Sunday, March 18, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 18 + Too Many Keepsakes

This eighteenth day of the 30-Day Minimalism Game was incredibly hard - and I know it's only going to get more difficult during the last 12 days of the game. Because I've almost run out of easy things to purge - or have to wait until closer to my moving day to purge them - so I'm forcing myself to make those tough decisions.

Day 18

I got rid of a number of really difficult sentimental items today, but have chosen only to share pics of the items that weren't so personal. For today I got rid of: 1 and 2) Two microfiber scrubbing cloths (recycle); 3-5) Three bendy cable ties (give away); 6) A small saw (give away); 7-9) Three cloth bags that came with linen purchases (give away); 10-16) Six cat food dishes and a container (not shown); 17) A cat placemant/food mat (not shown); 18) A kindle cover (not shown).

The two microfiber scrubbing cloths were easy to purge as they didn't work nearly as well as I'd hoped they would when I bought them, so out they go. The three cable twists were part of a set of four I purchased just for the white one which I used to bind the pull for our window covering so that it wouldn't be a hazard to my cat. The small saw was something I purchased to cut down some small boards to enclose an area that the kittens got into beneath our cupboards. I won't need this tool anytime soon so wanted to give it to someone who might use it.

The three cloth bags are ones that came with my bed linens that I thought were so pretty and that I'd use for something someday. I never did. But I finally took off the sewn-in labels and am giving them to a family member who definitely can use them to store things. (They are also serve as nice packaging for some of the items I'm giving to that family member.)

The sentimental items that I am not showing are: Six food dishes that belonged to my two cats who have since passed away - three for one who passed in 2013, and three belonging to the other who passed last year. I've kept a favorite bowl for each, but finally let go of these six. I purchased a small keepsake container in 2013 for my cat's keepsakes but never used it and found two identical keepsake boxes for their things which I've used instead. I let go of an older food mat that was previously used by my cat before we got her a new one that was easier for her to stand on when she got older. I let go of my Kindle cover that she used to love to knock over, rub against, chew on.

So that's 18, I think.

For tomorrow I plan to go into some of my keepsake decorative storage boxes and see if there's anything else I might be ready to let go of. While I have a few more non-sentimental items around the house, there are certainly not 294 of them.

Too many keepsakes...

When I was much younger I used to hang onto little knickknacks and all sorts of things that I thought were cute or were attached to a memory. But many of those things were discarded by my mother when I moved away. And while my father stored many boxes of my things when I went away to college, quite a few were accidentally destroyed in a flooded basement.

So I think I clung extra hard to the things I did have. The lack of control over my things and over my life in those early days and the inability to say goodbye to them on my terms made me hold on that much harder.

But when my things started to become a huge burden - especially those keepsake items that didn't have a proper place, didn't store easily, weren't useful - I knew I had to get rid of them. And yet, for the most part I couldn't.

Because I'd hung onto things for such a long time I couldn't imagine letting go of them. If I let them go it was like I'd wasted all that time. Or if I kept them for so long they must be valuable to me.

Over the years I sought out different storage solutions and came up with some pretty good ones for many of my items. But there were always those ones that were oddly sized or shaped that didn't have the "perfect place." So I'd find new solutions. And so on and so on.

And I did purge some of those things, slooooowly. But ended up with three file totes of scrapbooks and photo albums, and eight decorative letter boxes and card boxes which contained other scrapbooks, notebooks, and other miscellany.

While it isn't all that much for a lifetime of living, it is quite a bit when I'm someone who moves every couple of years and who lives in apartments where pests are always a risk, so everything needs to be secured and sealed "just in case."

And as much effort and love I put into storing things in such a pretty way (and digitizing most of those things), the physical and emotional weight of them, year after year, move after move, takes its toll. And my love for these memories does get tarnished by the weight of having too many keepsakes of those memories.

So I'm hopeful that I will have the courage, once and for all, to just let go of some (if not many or most) of these things.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 17

For the 17th day of the 30-Day Minimalism Game I took a hard look at certain areas of my home and asked myself (and my husband) the questions that demanded honest answers - When did you last use this? When do you think you're going to use it? How much do you love it?

