Monday, January 14, 2013

eternal sunshine of the minimalistic mind

"The things you own end up owning you". Daily, I go back to this quote from the film Fight Club. It's still an internal battle but everyday it gets easier and easier to let go of..."things".
In October of 2008 I went through a life changing experience (more on that some other day). Then, in response to my LCE, in December of 2008, I packed up the most important "things" I owned into my tiny Porshe Boxster and drove from Dallas, Texas to Los Angeles, California. The weight was lifted and I didn't turn back or miss the "things" I left behind.
The day I left, I decided I would never again let things accumulate, clutter physical space mind.
I didn't realize how much anxiety and wasted thought "things" caused. I had 2 large closets full of clothes and shoes. Shamefully, some still with tags on them. There was furniture and decor I didn't love all around me...taunting me every morning and the last thing I saw every night. Frames, electronics, bedding, make up, craft supplies and filing cabinets full of past correspondence, bills, paperwork and junk I thought I would need again one day.
When I arrived to my new 14 x 11 single living space, I jumped onto my donated bed, Sponge Bob Square Pants sheets (also donated) and wept. The heaviness was gone.
This is freedom.
I now live in a small 2 bedroom condo with my little family. We are clutter free and happy.
But why are we so happy without tons of "things"? My husband said it best one day, "I only want the best of the best of the things I need or truly enjoy". Simple. He was right. Why have 3 pairs of denim jeans instead of one, very durable, comfortable pair that you love? Why have loads of photos up that you don't look at and do not enjoy? Why have a cluttered room full of toys your children do not enjoy anymore or do not care for? Why not have only the essentials and the "things" that truly bring you joy?
Here are some things I do to keep clutter free. I'll start from the "things" that have the most potential to clutter, to the least. Well, at least for me, this is how it goes...
Toys-They accumulate so quickly and before you know it, you have stuff animals all over the bed and bits and pieces of toys in every part of the house.
Here's a trick I learned from my best friends mom who has been a daycare owner for over 20 years. Rotate the toys your children love. Half the toys out, the other half is put away into a small storage space and rotate these toys every 6 weeks. It works. Every time we go through the rotation it's like my little one is seeing the toys for the first time! Now, I don't know how long this will last but for now, it works! It's space saving, economical and clears the crazy toy clutter.
We only keep toys that she truly enjoys or has a deep meaning to her. Like the little Nemo stuffed toy she carries around everywhere. It really makes her happy and is comforting to her. It stays. The stuffed bear your friend bought two Christmas' ago that she doesn't even look at? Gone. Donated. It moves on. Don't keep "things" because it may hurt someone's feelings if you don't want or need it anymore. People understand wanting to clear clutter, they don't always understand your anxious personality from having a cluttered home.
If you are planing on more children, only keep your favorite "things"..."things" that brought real value to your child's life. Donate or sell everything else. Yes, that means the sweater your grandmother knitted for her that you didn't really care for, the plastic noise making toys she played with for a few days and now using them as step stools, the painfully tiny "things" you step on and throw across the room and the shoes you bought that you thought she would like but she didn't...she took them off every chance she got. As cute as they are, they go too. So, now you should have a large shoe box of your favorites. So far, I have about 3 boxes...NB-6 months, 6-12 months and a box for the now. If we decide or can not have anymore children, they will be donated. Done and gone. 

