The Ongoing Magic Of Tidying Up

It seems as though there is one flaw in all the minimalist writings I have stumbled upon: the lack of emphasis on the ongoing nature of the minimalist lifestyle. I’m not even sure I like using the words “minimalist lifestyle” because it implies I’ve joined some sort of cult. Okay, maybe I have. In that case, I counter my own argument by saying that Jesus would also be in that cult (he had no possessions besides the clothes on his back and his sandals), so I’m unashamed to be in the Minimalist Fan Club.

But I digress.

I’d say overall, the last 6 months to a year has gone well post-KonMari-ing my life. But periodically, I have to make decluttering sweeps through my closet, cabinets, and all the nooks and crannies in 580B. Basically, I’m not perfect. I still accumulate Tupperware just like the rest of society. Even if I’ve already made a perfect system and know EXACTLY where each Tupperware should go…. hey, this one from California Pizza Kitchen looks useful, let’s just throw it in there in case I make an extremely delectable Vegan Gluten Free Paleo Nut Free Organic Free Range Pad Thai and want to gift it to a friend…

Yes these are the things that come up in my mind.

It’s time to get real with yourself, Arie. You haven’t made a delectable Vegan Gluten Free Paleo Nut Free Organic Free Range Pad Thai in many moons and probably never will again because did you SEE HOW MANY ADJECTIVES CAME BEFORE THE ACTUAL ENTREE NAME?

Too. Many. Options.

Too. Many. Restrictions.

Too. Many. Expectations.

This presents a natural segue into my latest personal minimalist challenge:

tidying the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator

My approach

  1. Make a few goals
  2. Take inventory
  3. Sort, donate, trash
  4. Design/place in containers
  5. Label
  6. Be realistic

My goals

  1. Simplify my eating, downscale choices
  2. Spend $240 (current budget, I think I can do less) or less on groceries each month
  3. Completely clean out freezer and pantry (LITERALLY)
  4. Use up/get rid of the things that I have too much of or wish I hadn’t bought in the first place (this one is huge for me – by getting rid of these things, I get rid of the guilt associated with them: guilt that I never got around to making that one recipe I needed this ingredient for; guilt that I don’t eat a purely vegan lifestyle — hello lentils, I’m looking at you; [insert your guilt here]…and then throw it away).
  5. Potentially eradicate the need for my baking cart

Of course, before I even wrote this blog post, I felt super inspired and immediately went to work on decluttering/getting my mad scientist on. I emerged covered in flour, hair sticking up every which way, out of breath, but with a smile on my face.

ongoing minimalism

Eliminated ALL flours and sugars… RIP Baking Cart

Nothing like a new tidying project to clear away the cobwebs of my soul.

But I’ve noticed some interesting things as well.

For example, why do we feel the need to hoard food? Yes, I’m using the word “hoard” because let’s be real… none of us here in the First World have had to camp out bomb-shelter style eating only items from our pantry. We believe the lie that we need a well stocked pantry to “be prepared.”

Be prepared for what?

Perhaps a more realistic scenario: unexpected house guests.

Expectation: Guests arrive and I will just so happen to have something readily available in the freezer to procure a freshly baked goodie or if not, quickly throw something together from pantry ingredients to offer a scrumptious evening snack! The model of the American host.

The reality: My unexpected house guests are gifted a shrug along with an apologetic, “So this is my house on a Wednesday…” offered at no additional cost.

I could write and write about all the things I have discovered about myself and perhaps about humanity as I pare down my pantry/food items more and more each day. It is stripping away a false sense of security. Creature comforts can fast become shackles of the soul, and only by shedding the excess can we really be free. There is something that comes alive in me after I’ve finished a (sometimes drastic by others’ standards) minimalism project. Tidying is merely a physical manifestation of the interior movements of the soul. What can you free yourself from today?

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?”

~ Matthew 6:25-27

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