So I start the minimizing today. Appropriately, it’s Boxing Day and I’m about to go to U-Haul and buy boxes to pack up my stuff.
I’ve been thinking about nothing else for about a week. GETTING RID OF THINGS. I’m watching every TED talk I can find on the topic. I’m reading Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn (I'm really enjoying it, by the way). I’m watching Tiny House Nation (which is, counter-intuitively, strangely focused on getting new stuff, new wingy-dingies that spin, hide, expand, contract, but that’s another conversation).
Today I’m feeling like a startled cat; that fear is making me hiss and spit as I get closer to actually going to get the boxes and then, to start filling them.
It’s hard for crafters, isn’t it?
Crafters Have Stuff. Lots of it.
I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do it. I’ve gone through this room so many times before, getting rid of the things I could get rid of. I’ve already been ruthless. The things left in here are what I need to live.
Except that’s not true. I need very few Things. I just WANT all this other stuff, and the thought of it—the look of it—makes me feel heavy, sluggish, and stressed. I’m tired of it.
So I’m going to tell you my plan, and maybe putting it here will remind me how much I really want to do this. Because it would be a lot easier to just stay in bed today, on this day off, and read all day. (The deliciousness of lying in bed reading about minimalism while not moving toward it can't be overstated.)
The place I’m really getting stuck, of course, is on keeping the things I really love, the things that add value to your life. How do you pick between them? I love everything in my office! I do!
I found a great piece of advice on Courtney Carver’s site, on identifying treasures and finally letting go, and I’m using it. In my words:
1. List the things you’d run into a fire to save. (The 911 fire dispatcher in me says, NEVER GO BACK INSIDE, the gasses are what take you down and kill you, not the fire itself, are you CRAZY?!) But let’s think about a metaphorical fire, shall we?
In this metaphorical fire in my metaphorical house, I would save:
These are the only answers that make sense. But say I had twenty extra seconds. What would I risk my own life to save? There aren’t many of them. I only came up with:
Mom’s journals (I love to hear her voice)
My journals (not that I ever, ever reread them, but they’re important to me)
The afghan my capital-K New Zealand grandmother knitted for me
Photos (which are going to be digitized and soon will all be on the cloud—let’s talk about this again soon because I have no idea how to approach this and will do a whole post on it soon – would love your ideas if you have some)
2. Keep the things you use everyday. This, also, presents a problem for me. I know, obviously, what I use a lot. My computer, Post-its, pencils, etc. But what about all those things I think I will use someday? Like the stapler? Good god, I haven’t stapled papers together in twenty years. Why do I stubbornly keep that thing, when I’m actually going entirely paperless? That’s it! The stapler goes! But you see what I mean.
I got a great tip from Millburn's book (above). He uses the 20-20 rule. If you're torn about getting rid of something, and the item can be bought for less than 20 bucks in less than 20 minutes, then toss it. HELLO ALL THOSE LITTLE CORDS. They’re all going. I’ve never EVER had to find one of those, but I couldn't throw them out. Until today.
3. Keep the things you love that bring you great joy. This could be art, or a book, or that plastic elephant you bought in the market in Marrakech right before you danced all night. Note: this means the things that DO bring you great joy. Not that you think COULD or SHOULD bring you great joy if you just got around to using them/looking at them. (Tea towels, anyone? Last night we went to a party and I used one of my favorite tea towels (a 1967 calendar spinning wheel towel!) that had been languishing in my office waiting for inspiration to strike — I wrapped it around the bottle, tied it with yarn, and there you go. It did bring me joy, in fact, to give it away, to a spinner.)
This doesn’t mean keeping the things that you think you should keep, that you think SHOULD make you joyful, but that actually make you uncomfortable when you think of them. Read Getting Rid of Things that Make you Feel Bad. I’d kept old love letters for a long time, thinking I would like reading them when I was old. Know what? Even when I’m 97, I’m still going to feel a little foolish for staying in those relationships for so long. I got rid of the letters years ago and haven’t regretted it once.
This step, though, I think will give me trouble, so I’m going to box everything I can’t immediately say I would ache not to see everyday, things that aren't as important as the Things I Will Keep, like my signed Elizabeth Zimmerman that Janine gave me. That’s something I love seeing every single day. That won't be boxed.
4. Let everything else go. Box it all. Sell it at the garage sale. This will include:
All pattern books (when was the last time I used one? Years and years. Ravelry has solved this. I love that my patterns are kept on their server!)
All yarn that doesn’t have immediate plans for use, excluding favorite handspun and cashmere, of course.
All sewing fabric without immediate plans for use (which is to say all of it)
All jewelry making supplies. Hahhahahahahaha. Remember the time I thought I’d make jewelry?
All half-finished projects. They’re half-finished for a reason. I’m going to keep on the needles one big project (sweater), one pair of socks, and one piece of lace. Everything else goes.
All memorabilia. <—— Really. Mom’s journals and a few photos bring me happiness. Using her yellow bowl daily in the kitchen brings me joy. All the other stuff? I’ll see if the sisters want any of it and then let it go. There are a few tchotkes I’ve bought on trips that bring me happiness to look at, but the rest, the things hiding behind others things? They’ll go.
5. When it doubt, box it. Leave for 60 days. If I haven’t been compelled to fish it out, then I’ll donate the boxes, unopened.
Luckily, I just redid Project 333, so I don’t have to worry about clothes. Thank god. (If you haven’t tried that, TRY IT. It’s life-changing.)
So this is the plan. Now I’m going to put on jeans and a favorite T-shirt (because all I have left are my favorite clothes) and go buy boxes. Then I’m going to box. Happy Boxing Day.
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