The journey to minimalism actually began with the clutter. When my mother passed away of pancreatic cancer very suddenly, I was the executor of her will. As such, one of the responsibilities I had was of emptying her house which she had lived in for over 20 years. She had always kept things because when my family left Cuba during the Cuban revolution, they were not allowed to take any possessions with them except one small suitcase and also, while living under this restrictive regime, all of what they owned in their homes, ‘to the last spoon’ as my grandmother would say, was inventoried under the communist government. As such, my family always taught me to keep things and value them, and part of the freedom of America was the ability to freely buy things. But as an adult, when I was emptying mom’s house, I saw years of clutter and it took me massive trips to the city dumpster, when it hit me, mom didn’t take any of this with her, her spirit didn’t need it. She was free. And oddly enough, even after having that realization, instead of letting go of things, I held on to them.
I kept many things of my mother’s that I probably would have best given away. In fact, the more things I starting keeping and accumulating, the more unhappy I was. I missed the days when I owned less. I began to have less and less time to travel and write, to do the things I loved. Over the years, the clutter began taking away time from my family. The new, shiny things, instead of amplifing our life, began to take away from it. The debt kept us from traveling. The burden kept us from feeling free. The new thing never filled the void.
When my maternal grandmother moved in with me, after my mom’s death I began to help her declutter years of things and it changed her. It was easy to see in another person what the clutter was doing to her small space. As I helped her get rid of things, she began to free herself from the past, and live more in the present. For the first time in her life, she began to take chances, and traveled to Europe. She lost weight, and began to get rid of the old clothing, and then the old self too. I began to see that perhaps letting go of things was a powerful thing, but I still did not understand it in my own life.
It took me reading a blog by Joshua Becker to connect the dots in my own life. I began to slowly make changes, go through a drawer, donate things to charity, throw away trash. And slowly this journey was born. I am currently taking his class, “Uncluttered” and he is guiding me to owning less, and becoming a minimalist, as he says in his own blog, becomingminimalist.com. I urge you to check it out if you are all interested in this idea, he is an amazing resource of information and so inspirational. He inspired me to begin.
Now I see material things very differently. I have seen the small changes have allowed me to free up more time for my family-time spent organizing never seemed to help-so my why I am on the journey to become minimalist – is very simple, it is for my family. It heals me to own only what I need, and feel closer to my mother spiritually, rather than connected to her things, I feel more reminded of her now that I got rid of things, the things that I thought would help me remember, actually just caused pain. I did keep a very small amount of the things that brought me joy, but not the ones that brought me sadness. I hope this helps anyone else in this situation. I am still on this journey, but this is why this process is so emotional. Writing about this journey may help another person on the same journey, keep me going, and share with the world the things I am learning. So on to begin my journey to minimalism. I hope you will join me.