Minimalism Updates

It's time to share some minimalism updates. I recently wrote about Stuff Minimalism Has Taught Me.  It's helpful and cathartic to review and analyze what works, why, and how.  In that post, these were the bullet points:

  • The habit to minimize email, Facebook, and other social media is ongoing but worth it.
  • I'm not as sentimental about things as I thought I was
  • I love an adventure, I love revisiting the memories of said adventure and I love looking at the pictures
  • When I need to buy something, I buy it.  When I want to buy something, I save it and let the thought simmer
  • I love fashion and I love to shop
  • The things I forgot I liked, I really like
  • Minimizing allowed me to let go of emotional baggage

There's more, though.  Learning is an ongoing adventure and thankfully, if you're aware, you can really enjoy the ride.

Not shopping for over six months was one of the best things I've done.  That doesn't mean I want to do it again, but I will.  It wasn't even intentional at first.  I was so overwhelmed getting rid of everything - the sorting, selling, donating, trashing - I had zero desire to bring anything into the house.  After a couple of months, when I realized I had inadvertently imposed a shopping ban, I was intrigued and then deliberate.  Taking that time to not shop allowed me to figure out what my style was again, what brands I liked, and what I really needed.  I also learned that shopping is used to celebrate or fill a void and neither one of those is a good reason to do it.  I shop less, with purpose, wanting zero excess.

I could regain control over my budget and debt.  A weird concept at first, but it's the latte factor in action.   I learned about this years ago and, although I don't buy coffee from a shop, this principle exists in everything we do.  Getting things on sale, emotional shopping, the thought that it's just one item.  Latte factor.  For me it was probably thrift store shopping - when no one item costs much - not trying things on, grabbing extra stuff that's not needed, etc...   The budget will take some time,  We have a priority of things that need to get paid off, a savings account that's currently empty and a retirement fund to dump into.  What's exciting is being more deliberate about spending and putting money into the right places and seeing that we're making progress.  Owning less and realizing you need less means spending less.

I really love a lot of what we have.  I just couldn't see it with all the crap in the way.  There was a point in minimizing that I wanted to set the house on fire and just start over.  But I would have lost the things I love.  We have art that we love, some of the Knick Knacks, and things the kids made we love.  Now we can see them because there isn't so much stuff in the way.  It was a pleasure to rediscover what we liked and wanted to keep.  It also helped me to not want to keep up with the Joneses.  Sure, I'd like a nicer, newer car that auto starts and heats my butt up in the winter.  At some point, we might upgrade my vehicle to a nicer "new to us" model.  But I really, really love my 1997 Toyota Forerunner with 280,000 miles on it.  Eventually, it'll probably become the vehicle the kid's drive, but until we're ready I'm going to enjoy it.  Other people can drive nicer cars - and pay for them - I'm OK being me. 

I needed to relearn to relax, be lazy, read books, and like downtime.  We're all so busy all of the time.  We wear it like a badge of honor as if there's something wonderful about not having enough time and feeling stretched too thin.  I learned to say no a long time ago, but I was still keeping myself busy.  An interesting thing happens when you slow down.  You have time to think and feel and it isn't always pretty.  I'm grateful I embraced it.  I learned I held on to anger that is unnecessary, I spent too much time being frustrated on social media, I'm overwhelmed by being busy, I didn't put time with my kids as high as I would like to believe I did.  Having less to clean, less stress, freeing up time, letting go of baggage, people, and things that don't make us happy means we have more time for things we enjoy.  It was uncomfortable for a while and it still has moments, but I'm loving the downtime without the guilt.  I'm looking into meditation, using weights again in the mornings and I'm ordering a reading program for our 5-year old that I used with the older kids.  I downloaded books to my kindle and I look forward to sweatpants and a movie.    

Work is a necessity but I love what I do.  I'm blessed to have a job I enjoy.  It's not just a paycheck, it's a passion.  I love the people I work with as well.  They are like an extended family.  That doesn't mean there aren't days I'm not feeling it, or it's a no-stress job.  but it does mean that it's not at all a part of my life I wanted to revamp or change.  This is truly a blessing.  I don't know what the future holds, but I don't worry about it. 

Minimalism can be contagious.  My kids continue to go through their belongings and we always have a donation bag being filled up.  They are rotating clothes between each other and adding to the pile of giveaways.  When the bag is full, we donate it. When I had a lot to get rid of and it didn't sell, I mailed two boxes to my sister.  She was ecstatic to replenish her wardrobe and I felt good giving it to her.  There were more bags of donations that I brought to work.  This started everyone at the office on a mission to go through their closets.  We ended up bringing our bags into the office, going through each other, and doing a clothing exchange of sorts.  What remained was donated a block away to Big Brothers Big Sisters thrift store.  Our office is better dressed, wearing things we like and everyone has started minimizing to some degree.  Just being an example of minimizing seems to catch on.  I never told my kids they needed to get rid of things, they watched and started doing it on their own. 

Mixing and matching clothes gets more fun as time goes on.  I was so worried about owning less clothing, but it's true we wear the same things over and over.  What's really interesting is I didn't even wear my favorite things or the things that looked best.  I just stuck with some of the same items.  I can honestly say I really had no clue what was in my closets and dressers to some degree.  I don't have a traditional capsule wardrobe - keeping out only what I'll use for three months and packing the rest away.  I chose a number - 150 for right now - and I don't go above that.  I also started the trend of removing an item if I added one.  At first, getting rid of things was easy - stained, old, misfitting.  Then it got hard - sentimental, good brands.  Then it got humbling - trying everything on.  What happens over time is that letting go gets easier and easier until it really doesn't phase you at all.  It's just a shirt or a pair of pants.  I started getting excited about having more that I really loved wearing, that suited my style and fit great.  Now when I go through things, there's no emotion behind it because I learned that I won't miss anything.  Mixing and matching what I love is fun. Start downsizing.  What have you got to lose except the stuff you don't want.      



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