Minimalism: Like with Like

A basic tenant of minimalism is to put like with like. For example, if you are working on decluttering or downsizing the number of shoes you own, you should start by gathering all of your shoes together so that you can decide which pairs you are keeping and which pairs are leaving. 

Putting like with like sounds simple. It is deceiving. I’m not going to lie. Putting like with like is HARD. All these minimalism tips tell you to put like with like as if it was the easiest thing in the world to do. It’s not. 

Stuff is everywhere. Your belongings are spread out and scattered all over your living space. It’s supposed to be that way. Homes are meant to be lived in. So telling someone to put like with like may sound simple in theory, but is challenging in practice. Your home is lived in, and your stuff is everywhere. 

Putting like with like may be easier for some items that others. It all depends on the person and your lifestyle. For me, personally, putting all my shoes together was easy. I don’t have many pieces of footwear. They all tend to be in the same area of my house and not spread out. 

This winter when I engage on a major decluttering project of paperwork – that was hard. I have paperwork all over the house. There was paperwork in my office, my kitchen, and at least 2 other rooms in my house. Paperwork ranged from things like appliance manuals to insurance policies to car repair receipts. Stuff was everywhere.

I could have gone through piles of paperwork in each room. Essentially, that’s what I did first. Then, I put all of the paperwork together in one room. That was the hard part. Everything was spread out. As hard as it may be to put like with like, I’m glad I did. I now have my paperwork downsized to one milk crate of papers in one room. That is the extent of my paperwork. It is no longer spread out all over the house.

Having all the paperwork together not only makes it easier for me to find things, it makes it easier for someone else to find things if something happens to me. Have you ever had to go through a loved one’s paperwork after they died? The paperwork is everywhere. You go through piles of stuff trying to figure out what is what. It is a tedious task that no one wants to do after a loved one dies. 

I downsized my paperwork so that anything extraneous was shredded and all necessary papers are together and labeled into categories – medical, insurance, car, house, etc. If something happens to me, I have one milk crate of important papers for you to go through to settle my affairs and shred.

Homes are meant to be lived in. You should have all of your belongings spread out and put in places where they are being used. However, when you are trying to declutter, it is easiest if you can put like with like so that you can see just how much you have. You may say you want to downsize your coffee mugs. Then, when you put them all together and see you have 32 of them, you can set a goal – such as 6 coffee mugs – for downsizing. You need to put like with like to get the full scope of just how much you have. 

Like with like is not an easy task. However, if you can manage to put like with like, it will make the overall process of downsizing easier. Going with coffee mugs, once you donate the 26 mugs you are not using, by all means take the 6 coffee mugs you are keeping and put them wherever you need them. Spread them out. Homes are meant to be lived in.

It may sound like an easy premise, but like with like is actually challenging. Don’t be hard on yourself if you start trying to put like with like and find it difficult. Minimalism and decluttering is not an easy process, even if people like me make it sound easy. 

Happy 7th Birthday, Simon!

Happy Birthday, Simon! Today the baby turns 7. Simon is the youngest of the three cats. He is the middle child in order of adoption, but is the youngest in chronological age. Simon was adopted at age 1 1/2 and has been with Jude and I for 5 1/2 years. 

Simon is the most shy of the three cats. He hides if anyone comes to the house to visit. He is terrified of vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and thunderstorms (basically all loud noises). Simon will hide in a kitchen cupboard or in my office upstairs when he is scared. 

Simon is our Chief Cuddler and the glue that holds our family together. Everyone loves Simon. He is often found cuddling with Jolene and Jude. Simon also has his moments where he enjoys his alone time. He can be found on the cat tree or in his favorite chair near the bedroom window.

He sleeps with me every night, right in the bed. Simon sleeps in the space right next to the pillow. Sometimes he does like to be under the covers as well. He is the one that wakes me up every morning to feed everyone breakfast.

Simon’s favorite toys are small toy mice and catnip bananas. He can often be found on his “nana phone” talking to all his Twitter friends. Simon is the king of random zoomies. He will make a noise and then take off to some other location within the house. He loves sun puddles and rolling around holding and licking his own tail.

He can often be found playing with Jolene. They chase each other up and down the stairs. He also enjoys wrestling matches with his sister. Simon plays with Jude as well. They like to play hide and seek over / under the Kuranda bed. Sometimes Jude plays too rough with Simon and they need to be separated, but at the end of the day, they cuddle and groom each other. 

Simon was adopted as a companion for Jude. When Kitty passed away, I had told Jude he was going to be an only child. That lasted for about 7 months. I was playing with Jude frequently, but he wanted to play non-stop and seemed to really need a companion. Enter Simon. 

With Simon, I started to do the slow introduction process I have always done with the cats to ensure a smooth transition and lasting bonds. However, Simon and Jude had another agenda. They both worked together from different sides of the door to meet long before I had wanted them to. Simon had only been with us for a few days when they wanted to meet each other. They have been deeply bonded from the first week Simon arrived.