And I also took a look at some of the things I thought I was going to add to my keepsake pile, though most of that I'm saving for a future purge.

For today...

Day 17

Today's purges include: 1 and 2) Small olivewood cutting board and spoon (give away); 3 and 4) Plastic measuring tape (give away), empty "old fashioned" milk bottle (recycle); 5 and 6) Plastic bin and foul weather gear (give away, recycle); 7) Torn pillowcase (recycle); 8-11) Cable clip, furminator, two pieces of swag (recycle, give away); 12-17) 6 destroyed cat toys (beak not counted as an extra) (discard).

We have a large cutting board that my husband never used because he said it wasn't accessible so we purchased this small one to keep on the counters for easy access. He never used it and I continued to dust it. So I'm giving it away to a family member along with the "matching" spoon. As I just received a beautifully handmade in the U.S. spoon, I don't need this - one's enough.

I received this measuring tape for free when I purchased my scale. I never used it so out it goes. I'd planned on hanging on to this milk bottle and finding a way to scrape off the lettering so I could use it as a vase. That didn't happen, so it's off to be recycled.

These foulies are too big and I never wear them - I wear my black pants instead as they're so much lighter to carry. The bin (this is just a representative bin) was an unexpected purge when we went to the eCycling center with many, many cables and wires and they took it and asked if we wanted to get rid of the bin that was holding them. I said yes.

This pillowcase I've had around for decades. It is one of two pillowcases that were the very first linens I purchased from Shabby Chic. But it came apart at the seams, literally, and started to tear down the middle, and so it hasn't been used since 2013. I'm finally saying goodbye.

The cable clip is the one missing from the full set of new clips I sent to family. This had come loose from where it was clipped and is covered in tooth marks. So out it goes. The furminator is the wrong size it seems and made the felines very uncomfortable so I'm giving it away. The two items of bookish swag are going to a family member, as I don't tend to keep swag unless it's a tote, or something I'm going to use.

The cat toys are ones I was planning on putting in a keepsake box for our felines. They played hard with these toys, loved them a bit too much, but destroyed them even under supervision. As it's starting to feel a bit too morbid to think about items to keep for when they're gone, I'm getting rid of them. The picture will provide enough of a memory should I wonder what the cats were like way back when they were kittens.

So that's it. And as this post is really long and I have to find those 18 items tomorrow I'm signing off.

To be continued...

Friday, March 16, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 16 + Sets of 6

It's now the 16th day of the 30-Day Minimalism Game and I'm excited to find that still I have more things to purge. Though it actually would be nicer if I had nothing left to purge, which would mean that I have reached that stage of minimalism that I want to be at.

So maybe being done with this challenge early won't be such a bad thing. And I'm going to have to try really hard not to get rid of things I do use just to meet a particular day's goals. (Yes, I've started looking hard at some utensils I sort of use and kind of like...)

But for today...

Day 16

Today I gave away: 1 and 2) Digital camera (eCycled) + camera case and strap; 3) Magazine (recycled); 4) Fringed throw (gave away); 5 and 6) Ladle and whisk; 7) Digital watch (eCycled); 8 and 9) lanyard and carabiner clip (discarded); 10-13) 4 cork coasters (gave away); 14 and 15) 2 plastic hangers (recycled); 16) Knit cap (gave away).

My husband had been storing my camera and case (I thought I had purged it a couple years ago). But when we went through his bins to get rid of some of his excess wires, a camcorder, and other electronics (including an old Apple mouse of mine that I gave him), this appeared. And while I would have tried to sell it, he must have discarded the battery charger and so we opted to eCycle it instead.

The magazine was quickly read (steering clear of 75% due to the ads) and so was sent packing. The throw has fringe that's too tempting and dangerous for the felines, so it's being given to a family member. The ladle was too cumbersome to use, and the whisk was never used to make those fluffy omelettes and so both are being given to a family member.

The watch was rendered useless when a family member purchased another one that served that exact purpose two-and-a-half years ago. I kept thinking I might need it some day, but hadn't. But because it's scratched it went to eCycling. The lanyard and clip went to (or go to) some kind of sailing-related item but I have no idea what they go to and I've never used them in the four+ years I've had them so off they go.

