Time to let go

Hi there,

Thanks for stopping by 😊

I’ve written a lot of words on this little blog, reassuring people that it’s okay to let go.

  • To let go of clothes that don’t express who you are
  • To let go of items that no longer serve you or your lifestyle
  • To let go of relationships that don’t help you grow or thrive

It’s time for me to let go now. I feel I‘ve said all I need to say. If you’ve ever got any value from my little corner of the internet, then I’m so pleased and I hope it has helped. If you haven’t, I appreciate you reading anyway.

The reason I started this blog was to share my own views on minimalism and how it has helped me. I hoped it may help others, in a small way. I have not broken any new ground in the world of minimalism, but I have been honest in how I try to apply it in my own life, with varying degrees of success! I hope I have done this in a relatively light-hearted but authentic way.

There have been many companions on my journey, but I want to give a special shout-out to the following – please check out their blogs – they’re all brilliant.

And to you, my wonderful readers and subscribers – I appreciate each and every one of you.  Have a great life 😊

The golden rule!

Golden RuleThe following question is posed to me from time to time:

‘I’ve decluttered my own things, but my partner/husband/parents won’t. What’s the best way to declutter their stuff?’

There’s a quick, simple and easy answer to this.

Don’t.

Just – don’t.

It’s their stuff. If they don’t want to declutter or don’t have any minimalist leanings themselves, that’s fine.

I know it’s not easy. If you feel minimalism has helped you, it’s natural to want to pass it on. But it’s not as simple as that.

I’m a real case in point. If you came into my house, you wouldn’t fall backwards crying ‘well, obviously a minimalist lives here’. Mr. Minimal-Lol does not share my minimalist tendencies. ‘Help me declutter’, he never says, as he crams another shirt into his overflowing wardrobe!

He’s not a hoarder – more of a clutter bug. Of course, it can drive me up the wall sometimes but at the end of the day, it’s his stuff and I don’t go near it – and that includes items in our shared spaces. Joint items – joint decision.

Now, ‘hero’ is not a word I use very often – and I won’t be using it today either!

But Mr. M-L does his best. He sometimes gets inspired, de-clutters a couple of shirts and feels very pleased with himself. And that’s fine.

The simplest thing is to apply the golden rule – treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself – no matter how tempting it is to do otherwise!!

Have a great week 😊

My 10-minute packing routine

Bag - LongchampPacking to go away, even for a weekend, used to take me a couple of hours. Ridiculous, I know! But when I broke down the time, it wasn’t the packing that took hours, it was:

  • Trying to decide what to wear
  • Packing something and then unpacking it again
  • Over-packing, in the fear of forgetting something vital
  • Dithering because I had too many choices, even thought I felt it was because I had too few
  • Searching for items that I needed but weren’t to hand

The actual packing only took a few minutes, but each time, it felt as though I needed to put an afternoon aside to tackle it.

Then I realised that the key thing is not packing, it’s a bit of thought and preparation in advance. Really obvious things like:

  • Checking the weather – a great steer for knowing what to pack
  • Bringing clothes that I can mix and match
  • Realising how unlikely it was that I would have to attend a fancy event/funeral/wedding at the last minute – come on, how often does that happen?! Never for me, and yet I packed in case it did!
  • Being as clear as I can about what I will be doing – indoors or outdoors, fancy or casual, active or chilling
  • Knowing that hand luggage is perfect for most trips now
  • Not fully unpacking when I return because so many items are only used for travel and can therefore stay in the bag, ready for the next trip (adaptors, travel sized toiletries …)
  • Discovering the holy grail that is – the packing cube!
  • Realising if I do forget something I can either do without it or buy it (apparently, other places have shops too!)

 

Who knew packing could be condensed into just a few minutes?

Oh – you did!

Have a great week 😊

Value and joy

Tulips - AprilLately, I’ve heard so many people discussing Marie Kondo and her Konmari method. I know she’s not strictly a minimalist but anything that helps people live with more intention and purpose is great in my book.

There seems to be some criticism and scepticism about the ‘sparking joy’ thing. (Marie Kondo suggests that the standard to be used when deciding to keep or discard an item is to physically hold it and question whether it sparks joy for you).

I find this very helpful with clothes. I think Marie Kondo is absolutely right about this. When I was decluttering my wardrobe, I would think that I liked a piece because of its colour or shape or how good I felt when I wore it. But when I actually held it, sometimes these feelings simply didn’t hold up. There is something about physically touching an item to see how you really feel about it that is powerful.

However, I understand the criticism when this is applied to more prosaic items. Clothes are part of our identity and can influence how we feel and therefore how we present ourselves to the world. But it’s hard to feel the same level of identity when holding a spoon, a nailbrush or the folder where I keep my tax details. They don’t spark joy, but they are necessary and yes, I want them in my life.

