I’ve fallen off the wagon. In the past 13 months I have been so strung out and exhausted from graduate school that I have lost touch with my minimalist side.
Our budget is out of control. Real talk: somehow 2 people have managed to spend around $4000 a month for a year. That’s way more than we have brought in, considering it’s been 13 months since I’ve gotten a paycheck. Our savings are in shambles. And my self esteem is in the toilet. How did I let this happen? Why did we just spend $120 at Target. Did I really need that moped? HOW DID WE SPEND OVER $1000 ON FOOD THIS MONTH!?
The clutter is piling up. I look at the mess in the kitchen and try to pretend it isn’t there. The “junk cabinet” is at a horrifying level. The fiance made a joke the other day that my “Chinese element is cardboard” as the Amazon purchases roll in. Stupid stress shopping.
As I beat myself up over how far I’ve drifted from my ideals, I remember the ideals that my new principal (I finished my master’s and got a teaching job by the way!) ingrained in us: “fail early and fail often.” My minimalist journey is still fairly young. Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Fail forward. I can’t let the mistakes I’ve made paralyze me. Instead I will keep them in mind as I get myself back on track. Keep moving forward.
Last week I was catsitting for my friend and visiting her apartment for the first time I fell in love. There was something beautiful and comforting about the space with its aged wood floors, candles, ancient stove, and consignment store furniture. I had been contemplating redecorating for a while (since I perpetually crave change) and her space just spoke to me.
As I sat on the couch petting the cat I spotted this book on the bookshelf:
The dust jacket read, “Simply put, wabi-sabi is the marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning humble, and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. Together, the phrase invites us to set aside our pursuit of perfection and learn to appreciate the simple, unaffected beauty of things as they are.”
Intrigued, I began paging through the book. I read about the origin of wabi-sabi in Japanese tea ceremonies. I skimmed the chapter on creating space. I read passages about forgoing complexity for simplicity, celebrating damaged goods, and opting for the handmade over the mass-produced.
I’m hooked. This idea of wabi-sabi is a merger of minimalism and sustainability. In a nutshell, it encourages letting go of things that are not beautiful, functional, and meaningful (minimalism), repairing rather than replacing (sustainability), and making (or if you aren’t crafty purchasing) good quality handcrafted items from available resources. It also embraces celebration of aging and imperfection rather than pursuing eternal youth and imperfection. Simply put, age and imperfection gives character.
Postings have been sparse lately, there’s been a lot going on this summer. But I have been meaning to write this post for a while. It’s about my darling little fluffkins that started me on this simplifying journey. Well they’ve helped in a different way too. For anyone who knows they want to let go of things but are having trouble with it, I suggest getting a pair of rats (at least two, they are social animals) and releasing them in your house. They are pretty indiscriminate in their capacity to destroy anything and everything. For example, here is a comforter they got their little hands on:
And here is little Fluffer herself eating a pencil as I type this:
So hey, if your having a hard time deciding what to eliminate, or just letting go in general… let the rats do the thinking for you. They will also help you foster a sense of detachment from your material possessions since it will all end up with holes eventually. And those little balls of fluff are so darn cute it’s not like you’ll want to get rid of them 😉
Today I read a Lifehacker post which touched on the psychological effects of clutter. There’s some interesting stuff in there from your brain registering giving up an item as physical pain to how just touching something causes a bond to form to the spike in stress hormones from dealing with excess stuff. There’s also some simple tips on managing clutter. Enjoy!
Today I wanted to share an article from Becoming Minimalist called 10 Unconventional Habits to Live Distraction-Less. I have implemented 70% of these in my own life and love it (you’ll have to guess the ones I’m still working on )! It frees up a lot of time and mental energy and I strongly suggest giving these strategies a shot 🙂
Remember my May Jump of the Ladder Challenge? Well here is my before and after:
I started with 10 boxes and an assortment of things. I finished with 3 boxes, two sleeping bags, and a little basket.
How I did it:
- Crafts: Consolidated my craft supplies (recycled bottles, downsized yarn) into one box and moved to a new home inside the apartment.
- Old School Notes: Went through 2 boxes of school notes. Recycled everything that was irrelevant to my field. Put all relevant notes together with relevant textbooks in bookshelf.
- Camping gear: Consolidated 2 boxes into one large box. Threw out unusable things.
- Gardening supplies: Used pots to re-pot plants. Got rid of large tote and put small gardening supplies and seeds in a tiny basket.
- Keepsakes: 1 tote, no change.
- Christmas/Halloween: Got rid of pointless decorations (pine cones, a flameless candle with no batteries…) and consolidated all of the holidays into one box.
- Miscellaneous: Found new homes for things (with friends, Goodwill, etc.)
I was able to get the closet looking good within a week, however finding homes for things took a bit longer. I procrastinated a lot and had stuff rolling around in my car for about two weeks. Gotta work on not losing steam after the initial excitement! So yeah, not nearly as dramatic as my April challenge but still a success!