By Kari Wishingrad | The Clean Sweep
Tis the Gift to be Simple, ‘tis the Gift to be Free…. ~ Shaker Hymm
This summer, I attended my high hchool reunion in New Lebanon, N.Y. nestled in the serene and beautiful Berkshire Mountains.
The Darrow School campus is an old village established in 1787 as the first Shaker community in America, by Mother Ann Lee.
The Shaker community was known for its simplistic, sturdy and sensible furniture design, architecture, craftsmanship and vegetable seeds. Living in these historical buildings while learning about the lives of Shakers, I gained respect for many of their sensibilities, which left an indelible impression on my younger self.
In the years that followed, as my life became more complex with the responsibilities of growing up, that appreciation and inspiration got lost in the race to own and acquire.
Even though I have been on a downsizing path for many years, I strongly connected back to the beauty and freedom of living simply as I walked around my high school campus. The Shakers once again reminded me of the deliciousness of having only what is needed and the freedom of release from attachment.
I had packed only one carry-on for the duration of my two month sojourn. I found myself apprehensive about traveling so light for such a long period of time. I was concerned about getting tired of wearing the same clothes or not having the right attire for the different climates or social events..
However, as I moved about during my journey, I realized this concern was due to my attachment to my things – thinking I needed more variety and choices than I actually did.
Ultimately, I did not tire of the clothes I had brought with me. I even gave away some clothes, and mailed some items back home as I felt the urge to keep lightening my suitcase.
I continue to downsize and reevaluate what is important to me on a daily basis.
I experience a lightness and joy I find almost addictive as I continue to unload and let go. It does take time, this letting go business. It’s a personal process and a gentle allowing of releasing and working past old habits and beliefs about possessions and oneself.
For me, and as a professional organizer, I keep reevaluating what’s important and redefining what is valuable. As a result, there is less to take care of, less to look at, less to maintain or fix, less needed or desired, more financial savings and less baggage to roll around with. And perhaps most importantly, it takes up less precious personal time and brain clutter.
While I do not consider myself a minimalist, I can feel myself heading more and more in a simplistic direction, because the feeling is so rewarding. Everyone, as they downsize, will have their own levels of what feels comfortable to keep or let go of, and that is to be honored and not to be compared.
Who doesn’t enjoy receiving or buying something new? That’s not the issue. Downsizing is not about not enjoying our material world. If something comes in, then one goes out. It’s learning to keep a flow of energy — receiving, giving and enjoying the pleasures many of us are so blessed to have access to.
Enjoy the journey exploring that balance for yourself.