The cork coasters were an attempt to get coasters that don't get sent to the floor and make the most horrible noises when the cats go a little crazy. But they are chewers (as can be witnessed by some of the items I plan to get rid of for tomorrow's purge), and apparently cork is quite dangerous if ingested by cats, so they're being passed along to a family member.

The cap was used and loved but has begun to shrink with all the washes and so it's going to a family member. (And I have another hat that was given to me that works wonderfully.) The hangers are part of the previously purged set, but were discovered beneath two clothing items of my husband's.

So that's 16.

What is it about sets of 6?

Many of the things I love come only in a set of six. I wish I could ask the merchant just to send me four, or three, or however many I need, even if I have to pay for six.

At least if things were sold in sets of eight I could sell the other four, or give away a nice set of four items to a friend. But a lonely pair of things typically only works well when your friends are minimalists or don't mind having mismatched items.

So I have these amazing glasses to drink from, but I have six of them - two of which I will likely never use. I want to purchase just one of the round welk jars, and while they sell them single on sites like World Market or Target, they don't sell them singly on Amazon where I would get free shipping and it would make it financially feasible to do so. (I only need just the one.)

The fewest eggs they sell in the market come in a container of six (we really don't eat more than four before expiry dates).

So, what is it about the set of six that seems to appeal to both merchant and consumer? Do people really want that many things or is it just that they've been conditioned to want that many things?

I have a "set of 6" flatware, of which I use almost every single piece before they get washed. But I had a "set of 6" dishware, most of which went unused.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to have six. Or why I felt the need to have them match. But at some point in my life I was conditioned to the "set of 6" idea, even if it was one that never once suited my life.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 15, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 15 + The Things I Use Sometimes

For Day 15 of the 30-Day Minimalism Game I caught a break, as I have the perfect number of something very easy to purge.

And I'm just so thrilled I managed to make it halfway through the month-long challenge without failing...though I can't say the same will be true for the latter half, as I'm scrambling to find the 16 items for tomorrow's challenge. (I am sure I have 16 items, I'll just have to either locate them or be prepared to part with them by tomorrow.)

As of today I'll have purged 120 things. Which feels like a lot, although I don't really notice much of a change in my home - as most of these things were items in not-crowded cupboards and closets, so they (mostly) flew under the radar. However, in anticipation of my move, I am relieved that I'll have that many fewer things to have to clean, pack, and unpack.

Day 15

Today was an easy day and I am giving away 15 plastic hangers. We've had these for years and years - over a decade - and they've served us well, but we needed something a bit less bulky for our closet space and so I've upgraded to stainless steel and aluminum hangers which will hopefully last our lifetime.

These also feel a bit juvenile and a bit too whimsical and it was time to make a change. (And, yes, *spoiler alert* there will be more hangers swapped at a later date during the challenge, because I have that many hangers.)

From now on, except for that anticipated additional hanger purge day, I have a feeling there will be a lot more of a hodgepodge of things being discarded. Because I just don't have that much of an one thing in my home...or even things that are related/similar. But we shall see...

The things I use sometimes...

Over the many, many years I've been attempting to cull my possessions so that I only have those things that I use or love, love, love, I've always hated those items that I use just sometimes.

These are things that take up space, that do have a use, that I have to keep but wish I didn't, as they take up most of storage space in my closet, most of the space in cupboards and drawers.

The sometimes things:

While there are many, many things that serve as sometimes things in my home, I'm only going to list the ones that irk me the most. Because they take up space, because I have to "worry" about their well-being, because I have to drag them from place to place because they are necessary, just not always necessary.

Extras and spares. Because we can't live without a backup fitted sheet, pillow cases, dish towels, USB cables, lightning cables, hard drives, pens, sunglasses, sailing gloves, sailing shoes, tote bags, office supplies, dishes and glasses and flatware, chairs.

Specific use items. Overnight sailing gear/equipment (head lamp, flashlight, sleeping bag, camp pad, etc.), foul weather gear (harness, boots, rain jacket and pants, etc.), safety gear (PFDs, gloves, etc.), emergency provisions (hand crank radio, batteries, etc.), kitchen supplies (serving bowl, wooden spoon, large pots, etc.), suitcase, mops, dusters, side tables, reference books, important papers (tax documents/returns, etc.).

