How “Not” To Be A Minimalist

Joshua Becker once wrote a blog piece about what minimalism is NOT, and I found myself nodding…yes…Yes…YEs…YES….YYYYYEEEEESSSSS! I began screaming “I’ll have what he’s having!!!!” (Okay. I didn’t really.) But, what he, Joshua Becker, is having is a joyful, peaceful life. Today, over a great cup of coffee, Dear Reader, I’ll discuss what I do and do not do that makes people think I’m not serious about this movement.

1) I am not an environmentalist. I know. I suck. I mean, I don’t litter, I try to be a good steward of the planet, but I’m not over the top (or even a little ‘under the top’). I recycle – sorta – but I’m certainly not zero waste. I’ve been known to throw away many-a-Lego in my day. Unlike when I lived in New England, southern Missouri does not make it easy at all to recycle so I admit – I’m a bit lazy. I also don’t build birdhouses out of milk jugs, reuse aluminum foil, or grow my own food. I do upcycle a few items and get creative when I can, but I don’t turn pallets into playgrounds, if that’s what you were expecting.

2) I am not poor. Why is it when I decline an invitation to pay $9 for a glass of wine with friends that it’s automatically assumed it is because I can’t afford it? First, anyone who knows me knows I can’t just have one glass of wine…so three glasses later + $18 + a 20% gratuity….all spent on the worst house wine EVER, I could have had a very decent bottle of chardonnay, curled up on my sofa watching Yellowstone in my pajamas. It’s choice, not desperation. Since the pandemic, I do eat more at home, but I play around with those fancy food subscription services – which let’s agree – are not really that inexpensive. The upside of those programs is less food waste – so really – I am spending less per month on food than pre-pandemic.

3) I don’t make things. I dabble in crafts, but I am not a crafter for crafting’s sake. Things I make are part of my desire to be creative and to serve a purpose, not out of necessity. For example, I like to paint furniture – which is part of my ‘upcycling’ – but I wouldn’t say I’m exceptionally ‘crafty.’ When I used to knit, it was really about keeping my hands busy, so I didn’t continue to eat Pringles late at night, but honestly I kinda like the feel of the hand -knitted wash cloths I made. I didn’t knit because I can’t afford to go to Wal-Mart to purchase washcloths – trust me – knitting is not an ‘inexpensive’ hobby. I don’t make my own soap, clothes, syrup, and regretfully…I don’t grow or can vegetables. And yes, you read that right…I still, occasionally, shop at Wal-Mart.

4) I don’t live in a shack…or a 120 square foot mobile ‘Tiny House” – Although…I do dream about one of those Tiny Houses next to the lake – as my SECOND home. I live in a house that costs less than I owe in student loans, and it has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, new flooring, a garage, and a yard. In other words: More room than we probably need. It needs updating, but it is not falling apart. Everyone has their own space, which important for introverts.

5) I am not a world traveler. In fact, I’m afraid to fly over large bodies of water. But, I am planning a trip to Norway so I anticipate some Benedryl in my future. I am traveling more for pleasure than I did before, but I haven’t quit my day job to blog about the adventures of car camping and month long hiking trips on the PCT or AT.

One of my few 2020 adventures

6) I own more than 100 things. I have what I need. And still have a few items, if given a ‘life or death’ choice, with which I could part…but I haven’t felt the urge to spend a whole weekend counting my stuff and then posting the total number of possessions on the web. I do feel a sense of pride when I read a book or blog on how to ‘unclutter’ your life and know my life is pretty much uncluttered and I’ve just wasted time reading a book or blog about something I, most likely, could have written.

7) I am not self-employed. Who doesn’t dream of this? But, truly, I work for a great company, and I work from home, so it kind of evens out for me.

8) I own a car and have too many student loans to count. My day job and my city are not conducive to a ‘walk to work’ lifestyle. Also, public transportation is almost non-existent. I do not want the hassle of renting a car when a family emergency arises. Student loans…well…I was stupid. Now I pay the Piper. Yes, I want to be debt-free. I am not there yet. I will be.

9) I do not live on Ramon Noodles. Again, I wonder where “minimalism” and “poor” became interchangeable. In fact, I eat very well…demonstrated from my ‘plus size, curvy figure’.

10) I don’t expect everyone else to donate or sell all their personal belongings. I don’t. I think you still have more than you need…I think everyone does…but your path is your path, and my path is my path. I don’t preach….I share information.

Here’s a great new song by one of my favorite artists. I’m not sure how it relates to today’s blog except that we are all just choosing our own life path and we don’t really need to follow anyone else’s ‘rules’.

You and Your IDGAF Meter

Oh, Dear Reader, what an exciting week of ups and downs. I can’t begin to detail it all, but let’s just say my central nervous system got a workout this week. One minute I’m elated, the next disappointed. Then I’m stuck between being angry at my child only to learn more about the situation to drop the anger and be proud of his kind heart. Finally, a night at a campfire with friends went from relaxing to a full-press adult babysitting gig after the second fifth of Skrewball was opened. Fun times, let me say.

