I’m so happy right now – January is my jam. I am a little bummed that the holidays are over and I hated taking down my Christmas decorations, but I love the subdued quiet and tabula rasa that January offers. The fact that it’s “snowing” (Louisville standards) right now adds to the mood, even though I don’t have any windows in this little room where I’m writing. Just knowing that there’s an extra layer of quiet and “no really, stay home” outside is calming.
I’m also feeling great this January because I recently watched the documentary Minimalism on Netflix and I have since felt like an ant carrying bundles of stuff disproportionately large for my size out to my car to donate to Goodwill. Before Javier and I moved to Kentucky, we used our Nashville house for a couple of months as an AirBnB and got rid of SO. MUCH. S T U F F. before we opened our house to complete strangers. Then we moved, and in that process we got rid of even more “stuff,” including furniture, clothes, and appliances. I felt like we had whittled our existence down to just what we needed; we had been so good about letting stuff go.
Then I watched this documentary and realized how crazy it was to own three coffee makers (keurig, coffee pot, french press). I even had two french presses. I keep my keurig and coffee pot in a big closet downstairs “in case” we have company and I need to make more coffee, but I only ever use my french press because 1) it tastes better 2) it’s all I need for just me drinking coffee every morning and 3) it doesn’t take up any counter space. So I immediately did a cursory run through every single room in our house and got rid of the obvious extra “stuff” that I didn’t need anymore (including that keurig – too much of a waste of space in my cupboard AND in the landfills for a mediocre cup of coffee, although it was very useful in graduate school).
I had 6 backpacks, 6 lunch boxes that we haven’t used since we were in grad school, three extra suitcases we don’t need, two blenders…just ludicrous amounts of stuff. I don’t even like to cook but we had 8 cookbooks! When I need a recipe, I go online. I finally unburdened myself of all of my books from college and graduate school, and the clothes! Oh the clothes! You know, one thing I’ve noticed in all of my time spent in goodwill is that the vast majority of the clothing items donated are from Forever 21 and Merona (Target). I imagine they are impulse buys, worn a few times, and poof! They disappear from the closet to the Goodwill racks.
I still have a ways to go. Now that I’ve done the cursory run, I need to do some soul searching on tougher items that I feel I need but probably don’t. These items have sentimental value but no use or real joy attached to them. Those I can tackle a little slower – put them away and see if I miss them, if I don’t, off they go.
I’ll never be a “minimalist” in the Joshua Fields Millburn sense where I only have a couple of items of furniture and 10 items of clothing (exaggeration, but you get the idea). We have 49 orchids and I run a business that profits from other folks’ donated clutter, so I see the irony and I’m aware of our limits. I don’t love modern decor, straight lines, symmetry, clear furniture, black and white everything…But that doesn’t mean I can’t get rid of stuff we never use, that we’re hanging on to “just in case.” My house feels lighter, and so do I. I *highly* recommend watching the documentary, especially while we’re in the “new year, new me” moment.
One note before watching the documentary: try really hard not to be a cynic when you watch it, because they interview tons of people who live this lifestyle but are completely different from each other. It’s not just a single bachelor or couple-without-kids thing, and it’s not about depriving yourself of things you love. It’s about trying to reduce your carbon footprint, spending more time with loved ones, taking your eyes away from a screen for a moment, and minimizing clutter in so many different ways. I think everyone could benefit from a dose of minimalism according to his / her own interpretation. They also have a blog and excellent podcast – I’m burning my way through the episodes. Enjoy!