Category Archives: minimalism

The Great Purge

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Minimalism Project Update:

Well… I’ve been hard at work on this for 2 weeks now, so I thought it was about time I write up a little progress report.

It’s been a very emotional adventure!  I don’t think I own very much, for a single person, but what I do have is, in my opinion, quite nice.  I think it’s easier when you’re trying to get rid of “all that junk”.  I’ve certainly done that many times over the years.  I’m expecting my upcoming yard sale to be quite popular!  😉

I feel lucky to be able to do all this sorting in my sister’s house, where I can spread out my belongings, take pictures of those items I’d like to remember, and even get some use out of  favorite things.  One last enjoyment.  A goodbye.  It makes me happy.

OK…here’s the rundown…

Clothes:  Very easy to part with.  Practically everything I own is from thrift stores, really old, ill-fitting, or just not my style anymore.  I don’t like any of it (a few items notwithstanding).  Decided that this is a fine time to toss it all and redo my wardrobe with a few quality pieces that will travel well.

Shoes:  Easier than I thought.  Living with only 1 pair of shoes for two months was a good test for me.  So far, I’m down from 31 pairs, to 12 pairs + my bunny slippers. Still a work in progress.  I can do better.

Bags:  Two rubbermaid tubs  full of purses & various bags!  Luckily Timbuk2 cured me of my addiction. I’ve got it down to:  a brand new Timbuk2 netbook messenger (wore out my 1st one after 4 yrs use), a Haiku mini purse, and 2 small bags from Chile (good for blending in).  I rock!

Kitchen:  I thought this was going to be tough, as it seemed to be the bulk of my belongings, but then I realized,  if I ever need to stock a kitchen again, I’ll really enjoy shopping for new things! (hehe)  The only problem I’m having is deciding which ONE water bottle and/or travel mug to keep.  Way too many to choose from!

Household:  A little tricky.  There’s a few heirloom items that my Mom would kill me if I got rid of, so I’ll be asking her to store them for me.  There are also a TON of Chile memorabilia, which I think I will just add to my Mom’s collection as well.  All of this combined should fit into one rubbermaid, so shouldn’t be a big deal.  As for the rest of the art and decor, I’m happy to sell it.

Movie & TV DVDs:  Selling almost everything, except for a few of the good ones that I’ll just slip into my Dad’s collection.  No reason to get rid of all my Harry Potters!  😉

Music CDs:  Handed entire collection over to a friend.  Easy peasy!  🙂

Books:  Turns out this is the most difficult purge out of all!  I’m a bit of a book collector.  After almost two years in storage, I’d forgotten how many “new to me” books I haven’t even had a chance to read yet!  How many books do you think I can read before I head back on the road??  Yikes.  I probably need a Kindle, huh?  😦

I used to be a Book Collector! And I say "used to be" optimistically.

Furniture:  Luckily don’t have much.  Loveseat gone to a Craigslister.  Friends took my bookshelves.  Futon to my sister’s guest room.  Antique desk & cedar chest to my Mom.  Dresser & nightstand to be sold.  That’s it.

The unknowns:  Hand-me-down cruiser bicycle held together by beer label stickers, currently using.  And the love of my life – my Honda Scooter.  I don’t even.

+ + + + +

So there you go.

It’s a lot of work, but I am absolutely loving this experience so far.  Even with the tough choices and the occasional mini-heartbreaks.  I’ve also learned so much about myself with each question I have to ask my belongings.  Do I need you?  Do you add joy to my life?  What do I really need to be happy?  These little questions start huge conversations in my head, every day.  This has been good for me.  🙂

What would be hardest for YOU to part with?

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No Turning Back

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As it always seems to be with me, out of nowhere I decided to head back North to visit friends, check my PO Box, return my overdue library book, rent the smallest moving truck, and get all my stuff out of storage.

Since I had a ride back in the moving truck, I splurged on a Greyhound ticket! (Why is bus travel so freaking expensive in the US?? I mean, really.)  Oh well.  I enjoyed a nice 3 hour ride, chatted with some fun and random bus travelers, and even got to speak a little Spanish at the Denver bus station with a guy who was asking for directions.

What I was expecting to be more of a fun and relaxing time with friends, with a little packing thrown in, turned into a super stressful, overly emotional time for me.

I had a million thoughts, emotions, and to-do lists running non-stop through my head, the entire time I was there.  I certainly did a lot in a very short weekend.

  • It was great to see friends, but the time was too short.
  • Loved being able to get around without having to depend on other people – I could walk everywhere, or take the city bus, or ride my scooter (after I got it out of storage).
  • Felt the love at my Starbucks when the baristas remembered my name, my drink, and asked me where I’d been.
  • Warmed the barstool of my favorite hangout, caught up with my favorite bartenders, and got hit on by college students.
  • Had too many things planned, so only made it to one brewery.
  • Announced a visit to First Friday Art Gallery Walk as a vehicle to see a bunch of friends in one spot.  It was touch and go, but it worked out.
  • Stressed about doing so much in a short amount of time.
  • Realized the realness of the moment. No turning back.