Paperwork- This is a hard one because you get paper "things" everyday. Receipts, mail, and just general paperwork your suppose to keep..."just in case".
Go paperless for banking, insurance and investments but have a special spot for very important "things" like your marriage license, birth certificates, social security cards, trust documents and passports. This is a folder you keep very safe and hidden. Other papers, like important bills and medical correspondence can be scanned (I do this with an IPhone app) and filed in your email box marked "household". You can also ask people who give you these annoying things to email them to you! Yes, most people now know how to email. Stores like Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters can email you your receipt. Can you imagine how much space, trash and trees they have saved by doing this? If you do have a physical receipt and think you may need it to exchange or return something, keep it in an enveloped marked current receipts and have it in your wallet or purse. But now that you are more clutter free and more thoughtful of the "things" you buy...hopefully there are very few receipts in hand.
As far as mail goes, first, request junk mail to stop. Write "return to sender" on the "You are now eligible for blah blah blah" junk mail you received and ask them not to send you any more mail. Call the 1-800 number given on most mail to stop the solicitation. It's a pain in the butt to have to take the time to do that but it's worth it when you open a mail box to only a sweet letter from your cousin who still believes in handwriting letters or a primitive paycheck. Yes, some company's are still behind and do not really understand the importance and value of direct deposit.
Clothing- Clothes, shoes, accessories, keep it seasonal and keep the best of the best. To keep things out that are season appropriate is easy, not being a fashion slave, is hard. I love fashion, I am a outed fashion slave but I keep it simple. I buy my favorite "thing" of the season and I wear it until it just cannot be worn anymore. Then I pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it as much as I did. Most "things" I have in my closet are timeless. For example, a little black dress, wool coat, grey scarf, plain white tank and strappy nude heels. These are all Porshe trip worthy. Everything that is not in season is under my bed in storage. If by chance I do need something bright and neon in the Winter, I can easily access it and put it away when I'm done with it. But remember, this storage is small...only my favorite, timeless clothes. Trendy things (p.s. I don't spend more than $25 on anything that is very trendy and will not be used the next year) is given away after I have no more use for it. My closet is organize and small. There's not a lot in there but the "things" that are in there are durable, of high quality and loved. This goes that same for my little one. It's tougher to keep things minimal for her because she is constantly given clothing from family (grandmothers are the best but they are relentless baby shoppers) and friends. I started by telling the Yaya's (grandmothers) to stop buying and if I need something for her, I'll let them know. But wow, when they get the "hey, she needs" call...they are all over it! Tell your friends and family that instead of clothes and toys for her birthday or Christmas, plan out a special day out with her! Tell them you are so blessed that there isn't anything you guys need. You want to collect memories, not "things". If you are in need of something (like white long sleeve onesies...they are the best in the winter), let them know. Not everyone but people who really really feel better buying something. I have a sweet friend who honestly is a born shopper and loves it. She gets the inside scoop on the needs, no one else really. Now, the husband...if he is anything like mine he is practical and does not accumulate any clothing that is not needed. Easy peasy. I do have to go through his part of the closet (yes, we share one small walk in closet) and I look for holes and stains. But other than that, he's not too attached to anything. I love that.
Junk drawers- The drawer you put things into that you will use or think you will need to use later. Batteries, coupons, nails, scotch tape, tissue paper, markers etc.
Give all these things a home. Take the time to go through everything and give it all a place and always put that "thing" back to its given space. I have a box for arts and crafts. It's small and I do use it every now and then. This is where my scotch tape, tissue paper, scissors and markers go into. We have small drawers for household handy dandy things...nails, hammer, etc. Coupons are very minimal as you become more minimal minded. Pennies and change go into the LO's piggybank and now your junk drawer is a well organized go-to drawer that is not hard to close or open. Awesome. 

Food- This is easy. Watch an episode of Hoarders. Done. You will go through your food and will buy fresh food for weekly consumption. My husband calls this, "The Spanish Way". We typically get our fruits, veggies and bread from our local farmers market every Sunday. This food is organic and free of GMOs, so it expires quickly. We preplan our meals for the week and buy that way as well. It's easy, it's economical (we rarely have to throw out food), and its good for you!
Your purse monster- Every woman I know has this a purse monster in their lives. It's clutter free one day then the next day you find used tissue, a yo-yo, lipgloss that doesn't belong to you and a receipt for 7 years ago? The purse monster visits you daily. Be on the look out. Keep a daily routine of clearing it out when you have that one minute to spare. No more paper cuts for you when you go for your keys.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.