When minimalism makes you angry

Today, as I started purging and reorganizing some of our things, I noticed myself feeling angrier and angrier.

Why do we have this item tucked away in a place where we can never use it?

Why do we have so much stuff? Ugh.

When will we have the time to dispose of or find a new home for all these things?

I recognize that my problem is totally a first-world problem. I feel frustrated that I’m even angry about having too much stuff!

Now hear me out, I’m typically a calm and patient person. Not at all quick to anger. But attempting to live with less stuff triggers an anger response in me. I think I’m feeling overwhelmed with the process of going through items, making decisions, then actually removing those things from home. It takes time, and time is something that we’re all short on.

I don’t think I’m the only one on this journey to minimalistic living who finds themselves feeling angry in the process. I’ve had others tell me that the fact that they are more on-board with minimalism than their partner or kids drives them mad. So what is a person to do when they feel angry in their attempts to live more simply?

For me, I think that I’m going to attempt to take deep breaths and remind myself that little by little, I’ll eventually get there.

What about you? Do you ever feel angry while trying to rid junk from your house? What helps you to remain calm and positive?


building a minimalist wardrobe: tips and reflections

Over the past year, a goal of mine has been to do a closet purge. Instead of donating a clothing item or two, I wanted to go big this time. I was sick of hanging on to clothing that a) I wasn’t wearing b) I didn’t love. Recently, I finally had time to clean out my closet. Here’s a few tips that worked well for me when getting started:

  1. take ALL of your items out of the closet
  2. have three designated areas where you can place piles of clothing
  3. separate clothing into three categories: 1) love it & would wear it 2) not sure 3) this needs to go
  4. put #1 clothes back into your closet. take #3 clothes out of your room, put them into a box or bag and next to the door (or straight into your car). these clothes are being donated
  5. go through your #2 clothes, the “not sure” pile. try on every piece of clothing and see what you think. you’ll be putting some back in your closet and others will go to your donation pile
  6. if you are still stuck with some “not sure” items, sleep on it. but don’t put these clothes back in your closet. keep them someplace visible and go through them again in a day or two.

When I reflect on this experience, I’d say that it was the most productive and efficient spring cleaning that I’ve ever done. While I was overwhelmed to start the closet purge, when I finally got going it was simple and quick. I LOVE how my closet looks now vs. before. It’s a lot easier for me to find what I want to wear in the mornings.

Surprisingly, I’ve run into one hiccup post-closet purge. Remorse. Of all of the clothing that I donated, there’s ONE sweater that I miss. I attempted to wear it the other day and then realized that it was gone. I gave it away because it doesn’t fit me well (read: not flattering), BUT, there was just something about it that I liked. And it holds some sentimental value. I feel sad that it’s gone. Part of me wants to scream, “get a grip!” but then I remember why we have hoarding and cluttered homes. We DO get attached to stuff. To things. We all know that we shouldn’t, but we do. So what do we do when we find our self kinda sad that we gave an item away in the pursuit of minimalism?

For me, the following has helped:

  1. I pray for whoever wears my sweater next (& hopefully it’s more flattering on them than it ever was for me)
  2. I remind myself that even if I kept the sweater, it could get ruined (staining or in the wash) or lost
  3. I think: better to give it away now while it’s still in style than to keep it for many years and then no one wants it
  4. I remember that I can’t take material items with me when I die
  5. I smile when I think of a precious time when I was wearing the sweater and I’m thankful for the gift of memory

Thinking of cleaning out your closet? Go for it! Have reflections from doing a major closet purge? Please share. And for those pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, keep on keeping on. It IS a journey. But I’m so glad to be on this road.

On becoming a minimalist: 5 things I’ve learned so far

Recently, I’ve become very interested in becoming a minimalist. Doing away with clutter and excess sounds great to me! What I’m finding so far is that becoming a minimalist is a process: one that takes time, perseverance and patience. In short, here’s what I’ve been learning so far.

1. Purging my wardrobe should be a monthly event until I feel happy with the amount of clothes I own. I tend to purge every 6-12 months and think that I’ve gotten rid of so much. Then I go and do the same thing 6-12 months later and feel the same way. This should not be. I think I may need to up the ante with wardrobe minimalism by limiting myself to a certain number of clothing items for each season (I live in a 4 season climate). I do stick to the rule of one item in = one item out.

