I’d love to tell you that one day I decided to become a minimalist and the next day my life was a shining example of order, simplicity and minimalism. But that would be a lie. In fact, my moves toward this way of life were slow – glacially slow. There was no big profound realization. It was a million tiny little things that brought me to a point where I am now.
How did I start?
When I was a teenager, I went through “white phases.” My bedroom furniture was white, and whenever I was feeling overwhelmed by school or performances, I would start to furiously clean in order to have all the surfaces be blank (thus, the white phase). So, the impulse toward order to better deal with stress has been there a long time. But as a teenager, I was not decluttering. I was putting things away, and probably stuffing my drawers so full that they couldn’t open. At that point, minimalism wasn’t a mainstream concept — it was something monks did.
As a 20-something, I moved a lot. In fact, I moved so often one year that I had four tax returns for four different states/districts to fill out. Every time I moved, I paid to bring everything with me. I didn’t downsize my book collections, my clothes, my memorabilia or my furniture. In fact, every time I moved, I added more.
When I moved into my apartment in Brentwood, I had a closet that ran almost the half the bedroom and a second smaller closet in the room, plus a hall closet – all for me. And, you know what I did? I filled every one of them. I filled them with things I never wore but had to have when I went out to do some retail therapy.
In short, by the time Andy and I moved in together, I had a lot of stuff in that 750-square-foot apartment. And I paid to move it all – again.
This is the point where it really began to dawn on me that I was paying for things I rarely wore, never read again and didn’t need to be moved all over the country. Why did I do that? Sure, moving is a pain in the ass, and eventually, you will be inspired just to throw everything into a box and hand it off to the movers. But a couple years ago I did an accounting of exactly how much it cost me to move these things and was startled to realize how many thousands of dollars had gone out the door and into a moving truck.
I vowed never to do that again. I don’t want to mindlessly spend in order to make me feel better about my life or my choices. I want everything that I bring into this house to be a conscious decision.
I feel like I’ve genuinely embraced mindful spending, and I’ve made significant strides in downsizing and decluttering. I’ve carved out my own path toward minimalism as I’ve gone because many of the lauded Kondo-like methods didn’t quite work for me. I still have quite a way to go to feel like my spaces work for me. But I’m getting there, and I’m going to share with you as I go.
Next week, I’m hoping to share with you how I began the big declutter! Stay tuned!