If I didn't have to keep these sometimes things, my home would feel a lot emptier, simpler, lighter. But most of these items are ones that I can't simply buy instantly if needed, and the rest are ones that we are required to keep, or that are necessary for our family and for our lifestyle/interests.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 14 + the trouble with storage containers

It's now the 14th day of the 30-Day Minimalism Game and I'm really reaching for things to purge. Fortunately I found some things hidden beneath the kitchen sink or I might not have made the count today.

Day 14

For today I got rid of: 1) A small 4x6 guillotine (give away); 2) A pair of kitchen gloves (give away); 3) A wooden spoon (give away); 4 and 5) Two kitchen scrubbers (give away); 6) A spatula (discard/recycle); 7 and 8) Two scrubby sponges (discard/recycle); 9-14) Six pop-up sponges (give away).

This is not my first guillotine. I bought one years ago to crop photos, but when everything was cropped and done and all else was digital I didn't need it so I gave it away. Then more recently I thought it would be perfect to use to crop the add-on pages for my sailing log. But I kept it in a drawer, I'd forget I had it, and would just cut them with a scissor - as I had always done. It may not be as nice looking or as consistently sized, but I use a scissor for many things, and this just took up a lot of space.

The gloves were a bit too small when I got them, but I put them under the sink and forgot them for the past two years, just like all the remaining kitchen cleaning items.

The spoon is one that was a gift, was well used and loved, but I have a second spoon that's just the same size and don't need two, so am giving this one away to someone else who needs another. The spatula is also well used and loved (mostly), but the curved end made it difficult to flip eggs and it was getting a bit manky, so I'd purchased a new one a few years ago, and have not used this one since. As it is a bit too chewed and perma-stained it is being discarded/recycled.

The trouble with storage containers...

Is that they store your stuff so well that you forget you have it.

While most of the storage containers I own are either clear and in plain view - used to store linens, keepsake items, important papers - or are in a bit fancier boxes with labels, I did have a couple of containers beneath the kitchen sink that I forgot all about.

They are grey, and stacked, and were used mostly to keep our trash bags and ziploc baggies at a higher-than-ground level for ease of access. And while I knew I had some stuff contained therein, I thought it was just a few swiffer sweeper wet cloths that came free with the duster. I forgot all about the fact that when I first moved in I bought pretty gloves, and scrubbies, and sponges - none of which I use to do dishes or clean the sink.

Storage containers are great for storing things out of the way that you have to store, to keep them pest- or air- or water-damage-free. But for products that should be used frequently, the storage container system isn't ideal. Even if you have limited space to house these items.

Because for many people, out of sight is often out of mind. And while the possessions I own that possess my thoughts in a burden-y kind of way are never out of mind even if out of sight, there are clearly some items that take up space in my home that are forgettable and should never be put in "hidden" containers, stacked out of the way.

As I strive for minimal this month, I am hoping to reduce the number of containers I own. And while I will always have a few things that need to be kept boxed up for safekeeping, I am hopeful those containers will be filled with items that are either cherished or important.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 13

Welcome to my 13th day of the 30-Day Minimalism Game.

I am almost half of the way through - though not nearly halfway done given the quantity of items in the second half of this 30-day game. But I'm still feeling hopeful.

I did, however, do what I think of as "cheating" for today's purge.

Day 13

Today I got rid of: 1 and 2) Rubbermaid food containers (recycle); 3) Threadbare not-able-to-salvage pillowcase (discard/recycle); 4 and 5) Two hangers; 6-13) Cable clips (give away).

The two containers were old and smelled of food and dish detergent. The pillowcase is a favorite but trying to sew the rips and tears caused the fabric to rip and tear. The two hangers were getting a bit too flimsy to hold the two PFDs they held, so I've moved them to aluminum hangers and am letting these two go. And the cable clips were purchased two years ago for my husband's desk cables. One was used but didn't stick to the desk and the cable kept falling to the floor. The rest of these have been sitting in a drawer, and are now being given away to a family member who might have a desk that these will actually adhere to.

