Friday, 25 March 2016

Minimal reach out

When I started writing my blog, I didn't expect people would read it. I hoped they would, but I didn't expect it. Turns out, people are reading it. And even better, some find value in my writings!

Eric West of reached out to me last Friday to let me know that one of my posts was featured on his website that day. He said he's actually featured my writings a few times on his site. How cool is that?! In his words: "... I really love your writing and I think you can inspire our readers." Thank you, Eric! I have to say I like his site, too.

Although many of us are trying to live the best life we can by simplifying it, minimalism's still not common practice. I don't know many people in my immediate surroundings who would call themselves a minimalist. Some are, just by their nature, like my dad was and some of the men I've dated. Others are applying some aspects of it. But I don't know of many who actively pursue it. So what do people like us do? We search for kindred spirits online for inspiration and support.

I'm very happy to be a part of it! I hope I continue to inspire you to live the best life you can in my pursuit of my best life.

P.S. - It's a short post this week. You'll understand why next Friday...

Friday, 18 March 2016

Odds and ends

A few years ago, I accompanied one of my friends to a condo the company he worked for owned near Montreal. He traveled between Ottawa and Montreal for work. When he worked out of Montreal, he lived out of that condo. I loved that place! It had only the required furniture and accessories a person would need to live comfortably, and a few decorative pieces. He'd only have to bring his clothes and toiletries with him. There was no clutter. Everything had a place. It was such a calm space.

Last week I wrote about how I didn't know why I've kept some of the things I've kept, such as everything that's in my bin of odds and ends. So I took action and made a digital inventory of everything that was in that bin and boxed it up. I then went around the apartment looking for other odds and ends that I could add to that box. My week has been busy, so I'm not done yet. This weekend, once I'm done going around the apartment in search for other items to add, I'll seal the box and write the day's date on it.

I struggled with some of the items, like an unused bottle of black shoe polish. Mr. Romantic, who happened to be sitting next to me when I was boxing things up, talked me through it. "Do you have shoes you could use it on?" "I do, but I don't wear those shoes." He tilted his head to the side and gave me a "reprimanding" look. "But it's still full!" I replied with a grin. "Is there anyone you know that could use it?" "Yes!" So I brought it at work to give to Paul. He wears black shoes at work and they get scuffed up. He was appreciative and offered to polish my grey and turquoise running shoes... Silly Paul!

The reason I made a list of what I put in the box is because I don't want to open it unless I know for sure I'll need something in there. I don't want to be tempted with an "oh but this might come in handy some day" feeling for anything in it. It'll be easier to get rid of the remaining items if I don't open the box.

I haven't quite decided how long I'll hold on to these things yet. Maybe a month. Maybe three or six. I know everything in there would be fairly easy to replace. The Minimalists' rule of thumb is if you can replace it for under $20 within about 20 minutes from your current location, don't hold on to it.

Even though I don't want to unnecessarily hold on to these things, I'm not quite ready to let it all go so quickly. So setting a limit on how long I keep the box will help. My goal is for my home to be so streamlined that it feels like that friend's company-owned condo. I'm sure I'll get there.

P.S. - Now about those shoes I don't wear. They're simple black leather pumps. I had bought them a while ago because I figured they'd go with everything and are classier looking than my running shoes. The problem is, I have sensitive feet. I haven't broken the shoes in yet. The day I brought the shoe polish to Paul, I also brought the shoes to work where I can wear them around for a little while, mostly sitting, and hopefully they'll expand a little to better fit my feet. If I can't make them work, I'll have to reluctantly give them up also. See... my minimalism isn't perfect.

Friday, 11 March 2016

What are you still doing here?

In 2015, I let go of many things. I didn’t really count how many things I kept or got rid of, but I think I can say that I purged about 75% of my stuff, if not more. However, I look around my apartment and think I could get rid of more things.

Odds and ends
I have a bin with odds and ends in my closet. I have no idea why I’m keeping these items. I threw them all in there because I didn’t really know where to put these things, and yet, I don't think I've ever used any of it.

When I set up my closet after moving in last September, I hung all of my clothes on the rod on the left side of my walk-in closet. As I wore items and washed them, I hung those pieces on the right. Some items haven't moved. There are also clothes in my dresser drawers that I haven't worn in about a year.

Furnishings and accessories
I have empty bins and baskets, a bookcase, a mirror, and a few lamps we no longer use that I’ve put away in the storage area.

Kitchen utensils
Many of my kitchen utensils are still in the box I set up earlier this year.

All of the hard copy books I’ve kept remain unread, except for one that I've been reading here and there for the past several months.

So what’s the deal? Why have I kept these things?
I think I just misjudged the value those items had for me. I went through a big purge. There was just so much to go through that it seems only normal to me that I’d have to make adjustments later on. Things I thought I’d use have gone unused.

I’ve also added to our furnishings since. For example, I bought different lamps that suit our new place better than the ones I already had. It all seems perfectly acceptable to me as long as I don’t hold on to the things that no longer serve me.

So what now?
Well, I'll re-evaluate my things again.

Odds and ends
I’ll box up the bin of odds and ends and write a date on it. If I haven’t used anything in the box by the selected date, it’ll be donated without further consideration.

I’ll remove the clothes that are still on the left side of my closet and start over again with what’s left on the right side. I know I haven’t worn many of those in a while either.

Furnishings and accessories
I’ll give these away before this summer.

Kitchen utensils
I’ll give my kitchen utensils another 3 months to prove their usefulness to me. Otherwise, they’ll also get donated.

I’ll read one every month or two, and then I’ll give it away once I'm done.

Final thoughts
It's not a failure, not even a surprise. Circumstances and people change. What seemed useful last month might be totally useless to me now. Time to give these things a new home. Let them be useful to someone else.

I've joined a "Buy Nothing" group in my neighbourhood. Mr. Romantic was the one who told me about these types of groups. It's an online group where you can donate or receive (ask for) items or services. No money can be exchanged for these things. It's a nice way for neighbours to help each other out and to meet. Now I'll get to contribute to the group, and maybe make new friends as I do so.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Little things

I've mentioned in January that 2016 is the year I get things done. Those little things that I've put off taking care of because they just didn't seem important enough at the time, but they've still been weighing on my mind.

Even though things have been difficult lately, I've been knocking things off of my 2016 to do list. I've taken care of my box of random electronic accessories, I've gotten my bus pass, and I've taken care of a few other random little things I didn't mention in that post.

I'm taking my time. In better circumstances, I'd probably be almost done with my list by now. But I've decided to cut myself some slack and just do a few little things here and there when I have the energy for it.

Along with the support of Mr. Romantic, My Awesome Friend Christy, my family and other friends, taking care of these things has been helping me through the difficult time. In life, it seems there are many things we can't control. That's hard for me to accept. But, taking care of the little things I can feels somewhat reassuring. It doesn't make the difficult stuff go away, but it helps me not dwell on it so much. Focusing on what I can control, helps. And the fact that they're done and crossed off the list feels like progress.