My mother, older sister, and I walk into the thrift store hungry to hunt down some good finds. We all find at least one thing we’re taking home with us. If one of us has empty hands, it’s probably because the other is buying it for us. We spend the day out, shopping and eating at the local cafes. When we get home, we re-shop in our own bags and decide whether we like it on or not. The next trip will be a return and maybe another purchase. Endlessly. Always another trip, another good find, another outing to spend time and money ... together.
Fast forward four years. I am married, moved away, a new mother, and have zero friends in our new state. No one to shop with except a baby who doesn’t really enjoy that "developmental" activity.
I've come to realize that I didn’t really enjoy the buying aspect of shopping anymore.
Did I ever?
Did I even like any of these things I had acquired over the years from our outings and my own impulse shopping?
Why had I spent so much time and energy doing something I no longer enjoyed?
All these thoughts rolled in my mind constantly, turning over and over like a lonesome tumbleweed.
I had a habit of just going to thrift without even buying anything simply to feel how I did when I was with my family. It obviously didn’t give me the same feeling as it once did.
I simply stopped any form of unnecessary shopping altogether. I gave away and sold most of the pieces I had bought. None of it actually mattered. Because none of it was what I actually wanted.
I craved the company. The good times with my nana, mom, and older sister. I loved the thrill of hunting for a good brand name in the madness of secondhand stores and playing dress-up with my family. The meals shared and time spent getting to know each other through random things around the stores. I longed for a unified family because mine had always felt disjointed.
I had began a new family. What brought me joy quickly changed. I wanted the quality time and laughing together until our faces hurt. That’s what I found joy in. It no longer involved buying anything.
Now that I had a family to spend all of my time with, the things and stuff I had moved to my new home seemed useless. Some beautiful things I still enjoyed, of course. My nana's milk-glass lamp, my mother’s turquoise, the Joni Mitchell records I scored. But most of it I let go of without even a second glance.
Looking forward, I’m learning and practicing new habits to create connection. Connection with my household family, my long-distance family, and my own self, growing with an extended family and growing within the home. Unfolding and blossoming as a new member of a this young family we have created.
I’m not who I used to be, and minimalism has helped me rediscover who that is and who it always was.
I’m not a vintage clothes collector. I’m not an eclectic bohemian with all the '70s kitschy things. I am a simple human, living life moment to moment and learning every day what it means to be in the roles I am currently in.
Mother, wife, homemaker, homesteader.
Most of those don’t exclusively involve buying anything. They require work. Laboring in love for those I can be of service to: my family, my community, my planet.
Minimalism for me is not a home aesthetic. It’s not a fashion style. It isn’t even a way to live my life. It has shifted my perspective. Shown me that I don’t have to have everything to be abundant. I don’t even have to have anything to find joy. Just because something is pretty doesn’t mean I need it.
My family brings that to me every single second I’m with and without them. Whether we’re in Idaho or Virginia, spending time with the ones I love and those who love me is the most abundance and wealth I’ll ever need.