“…with space left over”: An Inspirational Story of Minimalism and Simple Living

This post was originally published on December 29, 2010, and was updated on March 29, 2020.

Here is a story that pretty well defines my take on what I perceive minimalism to be about. This is a testimonial sent out by Marla “Flylady” Cilley to all her “flybabies” several years ago.

“My elderly cousin died Wednesday night. I went to her funeral today. The church was packed. Everyone from teenagers to old people was grieving. The funeral singers couldn’t sing because of their grief. The preacher got choked up talking about her and almost couldn’t go on.

“Everyone was talking about her many kindnesses, how she helped so many people, touched so many lives–in spite of various infirmities and having so little in the way of financial resources. I kept remembering how I always felt so welcome when I visited her in the house she shared with her sister, and how much I was going to miss knowing that welcome and encouragement was always there.

“Then, her nephew got up to speak about her, and he mentioned that when they’d gone into her little bedroom, you could pack up every worldly possession she owned, and it would fit into the trunk of a normal size car… with space left over.

“And I thought–ahh, so that was part of her secret. She lavished her time on all of us, instead of investing it in things.

[edit] I’m wondering if it might be possible even for a packrat like me, to come to the end of my life with only enough possessions to fill the trunk of a car… but with a church and community packed with people whose lives I’ve touched.

Limping along, in Ohio”

This, to me, is the inspiration I draw upon when I stumble with minimalism.  I have had and read this story over and over again for many years.  How amazing, that this elderly lady could easily live with so few possessions, and yet had a circle of friends and community who adored her so much!

Now it’s your turn to tell me a story! Share your inspirational minimalism story!

7 Ways Minimalism Saves Christmas

This post was originally published on December 24, 2010.  It was updated on April 2, 2020.

Who needs to add on more chaos and drama to an already exacerbated time of year?  By applying the principles of minimalism to our lives, we can avoid so many trip wires that the festivities and celebrations of the season can send our way.

7 Ways Minimalism Saves Christmas

Minimalism helps you avoid the need for extravagant gifts.

Some people feel you have to give a lot of gifts in order to show how much you love them.  Some people’s love language is gifts.  But Michael and I set a limit on our budgets. I spent $30 on a Lego set for him, with which I will fill his stocking tomorrow. I don’t know what he got me but I trust it is within budget

Without extravagant gifts, there’s no long hours shopping either.

We purposefully chose to keep our gifts relatively simple this year for our extended family as well.  For example, I created photobooks for our parents and my grandmother free online using a promotion that is no longer on. The yarn I bought for Naomi’s stocking was only $4.00. The Lego were a purchase weeks ago. My brother and sister-in-law’s gifts were on CDs we had at home.

And, no increase in debt.

And because we made or purchased carefully our gifts, we were able to avoid spending chaotically to impress people who already love and care for us.  Total spent (outside of gas) was under $100.00 for gifts for 8 people.

Minimalism allows you to avoid stressful holiday parties.

My mother’s side gets together several times over the month of December, while Michael’s family celebrated one large party tonite. We decided that we would attend one party per family each holiday.  At each function, we secured a changing spot, a comfy chair, and a sling, in which to nurse and nap our baby. And we made it clear that we intended to leave early so all three of us acquired adequate rest. No guilt trips, no fuss, no drama. Simple.

Or polite social gatherings.

Confession time: I am a wallflower. I hate get togethers with people I don’t know. Fortunately Michael’s workplace did not include a fancy party with expensive clothes or excessive alcohol. To some, this is sad, but instead they provided a lovely turkey dinner for their employees. Michael was pleased and I don’t have to pretend to understand math and machinery. Nor does our daughter have to be fondled and cooed at by strangers. Win-win!

Keeping it simple also means not having to do lavish meals or excess baking.

We have never been good at the food aspect. We’re more the dishwashers and less the dishmakers.  Our holiday meals have been simple dishes at home, like baked chicken or ham, with mashed potatoes, carrots, stuffing, and a homemade dessert.  There’s no need for excess.  Simple keeps our stomachs full and our pocketbooks happy.

