Pictures and Keepsakes

As I continue to minimalize our possessions, I keep running into various piles, containers, organizers, folders, etc with little keepsakes. We have two kids, so a lot of that revolves around them. I’ve always wanted to scrapbook, but it took me 9 1/2 years to finish the pre-marriage scrapbook of me and Andrei! I love the outcome, but mercy is it a chore to get it all out and make the pages.  It is not my jam–good for you if it is!!  So, I have loads of things that I’ve WANTED to scrapbook, but have never gotten around to.  So, here is what I’m doing.

First of all, any projects I’ve started I am going to finish BEFORE I start something new.  I finished mine and Andrei’s scrapbook, so now I’m ready to move on.

I also have a newly cleaned out file box (goodbye old papers that I had NO good reason to keep!) In that file box I have labeled a hanging folder for every year since 2005. As I’m finding these piles and folders of keepsakes and since I used to keep everything, I’m doing my usual purging of whatever is not worth keeping, cleaning and storing, and then putting it in the folder for its year.

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I apologize to my OCD friends that the labels start on the wrong side and aren’t really staggered correctly 🙂

I’m now ready to start on my next projects-one at a time. I have some years that I mainly only have pictures.  I checked on a swapping group I’m in on Facebook and got a couple of photo albums that someone was ready to toss. I’m going to put the pictures in those and be done.

My next plan is to sort of work backwards.  Instead of starting with the early years of marriage and babies, I’m starting with recent years. Last fall the kids and I had a one month trip overseas to see their grandparents.  It really was the trip of a lifetime and we have more than pictures-circus tickets, train stubs, foreign currency. I want to put it in a scrapbook. Though the last one took me years, I still want to make scrapbooks, but my plan will be a little different. Towards the end of the one of I just finished, I did much simpler scrapbooking that was not so time consuming and I intend to do that with the others. I finished it quickly because I wasn’t trying to make it perfect, I was just enjoying the process and not stressing over the embellishments. I like the pretty paper and my keepsakes, but that’s about it.  Here’s a picture of my simpler scrapbooking.

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One quick note on kids’ crafts. I have one very crafty kid and the amount of paper drawings and creations she gives me is enormous!  Obviously I cannot and should not store every piece of paper she has drawn on.   She’s old enough now to understand this concept and sometimes she even helps me cut down on the crafts we keep.  If you keep it all, theres no way you can truly enjoy it. When she has been really inspired, we’ve framed it but even those will rotate. Others we have kept that have special meaning or that were just really dear to us.

Do you have a simple way of keeping your memories?  Please share!

Quality vs. Quantity

As I have more and more conversations with people, literally all over the world and in many different lifestyles, the more I’m convinced that a life of simplicity can be for anyone anywhere. At first glance, many people think of minimalism as being all about material things, or a purging of those things. It is a large component, but truly, being a minimalist is about shedding the excess so that you can live a life more focused on what matters most to you. Minimalism and simplicity, while still viewed as countercultural, have become buzzwords.  When it comes to fads, I usually fall into the group of wanting to go the other way. I have not jumped on the minimalist bandwagon to join in a crowd. Neither is it why I share and blog about our journey. I share because I see the undeniable benefits of living this way.

In his book, The Freedom of Simplicity, Richard Foster says, “Stress the quality of life above the quantity of life. Refuse to be seduced into defining life in terms of having rather than being…. Develop close friendships and enjoy long evenings of serious and hilarious conversation.”

Maybe you live in the country and though you feel a lack of some necessities, you also feel weighed down by your stuff. Isn’t small town or country living supposed to be simpler?   You long to be out in the nature you are surrounded by, yet find yourself dealing with (ie. fixing, cleaning, or organizing) your stuff, maybe even stuff that is supposed to help you enjoy those natural surroundings.

Maybe you’re a mom of two living in the suburbs (all my friends with two kids, I promise I’m not thinking of anyone in particular :-)) . You collapse every night as soon as the last one is tucked in with a list of all the things you didn’t do and somehow the weekends evaporate without any of your ideas of family time having materialized.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Let me be the first to say, I get it. Life is overwhelming, stuff is overwhelming. I’ve been there and sometimes I am still there. Pursing a life of simplicity isn’t a quick fix, but rather a choosing to let go of the unnecessary and running hard after the things that matter most. Whether it be better quality time with your family and friends, time to enjoy the outdoors, time to pray or go to church, time to travel, adding to and enjoying a collection you truly treasure, time or space to start that hobby or project, time to go fishing, or the chance to change your career, living more simply can lead to that.

It’s not necessarily our things that are in the way-though they certainly contribute. It might be a chaotic schedule, debt, or a generally over indulgent lifestyle. And becoming a minimalist doesn’t lead to your dream life. But it makes room for what’s more important to you. What can you simplify so that you are one step closer to living a life more in step with your values, passions, and God-given talents?

Thoughts or questions? Comment below!