Friday, May 13, 2011

Minimalism: Step One

Inspired by blogs such as zen habits, Exile Lifestyle, The Minimalists, Marc and Angel Hack Life, and of course the desire to look at an immaculate house, I've decided to see how much I can "minimize" and truly embrace the minimal lifestyle. I mean, let's face it, if Lorelei and I are ever to become the truly counter-culture world travelers, we're not going to be able to drag along the large amount of crap- I mean belongings currently filling our 1,400 sq. ft. apartment. I knew it would be challenging, but I've been working on this list (some people have gotten their possessions down to less than 100 things) for a few days now and I've reached 400 and that's only off of the top of my head. Forget the things in drawers, in boxes and shelves I'm too short to see without a boost. I wasn't hoping to get down to 100 or even 200 but seriously, I cannot complain about money...ever! I keep a relatively clean apartment (some have called it sterile, but the OCD in me knows this to be a fallacy). Lorelei and I tidy up when needed and the dog knows better than to make more work for me so all in all, I've got it under control. So how did I end up with so much stuff?
Three years ago I became a divorcee. Neither my happiest time nor my most financially secure. With Grim determination, I found a job and a furnished apartment and packed up a sedan-worth of stuff to start my new life with my then one year old bundle of giggles. Towards the end of the lease and as Florida's snow bird season was kicking into high gear, I needed to find a new place and fast and the furnished places sky-rocketed in rent. I was in no position to turn up my nose at charity:
·         Church friends: kitchen setup and dining room table
·         Work colleagues: couch
·         Friends: queen size bed (shared with my daughter for the first several months)
·         Family: various tables, my TV from my first apartment out of high school that somehow made it back to my mother’s and a toddler bed from my sister
·         Myself: clothes and a few photos and albums
Making Something Out of Very Little
That was it: my little palace for me and the princess. Back then I didn’t call it minimalism; I called it poverty. But slowly I worked and saved and spent. Tax refunds, child support, over time; it all went to making our apartment a home. TJ Maxx, NY & Co., Target; I could afford to get another TV with my HSN discount. Lorelei got books and toys and I got sheets that weren’t hand-me-downs (I just tried not to think about it really). Present day – quite a comfortable little setup if I do say so myself. I still have some of the donations, some of which I donated myself to other people in need. My sister came through with a bigger bed for Lorelei when she outgrew the toddler bed and now we only sleep together when she wants to cuddle. I’ve managed to acquire more then I’ve dumped. And this bothers me.
I never want Lorelei to go without, but all of this stuff- we don’t need it. What we need is the cash that went into acquiring it. What we need is the peace of mind of knowing where everything is and that we are not living in a wasteful manner but a sustainable (not quite hemp crazy but) healthy way. Seriously! What do you say to a little girl who looks around a store and says, “Mommy, let’s get more stuff!” From the mouths of babes, right?
Step One: No More Stuff!
I love to shop. Especially for “useful” stuff like school supplies, kitchen gadgets and storage boxes. Anything promising organization – I want 10! But no more. Family and friends out there, “No more stuff please!” Unless it is going to replace something I already have that doesn’t work anymore, take that money and donate it in my name. Lorelei? Well, she’s a kid; and a darn cute one if I must say so I won’t deprive ya’ll of getting her fun stuff, just have mercy on the one who has to pick up after her.
Step Two: Purge, Baby, Purge!
I will not bore you nor embarrass myself by publishing my ever-growing list of stuff. I will however let you know of things I have deemed superfluous. Like sundresses I would never leave the house in or shoes with the heel worn off. Or five down comforters (not making that one up). Never fear, it will all go to a good place. No trash dumps. And the goal is not to replace it with more stuff. I may never get to 100 things or even 200 but let’s start investing and stop spending.
A few places to unload your stuff for a good cause
  • Freecycle - a network of local groups that post anything and everything from coupons to couches; all you have to do is call the poster (a normal yocal just like yourself) and come pick it up. The only requirement: it has to be free
  • National Furniture Bank - unwanted furniture for those in need
  • Salvation Army - heard of 'em?
  • Pick Up Please - they'll come to your house and take your unwanted clothes
  • any local church or charity - you don't want me to do all of the work for you, do you? Get Googling!
Or sell it
Happy Hunting from Bat Country

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