inspired by minimalism

I've been reading books on Minimalism.

In the last few months, my home has been driving me NUTS. There is just stuff everywhere. I think it's the basement renovations that have kind of pushed me over the edge and found me kind of depressed about the mess and clutter.

Then about a week ago I read a really interesting article on minimalism and women's clothing. Apparently, in the not-so-distant past, the average woman used to own a measly nine outfits. Today's average is 33 outfits. I wasn't surprised. People shop, I get it.

But then I got thinking - I actually don't own much more than that really. I literally have one pair of jeans. I have a pair of yoga pants that I refuse to wear all over town because, come on, seriously. I have two pairs of dress pants. There might be a skirt in there somewhere that I never really wear.

That's, like, 5 bottoms.

When all my shirts are washed and hung up and all the hangers are slid together, they take up maybe 18 inches of the hanging rod.

I refuse to buy books when I can borrow from the library. I don't collect anything.

I convinced myself that I was totally not a hoarder. Sure, we buy things from time to time, but we don't have crazy spending habits. Then I got thinking that I really have been meaning to go through this house and declutter and organize.

Then I read a few more articles, and I ordered some (cheap) ebooks on the subject. I read all of those. I read some more articles. Then I had a garage sale to get rid of a few things that I'd pulled out of my house recently.

I really should have read the books before the garage sale. Because I have gotten really excited about getting rid of stuff. I did a few kitchen cupboards today, and brought up some new dishes that we've been storing  in the basement. I replaced a few old dishes, but got rid of more than I actually replaced. I admitted to myself that I didn't need four casserole dishes that were all the same size, regardless of whether we had room for them. I threw out a giant electric griddle that sometimes worked. I tossed an entire cutlery set into the pile. I ditched two frying pans. A lunch box. Salt and pepper holders. Some weird pickle dish I have never used. A bunch of coffee cups. I can actually put all my cups and glasses in the cupboard and don't have to gently wiggle the outer ones so they all settle back in before I can shut the door! I let go of actual brand name Tupperware, and I'm a total Tupperware person! I even admitted to myself that I didn't really need a giant banana shaped container that looked like a banana and held an actual banana. It felt so freeing! So therapeutic! It was so fun to empty out a shelf, get rid of a ton of what was in there, and put a fraction of the stuff back in!

Steven is scared. I started today just yapping away about the things in the kitchen that could go, and opening the cupboards to illustrate just how much stuff we never used, and the next thing he knew, I was sitting beside the island surrounded by stuff, a lot of which I handed him and told him to take away.

I did not finish the kitchen today. I did peek in a couple of more cupboards to plan my attack. Our conversations went like this:

One cupboard:

Tiffany: Okay, like in here! Look! I mean, do we really need a turkey platter? Are we turkey platter people? Really?
Steven: Yeah, but there's lots of room for it. We need some stuff.
Tiffany: Yes, there's room. That's not the point. Do we need it? Do we use it? And don't just quickly use it to prove we use it.
Steven:....
Tiffany: And look. This coke platter, really? It is really awkward in here, it takes up a lot of space.
Steven: . . . but, there's room. It's not even full!
Tiffany: You need to embrace the philosophy!

He loves when I said crazy stuff like that.

The next cupboard:

T: Okay look here. We have like, 9 chip bowls. We could keep the two nice ones, and those seven Dollarama ones could go. I could get rid of those...
S: Oh! We have (insert weird word only Steven knows here)! We can keep those!
T: Those have been sitting on the edge of this shelf for years. If you really wanted to use them you would have.
S: Well I can totally use those!
T: No. I got those at my bridal shower, eleven years ago. Don't now look at them with all your wishful thinking. We don't have room in our cupboards for your special wishful thinking items. We have room for only things we really use!
S: .... (just laughs)
T: Oooh, and these can go, and those and those, and that thing back there. I never did use that.
S: But that's like everything on that shelf. What's the point of having empty shelves?
T: It's nice to have space!
S: .... (I think he knows when he's been beat really)

The other day I cleaned off the top of my dresser. Then I texted him a picture of my dresser and a picture of his dresser for comparison's sake. Yesterday he decides he's going to tidy his dresser.

Steven dumps out a basket of random crap onto the bed. He starts picking through it and making it into piles.
T: Nooo! Don 't do that! You dump it out, you quickly just grab the things that really jump out at you that you want, you put those things back and the rest you just scoop into the garbage.
S:
T: No really. Stop sorting! Hang on, I'll get you the garbage.
S:
T: Here's the garbage.
S: (sort, sort, sort)
T: You're doing it wrong! Just scoop it into the garbage! You're over thinking! Stop making piles! Why are you sorting bolts? Just scoop it!

There has been a lot of this these last few days. It really would be easier if I could, in good conscience, just sort all his crap without him while he's at work.

Anyway, the whole point is basically summed up, in book after book, in article after article like this:
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value 
and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.

It sounds easy. Honestly, it's like anything else - I'll take from it what I need and want to use. I do like the way the books help me to see the stuff as just stuff. It's not as important as we somehow make it, when we constantly rearrange, store and reorganize. What's the point of having things buried in closets and kitchen cupboards and catch-all areas in neatly labeled (or not) boxes for years when you're obviously not using them? It just turns into so much stuff.

The winter before last I worked for New Directions here in town, in homes where people with special needs lived. The one thing that I really noticed about the houses were that although they were cozy and homey, and had a few decorations on end tables and some art on the walls, as well as a couch blanket or two and some of the people's personal items in display on their rooms, that there wasn't a lot of extra. It was nice. We did a lot of cleaning in those homes and it was so nice to clean a house that wasn't full of things that nobody used. Dusting and tidying and cleaning the floors is better when there aren't piles of papers gathering dust in corners, and storage containers full of old picture frames and candles crammed into closets in the basement. I envied the open space in the homes.

A home is supposed to be about the people, not the mountains of things. Things are kind of meaningless compared to family and experiences.

Anyway, wish me (and Steven, more importantly) luck.

Comments

Neodad said…
"Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people."
- Ferris Bueller
Tiffany said…
It all comes back to Ferris Buhler. lol

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