Minimalism Isn’t About Deprivation

desert

You may be wondering if minimalism is right for you. Or you may have already dismissed it as something you’d never want to get close to.

But if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet that a part of you is wondering about it. Wondering if it’s possible to pare things down and not feel somehow… deprived.

Remember this always:

Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of anything.

Minimalism doesn’t equal poverty.

Minimalism is not about giving everything away and going to live in a monastery.

Instead, you should look at minimalism as a tool to help you. To prevent and cure overwhelm in all areas of life: work, home, leisure (leisure? what leisure? I hear you cry).

Having less has so many benefits

  • Less stuff to tidy up
  • Easier to clean
  • More space
  • Easier to find things
  • A calmer environment
  • Greater focus
  • Greater clarity
  • Less distraction
  • Easier to prioritise
  • Easier to be spontaneous

I have found that it also spills over into other areas, giving you better control of your money, more relaxation time and even better sleep.

The best thing about it is that you don’t actually have to get rid of anything that you don’t want to. YOU define what your needs are and what you want to keep in your life and your home.

And there is nothing to say that you can’t chose single items of luxury instead of multiple cheaper versions. Have one beautiful watch that goes with everything instead of several cheaper ones. Buy less clothes, but make them better quality.

Minimalism doesn’t have a direct relationship with money, so don’t build a bridge where there isn’t one.

It provides guidelines for a journey that can take you out of stagnation and forward onto achieving goals that you didn’t know you could attain.

In fact, as far as deprivation goes, minimalism can give you the opposite: abundance (hows that for a hippy word?). Clearing the decks not only allows you to appreciate what you do have, but it clears the way for new things (not necessarily physical) to come into your life.

And who would argue with that?

Action points

  • Think about the things that you do not need anymore. What is genuinely never going to be used again – these are the things to start letting go.
  • Think about who you really are. When you define yourself and your values, it becomes easier to know what you do and don’t need in your life.

Why Minimalism Matters (It’s Life and Death)

glovepin

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been unlucky enough to lose my last two remaining grandparents. Both of them lived a long life.

Aside from the immediate grief, and the frequent moments of nostalgia that I found myself slipping into, there was something else members of our family felt during the aftermath: the heavy weight of clearing out somebody else’s home.

Neither of my grandmothers were hoarders, but emptying their respective flats was still a difficult job for my parents. In the case of my maternal grandmother, I was the executor of her will, which entailed sorting through and cross checking bags and bags of papers.

When somebody leaves us, the physical items they leave behind take on a completely different perspective. And in a way, it helps to gently remind us just how unimportant so much of our stuff really is.

When we look at our own collection of pens, books, clothes, and DVDs, we really believe that we need them all. Or even, that we need more! We go shopping and buy things we already own, in different patterns or colours. We have so much.

But when you look at the possessions leftover from someone’s life, you realise how little they really did need after all.

When someone dies, their worldly goods end up being  scattered far and wide. The most precious and sentimental things are shared between relatives and friends. Useful items that no one has the space or need for tend to be donated to charity. A lot of things – a surprising amount – just ends up being thrown away.

Without wishing to be morbid, take a moment to think about everything you own, and what would happen to it all if you died. Where would it go? Who would find a use for it? Would people even know what it meant to you? Would they know the stories behind certain pieces of jewellery, old photographs or dusty dresses that had seen better days?

It may seem morbid to think about our things like this, but actually, it’s a fantastic way of seeing clearly what really matters – especially when it comes to keeping sentimental things.

When you are gone, everything you have will be laid bare for your family to sort through.

Why Minimalism Matters

So, the crux of this post: why minimalism matters. Minimalism is important because it gives us grace in both life and death.

In life, less physical (and emotional) clutter gives us space for new adventures – from our youth to our oldest age.

In death, less physical (and emotional) clutter allows us to pass on knowing that we didn’t stagnate in a lifetime-collection of our own existence.

Minimalism gives us freedom. And it gives those we leave behind freedom.

Because when we are gone, it will not be our possessions that had the greatest impact on those that knew us, but our minds.

Well Hello There Wednesday

I’ve popped in for a 10 minute catch up. I’ve read a handful of posts, will scribble this down and then head off again.

Like Mummy Flying Solo I think bullet points are the way forward!

  • Valerie’s Health and Fitness challenge has been awesome. I’ve not touched gluten at all (and never will again, given I found out I was coeliac just before starting). My eczema has completely gone. My heart palpitations have gone. My rosacea around my nose has gone. I even need less sleep. It is incredible. Life-changing in fact.
  • Long time readers will know that I blog completely anonymously – no one knows or follows these posts that I know in real life. Well, I’ve just started a new blog, which is me FOR REAL. One that I am not super-paranoid about others finding out about. I am planning on running my new blog to start generating an income at some point. And I’m also working on an autobiography (delusions of grandeur, ha ha!), that I’m going to promote through that blog. I have finally realised that me is me. I will pop back and share this with you soon.
  • I’ve broken up with some friends. They made me feel bad about myself such a lot and in the end, I realised I was done with seeing them. We all met up once a week as a mums group and I decided my time was up. I texted and explained in a diplomatic but honest way and just like that I was out. And I feel so good about it.
  • I have an appointment next week to check up on my 6cm cyst. I finally stopped bleeding 67 days after my miscarriage, and since then all has been quiet. I am hoping that the cyst has resolved as I am very reluctant to opt for surgery. We will see next Wednesday.
  • That’s about it. Life is good. And I feel good about life.

