LEARNING – the minimalist way

I’ve been doing some serious purging as of late. Attempting to do away with years worth of accumulation in one short week was probably not the most brilliant idea I’ve had recently. But that’s what I chose and that is precisely what I did. Boy, am I tired.

It is utterly amazing how much stuff we just accrue throughout our lives. I have been downsizing during every move I’ve made over the past five or so years and I still had an overabundance of material goods. I was able to sell the large items – the bed, couch, desk, shelves, etc. – through Craigslist. (Can we just take a moment to thank Craig and his magic list for making our lives so much easier? Thanks Dude.)

The rest of the stuff was a bit more difficult. I still had a rubbermaid tub full of architecture school supplies. I haven’t made a model in years – why was I hanging on to these old remnants of college? An attempt to hold on to the past? A hope to build more models in the future? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter – I had not touched or looked at them in several years and so they were also put up on Craigslist -the whole shebang, tub and all. And, they sold!

“Less is more.” – Mies Van Der Rohe

I also attempted to sell some clothes at local second hand stores. That didn’t quite pan out. I guess that’s what you get when you buy most of your clothes at goodwill to begin with. So they, along with many other items, went into the donation bin – to start a new life with a new owner.

Can I stop sorting yet?

I’ve made several attempts at various crafts in the recent past and I had the paraphernalia to prove it. There was sewing, scrapbooking, stamping, knitting… you name it, I think I tried it. Luckily, I have some friends who actually follow through on their crafting projects, so my attempts now have a new home. My crafty friends and I even had a weekly “Craft Night”. Occasionally there was an actual craft, but most of the time it was just chatting with a side of cackling over dinner and a bottle or two of wine. I am going to miss these ladies and our nights.

There were knick knacks and chotchkies galore (okay, maybe not galore, but there were a few). There were random holiday decorations, rolls of cheesy wrapping paper, an entire box of pens and pencils, an old cell phone or two, and for some reason there were about a bazillion paper clips. The sad thing is – I didn’t really use any of these things. But they kept moving with me each time, taking up space, and hurting my back hauling them up and down all those stairs.

I still have a bit of sorting and purging to do, but the bulk of the work is done. I am down to a couple of boxes and a few bags and the work will continue until I’m down to one backpack and one keepsake box. It has been very difficult to shed these layers of things, but ultimately it is incredibly liberating. But the question begs to be asked:

Why is it so difficult?

Why do we hold on so tightly to our things? How do we let these inanimate objects control our lives so much? I don’t know, but it is a very grueling battle to wage. It is us against our stuff. And unfortunately for most of us – the stuff is winning.

So what can we do to gain back the upper hand? How do you conquer your stuff?

Let me know – maybe we can all help each other.

“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.” – The Dalai Lama

Thanks for reading!


11 responses to “LEARNING – the minimalist way

  1. We do accumulate a lot of stuff and some of it we don’t look at or use for months and years at a time. Maybe we should all try a little downsizing and see how freeing it can be.

  2. How awesome to be able to do! I go through stuff and donate all the time and I have learned to ‘get less’ and keep it to what’s needed….my 1 current down fall is cutebaby stuff lol….I know how great is feels to clean 1 room like that so you’ve got to feel amazing!!!!! 🙂

  3. If I haven’t used in in 6 months to a year than I try to think, I obviously don’t need this and next donation trip this is going in it. I LOVE downsizing. Feels like less clutter and for me that means more relaxing.

  4. Thanks for the comments! @ Anonymous – yes I also feel like if I haven’t worn it, used it, or looked at it in the last year – it is free to go. @ Brenda – I can understand your downfall, that is a super cute baby you’ve got in your life.

  5. Rene, I completely understand about all those books and remnants from architecture school, I keep on telling myself I may need to reference something sometime and really we don’t reference our past much, it so much easier with everything being digital. I would say hold on to the truly meaningful and let go of the mundane. I truly have been inspired by you of late and am
    Planning a bit of a purge too myself! Good luck to u and safe travels!

    • Thanks Jason! You know, I write this stuff, send it out into the universe, and hope that it is doing someone other than myself some good. Thanks for the positive feedback. Happy purging!

  6. 14 years ago I lived quite happily in 194sf, perched under the roof in a typical Haussmanian building in the North East of Paris with a great view of the Sacre-Coeur. Followed a first crossing under the English Channel with a simple suitcase and a second over the Atlantic 7 years later with a wife and half a container in tow. Today, our house is about 1200sf and the family has grown to 4. We have stopped buying a lot of our guilty pleasures (books, dvds) but our daughters’ toy collection seem to be ever expanding (not so much by our doing, may I add) and though we have plenty of room, as well as options to be more space efficient, I cannot see us downsizing until the new birds have flown the nest. This could take a while…

    • Thanks for the comment David! I can just picture your quant little parisian attic apartment – sounds like perfection. It’s amazing how much your life has changed in 14 years.
      I think being aware of how much you need and consume is half the battle when it comes to downsizing. Gifts, especially ones for children, are a difficult aspect of the minimalist lifestyle. I tend to lean more towards consumable or experiential gifts, if I give any gifts at all.

  7. Pingback: LEARNING – bravery and fear | Repurposed Redhead·

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