While in England, I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on DVD with my cousins. It was such a fun, moving film, with wonderful actors and a beautiful setting. Penelope Wilton's character, Jean, is probably the least favorite character in the eyes of most viewers. I won't give anything away if you haven't seen the movie, but she's highly negative and deeply pessimistic, controlling and unhappy, and her mannerisms strangle the relationship she has with her husband. Yet there was one part of the movie that made me sit up straight and pay attention, I think because I was so surprised and unprepared for the little plot twist. Jean makes a bold decision, one that is unexpected of her and takes a lot of strength, and in the moment she's willing to shed herself of all of her material possessions in order to get to that place where she knows she needs to be. It's a move towards simplicity and minimalism, and it takes a truly powerful character to shed all of that baggage (not just her luggage, but her emotional burden) and have the courage to make a decision that she was hoping someone else would make for her but didn't.
I've made major decisions in my life that have forced me to make changes--changes like leaving things or people behind, getting rid of stuff in order to make a move possible, and getting rid of toxic relationships and situations. Anyone who has ever done this knows it can be scary, but in the end there really is this incredible feeling of lightness.
Have you ever taken a bunch of "things" and "stuff" away from your home, and you actually feel better about giving it away? There's less to account for, less to dust, less to move if you end up moving, less to see. On vacation, I became so weighed down by my things that I wished I had packed lighter. In life, I think there are times when we have to sit up straight and pay attention, and shed the loads on our back that aren't doing anything but taking up space and causing anxiety.
After returning from England and in trying to clean out my overwhelming inbox, I came across two timely articles about "resisting cargo culture" and consumerism. I didn't think it was coincidence...sometimes the universe gives us a little nudge, you know? In England, I had no agenda. I approached each day as it came and tried not to worry about scheduling too much in advance. It was refreshing and wildly different from how I typically plan my weeks (I schedule workouts and cleaning!).
If you're interested in minimalism and reducing the "stuff" in your life in a meaningful way, I highly recommend reading Minimalism for Grandparents: Decluttering for Health, Happiness, and Connection in the Golden Years. Not a grandparent? Neither am I! I had the privilege of reading this book and I promise it doesn't just apply to grandparents--it's a boon for anyone needing simplification in his or her life.