my biggest weakness is the girl's clothes. They are just so darn cute and cheap (a la Goodwill)! I have purged myself back to only 5 (...or was that 7) of any one item...5 pants, 5 shorts, etc. I would love to get to that point with the kids clothes too.