Am I A Minimalist, Really?

Post: by Kelly Murphy

Am I a minimalist, really

Well, I thought I was.  I had been sorting through stuff  over the last three or four years. And don’t we all have different views of what a minimalist is and what a minimalist does?  

As I’ve said before, my mission toward becoming minimalistic has been gradual, and began just by simply purging unused teaching stuff, and clothing. 

My childhood home looked “lived in” or cluttered, since Mom and Dad were both very ‘innovative repurposers’. We had lots of stuff around, and while this was due to necessity, it provided me lots of time spent dusting, cleaning, organizing, and straightening. Most of which I found annoying.  We saved mostly everything, and were very minimalist and thrifty with our resources, but as for getting rid of “unneeded stuff-not so much…because, well ..we needed everything. 

 This type upbringing, can affect a person one of three ways… live the same way,-keep everything, or go in the opposite direction-get rid of everything, or like me… adopt a combination of both.   Over the past five years, visiting my mom has always left me with a fervor to go back home and purge my belongings, so that when I am gone, that aspect of my leaving, my possessions, won’t complicate their feelings of my loss. While I try not to think about those aspects of having to deal with her possessions upon her departure I know it’s inevitable.

 Anyway,  when I returned to our Memphis home, and began to purge, I started to experience that feeling of space, and I liked it!
Sometimes, it was just when I dusted and cleared of my desk, other times it was when I ditched half of the clothes from my closet I never wore. Once, it was when I went through my kitchen container cabinet and threw out 10 Cool Whip containers I’d used for leftovers. I’d have been happy to recycle them,  but they are #5s, which my local recycling center didn’t take.    And sometimes it was just by disposing of my daughter’s school papers, keeping only the highlights, and not every single piece.  It felt good. Now, I am not saying go rent a dumpster and get rid of everything-unless you want to do that… I am just saying for me-gradual was the way it worked best.

But now…after returning to my mother’s home,

  • (due to being recently separated,
  • and now being sued for divorce,
  • left with zero cash flow, (except for the less than state-required child support received by the father)
  • after 14 years of being a stay@home mom (while totally renovating our recently sold home-exterior and interior),
  • and caring for a family member when an unexpected illness occurred
  •  and seeking employment in the teaching field (this sometimes occurs for those who choose to become unpaid, full-time mothers and wives,)….

I realized that at least in some ways….can only strive to be the minimalist my mother is.

Let me preface these following comments by saying that my mom,  like most people in their  late 70’s,

~draws social security
~and like many, of that age, is on a squeaky tight income.
~She, like many of that era, is a believer in thriftiness,
~and now has some medical challenges. So she has her reasons for trying to conserve energy. (She is in the hospital, as I write, so I’d appreciate any healing and happy thoughts and prayers you send her way!)
To many of that era, and especially to my mom,

Minimalism is….

