Stripping Down

The word minimalism is treacherous. For me, before I started hungering for minimalism, it evoked monastic interiors of all white with an uncomfortable chair and an ugly flower arrangement.

Today, minimalism has taken on a very different meaning. Let me show you what it means:

Fuzzy stuff that doesn’t weird me out

This little experiment happened back in June 2020. I guess quarantine had gotten the best of me by that point. I had bought myself a bouquet of white roses at the grocery store. I was curious about what lay underneath the petals. I was curious about the construction of a rose.

I don’t know what got into me, but I took one of those roses and started removing the petals. Once I had removed the petals and saw the weird scraggly yellow structures (image at the top of the page), I thought “Wow. Who knew something so ugly could sustain something so pretty.” But then I started getting weirded out by the ugly yellow things and wondered what was under them.

Well. Let the record show, at the very heart of a white rose is pretty fuzzy white stuff.

For me, this is the essence of minimalism.

A rose, in order to be a rose, needs to look like a rose. But without the structures: the fuzzy white stuff and the weird yellow things and the petals, it wouldn’t hold together and be recognizable as a rose.

For me, minimalism is the process of stripping down to the core of who I am, so that at the end of the process, my inside and my outside match.

I am a minimalist who wears turquoise petticoats and lacy leggings because that is who I am on the inside. I have gone through the process of stripping down to the fluff of who I am. My failed attempts to follow current fashion trends, my efforts to follow the complicated rules of capsule wardrobes or points systems for a wardrobe I”ll adore were never going to satisfy me, because they didn’t address who I was at my very core.

Today I know better who I am, what sets my heart vibrating and why. This is true across the board and not just in my closet because I have done some heavy-lifting about what I want for my life. It started with my wardrobe, it continues in my wardrobe. But it is branching out to the other areas of my life, too.

I will never live in an empty white room; I will never be sophisticated (unless I am playing dress up). My minimalism exists in a brightly colored room with vintage patterns and a petticoat in every color.

My minimalism requires of me that I only own as many clothes as I can store on the number of hangers I currently own. It requires that my family only own as much stuff as can be put away in easily five minutes with all hands on deck. It requires that I not have more than one out-of-routine event on the schedule per week.

Minimalism keeps stress from ruling me, which is what inevitably happens when I don’t have a place to hang up clean clothes, or there are too many toys out, or our schedule is upended.

Figuring out what is underneath the petals and the weird yellow structures requires some stripping down. It can be painful sometimes, but it is worth the effort. Being coherent on the inside and the outside is worth effort. Being you is worth the effort.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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