Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Days 25 & 26: The Minimalism Game

Days 25 & 26: The Minimalism Game -  Linens & More Clothes

I don't have a profound statement to make about these two days - it just took about 15 mins. to come up with 51 items - sheets, blankets, pillowcases, etc. and yet another stash of "clothes I'll wear someday" to fill four large trash bags.

Not attached, nothing has meaning, don't remember the reason I kept and stored these things...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day 24: The Minimalism Game

Day 24:  The Minimalism Game :  Card games and more office supplies

I continued the sorting through office supplies, notebooks, journals and cards games, along with miscellaneous stuff.  More of the same gone.

It feels great to be getting rid of things that are incomplete, unused, unusable, and no longer relevant for me or for my family.  It is starting to make a difference. Shelves are emptying, drawers are cleaned out.

In the past, I would sort and organize - buy more containers to sort and organize and store things. At the end of this there will be a stack of storage bins to donate because I won't have anything to store in them!

And so the game continues - one week left until the 30th, and then I will decide about continuing into December and starting over again on the 1st. One more month would take me deeper into things that are difficult to let go of.

In addition to the number of items I was able to throw away and donate, I also shredded a large black trashbag of paperwork I thought at some point was necessary to keep.  Turns out, it really isn't that important.

Days 22 & 23: The Minimalism Game

Days 22 & 23: The Minimalism Game Office Supplies and Miscellaneous

For this day, I ditched old journals and magazines, office supplies, old toys, and some miscellaneous stuff from drawers. The magazines are the issues I never went back to read again.

Goals: I made a decision to start using one style/size journal for everything. I asked Santa for Moleskine journals and cleaned out and got rid of all the others I had.

I am using up as many of the crafting supplies I can to make gifts and cards for the holidays.
As I sort things out, I am keeping the crafting together for easy access.

Observations:  It is getting easier to throw things away and donate.
I am less attached to things than I thought.

Day 21: Minimalism Game

Day 21: Minimalism Game - Bags and Binders

The discovery of a storage container of yet more bags prompted Day 21. I didn't remember I had them, and never use them, and had forgotten them in the depths of the basement.

So, twenty one bags and office supplies - primarily binders gone.

Goals? Not to buy another bag or office supply. I am fairly sure I only have the bags I use now, but I have to say, I'm not 100% sure that it's all gone - until I empty every shelf, storage container and box in this house, I will not be able to say they are all gone.

Observations:  I thought I would be reaching to meet the goals during the 20+ days and I am just now making a dent in the excess that is around me.  Also - I am only dealing with my own stuff.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 20: The Minimalism Game

Day 20: The Minimalism Game - Old Tupperware

Short and sweet post today - a five minute exercise and 20 pieces gone.
Not usable, can't donate, so recycling it is. 
( I actually have to check that this plastic can be recycled)

Just a pile tucked in a cupboard out of site, and now gone.

Observations: It's getting easier to let go of things that serve no purpose.

We have changed over the past year to store and serve in mostly glass containers because they are easier to clean and you can see what's inside.

The most important observation is that this is just starting to make a dent in what is in our house. I will need to continue into December!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Days 18 & 19: Thirty Minutes and Thirty Seven Things Gone

Days 18 & 19: The Minimalism Game: Kitchen 

It only took thirty minutes. 30!

Upstairs and downstairs, 
opening cupboards and drawers ad 37 items are gone. 
Recycled, donated and given away.

Some of these things are so old an unusable that I made the picture sepia to make them look better...also, it hides the dust!

Goals: Keep only what we use.
Replace the ancient crock pot and cookie sheets with a better quality.

Observations:  I thought it would take longer to find 18 things, yet 19 more was easy.
Everything I am donating and giving away is out of excess. For the most part unused.
The space each day of this games creates is amazing.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 17: The Minimalism Game

Day 17: The Minimalism Game:  "Reusable Bags"

During this month I have been led by events to go through stuff and get rid of what isn't needed or useful. Today I was cleaning out an old bag I used for work and it led to a pile of bags - many of which were reusable, but never reused.