  • Filling a cup with water while brushing her teeth, rather than drinking from her hand while rinsing and spitting. You won’t see her letting the water run while brushing, like  I sometimes do. Nope. Actually, she probably rinses her mouth out with the same water with which she rinses her toothbrush but I don’t know that for a fact. (She is all about gray water usage.)
  • Suggesting we do the same, and providing a repurposed ice cream bucket for us to put in the sink if we choose not to do the same, to save that water for watering her two huge turnips she has potted in her bay window.
  • Opening the windows, and tying back the window coverings during daylight, rather than turning on an overhead light.
  • Checking on us to  see that we have taken her suggestion of tying back the window coverings, during daylight, rather than turning on an overhead light.
  • Fervently suggesting we shower without lights, since there is a window in the bathroom-or on a cloudy day, suggesting we use only one light.
  • Checking to see if we are showering without lights, since there is a bathroom window, and assisting my daughter or me by turning off the lights during a shower, especially on a sunny day. (She is into solar power.)
  • Cooking in the dark, even on cloudy days, since the kitchen has a window. (No dimmer switch needed in this house.)
  • Always using a dish pan when washing dishes. (She’s very hands-on), and believes human hands are the best way to wash dishes, and does not want a dishwasher.
  • Keeping a flashlight on a stool by her hall closet, to see inside because it’s dark, instead of turning on the hall light.
  • Always having a dish pan in the sink, so that anytime water is running, for any reason, hand washing, rinsing, etc., it will all be contained in the dish pan for reuse for plants or washing dishes. (She really loves gray water usage).
  • Only using paper towels when it is an absolute necessity. (‘necessity’ to her being only poop). Note: Puck, or greasy stuff are  not neccesity, because, (and I quote) “for that a dishcloth can be used, and rinsed out in the water saved in the dish pan.”  Sorry if you already knew that.  True story..About twelve years ago a store here in Harrison (AR) was going out of business, and Mom read in the newspaper they had Bounty paper towels on clearance for 99 cents.  I remember that my daughter, was still young enought to be in a  toddler seat, and that we were up for a visit from Memphis.  Mom gave me $12 and waited in the car, while I went in to buy as many rolls as the $12 could buy.  It worked out to about 15 rolls…   Fast forward to last week when I was looking in her upper cabinets for something and there were those paper towels I’d purchased for her. I know they are the same rolls I purchased because I asked.  In 12 years she has only used 9 rolls. Now, that, is minimalism.
  • Toilet flushing is not as necessary every time. Do you get my drift? Oh, and you don’t have to have the light on when you use the toilet because (and I quote) “Don’t you know by now, where everything is?” And really…what can you say to that?
  • Doing laundry only when everything you own, (even minimalists like my daughter and me), is dirty.    So much so, that we have to sit around in our pjs because we own nothing else clean. And if you want to wash your sheets you’d better write down when you did it last to prove they need it!
  • Showering is preferred ONLY when doing really stinky work has occurred outside. And often we try to go swimming on those really hot days. So, using her logic, why take a shower, if you are going swimming at the river, or the pool, since the chlorine is a disinfectant, and  the river is nature.

All this to say, in her own way, my mother is more of a minimalist than I, but I am trying to be better at consuming fewer resources.

So, try this yourself this week and see how you do…

  • Turn off the lights if you leave a room
  • Don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth.
  • Shower with one less, or no light on. Don’t shower everyday and spot bathe on days you know you will be getting sweaty, and don’t have other commitments.
  • Keep track of how often you wash your sheets. P.S. If you make your bed daily, you won’t have to wash them as often.
  • Try using a dish pan when you hand wash dishes. You will see, in a tangible way, how much water you use.
  • Laundry can be done less often. When you do it, use cold water, not hot. Or, wear those jeans one more time. Try airing them outdoors for a few hours to freshen.
  • Flush your toilet only when essential. You can probably figure this one out.
  • Enjoy showering by candlelight! I miss that, and I love nice-smelling candles, but candles can’t be used when oxygen is in use in a home.

My refresher course in minimalism, by living with my mom, has reminded me that others around the world don’t think this is the least bit unusual, and we in America could be much more conservative in our consumption. And are very blessed!

Thanks for reading, and if you like what you read please retweet or share with others.

A Quick Way 2 Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

Post by: Kelly MurphyBriley

Hey friends!  I discovered something powerful this week….

a time-saving way to clean the coils on my refrigerator. I didn’t do this before the move, but waited until I arrived. I’d already cleaned out the inside before I left, but gave it a swipe with a soapy dishcloth anyway.

What I hadn’t done in several years, was clean the coils. Now, if you, like me,  read all kinds of tips to save on electricity and energy, and while doing so think…  I’ve done that. Oh, I do that! Done that.. etc. ( I am sooo proud of myself, until I get to the part about cleaning off the refrigerator coils behind and under the refrigerator.) then…you need this lesson!

I know from experience it is really easy to accidentally mess something up, or touch something just enough to mess something up, while doing this because I have done it.

I once cleaned the coils under my refrigerator and knocked some hose off that I had to receive help from a very good Mr. Fix-It, (not my husband) –to get it back on. It took two hours of both of us laying on the kitchen floor, and a lot of aggravation to get it done though!  I want to help you avoid going through what I did, so here it is…
my new way of cleaning out the coils on the refrigerator.

