white space is often referred to as negative space. in graphic design and literature it is the portion of a page left unmarked allowing for margin. the absence of visual and non visual elements.
in the beginning of this year, i found myself questioning where in my own life i created this margin?
“White Space is where the world and all distraction falls away. Where the voice of the Divine can be heard. Where the Truth of who you are is found. Where miracles happen.”
― valerie rickel
disclosure: i am in the beginning phases of calling myself a minimalist, and do not by any definition of the word feel that i will someday live with all my belongings in a backpack. i am simply a woman seeking to clear the clutter, chaos and consumption.
okay now that we got that out of the way…i must also say, minimizing hasn’t even always been a concept i thought was for me. in fact, i used to pride myself as a thrift store junky and guaranteed to have you beat on the most finds. even if i knew i didn’t have a place for it at the moment i bought it, i knew one day i might “need” it.
i went through a major life change in the summer of 2016 and shopping ended up being my means of coping. i found myself shopping and thrifting so frequently that my shoes no longer fit on my already custom made shelves, and my closet doors no longer shut. my house became harder to clean and keep organized and i found it overwhelming.
i began feeling utter chaos. the pressures of stuff, a full calendar, and mismanaged debt. the things around me where closing in on me and the jammed packed closets created more stress and frustration than joy in my life. my mind felt the same. overwhelmed and full of disorder.
in the beginning of this year my life had yet another plot twist. it began to feel so overwhelming i actually couldn’t stand the thought of purchasing another item, and needed to rid myself of the heaviness of the possessions i already had (luckily for me, i have a husband who supports, almost, all of my crazy ideas and rampages.)
i never had a big “ah-ha!” moment, beginning in january i literally just lacked desire to head to the store to consume more “stuff.” i desired clarity, space, and simplicity in all areas of my life, and for the first time actually felt okay with it.
so this is how my journey in minimizing began. loads of items plagued our home and i began clearing the clutter one item at a time. i started with my closets (yes, this is plural), ventured on to my kitchen utensils and pantry, then my basement and bathroom. i sold things, donated things and threw out the garbage.
i realized i had less of a connection then i thought i did to the physical possessions in my home. less desire to keep things for the “some day” that never actually comes.
we think we need things because we’ve been told we needed them by society. the impact of this journey on my family, has been extremely rewarding to watch. our children are growing up in the most materialistic generation to date. what are we teaching them about the value of stuff over self? i didn’t want to send that same message in what was supposed to be their sanctuary.
i started immersing myself in the concept. i was curious how others achieved their goals in minimizing and simplifying. i looked at and listened to TED talks, blogs, books and pinterest. i embarked on this journey of simplifying, desiring to be more and more aware of where else in my life white space needed to be created.
i learned quickly that my version of minimizing may look very different than the next person, however the general concept is the same for all of us. we are able to find joy in what we have and it introduces us to a slower pace in life.
i also quickly learned that i have a lot of drawers! drawers in our tv stand, drawers in the kitchen, drawers in the bathroom, drawers in drawers. WHY are so many drawers necessary?
my closet may never only have 33 items. okay, well lets be honest, it NEVER will because i LOVE shoes way too much, but i have begun eliminating anything in my closet i have not worn or doesn’t make me feel second to none.
focus on the things that make you the happiest, feel the prettiest and calm the soul.
i’m not going to lie minimizing is a scary adventure. at times i thought, but what if? what if i would wear that again? what if i would need that citrus juicer i found buried in the back of my pantry? what if i could use that for something else in the future? or better yet what if my 10 year old daughter would need something like this when she moves off to college? the letter from 3 years ago my bank sent out about some sort of promotional event was an easier decision to toss, or was it? what if i needed that as a fire starter?
i mean really… isnt that how we think sometimes? somebody help me out and tell me this isn’t only me.
when you get something new you should ask yourself: is this adding value to my life?
besides the obvious physical clutter in the closets and on the shoe racks, i began digging even deeper into the process of cleaning out my mind.
1 Corinthians 14:33 says “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
he desires peace for our lives… we should too. i began allowing quiet time for myself. free from distraction to truly listen. listen to him. listen to the birds. listen to myself. i started diving into the things that make me happiest. i read more. i search out the things that are weighing heaviest on my mind and attempt to categorize and clear out.
i allow myself to be creative.
you will go out of your comfort zone on this journey, but i really believe that personal growth will come out of this. the first time we do something, ask a question or pose an idea the answer can be really scary and uncomfortable. but going outside of our comfort zone is exactly what God wants for us. it is okay to go out of your comfort zone, and best of all is the more we do it the easier it becomes!
we are spending money faster than they we earning it, in effort to buy happiness. there IS way more to life than bills, money, and work.
finances are another area in life that we can quickly allow to consume our peace and clarity. when we began this adventure we had 2 netflix accounts, (and didn’t even realize it) amazon prime, and cable and our family rarely watched any of it. we found we were spending hundreds of dollars on cable… for what? okay the real answer to this was because of HGTV, football, and the blackhawks (go hawks!)
we paid hundreds of dollars to watch 3 TV channels once or twice a week at most.
again another difficult decision because if you read my bio, football, hockey and all things HGTV are well…a part of what makes me, me. but, we decided as a family that getting rid cable, and of course the second netflix account, was going to go to free up both time and money. budgeting and monitoring your cash flow both in and out allows you to quickly see what you value, and sometimes the truth of this is ugly. try minimizing your living expenses to allow white space in your finances as well.
fill your bucket with this thought if nothing else. are you feeling overwhelmed and under the pressures of stuff, a busy schedule, debt? what could your world look like with less stuff, with one more blank calendar page, a little more margin? a world with a little more white?
begin with clearing the physical mess and distraction of the things around you. the impact it has on your mental state is sure to carry over. simplifying isn’t just about stuff, but your mind and wallet as well, and the fact that cleaning takes less time isn’t so bad either! 😉
oh! and best of all, minimizing is helping me to prepare for life abroad and living in a tiny house… both of which are on my bucket list! it truly opens up opportunity. opportunity for more travel. more time. more money. more flexibility. more freedom.
Minimalism is about seeking a life that is good for yourself and the people around you.
“Love people and use things, because the opposite never works”
this word resonated with me so heavily as I studied minimizing. ruthless, what a powerful word. what if we all became just a little bit more ruthless in the white space of our lives?
ruthlessly remove the clutter that pollutes your senses.
where in your life do you leave white space? a blank page? margin? how can you create a life of openness, freshness, and peace?