Thursday, January 29, 2015

Minimalism and Me: Decluttering


At noon today:

at 4pm today:
Oh my goodness, you guys. The instant that second shelf came out I felt like 20 pounds had just rolled off my shoulders. So odd. So freeing. Both of the kids do not like it.

This month, I signed up for the course "A Simple Year" because I wanted to explore minimalism and see whether it's for me. Decluttering was the first module and that makes sense because is the first step towards the simple life. I have been decluttering for years and expect to continue for many more.

I have always decluttered because 1) We don't use the stuff, 2) We don't need the stuff, 3) we don't have room for the stuff we don't use or need. Those are excellent reasons to declutter. But there is more.

There is choice.

As I cleaned the house and decluttered things during the January Cure, I realised that I am a minimalist only because my house imposes it on me. I have two coats--not because I only want two coats or because I can only afford two coats--but because my closet is so small--two coats is all that will fit --given the other three people in my house and their coats!

I have the kitchen gadgets I have--because that's all I have room for.

That's not really choosing. That's accommodating.

So, I thought, if I am going to choose minimalism, or the simple life, or whatever, then I need to make a space where I don't have it. I need to choose space--over display, over storage, over "usefulness."

Books from the shelves above were re-located to my library landing--and using the Kon-Marie method,  I weeded out these books to make room for them.

I'm on my way.


Anonymous said...

What a great insight. Our house is larger than we need, but has so little storage that I find myself somewhat in the same boat- accommodating rather than choosing. Clutter stresses me out, but what might be even more stressful is constantly being in "reactive" mode.
Have been reading and enjoying your blog for quite a while but I think this is my first comment. Thank you and please keep sharing!

Marian said...

This makes me smile for you :)

I get the same "freeing/20 pounds rolling off my shoulders" reaction whenever I finally manage to rid of excess stuff. I face resistance from my family too. My kids hardly ever see the need, or object to the process, or don't like the results. But I can't help but think that's just because they like the status quo (it gives them comfort, perhaps?) and they're probably actually breathing a little easier too, in a space that's less cluttered, even if they'd never admit to it ;)

Alana in Canada said...

@Sarah--thanks so much for commenting! Makes my day.

@Marian--I think you're right. They really do love the status quo. And I think, too, that it must be somewhat disconcerting to have no control over parts of their environment.

Paula said...

Oh Alana,

it is so nice to read your words!
We share the live in a small home.

I see you, loaded with energy, removing all the books from the shelves.

Today we took the many out boxes to goodwill, waste to the "garbage transfer station", where you dump electronics etc.

The funny thing though is: the apartment seems like it was before. I get used to "less" so fast! In other words: I get used to the extra units of air in the apartment in no time.

Thank you for taking photos. I always forget to take one before I start.

Have a nice sunday!

Alana in Canada said...

Paula--it is scary how fast we get used to the spaces around us. (And when the space fills up, we get used to that, too, I think.) We stop noticing how it affects us, I think, unless the change is quite dramatic.

I don't know, just thinking out loud.

So glad you got all your unwanted, unnecessary things out of the house! So glad I've made a new friend.

Rita Ramstad said...

I am not sure what I think. Your before picture looks so nice to me--tidy, clean, cozy. I am understanding why your kids prefer it to the after.

On the other hand, I understand exactly what you are saying about space and accommodation and the weight of possessions. I purged my own bookshelves at the beginning of this month, and it felt great. (80 books!)

I guess what I think is that minimalism is a journey, and that a necessary part of it is often stripping down to nearly nothing. Only then can we see/know what it is we value. We need the blank canvas.

Really enjoying/appreciating what you share about your process.

Alana in Canada said...

Rita, your comment reminds me of something I heard recently. Oftentimes, in order to find balance, or that "sweet spot" we have to experience what either side of it feels like. Clutter is something we feel all too easily in excess. It isn't often we let ourselves get to the point of having too little. (Or, if we do, we wouldn't wish it on anyone and it would be a hard choice to make.)

But, maybe, in a teeny tiny way, this is an example of the pendulum swinging a bit too far into the "too minimal" zone.

It is an interesting journey.

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