The Moment When Your Things Go Quiet

If you don’t really love or hate that one sweater in your closet, why get rid of it? It’s not causing anyone harm in there.

That’s false. It is.

“I don’t love it but I spent a lot of money on it and I really like the color but it doesn’t quite fit me right and just doesn’t really go with anything but I can’t get rid of it because it was expensive and maybe I’ll need it for some day when I get a dress to match it and if we ever go to that one event where it would be appropriate and then I’ll regret it if I get rid of it and ughhhh.”

That innocent little sweater is a mental hurricane. 

It causes you unconscious stress to see it in your closet, and even when you aren’t looking at it, it’s energy is in your life. It sounds so subtle, and I was skeptical that it really would make a difference when I read about this before I minimized, but getting rid of it changes everything.

All of your stuff in your room, in your house, in your files on your computer, in your storage unit a few miles away, is talking to you. 

Every piece of clothing has a story and a history and a reason why you do or don’t love it. Every memento or trinket or gift that someone gave you that’s sitting on your bookshelf is yelling, “Hey remember that one time… Remember all these feelings you used to have… Remember what it was like way back when…” Every stack of old papers and cards are saying, “Imagine what is lost in here that you will never be able to find! Look at all this information that you never sorted! Look at all these cards that can reassure you that you are loved by all of these people.” Every book on your bookshelf that you’re planning to read someday is saying, “Read me!! Read me!! I can’t believe you’re still putting me off…”

Imagine what it would be like if they were all quiet…

 

 

Right now, as I sit in my minimized room, only surrounded by things that simply bring me joy and have nothing else to say, I can focus. I am here, in the now, with space to discover what that means and what that feels like.

I was so used to being yelled at and pushed and pulled by all of the “things” I owned that I never even heard what they were saying. I did my best to ignore the noise and “focus really hard on my work” or escape to somewhere else. But the weight of knowing you own all of these things stays with you, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

I didn’t know there was another way. And besides, it was way easier to just keep everything. It’s too much of a hassle to figure out how to get rid of everything, and it’s too scary to actually face all of my things and see how I feel about them. 

But once I saw the photos of the way minimalists live, I couldn’t look back. 

Some things were easy to get rid of: old t-shirts, repeats of the same items, those earrings I never wear…

But a lot of things were hard. 

I didn’t want to admit that to myself. “No, I’m not attached to all my personal belongings…”, I told myself. Wrong. 

But the amazing part about facing that is all the feelings I got to unpack, and all the things I got to learn about myself.

The brilliant and famous, Marie Kondo, says in her must-read book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “If it doesn’t spark joy in your heart when you hold it, get rid of it.”

So that’s what I did. Item by item. 

Your instinct deep down knows right away if something brings you joy or not. The hard part is what your brain tries to tell you to mask that. 

“I don’t really love this, but… I can’t get rid of it! My mom gave it to me on my birthday!!” Yes, you can.

“I don’t really love this, but… I can’t get rid of it! I might need it if we ever go on that camping trip in a few years!” You can get rid of it, and you should.

Here’s why:

When it’s gone, it will be out of your life. It won’t be talking to you anymore. The emotions you have about it that aren’t joy release the minute you give it away. And you are left with space.

I can promise you, you won’t regret throwing it away. There are always stores if the moment arises where you realize you do need something. 

The best part is, even with the items that are the most difficult to part with, every single time I work up the courage to let something go I am immediately relieved. Releasing it brings me new energy and is honestly just SO FUN. I could talk about how fun it is all day.

An unexpected bonus to going through everything you own and deciding whether or not it brings you joy is that you become so much more aware whether every day life things make you happy or not.

After minimizing I was surprised to realize one of the jobs I spend time doing frequently really doesn’t bring me joy. I also notice when a certain relationship isn’t adding anything positive to my life. And I can choose to minimize those things as well! All I get is more joy and more awareness of myself.

Don’t expect all of the things in your home to go quiet after your first go at minimizing. It takes practice and you build up the strength to get rid of the really hard things over time. I’ve been going through things almost once a week for the past couple months and always find something new I had talked myself into keeping.

The very hardest one, which it pains me to admit, was when I realized that my brand new, highly expensive, Louboutin black heels didn’t bring me joy. They brought me SO much joy when I bought them in Paris, and I sadly didn’t realize that I bought them really snug and after you wear them for 10 minutes, your feet start to swell and they become SO uncomfortable. I talked myself into keeping them day after day because I COULD NOT admit to myself that I didn’t want them and that I had wasted all that money. But I eventually got brave enough, and sold them online for about half of what I bought them for, and now they are not yelling at me from the closet and my life is happier for it.

