A Minimalist Season

I have a minimalist state of mind while we are living temporarily with family as we build our house. There isn’t much room for an overly decorative Christmas season this year, so I’m taking it slow and only focusing on the small things that matter. It’s all about simple living. So my goal for the month of December is to focus on giving – giving of myself, giving away things that my family doesn’t need, and giving love to others. Throughout this past year we have done a lot of purging while putting our house on the market, selling, and then moving. The most amazing lesson learned through all these crazy times is how much I don’t need on a daily basis. I have actually learned to love the small things more. Too many material items cause me anxiety. This might be since there is a ridiculous amount of items with a family of six, or maybe I’m just getting older and wiser…maybe…

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My goal may be a bit outlandish, but I hope to rid my life of the unnecessary items and keep Christmas more on a spiritual level rather than material. Honestly, the material aspect is exhausting. So here’s to a productive season of minimalism and spending time with the ones we love.

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Photo Credit: Michelle Cascio Photography

A Few Tips for a Minimalist Season of Advent.

 

1. Contemplate the Meaning of Christmas.

   This time of year isn’t only about ourselves, family, friends or even strangers. This time of year is about the birth of Christ. If we don’t focus on the Truth, then there is no purpose for this special day.

2. Simplify Your Life. 

This may include limiting your access to social media and increasing time within your day for reading, organizing, or helping others. You know better than anyone what consumes your time and yet doesn’t have much merit. Spend more time with family and friends, these are the moments that you will remember when you get older and the kids are grown. Don’t have regrets!

3. Don’t Purchase Anything You Don’t NEED!

     Yes, we know this is difficult this time of year, but our consumerism mentality is overbearing. (Maybe this is one of the reasons I cannot stand Black Friday, or Black Saturday, or Cyber Monday…) For me, it will be difficult to drive past Starbucks without a Skinny Peppermint Mocha, but instead of spending the money there, I can donate food to the local pantry or purchase gifts for families in need. That cup of Peppermint Mocha will be so much more enjoyable on December 26th by waiting!

4. Internal and External Silence.

     We all have loud, busy, chaotic schedules 12 months out of the year. Maybe these days of Advent we can occupy ourselves internally and externally with moments of silence. Take a few minutes out of each day, even 5 minutes to sit in silence. Don’t try to plan your next party, or dwell on all the gifts you have to purchase, but enjoy those moments of silence. They are more important than you realize.

5. Keep Perspective – Pay it Forward

     Charity is the highest form of respect for others. Whether you give a meal to the homeless man standing on the corner or choose to give your waiter an extra percentage of a well-earned tip, these are the moments that make living worth while, because for once you are not making it about yourself. The most important thing to remember: don’t brag about it. Once you tell the world your inner most actions, those beautiful forms of charity begin to loose bits of their luster.

Grateful Beyond Belief

Thank you! Thank you to everyone who has touched my life, even in a small way. Too often we go through life wishing for the next best thing. That’s a tendency of human nature; the grass is always greener. It’s unfortunate, because we forget to examine our current situations and the amazing gifts we have been given. With the start of summer vacation and three months of wonderful one-on-one time with the kiddos, I thought it was perfect timing to contemplate my life and those who have made an impact on me.

This morning I was in an area of the city that isn’t the best, but I saw the most beautiful thing that almost made me cry. A father was holding his child (about 4-5 months old) and wrapped in a blanket with only his face showing, because it was chilly and rainy, while the dad was carrying a large bag, it might have contained the only items they owned. I didn’t know where he was going, but he looked like he was on a mission. The father was very lovingly watching the child to make sure he was o.k., while also trying to not step in puddles and slip. This might not sound like much, but it was such a beautiful sign of love between a parent and child. A love that is missing in this world or hidden. We are so used to a love that only shows itself when it is self-serving. It didn’t matter the economic or social conditions of this child and father, because they showed enough love and trust between the two of them.

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It made me think on the drive home, through the dreary weather, that the old cliche saying is true. “All you need is love”. I know, I know, me of all people who doesn’t care for the corny quotes. But I think we all have those moments in life when everything is going wrong, we aren’t able to control or solve the problems, and have to wait for slow fixes. Then suddenly, something happens to show how each of our lives are intertwined with one another. We don’t understand it all now and won’t probably until after we die. It leaves us in a state of pure confusion, but also relief, knowing that everything has a reason and purpose. It truly does, because if it didn’t, there would be no point to any of this.
Little does this father know that by walking down the street at that exact moment would create such a profound affect on another person. With that thought in mind, our every action is an example of good or hurt. How do we want to be perceived in the world?

After these deep reflections, in a quiet car before picking up the kids from school and the start of spring break… I knew that it was time to think more of others, and less of myself, which of course is hard with our natural self tendencies. To do more for others in small ways, ways that we won’t see the effects, or be able to promote on social media, but ways that will create a better world for all. Then maybe someday, those actions will be shown to us like a puzzle, many little jumbled pieces put together to create a wonderful masterpiece.

 

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I am grateful for a lot of things in life, but I am most grateful for my life and those near to me. The life that has been given to me with all the happiness, sorrows, thrills, adventures, friendships, family, and unsolvable problems. Because without each and everyone of these bits and pieces, it would not be my life. It might not make sense when I am going through the heartache or the celebrations, but no matter the event, each and every one of them have a sincere and utterly beautiful effect on my life and I am grateful that they have helped me develop a love and trust for myself, friends, family, and my children. Because what else matters in life than love?