And best of all, little to no commercialization.

Because we avoided shopping malls, television, and modern consumerism, we have been able to keep our sights on what matters most for our family at this time of year: each other, as a family, celebrating Jesus, the reason we are all together in the first place.

What about you? What wasn’t your Christmas this year?

Attachment Parenting: A Testimonial

This post was originally published on December 14, 2010, and was updated on March 11, 2020.

If ever I needed affirmation or example of the benefits of attachment parenting, I received it tonite.

My husband and I attended a special dinner tonite put on my our local church. Of course, we took Naomi with us. 

Throughout the evening, Naomi sat in our laps. She played with toys, she snuggled with us, she smiled and giggled and shook hands with her many admirers. She ate mashed potatoes and played with a spoon (6, actually, as she kept dropping them). Manu people came up to us and said she was beautiful, lovely, a blessing. And quite a few remarked “And she’s so good! My son/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchild is never so well behaved!”

Let me start by insisting that Naomi is the same as any other baby out there. She gets diaper rash. She has a fussy period in the evening. She gets frightened by the kitchen appliances. She doesn’t like to sit for long periods of time. She wants mommy and cries if I’m out of sight.

So why is it that she’s so good? And does that mean other babies are bad?

I have always been bothered by the phrase “a good baby”. It implies that there are “bad babies”, and I do not believe that is so. There are definitely babies with high needs. This does not, however, make them bad.

My belief is, there is a vital and underrated factor in what makes our daughter “good”. And that is her father and I. We are not going to be held up as “Parents of the Year”, and have no intentions of tooting our own horns here.

What we do, however, is the most basic and fundamental rule of any relationship: we listen.

Our daughter’s cries are responded to. If she is vocalizing, we assume she is trying to tell us something. She is nursed on demand. She is put down to nap. She is changed, cuddled, carried, held, left alone, talked to, sung to, played with, helped out, and any other method of attention we can think of. Our daughter asks for our attention and we listen to her. She is not left to cry alone for longer than is absolutely necessary (say, while she is forced to sit in her car seat when we have to drive somewhere). Even in such situations, we calmly explain why it has to be those way. Naomi knows us and trusts that we will respond to her requests as quickly and accurately as we can.

Does that mean that we get everything right? Nope! Does that mean she only cries when she has a fixable need? Nope! Does that mean she never gets on our nerves? Nope!

But we have made a commitment to her and ourselves, from Day 1, to do what is best for her. And for us, that meant building a strong, attached bond with Naomi so she knew she could trust us to do right by her and each other.

For us, that means breastfeeding on demand, dressing her in safe cotton clothes and unisex designs, having her sit with us at meal times, bedsharing/co-sleeping, taking her to family events and social environments, responding to her cries and requests (not demands, requests), teaching her how to communicate with us, wearing her at home and outside, letting her interract with other babies,ta and showing her that her parents love and care for both her and each other by showing affection (hugs, kisses, doing nice things, compliments) in front of her.

Tonite, when she started showing signs of fatigue, I put her in her car seat and rocked her slowly until she was out cold. She slept for half an hour this way, til the congregation’s applause awoke her. When she started grabbing at my plate, I gave her a small spoon of mashed potatoes and let her munch on that. When she started to fidget with boredom, I handed her toys and cooed and talked to her. When she squirmed in my lap, I passed her to Daddy. When she was restless, I put her in her sling and we walked around and rocked near the back of the room. Throughout the 2.5 hour event, she never uttered a peep.

It takes careful planning, too. We had completed the majority of our chores and I had made sure she’d had a good restful nap throughout the day before we tried this trip. Our success was apparent in the cheerful grins and bright eyes she showed to all the others in attendance who stopped by to admire our beautiful girl.

Is being an attached parent easy? No, not always. We have had tear-filled, sleepless nights. We have had angry, frustrated rants. We have had guilty, disappointed moments.

But the benefits? Restful sleep. Increased love and friendship. A strong, united family. A cheerful, healthy baby. Oh it is so, so worth it.

Do you have any attachment testimonials? Tell me about it!