Why do I feel like I cheated? Because those eight cable clips should have counted as just one item since they were on one sheet. I thought about taking them out of the packaging so that it would look more like eight separate items and make me feel justified at calling them eight, but oh well... at least I didn't pull the lids off the containers so I could call those four instead of two.

To be continued...

Monday, March 12, 2018

30-Day Minimalism Game: Day 12 + it's not money lost...

Things are getting really difficult 12 days into the 30-Day Minimalism Game. Though I am glad I'm attempting to "play." Because while I think of things to purge, I'm also being more thoughtful about what things I'm purchasing in anticipation of our move - I think for the first time ever.

While there might be many things that would be great to have, I don't want to be thinking about purging them in a year's time should we consider moving again. I don't want to have enough purge-able things to merit playing this game ever again. So while this super cute rolling narrow shelf would coordinate perfectly with my desk, and would come in handy to place my work things on, I'm going to wait a bit, not fill that empty space I will have before I even have it. If, in six months time, when it goes on sale again I still have need of it I might buy it. But until then I'll relish the empty spaces.

For today, though...

Day 12

I have: 1) a Coach sunglasses case (give away); 2) A broken pair of Coach sunglasses with a missing arm and scratched lens (discard); 3) A marine-grade knife sharpener (give away); 4) A sailor's knife (give away); 5 and 6) Two books I've read (give away); 7) An accidental one-click purchase I was remiss in returning of Season 3 of Angel (give away); 8 and 9) Old earrings for my tragus and daith piercings (discard/recycle); 10) Extra lights for the faux Christmas tree pre-wrapped with lights that I gave away a week prior to this game (discard/recycle); 11) A utility holder from Umbra that didn't work for what I'd hoped it would work for (discard/recycle); 12) A T-shirt with a marketing slogan that I won't wear (repurpose).

And so ends Day 12. If I hadn't opened that one container I might never have spotted those sailing items that had been unused for so long. I had to scour the bathroom cabinets to find a few items hiding in drawers and beneath the sink. I'd all but forgotten about those DVDs (I don't have a DVD player) and my intent to give them to a friend who likes the show and has a DVD player. And I hadn't wanted to purge those sunglasses that lived in the console in our shared car, as I kept hoping to get them fixed. I just never realized the arm went missing and were beyond repair.

It's not money lost...

When I first started purging my things, I would get so upset about the money lost - as I imagined everything had the same value as it had when I bought it. (I also imagined the items had somehow magically increased in value - most times that wasn't the case.)

But with each move I'd get so sick of having to pack these things up, I'd end up just leaving them behind near the trash bins. Paintings, furniture, musical instruments, dishware - all would be left for someone else to scour through. And while I'd ache for the money lost, my desire to be rid of these things outweighed the heartache over the money.

As time passed I'd recognize that I'd likely be purging things before a move, and so I'd try to make the time to donate what I could, sell what I could, give away what I could. It made me feel better that someone was enjoying my things and/or that I was getting compensated in some small way.

Now, though I think differently.

I think it's not money lost. It's money spent. Because I bought the item, I lived with the item, I either loved or hated the item, I either used or didn't use the item. And while I might not want that item any more, I did at one point. It served a purpose. It had a value.

Do I wish I had known then what I know now? Sure. Do I wish my tastes never changed? You bet. Do I wish I had all that money instead? Definitely.

But if I hadn't made those choices then I wouldn't be the person I am today. I might not have discovered more about myself. I might not have grown to appreciate minimalism or simplicity. I might not have wanted to be more environmentally conscious. I might not have appreciated the things I do have.

And for those who think of all this waste or excess that I, or others like myself, have gotten rid of, I say that there's nothing I can do to change the past. And I prefer to think of it from a positive POV: Think of all the waste I won't be creating now that I'm looking at things in a new light. Think of all the items I won't be consuming now that I'm striving for minimal. Think of all the money I will be saving by not wanting to fill up every empty space in my home.

I have a lot of years left on this planet, and by opting to start on the right-for-me path now, I'm giving the earth, my wallet, myself a break.

To be continued...