Going minimal in 2013

by Jessie K on December 30, 2012

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I generally don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions since I always seem to forget them by January 6, but one resolution that’s been stuck in my brain these past few months is the urge to purge my house of all the stuff.

I’ve been reading about this new minimalist movement that’s been gaining traction and  it has got my attention.  (Here’s a humorous strategy for how to get started.)

Click here to keep reading.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

indio December 30, 2012 at 8:58 am

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Since I had children the volume of stuff has quadrupled in my tiny house. They don’t want to get rid of anything. Purging is a concept that other kids do, not them. So whenever they are sleeping or at school, I go through the house with boxes and fill them up with unused stuffed animals and toys. When they outgrow clothes, they get donated right away. We inherit a lot of hand me downs from 2 other families so I have a rule that if 1 bag comes in, 1 bag has to go out. Despite that rule, I still find myself in need of a bigger house to hold all of the stuff we don’t need or use. Since a bigger house isn’t an option, Spring cleaning happens every month around here.

Cynthia in Denver December 30, 2012 at 3:59 pm

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Indio,
When I was around 4 years old, my parents told me of a child by the name of Encinada who had no clothes but what she wore every day and no toys at all whith which to play. They led me to the idea of sending her some of my toys and clothes, thereby teaching me compassion and empathy. They also succeeded in whittling down my stash.

I learned as an adult that Encinada was the name of a California city where my father had gone for some schooling with the Air Force. “Encinada” does exist, but the one my dad told me about was his own creation.

Maybe that could be a tactic to use with your children?

Paula December 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm

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My husband says we need a bigger house (not really an option). I say we need less stuff. The problem is that He would be glad to get rid of a lot of my books and craft supplies. I would be willing to get rid of a lot of his electronic doo-dads (each leading to it’s own collection of supplies, etc.). Nobody is willing to get rid of a lifetime collection of LP’s and CD’s; many of the albums are irreplaceable. (So are many of the books.) I’m not willing to get rid of assorted antique dishes deceased relatives entrusted to me. He’s not willing to get rid of any electronic device or part that might ever be useful.

From time to time, we may purge one closet or set of cabinets, but we haven’t had a real purge since the last time we moved—eighteen years ago.

rebecca December 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

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Have you read “Throw Out 50 Things” by Gail Blanke? It’s a great inspiration and tool for clearing out clutter and exploring the emotional root of WHY we keep it all, so it doesn’t come back like you said. It’s broken up into easy-to-read sections and you could probably get through it in a night or two. http://www.throwoutfiftythings.com

Beth December 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

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We lost our house in a fire in ’09. Not a way I’d recommend to de-clutter, necessarily, but it did give me a whole new relationship to all the sh*t cluttering up our living space. Now I’m extremely hesitant to buy anything new, & give a ridiculously long thought process before adding the teensiest item to the house. I love my new “minimalist” home!! And yet 3 yrs later, it’s already feeling cluttered…Not that I’m itching for another fire, but really, how DO we accumulate so much junk, so fast?

Sarah December 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm

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We are faced with the same task this year. We bought a few plastic containers for seasonal things that we actually use, but anything that does not fit in that catagory or is used on a regular basis is going bye bye. It is very daunting, and a bit emotional, but I think that we will both feel better after it is finshed and gone. Why do I need to keep that box of childhood reminders that I only open once every couple of years when I’m looking for something else? I will have to check out the book mentioned above. You can do it Jessie!

rebecca December 30, 2012 at 6:52 pm

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As the de facto owner of many items belonging to long dead relatives, I have to remember that I can love the person and cherish the memories I have of them, without holding on to this item for the rest of my life. “It’s an unhealthy setup, in which people become “slaves to inanimate objects. Once you’re defining it as something you can’t get rid of, you’re not in control of your life or your home.” The NY Times did a great piece on this (6/26/2008) called “The Tyranny of the Heirloom” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/26/garden/26inheritance.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Molly Odell December 30, 2012 at 10:30 pm

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We’re about to face a big move from Seattle to Alaska and I sure wish we were more minimalist! I have accepted that we will never be light on furniture (my father in law builds beautiful hardwood furniture), outdoor gear (since we both work outside), cooking/baking stuff, and of course canning and cake decorating equipment. But, we continually try to keep the rest – books, clothes, shoes, nick knacks – in check with almost monthly trips to Goodwill (how do we accumulate so much stuff???).

Paula December 30, 2012 at 10:43 pm

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I consider parting with any worthwhile book almost physically painful. Sometimes when I get rid of a book, at a later date I decide I’m not comfortable not having it and search for another copy.

Brad K. December 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

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Molly,

After my last move, I decided that next time, if there is one, I would consider what to move by weight and cost to replace. If it came to more than 35 cents per pound, probably take it. Otherwise . . only personal things, stuff that would be tough to replace (my grandmother’s bedside lamp, for one — the shade isn’t “authentic”, so I won’t be taking that, though. And the can opener I got while in the Navy, that I haven’t found another I like as well. Etc.). Books — some books, and vinyl album, I rediscover every once in a while, and others I read/play every year or three. And too many books become unavailable too often. But the manuals for Microsoft Assembler for the PC/XT? They won’t be going. Probably.

Brad K. December 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm

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One of my Feng Shui books claims that clutter will obstruct the flow of energy, reduce creativity, and making taking on a project more difficult (as you have to clear an area, pick up the scattered tools and materials from where they were left).

Jessie K January 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

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That’s what I’m after: Improved flow of energy!

Karen S. January 1, 2013 at 9:50 am

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I need to do the same thing… complete purging of the household. I need a good way to organize and keep some of the boys school papers and artwork. We’ve been doing a binder, but I think we may need to take photos and go digital. I can’t believe how much paper the kids bring home. Not to mention all the toys.
If you need moral support for the purging, just let me know. It would be great to not bring in any new items for myself for 6 months too.

Melissa W. January 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm

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Eight years ago, we bought an old house and began renovations. Most of our stuff stayed in the garage while we did the work. When we finally finished, we had very little clutter, and there was so much air and breathing space in our home. Almost every single person who came into our house commented on how awesome they felt being in such a sparse house. They were literally in awe and would ask for help with their own stuff. My advice, take almost everything into your garage, and only bring things in as you need them. It feels so good! After boxes of books sit in your garage for eight years, it’s very easy to donate them. Now when I go into a supremely cluttered home, I feel sick. It’s just gross…consumption. Good luck!

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