The Stuff: Buh-Bye Now

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“Owning less is far more beneficial than organizing more.”- Joshua Becker, becoming minimalist.com

STRATEGEY: CLOTHES

As a chick when talking to chicks, my closet and wardrobe are what I am most frequently asked about.  I only use a 3′ wide rod in my closet and two dresser drawers for all of my clothes-that’s it.  I pack away my “winter” and summer clothes which alternately hang on the rod at different times of the year.  I make the seasonal switch twice a year and naturally, purge my wardrobe at that time. If ever my clothes start to expand past the 3′ rod, something is going.  Knowing me, a LOT of somethings are going.  The benefit:  Last time I did the seasonal switch it took 20 minutes. The hardest part is deciding when to do the seasonal switch in north Florida. Cold? Hot? Rain? Hurricane? Who knows….

Florida-Fall-Weather

The struggle is minimal.

  • Clothes-Use the 90/90 rule.
  • Shoes-I have no right to make any recommendations to you-I have weaknesses too.
  • Everyone has a favorite color. You don’t have to wear all black or grey (unless you listen to The Cure all day and that is your favorite color). Choose essential pieces that include or coordinate with the color you most love to wear.

 

 

closet


STRATEGY: EVERYTHING ELSE

  • Actually 90/90 rule works for most anything.  You can also switch it to the 180/180 or whatever works best for you.
  • Towels and linens-If they are old and holy (cue angelic harp music!) and there is no fitted sheet/flat sheet match trash them. Or if you’re a real man who works on cars and stuff frequently, save a few for garage rags. Hell-donate them to a body shop!
  • Furniture that is never used, especially if it causes frustration or annoyance–Sell, donate, eliminate. Do not re-purpose, that’s one more thing on your to-do list that will take away from you doing something meaningful.
  • Newspapers, magazines and mail-Recycle, shred ASAP.
  • Knick knacks and doilies-If you find them and didn’t know you had them, you don’t need them! Not on display? Not useful? Don’t like them?  You have my permission to give them to someone who will or toss them.
  • Books and Music (CDs and cassettes)-Let the library store them for you.  If you want them, you know where they are.  I just went and counted.  We, as a family, now own 7 hard copy books. One of which I reference frequently, one is the Bible (I need Jesus!), the other ironically is the book Essential Essays by The Minimalists and is autographed. The other books are not mine.
  •  Junk Drawer? Allow me to introduce the 20/20 rule!
  • Old Photos-Digitize them, toss the photo albums. Nobody looks through them anyway.  Get a digital photo frame if you must.  People will enjoy seeing the pictures flip by passively than hauling out that 20 lb., now off-white, photo album with the peel-up plastic on a sticky-back discolored page full of polaroids.   But for real, if your house catches fire, at least the irreplaceable is in the cloud.
  • Important Documents-see above.
  • Eliminate Duplicate Tools-Unless cooking is your passion, why do you need more than one spatula? Or even a mixer for that matter? 90/90 your kitchen baby! Thanks to my Dad, I found about 13 Dollar Tree flashlights received as gifts (that’s right, gifts)  while minimizing.  There was about a 30% success rate on their ability to illuminate. goodbye
  • Eliminate what you can borrow or share-We don’t own a chainsaw. My Dad has two (My parents live in a field-I’m not even sure why he has one!) and lives 3 miles away.  We don’t need to house a chainsaw of our own.  My mother-in-law makes furniture (among other amazing things) as a hobby.  Her wood-working tools add value to her life, but they are unnecessary for us to own.  Eric just borrows some wood cutting, sanding contraption for a day or so if need be. Perfect.
  • Kid Stuff-Go Here.

 

 

The Stuff: What You Need is a Plan!

The title of this article is a quote from my father that was part of a lecture I received when I was 26 and my life was in shambles and my husband and I had to move back home to Tallahassee.  Actually the quote went more like “What you need is a plan, Dammit! Are you listening to me?!”  My Dad, the angry motivator.  That line kind of became a joke between me and my brother and now anytime we have a problem we tell each other that what we need is a plan.  And it’s actually true!

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There is no one way to be a Minimalist and there is no one way to Minimize.  I will give you some strategies that others recommend and tell you the plan I came up with.

First let me say, that setting a precise time goal is lofty.  You won’t believe how much stuff you have accumulated until you start purging, therefore it is impossible to estimate the time it will take to purge.  Not to mention, life happens, kids happen, friends happen and you don’t want to forego certain experiences for purging efforts.  Going to your kid’s recital is time better spent than deciding which pair of shoes add more value to your life.

