The Road to Minimalism is Paved with Clutter

At some point a little over ten years ago I found myself earning a good income and two dress sizes less than I’d been the previous year. What better way to celebrate this than with some cute new clothes? Thousands of dollars worth of cute new clothes and something for every occasion.

The double wardrobe in my bedroom, hallway wardrobe and two sets of drawers were jam-packed with clothes, shoes and accessories all for me.

  • Conservative clothes for work
  • Quirky designer outfits for going out
  • Tee-shirts and jeans for lounging around
  • Dress-ups for fancy dress parties I got invited to less than once in an electric blue moon
  • Gym gear for the work-outs I didn’t do
  • Formal dresses for the balls I didn’t go to
  • Clothes for when I put on weight
  • Clothes for when I lost weight
  • Vintage clothes
  • Designer clothes
  • Fast fashion clothes made with questionable ethics

People knew I liked clothes so started giving me their hand-me-downs, which I happily added to my collection.

My apartment was so full of clothes I could never find what I was looking for, and what I was looking for was always the same two or three outfits. And still I bought more and more clothes, and plastic hangers to go with them (because I’ve feared wire hangers since watching Mommie Dearest).

And then I thought about my teenage years when Mum would announce, “I can’t breathe from all this clutter you kids leave around!” I thought about people less fortunate than me. I thought about how the clothes I wear are made in developing countries and the people who make them are paid a pittance. I felt uneasy and I felt decadent.

Then I went to Spain for six months. Not because I’d read Eat Pray Love, but possibly for the same reasons. I don’t know; I haven’t read the book. What I do know is that I spent those six months living from the contents of a suitcase and loving it. The apartment I rented was airy and easy to clean. My clothes hung in their small wardrobe with big spaces between then. A few pieces of jewellery sat in a drawer, free from their usual tangle. I appreciated, used and loved everything I had there!

When I came home I knew the clothes had to go. One person didn’t need all of them. Ninety percent weren’t getting used. They needed to be set free. But when I looked at my clothes, each article had some sort of memory attached to them. I couldn’t give away something that once belonged to a dead relative, was given to me by a dear friend, had so many memories attached to it, could I?

 

 

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Minimalist Nic – Introduction

I’ve decided to become a minimalist. Yay! Remember the couple in Absolutely Fabulous who were minimalists? Dressed in white in a room without furniture, wearing thick-rimmed glasses, cooler than cool. Or have you noticed that all the minimalists on YouTube have the same apartment sparsely decorated with green plants in white pots? Well, I don’t think I’m interested in being like those sorts of minimalists. I want nice things around me, but I’d also like the feeling of being able to pack a bag and move overseas on a whim, so that means not too many nice things.

If I can free myself of stuff, maybe I can free my mind too. Maybe you can too. So I’m going to start by decluttering anything I don’t want or need from my life to make room for the things I do. I’m focusing on four areas to minimise – objects, finances, online stuff and time.

I’m also going to try to write about becoming a minimalist without using the word “journey”. I hate the word journey unless it refers to physically travelling somewhere or the eighties rock band. The other type of journey is wanky.

Anyway, I’ve been reducing the physical objects in my possession for four years now and find it pretty easy (and getting easier) to do. It’s kind of fun too. And over the past couple years I’ve been looking at my finances. Recently I’ve come up with a budget I’m good at sticking to and now it’s time to look at my non-disposable income spending. Things like electricity bills and health insurance are a bloody rip-off where I live (Australia) so I’m keen to see if I can reduce them. And this year I’ve started to feel frustrated about how busy I am. Are you familiar with the saying “I don’t have time to scratch my arse”? So I want to look at how I spend my time. As for online stuff (my presence online as well as the files and apps I have on my devices) I’ve only recently started thinking about it, but I want to reduce it to only what’s strictly necessary.

So why minimalism? I don’t want to live in an empty white apartment, but I also don’t want to be tied to it (or anything). I want to have more time, space and finances in my life for the things that truly matter to me. Matter as in I’d still want them around even after an apocalypse. Although I’ve always been a below-average consumer by Australian standards, I want to free myself even more from consumption. How much shit do I really need? How much shit do we all really need?

I’m going to share my experiences here to keep myself accountable and to pass on what I learn so it hopefully helps others with whatever it is they want to achieve. Wow, it was hard to write with that sentence without using the word “journey”!

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Viviendo en una oración

Érase una vez, no hace mucho,

Tommy solía trabajar en las dársenas, el sindicato ha estado en paro,

Tiene la mala suerte, es duro, tan duro,

Gina trabaja en la cafetería el día entero, trabajando para su hombre,

Trae a casa su paga por amor, por amor.

 

Dice que necesitamos aferrarse a lo que tenemos,

No hace una diferencia si triunfamos o no,

Tenemos el uno al otro y es mucho por amor,

Haremos un intento.

 

¡Ah! Estamos al punto intermedio,

¡Ah! Viviendo en una oración,

Agarra a mí de la mano,

Triunfaremos, juro,

¡Ah! Viviendo en una oración.

 

El bajo de Tommy está en la casa de empeños,

Ahora está reprimiendo, solía hacerlo hablar,

Es duro, tan duro,

Gina sueña de huyendo,

Cuando llora por la noche, Tommy cuchichea,

Cariño está bien, algún día.

 

Dice que necesitamos aferrarse a lo que tenemos,

No hace una diferencia si triunfamos o no,

Tenemos el uno al otro y es mucho por amor,

Haremos un intento.

 

¡Ah! Estamos al punto intermedio,

¡Ah! Viviendo en una oración,

Agarra a mí de la mano,

Triunfaremos, juro,

¡Ah! Viviendo en una oración.

 

¡Ah! Necesitamos aferrarse, listos o no,

Vives por la lucha cuando es todas que tienes.

 

¡Ah! Estamos al punto intermedio,

¡Ah! Viviendo en una oración,

Agarra a mí de la mano,

Triunfaremos, juro,

¡Ah! Viviendo en una oración.

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Women Who Write Melbourne is a diverse and talented group of writers who are working hard on their debut anthology. A New Beginning is a collection of original short stories, poetry and memoir. I am honoured to have a short story included in this anthology and can't wait to see it in print! In order to launch our anthology, we need your help and would truly appreciate it if you could support our Pozible campaign.

 

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