Friday, January 3

Living Life: Minimally

Okay, welcome back. Or rather, thank you for reading my first blog! I gather that if you are reading this, perhaps you tried to add mindfulness into your daily routine over the past days or weeks? Mindfulness and meditation is very challenging for me--I'm a sensory seeker--I talk or sing to myself and my cats if left alone without entertainment devices. If you're like me, you may find minimalism has more immediate gratification.


Eliminating excess. Celebrating a simple life. Enjoying what you have here, now, today instead of constantly seeking more of what you don't have. Eliminating  the "I want..." for material goods. Becoming a very selective consumer.

The idea of minimalism is largely in contrast to the "American dream" and other first-world cultures (always seeking MORE consumerism, materialism, technology updates, etc.). My husband frequently reminds me to be aware of what is "normal" for third-world countries (think amounts and varieties of food, clean water, housing, hygiene, clothing, transportation differences, etc.). Wow--what an opportunity to practice gratitude!

Remember this is a journey--becoming minimalist can be taken to an extreme: "just one" of everything (think 90% of the global population) or delve into this lifestyle more slowly using "just 10" as a starting point.

HOW to begin?

  1. Make a list of your 10 essentials--this can go by room or consider all of your possessions depending on the level of excess you own. I decided to go through each room as part of the process.
  2. Decide your limit--I chose "just 10" of everything (10 short sleeves, 10 long sleeves, 10 pants, etc.) There are many blogs about becoming minimalist to guide you--one woman used 40 hangers to encompass her entire wardrobe, others keep much less. I really like the 40 hanger idea...but I have too much stuff, so that will be an ongoing goal. Remember--this is a LIFE change--it doesn't happen overnight!
  3. Choose a room to start--I chose my bedroom, so this will be my example.
  4. Pull EVERYTHING out. YES. Throw it all on your floor/bed. This includes ALL your summer/winter/athletic gear, belts, purses, SHOES, accessories! I purged by category using my limit of "just 10". (I did bend the rule for work clothes as I have an embroidered uniform.)
  5. TRY ON--this is where you may need a buddy. I was shocked at how many clothing or shoe items I haven't worn in nearly a decade, but... "maybe I need it for ____." Trust me, you do NOT need it! This is where QUALITY comes into play. If you have multiples of one item choose your one favorite and purge the rest. If you have multiple items and you don't like or wear any of them, (for example, I discovered five little black dresses, including three from high school!) purge ALL and buy a nice one you actually want WHEN the occasion presents itself.
  6. CONSIDER: what items do you really truly NEED (vs. want) to save for an emotional or sentimental reason. Lessons include: You DON'T need to keep those fat pants "just in case they fit again", you DON'T need to keep those work clothes from your previous job if they are no longer relevant to your present career goals or needs. 
  7. Divide into two piles: Keep. Donate. (Notice: there is not a third "sell" pile, see below for an explanation as to why.)
  8. Repeat the process with next room. Consult your spouse/roommate as needed.
  9. Have fun giving your possessions to those in need (younger siblings, homeless shelter, Goodwill or Salvation Army) while simultaneously reaping the benefit of a cleaner, organized streamlined room and life. It's a win/win! 
    NOTE: Keep your receipts from donations for tax purposes. Make sure you count the number of items donated for this receipt.
  10. Feel joy, love, peace and gratitude with what you have and what you no longer need cluttering your life!
WARNING! Do NOT try to sell your stuff. I tried this by taking four large white trash bags of clothing to Plato's Closet and ALL of it was denied except ONE pair of jeans. They gave me $7. Not only was this experience a bit embarrassing but also a waste of time and energy. I learned a valuable lesson: this process is about MINDFULNESS and GIVING to others, NOT about earning some cash!
A good rule of thumb with Christmas on it's way is if you receive (or purchase) one new item you then GIVE two items away.

Want to learn MORE?
"The potential of minimalism lies in what you choose to pursue with your life in place of material possessions. Choose contentment. Pursue gratitude and generosity. Invest in relationships, grow spiritually, discover truth, and find purpose."
"The more I focus on living, the less it seems I need."

Amanda Masters is a pediatric occupational therapist, meditation student and strives for minimalism.

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