My #1 mistake in simplifying was thinking it would or should be easy. It all started shortly after getting married.
We lived in a tiny 2-bedroom apartment that really wasn’t big enough to even have two bedrooms. Our “furniture” included: A free sofa we found on the curb after our rainy wedding weekend that needed dried out, aired out, and Febreezed out; an air mattress borrowed from my cousin; and a rather rickety $20 book shelf we bought new at Target.
Looking back that probably should have been the simplest we’ve ever had our home. Yet, it wasn’t. I was overwhelmed by excess stuff that filled that excess bedroom. None of it valuable enough to sell or really improve our situation in any way. It was all tokens and mementos from life already lived. College papers, trinkets and notes, clothes and shoes in high school styles we’d never wear again.
We spent our date nights at Barnes and Noble (and still do), where I’d pine over pictures I saw in Real Simple magazine. I wanted everything to be organized. I wanted a simply decorated space. I wanted to feel calm and welcome in my own home. That seemed simple, even easy, enough.
So then, when it wasn’t easy.. when I found myself struggling with letting go of stuff… when I got overwhelmed by the little details of a too full closet, then I thought I must have it wrong. It was all too much. The flood of memories when I’d try to address the things in that spare bedroom was debilitating. “It was supposed to be easy!”
We’ve come a long way since those early days of our marriage. Our home finally welcomes and calms me. Organization isn’t the scary battle I used to prepare myself for. And while we’ve gone up a little in space, we’ve also gone up by 3 family members, and yet we still fit well in the space we have. Simple contentment is now prevalent here in my work-in-progress, and there were some hard facts to face on the road to get here.
3 Truths About Finding Simple
Following are three truths I’ve found while creating our simple home. Each one has tripped me up a little in the process. Realizing them and accepting them has also led to success in establishing simple in our home and our lives. If you’re feeling stuck or wondering why you haven’t been able to create the simple home you’ve always wanted, it’s possible one of these truths is getting in your way.
1. Simplifying is a process.
Simplifying, by definition, is the process of making life easier. That is likely the hardest truth keeping most of us from finding a simple home. We want it to be a quick, one-time decision and then we’re done. We forget that some of us have years, maybe even decades, of life patterns and habits to break. We forget that while breaking those habits, we also have to face hundreds (thousands?) of mementos of days gone by that can drown us in our past. We forget that while those photo inspirations all seem easy, simple, doable enough, we have our own process and challenges to go through to get there.
2. Simple is up for interpretation.
Simple, by definition, is easily understood or done. That truth may trip us up or cause us to count ourselves out when our current spaces aren’t easy. We also might lump simplicity and minimalism all into one category that doesn’t describe us and our current mess. What we forget is that what each person considers simple will differ. I am so inspired by extreme minimalists, but their version of simple is not mine. That doesn’t mean that what I am creating in my home isn’t simple. It just means that we’re working toward different things; we place value in a different end result, even though the process we’re following may be similar.
3. Simplicity is worth it.
Simplicity, by definition, is the quality of being plain or natural or easy to understand or do. If we don’t believe that is something worth working toward, then we won’t have motivation to go through the simplifying process. Progress builds on progress, and every little bit of effort gets me closer to my goals to feel calm and welcome and inspired in my own home.
Today’s simplifying challenges get me closer to tomorrow’s simplicity. We haven’t completely minimalized our home in one month or one year and checked it off the list. We are not minimalists, and don’t really intend to be. We are simply in the process of finding a home and life that’s easier to maintain. And we have found that resulting simplicity along the way to be so worth it.
If you haven’t found the simple home of your dreams, it’s possible you’re getting hung up in one of the 3 truths about simple above. Either you thought it would be easy and you’re finding it’s not; or you excuse yourself from the journey because your simple isn’t looking like someone else’s; or you’re just not feeling like whatever results will be worth all of this hard work.
Are you getting hung up on any of these? What do you feel is keeping you from the simple home you’ve always wanted? I’d love to hear in the comments below. ↓ Sign up >> here for the 8-part monthly email series to help you simplify your home in 2016.