This is a topic that has been on my mind quite a bit lately. As I'm sure you probably gathered from the post about my dream home, I am a minimalist wannabe. Meaning, my dream is to live in a space that is cleared of clutter, and has only my most special, most beautiful, and most useful objects in it. Because if you actually stop to think about it, how much of your day is consumed by your stuff? It may not seem that way, but I spend so much time getting after the kids to pick up their toys, doing the dishes, rebooting and folding the laundry, general cleaning and picking up of stuff- granted, much of that is a necessity of day-to-day living, but what if we just had less?
I always get a little bit like this in the summer because while we're on vacation for a week we get to experience life with less. Having a family of 5, I only bring clothes for about 4 days, and we just wash while we're vacationing. I do a small load every couple of days and that's about it. We bring the essentials, plus a small box of toys for the kids, and we make do with the sparse pots and pans that furnish our condo. When I tell the kids to pick up their toys, it takes less than a minute. When I "straighten up" it takes a minute or two. When I open the cupboard under the kitchen sink I see trash bags, dishwashing soap, cleaning spray, and paper towels.
Honestly, how much more than that do I really need?
Of course, in a rented condo you don't have to wash your own sheets (that would take a little additional laundry time) or worry about home maintenance or entertaining or holidays, but even all that would require maybe one additional closet's worth of stuff. It was just nice to be able to have free time- really free time- that I could just be, and know that I could read a book, play with the kids, or do whatever I wanted. That is the blessing of living more simply.
Another aspect of this dream of mine is to get back to being human. In the scriptures we are taught that "the natural man is an enemy to God", but I think that we have gotten so far away from the "natural man" what with technology and supermarkets and the internet- we're more in the phase of the "unnatural man" at this point (he's an enemy to God too, by the way).
This was another train of thought that got fueled while on vacation when I took a class called, "Healing Plants and Wildflowers." I was truly astonished at the incredible healing properties of the stuff that usually gets taken out by a weed whacker by the side of the road! Apparently the abundant dandelion crop in my backyard could really do me a lot of good. Our teacher quoted someone who said, "Healing herbs help the body to remember what it was like to be well." I LOVED that! As she was telling us about the various abilities of the different plants, I was just struck by how much God loves us, that He gave us these incredibly efficient and wonderful gifts, just sprouting up out of the ground all over the place. But we're so busy watching tv ads for the next great medicine that can heal us that we don't bother to learn about the ones God put right in our backyards.
This back-to-nature kick of mine got even more reinforced with the apple fest that's been going on around our house. I couldn't believe that for almost 10 years I've had that tree in the backyard and this is the first time I've bothered to do anything with it. And the sheer pleasure from the foods I was able to make with those apples was so satisfying, especially knowing that they came from a tree in my backyard. They weren't marketed to me, weren't packaged- they grew as a result of the hand of God, they were joyfully picked by the sweet little helping hands of my children and purposefully (if not joyfully) prepared into delicious foods by my own two hands. That's about as pure and simple as it gets.
I apologize if this post is kind of rambling; I just hope that you kind of get the general idea of my mindset lately. Less people junk. More God beauty and simplicity. More time spent in worthwhile pursuits. More joy in the gifts of the Lord- the bounty of nature, quiet meditation, my wonderful family. More education about being a real human- learning to live off the land and rely on only God and myself, not Wal-mart. It's all a process, but I'm hoping to get there, a little bit at a time.
If you'd like to get into this mindset with me, be sure to check out The Small Notebook, a blog by a true minimalist who shares her beautiful thoughts on living simply, especially this post on organizing (ha!) and this post on paring down. I am also currently reading a very thought-provoking book called, Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping and am about to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.). All in all, I'm thinking more about what I allow into my home and what I truly value. I am also trying to be more conscious and more grateful for what my Heavenly Father has given me (you know, the stuff with no price tag). :-)