I miss you all, but will be blogging less frequently here, I think. At least for the moment.

I have been away before and returned in force, so never say never 😉

Much love, Rx

Keeping Like With Like

cookerybooks

Paring back your possessions and living with less is most often a slow process. It takes mental adjustment along with the investment of time and energy to let go of things, and a way of life, that you have taken for granted for many years.

One of the things that can help you as you make this adjustment is the principle of keeping like with like.

Our houses allow us to spread our possessions over multiple floors and in multiple rooms. If we hire storage, or use parents’ or friends’ lofts, we can even store things across multiple locations.

The problem with this spread out storage (and with owning so much) is that duplicates and excess are an easier problem to run into.

No matter how much stuff you have, and no matter how little decluttering you do to start with, the principle of keeping like with like will prime your brain for the process of letting go.

Having handbags strewn all over the house, in cupboards, under beds and in wardrobes is one thing. Having all your handbags in one central location so you can see how many you have, and make a convenient choice over the best one to use, is quite another.

By keeping things together, you make it easier for your subconscious to decide what it no longer needs. If you can see all your trainers in a row, then eventually you are going to realise that there is a pair that never gets used. When it comes to paring back and living more simply, it is an easier decision to make. You look at all the pairs of trainers, you mentally tick off what you use each one for, and you realise the pair you haven’t worn in 18 months can go.

If however, those particular trainers were under the bed in a spare room, imagine what would happen when you tried to declutter that room. You’d pull the trainers out from under the bed and think:

Hmm. Old trainers. They might be handy for clearing out the garage. Or doing a fun run in bad weather… I’ll hang onto these!

Without all the other pairs of trainers around them to give them a context, your brain sees them and decides that they are useful.

The other reason that I am such a big fan of keeping like with like is that it really helps when it comes to putting things away and tidying up. E.g. ALL the shoes go in the cupboard under the stairs. ALL the DVDs live on the shelves in the lounge. ALL the computer cables go in the drawer in the office.

Categorising things and keeping them together gives you a sense of mental order, even if your house is still bursting with stuff. Give it a try!

Action points

  • Try creating a single home for something: your cables, pens, DVDs, or even your sports gear.
  • When you’ve collected everything together, keep it that way.
  • As time goes by, notice if there are surplus items that you no longer really need.

Keeping Receipts – A Simple System

receipts

Keep your receipt.

How many times have you been told that?

Receipts are a pain – they come in all different shapes and sizes, they get screwed up at the bottom of carrier bags, and you can never find them when you need to take something back.

A good habit to get into is to save receipts for important items in one location.

There are three main reasons to keep receipts safe:

  1. Warranty and repairs. Almost everything comes with some form of warranty. Don’t be afraid to get things replaced or fixed when they break, rather than just accepting the loss – any electrical item falls into this category.
  2. Insurance. If the absolute worst happens, you’ll want an estimated value of all your large items, from furniture and carpets to TVs and bikes.
  3. Ordering spare parts. This is especially important for items that don’t have model or serial numbers printed on them. As a example, we managed to track down replacement toilet seat brackets for our 7 year old, no-longer-manufactured toilet because we had kept the receipt with the original model number on it.

Keep them all together, and don’t worry about filing them in any kind of order. You shouldn’t be storing a great big mountain of receipts – for our house of four people, our collection (pictured above!) easily slides into an A4 plastic folder. We keep the folder in a fireproof filing cabinet, along with all our other important papers.

Don’t add in instruction manuals or software CDs or anything else. Your receipt folder should just contain receipts. Manuals especially are best kept separately (as they tend to be bulky).

Have a mental cut off monetary value – we don’t keep anything much under £30.

As far as maintenance goes, all you need to do is scan through the contents once every few years and remove any items that you no longer own.

What to save:

  • Large expensive items (electronics, cutlery sets, furniture, carpets, curtains, bathroom furniture, etc)
  • All electrical items, from TVs to stick blenders – pretty much everything has at least a 1 year warranty.
  • Special items of clothing and jewellery
  • Bikes and high value exercise/leisure equipment

What not to save

  • DVDs, CDs and books (you are unlikely to ever refer to these again)
  • General clothing
  • Food (obviously)
  • Board games and non-electronic entertainment
  • Pretty much all low-value items

Personal fact

The oldest receipt in my folder is for my swiss army knife, dated 10 June 1994.

Action points

  • Get a folder and label it
  • Gather up and sort through all your important receipts, and then file them away
  • Chuck the rest!
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