How to Declutter Your Way to a Zen Home (Guest post by Stephanie!)

Not long after the release of my first minimalist book, Minimalist Monday: Zen Home, I saw this comment from Stephanie on Facebook:

"Anyone reading the minimalist e-books? I just let things pile up after my son was born. He's five now! I went through my make-up dresser once and thought I did a pretty good job. After I read the e-book, I went back and seriously overhauled it. I can't believe I criticize my husband for being a hoarder when my make-up was overflowing to the counter because my drawers were full of things I no longer used but refused to throw away!"

I was SO happy to see Stephanie was inspired by the book, which is why I asked her to write a guest post for the blog about her decluttering experience.

I hope her post inspires you to do the same!

For more tips on how to become minimalist in all aspects of your life, you can order my Minimalist Monday book series (Zen Home, Zen Life, Zen Productivity), available in all electronic forms (PDF, Nook, Kindle, etc) here.

In college, I could fit everything in my car, and I loved it. I maintained much of this after marriage and then my son arrived. For five years, I gave up. I blamed the growing clutter and mounds of this, that, and the other on being a busy mom, too tired to do all that anymore. Last year I began providing music for funerals. I know that may sound a little weird. I began to realize that all of the stuff I was holding on to could not be taken with me and even worse would be so much of a burden for my son and husband if something were to happen to me. Did I want to leave them with three shelves of piano books, a non-used juicer full of dust, and a closet full of clothing? I realized the best gift I can them is me. They will not look for my dusty collections of workout DVD’s and that second blender my step mom gave me in college.

"But looking at the boxes in my new home, and the dozens more in the crawl space of my parent's attic (many of them are my things) I knew I did not need all that—a museum of my life—for me or my future kids."- Lindsay S. Nixon, Minimalist Monday: Zen Home.

I started with my make-up table. I recently upgraded my make-up to a better for my skin brand and barely discarded anything. So, I grabbed a few more items and placed them in my small trash can under the make-up table. As I continued with the e-book, allowing the ideas to percolate in my mind, I found myself ripping a trash bag from the box and getting serious. I cleaned out every drawer and reorganized it, and then next thing I knew I had a garbage bag full of items from my make-up table. I kid you not! I could not believe it. I was over using way too old mascara and telling myself the make-up in my travel bag looked good. This was when I realized that all of these things did not mean I was treating myself well. I found it usually meant everything I was using was second rate and past expiration. No more!

In going through my items, I discovered my grandmother’s pendant I wore at my wedding. Tears came to my eyes as I thought it was missing forever. In my office, buried among the 30 magazine files of music (not an exaggeration) I found my grandfather’s immigration papers from Austria. It would seem even my grandparents are happy to see me get rid of the clutter so they can hug me from beyond.

My biggest mental argument was the cost. How could I throw something away when I paid my hard earned money for it? Wasn’t that being reckless? Or, was I reckless in the purchase of something I did not want, but purchased on a whim or because it was on sale at a fancy boutique? Ah, so much of my own stuff came up in this process.

"I'd also remind myself that it was better for me to be stress-free and have less stuff, than worry about money I spent a long time ago. My belongings were literally closing in on me. I was being consumed by my consumerism."- Lindsay S. Nixon, Minimalist Monday: Zen Home

I came upon my favorite pair of black dress pants. They were the first pair I purchased when I shifted my career focus to working outside the home. I have lost weight (thank you Happy Herbviore!) and now they were falling off of me. I looked like a clown from the waist down. I found myself emotional. I folded them gently, then kissed them and told those shiny, perfect length, black, comfortable pants how grateful I was that I found them at a time when I wanted to look and feel beautiful on my new vocational adventure. I humbled at how much this garment served me. I knew it was time for them to serve someone else and placed them in the bag.

Thank you for writing this wonderful e-book, Lindsay. I did not want a method so much as I wanted to resonate with the pain of living with stuff everywhere, in every nook and cranny. You expressed would I was feeling but could not articulate – the toil an excess of things takes on our daily lives. I had to be emotionally ready to do this. It is a way of thinking and being and you explain it so well.