Thoughts on Moving and Minimalism

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Moving Season

It’s that time of the year when people ship out en masse for warmer weather, internships, and summer fun. We’re no exception this year - we're in beautiful Orange County, CA for a summer internship. In fact, since my husband and I got married, we’ve had three internships, six jobs, lived in five states, and moved five times.

Partly because of our current transitory lifestyle I’ve really had to rethink my relationship with my possessions. I'm naturally sentimental toward everything that's ever meant anything; I kept every card anyone had ever given me since I was born... that is until I discovered Marie Kondo's The Magic Art of Tidying Up and experienced the freedom of letting go of things that have served their purpose. I craved the breathing room it gave me and found that I enjoyed the items I'd chosen to keep even more.

Then last year we visited Japan, and I fell in love with Japanese architecture and their philosophy about space and living. Each item in their homes has a purpose - usually several - and they find beauty in such simple things as the pattern of light coming through a paper screen.

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I believe that what we fill our homes (and lives) with has meaning and should be done intentionally.

I think that when we pare down our possessions, our senses are awakened. They have less background chatter and can bring our attention to the small joys, like how a warm mug feels in our hands in the morning. Pardon me for quoting Marie, but our possessions really should bring us joy - or maybe make room to allow us to experience joy.

For our move to CA we only brought as much as would fit into our Camry. That's one car-full for two adults a toddler. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to fit everything we would need, but when I narrowed down the focus to bringing our favorite necessities (not including furniture and kitchen goods - our apartment is furnished) then what we brought didn't quite fill the whole car. I found out that we can survive on much less than we think.

It's actually been refreshing to have fewer things to worry about. The closet here is half empty and there isn't anything on the bedroom walls, but it's giving me room to breathe, which is so important during a big life change. My philosophy has become:

If it isn’t worth moving, then it’s not worth buying.

Now I realize that it's not always logistically possible to bring everything you own when moving. What I'm saying is that I think it's important to consider the entire life-cycle of what we buy, and purchase with intention. When our relationship to our possessions is more "caretaker" and less "user" then we want to bring the things we love into our next phase of life. And we often end up buying less. I think that minimalism moves the focus from what we don't have to what we do have.

And the beautiful thing about bringing things we love into a new place is that as soon as we move in it starts to feel like home.

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P.S. A note on "sparking joy." I used to wonder how toilet bowl cleaner or hangers are supposed to bring joy. But I realized that I get joy out of a clean toilet and clothes hung neatly; it's the result that brings the joy, not the actual item.