Posted in 30 Challenges, 30 Days, Challenge Recap, Minimalism

Modest Minimalism- 6 Lessons I Learned from 30 Days of Decluttering

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I recently completed my 30 Day Minimalism Challenge.  The challenge primarily followed the recommendations from Marie Kondo specifically highlighted in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up but also took inspiration from some of the other leaders in the minimalism movement.

In particular, I recommend:

After 30 Days I will confess that I have NOT become a ‘Minimalist.’  My house still is in varying states of clutter.  I have not learned the art of packing all of my possessions into a single carry-on bag or taking beautiful Instagram photos of a single flower on an otherwise empty white counter.  But, I have experienced a true change in how I view my possessions, and more importantly what and where I place value.  I recommend this experience to anyone willing to go outside their comfort zone and truly examine their stuff.

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Here are the 6 lessons I learned from my 30 days of going minimal:

  1. Don’t Fight the Process.  I tend to approach a lot of ‘movements’ sarcastically and am inherently skeptical to practices that are deemed ‘life changing.’  In my first cursory scan of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ it was easy to question the process and I rolled my eyes at the notion of holding each of my personal items and asking if they ‘spark joy’…BUT once I really committed to the process, my mindset changed. When I stopped fighting the process, it no longer felt cumbersome, and it actually became exciting to see how easy it was to shed the ‘stuff’.
  2. Focus on Now. As I combed through my closets, drawers, kitchen, office, bookshelf, and every knickknack in my house I found myself at times talking myself out of getting rid of certain items for various reasons.  Sometimes these items were kept for sentimental reasons, but other times they were saved from the donation pile because they were things ‘I might use sometime in the future’.  But when I did a mental inventory of some of the items in question, I realized that the bulky sweater that I haven’t worn once but have moved 6 times in the last 10 years because ‘I might need it when it is cold out’ or the salad Tupperware that spills whenever I put it in my lunch box didn’t have a future in my life.  It is easy to hold on to things for future use, and sometimes there is a necessity to hold on to certain items. But by focusing on what fits now, your style now, what you need now it prioritizes what you have.
  3. Be Respectful to Other People’s Possessions.  I set this rule for myself before I began my minimalism journey.  Living with my boyfriend, means living with his stuff…And he has a lot of stuff.  As I started creating piles of my stuff to get rid of, it became VERY tempting to just add some of his stuff to the ‘donate/throw away’ piles. But this was not his journey and I knew it wasn’t fair for me to take ownership of his stuff because of my new found motivation. Our compromise became an agreement that anything I found that I deemed ‘questionable’ or ‘undesirable’ would get placed in a pile on the kitchen table. He was encouraged to sift through the pile and reclaim anything he was not ready to get rid of.  This felt like a comfortable arrangement for us. It let me declutter without throwing him into stress.  Not everyone is going to be on a minimalism journey. Not everyone wants to get rid of their stuff.
  4. Save the Memories, Not the Stuff. I am a pack rat, holding on to mementos, trinkets, knickknacks, photos.  One of the things I was most nervous about going through the sentimental stuff I have kept over the years. How do you get rid of the blurry photos from your junior high field trip or your old college notebooks with illegible scribbles or training manuals from old jobs? Well, it turns out it is pretty easy. Memories aren’t intrinsically tied to these items.
  5. Make it Personal. On the other hand, (and for the same reason I did not make decisions about my boyfriend’s stuff) only you can know whether something truly holds a value to you.  Sometimes this isn’t based on logic but love.  Sometimes you hold onto things because they just are an intangible part of you.  There are some things I will never give away. They have no monetary value but I love them… my torn and faded ‘Second City Improv’ shirt from Chicagomy old sketchbooks... my t-shirt quilt.
  6. Love People, Use Stuff… Because the other way around doesn’t work. This is a simple lesson that sometimes we just need to remember. Stuff shouldn’t trump people.

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 10/10!  This really was a life changing experience. It was enjoyable and eye opening.

Success in Completing Challenge: A-, I may not be a ‘Minimalist’ but I fully embrace the practice minimalists follow.

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge (beyond 30 days): EXTREMELY! It’s calming to go through my house and declutter. Like Lin Manuel-Miranda says a la Hamilton “this is not a moment, it’s a movement’.

 

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, Minimalism

Staying Fit and Going Minimal

I am about 19 days into my challenge to Get Fit.  After a few early stumbling blocks, I now feel pretty confident in my progress, not necessarily in terms of weight loss or skinnier mid-section but rather in overall feeling and well being.  I have been working out every day, whether that is weights or swimming or treadmill.  I have also been diligent in not eating junk food.  It’s funny because I don’t really even miss it at this point, so I will consider that a success.

On a separate note, I am a few days into a new challenge this month to ‘go minimal’. I already feel like this challenge (perhaps more than any other challenge I have tried to date) can actually become a lifestyle change.  Already have been able to do an initial purge with about 6 bags of stuff donated to Good Will.

Minimalism is a whole movement. In my interest in going minimal, I did some initial research and found some helpful resources like the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  There is also a website I like about becoming a minimalist.

I will be honest, I like stuff. I have really had to come to terms with that aforementioned love of stuff.  Through this challenge my goal is not to truly adopt the title of ‘minimalist’ but there is an intoxicating pull to minimize and focus on what is most important.  I don’t intend to become one of those fancy people in a stark white, super urban apartment with soft lighting and a single utensil in a drawer.  I am not getting rid of everything so that my life can fit in a bag, but I am eager to simplify.

By minimizing, my larger goal is to reduce clutter and refine my focus. I plan to do this by adopting several of the most popular minimalism techniques and going through every part of my house to determine what I am holding onto unnecessarily. What stuff is important and what stuff is just stuff?