You’re done decluttering. You’ve gotten rid of the extra things you no longer need. Your flat surfaces are cleared off. You’ve donated as much as you could. You’ve cleared your calendar. You have time. Everything looks and feels like you imagined it would. You feel freer. You feel lighter. You feel at peace.
And yet, you don’t feel peaceful.
You feel a bit anxious, in fact. And there’s this new, gaping hole that beckons us to fill it.
You’re used to shopping when you need something to do. You’re used to browsing websites for clothes, gadgets and stuff. You’re used to scrolling through endless social media feeds and random articles to fill the space in your life. You’re used to driving your kids everywhere under the sun.
You’re used to being busy.
You’re used to cleaning and organizing and maintaining the things you own.
You’re used to having a full calendar with people to see and places to go.
You’re used to filling each lonely space with something to buy or do or clean.
But you’re no longer spending hours upon hours on social media or scrolling through random links that once provided the minutia to help fill your time. You’re saying no to shopping. You’ve stopped browsing Amazon. Your calendar is almost useless – most important events this month reside in your head.
You’re at this junction and you find you just might have too much time. Too much time to sit and think:
What am I doing with my life?
What do I really enjoy?
How do I want to spend my time?
Maybe the transition was easy for you. It wasn’t for me. I still feel at a loss sometimes. Like I should be filling my time in the afternoons while my children joyfully run through the neighborhood playing with their friends. I should be cleaning. I should be cooking something. I should be planning something… (Bible, school work and chores are generally done in the morning).
And then I realize I created this life. I sowed this seed. So now it’s my honor as a mother to show my children how beautiful life can be.
So I make some tea. I sit down with my book or Bible and I read. Some days I write. On other days, I tend to our garden. Or I lay out on a picnic blanket and eat a snack with my kids while we lay in the sun.
Otherwise, there are a million other things I could be doing. What’s important is I find what makes my life lighter (see below), and thus, my children will hopefully grow up to see how they too can create the adult life they yearn for. They’ll know they too have the option to buck the social pressure norms that tell us to constantly breed busyness.
Sometimes it’s not the big life goals we need to focus on but simply slowing down to enjoy the little moments that help us find happiness and see the beauty in life.
Anthony Ongaro over at Break the Twitch describes an exercise to help affirm how we feel. And I agree with him. While he suggests we do this as a process to help simplify our lives, I’m encouraging those of us who have already downsized and minimized to do the same, only, our affirmation exercise will look drastically different than before we simplified our life.
“Take some time today to make a note of the things that make you feel heavy and the things that make you feel light,” he says. “Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and put “Light” on one side and “Heavy” on the other.
Even if you’re not totally sure where something goes, write it down.
You can always change it later if you end up changing your mind about something in your life. Some ideas for this exercise are things like (*I altered his list to reflect what mine might look like):
- Eating an Apple, Kale or a Cucumber
- Consuming Sugary Foods
- Spending An Evening Reading
- Going on a Hike
- Donating Something
- Giving A Gift To Someone
- Cooking a homemade meal
- Reading my Bible
- Rock climbing
- Reading to or Playing Games with the Kids
- Spending time with friends
“As you go about your week, make a note of the things that make you feel light for longer, then move those items to the top of the list. While it may feel obvious or silly, reinforcing these ideas will help you do more of what you actually want more of in your life,” says Ongaro.
So if you’re in that awkward place, like I have been recently, try really tapping in to realize how fortunate we are. We have a freedom not many people are comfortable discussing let alone realize during their entire lives – but it does exist.
Because the hard work is done my friends.
Now you have your whole life ahead of you to decide how, where, why and who with you wish to spend it.