My Plan:

  • Room by Room for however long it took.  Sometimes even parts of room by parts of rooms. If I had 20 minutes to spare waiting on someone, I’d clean out a bathroom drawer. I actually re-accumulated and just did one (again) today waiting on my coffee to finish. This eliminates the pressure to meet self-imposed deadlines. Do what you can when you can.  It took me a year and a half to do a complete home sweep.  Now I will go back through and minimize deeper.
  • Schedule a Day of Purging and Send the Kid(s) Away. I found that I could get a lot more done without a 2/3 year old following me.  Imagine that.  Plus, knowing that we had to pick him up at a certain time meant that we would have to hit the gas on whatever area we were tackling that day.  The big chunks of my minimizing occurred on these days.
  • The Tools (See Below).  I found the bucket Idea on Pinterest (a digital hoarders paradise).  Actually it was boxes with more categories but I modified it to meet my needs.  The buckets were AWESOME because they have handles and they were easy to drag from room to room.  Best part? They stack inside of each other and I housed them under my dining room table.  It felt weird to buy something when trying to get rid of things but I figured when I finished, I could give the buckets away too.  That’s never going to happen.  They are far too valuable now.  Since they stack I put the Give-Away bucket on top so that when I run across something in my daily life that I no longer need, I immediately just toss it in.  Once it gets full off it goes to be donated or eliminated.
  • Pinterest and the Interwebs are full of strategies on how to de-clutter and get rid of items.  Even how to deal with odd items. You can always visit my Pinterest page for strategies I’ve found useful.
  • Just Start Somewhere. Eliminating the stuff is the first part of the journey, what you discover during the process is the real reward.

 

Mindfulness: Consumerism

Making Decisions.  Lost in the infinite or lost in the finite? Either way a decision will be made. Either by you or on your behalf.

A crowded fish tank and a solo fish in another tank

If you are not mindful of your decision to purchase and more importantly your MOTIVATION to purchase, you will not find lasting joy in the thing you bought.  Or worse-now said thing requires maintenance and space and actually detracts from your life joy.  The time spent maintaining possessions could be spent on experiences, making family memories or societal contribution.  In short, if you aren’t consciously making an intentionally well-motivated decision, one will be made for you.  And I promise it will be made by someone who probably wants your money has very little regard for your happiness.

Minimalism is the only life-philosophy that will teach you what you already know. All it does is clean the lenses through which you view your world. The hardest part is no longer being able to ignore and justify what you see. Your reward is autonomy. Guess who’s driving your life bus now? YOU.

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It really is simple: Don’t buy what you don’t need or does not add value to your life.  Live within your means.  Ta-DA!  I would also add reject impulse buying.  There is no issue of scarcity in this country, so wait. If it is something that you continue to want and it passes the “Can I afford it?” and “Does this add value to my life?” questions, then go for it.

The problem is not consumerism. It’s compulsory consumerism.

-Joshua Fields Millburn, The Minimalists

The proverbial Jones’ have robbed you! They lied to you and and the companies they work for preyed on your insecurity.  They took your money, your time (which is far more precious than your money), and your joy. But they just got busted by the knowledge po-po.   You can’t get your money or time back, but sure can take back your joy and peace of mind ……today.

“Self-doubters evaluate themselves from the perspective of others,” explains Arkin. “So, the pleasure one of them would take from having a possession might not be defined so much by how much they enjoy it, but by how much others covet it.”

-American Psychological Association; Those who doubt themselves buy the most, study finds.; October 2002, Vol 33, No. 9; Print version: page 13

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I had a professor tell me the following phrase and it has stuck with me for over 10 years now.  I don’t know how, considering my memory is faulty, so I assume it’s God and the universe highlighting something important for me on my brain:

“Never confuse Standard of Living with Quality of Life.”

 

Minimalism My Way: BOLD!

One of my favorite questions that I received regarding my transition to Minimalism came from my friend Mary (and consequently became the inspiration for the name of this blog).

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Me and Mary on her wedding day.  I was the maid of dishonor.

Let me quote her:

So how do your reconcile your love of color and design with Minimalism? I’ve seen all the videos and it seems everyone lives on black, white, beige, and sometimes grey. I need color and suspect that you do as well.

My Response:

Ah ah ah-Don’t get caught up and in somebody else’s style of minimalism. Minimalism is individual-there is no one way to do it-your minimalism will look different than everybody else’s. I know mine does!

Granted, there is talk of a “uniform” in the Minimalist world, but the color of your clothes or the clothes themselves (unless you have an excessive amount) are not worth the emotional effort. The word uniform is too close to the word conform for me to ever read those articles anyway.  Not to mention subscribing to someone else’s dress code in order to “fit-in” will NEVER appeal to me. Hot Pink adds value and joy to my life.  It’s the color with which the people I love most associate with me.  It’s a happy part of who I am as much as being a minimalist.

I like the title The Hot Pink Minimalist because it immediately dispels the myth that minimalist sit around wearing all black in a stark white room with no things and not smiling. Goth-Hipsters! Much like when I tell people I’m Christian I immediately have to address their preconceived notions  with my catch phrase: “We are not all like that!”  Even talking about my faith and beliefs on this blog make me feel uneasy.  I can’t see my audience and I can’t explain that I’m Christian but I’m no door-knocking bible-thumper. But I digress….That’s for a different blog on a different day.

Come to think of it my “going-out” outfits are quite minimal…….in fabric.