2. I can’t expect others to share my interest in becoming a minimalist, at least not right away. I need to lead by example instead of harping on say hubby re: him having too much stuff.

3. Your best bet is prevention. People tend to feel good about purging. It’s not as “feel good” to deny yourself a purchase that you want. Reducing the amount of stuff that comes in your front doors in the first place is a critical step that can’t be missed.

4. Being a minimalist in regards to baby items will be an uphill battle. People love to buy stuff for your baby but rarely check first re: what you need vs. what you already have plenty of. I don’t know what to do about this. You don’t want to come across as ungrateful yet you also don’t need 50 stuffed animals for your 6 month old.

5. You may get rid of an item and think about it later wondering if you should have kept it. This is normal. It helps to remind yourself of why you got rid of it in the first place. And if someone else is enjoying it more than you ever did, cling to this reality and be glad.

Here’s to living more fully with less. It may be a process but I believe it will be worth the effort. If for nothing else, those who have to clean out my house after I’m gone will thank me then! 🙂

Why I’m NOT giving my children everything that they want

In the short time since we’ve had a baby, I’ve been struck by how often I’ve heard people say that they are doing x, y or z so that their child can have everything that they want. The x,y, or z has been continuing to work in a job that they hate or working long hours.

In the first world, we are bombarded with messages that tell us that what we have is not enough. The truth is, we are fortunate to be able to give our children what they need and some of what they want. For millions of parents around the world, they just want to see their child live to see another day.

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Will I give my children some things that they want? Sure! But I desire for them to know the difference between a want and a need. And I won’t work long hours just for my children to have more of their wants fulfilled. While they may not appreciate it now, I think what children ultimately want are parents that are present, parents who model simple living, and parents who give to others rather than fulfilling all their wants on self.  Ultimately, I won’t be giving my children everything that they want as I hope and pray that they will be individuals who understand that they are blessed to be a blessing.

5 tips on how to pack lightly for a vacation

While in college, I decided that I was done with over-packing when traveling. I began to hate lugging around heavy suitcases when only 1/4 of the clothes were used by the end of vacation. Since then, I’ve developed a system to ensure that I don’t over-pack when going on vacation or traveling for other purposes. I now take pride when people comment, “is that all you brought with you?”. Here’s what has worked for me:

1. Pack outfits. This is the #1 tool to ensure that you aren’t over-packing. Most people can’t be bothered and just throw a bunch of shirts and pants/shorts in their suitcases. If you take a minute and match up pants/shorts with shirts, you will find that you end up eliminating some tops and bottoms that you otherwise would have packed but not worn on your trip. Disclaimer: I am not a person who plans my outfit the night before while at home. But when packing for vacation, I take the time to match up shirts/sweaters and bottoms. Seriously, this is the golden tip to not over-packing. Trust me on this one.

2. Count how many days that you will be away. Pack enough clothes for the days that you will be gone (ex: if you are away for 7 days then pack only 7 outfits) and then throw in 2 extra shirts and 2 extra pairs of underwear. You only need this amount of “extra” considering the fact that if your plane is delayed, you can wear a pair of jeans or shorts another day. Really! Also see #4 for why you don’t need more outfits than days you are gone.

3. In this day and age, the excuse “I didn’t know what the weather was like so I packed everything” doesn’t fly any longer. If you have access to internet then you can pack your suitcase according to the weather. Make sure to check current weather as well as historical weather (you can learn what the weather has been like over the last several years for the month that you will be away).

4. Remember that you will often wear clothes twice while on vacation (such as shorts or a sweater). And if you don’t already re-wear items while on vacation, I’d suggest trying it. The beauty about being on vacation is that people will likely never see you again. So wear your jeans multiple times, no one will care and you’ll save a bunch of space in your suitcase!

5. Try on your clothes before putting them in the suitcase. Doing this is especially important if there has been any weight loss or weight gain in recent months.  For example, while on vacation last week, hubby was frustrated because most of the shorts that he packed no longer fit him due to weight loss.  Also, this can go the opposite way. Sometimes the shorts that fit us in the summer time don’t fit quite as well when we go on vacation over the winter months. By trying on clothes before you leave you are likely to avoid packing clothing that doesn’t fit comfortably.

I encourage you to attempt to pack light for your next vacation. It is truly liberating. Happy travels!

For more tips, click here: http://www.getmorevacations.com/wp/minimalist-packing-how-to-pack-light-without-compromising-what-you-need/
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