Becoming Minimalist: Eliminating Junk, Gaining Freedom

Clutter. It tends to creep slowly into our lives, despite our best intentions. Having grown up with a mother who had hoarding tendencies, I developed an aversion to clutter early. This will be a valuable trait while planning our downsizing to tiny house proportions.  When I think about how much “stuff” we’ll need to eliminate to live a tiny lifestyle, I’m relieved we have time on our side, yet I’m anxious to feel free from unneeded possessions.

It’s not that I’m without my own “dirty little secrets” — the armoire that once housed the large TV is now home to an assortment of junk that doesn’t have another place. It seemed like a perfect pairing: an entertainment center that was no longer needed, with junk that didn’t have another place.  Where else would you store 300 or so candles?  Ok, so maybe there’s a little of my mother in me.  To my defense, most of those are tea lights.

Today I was inspired to start getting rid of things I didn’t use. I started in the obvious spot: my own dresser. I realized a while ago that I didn’t know what was at the bottom of my t-shirt drawer. I seemed to be wearing only what was on the top third, but this could be because I live mostly in black t-shirts and denim. (Doesn’t everyone need 15 black t-shirts with varying sleeve lengths and necklines?) I was able to cut my t-shirt inventory in a third at the first pass, and yes, most of what I donated was non-black. I’ll revisit this drawer later, but my strategy for this first pass is to just get rid of the obvious: if it hasn’t been worn in the last year, it goes.  If I forgot I even had it, into the donate pile it went.

The next pass will be more challenging, but it feels great to get rid of the obvious things that are just taking up space. In the first pass, I was able to get rid of 23 t-shirts, and although I wasn’t targeting anything else today, I was on a roll and grabbed 3 sweatshirts, 2 sweaters, and 2 pair of pants. And, to avoid changing my mind, I ran right down to Goodwill and made the donation — 2 paper grocery sacks full of clothes, and that was from only 2 of the 4 drawers of my dresser.  I imagine we’ll be getting to know the Goodwill Donation staff pretty well over the next few months!

MinimalismWhile I feel invigorated by getting rid of just a small amount of unneeded items, I imagine the decisions around paring down will become more difficult as we continue the process of simplification. I’ve challenged myself to look at things with new eyes, and redefine what is a “want” and what is a “need”. I’ve decided it’s ok to want something if it is useful and fills a purpose (black t-shirts), or is simply something of beauty that makes me happy (artwork), but there must be a limit.  We long to live intentionally: to have what we need, and to need what we have.  We will get there, and I’m looking forward to the journey.

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