Part II. (See Part I here.)
These tenets, for me, have been the enlightenments of my quest.
I finally think more about what I take in.
First, I experienced the joy of discarding things. I was able to monetize several of them at “The Anthropologie of Yard Sales”. Some of my stuff magically found a home with important people in my life who needed and wanted that stuff, or just anonymous people who might pick it up off the curb or at the Goodwill. In the end, I had less stuff, and I realized not only do I not miss the stuff, I can’t remember what the stuff was. It was a lot of work to get rid of it, and I think harder about getting more stuff. It used to just be mail that annoyed me, taking up space and creating work in opening it. Now I realize it’s the things I choose also. In some cases, I replaced two or three not great things with one really great thing – like the cordless vacuum I got (so quiet and small I can talk on the phone while using it!) when I discarded my old Dirt Devil vacuum and dust buster. I never thought I’d want a Kindle – in fact I was very against them. But after getting rid of/selling many books, friends I’d gifted some extra furniture to gifted me with a Kindle that wasn’t being used, and I’m enamored of my reading possibilities in this one simple device.
I read a great blog about managing reading material as a minimalist. I especially appreciate the idea that things come into your life at a certain time and serve a certain purpose, and their time is often over at some point. We don’t have to keep these things. The Kindle appeared just when I had collected a few more paperbacks I hadn’t read. And it was free.
I discovered things I already owned that I really like and realized my collection was blind.
Second, as I discarded the things I’d been holding onto because of “coulda, woulda, shoulda”, I uncovered things I um… forgot I owned. Beyond when I discover I have multiple boxes of Q-tips in the linen closet, I found things I never actually realized I owned in the first place. For example, my Mom gave me an immersion blender when I moved into my apartment two years ago. I used the blender frequently and kept the box in the cabinet, with other boxes that either had unused kitchen appliances and cookware in them or were empty because the appliances were taking up space elsewhere. So, I finally rejected my parentally induced compulsion to save boxes for the next time I move (which, to be fair, has been frequent, but you’re already using boxes when you move so why have boxes in the boxes?) and got rid of them. In the immersion blender box was a mini chopper – the type I’d almost bought for chopping vegetables because I find my actual food processor such a pain to use on a regular basis. When I finally took the time to appreciate this one appliance (the Cuisinart Smart Stick), I realized it can also replace my electric mixer (a whisk attachment was in the box too). So I had the multiple joys of realizing I owned something I wanted and donating the electric mixer to someone who actually desired it, creating space in my cabinet in the process. The result – it’s easier to cook and to put dishes away. And I am acutely aware that I ignorantly gather objects without truly judging their usefulness, whether purchased or given to me.
When I culled my “free tee shirt” collection that I never wear but keep around for sleeping or working out it (in actuality I sleep in the same “Hang in There, Kitten”, and Motley Crue tees on repeat), I realized that I’ve been keepsaking my Chelmsford Pop Warner Cheerleaders 1989 tee shirt when it still fits me and looks great at tennis.
Marie Kondo doesn’t even believe in saving old or unfashionable clothes for “lounging clothes”, because why should you ever wear something you don’t feel great in? It’s hard to grow out of the rainy day mentality I was raised with, of saving my Sunday best for special occasions, even when I want every day to be special. Why shouldn’t I wear a tee shirt I was proud of when I was 12 until it disintegrates when I’m 37? Our possessions should reflect what we actually use.
(See Part III of this post for the third learning.)