So we don't use plastic bags, but what is the point if we don't reuse all of these bags? It's the same amount of waste.  I donated and recycled what we don't use.

17 bags we don't use

What did I keep?  Insulated and reusable green bags for our shopping and for the days we pick up food from Mass Local Food.  I kept a tall cooler bag for drinks/wine/etc. for when we bring wine or other beverages to cookouts or BYOB dinners.  I also kept the blue square hot/cold bag for cookouts and pot lucks because a crock pot fits inside it.

What we do use

I am assuming I will find more bags as I continue, but this is a great start!

Goals: keep one of the cloth bags with us so we don't need to purchase more.
Store in a place the whole family is aware of so we can use them.
Shop less!

Observations:  Even a good thing, like reusable bags can become a money and time sink and waste producer. Planning, less impulsive shopping, and just being aware of our actions will prevent the pile from returning.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Day 16: The Minimalism Game

Day 16: The Minimalism Game  - Halloween / Autumn Decorations

Over the years I have collected decorations for the holidays and seasons that are all sorted in bins. As I was putting Halloween away today I realized that 2/3 of what I had in the bin was old and useless. I am planning to donate the decorations still in boxes and the rest: dried up make-up, broken decorations and ripped costumes will be thrown away.

16 items - I counted the pile of paper decorations and the pile of glow in the dark skeletons as one item each...

Donations and trash

What I kept:  a few favorites that we use every year - some large pumpkins and some metal and ceramic decorations. If the time comes that we no longer use these, I will donate them also.

Goal:  this is the end of decoration purchasing. 

Observations:  I find that I have been pushing aside a bulk of items to find the few I use. All stored and organized nicely in a rubbermaid - out of sight, but still a time sink when I wanted to find something specific. The few things I have kept, I use every year.

Days 14 & 15: The Minimalism Game

Days 14 & 15: The Minimalism Game - Catalogues

 I thought that it would be one day, and I could scrape together 14 catalogues to recycle - it's that time of year and catalogues are just about daily in the mail. I was surprised to find 35 of them when I gathered them from the pile in the kitchen and the desk in the front hall.

Clothing, Gardening, Emergency preparedness, Tools, mailing lists from different holiday shopping stores. I have to pay better attention to mailing list options and opt out of the mailed catalogues.

So, I am working on getting off of the mailing lists and going to paperless statements for the last few things we get paper bills for. We don't get as much junk mail as we used to, and most of the catalogues are from stores we have purchased from in the past. However, now that the garden is mostly set up, we don't need anything else from these places, and other decisions about spending less and making memories rather than giving impulsive gifts have reduced the need for shopping at all.

It's halfway through and I am thinking it may take more than one month of this game to really get to all of the storage bins and hiding spaces where things are put for safe keeping.

Goals:  electronic statements, electronic bills, opt out of mailing lists.

Observations: I rarely order anything from a catalogue - and use websites to shop when I do shop. Most of them go unread and get recycled, or put in a pile to "read later" and end up a pile of thirty-five...

Also, I would like to add one thing here: I don't want a system to organize this or any of the other things I am discovered piled around the house.

My goal is not to need a system at all...every pile, every drawer, every bin is a time sync. Time that I would rather spend with people or writing and gardening.What I use every day is already organized...spoons with spoons and forks with forks...baking supplies all in one place. It's the stuff I don't use and pay attention to that overtake me mentally and physically. I just want that stuff gone.

That is why I am playing the game!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

She Responded

She Responded

The birds' favorite songs you do not hear,
for their most flamboyant music takes place

when their wings are stretched above the 
trees and they are smoking the opium of

pure freedom. It is healthy for the prisoner
to have faith 

that one day he will again move
about wherever he wants:

feel the wondrous grit of life - less structured -
find all wounds, debts stamped, canceled and paid.

I once asked a bird, "How is it that you fly
in this gravity of darkness?"

She responded, "Love lifts me."

~ Hafiz

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 13: The Minimalism Game

Day 13 of The Minimalism Game:

Today is a day for recycling 13 Metal tins...

It really surprises me how difficult this is. I was going to MAKE something with these!

