Chuck it

We have a vision of small, simple living. In order to really achieve the vision, I am having to work out detaching from my “stuff.” I have always been bothered by my consumeristic (is that a word? well, spell-check is liking it) mindset, but I didn’t know how to change it, or even that I could.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a hoarder. Well, Jesse, my father-in-law, might beg to differ on that. Anyone who has seen how I used to keep my kitchen pantry would want to challenge me on that. Hey, how do you know when we’ll need to live in lock-down for weeks on end needing sustenance, and toilet paper, and Jiffy Corn Muffins and pickled vegetables?

Detaching from my “stuff” and analyzing what is really important has been a therapeutic exercise indeed.

Before we even put the house on the market we were so excited and nervous about the idea of minimizing that we began the process early, more than a year ago.

I started by looking at minimalist blogs and websites such as zenhabits. I identified two weak areas for myself. My kitchen and my closet. I’m sure to anyone who knows me that comes as no surprise. I love to cook, I have quite a collection of dish ware and glassware, new and vintage, and I love clothing and fashion.

I decided to tackle the closet first. This seemed less daunting since I recently have lost a few clothing sizes through changing my diet and exercise, and so I have things in my closet that just don’t fit anymore. My sister-in-law, July, has been doing the same, and she can wear all of my former self’s clothing! She looks awesome in it, much better than I do swimming in all of it, though it is painful to give up some of my favorite pieces. But it feels good that it is going to someone who appreciates it a lot and is in need of new clothes that fit! Mr. Hart and I have worked hard to become healthier and fitter, but those are stories for another blog.

At first, chucking out all my “stuff” was really hard. I have spent an embarrassing amount of money on clothing, and I take painstakingly good care of it. I hand wash and line dry many delicate items, I care for each item to prolong its life and I own items that I have had for years and years, wearing them frequently.

Alas, there will not be room in a 160 square foot house for all these clothes, shoes and accessories. I needed to start minimizing. I set up a “trial” area where clothes live for several weeks before I decide to give them to July. I put any items there that I think I can live without for a chuck-it trial: how does it feel to not see it in my closet? Do I think of it and wish I had it? That happened once or twice during the process. I would go to fish something out and try wearing it again. Usually I was right in that it was no longer flattering on me, or I just didn’t love it anymore. Within a few short weeks I had cut my wardrobe in half.

Now, this doesn’t begin to do it, mind you. All of our clothing will still not fit into a 160 square foot house. It fit in our 250 square foot living space at the in-law’s, tightly, but it is too. much. stuff.

I read on the internets somewhere (I’d love to credit properly, if anyone knows or finds where I got this idea) of someone who separates her wardrobe into seasonal “pods.” (I like the sound of “pods,” very, sci-fi, or something). This person decided on a number of items that would be allowed in each pod, I think it was around 35. If I remember correctly, this did not include undergarments, but it did include all shoes and accessories like belts and jewelry. Then, she just rotated the pods in and out each season. I really like this idea and am considering something similar.

Furniture was easy to chuck. We owned very few pieces that were valuable to us, and had a garage sale selling almost everything, and donating what was left. It felt so good to let go of things we didn’t need or love. It feels good to look around now, surrounded only by that which we do need, use and love. We have gotten rid of most of our books, all of our cd’s and dvd’s, all extra sheets, towels and linens that we’ve been saving for guests or for “just-in-case.” We’ve let go of picture frames, candle holders, and all sorts of decorative items.

Confession time: I have not been able to chuck any of my collection of dish ware and glassware. It sits in storage, carefully packed up in boxes, waiting for a new little home to live in someday. Also, there are far too many kitchen tools in storage to comfortably live in our tiny-home-on-a-trailer. The commercial mixer, the blender, and the food processor are not really part of the whole “simple-living” vision.

Another big confession: I still have far too many crafting items. I have scaled back considerably. But not enough. I am still working on it. One.small.move at a time.

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