Minimalism Progress Report: Week 5

BE MY GUEST!

I just started the fifth week of the 12-week class Uncluttered, run by American minimalist Josh Becker. It’s the wardrobe clean-out week. I figured I could skip it after the autumnal closet-cleaning.

Looking again, I found scarves and a thermo-insulated gloves that other people could use. I also tossed a beautiful blue-and-pink sweater. It’s comfortable, warm, and matched other articles of clothing. I have worn it weekly since December, but keeping it presentable is too much work. Every single time I wore it, let alone washed it,  loops of yarn came loose and had to be pulled to the reverse side with a crochet needle. 

It’s interesting to see photos of other people’s homes and swap stories. Many people thought all Americans live in big houses, until a “shutgun house” owner and a NYC resident posted photos.  I will say this: we like big living rooms even in small homes. 

An Englishwoman explained what “two-up-two-down” means. When we compared our respective square footage, we weren’t surprised that mine is bigger – but not by much.  Our proportions differ greatly. My kitchen is luxuriously spacious; her two bedrooms are larger than my three (one of which is technically a nursery).  

When I posted “after” photos of the guestroom (above), everyone commented on the black-white-and-red color scheme. Evidently, oxblood is unusually bold. 

 A funny aside:  The more we minimize our belongings, the more we rationalize purchasing more.

Our instructor and our peers reminded to hold off on buying anything – organizers, paint, etc. – until we finish the course.  The impulse was certainly running through in our group, like a bargain-hunting phantom. 

I’m glad I committed to another year of Mindful Buying. Temptation was trying to talk me into  purchasing a really nice belt to replace the cheap ones I threw out. I already have a nice belt. Just not a REALLY nice belt!

Miscalculating My Mess

This past winter, my friend – henceforth known as Pickles – challenged me to the 30-Day Minimalism Game (full details here). Each day we were to chronicle what we donated or tossed; e.g. one item on Day 1, two on Day 2, etc.

I didn’t want to play because, between regular (long) hours in The Young Human and at physical therapy, my bed beckoned. But Pickles was facing off against her charming Picklettes, so she wanted adults to play, too.

I told her I’d encourage her and comment on her photos, but I couldn’t do the daily updates. After all, I don’t have a smartphone and I deliberately cut back on having a so-called digital life. 

Secretly, I planned to cheat. I’d just figure out the total, spend a weekend collecting items, and post a list at the end. However….

There are 465 items to “win” the challenge.

FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY AND FIVE!!!

It was impossible.

On Day Nine, there should have been 45 things in the donation box or the dump. There were nineteen in the former. The three trashed items were worn-out clothes that I immediately replaced. I couldn’t find anything more unless I got rid of things I had already decided to keep. I began to consider how to cheat without breaking the rules. For example, there are 52 cards in a deck, plus jokers.

But I wasn’t going to lie to my friend. I told Pickles that I could be her cheerleader, not a player.

I admit I was more baffled than thrilled by how much I’d pared down my belongings. I’d streamlined my life to make room for writing – and It showed. So why did I think I had so much superfluous stuff?

I figured it out a few days ago.

When it comes to projects involving material possessions, I grossly miscalculate how big and bad they will be.

Case in point: My rooms at The Young Human Factory needed to be organized and packed up.

Last Friday marked the end of another year.  A crew and equipment arrived this week to tear off the roof and replace it. In-between, I had to prepare for the inevitable fallout of a construction project.

My colleagues and I weren’t given any instructions, just warned that we cannot return until July. Even the custodians, who know everything, had only a bare outline. Therefore, I set an entire Saturday afternoon aside to gather summer materials, clear all horizontal surfaces, and pack away items in (I hope) dust-proof places.

Less than three hours was all it took.

That included sorting through several binders of paperwork given to me  by a former colleague.* I was amazed that even the office, which seems disorganized during the year, needed superficial changes

I begin to wonder how many other projects that I view with dread – rearranging the garden, organizing boxes of photos – aren’t nearly as bad as they appear.


*She lasted less than five years in the profession and went to work for the military in some capacity. No doubt she uses the skills she learned in The Young Human Factory to break the wills of recalcitrant spies or something similar.