The Minimalists speak of a concept of something ‘adding value to your life’. I find this to be an easier measure to use. It works for clothes, sentimental items and the more humdrum household items.

The important thing is to have your own way of distinguishing what is actually clutter and what is useful or important to you.

And that is why, time and again, I go back to William Morris’s beautiful phrase, used in one of his lectures in 1880 – ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.

I have a lot of respect for The Minimalists and Marie Kondo but it’s Morris’s phrase that appeals to me most.

Do you have a phrase that resonates with you?

Have a great week 😊

My boutique wardrobe!

In my BM (before minimalism!) existence, I sometimes often gazed in despair at my crammed wardrobe. Clothes were jammed together and used to catch on each other, sliding off the hanger as if they experienced the same level of despair as I did!

The main exercise I got every day was prising the hangers apart in an attempt to see what I had, let alone detach a garment from its clinging companions and actually wear it.

De-cluttering the wardrobe came as such a relief and while it took many iterations to get it to the capsule I have today (and still working on that!), I was very pleased with the outcome.

Then came the day when we replaced our wardrobes. My old wardrobe was very much the worse for wear. I’m sure the scenario outlined above of crowded clothes all piled in together bore no relation to that!!

WardrobeIt seemed a good time for me to replace the motley assortment of broken wire and plastic hangers that I had previously used and I got some wooden hangers instead. They were an indulgence but they are beautiful and will last a lifetime. I used always hanker after these but of course, in my crammed closet, there was no possibility of them fitting in there.

It’s the little things, isn’t it? Now when I open my wardrobe and see clothes nicely hung on wooden hangers, it’s like having my own little boutique. And it’s a virtuous cycle. Seeing my clothes hanging so nicely encourages me to look after them, value them and is a powerful deterrent from going back to my old ways.

I know hangers aren’t the most exciting things. But it’s what they represent that’s important to me. A more streamlined, minimal, intentional wardrobe that I love and appreciate.

What little things mean a lot to you?

Have a great week 😊

Are you busy?

Tree 2Are you busy? Today? This week? All the time?

Being busy is seen as such a badge of honour these days. I’ve noticed that when I ask someone how they are, the word ‘busy’ usually features quite early on in the conversation.

I get it. Life is hectic and there are chores that always need to be done. But I’m sure I remember a time when people would say they were busy, with a harassed look on the face and a furtive glance at their watch. Now, it can often be said with a certain smugness or sense of pride.

We can prize activity so highly that we don’t stop to ask what the activity is in service of – does it make our life better or just busier?

Recently, I wrote about having the time to savour a cup of coffee. Okay, it’s just a small pause in the activity of the day. But it’s one I wouldn’t have previously ‘allowed’ myself – mainly because I would have felt guilty. But now, there’s no guilt about what I could have been doing instead. It’s just five minutes to be appreciated.

The time that minimalism has given me is something to be savoured, not just re-purposed with no thought.

Have a guilt-free treat today – take a few minutes out of a busy life and just be.

As Thich Nhat Hanh said ‘Smile, breathe and go slowly’.

Have a great week 😊

Investment dressing

There’s a lot of ideas around now about investment dressing. The concept of quality over quantity is one I love, believe in and try to practise.

I think we should invest in clothes and by that I don’t mean that we should spent lots and lots of money on them. But when we want to purchase an item, ideally, we should be able to imagine it in our closet for years, not months or weeks.

Sadly, price is not an indication of quality – a trap I have fallen into too many times. A quality piece of clothing should last, not show wear and tear too easily and withstand washing without falling to pieces.

When I was studying for my degree, I came across a lovely account from the seventeenth century, of a shirt that had been handed down from generation to generation. It was well worn but was treasured enough to be included in a will and then passed from father to son, time upon time. It was costly, not only because of the material and the precious candlelight needed to stitch it, but because of the time required to make it. It really was an investment and treated and appreciated as such.

SundialInvestment dressing for me is also about time and not just about money.

I did need to invest a lot of time upfront, when considering, planning and then implementing my version of the capsule wardrobe. It needed time to figure out my personal style, what I really would wear, what my actual lifestyle was and to be realistic about my body shape.

De-cluttering programmes often show a re-vamped wardrobe as the end of the process – for me, it’s the beginning. It takes time to do this so that time needs to be invested wisely; the most obvious step being to keep going forward and not reverting to old, bad habits!

Have a great week 😊

Channelling change

I’ve been an (aspiring) minimalist for over four years now and there have been a lot of changes in my life as a result. And, as is often the case with significant changes that take place, after a while – they’re not so significant. They become normal.

