I used to be the type of person who thrived on a full schedule, who took pride in her myriad of obligations, who sought out “busy”. I felt important when constantly buzzing from one thing to the next. I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of being elbows-deep in many projects at once. But these tendencies came to a screeching halt after our daughter’s death, and I am that person no longer. My husband and I naturally cleared our schedules and spent many days focused only on survival after that earth-shattering day in June. Priorities shifted. While before “busy” was a merit upon which to hang my hat, life suddenly felt as if it was spinning out of control. Even the slightest obligation felt too overwhelming, and I wanted to shed every responsibility that I reasonably could. Though I was unable to conjure the words at the time, what I craved - what I needed - was simplicity. Simplicity in my home, in my calendar, in my mind.
Enter the minimalist movement. My grief journey has been heavily entwined with my foray into minimalism. Though this is certainly not a novel concept, I discovered this movement shortly after our daughter’s death, and its ideals seemed to track carefully with the needs of my heart. At its most basic level, minimalism addresses the value of decluttering your personal space, but its impact reaches far beyond “getting rid of stuff”. Minimalism is a mindset. It creates space to slow down, to live intentionally, to nurture relationships, to really dig in to whatever the present moment holds. It is rooted in gratitude and mindfulness. It provides a framework for navigating your life toward that which truly matters to you.
When I allow busy to get the best of me, I feel uncentered and dissatisfied. I am irritable and short tempered, and I most definitely do not offer my best to those I love. Though it is painful to admit, I have found myself in this space quite often lately. Our family’s schedule has been jam packed, and I have been feeling continually behind in some way or another. It seems we are always in a hurry, but I didn’t realize how pervasive this was until I overheard our three year old daughter absorbed in play. As she loaded her dollhouse family into their car, she exclaimed fervidly, “Hurry, hurry, we have to hurry! We have to go!” My heart sunk like a stone in my chest. Out of the mouths of babes, right? This was the message she had been receiving - that life is something through which to rush. This is not the narrative I want for her life, nor my own. Our days do not need us to rush them along. They will pass far too quickly all on their own.
I am a work in progress. I frequently find myself needing to regroup and refocus. I still tend toward perfectionism, a trait I used to freely accept about myself. But as I grow into this new normal, I am learning that perfectionism no longer suits my goals. It creates pressure to do everything, all at once, and flawlessly. This has been my greatest struggle in leaving busy behind. But I have a strikingly clear vision of the person I long to become, and she certainly isn’t “busy”. She takes her time and soaks in the beauty around her. She moves past the small imperfections with grace (no easy task for a recovering perfectionist). She spends time creating. She surrounds herself with people who inspire her and objects that speak to her. She has learned to make time for that which heals her the most. She asks herself, “Will this get me closer to becoming the person I want to be?” She has learned to let go and say yes to healing, yes to simplicity, yes to peace.