Three Lessons I Learned the Hard Way as a Minimalist Mama

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A guest post from Lisa Avellan of Simple & Soul

Minimalism isn’t about the stuff we get rid of; it’s about the life we uncover.  That lesson came hard and fast in my minimalist journey.

In fact, minimalism swept up my old life with such a fury that I hardly had a chance to properly welcome the new me – you know, with a bottle of wine and a pedicure.  It was more like a pressure wash of the soul, as if to test the resilience of my resolve to take back my motherhood.

Everything I thought motherhood would be had faded behind the constant to-dos and the overwhelming pressure to lose the weight, wear the brands, play the part, volunteer and participate, play-dates and socialization… I couldn’t get comfortable in the role of my lifetime as Mom.

I stepped into minimalism expecting more time and energy to spend with my kids and husband and what I got was an overhaul of my identity – my soul came alive. 

My soul awoke to all the ways it hadn’t been living fully, and it pushed me into a series of reboots and refreshes and power downs and restarts. And thank God it did because now I know what minimalism is really about.

There was a lot of stuff we decluttered and donated, and we were free of the excess, clutter, and overwhelm in our home.  But I also found freedom from living in that place of expectation and comparison and performance.  It was hard, really hard – still is sometimes – but these three have been the most grounding and liberating experiences minimalism has given me:

3 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

1.     I am only this moment.

When I detached my worth from the things I owned and my need for validation from out there I had to sit with my soul in its rawest moments. Exposed and tender, I battled guilt for having abandoned it for so many years and shame for having believed I wasn’t worth more than the things I owned or activities I planned.

It was in this process that I learned I can’t be anything other than what I am in this moment.  I spent most of my moments either in shame or regret of the past or in worry and preparation for the future.  I was missing the life happening in front of me, the only moments I could do anything with.

I can only be this moment, this breath God has given me. I began asking questions like who am I in this moment? What can I bring to this present that will matter in the next?

Every moment is a possibility for the soul.   That means this moment – any moment – is sacred space to become fully present; aware of the opportunity for something really amazing.

2.     I become whole by emptying myself.

I had to learn what whole meant for me. Before minimalism it meant fitting in, receiving validation from others, and being self-sufficient. Simplifying showed me those beliefs were the cracks where my joy and purpose leaked out.

The more I emptied drawers and cupboards and toy bins I felt renewed, filled up with a whole spirit of simply becoming myself.  It turned out, the security I’d been searching for by buying and doing and comparing was within me the whole time. It was buried underneath all the things I filled my home and life with.

The joy of surrender – ceasing to resist the spirit within me – was the key to becoming the mother I hoped I could be.  The pouring out was filling the cracks with light.  Not only was I able to be present and available for my girls, I was confident that the light-filled cracks mapped the way to the center of my best self.

3.     I am not perfect.

I didn’t realize it, but I was striving for perfection as a mother.  I was determined to spare my girls the struggles that burned inside of me.  I’d never say a negative word about my body out loud, but my internal voice body shamed me constantly. I’d plan the perfect birthday party and justify the cost later. I’d always be happy and willing to help but inside I was depressed and introverted out.  I determined I’d never show my vulnerabilities to my girl, for fear they’d adopt them for themselves.

Perfectionism was killing me. Inside, I hated my body, I spent money we didn’t have, and I couldn’t admit that I needed space and quiet to recharge.  But I thought I had to be perfect to give my kids the mother they deserve.

Minimalism taught me to embrace my imperfections, to find the lessons in them. I stopped being afraid to fail and stepped into not getting everything right so that I can get right on grace.

Getting rid of the things is a tool to recover what’s been inside all along. The life we hope for isn’t out there waiting for us to do enough or be enough to have it, its right there – under that list of to-do’s and weight of expectations.

It’s in the moments we least expect, when we open ourselves to experience the now, the present, and the perfect imperfections of becoming minimalist mamas.

Allie Casazza

Allie Casazza , Murrieta, CA