In going through your things, you have to face the decisions you’ve made. Good ones and stupid ones. It can be humiliating but it just helps you know yourself more and make new, more attuned choices in the future.

I don’t walk down the streets of New York, with the millions of ads and store windows, and want everything I see anymore. I am happy with all of the joyful things that I own and the value they bring to my life, and I am less distracted by the things in the world that are always trying to pull our attention and distract us from what is truly important.

And, the moment that hasn’t gotten old since I’ve minimized is, every day when I come home and walk into my quiet room.

I smile as I breathe in the welcome of my things that love me and I love them. I put away each thing in my bag from the day with care. And then I sit and listen to the quiet that leads me into the next moment.

Happy minimizing :)

With love and space,

Holly

Underneath All My Things... Is Me

I needed to write. So here I am.

Where to start? Well, I did a job that required me to live with only two suitcases worth of things for a year. 

And you know what they say the rule of thumb is… “If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it.” Well that posed a bit of a problem when I got home and faced alllll of my STUFF. 

At first I was so excited about the idea of having my own big room to fill and decorate that I covered the walls with photos and paintings and shelves and momentos. Yes I did actually have three different 2017 calendars on the same wall at once… 

And not only did I unleash all of my old trinkets that had been stored away, but I also made a trip to Anthropology to buy lots of little beautiful things to add flare to the space and to make my room feel trendy, or something?

I wanted my things to remind me who I am and what I love and what is important to me. I wanted them to keep me connected to my past and my relationships and my memories that felt like they made me who I am. And I wanted my things to look beautiful and give me pleasure when I saw them. After writing that all out now, I’m realizing that’s a lot to ask of a bunch of stuff…

After about a week in my full and decorated new home space I was over it. I felt overwhelmed and distracted and lazy and bombarded and most of all NOT HAPPY. 

In a big huff I took down every single painting and calendar and photo and shelf I had hung so painstakingly a week before, as my boyfriend, Josh, laughed in amazement. (He had helped with the painstaking hanging.)

From that first step, everything changed.

I opened the book Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki, and I saw the photos of his extreme minimalist house, and though I didn’t want quite such an extreme lifestyle, something very deep in me looked at those pictures and said YES!!! Yes. Yes. Yes.

Simple. That’s what I want. 

Everything around us is so freaking complicated all the time, but what if my home space wasn’t? 

What if it was just me and the things I absolutely need and absolutely love? 

What else would I have time for? 

What other parts of me would I finally be able to discover?

Well it turns out, there was SO much of me I had never been able to hear before when I was surrounded by the excess and the things and the chaos (that I had never really recognized as chaos before). 

Since getting rid of every single thing that I don’t love I have changed immensely.

I have:

  • become aware of all the toxins in the products we are sold and changed to all non-toxic
  • actually sustained a real desire to eat healthy foods and local produce
  • started a journey towards vegetarianism
  • realized my love for reading
  • become interested in the zero waste movement and started reducing my amount of waste
  • started learning how to meditate and made it a regular practice
  • started journaling every day

…among many other things.

These are all things that I thought I was “supposed” to care about before. And they suddenly became real, true desires that I have and believe in. 

It shocked me. I had NO IDEA that I cared about all of these things, but as soon as I started clearing the mental space that was taken up by my things, this happened.

We are constantly being pushed and pulled and trampled by what society and advertising and social media and our various cultures define as a successful and fulfilling life. More. More. More. We need more things. We need to stay in trend. We need this kind of house or apartment. We need these kinds of beauty products. We need to wear these clothes and have this body. We need to blah blah blah….. When will it end? When will we be satisfied and rich and famous and happy?

“I wish everybody could become rich and famous so they could realize it’s not the answer.” -Jim Carrey

For me minimalism isn’t about having the least amount of things possible, it’s about having just enough. I look at my things now, that all bring joy and value into my life, and I think, yup, that’s all I want. 

I am not distracted. I am not weighed down. I am not stressed out. It’s just me, in my house, ready to figure out what the hell is important to me in this life. One moment at a time.

And I think writing about it is important to me. So thanks for joining me here. See you next time.

With love and space,

Holly