Simon is the sweetest, gentlest cat and so loving. We are so privileged to have him as a family member. He brings us such love and joy every single day.

Even though he is turning 7, Simon will always be my baby. He is the youngest. Jolene was adopted after Simon, but she is older. After these three pass away, I will not adopt again. I will be a foster mom instead. So Simon is my baby because he is the youngest of the cats I will ever adopt. 

We cannot imagine what life would be like without Simon. You often hear of bonded duos. Bonded trios are rare. I truly think that Jude, Simon and Jolene are a bonded trio. They all get along so well. Simon is the glue that holds us all together. He is completely full of love, more than any other cat I have ever known.

Happy Birthday, Simon. We love you. 

Kenny’s Story

It was winter 2022, either January or February. I don’t remember which. I work from home, and I sit near a window, so I can see out during the workday. A pickup truck came up the street, stopped, and a few colored items flew out the window. The truck sped off. The colored items that flew out were two kittens who were thrown out of the truck.

From their size, I estimated the kittens were somewhere between 6 months and 1 year old. There was Reba, a pregnant calico. I was able to catch her and get her to the animal shelter. They confirmed she was pregnant at under a year old. The other cat, Kenny, a black and white tuxie, was more elusive. I saw him at a distance, but he would not come close. 

Eventually, Kenny found refuge in my garage. I would see him outside interacting with longtime stray, Tom. Kenny pretty much lives in my garage. He uses the insulated cat shelters. He eats the food I set out. I see him every morning when I set out food and every evening when I bring food inside.

Last fall, about 6 months after being thrown from a truck, Kenny started to come closer to me. He has gotten to the point where he loves to be pet. He rubs up against me and purrs. He loves attention and loves to play.

In January 2023, the shelter had an opening to take another one of the strays I have been helping. I was confident that Kenny would be trapped and go to the shelter to be adopted. Kenny is very friendly and would be a great house cat. He has so much love to give and truly needs a home.

However, Tom was in the trap in January 2023. Tom went to the shelter and has since been adopted into a loving forever home. I am so happy for Tom. He is older, at least 10, with health issues. He was a favorite of shelter staff, as they said he is one of the most gentle strays they have ever taken in to be adopted. He is so happy and loved in his forever home.

Kenny is still here.

I cannot take in a fourth house cat either physically or legally. There is a three pet per house law here. Also, I can say that having three house cats is a definite stretch for me with resources. I do handle it, and I do not regret Jude, Simon or Jolene at all, but I know that I cannot handle a fourth cat. Kenny desperately needs a home, but it cannot be mine.

Kenny has gotten so friendly that he has tried to come into the house. However, I have to close the door instead of letting him in because the inside cats start to chase him, and I cannot have my inside cats escaping outside. Not only would I lose one of my beloved inside cats, but they would chase away Kenny too. Of course, if Kenny came inside, I would not put him out. I would take him to the shelter and insist they take him because he came inside.

The shelter knows that Kenny is here. However, they are too full of kittens right now to take another stray cat from me. Kenny is one of two outside cats that are left I am caring for.

The other outside cat I am still caring for is Flower. I have been caring for Flower for 5 years. Flower used to live in the house next door, until they kicked her out and moved. I want to trap Flower to get her to the shelter too.

Kenny and Flower are the last two outside strays I am helping. As soon as the shelter has space, I will trap one to take for medical care and adoption. Since I have bought this house, I have gotten three outside cats to the shelter for adoption: Reba (thrown from the truck), Tom (one of the original strays with Flower), and Clare (one of the original strays with Flower and Tom). 

There is a sense of urgency in trapping the strays and getting them to the shelter to be adopted. There is a dog fighting ring in the area. They spray paint the stray cats and use them as bait. The SPCA know the dog fighting ring is here, but refuses to do anything about it due to how much money it brings in. Incidentally, the SPCA also just lost their contract to provide services here.

The rescue I work with when I trap the strays and take them to shelter is NOT the SPCA. There is a different, non-profit 100% volunteer run shelter I am working with to find the strays forever homes and rescue them from the dog fighting ring.

I truly worry for Kenny, as he is so friendly. I am hoping to find him a home soon so that he can be out of this area with the dog fighting ring. Not to mention, he is the friendliest of the strays. It is very obvious he had a home once, and wants and needs one again. I am confident that if it were not for my inside cats chasing him away, he would probably come right into my house if I left the door open and let him inside. 

I am really hoping that the shelter will have space to take Kenny this fall. In addition to the dog fighting ring, I am worried about Kenny being abused due to his coloring. Kenny is the sweetest cat and so trusting. He truly deserves a forever home. 

This is Kenny’s story so far. I’m really hoping I can find him a forever home soon.