life is about people and experiences not what we have or how much we can accumulate

Every summer Jason and I choose books for our kids to read. These books are HAVE TO’s. They can read other things as well but by summer’s end the books we choose are checked off as read and they always come with a form of payment to each child. (We believe school is their job and everyone should be paid for a job well done)

I am not nor was I ever a big reader. I only read books because I had to for school; most of the time I skimmed the chapters, highlighted the cliff notes and got the summary from my older sister who read everything. I don’t enjoy reading like most do… it is not an activity I choose with excitement. I would rather grab a magazine and flip through the pages. My eyes get tired very quickly, I am a slow reader and I usually require a nap afterwards because I cannot keep my eyes open due to the extreme tiredness. But in order to hopefully get my children excited about reading, learn to love  it and not dread it I read a book during our family reading time. Lead by example, right?!

ETR BookWell this summer I am reading Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.

A blog post my brother posted on Facebook about it got me intrigued. Two years ago I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker and LOVED it. It made me laugh, cry and write pages and pages of thoughts. In fact, I plan to read it again. You should read it as well and grab a copy of Everything That Remains while you are at it.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

“7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.”

Everything That Remains

“What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn’t anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism…and everything started to change.”

Minimalism is intriguing to me… Could I do it? How hard is it to start? I like my stuff but do I REALLY NEED this stuff?

Since Mercie was born I have done a fairly good job in minimizing our activities. For 3 years our kids were not in any activities. If it did not happen at school or church they did not do it. That was freeing! The busy afternoons to the nights of rushing around, grabbing quick dinners or cramming something down our pie holes so fast we cannot talk about our day was getting old, tiresome and I did not miss those nights when we cancelled all activities. In fact, it was hard signing the kids up for something or starting school sports. I did not want to be in the rush of life again. I enjoyed slow evenings at home, family dinners, not having a plan and doing things because we had the time and did not have commitments.

I still don’t’ like having days that are planned, I mean there is a plan but it is nothing that is a have to for the most part. I found things popped up that we can do when there is no hard set plan that are more meaningful that sports, dance, clubs or events.

The kids have activities now but only 1 per child and each do not require more than 1 day a week. Most are school activities so the family doesn’t feel a burden of rushing here and there and everywhere….

But when it comes to our stuff and storage I often look around and wonder if I can do the same….rid our life of some of the burdens stuff can bring. Burdens of cleaning, storing, worrying about, etc…etc…etc…I know there is a lot I can be free of but there is also a lot that will stay with me… for many reasons. I am sentimental about some things and I want tangible things to be passed down on our family as reminders, memories of a life once lived. I love memory books and slowly flipping through pages of pictures and memorabilia of things we once did, enjoyed and seeing my kids as they were each passing year. In fact, our hall bathroom is brimming with our life’s travels and experiences. It is one of my favorite rooms.

However, I am well aware of my hoarding so to speak of things I like. Dishes being one example; I love variety and making every special dinner or party different and dishes and serving pieces can be a quick change and be festive. I have enough dishes to host a good-sized wedding reception. But then there are other things I hold onto as if I am trying to hold onto a piece of the past as if the memory will disappear if I get rid of that item. Yet, clutter, mess and disorganization drive me crazy. I limit how often I go into my kid’s room that can cause me to become very anxious and may hyperventilate due to the stuff everywhere look they have going on. I do have areas where, if you saw, you would not think I am an organized person. Usually those places are areas that I need to overhaul in how I store or organize the contents. All of which require a block of uninterrupted time and when school is in session I don’t always have that so I wait till summer. The kids sleep in and there is less running around. Plus, if they don’t see mom purging, cleaning, and organizing then how will they learn.

As Joshua states in the book minimalism looks different for everyone and we all have different degrees and reasons for why we own what we do and how much….So maybe this summer I work on purging more than my normal amount; because life is about people and experiences not what we have or how much we can accumulate. Let’s stop trying to impress the Joneses… who are they anyway?!


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