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Reigniting an Old Love Affair

Lightening the Load and Reigniting my Love Affair with Minimalism

For ages I had boxes and baskets overflowing with junk. I knew I didn’t need this junk. I knew that I didn’t want this junk. I planned on planning a plan to get rid of—this junk.

Finally, a week ago I kicked this crap out of my life. It feels so good getting rid of the stuff that’s been cluttering up my world. Without big boxes of crap in the way, I can actually make use of and enjoy the floor space in my room.

And that’s not all.

I finally cut my hair.

It was gross; it was lacking in any shape or style. I was cutting it myself. Let me repeat that. I, Marianne, not a professional or even someone marginally trained or skilled, was cutting my own hair. I wasn’t even using the right scissors. I was using a small pair of pink children’s scissors to haphazardly cut layers into my hair because I wasn’t ready to part with the length but I knew the dead ends had to go. And honestly, that was not the first time.

pink scissors

Hey, at least they don’t have a safety guard…

Why was I being so stubborn about letting a professional tackle my top mop?

A few reasons, I suppose. For one, I was afraid I would miss my hair and regret it. But I’ve had short hair that I really liked before and it’s not like constant ponytails and messy buns were really doing anything marvelous for my big round face. Another big reason I refused to let go of my locks is my curling irons. They’re lovely. I’ve loved them since the day they arrived on my door step.

I just knew that if I cut my hair I’d have to resign my irons to the sad dark drawers of my bathroom, not to be seen until after the length of time it takes to regrow several inches of hair.

lustrum nume

Couldn’t you just die? They’re so convenient, 5 interchangeable barrels of varying sizes and shapes, and I got a great deal thanks to a handy coupon code.

My possessions were possessing me. I wasn’t doing what I wanted and really needed to do for the sake of healthy (and let’s just admit it) reasonably attractive looking hair.

The ironic thing is, I think I’m using my curling irons more now with short hair than I was when it was long. With less to curl, the process is much quicker and since my hair finally has some shape to it, it actually looks good when it’s styled. I might decide to let it back some time, and that’s fine, but for now I’m happy with it. I should have done it sooner.

The other minimalist push I’ve made recently was to reduce my internet social circle. This was a super easy and yet such a delayed move. I was holding on to many acquaintances whom I never interact with out of a half-baked idea of networking and not burning bridges. However, I’ll probably never need to cross these bridges and a network implies that there is actual association, or at least similar interests among connected people, not just an arbitrary invitation to look at each other’s vacation photos—and who wants to see that crap anyway?

And so I deleted many people from my Facebook account. I really doubt they’ll notice and if they do, I really don’t think they will mind. It’s not like we were close friends anyway and there are other social media platforms on which to connect that are less personal than a site like Facebook.

Doing these things just feels right. I know minimalism isn’t for everyone. A lot of my friends don’t understand or don’t even like the idea of it. To each their own, I suppose, but it is my guess that everyone probably has this kind of clutter in their life and most people would benefit from trimming the fat.

And even though I’m a lousy girlfriend, this is the best relationship I’ve had in years, so I’m letting all of you know right now: Minimalism is bae.

The Less, the More: Minimalism and Adding Value

I did something scandalous today.

pinup secret

I threw out all of my unmatched socks.

Okay, maybe that action does not strike you as dramatic but it was an important step for me. For a long time I had a special designated spot, a box in the corner of my room, where I stored all of my socks that lost their mates. I kept expecting for those missing socks to return from Narnia or the Matrix or where-ever and validate my ridiculous choice to hold on to so much worthlessness.Image

Maybe I held onto them because I genuinely expected those missing articles to turn-up (unlikely). Or perhaps I kept them in some misguided effort to “be green” because, maybe, someday, possibly, they could serve a purpose (even less likely). Any which way, someday has yet to come and those socks have got to go.

Does that sound at all familiar?

