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Minimalism is Connecting

Life is much different these days than in previous generations. In the past, family stayed close to where they grew up. Today, the world is much more transient. People move around a lot. Towns look different because they are always evolving. I live in a suburb outside of New York City. It's a town where people many are here for a lifetime, and people pop in and out as their companies move them around or life changes. Over the course of the years, I have also found people here try to be very self-sufficient. I would say, "Let me watch your kids for you while you go to the doctor" and they would instead hire a nanny. I would say, "Let me help you with that project" and they would pay someone to do it. My neighbor used to borrow my trifle bowl from me all the time when she was making a certain dessert. That made me so happy. It was a time to chat with her, connect, ask her what she was making, ask her how it turned out, model for the kids how we share with friends. All of a sudden, she stopped borrowing it and she told me she just went out and bought one for herself so she didn't have to bother me. What? That's not a bother! That's sharing and sharing is caring, people!

As I have been on this minimalist journey more intensely and really embracing the idea of less stuff over the past couple years, there is that one nagging thought that comes into my head when I am trying to decide if I should part with something. And it comes into play when I'm helping clients sort pictures and sorting someone's belongings. Maybe you have had this thought, too.

"What if I throw this out and then I need it someday?"

That WHAT IF is a killer. It keeps all of us from holding on to things we never use, but think we just might use SOMEDAY. But for now it's just piling up on the chair because we don't know where to put it. It's keeping us from having friends over because it's such a massive effort to clean up the house to have guests. That WHAT IF is not serving us anymore. What if we thought about our belongings a little differently to create the life we actually want? What if we leaned on our community for help a little more? What if we stopped hoarding everything for SOMEDAY?

I've been purging and clearing our house and now that my belongings are at a level I can feel good about, I don't want it to go back to the way it used to be. Sure, I buy things sometimes, but I'm trying to be really conscious about what is coming into my house for the long run. My 9-year old came home and told me she needed a Harry Potter cape for a school play. I thought about my options. I could go online and pay the $20-50 to get the cape for her and then I would have one more thing in my house. Instead, I posted on Facebook and within 10 minutes I had a friend drop off the perfect cape. I bet she felt so good about being able to help me out and I am so appreciative of it! I returned it to her last night with a plate of cookies to thank her for being so kind and generous.

This last weekend, a friend asked me if they could borrow a tent for a boy scouts camping trip. I said OF COURSE and offered up our camp beds, too. She came over, I got to see her. She returned the tents this week, told me all went well, and I put everything away. We were connecting. I'm grateful she reached out and asked me for help.

Last week we had an author visit and spring book fair at school. We couldn't stay for the book fair immediately after school and when I shared how bummed my little one was to miss out on getting the book, another friend offered to loan me their copy. She dropped her signed copy off the next day, my daughter read it over the weekend and last night I returned it with a plate of homemade cookies on top. Thank you, friend! I appreciate it!

My oldest went to a bat mitzvah last weekend and she was not thrilled with her dress selection. After I told her she had plenty of options in her closet, she talked with a friend and they did a little dress swap. We drove to her house, exchanged dresses and everyone looked amazing and happy at the party. Nothing needed to buy. Just a little friendship was all it took.

This week I am attending a birthday luncheon for a friend and I'm planning to bring two cakes to cover the amount of people. I have one bundt cake pan but I need another. Luckily, I ran into a friend yesterday. Because she follows my Instagram account and has seen #thegreatbundtcakechallenge, I knew she also has a bundt cake pan (or 6). I rolled down my window and asked her if I could borrow one of her pans. Of course! I could have gone out and bought a pan, but why not borrow one, instead? I know she is happy to share and I'm happy to use it AND I would gladly share mine with her if she needed it. Thank you, friend!

Today, my little one stuck a book in her backpack to take to school to loan to someone. I was so happy she was willing to share a good read with a friend.

This morning, I was headed to a tennis match and an hour before, I sent an email asking anyone to bring any cardboard boxes they have lying around. The school has it's annual cardboard challenge next week and I have ZERO cardboard boxes and with that whole trying-not-to-shop-thing going on at my house, I wasn't planning to get any boxes anytime soon. Those moms showed up and now I have a whole car full of cardboard for the classroom. All thanks to my village. I'm so grateful.

And that, is what I'm talking about when I say Minimalism is connecting. I don't have to keep everything in my house JUST IN CASE or for SOMEDAY. I have a village of people who are more than willing to share things with me. I am not afraid to ask for help, for cardboard, for harry potter capes, for pans. Who knows what I will need next! And I am more than happy to loan something out to someone who could use it! The next time you're thinking about bringing one more item into your house, think about asking a friend or neighbor if they have one you can borrow.

Save the money, stop the clutter, and better yet......CONNECT with your community.

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Blue Pencil is based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Locally servicing Fairfield and Westchester Counties. Remote consultation available.

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