This post is a bit different than my others and is going to set the stage for my posts moving forward. No more gimmicky stuff. I really just want to share with you what’s going on in my life, what’s working for me, what’s not working for me, and everything that I am using to fuel the positive changes in my world.
You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been on a bit of a writing hiatus throughout the month of February and I want to give you some background into what I’ve been doing and how I found myself there.
So, in true New Year’s resolutioner fashion, I began to drastically change my life — I made the decision to focus my life and I was going to do it. I made the decision to focus the things that I surround myself with and made the decision to choose what I wanted to focus my time on. So, I began to minimize.
Mission 1: My electic and cluttered apartment
For most of my life I’ve been a pack rat. It wasn’t until just a couple of years ago that I got rid of the little Brownie vest I used to rock in my Girl Scout days back in 1998 (note: that was 2016). Though, I wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder, because I still had the incredible ability to find a place for everything, even when I lived in a shoe-box size apartment. Now that I’ve moved into a bigger place, I, of course, had more room to start accumulating even more. So, that’s exactly what I did.
More space = more stuff.
Now that’s the ticket.
(We’ll go into why this mindset is horrible a little bit down the line here…)
But by golly, did I do a good job of filling up this 575 square foot space right after I moved in. I’m talking two couches, a coffee table, a dining room table, three bookcases, three end tables, two dressers, a desk, a bed side table, and, almost forgot, my bed. Phew. Talk about some heavy lifting come move day… and that’s just the furniture! I was absolutely convinced that for my apartment to look homey and lived in, that I had to fill the space. Even the amount of stuff on my walls had to be maximized or I thought it looked bland. I was living in a clutter trap.
So, here I am, about 20-25 trips to Goodwill later (my boyfriend thinks I’m platinum status now), after selling numerous items on the Facebook marketplace, and purging at least three garbage bags full of clothes.
Why minimalism? Why now?
Why would someone one day decide that they want to get rid of half of their belongings? (I’m not kidding when I write half.) Well, I felt like my world was closing in on me.
As I looked around my apartment, I saw books I’d never read, an extra couch I’d never sit on, and pieces of art that I just kept around because I paid for them at one point in time (just to name a few examples.) After hearing about the art of minimalism, I decided to do some research. From here, I watched a few YouTube videos and was directed to the book Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki.
Now, our guy Fumio is an extreme minimalist. I’m talking along the lines of he can literally pack-up and unpack his whole apartment in a matter of 1.5 hours… Yeah, he goes pretty hard for minimalism, a wee bit too hard for a lot of us, BUT he has only what he needs! I am so impressed with the amazing job he does outlining minimalism and the true benefit of it in his book. I highly recommend it.
Decision fatigue is real
I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of decision fatigue, but this is a real thing! We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded by decisions. What to wear, what to eat, how to workout, if we should workout, what our hobbies should be, do we want to pursue a new hobby, the line of questioning is seemingly endless. And, all of those questions can hit us in just one day.
Fumio talks about honoring what you need in your life and reducing decision fatigue by getting rid of the decision-making process all together. A fine example that he talked about was the uniform that Steve Jobs used to where. I don’t know if you’ve seen a picture of Steve Jobs, but he’s wearing the same thing every time: black turtleneck, Levi’s, and a pair of sweet, white New Balances. And, he did this for the exact reason that I’m talking about — reducing decision fatigue. The less time he took picking out his clothes in the morning, the more time he had to create a mega-multi-million dollar enterprise.
After getting rid of three garbage bags full of clothing that I was forcing myself to wear (maybe once a month I’d put it on) or keeping for someday (when am I going to a black tie event again?) I have significantly reducing the amount of time it takes for me to put on an outfit in the morning. Adios, outfit decision fatigue!
How I decided what to keep and what not to keep in my closet
Why, The Curated Closet you see! In the building that my boyfriend lives in, there is a mysterious book fairy that leaves advanced reader editions of books in the lobby. On one fateful day, he picked up The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees and gifted it to me (what a sweetheart, I know!) This fantastic book is what helped me to start picking out the clothes that work for me and not against me.
Anuschka, like Fumio, is also a minimalist (what are the odds?!) and preaches the gospel of less. In her book, she takes you on a journey of wardrobe self-discovery. She doesn’t teach you the styles that will work across the ages or the staples that you should keep in your fashion arsenal. It’s all about picking out what you have that works for your body, your taste, and what works together! I don’t know if you’ve been on Pinterest (<3) lately and have seen the “capsule wardrobes” that are commonly featured, but this is exactly what she’s getting at. Creating a wardrobe that works with itself, so that you can mix and match quality items that you have fewer of, instead of having to buy a pair of pants and shoes to go with that one top that you thought stood up to the latest trend test.
But, I didn’t stop in my closet. At this point I started to go room by room and eliminate what I no longer needed.
Taking my bed off the frame at 9:30 p.m.
That is exactly what I did. At 9:30 at night I was reading about minimalism and our constant need to fill empty space. One spot that I realized was just a crap catching cave was under my bed. So, at 9:30 at night I decided to take my bed off the frame and move everything that was being stored under my bed to the walls. Did I have a spot to put everything at the time? No, but I knew that if I didn’t give myself the space I would figure out how to live without it. Thus, bed frame is now disassembled in storage and my box spring is now directly on the floor. No more bed squeaks and I no longer have to worry about finding dried up cake puke under my bed weeks after it happened (you know what I’m talkin’ about cat owners.)