I’m taking a break from the 22 Laws to dump out thoughts via my keyboard. The one thing weighing on my heart today is just the sheer notion that we all are capable of being so arrogant and self-centered without even knowing it. Have we all just arrived at this field of low-grade self-importance, or has it been growing for a while?

You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Huh?” but don’t worry. I’m about to elaborate. So, grab your drink and settle in as I try to get the thoughts to tumble out in a way that makes sense to all of us.

First, I feel like I need to set the scene for my rant. Yesterday I received a text from a friend (Let’s call her Amy) stating that another friend (Let’s call her Jane) was upset. Jane had sent Amy a text about a month ago, and Amy had not yet responded. Jane, I’m assuming in a fit of anxious hypocritical self-righteousness – because I know Jane – decided to hound Amy about why the text original text has never received a response.

Out of the gate, kudos to Amy. She didn’t respond to that one either. Here’s why:

Amy and Jane are sorta related. Jane believes that ‘family gets a pass’ when it comes to bad behavior. Amy does not. Jane and Amy have different levels of what they will and will not tolerate in their life. In other words, Amy is working really hard to learn boundaries and accept that some people, especially toxic ones, are not allocated many fucks in her fuck budget. (What’s a fuck budget? This explains it.)

The first text sent by Jane asked a very personal question that Amy was not ready to address. Also, in my opinion, it wasn’t something that needed to be discussed via text. Again, I side with Amy on this one point because I know Jane. Jane isn’t one to pick up the phone. Years can go by without actually hearing the sound of her voice. We never hear from her unless she wants something from us. So, from Amy’s perspective, ‘we aren’t that close’. I get that.

Lastly, the next text from Jane was – again, without much context – a bit off-putting because it was about fifty percent demanding and fifty percent dripping with guilt. I wouldn’t have responded to that one either. Again…kudos to Amy. 

Anywho…you may be wondering why I’m telling you this story. It’s a true story, by the way, so that makes it even more fun to tell you. And it makes incredible blog-fotter for those of you who come to me for advice on simplifying your life and living with authenticity. So, let’s grab a few life lessons from Amy, shall we?

1) Accept that some people are assholes and cut them loose. Yes, even family. I get it…you may still have to see them at weddings and funerals, but honestly, I’ve never subscribed to the “family gets a pass” mentality. Toxicity is toxicity, no matter from whom it flows. A plug for last week’s blog, you are responsible for the vibes you allow in your life. 

2) Accept that some people are going through a rough time right now and may be acting like assholes, but are really, deep down, just trying to get through the day. My bestie’s husband has a brain tumor. It’s safe to say neither one of them is acting like themselves right now because they are just getting through the day. These people – the mom with the baby diagnosed with a terminal illness, the co-worker going through a bitter divorce, the friend who buried her mother and father within months of one another – those people get passes.

3) Accept that it’s okay for people to want to process their ‘stuff’ in their own way, and it isn’t about you. This is the one sentiment I wanted to reach out to Jane about. I wanted to scream “You self-centered idiot! This isn’t about you. This is about a young woman who is away from family, who just lost a relationship with someone she thought she’d spend her entire life with, and by the way…she works four 12 hour shifts in a trauma center. Get over yourself.” Let’s not mention that Jane rarely reaches out unless she’s inviting us over for a holiday and then guilting us for all the reasons we decided not to come. In other words, sometimes Jane, people just don’t like you.

4) Cut your losses and run. There have been times in my life when I was afraid of losing something or someone, and I hung on for dear life. I was like the monkey in this famous story, able to free myself from pain and sorrow…if only I would just let go. I have learned that even in mourning over a loss, it’s okay to finally stand up, take a breath, and whisper, “fuck it”. Then you move on. I have faith that Amy will eventually get here, and Jane’s texts will simply not be answered at all, ever, because Amy has finally gotten the nerve to block her. 

5) Speaking of blocking…it’s okay. I was having a heated “discussion” with an ex-boyfriend one day via Fakebook Messenger when finally it occurred to me: I don’t need or want to engage with this person anymore. I shit you not; I could see the little messenger … icon indicating he was typing a response to me. I literally blocked him in mid-sentence. I’m too damn old to explain my “No” to people, and when they push the boundaries and begin with the gaslighting…poof. Gone.

So, this isn’t a fun or light topic this Sunday morning over coffee, but it is great advice. Just know, Dear Reader, no one will support your decision to cut a toxic person out of your life more than I will. My IDGAF meter is red level most days. In other words, I work daily to clear the human clutter from my life. You’ve got this, and I’ve got your back.

As always, here’s your song. I don’t recommend listening to it in the car with your children. Just sayin’.