I have this voice telling me that I should have found a use for the metal tins, and I probably could have, and my unplanned intention was to use them for some sort of crafty project that never happened.

The reality - each of them were $2-$3 I justified in my mind because I could use the tin for "something" later. Dollars that could be better spent, and empty calories I do not need. Don't misunderstand, I do appreciate that there is the right time and place when an especially strong mint is needed and will continue to be used!

However, I am not going to use the tins someday. More importantly I am not using them now. They are a symbol of - however nicely organized in storage bins - collections of things I do not need or use.

I am setting some criteria for bringing any new, recycled or found "project" items into the house:
- Am I wasting money to get the item in the first place?
- I do have great project ideas and work on them regularly, however I should finish whatever
  great project idea is associated with the items within one month.
- No more stashes of unfinished projects.

The tins are not the only thing taking up space - the unfinished idea takes away something else from me - it drains energy every time I walk by a project unfinished, it takes up space in my mind that should be spent on today, and what really matters. It creates a barrier between me and what is taking place around me,  distracting me from what I want to do, and I use it as a distraction/excuse to keep those things unfinished.

What would a day without "what ifs" and distractions look like, I wonder?
What would a day lived in the moment be like?
My hope is that this "game" will bring me answers to the questions I have.

I sometimes have a very clear vision of what I would like my life, my home, my career to be.
It has to start with taking control of these seemingly small things, like little metal tins...

I don't have any challenge for anyone with this - this is my game to play, and life to live, but if anything speaks to you - I would be interested in hearing about it.

Now I am off to put those tins in the recycling bin for Friday =)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Days 10, 11 & 12: Minimalism Game

Nov. 10th, 11th & 12th of The Game:  Clothing

I washed, dried and piled every piece of clothing I own on a table in the basement and sorted everything out by type. I thought this would take me a week to do, but instead it was done mostly on Sunday.

What I found is a confirmation of what I have been feeling lately - I don't need to buy anything new. I thought this process would take me the week, but found that I have pared down my clothing over the past year, and although it was still too much to keep track of, it was already down by 1/2.

After everything was sorted, I started by taking out everything ripped, wrong-sized, and anything I wore that I really didn't like - either style, fabric, color or how it fit.

I sorted summer, and put it away. Sorted winter and hung anything that could be layered or worn year round in the closet. Everything is organized, has a place to be put away and I like to wear everything I kept. I am leaving this open for six months - if I don't wear the things I kept by June, I will also donate them.

The piles of donations/trash are a combination of shirts, t-shirts, dresses, pants, accessories, pairs of socks, and undergarments.  Days 10, 11 & 12 add up to 33 items. With the previous jacket & sweater and shoe days (17 items) the grand total is 50 pieces trashed or donated out of my closet. Not sacrificing, not any kind of difficult letting go of anything...just the extras and unused. Someone else might be able to these things, because I clearly am not.

Days 8,  9, 10, 11 & 12 = 50 items

What I kept:
Everything - coats, sweaters, dress clothes & casual.

I use a 9 cube for storage of clothes that are not hung: Summer shorts & shirts (1) , t-shirts (1), summer pj's (1), winter pj's (1), undergarments (2), socks (1), gloves & scarves (1), sweats/sweatshirts (1)

I think a good measure for me is that if it can't fit in that cube, something has to go. I need a visual measurement like this to keep on track.

9 - cube storage for all clothes that aren't hung in the closet

The revelation? I wrote 2000 words for my novel today while I was home sick and resting. 2000 words! And I have hours left to write tonight...

I felt that with the letting go of each item, each pile, each vulnerability shared about the items...I created room somehow for creativity and the telling of the story.  So I have great incentive to continue on. At first I was trying just to reach the number on the day, and I still will - but I imagine that when I get to other parts of the house, the numbers will be met easily and in the end the house will hold only the things I use and need, and the story I have held onto for several years will be written.

And after that? There will be room for whatever is next...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 9: Minimalism Game

Day 9:  Sweaters and Jackets...

