I aspire to a great many things in life, but one of the most recent passions is this idea of living a minimalist lifestyle. And honestly had I come into this dream about five years ago I would of been light years further along than I am today.

Sometimes when a person is very miserable in their life they cling to whatever they can that brings them joy. Sometimes it manifests itself in several unhealthy habits like eating, drinking, or other interesting lifestyle choices. But in my case it was collecting. Thrift store shopping and projects. I'm a sucker for a good before and after and I can occasionally do a really good thing by a piece of furniture that was left to be unloved the rest of it's life. I like giving new life to something, it's empowering to know that a tiny piece of inspiration can give new meaning to otherwise forgotten junk. Hence the original idea for my business.

My personal life has been quite a tumultuous exhibit for the last decade. Privately and not so privately it's been a mess, I'll admit. I dealt with it for a long time as constructively as I could by putting myself 100% into motherhood and my job, paying off debt and just trying to live life in the moment. I would say I was nearly 100% satisfied with myself at that point in my life because I knew I was being constructive and handling my problems the very best to my abilities.

But somewhere along the lines loneliness catches up with you. Through 2 of my pregnancies I worked up until delivery day and through 3 out of 4 I worked full time jobs and kept myself otherwise busy. Busyness keeps your mind moving. It's when you stop moving that things start to catch up with you.

Have you ever noticed when you're on a highway how your foot on the pedal keeps you moving ahead and you can speed right past obstacles or swerve out of their way? Then you hit the brakes and all of a sudden everyone behind you just shows up. It isn't that it wasn't there, it's that I didn't stop to feel it.

I didn't really want to feel it. No one wants to feel the full weight of their misery. Nobody wants to be alone with it and look at themselves in the mirror and not recognize yourself anymore because the sadness, emptiness of your life, and just the sheer numbing of it all has affected you. I needed to feel constructive, so I collected projects.

It isn't that motherhood wasn't enough to keep me busy, but that being a solo parent my entire motherhood had kind of numbed me to that also. It all kind of fades into the background.

I tried to be constructive even in collecting. I'd redo pieces of furniture and then resell them for a profit out of our house. This wasn't ideal because we don't have a garage, I don't have a workshop, and our car port isn't paved. So, I'd work in dirt if I tried painting anything out there. Just not ideal. So much of the work was done in my kitchen, also not ideal. But it was extra income we needed with me now being a SAHM with 3 kids. I decided to try opening a booth and we took on that dream. It went well for a while although it was really hard to keep up with the amount of work it required. Then I got pregnant and difficult became impossible. Morning sickness and exhaustion went from 0-60 in a month.

So, after the resignation that I could not continue a booth while pregnant my husband and I chose to bring it all home until I could figure out what to do with it.

You never realize how much you've accumulated until you start trying to pile it all into your house. And even then if you organize it just right you still might feel like it isn't that bad. Maybe I was in denial or maybe I was the lobster in the pot slowly being boiled to death.

I can just tell you this, I've sold over a dozen large pieces of furniture in the last year (possibly more) and I could still sell probably half a dozen more. That alone sounds crazy to me. And the perfectionist in me even now feels like I've ruined our house by just overloading it with stuff. So much stuff that I don't know where to even start to finish a project, or fix something broken, or clean up a room. It's baby steps to the trash can with a small bucket of junk, one pile at a time.

Today we took on an ultimate dream of mine which has been on the list since we bought this house in 2012, clean out the car port and get rid of it. It's taking up 1/3 of our back yard, which is prime real estate when you have 4 kids. When we moved in I wanted to sell it, but my husband wanted to keep it. So, while we were in 90 degree heat I made sure to point out that had we sold it 5 years ago when I wanted to we would of had nowhere to store all those project pieces we were now putting in a trailer (4 trips later) to take to a burn pile. Irony, yet neither of us were laughing. Don't give yourself enough rope to hang yourself. It took us all day and we still have a couple more loads, but it's just about empty. A little less than 2 years ago it was so full we were playing tetris to stack the furniture projects up in there.

Just one of about a million examples in my own personal life of keeping things you don't actually need because you might find a use for it. I found a use for a car port and it was neither healthy or needed.

It was the ultimate cathartic act for an aspiring minimalist to literally chuck everything into a big pile to burn. Arms up over my head directing all of this crap out of my life. Stop taking up valuable space in my life! I should have shouted a war cry like Mel Gibson in Brave, "FREEDOM!" Because that's exactly what it felt like.

A weight just rolled right off me. And I immediately felt like a little bit less of a failure to my kids, to my husband, to myself, and to every person that stepped into our backyard and saw a physical manifestation of my cluttered mind.

Our house isn't perfect, but it's getting there. One sweep after another I find myself more ruthless, more focused, more able to release these things from my life. I don't need them, they don't love me so why am I giving them my life? I wouldn't keep people around me that did as little for me as they do, so why am I giving more space to inanimate objects than I do human beings?

It isn't right.

I aspire to minimalism. I aspire to wide open spaces where my children can laugh and play and not worry about one giant car port of dirt where all that waits there is venomous spiders and trouble for dumping dirt in the lawn mower's gas tank (true story, and it was brand new, too). I aspire to a beautiful deck and an actual grassy lawn and to having barbecues where we can invite friends (well, people anyway) over and laugh and feel at ease.

Minimalism is such a personal journey. It looks different for every person. It isn't about white walls and Mid Century Modern furniture (although both of those things are beautiful and have a place in my house), it's about clearing out of your life things that you're using to replace something else that's missing or broken in your life. Stop allowing things to be a crutch. Stop putting them in the gap. If you're lonely, allow yourself to feel lonely and then go find a friend, a real one not a lamp or buffet from the early 1900's. If you're sad, allow yourself a good cry, then find a reason to laugh and smile at a stranger for no reason because that feels amazing. If you're angry, allow yourself to scream it out and then forgive whatever and whoever it is you're angry with and move on with your life because you deserve it. Things are not meant to hold you up in life or fix you. They're meant to facilitate the life you want to live. So go find that.

I feel like we use stuff like medication. You're just putting a bandaid on the symptoms instead of allowing yourself to feel the emptiness, or pain, or slow down long enough to realize you're human and allow yourself to be human. The static makes it impossible for us to hear what we need to, maybe it's just silence.

For me I haven't figured it all out, I'm still clearing the cobwebs (literally and figuratively) and I'm still asking the hard questions. I'm still trying to forgive hurts I didn't realize were still throbbing. I'm a big girl and I'm strong, but I bleed too and I often forget it because I get so good at hiding it. But today I felt enough hope to have faith that I will someday get where I want to be.

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