Curate & Create: Why Minimalism May NOT Be About "Decluttering" After All


Today, perhaps you are slightly burnt-out on decluttering. Perhaps it seems the clutter mysteriously multiples and every time you turn around there's more clutter. Or perhaps your mind is always going, thinking, planning, praying, begging for a way out of the stress and clutter. Maybe it's the mental clutter at night that keeps you awake. I understand; you and I can gently laugh together because if you were sitting here tonight in my snowed-in log home, you'd see that origami frogs have multiplied like the plague of Egypt across the floor! Even after 558 huge bags (2/3rds of everything) donated to charity, stuff sneaks in.

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Even after 558 huge bags (2/3rds of everything in our home) donated to charity, stuff sneaks in.

We are always seeking simplicity in this ever-complex world. And in the realm of minimalism, I have found that I dislike the word "decluttering" more and more. It sounds negative to me, and I don't think that only decluttering will lead us all to the peace and simplicity that we are seeking. It's akin to saying "pay off all debt and you'll be fine forever." While paying off debt is important (and possible) just being debt-free is not the end goal. Financial stability is a process that far exceeds just eliminating debt. Only decluttering the home is not the end goal. I believe it is merely the beginning, and the language that we use when discussing this journey to simplicity does make a difference. I believe the language and words we choose to describe our journey can literally make all the difference. 

And tonight, you have my permission to stop decluttering.

Yes, as a ardent minimalist, I just gave you permission to stop. Instead, if we were chatting by the fire place tonight (as my oldest clears the frogs) I would offer you the alternative of "curating" your best life instead of just decluttering it.

Let me explain. I have many friends in the art world and several who make amazing decisions for shows and exhibitions. I adore the process they get to participate in as they are both artists and curators. It is through their choices of what to include and exclude that they actually create a whole new art - the show or exhibition itself is also art as much as the paintings and sculptures contained in it.

Your home is your canvas, a living, changing canvas on which you have the joy and responsibility to create. Not self-centered and cold, sterile and perfect so that no one touches it, but quite the contrary.

Home is a stunning masterpiece meant to be lived in, touched, tasted, enjoyed, shared, and created over and over again.

The art of our lives comes from the continuing act of creating, not merely decluttering. We are not just cutting out items for the sake of eliminating clutter. It seems too much like a diet left to a binge-and-purge-cycle. You and I both know that's wrong on so many levels. Instead, I would rather dream and create and work and replace, eliminating the unnecessary and the no-longer-applicable to showcase the current journey in simple, beautiful ways.

Let's be real and specific. Two simple steps to begin to "curate" your home. 

1. Get rid of junk because you want to, not because you think you should. Stop decluttering only to have it sneak in again. Change the emotion of your journey to simplicity from frustration to awe. See the beauty in the process and use the frustration to fuel courage. Changing how you view items coming and going begins also with guarding the door of your home just like a security guard only allows the masterpieces to enter the exhibit hall. Now, I don't mean everything in your home should be expensive at all or stuffy and untouchable like a forgotten museum. However, you can see beauty in the normal, daily-used items. You CAN clear space to showcase the stunning beauty in the humility of daily living. 


2. Focus on what you want to keep and why. Is it beautiful? Enjoy it! Do you love the fading of roses that probably should be composted like I do? Keep them longer. Do you see beauty in old books? Or towels folded right, thank the Lord, the towels were folded right today!

Create a list today of your criteria for what to keep and what to share and why. Also, add a portion of that list for items that are simply no longer reflective of your journey. Permanent markers with toddlers are no longer part of my journey in my home with log walls, just as a fun example. 

Home need not be perfect and it need not ever be completely done, as no piece of art is ever complete in artist-eyes. Almost done is plenty "done." Did you take time to write today or play cars on the floor with your kids because the laundry was (almost) caught up? Did you write down that dream non-profit idea to serve those desperate for hope because the dishes were (almost) done? Good enough opens up possibilities to create anew. 


Do you love the fading of roses that probably should be composted? Keep the the beauty that feeds your soul regardless of what others may say. 

Can you join me in no longer decluttering? Instead, we can together curate our homes and lives for the joy set before us.


Blessings for your unique journey,