I've never thought of myself as a minimalist.
In fact, I would lean more towards the term "maximalist".
I've always been someone who has felt the need to keep most everything. I'm the mom who has a tub for each of the girls from every single year of their schooling. My mantras used to be "we might need that someday" and "just in case".
I have ALWAYS kept excess in all areas -- clothing, kitchen gadgets, bath & body products...you name it. Always.
Now, I have gone through periods in life where I've done large decluttering projects and have organized the various spaces in our home...only to quickly fill them back up over a period of months (sometimes weeks).
Things started to change for me when I left my teaching job in 2018 and moved into an administrative position, as the Director of Special Services.
This meant moving from a large classroom with a nice-sized storage closet to an office.
An office with no storage closet.
An office with no cabinets or cubbies or shelves.
This was a mindset shift for me that took some work.
I wanted to have everything I would "need" at my fingertips.
This meant that I first had to go through EVERYTHING I had in my classroom and make some decisions.
After thirteen years of teaching (10 of them in the same classroom), this was quite a task.
I started by moving everything away from the shelving units that would stay in the classroom. I would stack everything there that would stay in the classroom for the next teacher.
Then I opened up some tubs to put my personal belongings in that would either need to go home with me, go to my new office, or be donated elsewhere. I wanted to be able to be out of the classroom sooner than later, as there was already a new teacher wanting to begin preparing her classroom for the next year.
So I pushed through, sorting and tubbing, sorting and tubbing. As I got a tub filled for my new office, I would carry it down there. As I got a tub filled to go home, I would carry it to my car.
I was out of my classroom in less than a week.
THIRTEEN YEARS of teaching, emptied out within a week.
Full disclosure, when I got home with the tubs of personal items, I carried them straight to the basement, where they sat until December 2019.
However, the items in my new office at school needed to be dealt with.
I arranged the office furniture in a way that would be inviting and functional and I opened the first tub.
I was brutal with my discarding process. The full office reveal is HERE.
We can still keep the things we love and need. I can still choose to decorate with signs on the wall, photographs of my babies, and various cozy pillows & throws. We can have all colors & textures in our home and we can have a few extra paper goods stored away, too.
The difference in how we were living our life before we started on this "cozy minimalist" journey and how we are living it today is all found in the purpose of the possessions we have chosen to keep.
The difference is found in where and how we store items.
It's found in the intentionality of what we choose to display on our walls and surfaces.
It's found in the ability to maintain an orderly environment with less possessions.
Last week, I wrote about my dream and commitment to write a book.
In an epiphany of sorts, the day after I wrote that blog, I started to journal about our journey from chaos to (mostly) clutter-free. The words started pouring out and I realized that this was probably a good place to dive into my first book.
As I sit here writing, I look around and am so grateful for the peace that has made its way into our house over the last four months.
Thanking God for personal growth here at the farmhouse,
The book is basically the written version of the writing class Lamott teaches.
I've always felt the pull to write.
and someday -- a novel.
So this is me committing to this idea in writing...to you.
I want to write a novel.
I've dreamed about it since high school. When I was teaching third graders about the writing process and helping them learn to become better writers, in the back of my mind, I was always composing my own stories.
I have started so many times.
I get through a few chapters or get through developing a character or two, and I kind of fall off of the wagon and halt the process.
Six months later, I start again.
I'm giving myself the gift of done.
And hopefully, giving the world (or at the very least, my daughters) some sort of written gift in the process.
Typing away here at the farmhouse,
There is a phrase that I have used over and over in my lifetime.
Life can change in an instant.
Until this point, I have used this most when discussing moments of tragedy in the lives of my friends and family members.
However, over our school's spring break during the first week of March, we started to hear more and more about the Coronavirus crisis in our country.
Within a few days of the original mention of the virus, we had extended our spring break into the next week...and then the following week...and then through the rest of March.
Just four short weeks later, we are now under a state-wide "stay-at-home order" and we won't be returning to school in the foreseeable future.
Just. Like. That.
Track season. Gone.
Piano lessons. Gone.
Dance class. Gone.
Family trips to the grocery store. Gone.
Eating out at restaurants. Gone.
Yes, life can change in an instant.
And just like that, we're navigating the world of "home-schooling". The girls have some assignments from school they are working on and we are really getting back to the basics of reading books for fun, exploring outdoor play, and being creative "just because".
Just like that, we're worshipping via Facebook Live on Sunday mornings and connecting with believers all over the country. We're watching sermons cuddled up on the couch and taking communion with homemade bread made by our daughter. The girls are spending over half an hour every morning studying God's Word together...an opportunity they would not have if it weren't for our current situation.
Just like that, we're practicing softball outside in the evenings, riding the ranger around the gravel roads, and having art class with sidewalk chalk under the sun.
Just like that, our house is clean, laundry is caught up, and we have decluttered more unnecessary belongings than I ever would have thought possible.
Just like that, we are eating out of our pantry and freezer, only going to the store for necessities. We're making meals at home and sitting around the table every single night. We are laughing and telling stories together and taking time to enjoy each others' company.
Just. Like. That.
Just a little over a month ago, we were meeting ourselves coming and going every night.
We were leaving the house at dark and getting home at dark.
We were running kids from one activity to another every single evening.
Yes. Life has changed.
There are many challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many scary aspects of this virus and I am thankful that there are so many people in our country taking it so seriously.
As we work to get through the current crisis, I hope and pray that we can be intentional in continuing to connect with people.
And maybe...just maybe, we will be able to use this time as a reset for our families.
A reset for our communities.
A reset for our country.
Maybe when we again have freedom to congregate, we'll remember what this time felt like.
So many stories of people helping people.
The everyday miracles that are coming to light during the time we are spending "stuck" in our homes.
Feeling hopeful in the farmhouse tonight, as we spend our time together -- apart,