Minimalism Mini-projects

Hey all!
I have been elbow deep this week in teaching, skiing, and loving on my family… It’s been great!

But now, it’s Sunday night and I want to be productive. But only for, say… 10 minutes. 😉

I wanted a small and manageable project to tackle tonight and after the crazy Broncos game, my brain is fried. I went onto Pinterest and typed in “minimalism project” and found my new favorite blog!

Irene writes “Compulsively Quirky,” and her most recent post is about rethinking the junk drawer. It’s a great post, with an interesting idea of re-naming the drawer to create more purpose. Loved it!

As I browsed around her blog, I came across another post that I want to mention, because it’s about something we have been doing for months now and man, do we love it. She writes about creating an “eternal donation box.” We actually have two… one for my clothes that my daughter grows out of that will be heading to my niece, and one for the Arc when they come for their next pick up. I think it is key that these boxes are easily accessible, to make it as simple as possible to toss something in them, but also out of the way, so they do not create visual clutter.

For us, this means that the box for my niece is on the floor of the linen closet, which is right outside my daughter’s room. The Arc donation area is actually the bench that we keep at the foot of our bed. We have lots of room in there to fill up before the next pick up.

I’m off to tackle the Junk- I mean Utility Drawer!:)
Have a great night!

How and why to let go…

I’ve been there.

You’ve been on a decluttering roll.

You are starting to see some progress! You have purged your closet. Then purged again. You are not yet where you want to be, but you are on the right path. You’ve trashed all the damaged stuff, donated all the ill-fitting stuff, taken bag after bag to goodwill. But off to the side of your closet, separated from the clothes you need, use, and love, is a little group of hangers, or a little pile of clothes. Or maybe it’s the kitchen and it’s a little stack of dishes.

These are the things that you just can’t let go because they are BRAND NEW or (to be read in my mother’s voice) REALLY GOOD QUALITY.

SURELY you can’t just throw these things in a donate box. They must have a greater purpose! You have Grand Plans! Sell them on Craigslist to make a little cash, donate them to a special cause, find a friend who needs them!

My amazing-in-every-way cousin, who you would definitely want to be your best friend if you ever met her, emailed me with this exact question. She has some brand new items that she says “have been in a pile in my room forever because I don’t know what to do with them!”

So, here is my take on it, Cuz!

1. LET GO OF THE GUILT.

I get it. You spent hard-earned money and you regret it. But no matter how long you hang on to these items, you will never, ever get that money back. Quit punishing yourself and let it go. If you need permission, you have it. I’m giving it to you on behalf of your sanity. 🙂

2. REMEMBER THESE THINGS ARE CONTINUING TO COST YOU EVERY DAY.

You already spent the money to purchase these items. It turned out to be a waste. You feel bad, and so you hold on to them. But just remember… by holding on to these items, you are allowing them to continue to cost you. It is likely that every time you see them you are reminded of your wasteful decision and forcing yourself to feel guilt. Cut your losses, forgive your error, and get that thing out of your life. So you wasted some money…it happens. Quit wasting your time and energy too!

3. WANT YOUR STUFF TO GO TO A GOOD HOME? GIVE IT A TRY AND THEN HAVE FAITH.

I have two main methods of getting rid of things that are more difficult to let go.

1. For some items, I post them on Facebook. These people are all my actual friends, and I would be thrilled if anyone could use any of them. Very often, a friend contacts me immediately about how much she could use the item I posted, and I leave it out for them to pick up the next day. Everyone wins!

2. I schedule pickups with the ARC. It usually take about 2 weeks from your call for them to pick up your items. After two weeks, anything that is laying around in one of my “I am totally going to sell this on CL pile” gets put with the ARC pickup pile! Then, I just have a little faith that these things will get to someone who needs them. I remember that when I was a young and very house-poor teacher, finding nice work clothes at Goodwill was incredibly helpful!

Now… you can try to sell your items on Craigslist or other online sites, but I find that whenever I decide to do that, I end up just keeping them for an extra month while I DON’T ever list any of the items for sale, because really, it’s not worth the money to me to have strangers come to my home. If the money you would get listing these items is worth the hassle of listing them, then do it TODAY. If they are still in a pile tomorrow and not posted on CL… into the donate pile they go.

And when you find yourself in the situation that you are giving away brand new things, go easy on yourself. We are all learning as we go, figuring out how to make our life as we want it. There are bound to be bumps in the road and that’s ok.

Just get those bumps out of your house so you quit tripping over them.

Go with the Flow

I have this belief that if there is an area of the home that gets messy over and over, that whatever system I have in place there is not working. I know, that isn’t exactly ground-breaking stuff. But before Minimalism came into my world, I used to see this as an organizational issue. So… when the mail and art projects piled up on the kitchen counter, I bought a storage contraption to contain it. When the kids’ art corner was a disaster every night, I bought even more storage containers to hold the growing amount of stuff.

Then I realized that these areas of chaos are an opportunity of a different kind… they allow me to stop and consider if I even WANT any of this stuff. And if I don’t want it, need it, or love it… I need to decide how I can get rid of it or keep in from coming into my life in the first place.

I realized with the mail situation, that our favorite art should be displayed and the rest can go, and that a large percentage of the mail we were getting was actually catalogs. These catalogues were, of course, directly contributing to my buying things I don’t need…. So I cancelled almost all of them. (Anthropologie is my weakness… the photos are so beautiful!) The bills go on the desk in the office to be paid ASAP or sooner (we delegate chores and that one is hubby’s). Cards and letters are read, appreciated, and then put on display with the kids art until the next Trashing of Art Projects.

So by tweaking how we deal with the mail right when or even before it comes it, the problem almost fixed itself.

Up until this morning, another area of continuous mess was my daughter’s closet floor. My sweet daughter, like her Mama, adores her friends but has no problem spending an afternoon reading books in a quiet room. In recent months, I started finding her not just in her room, but in her closet! She was climbing into the bin that I keep in her closet to house outgrown clothes until the box gets full and it heads off to my niece.
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And then, she started making that little space hers. She would toss the outgrown clothes out and use pillows, blankets, and lovies to make what she called her “Nest.” I kept picking up said clothes, refolding them, putting the blankets away, etc. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

This morning it hit me. That box of clothes doesn’t have to live there. I have plenty of room in my closet, which is right across the hall. Why not let her keep her little quiet place and quit fighting it?

So, this morning, I moved the box, did a little tidying, and remade her little nest for her. When I called her up to see it, it was clear by her gasp that I had given her a great gift. She carefully climbed in, pulled out a book, and snuggled in her nest. Sigh.
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Sometimes we keep swimming upstream because we don’t step back to see the big picture. This week I am going to try to identify areas around the house (and life, always life) where I am doing just that. Then, I’m going to step back, evaluate, and figure out how to go with the flow.

Hope it feels this good every time!:)