Thoughts on...having less stuff.


There's something about the new year that always makes me crave a fresh start.  And while I genuinely believe that you can make a shift at any point during the year, there's just something about January 1st that feels right.  Especially January 1, 2018 - I really feel like 2018 is going to be our year.

I have a history with stuff. During my high school years, I worked for the things I wanted to buy.  Babysitting and teaching tennis lessons resulted in newfound cash in my pocket and the freedom to go out with my friends.  After landing a corporate job a few years later, I found that I had even more spending money than before. In retrospect, maybe I went a little crazy.  I bought myself new work-appropriate outfits and fresh beauty products, feeling confident that these sparkly new things were going to fix the anxiety and apprehension about the major life changes that I was going through.   And while I tried to cull my wardrobe on a couple of occasions over those first couple of years, I still found myself moving a very full closet of clothes with me when my husband and I made the drive back from Pennsylvania to Boston.  Bless his heart for helping me to carry all of the boxes into our new apartment.

It wasn't until I read Marie Kondo's "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" that it truly struck me a) how many things I had in general and b) how many things I had around me that didn't actually make me happy.  I would look into my closet every morning getting ready for work, gravitate towards the same clothes each time, and keep these outfits in steady rotation.  I would go to make dinner, look at the griddle that we never used, and go back to my favorite non-stick pan.  I would go to make a cup of coffee and pick my favorite Anthropologie "M" mug (thanks Mom!) despite have at least six others on the shelf.  I honestly think all of the small choices that we have to make each day (what to wear for the day, what pan to use, what mug to grab) drain a little bit of our energy along the way.  And when I had an overflowing closet and so much stuff that I didn't find truly useful, it exhausted my energy tank.  

Maybe you sometimes feel the same? I sure did for a long time. So here's what I did.  A couple of years ago, tuning into Marie Kondo's advice, I took out each article of clothing, beauty product, kitchen utensil, book, and belonging and laid them all out.  This was a workout in and of itself, and I already wanted to quit - but I pressed on. I went through methodically, thinking about each item and whether or not it "sparked joy."  I will be honest - when I read that my decision to keep or toss an item should be solely based on it "sparking joy" I thought it was absurd, but in action, it actually made sense. To my surprise, I could *actually* sense whether something was bringing me genuine enjoyment or not, and whether it was time to move on. At first it was kind of a scary process.  At the end, I felt significantly lighter and clearer.  And in the next couple of weeks, with less decisions to make during the day, my headspace felt clearer too. 

I now work with more of a "capsule wardrobe" during the year, and share the (small) closet in my apartment 50/50 with my husband.  Although I don't stick to a strict number of items to keep in my closet, when I buy a new piece, an old item will come out to be donated (most of the time).  I find genuine joy in knowing that everything we keep in our apartment is something that we enjoy and actually use frequently.

Keeping in line with those New Year vibes, at the beginning of every new year, we try to go through our small apartment and see what is no longer serving us and needs to go. My husband really doesn't have the same "stuff" issue that I do, but he also participates in going through his things and usually finds at least a couple to pass along. So, here's to starting the New Year with less things, more energy and a clean slate. 

Do any of you have capsule wardrobes or strategies to focus on living with more intention/minimalism?