It’s a new month and I am dubbing this month Minimalism March! I have been super intruiged of the concept of minimalism, which started with Marie Konda’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That is what initially got me started on this. After reading more, watching some documentaries, I have to say, I got HOOKED this past fall. When I say hooked I mean, so far I have taken three chock full truckloads of stuff to be donated, given away a TON of things, and even had a huge junk pile collection….I keep thinking this is it, this is the last box I’ll collect…then I just keep finding more stuff. I have often caught myself thinking, I could honestly get rid of everything but a few clothes, my laptop, and my camera and I think I would actually be super happy. What do you really need? How does it work? What about it is so intriguing, and freeing?
My personal definition of Minimalism is this: the things that I currently own must have a purpose, a function, or serve me in some way that brings me a ton of joy. Getting rid of “things” and “stuff” has allowed our house to become much more simplistic, organized, cleaner, and it feels happier. Getting rid of SO much stuff has made me appreciate the things I have decided to keep, and take care of them better. Also, in taking a huge step towards living more sustainably, it started to overwhelm me to go into stores and seeing the amount of plastic-y, knick knack shit that they sell at most box stores, so much crap! I think that Minimalism is a good practice to adopt for a healthy lifestyle for a billion reasons, but my main takeaways from it have been that I feel much more clear minded while I am at home, able to focus on what I have to do instead of feeling overwhelmed by stuff (less stuff=less cleaning). I am able to save money when I go out, I no longer feel tempted to buy things I actually don’t need at the box stores, because I have realized I don’t need anything, I literally have everything that I could possibly ever need. I am able to focus more on the things that matter; being with Amelia and my husband, my workouts, cooking, spending more time together with people I love, doing what I love.
Here are some tips to get started:
Get ready to DONATE.
Take it one room at a time. I started in my bedroom. Go through every closet, drawer, cupboard; ask yourself, does this make me really freakin’ happy? Does it feel like it weighs you down when you pick it up? Do you absolutely NEED it to live your life? If you answered no, or meh, to any of those, most likely you don’t need it in your life anymore, and you know what? That’s great! Get a few boxes, and donate donate donate. Avoid just throwing things out-it adds to our already full landfills, and chances are there is someone out there may really need the things you don’t use anymore, so you are helping them out. You are also making space for yourself to breathe, and perhaps creating a clean slate you didn’t know you needed.
TIP: Keep a cardboard box in your closet, or next to your dresser. As you go about your life, whenever you come across something that you realized you don’t like, or don’t need, simply toss it in your donation box. Once it is full, plan a drop-off day.
Cards, and papers, and bill stubs oh my!
I have a personal rule now that I do NOT keep greeting cards stashed away in a drawer. Try this trick next time-instead of saving cards, after the holiday has passed, simply read the card one more time and appreciate the person who gave you the card, and say “thank you.” Then recycle it. Chances are you weren’t going to pull it back out anyway in 1, 2 or 3 years, and now you don’t have extra clutter in your desk drawers. The same goes for any other sort of keepsake type thing, ticket stubs, receipts, random papers you collect. For extra papers, bill stubs, or important things that you can’t necessarily throw away yet-every January I go through our file folders of house things that we had to keep for taxes, references, etc, and throw out anything that isn’t relevant anymore. Start the new year with empty file folders, a clean slate, and an organized mind.
Make the most of your space.
We do not live in a huge house (thank god) and I love the feeling of an open, bright, simple room. I realized that I could be using the space I had better-for example-I have a hutch in my kitchen that was holding extra plates, mugs, random shelf filler type things (think, old vases, decor type stuff) and it was a total waste of space! I took everything off, and put things on it that I actually use-my cookbooks and health books, placemats, and vases (that I do use). Same for a shelf in my kitchen. I took the knick knacks off the shelf, and put my dried grains/beans/oats on the shelf in clear Mason jars-which freed up a ton of space in my cupboards, and had the added benefit of having food out clearly so I knew what I had on hand. It looks great, and is totally functional. And now I don’t have to dust around silly statues or excess stuff. I have applied this concept to every room in my house now-every shelf, table, and nook holds things that we actually use, and therefore now these things have a purpose, which is amazing. My rooms feel more functional this way, and I feel like I get more out of my space now too.