This is good – this process helps normalise change so we can build on it. But it’s good to reflect on the before and after or else it merges together, and we forget what life used to be like.

CoffeeWe had a lovely spring day here a few days ago. That morning, I made myself a cup of coffee and found I had a few minutes. I went out into the garden and just relaxed.

I was conscious of the fresh air, the light, the little rustling sounds I could hear, the aroma of the coffee and the subtle movements of the cat as he slunk across the grass, his shoulders moving back and forth as though he was a lion hunting in the savannah (he suffers from delusions of grandeur!).

Previously, it would have been unthinkable to halt my morning haste and literally stop and smell the coffee. It would have seemed like a luxury, an unnecessary pause in the busyness of the day and a cause for reproach later on.

Of course, previously I wouldn’t have had the time at all because precious moments would have been spent in front of the wardrobe, miserably perusing racks and racks of clothes. I would have pulled something out, tried it on, found I had nothing to go with it, realised it was unsuitable anyway and then got dressed in a rush and been self-conscious all day.

These days, it takes me about 5 seconds to decide what to wear because I only have what I love. Too much choice is bad for me; fewer options help me get dressed faster and feel better when I do.

The time saved in the morning is channelled into an oasis of calm, even if it’s only for five minutes.   That’s five minutes to savour a coffee or appreciate a beautiful morning.

I want to remain conscious of this change and not take it for granted. Minimalism has brought about big changes in my life but – I really enjoy the little side effects too.

Have a great week 😊

 

 

 

Decluttering toxic relationships

Yes, I know – I went there!  But hear me out!

You see, for years, I thought there were some people in my life who were just ‘difficult’, who had their own way of doing things or whose values didn’t align to my own. But who was I to judge? What made me right and them wrong?

ToxicAnd then I realised, it’s not a question of being right or wrong. There are some people who just bring negative energy, bad vibes or can drain any spark of positivity by their mere presence. We all have one or two in our lives.

I thought they were a fixture and just something I had to put up with. Until I realised the effect they had on me.

I had two main reactions. Either I became very morose and negative myself. Or bizarrely, in an effort to combat negativity, I became like a high-octane version of Pollyanna, determined to see the bright side of everything.

Both were exhausting!

So, I had to do something. It wasn’t anything too radical – just a gradual pulling away, a refusal to get sucked into the ‘life is terrible, woe is me’ scenarios, make more of an effort to listen sympathetically but not get too immersed in situations I ultimately had no control over.  Occasionally – very seldom – I needed to walk away completely.

I know that sounds a bit harsh and that is the main reason why it took me literally years to do anything about it. I thought I had a responsibility to them, or perhaps it was a mis-placed sense of loyalty, especially to those I had known for some time.

But you know what? I also have a responsibility to myself – to live the best life I can, contributing and growing to the best of my ability. I am responsible for the energy I surround myself with. Sometimes, being near negativity is inevitable, but I don’t have to actively invite it into my life.

Now, I’d rather declutter 20 rooms than 1 toxic relationship. It’s difficult and upsetting. But not as difficult and upsetting as continuing to live with it. Physical decluttering is a walk in the park compared to tackling this. But the more I declutter my physical surroundings, the more glaringly obvious it is to me that so much of my real clutter is emotional.

Have a toxic-free week 😊

Seasonal capsule wardrobe

Wardrobe 1Spring can be a tricky season to dress for. I find, at least in the UK, that it’s frequently cooler than autumn.

I often see other minimalists writing about having only two capsules – autumn/winter and spring/summer. I see the logic of this but, I find that spring and summer are two very different seasons in the UK. Spring can be very cool and wet and autumn can sometimes be like an extended summer.

So, I stick to the four seasons but there is a huge overlap between them or maybe a nicer way of looking at it is – they blend one into the other!

For this reason, transition clothing pieces are key – I’ve written more about this here – check it out, if you’re interested 🙂

Lately, I have been quite interested in the idea of the year-round capsule wardrobe, with core basics being worn all year long and then more seasonal pieces being added in as appropriate. Given the overlap of the seasons and the fact that I carry so many pieces forward from season to season, this makes a lot of sense to me.

I haven’t taken the plunge on this so far and would need to think and plan it out quite carefully, given our variable climate – but it has possibilities!

If you’d like to know more, there’s a few bloggers who I find write very eloquently about the merits of this – Signe from Use Less,  Audrey from Audrey a la Mode and Jessica Rose Williams.  I get a lot of value from their blogs and they are full of hints and tips to make this work.

Do you stick to seasonal dressing or have you tried the year-round capsule? I’d genuinely love to know if you have and if there are any tips you would share.

Have a great week 😊