Anywho, this was one of the many steps that I have taken to minimize my bedroom. Some other steps I took were: getting rid of one of my dressers, buying a regular size laundry basket and getting rid of the huge hanging organizer, moving my tall dresser into the closet limiting the amount of hanging clothing space I could give myself, getting rid of my bed side table, moving my desk into the living room, and installing a hanging shelf to act as my new minimalist nightstand. In addition, as a self-proclaimed happy hooker (I crochet), I now have my yarn collection lovingly displayed in a metal basket in the corner of my room instead of in a tote hidden under my second dresser. Now, I look at it and see a new sense of crafty possibility instead of never seeing it at all.
When I decided to completely overhaul my living room
One day I looked around my living room and decided that I wanted to take control of the room that felt like it was closing in on me. Between the two couches, three bookcases, three end tables, and dining room table set — my living area felt heavy. My first thought was: “What if I just removed the backs of my tall bookcases? That will give it an airy feel, right?” ERRT. Wrong. What that really did was make the already battered shelving now look like it was about to crumble to the floor. Thus, the continuation of their destruction ensued and they made their way down to the dumpster.
What in the heck did I do with everything that was living on their shelves? I found them new homes or got rid of it. The amount of art that I had covering my walls and living those shelves was really just may way of projecting to the world “I’m artsy and whimsical!” and really only functioned as that. A lot of what was there didn’t bring me any joy and didn’t bring any value to the space. So, I chucked it.
Getting rid of one of the comfiest couches I’ve ever sat on (and all the other crap that was living in the living room)
The day I decided to get rid of my massive couch was a harder day for the people who I’ve had over to sit in it than for myself. It was massive. Without cushions on it, it was basically a twin size bed. But, it didn’t go with the mid-century modern vibe that I was jivin’ for, so it had to go. That also goes for the old timey antique end tables, florally, metallic throw pillows, and even the dining room table that I had used to entertain guests maybe 3-4 times in the past nine months.
One of the lessons from our guy Fumio that really stuck with me was the idea of paying rent for my stuff, not for me, just my stuff. I work over 40 hours a week most of the time. I commute for at least an hour a day, and also workout four days a week. When it’s nice out, I play outside. I love to be active and experience new things and explore my city and other places around me. I’m basically only in my apartment and awake for 6-7 hours a day. That’s around 42-49 hours a week and only around 25% of the time in an entire week.
According to that math, I am paying hundreds of dollars a month to spend only 25% of my time awake and in my apartment. I don’t know about you, but sounds like I should be minimizing the amount of money I am spending to pay rent for a bunch of stuff that is alone most of the time.
The emotional attachment to my dishwasher
For those who know me, they also usually know my serious and committed (now committed-ish) aversion to doing dishes. In my old apartment, I didn’t have a dishwasher and you want to know what happened? My teeny, little kitchen became a wasteland of crusty bowls, smudged spoons, slimy pots, and protein shakers that smelled like they could knock someone out… Ya, I was pretty gross. Here, in my new digs, I have been blessed with one of man’s greatest inventions (besides peanut butter): the dishwasher.
I can count the number of times I have hand washed my dishes on one hand (see what I did there?) since moving into this sacred dishwasher laden space. Tonight being one of them. Why the change of heart? Well, most of the less expensive places that I am looking to move into do not have dishwashers. So, I decided I was going to need to make a change.
To incentivize this new habit to take shape, my boyfriend suggested in cutting down the number of dishes that I actually had available to use on the day-to-day. After taking a hard look at my cabinets, I purged. I am now down to two plates, two cereal bowls, two ramicans, and two salad bowls. Cookware? I now have one large pan, one large pot, and a cast iron skillet. By significantly pairing down the amount I have available, it’s inevitable to have to wash them each day to even have something available. From now until move day, I will be observing the “do not use” sticky-note that I have lovingly placed on the dishwasher that has done so good by me…
Why less is more (money)
So, here’s my new goal, to continue to downsize the stuff in my apartment until I can fit everything I own comfortably into a tiny shoe box size apartment that was once my home — without wishing that I had more space. As I said waaay up there at the beginning of this drudgery, I am looking to focus what I am spending my time on. Some of that includes, but is not limited to, traveling, going to shows, buying tickets to things, and cooking good quality food that would cost a fortune at a restaurant. Pay less in rent = have more to save for the fabulousness of what this beautiful world has to offer.
Oh, also, the more I get rid of, the less I have to pick-up and move to my new apartment in a few months. There’s no longer going to be five armfuls of pillows getting moved out of this apartment! (Side note: throw pillows are unitaskers, get some throw blankets instead and get rid of the pillows — need a pillow for your nappy-poo? Roll up the blankie and snooze with your new customizable, comfort pillow. <3)
Here’s to less stuff and more freedom
As I got rid of more and more and acknowledged the reasoning behind why I needed all the extra junk in my life, I felt so much weight being lifted (literally). I found that it was easier to find things, I wasn’t having to constantly decide what kind of style I wanted to embody that day, and the thought of moving to a smaller, less expensive place has become more and more comforting.
Today, I sit writing this in a place that I feel like is customized just for me: has just the stuff I need and some things I want that make me happy when I look at them. This hasn’t been easy, but with the help of Fumio, Anuschka, and all the other cozy minimalists out there I have been able to tackle what has seemed like an impossible feat. Today, I am free from the need to keep up with the imaginary status quo of more stuff and focus instead on what I need and what brings me joy.
This has been an incredible journey this past month and I feel like I still have so much to share along my journey to focus my life. I’ll be sure to share more of my findings with you as I continue down my path!
Have you been minimizing your life? What minimalists have inspired you? Share with me in the comments. 🙂