If you haven’t worn it in a year…
No, if you haven’t worn it in a month, because you just really don’t like it, just donate it! OR, “I may use it for this or this one day…” Nah. Trust me, if you are telling yourself that, it is an excuse. It can be super hard to part with things you got so used to seeing in your closet, even if you don’t even like them. It can become a comfort to see the same things over and over. I always kept dresses thinking, I can wear this to a wedding, or a fancy party, or an interview…besides the fact that fancy parties are not a common place thing for me, I tend to want to get something new anytime I have an event because I really love fashion. I just don’t spend a lot of money, and when I am through with it, I ask my friends if they want it, or if I know I am not into it, I will donate it. Clearing your space makes room for you to grow into who you are meant to be, we all change-our styles change, our tastes, and our interests. The things you surround yourself with are a representation of that. It is healthy to clear house and start fresh from time to time. I personally believe that it makes me more creative and feel more confident instead of holding onto things that I wore or used years and years ago (with the exception of classics like a denim jacket, or a good book I always go back to). For example, I used to work everyday at a coffee shop so my wardrobe became a total variation of black, grey, and dark grey. Now that I work there so seldom, I realize that brighter colors, and WHITES are more me now, and it feels good to present myself to the world in these colors now, rather than dark colors I used to live in.
Less IS more.
Truly! You will appreciate what you own so much more if you can clearly see what you own daily. If you are packing away things in boxes shoved into an attic, is it serving you in any way at all? (with the exception of seasonal clothes or particular keepsakes of course). With getting rid of so much stuff, I have made space for things that I actually love, and that serve me everyday. I get to now keep these things out and display them, which encourages me to use them (think: my cameras, my foodie health books, my art supplies, my journals, my plants) Before these things were in bags, in closets, in the attic, hiding away. These items fill me up to the brim, and make me feel fulfilled, as I use them in my business, and doing what I love. It also reminds me that I have everything that I need, and I don’t need to constantly be buying stuff. If its hidden away, you may forget you own it. Figure out what things represent you, and make you happy, and clear away excess to make room for what matters.
You will save more money!
TRUTH. I swear when I go to a store now, the overwhelming temptation to buy everything I want and the anxiety of spending money has completely vanished. I am in control of that now. I realized in doing this that I was getting rid of so much STUFF, why would I want to bring more STUFF home?! Everything in my house has a purpose, and although it can be tempting to buy that cool looking house decor item at Target, or that trendy little sweater (even though you know you have like, 10 sweaters) you will have the mental clarity to appreciate it when you see it, but walk away from it, feeling satisfied that you are not missing out, because you know you have what you need at home. I actually pride myself now when I can go to a place like Target and walk away with one bag (usually filled with diapers). How do I use that extra money? My husband and I have a savings account! For what? Traveling, house emergencies, future things for Amelia, etc. It feels much better having a stash of money to use for experiences rather than a blouse I will most likely donate in a year. Sometimes I buy myself flowers instead of an object, because it makes me happy, and brightens up our space.
It can be really hard to make this transition and practice the art of letting go of things. We live in a society where we are constantly trying to live like that person, or have what our neighbor has, to feel fulfilled, or like we are keeping up. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “if I just had this then I would be good…” nah. You won’t. The excitement of that Amazon package on your doorstep will wear off after a few days (tried and tested), instead of looking for a consumer “high” find something else to fill that void you may be feeling. I have not found what fills my void yet, the void that gets fill temporarily with a little shopping trip. But I am hoping to get there soon.
Try out Minimalism March with me! I will be posting prompts on my Insta, and continuing to purge my spaces as we move into Spring time. Clean slate here we come!