Walked around town, loving all the sights and sounds of the place that became a real home to me.  Got consumed with all the wonderful memories I built there.

Which leads to the pain and heartbreak of second-guessing myself. Am I doing the right thing?  Why am I leaving a town I love?  Maybe I should just forget it all, stay and build my roots back up??

So then I think about what that really means.  Yikes!

  • I’d have to get whatever job I could find
  • Get a little apartment for all my stuff
  • Do the same old stuff, the same routine
  • Now all of a sudden, my future is looking horribly bleak

No no no, I can’t move backwards like that!

A really good friend of mine there has also been thinking about what comes next for her and we had some good chats about what it means to move on.  How do you measure the value of a place?  What are you really leaving behind?

I thought a lot about it.  And I’m not really “leaving” anything.  My real friends will still be my friends.  The town I call “home base” will still be there whenever I come back.  It’s not the end, it’s a new beginning.

I started to feel more motivated, got that fire burning again!

So I worked hard sorting through some of my belongings. Even had some friends come over to pick through and buy some things.  Of course, in doing so, I would actually see all my wonderful little things, relive the stories connected with each item, and lose myself in the melancholy of it all.  I would burst into tears at the oddest moments.  I would get annoyed and angry that I had to deal with all this junk at all.  I hate all this stuff!  Why can’t I just dump it all at the thrift store’s door?

Oh right…I need the money.

Sort, pack, sort, pack.  Have emotional beers with friends.  Go to bed late, attempt to sleep on a friend’s couch, have weird dreams, get up early again.

It was a rough four days.

My brother and sister drove up on Saturday to help me get the truck loaded up.  Three more friends showed up to help carry boxes.  We got the little truck and my sister’s car loaded up super quick!  A Craiglister came by to pick up my hand-me-down loveseat.  Took in one last meal with good friends.  And then headed South with all my worldly possessions.

Three of us unloaded everything into my sister’s garage in 15 minutes.

All of a sudden, in the large expanse of that garage, my few stacks of belongings looked very tiny.

But I am happy.

Now the real work begins.  Wish me luck!

A friend's portrait of my move

Spring forward!

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Yay time change!

This has always been my favorite time change of the year.  Why?  More sun!!!

In light of this “Spring Forward” season, I choose to work harder with my goal of moving forward with my goals – not backwards, sideways, or sitting still, but forward.  Nothing is going to happen if I don’t do it.

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”   — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lonely stuff

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“Stuff” has turned into a dirty word for me.  It haunts me.

My stuff has been sitting in a friend’s basement for 19 months, being all lonely.  I miss my stuff.  Well…I miss the idea of my stuff.  I had some good stuff.

(Could I say “stuff” any more times?! 😉 )

Anyway… back in January, I needed to get away for the weekend.  So I abandoned my big suitcase, packed a little travel bag, and took 4 buses and 9 hours to travel from northern Colorado to southern Colorado to visit family (CO is not big on their public travel options).  One thing led to another and that weekend turned into 5 weeks and counting!

*waves*

Obviously I packed light, for a weekend.  Here’s what I’ve been living with for the last month+:

  • 1 brown t-shirt
  • 1 white short-sleeved blouse
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 brown fleece sweater
  • 1 black hoody
  • 1 cream corduroy coat, w/ matching scarf, hat, gloves
  • jammies & slipper socks
  • some undies & 3 pairs socks
  • 1 pair black Dansko walking shoes
  • bathroom bag with travel-size necessities
  • hair brush & flat iron
  • netbook & external drive
  • little blue journal & pen
  • 1 library book (overdue now!)
  • camera (forgot the cord)
  • cell phone & charger
  • small travel duffle bag
  • and the ever-present messenger

My constant companion

I’ve been living out of my big red suitcase for a year & a half (which some may think of as extreme in itself), but now after living for over a month with 20-some items, minimalism is sounding so much easier!  Except I wouldn’t mind having more than 2 outfits, and another pair of shoes!  I really could have used my winter boots during the month of February, just sayin’. Oh, and a hairdryer would be nice.

Looking forward

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Sometimes I start to worry about my lifestyle decisions, listen to the nay-sayers, second-guess myself.

Good or bad, it forces me to imagine the “what-if’s”…

  • I could return to any of those crappy jobs that may or may not pay well, but guaranteed to suck my will to live.
  • I could get an apartment again.  Decorate it with the few things I own.  Enjoying the process for a bit, and then sitting there all alone, with no idea what I’m doing.
  • Followed shortly by freaking out, and walking to the nearest bar or cafe for some social interaction.  Probably have some random guy hit on me.
  • Texting friends and wondering why everyone is always too busy to call me or hang out (*generalization – I heart the few who actually check in on me.)

The idea of going back to my old life stresses me out WAY worse than the nervousness of an unknown future.

So I look forward.  I imagine the completion of my minimalism project.  Packing my bags.  Getting more stamps on my passport.  Continuing with my world-wide education.  It takes me to my happy place.