~take the front vent off at the front bottom of the refrigerator. You can clean it later.
~using a wrench, take the cardboard back near the bottom with a frig, off. Clean it off and set aside.
~using your blower that you use in the yard, (Yes, you heard me correctly)  turn it on and aim it under the refrigerator and wherever you see “stuff.”
~Make sure you have anything near the refrigerator that would fall off or blow away, put up or in another room.  This part may take a bit of time, but it is still less time than it would take to crawl around the floor trying to suck out all the dust with a vacuum cleaner.
~And it is a good idea to aim all the stuff that will come out from under your refrigerator toward the back door or open a window, or just let it fly and vacuum it up when you have completed the blowing.

~ It’s later…. so wash off the ventl from the bottom front of the frig, and put it back on.

I know this is a very weird idea, but it took me 5-10 minutes vs. 30 minutes to an hour of trying to vacuum the coils without getting my hands cut up. Just be sure your frig is unplugged when you are blowing!

Good luck! Let me know how it works, or leave a comment below.

What’s New @ Mooving2minimalism?

Post by: Kelly Murphy

Hi everybody!

June has been a very busy month for my family.  At the end of May the house sold, and my daughter and I are now in Arkansas.  While we miss all of our friends in Memphis, we don’t miss the mosquitos and the humidity!   But – it’s summer so it’s hot everywhere.  Just not as hot as Memphis.
We are getting to spend more time helping my mom who has had lots of health problems the last few months.  And we are enjoying being in a town of about 15,000, in some ways. It is very safe, and it’s the Ozarks, so it is beautiful! With the rolling hills, the hay on the fields, and the cows and horses grazing, it is very picturesque.  We are getting to know some folks, and have enjoyed the library.  You can actually check out CDs and DVDs for free! In Memphis, it cost about between $2-3 to do that.  When I asked the library personnel how much it cost for the DVDs we checked out,  she looked at me as if I was from another planet. Cool! It was FREE!

I am currently seeking employment as a teacher, so we are on a squeaky/tight budget.  Jobs, here are very scarce, so we are counting our pennies, literally, just to buy milk and eggs.

God does provide, however. The first day we arrived we went on an evening walk and a nice neighbor who turned his backyard into a garden, struck up  a conversation, and then gave us some lettuce! He even said he used no pesticides! Organic to boot!  (Thanks Randy!) And then someone @ church shared some squash and potatoes with the congregation, and we were able to have another meal. So… although we are living hand- to- mouth, we aren’t going hungry, yet. And a few nights ago, a neighbor came by and asked if we were interested in their leftover Pizza Hut takeout. We said, “Thanks!” only to open the box to find an entire SUPREME Pizza Hut pizza.  How great is that!  Pizza isn’t the healthiest thing, but it was a nice thought.  Everything in moderation, right!?

You Memphis folks have no idea how spoiled you are, being able to drink from an artesian-fed water system! The water here is nothing in comparison, but it is better refrigerated.  So, we’re learning to deal. We can’t not drink water, right?

We are doing a lot of incline walking, and so that has helped get some inexpensive exercise, except for the needed walking shoes, (which we already owned).  And it’s very helpful for toning the legs, too.

We also miss our wonderful Whole Foods store with all of their quality food, and people, but we have our own Natures Wonders here, which is a local health food store. We have been to the Farmer’s Market, but have found the produce to be very pricey, and the footprint a bit too big to buy from them.  I am still hoping to find some local farmer to buy raw milk, but so far, I haven’t. I do hav some leads, though.

We are doing a lot of drying our own clothes outside. My mom has a handicapped rail that works great for a clothesline! LOL!  And it’s free to go swim in the Buffalo River, except for the cost of the gas. We have met some very interesting characters there.

Then there’s church. So far, this has been the place we have met some of the nicest people, and we are hoping to find a good church fit for us. We’re still checking things out in that area, though.
Hope all of you are having a good summer, and would love to hear what’s new with all of you.

Share any tips you have about how to make new friends in a new place  if you have any.

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