minimizing stuff…

Since that first viewing of “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things,” I’ve watched it more times than any sane person probably should. It has become my go-to perspective reset.

When I feel overwhelmed, or even a little lost in my life, I’ll head to Netflix and turn it on. It reminds of what’s important in life and I’m instantly called back to the benefit of less.

The film suggests that compulsory consumption is driven by the desire to be happy. I mean, ultimately, that’s all we really want, right? To be happy? It’s just a matter of zeroing in on what will actually do it for us.

Spoiler Alert: STUFF is not it.

Since childhood, we’ve been told that bigger homes, newer clothes, and more cars (as examples) will fill our cup. But the truth is that you’ll never actually get those things. Why not? Because there is always something else that’s more “er.” BiggER, BettER, NewER, NicER, LuxuriousER, Technologically AdvancedER (eh, you get my point).

When you choose material goods as goals, there’s just no finite end in sight. And because you’re constantly striving to get the next best thing, you never really get to enjoy the things you already have. So the million dollar question is this: when is what you have enough?

We knew that we had a good head start with the prep of moving into a smaller place. But there was more work to be done. And so, I went to my closet.

I know that, for some of you, getting rid of your clothes is tough. I was well aware that I had wayyyyy more pieces of clothing than I was realistically wearing on a weekly basis, so I figured it would be the easiest place to start.

The items in my closet ranged from “new with tags” and “wore it once” to “well, that was gift” and “I wore this when I was three years old, but I better keep it for sentimental reasons.” All of the clothes that I regularly wore were either on my body, in a heap on the floor (you know, the “wore it, but not super dirty, so I’ll wear it again before washing it” pile), have been in the dirty clothes hamper for a couple weeks, or have been in the clean clothes hamper for a couple weeks.

I began with the Marie Kondo (aka KonMari) approach; I picked up each piece of clothing that I had and asked myself if it “sparked joy.” If it didn’t make me do a happy dance, then I put it in a charity donation pile.

(Surprising side effect: knowing that someone else might be able to use the clothes that, otherwise, would have hung untouched in my closet for another few years, made me feel good. As the donation pile grew larger, so did the happiness in my heart.)

After the first round of closet detox, I decided to take it one step further with Courtney Carver’s Project 333. In this wardrobe challenge, you are limited to wearing only 33 items for 3 months, at which point you can swap in/out seasonal clothes and then start the challenge again. The 33 items can include street clothes, outerwear, accessories (jewelry, scarves, hats, purses, etc.), and shoes. Sentimental jewelry, intimates, and athletic/loungewear do not figure into the 33.

An example of a Project 333 closet.

Both Collin and I whittled our wardrobe down and we loved it. Imagine waking up to an uncluttered closet and wasting no time in choosing an outfit for the day. This is the beauty of Project 333! You free up time in the morning and space in your closet. It’s a win-win. [1]

Next, we tackled the little things that you just don’t know what to do with (aka the stuff sitting on your dining room table (or kitchen island!) gathering dust and probably hiding that paperwork that you haven’t been able to find).

Historically, we’ve dealt with items like this in one of four ways: 1. Find it a new home, 2. Put it in the trash, 3. Throw it in the junk drawer, or 4. Leave it there.

Since we were finally ready to clean up our act, the fourth option would no longer be on the table (pun.). The third option is really just a variation of “leaving it there” with a different location, so we discounted that one, too. With the first two options left, this stuff was either going to get a new home or get the old heave-ho.

It was tough for me; not gonna lie. I was the QUEEN of “I definitely need to save this five inch ribbon cutting! You just never know!” But I started referring to the “20/20 Rule” whenever I had my doubts about getting rid of a broken pen cap.

The 20/20 Rule (unfortunate name, now looking back) is something Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists came up with regarding those “maybe I’ll need it in the future” items. The idea is that if you can replace an item for $20 or less and not go more than 20 minutes out of your way to get it, then you don’t need to keep it around. BRILLIANT.

At this point, we were in a good spot with the amount of things we owned. If we uncovered items that we could do without, we sold it or gave it away. We even went down to just one car for our then-family of five!

We became exceedingly mindful of what we brought into the home, be it via a new purchase or as a gift. If it wasn’t serving a necessary function, it was reconsidered.

When I think back to that time, each step we had taken to minimize our belongings seemed to have been preparing us for what was to come next in our lives.

Just a year and half after downsizing to fit into an 1100 sq. ft. townhome, we decided to move out of state. This was not an easy decision by any means, but after a lot of hemming and hawing, we finally decided that moving out of Southern California to Boise, Idaho was what was best for our family.

In late July of 2018, we packed our lives into two small shipping containers and got rid of the rest of it. If it didn’t fit, we didn’t take it. (I take that back; we let the dogs and children ride with us in the car.)

Before adopting a minimalist mindset, having to leave things behind in a move would’ve torn me up! But since we were already thinking small, we happily tossed any excess aside and were ready to embark on a new adventure…

To be continued…

<3 Laura

[1] If you are curious about the Project 333 challenge and have questions on how to get started, feel free to reach out with any questions or for any guidance. 🙂

Author: thatlaurainsley

current mood: Gratitude. | mama bear | intuitive writing | empath | crystal healing | living intentionally | rainbows | #bemorewithless | @laurainsleywriter | she.her | end scene.

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