This post is a long time coming, I think. For months I have been almost obsessed with reading blogs and watching Ted Talks and YouTube videos by Minimalists. After following my dear friend Nitasha’s blog posts about her experience with a minimalist fashion challenge, I am feeling motivated to share my interest with you (you can read about Nitasha’s experience here).

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So what exactly is minimalism? The best way I can describe it is not with my own words. According to Colin Wright, self-described author, blogger, entrepreneur, and traveler,

What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities – that don’t bring value to your life.

Minimalism means different things to different people, in different measures. Some minimalists enjoy living with as few possessions as possible (I’m talking, 50 to 100 worldly possessions) to facilitate a nomadic lifestyle. Others focus on eliminating distractions so that they can focus on what is most important to them. What Colin Wright so aptly describes is that the most important thing about minimalism is finding true value.

What value is there in a closet full of clothes that you never wear? What value is there in having an attic or storage unit filled with crap that you never see, let alone utilize? What value is there in having 1,000 Facebook friends you don’t know or don’t like versus 75 people you enjoy sharing with and love?

What I, at this very moment, realized is that my primary goal in embracing minimalism is to free myself of guilt. Guilt over not wanting to keep a gift that a loved one gave me. Guilt over not wearing a piece of clothing or  jewelry that reminds me of an experience or person. Guilt over the money I spent buying things I don’t need and don’t use.

What I have found is that when I eliminate these items from my life, the guilt disappears. I can keep my memories and keep my gratitude without burdening myself with stuff that I have literally carried through my life for no reason.

My other goal is to get rid of excess to open myself up to new experiences and opportunities. A smaller wardrobe filled with only the pieces that I love and actually use means smaller laundry piles. I don’t feel guilty for having spent too much money on a trendy item I will never wear again. I no longer have an over-packed closet that I just can’t seem to keep organized. By reducing my desire to consume I save money and time that I can better use to add true value to my life.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have miles to go. I mentioned in a previous blog that I recently reevaluated and purged movies and CDs. Since then I have gotten rid of books, even more clothing, and jewelry. My next plan of attack is to sell my vinyl record collection and my record player. I really appreciated these things when I first bought them but it has been years (literally!) since I have listened to them.

To me, my foray into minimalism is not about punishing or depriving myself. To me this is about freedom, freeing myself from my additction to consumerism.

My biggest challenge has been parting with the things that I spent good money on. I does hurt to know that some of things I am parting with were a waste of money. More guilt. I console myself that, according to the economic principle of Opportunity Cost, money spent in the past should not be a factor for decisions I make today. What matters are the choices I make going forward.

I know that I could utilize Craigslist or eBay to make money off of some of the things I am getting rid of but, to me, the value of making a little bit of money is not worth the effort. However, I have been selling some of my clothes through another party, the wonderful Embellish Plus Boutique, a local plus-size consignment store. Also, I did trade Movie Stop my unwanted DVDs in exchange for a $50 credit.

I have also found tremendous value in giving. I took a large box of books to the local court house and jail because I know that the people who will find the most value in them are the inmates who are doing their time inside.

All of this is to say that I encourage you to evaluate your surroundings and find a way to maximize the value of what you own. I don’t judge my fellow fashionistas who revel in a fabulous closet or collectors who delight in their hobbies, whatever makes you happy. I only wish to share that minimalism is making me happy and if you, like me, long for a decluttered, organized, and simplified existence, then I encourage you to experiment with minimalism. It feels really good and the risk is….

minimal.

I would really and truly love to hear your thoughts.

What is something that you have eliminated from your life that has added value to your existence?

Or maybe you have added value through acquiring something?

Comment below and let me know!

Not that you asked but:

  • Death Proof is playing on IFC (Independent Film Channel), what a great movie!
  • I having been going ham on Target brand string cheese
  • Having today off of school to celebrate MLK Day is awesome!
  • On February 15th, minimalist author/bloggers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are bringing their lecture tour to Atlanta. To reserve seats or look up your city, check out their website www.theminimalists.com