“What is this feeling, so sudden and new?”
Honestly took me a minute to remember if that quote was from Frozen or Wicked- since Idina Menzel just owns all the spaces nowadays. 😉
Something happened to me this year that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around. And as I sat on my bed tonight after hours of trying to find just the right documentary on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and looked for posts inside a moms group I’m in- I felt like there simply wasn’t anything to adequately relate to what I’ve been feeling!
Let me tell you about my evening– and how wildly different it is from so many in the past on December 21.
I looked at the clock at 3:00 p.m. The house had been cleaned, the kids had been fed, and it was the lull in the afternoon that we often have. I put on my coat and told everyone I was going out on a date with myself. I had seen that Old Navy had 75% off pajamas and decided to venture out- for the first time all holiday season, into the mad rush of shoppers. I knew I didn’t need to get the kids new pj’s but thought it might be worth checking out.
It was- of course- pure insanity in town. I scored a parking spot close to the store- knowing it was actually a horrible spot for when it was time to leave- since I’d be pretty boxed in for a while based on the congestion in the parking lot. But instead of stressing, I was already excited for the extra time this would give me to listen to my audio book.
I scored on a few pairs of PJ’s, and since Ben and I noticed how our kids have slowly fallen into the trap of “looking like homeschool kids” (which I actually take very little shame in, but I guess sometimes you need to wear clothes that match), I got them some shirts for $5 each.
Throughout all of this- I tried to smile and make eye contact more with people I was passing. I saw how intent everyone was on their shopping and saw the heaps of discount clothing on the clearance racks in Old Navy. I saw families trying to score the best deals. I saw myself- my past self- in all of them.
I didn’t feel rushed or competitive in the checkout line. There wasn’t anything happening on social media (is there ever really?), so I just observed and waited- old school style. I had a great conversation with the cashier and he gave me an extra discount without my asking. It was just so pleasant.
After my purchases… I went into a store today that “Old Kirsten” would have died over. And I actually walked PAST a store that had me all weak in the knees last Christmas- and had zero desire to go in. (Kinkaids for all my fellow interior “stuff” lovers).
I went into 5 Below (basically a $5 store) and felt this calm inner peace-knowing that I didn’t need to stand in line for these things. That I didn’t need any of these things. And I literally could see these items ending up in our donation bags. I saw how many brightly packaged items there were- and how many varieties of JUNK they had put together to create a store full of wonders for the budget savvy shopper. It was all eye catching, it all appeared, to the untrained eye, to be valuable.
I walked out without buying anything. It was amazing to walk past the long line and know I didn’t need to wait in it.
Next was Ross. I had this moment of wondering how I had ever been so in love with this store?! I felt this energy of desperation, and lost time. I thought of those movies where the characters go into a casino or time warp and get lost in the monotony and don’t even realize they’re losing time. You know the ones, right?
I meandered, looked at all the junky toys, the ones I would have purchased last Christmas, and felt nothing. No curiosity over any treasures, no desire to buy any of it for my kids. I didn’t “feel joy”- like seriously none. It was just stuff. I considered buying an art set for Felicity then remembered all of the many art supplies we had at home that went unused most days.
I left that store- again without purchasing a single thing.
I went to my car, turned on my audio book and wondered how long it was going to take to get out of the parking lot. I hoped it would take a while- and felt no crazed urge to fight with other cars to get out faster or hold my “fair place” in line. It took less than 15 minutes- and I felt joy and peace the entire time.
I drove home and noticed how the bare trees were still beautiful in their own way. How amazing it is that all the fresh green life has to fall away and we have these months of grey, bare and exposed life around us. I have always dismissed it as the necessary evil- the ugly phase we have to “get through” before the green comes back. But today I saw it differently. I almost related to those trees. I have had a year of being stripped down (by choice and by circumstance) to the bare and naked me. It has been an amazing process and I feel more aligned with my life and God than ever before.
So who is this Kirsten and where did she come from?!
It could be from the major career change that happened mid way through the year, where I was able to step away from monstrous amounts of negativity and judgement to be ME again.
Or it could be from traveling to places where people weren’t on their phones as much as we are in America, and culture was not something just to make people feel fancy or accomplished. Or maybe from the lack of emphasis on stuff and more on the experiences.
It could also be from the realization that none of my circumstances or things were making me any happier.
No matter the cause- I have changed.
After months of purging as much clutter and distraction from my life as I could muster the energy to do- I am finally realizing how much joy I have robbed myself of in always surrounding myself with “stuff” and “distraction”.
And I am SO GRATEFUL for that change! What a magnificent year of growth and peace!
This has been the simplest December of my entire adult life- by a long shot. I only used half of our Christmas decor- donated a bunch more, and have taken countless garbage bags to donation. We have had “Christmas Break” all month long with family movies by the fireplace, endless library visits full of Christmas books we didn’t have to buy to enjoy. We have wrapped our presents and placed them under the tree already. We have spent less, and lived more. We have enjoyed hot chocolate, spontaneous Saturday adventures, seeing Frozen 2- Twice. Seems appropriate right?
We have taken walks to the grocery store for donuts, made a Trader Joe’s Gingerbread house, and most importantly taken the time to study the life of Christ again.
We haven’t been perfect- far from it in fact. The kids still bicker, we have had days with too much screen time and have eaten way too much sugar. (I’m looking at you Jingle Jangle).
But the thing we have NOT had- is a frenzied and stressful energy surrounding the holidays. We didn’t send out Christmas cards, we didn’t dress up for Santa pictures, we didn’t over spend on gifts, we didn’t work too much and we have been cozy and warm inside our home, together.
I’m realizing that minimalism is much more than throwing stuff away. It’s a clearing out of space, mind, body, soul and spirit. It is understanding that joy doesn’t come from things, or ideal circumstances. It is turning more inward, slowing down and realizing how simple joy really is to attain.
I never thought this would happen to me- but 2019 is the year that turned me- MINIMAL. And I can’t wait to share the continuation of the journey with you all in 2020.