Friday, December 19, 2014

Looking Ahead: 2015

I don't want to make resolutions for 2015 - too easily and too often I get off track, and by mid-February all motivation is gone.

Do I want to lose weight? Sure.
Do I want to get out of debt? Duh.
Do I want to be more organized? You betcha.

So here's the thing. Around this time last year, I started reading about this crazy, COMPLETELY unAmerican, nutso idea: minimalism. I talked briefly about it in my last few posts, but the gist is really to live intentionally.

So last year, as I mentioned, E and I got rid of 12 bags of clothes and 15 boxes of unnecessary...things. I started in my closet first. Anything I hadn't worn in the last 3 months were tossed. Then any item that couldn't make at least 2 distinct outfits. Then, I got real with myself, and packed up any items I knew didn't fit.

Next, I moved on to E's closet. That was a little tougher because he hadn't been reading the same blogs as me, and couldn't read my mind. We spent about 30 minutes talking about clothes and materialism, and assigning emotions to things. Why on earth were we so attached to t-shirts with holes in them that we hadn't worn in 2 years? And by "we" I mean "E". And by "2 years" I mean since college. But it was like a lightbulb went off as we were talking, and we easily pared down his clothes and shoes within 2 hours.

A few days later I tackled my books. Now, I went to a liberal arts school, so my textbooks weren't textbooks so much as freaking national treasures. I learned from primary sources like The Odyssey and Rites of Spring and The Bagavadgita. And so did E. So in our apartment we had 3 large bookshelves filled to the brim, AND the tops of our cabinets in the kitchen (which is a pretty rad decorating choice if you ask me). But did I love all of these books? Had I even read all of them? No.

Books are sacred to me, and so I will never throw them in the trash. But I definitely owned several that I felt ambivalent towards, or just outright hated. Why did I continue to surround myself with things that didn't bring me joy?

So into boxes they went. Along with never-played boardgames, never-used blenders, and never-to-work-again electronic devices.

It felt so good, and it made moving in June that much easier. Throughout the rest of the year, I've constantly thought about the big "purge", and how refreshing it was, and how free I felt immediately after.

So in June, E and I moved into a new house. We had enough furniture and knickknacks to immediately unpack and make the place feel like our own. I've been guilty of buying a few unnecessary things here and there, but overall I think I've done a good job at reusing/redistributing other items we already have.

My biggest problem isn't filling my house with stuff. My biggest problem is filling my closet with stuff. The problem with reading blogs about minimalism is that the bloggers all seem to have it figured out already, right? They have a formula for essentials, they've figured out their style - they seem perfectly content. And so for me, when I read their blogs (and look at their outfits), I fall back into the same old habits.

If I just had that sweater, of course my wardrobe would be complete.
If I just had those leopard print shoes.
If I just had those skinny pants.

So, in the last 4 months or so, I bought. I bought and I bought and I bought. And then I realized I bought a LOT, and so I've stopped. Finally.

I will say that my binge shopping was different this time around. Every item I purchased goes with at least 3 other things I already own. And every item fit perfectly. And each time I finished shopping, I'd come home and purge my closet some more.

I don't meant to belittle folks with eating disorders, but typing all of that out just now makes me realize I have, like consumerist bulimia. That's insane. That's an insane way to live when you're talking about THINGS.

So I was about to congratulate myself on some babystep progress, but clearly, I need to do some more work.

So, I think by now we've figured out that I'm not great at impulse control. In fact, I'd say it's my biggest weakness. I eat too much, I drink too much, I buy too much, I watch too much...I love temporary satisfaction. But we all know it never lasts.

And here comes the big reveal. 2015 is the year of gaining control. Control of my spending and of the stuff in my house. And that's IT. It's not a resolution, it's an intention.

I want to surround myself with only things that bring me joy. It's easy to say that. I love my couch - it's comfortable. I love my dog - he's funny. I love my bedspread - it's pretty. I love the art on my walls - I chose it intentionally. But I don't love the cannister of rubber athletic balls that have never been used in the 3 years we've lived together. I don't love the 15 or so cooking magazines that I picked up in line at the grocery store that are now sitting on my bookshelf having never been used.

Every day I look around my house and find something else that has no purpose in our lives. My immediate response is that we need to get rid of "it", whatever "it" is in that moment. And then my second response is to think back to when it was purchased (if I did the purchasing). What purpose did I think this item would have in my life? Was I kidding myself at the time? What triggered me putting it into my cart?

Decluttering is good. It's important. It's helped me figure out that I DO attach emotions to inanimate objects. It's also helped me keep my house cleaner. Awesome. But decluttering is only ONE aspect of it. The other piece is to make a conscious decision every time I'm out that I will only buy items that I need or that will bring me real, continuous joy. Learning what my triggers are and ignoring them, I hope, will help me to bring less "stuff" into my home. Less stuff means less money spent AND less to clean.

And now, if you've read this far, you deserve a treat. Here's a picture of Rocket Raccoon. Or maybe it's a regular raccoon, but I like to think it's Rocket.

Photo from

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