I have never been one to relish the major clean outs, stripping my shelves and cupboards down to their bare essentials and then pretending like this is my new normal. I mean, I like things to be clean and tidy, and I love knowing the exact location of my things, but I don’t have a compulsion for empty space. Empty space kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. I want my home to be full of art and books and warmth, I want delicious cooking smells and plants in various stages of lushness (and, honestly, a few in the “trying to resurrect” stage, because, let’s get real). I want layers and texture and color, I would be a really bad minimalist.
That all being said, I know there are a lot of ways I can reduce my Stuff and eliminate some of the triggers for acquiring more. Prior to moving to Arizona I spent ten glorious years living in an enormous penthouse apartment, in addition to two bedrooms and a full sized dining room AND a large living room AND a good sized kitchen, the attic space of the building I lived in had been converted into a loft of sorts with huge skylights and hardwood floors. It was glorious up there, and the access was from my apartment only. It was mine, all mine, to do with as I pleased. It was my library and my creative space and our guest bedroom and our storage space and an extra TV space…and none of those areas had to overlap. The loft was ENORMOUS and it took 10 years to fill it up with furniture and bookcases and throw pillows and storage boxes of decorations and camping equipment. So, that means, that for 10 years whenever I upgraded something in our downstairs living space, the upstairs got a new object, I never tossed anything that wasn’t broken. When we moved I cleaned out everything, pick up truck after pick up truck of forgotten Stuff, unnecessary furniture, and a tremendous excess of side chairs made the final exodus from my house to the thrift store, friend’s homes, and a few sales to strangers.
Here in Arizona our home is full but not stuffed, there is plenty of open space and the right amount of furniture. There are a few pieces I’d like to replace, eventually, but for the most part the house is delightfully furnished, and there are only a few things in the garage that need to be eliminated (sell, toss, donate). I attempted a month with no extra spending, and will probably do that again in the near future.
Which brings me to a new project. I do not need any more Things, no more Stuff. However, I also know that drastically reducing my bookshelves or my closet (again) will not actually bring me an increased measure of joy. I use what I have enough to justify storing it, and bookshelves full of books, walls full of art, and lots of extra pillows and blankets bring me joy. Having a comfortable home brings me joy. So, I’m trying to reduce in other ways, and it’s been a little tricky to figure that out (and, of course, I read a whole stack of books about it). In the last few months these are the steps I’ve taken towards a more minimalist life:
I have eaten 98% of the food that I buy instead of letting it sit until it goes bad and throwing it out. Food waste in the United States is overwhelming, something like 40% of purchased food is thrown out. I do not want to contribute to that statistic. So, I make a meal plan every Sunday and go grocery shopping on Monday, and then stick to that plan for the rest of the week. I plan in leftovers for my lunches and regular date nights with Blue Eyes. I’ve love cooking delicious things, and I’m pretty good about making just enough for our needs. I am going to try to keep this up the rest of the year (my life?). It seems a point of incredible pride that in the last 2 months I’ve only had to toss 2 sweet potatoes that were bad, a handful of strawberries that I left in the fridge too long, and two or three containers of leftovers. Winning!
I have not purchased any new books. This is HUGE for me, huge. Now, I have bought a few books, but all of them were used and less than $5, including shipping (where applicable). I also actually got a library card and have been using it at our SUPER pathetic library branch, it’s really one of the saddest book places I’ve ever been. I still have books in my house I haven’t read, but I’m a firm believer that there is a time and a season for the books we read, and sometimes, the time isn’t right now. Don’t mess with me on my books, it’s a battle you cannot win. You also cannot with the e-reader battle, so don’t bother. Just pat my head and tell me “good job” for library patronage and eschewing brand new books.
I have unsubscribed from every junky email I’ve received. Did it suck? Yes. Was it worth it? So, so much. It took me a few hours initially to go through all the junk emails from the last few months, unsubscribing as I went. And then once every week or two I will spend 5 or 10 minutes doing it again. But the sheer volume has dwindled to almost manageable, instead of 40 or 50 a day, it’s like 10 a week. Getting rid of all that crap in my inbox has made me immeasurably less anxious about opening my email.
Ok, so when you list it out and there are only three things in a grandly titled post, such as “My First Foray Into Minimalism!” it seems super anti-climactic. Who uses the word “foray” in the first place, I mean, really. Snobs and hipsters, that’s who. Well, maybe I’m a snob, maybe I am altogether too proud of myself for some paltry little achievement on the pristine, sparkling minimalist scale. But, it’s a big deal for me. And it’s a deliberate step towards a different kind of life, and for me, that always happens in baby steps, not grand gestures or cold-turkey behavior changes.
What about you? Are you on the KonMari bandwagon? Another minimalist bandwagon? Or do you shun the bandwagon and march to your own drum? (Why so much music metaphor, Harriet!? Sheesh!)