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franklin county times

Outer order: inner calm

You know what Franklin County needs? The Container Store.

It’s been about two and a half years since I began my pursuit of a clutter-free life. There’s nothing like facing down the prospect of wrapping all your worldly possessions in white paper and stuffing them into cardboard boxes for a cross-state move to make you reconsider owning so much stuff.

I don’t know how I discovered Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist – probably through Facebook – but I do know his wise advice quickly led me down a road studded with sages like Brooke McAlary, Lisa Woodruff, The Minimalists, Courtney Carver, Mr. Money Mustache and Gretchen Rubin. They don’t all preach exactly the same message, but they have become mentors for the life I crave of order, simplicity, organization and mindfulness.

People reading this are probably in one of two camps right now: either “What a load of mumbo jumbo” or “Hey, I love those people and that mindset too!”

I’ve spent the past two years internalizing advice from these folks, paring back my possessions and trying to figure out how to jive my inherent consumerism – I like a little retail therapy as much as anyone – with my competing wish to not have my life defined by my “things.” It has honestly been a joy, the process of figuring how I want to design my life, from the aesthetics to the underlying mentality.

Although there are plenty of little nuggets of wisdom from my mentors who have guided me along this path, from “The things you own end up owning you” to “The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t,” perhaps the most succinct and pithy little gem has been Gretchen Rubin’s “Outer order contributes to inner calm” – which really boils down my entire preoccupation with minimalism and organization.

I’m embracing these kinds of principles to promote a peaceful state of mind – and isn’t that something we could all use more of?

Not everyone in my life has understood my new fascination with trying to decide whether I actually need four spatulas or not, and not everyone has agreed with my lack of sentimental attachment to – pretty much anything.

But I know there are some of you out there who do understand, which is why I wanted to share what might seem like an odd passion. So if you’d like to compare notes on minimalism, share your own story or recommend a book, podcast or other resource, drop me a line. You know where to reach me – alison.james@fct.wpengine.com.