What I kept, I wear.

winter jacket/working outside, winter jacket/dress
windbreaker, hooded sweater, long black sweater
gray hooded sweatshirt, green fleece, rain gear

black blazer
black/multi-color sweater
sweaters: green, purple, gray, red, 
black & white button up, green & navy button up

The 9 I am donating:   5 jackets and 4 sweaters
A combination of worn out and never really liked the fit of.

My only thought process was if the clothes I kept serve a purpose and are really used, 
and if I like the way they fit and the colors, etc.

The observations from this exercise? 
Jackets and coats are not the problem in my closet.
I really use the functional clothes I have.
A color palette is becoming clear: black basics with a range of autumn colors.

There are bigger piles of donations ahead! I have a definite t-shirt problem in my closet...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 8: One foot in front of the other...

Day 8:  Shoes

Today the goal was to get rid of 8 things.
 I have chosen clothing and shoes for this week. 
This morning I told myself I would get rid of 4 pairs of shoes and that would be 8 items.

Easy enough, right?

I ventured in halls and basements and corners and dug up the 7 pairs 
(and one of Rob's to make 8)  that I would throw away - 
they aren't in any condition to donate, just taking up space.

When I looked at each of the pairs of shoes I have, 
I realized how few of them fit me, were in a great condition, 
comfortable to wear and were actually useful.

I kept the shoes and boots I wear: short dress boots, tall dress boots, 
rain boots, hiking boots, gardening shoes, sneakers, dress sandals and slippers...

I see from what I kept that I really hate wearing shoes most of the time and prefer boots. 
Much more on the practical and useful side and less on the fashion. 

I will probably add in a basic dress show of some kind - 
something between sandals and boots,
but, for now, I am happy with what I have and what I let go of.

I am obviously not really fancy, but I have my moments, and still...
my kind of fancy prefers not to wear shoes!

This little exercise cleared a shelf in the front hall and a shelf in the back hall.
Now there is room for the shoes I actually use in a place I can easily find them 
and keep them in good condition. 

This might seem like a small thing but ask yourself if you 
are willing to take on the challenge...
bring your shoe pile down by half and see if you really miss them!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A New Kind of Game: Days 1-7

I really enjoy the writings and attitude of The Minimalists 
and although I missed the first round, 
I am playing The Minimalist Game for November...

Here's how it works - on November 1st, I got rid of one thing, the 2nd, two...
the 3rd, three and will continue on through to November 30th...30 things!

Here is my first week, not difficult to get rid of things out of excess, 
but I expect that it will get more interesting as the days go on...
I think the stories are important - so here they are. 
A bit vulnerable for me, but necessary for this process.  

Day 1: A broken frame, boxed and useless - tucked in between two pieces of furniture 
in the basement for, I would estimate, 8 years.

Day 2: The last of the television graveyard - two 15" televisions that are never used.

Day 3:  The story of FREE - Giveaway metal drinking containers, piled on a shelf, and very clearly collecting dust. My advice is to stay away from the giveaways...
Volunteer, clean up, give your time, but leave the free stuff there.

Day 4:  Four boxed things that haven't been touched since childhood 
or silly whims abandoned them.

Day 5:  Harry Potter Collectibles, dusted off for E-bay.
If they don't sell - they aren't mine and will leave the house another way.
It's important that my November be my stuff, but I can help get things ready for selling 
or donating if other family members want to play too!

Day 6:  Opened a drawer in the basement and found a strange array of empty containers and 
covers to things long gone...I think of this as the "what if I need it someday" dilemma. 
More to come on this as the days go on...

Day 7:  Miscellaneous cookbooks - duplicates or destroyed from use.
Books are being recycled or donated as needed.

Reflection from the first 7 days?  
There are 3 empty shelves and a couple of recycling bins ready to go.
I'm putting the Bagster out in the driveway and bagging stuff up to donate.

I am enjoying the Minimalist Game! I haven't known where to start, 
and even though this is a slow start, 
I expect that I will be changed by the end of it.

I am doing this to make room for people, and stories I want to write,
to simplify what I need to do each day and make my daily routine easier.

Who wants to play?
Start where you are and do what you can...

Less is most definitely more.