Minimalism: The Stuff is Getting REAL!

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December 6, 2012
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A Senior Gypsy Life For Me?
December 6, 2012
Minimizing: An uphill battle
Minimal Update
December 26, 2012
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Minimalism: The Stuff is Getting REAL!

Downsizing one item at a time

Downsizing one item at a time

I’ve turned a corner and actually started WORKING on eliminating about 80% of what I currently own. Yep, you read right… 80%. I’ve donated a couple of truckloads (yep, TRUCKLOADS) to a local charity already this week. I’ve sorting through boxes and totes, cleaning out closets and pantry areas, shelves and countertops, kitchen cabinets and anything else I can find. I’ve even started listing some of the “finer” things I own over on Amazon and Ebay.

The immediate result is I live in a tiny cabin that appears to have experienced a consumer explosion. There isn’t even a clear path to the potty at the moment. The long-term effect (if I don’t lose my MIND in the interm) is that I’ll be shoveling out more stuff. Permanently. The boyfriend was amazed with the sheer magnitude of stuff that crawled out of the nooks and crannies in what HE considered to be a fairly spartan dwelling.

What he didn’t know is that I’ve had YEARS to learn to effectively HIDE my hoarder ways. I convinced myself that if all the stuff was organized, labeled, and packed carefully away, then I wasn’t a hoarder — I was just uber organized. It was quite a system shock when I actually thought about how many weeks, months… yes, even YEARS of my life I’ve spent acquiring, categorizing, organizing and shleping my stuff from one place to another. Sure, I would eliminate a whole slew of stuff anytime I sorted or organized or moved… but there was all this OTHER stuff that remained and as soon as I settled into new digs, I started acquiring more because I love the “treasure hunt” of Goodwill and Amazon and eBay. LOVE it. I don’t love regular consumer venues and avoid the mall at all costs. Despise Walmart. I even avoid BestBuy these days.

A Shopping Starvation Diet

But, now that I’ve recognized that I have a problem, and a pretty serious one at that, I’ve decided to cease and desist. I’m not saying I won’t buy anything new, but I will curtail such activities until I have control of my environment and that might take awhile. I will also never bring in another item to this house (once it’s all clean and clear) that doesn’t get a reciprocal donation of something already here. Unfortunately, I have a need for a new computer soon, since I’ve nearly worn out my MacBook. The keys are becoming little dots of see-through lights without numbers or letters anymore 🙁

I will buy again… but it will be with minimalism in mind. If it doesn’t obviously improve my life — I’ll pass, thank you very much.

Clothing Hiatus

I’ve blogged about the “simple” wardrobe and have spent hours trying to work that out. Foolish hours. I tried to bite off too many outfits, tried to make up a system. The fact is, I need to eliminate about 50-60% of what’s currently in my closet (which represents about 75% less than it did six months ago). I’m not about fashion. I’m about comfort and carefree living. My clothes need to reflect that… and so does the rest of my life.

Curtail the Guilt and the Books

I spend much of my time feeling guilty because I’m not handling something and usually that something involves work (client projects) or domestic disasters (clothes, dishes, stuff, furniture, storage solutions or something similar). When you have too many of anything they not only multiply… they spread and “jump ship” from designated areas.

Books are a fine example. I now have books scattered throughout the house. Not just on ONE bookshelf. Not organized by topic or size, but literally crawling out of every crevice. Why? Because I adore books. LOVE them. The problem is I have so many things pulling at me that need to be done, I seldom have time to read them. Apparently I only permit myself enough time to continue to acquire more. I love obtaining books almost as much as I love reading them. It’s a sickness. Seriously.

So, this week, I unloaded a little over 300 volumes at the local charity thrift store. Many were books I haven’t yet read. Shocking, isn’t it? I did that when I determined that it was adding stress to my life to see all the books I had that I really WANT to read sitting there on the shelves or growing in piles here and there. I have over 2500 books on my Amazon account alone as we speak. Granted, many are freebie downloads that I grab every week or two before the “regular” price kicks back in — but many are purchased.

When I determined that there are probably more books on my Kindle app than I’ll read in this lifetime (and reminded myself that the count on that is growing at a rate of about 50-100 books a month), I figured I could part with many of the books that were actually adding physical clutter.

I’ve made the first pass. I eliminated all the homeschooling books (since I’m not doing that anymore). I’ve donated the bulk of the recipe books, since I have the Big Oven app that I use (flipping down my iPad in the kitchen — placed there for JUST that reason) whenever I want a recipe.

Someday I want to create my own “tried and true” recipe book, but until I clear up enough time to tackle that project, I can deal without all the cookbooks. They only serve to remind me that I’ve not done what I really want to do and make me feel guilty that I don’t use them more to come up with more creative meals. I don’t need anymore guilt in my life, I can manufacture my own without the props, thank you.

My books are now contained in four giant totes. It kills me to have them treated that way, but it is great incentive to find the proper bookshelf to house them all in one place. I’m thinking a barrister style (the kind lawyers use) with the drop down glass front doors. I want to keep my favorite classics in leather bound, my books on natural healing and nutrition, and my reference books on being self-sufficient on the farm. The rest can go. I’ll get my fluff reading in ebook formats.

It will take another pass or possibly two to eliminate enough of them to feel like I’ve succeeded  but I’m on my way!

Why Go Through the Pain?

It’s been said that we don’t pull our belongings along behind us through life, we push them in front of us. I’m tired of pushing. I’m also tired of having my view of potential adventures, opportunities, and diversions obscured by this mound of stuff in front of me, only seeing them as they pass me by.

For the rest of my time on this earth, I want to do enough client work to feed myself, feel good about my contribution and enjoy life. No more, no less. I want to travel. I want to learn to paint, I want to learn to play harmonica, I want to read voraciously and I want to learn how to be more self sufficient because I enjoy all these things.

I want to travel lightly and make room and time in my life for all these things. I want to spin off any projects I started years ago (because they seemed right for me then) and only retain a handful of projects that are actually in step with who I am NOW.

These things I know:

  • The less stuff I have to juggle, the happier I am.
  • When my tiny house is clean and clear of clutter, I love it and my life as a whole.
  • When there is too much stuff, I stress, I fret, I am literally miserable.

Now that I know what causes it, I’m taking steps to fix it.

As I progress…

I’ll be checking in here as  this process continues. I’ll let you know how it’s going. I’ll share what’s working and what’s really hard. If anyone else is on this journey (or has successfully arrived at the clutter free, minimalistic destination) I hope you share your first-hand wisdom.

Wish me luck!


  1. Corey says:

    How small is your house? This weekend I watched the documentary about tiny houses, and I’m definitely intrigued by the idea!

    • Angela Allen says:

      Hey, Corey –

      My house is just over 760 sq ft — not teeny tiny but tiny by most modern standards. Even with this small house, I still marvel and get all excited about even SMALLER dwellings. Go figure. I’m a woman of extremes.

      In reality, my tiny house is plenty big for two or three people, so it’s not a singles pad of 250 sq ft or less. If you have ever wanted to go small, I highly recommend it. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by LivingSmall and I hope you come back soon!