I’ve been on a minimalist journey for about 10 months now. It began with an Instagram challenge in January. You sell/get rid of/donate 1 thing on the first, 2 things on the second, 3 things on the third, and so on until you’ve gotten rid of 496 things by January 31. Throughout the month, I sold a few boxes full of books and movies to a local second hand book shop, making about $40 in the process. I donated bags of clothes I haven’t worn in a few years to my favorite thrift store, recycled old pans I no longer use because they rusted out, and sent a small container of hair ties and clips to my nieces as I didn’t need them after cutting my hair pretty short. I cleaned out my bathroom and donated to a local women’s shelter quite a few products that were barely opened. Somehow, I had A LOT of stuff stockpiled that I didn’t use, whether because I didn’t like it so only used it a couple times or forgot I had it as it was shoved to the back of the closet.
I get inspiration from the The Minimalists. They did a podcast back in June titled Mementos. After listening to it, I realized that I keep a lot of things purely for sentimental reasons. Example: I have four boxes I’ve moved from place to place without opening them first. The last time I opened one was 4 years ago. After hearing them discuss keepsakes, I finally decided to go through two of them. One box contained an impressive amount of photographs. I scanned most of the pictures onto the cloud and then shredded them. Others I mailed out to family and friends after I scanned them because I thought they needed to be shared. A few I kept because I wanted the hard copies. The other box had a lot of memories—gifts and mementos I’ve collected from friends, ex-boyfriends, special events, etc. Some of it was embarrassing and I couldn’t believe I still had it (hello journal from high school that needed to be burned). But most of it made me laugh or cry. I shredded old love letters and notes from friends that I hadn’t read in years. One of the love letters was from a “boyfriend” I had in junior high for a total of 4 weeks and 2 days. Want to know how I remember that so specifically? I wrote “Dated 4 weeks, 2 days” at the top of it. I thrifted the gifts I had received from ex-boyfriends. I threw away old concert tickets, play books, and so forth that no longer felt sentimental to me. But my favorite moment was when I found the butterfly that hung on my wall in many old apartments; My Godmother made it for me 16 years ago while she was in the nursing home. I decided to keep it and hung it back on my wall. It was an emotional journey going through those two boxes, but when I finished I had 1 photo album and a couple mementos saved. It felt like I closed the door on past relationships and memories that were no longer meaningful to me. I’ll go through the other two before the end of 2018.
Just the other day, I started going through my fall and winter clothes. Here in Alabama, we’ve only recently dipped below 90 degrees, so I’ve still been in my summer wardrobe. We’re now experiencing high 50’s overnight and 70’s during the day so I can finally break out the long sleeves. By the time I was done, I ended up with a whole bag full of winter clothes that either don’t fit or I won’t wear, as in I didn’t wear them last winter so I know I won’t wear them this year. I have 8 coats as well but can’t seem to part with any of them. I decided instead that if there’s one I don’t wear at all this winter, I will donate it next year, no excuses. I got rid of 12 bags/purses (one of my old secret shopping addictions). I currently use the same 4 bags on a regular basis (hot season, cold season, hiking, and hauling) and kept 3 others that I buried in the closet. Maybe I’ll use them again someday, though let’s be honest, most likely not which means I’ll be thrifting them next year when I clean out the closet again.
I’m nowhere near where I would like to be in regards to minimalism, but it’s a journey. I’ve never regretted getting rid of the things I parted with over these past 10 months. Most of it, I never realized I had and therefore wouldn’t ever miss it being gone. I don’t have the desire to be the woman who can move her entire life in the back of a Ford Focus hatchback, which is what I did when I moved from Minneapolis to Birmingham 8 years ago. But I also don’t ever want to feel like I need a bigger house to hold all my stuff; or a bigger closet anyway.
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