When I set my intention of minimalism for the year, I was looking forward to getting rid of the clutter in my house and taking a more minimalist approach to the products that I buy.
I never would have imagined that a global pandemic would create an entirely new opportunity for minimalism.
I have been inspired by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up since I first read the book years ago. What’s different about her approach is that instead of cleaning this room or organizing that closet, you address your “stuff” by category.
For example, step one is to put all of your clothes in one big pile. Literally. I dumped every piece of clothing from every closet and drawer into an enormous pile on my bed (that spilled over to the floor!). Then you pick up each piece of clothing and reflect on, “Does this spark joy?”
If the answer is yes, the item earns a place back in the closet. If no, you thank it for the memories, and place it in the bag to discard or donate.
One big metaphorical pile
I don’t know about you, but it feels like this current time of social distancing and self-isolation has put my entire life in a big metaphorical pile.
Not that long ago, my mornings were filled with the drama that comes with getting pre-teen girls out the door to meet the bus on time. Every day was a juggling act of school commitments and work commitments. Every night was a shuffle from swim team to church group to band practice to Girl Scouts. Every weekend was spent negotiating sleepovers, chores, and homework.
Life was good but busy! It wasn’t until we were all forced to take this massive coronavirus pause that I realized how “stuffed” our life had gotten. In recent days, we have gone for walks and spent more time just talking. We recreated prom night where the girls put on my old prom dress (yes, now you see why I need to focus on minimalism!) and danced around with 80’s make-up and big hair. Movie nights have become a norm, rather than the rare treat.
I recognize that we are blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy this time. I am thankful for all the essential workers whose schedules have only gotten bigger and risk greater. I am heartbroken for the families whose lives are forever changed because of this virus. And I am grateful that we have a house stocked with food that is our haven. We are incredibly lucky. I don’t want to go back to a “normal” where I take these special moments for granted because of the return of the busy in our life.
With all of the activities and standing obligations off the calendar, I have found a new kind of minimalism that is so much more fulfilling than taking a carload of stuff to be donated (and I love bringing stuff to charity!).
Does this spark joy?
Eventually social distancing guidelines will be eased, and we’ll be faced with a choice of how do we want to get back to normal? This is a chance to be intentional about “tidying up” your “normal” and choosing what you want to stuff back into your day.
This is a chance to Pause and Think:
- Do I want to keep this weekly work meeting?
- Does this activity spark joy?
- Do I want to keep volunteering for this regular commitment?
Have some honest conversations about what in your life is bringing you joy and what in your life you want to thank for the memories, and then not put back in your calendar. Once you decide what you want to keep, commit to Act in the way that works for you.
Give yourself permission
During this time of social distancing, you might have discovered you like having less stuff on your calendar. Or maybe you are realizing that you cannot wait to get back to some of your previous routines and activities. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
Wherever you are, give yourself permission to imagine what is possible and explore some new perspective on what you want moving forward! Minimalism in the time of COVID can be all about being intentional on what stuff you keep in your life.
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