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!
If you didn’t know, I’m a fan of the blog A Practical Wedding. It’s a refreshing voice in the sea of wedding blogs focused purely on aesthetics, taking time to tackle some of the big issues of wedding planning (like all of those raging emotions!). Today there was a post on revelations while being Unplugged and I wanted to take the time to share some great quotes, so here they are:
- “So we were lying together in the hammock, holding hands, watching the sun turn the tops of the trees pink, and listening to the birds sing their farewell song. I realized the moment reminded me of the best parts of my childhood, and that I hadn’t been able to just sit and enjoy my surroundings like this for ages. The hard work of unplugging was finally paying off, and for the first time in a long time I felt like my work was serving my life, instead of my life serving my work.”
- “We’re the land of huge houses, huge cars, huge credit card debts, and hugely long working days, so we were never going to be worried about having just enough. Nope. We want it all. And we’re juggling and hustling and stressing and guilting ourselves as we strive for a goal that we are convinced isn’t impossible…”
- “If you add that up and assume 8 hours of sleep a night, that gives the average American a grand total 13 free hours a week, give or take. And by ‘free time’ I mean time they need to spend eating and dressing themselves.”
- “‘My problem wasn’t so much working in front of computers all day. My problem was the way my brain was reacting off of computers. My old, less jumpy brain was what I was missing. I missed that unspooling reel of thought. I missed writing longhand and not wondering if an email had come in while I was doing it. I missed staring up at the leaves on a tree and thinking about nothing in particular.'”
- “’Even as I watch myself, and those around me, cramming our days with messages to check, alerts to read, and Pinterest boards to fill, I know those actions are not really our goal. We’re reading blogs because we crave smart conversation and connection. We’re pinning things to remind us of what our lives could be. We’re finding places online that we fit, to remind us of who we are. But at some point you have to stop pinning, and start doing. Sure, those pinboards of party ideas are great, but what’s really excellent is lying around the deck with your friends eating cake, not thinking about doing it.’”
- “Unplugging allowed me to step back and get some perspective on what matters in the flesh and blood world. And it’s my kid, my husband, my friends, and doing work I love.”
Now I love the internet, but sometimes we need to step away for a while so it doesn’t take over. The internet can be an awesome way to connect with people and a great learning tool, but when we allow it to overstep its bounds it detracts from meaningful moments in our lives.
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!
So my head is definitely still on cloud 9 and so forming coherent thoughts has been unusually difficult this week. Instead of trying to make a cohesive post I’d like to share these suggestions on simplifying from Zen Habits. I see a lot of potential for future Jump off the Ladder challenges here!
I wanted to share this piece of wisdom I found on the Spiritual Awakenings Facebook page because I think it really captures the essence of why we embrace simplifying our lives and our minds: to welcome abundance into our lives, whatever form that takes.
“One of the important things you can do to prepare for abundance to come your way is to clean your house, literally and figuratively. You must re-evaluate what’s important in your life. Get rid of unnecessary mental clutter that keeps new thoughts and opinions from being able to enter your mind. Get rid of old bad habits, those that keep you in that negative mentality; and then make way for new good habits, thoughts and emotions that are drawing abundance into your life, rather than chasing it away.”
So yesterday marked the beginning of round two of the Jump off the Ladder Challenge. For round one, I gave up eating at restaurants for 20 days and had some amazing benefits. This time I’m tackling our balcony storage closet. This is where the things that I haven’t purged from my storage unit ended up, sitting, collecting dust for months. There are 10 boxes, stacked 5-6 ft. high containing the following:
- College lecture notes
- Camping gear
- Gardening supplies
- Craft supplies
- Christmas decorations
- Graduation caps, gowns, cords, and various other memorabilia related to school
- Odds and ends
My goal is to reduce the clutter by 50% or more. Most of the stuff in this closet hasn’t been touched since January, and since it has been in neatly stacked boxes I’ve never bothered to go through them. But I’m tired of clutter and our apartment management is looking to eventually put a washer/dryer unit in that closet, so this stuff has got to go. I plan to eliminate and consolidate so when that day comes whatever is left can find a home inside the apartment without any trouble.