10 Chairs

After years of minimalism, I have decluttered many items. I have highlighted the great coffee cup purge, downsized my wardrobe, and decluttered my entertainment media. So how in the world did I end up with 10 chairs for one person?

Talk about a fantasy self. I will admit that 4 of the 10 chairs were acquired since buying the house. Why 10 chairs? Well, here they are:

2 wooden kitchen chairs that match my kitchen table

2 green plastic upright chairs that were on the porch at the apartment 

2 folding camping chairs – 1 small easy to throw in the trunk of the car for impromptu outdoor outings, one is my luxury wine glass holding relaxation chair for Adirondack camping

4 blue plastic Adirondack chairs – It has always been my dream to own an Adirondack chair. Of course, the wooden real ones are too expensive. I compromised and purchased plastic Adirondack chairs when I bought the house. I had been relaxing on the front porch with the people who helped me move, and there was not enough seating. Some of us sat on the porch ledge. I thought that getting 4 outside chairs would be used. My train of thought was the fall time camp fires we would have using the outside fire pit. Of course, that was a fantasy self. Covid hit, and almost all of the people who helped me move into the house have died. I don’t have anyone over because we are still in a pandemic. Not that hardly anyone I know is still alive anymore.

That’s how I ended up with 10 chairs. It’s ridiculous. One person does not need 10 chairs, especially when almost everyone I know is dead.

I will be decluttering my chairs. 

First off, two of the blue plastic Adirondack chairs will be leaving. I have always wanted Adirondack chairs. Now that I have them, I will keep two. I am using two of them. I use one upstairs in the bathroom to sit in when changing my clothes. I also use the two of them to help drape sheets for air drying after going through the washing machine.

My luxury camp chair is staying. The arm rests are specially designed to hold a wine glass. The chair also reclines. It is the blue chair I take to the Adirondacks with me.

The small folding camp chair is questionable. Right now, it is hanging in the garage. I do use it in the fall when I want to sit at the outside fire pit. However, I could also use my luxury camp chair for that. I have not yet made a decision about the small folding camp chair.

The 2 green plastic upright chairs are being used. One is my desk chair for work. The other, the cats enjoy using to sleep in at the end of the bed. It has a blanket on it for them. For the time being, both green chairs will stay.

The two wooden chairs with my kitchen table are staying. I use them. I use my kitchen table. Sure, I am one person with two kitchen chairs. One of the kitchen chairs is used by the cats. 

Realistically, I should probably declutter down to 5 chairs. I am thinking: luxury camp chair, 2 kitchen chairs, and the two green upright chairs. 

We will see. I will not officially declutter the chairs until spring 2023. It just amazes me how I have overlooked CHAIRS in my whole decluttering process. 

One person with dead friends does not need 10 chairs.

How many chairs do you have per person? 

Minimalism – How It Started

There are hints that I have always been a minimalist from a young age. It’s possible it comes from a childhood and youth of homelessness or from living with a mother who is a hoarder or both. Research is evolving that says that responses to homelessness can be either extreme of hoarding or minimalism. Many people tend towards hoarding. I tend towards minimalism.

My childhood was rough, and there were many times when I had to move someplace or flee with only what I could fit in a single backpack. You learn fast how to make decisions and what is important or not important to take with you when you are given 20 minutes to pack a single backpack.

As an example, we will flash back to the year 1994. I had been tossed around homes and foster home situations due to abuse. I had a law guardian. The “child welfare system” worked a lot differently in the 80s and early 90s than it does now. To make a long story short, I was in abusive home in 1994 and was reporting the abuse to my law guardian. The school I was attending was reporting it too.

In the mornings, I was left home alone for roughly 30 minutes. The abusers I was living with went to work. I was left standing in the driveway waiting to be picked up for school. On one April morning about 10 minutes after the abusers left, the phone rang three times and then stopped ringing. I was never allowed to answer the phone. However, I knew that three rings that stopped was my signal that someone was coming for me and it was time to flee.

I quickly dumped all the books out of my school backpack and ran around cramming everything in it that I thought it was important to have to leave. I walked out the door, same as any other morning and stood in the driveway to be picked up. However, instead of being picked up to go to school, I was going to be picked up to be taken to a safe place – and it all had to be done before the person arrived to pick me up for school so nothing would seem amiss. The person picking me up for school would simply notice I was not outside and assume I was home sick for the day.

The car tore into the driveway. I jumped in the back seat and laid down on the floor behind the front seats with my single backpack. I was covered with a blanket to hide me. We tore out of the city. I had to stay hidden in the backseat with my backpack covered with a blanket until we were a safe distance away for me to be able to sit up and move around in the backseat properly. 

This is a true story and it is how I escaped one of many abusive situations in my lifetime. 

That one backpack held a few changes of clothes and some keepsakes. When I arrived at my safe destination, they took me shopping for more clothes so I would have more than two or three outfits. I did not pick out many clothes. I didn’t think I needed that many. I don’t like being responsible for lots of things in case I need to leave quickly due to an emergency situation.

Many months after my exodus from that abusive situation, all of my belongings that I had left behind were brought to me on a small tow-behind trailer. My books, the rest of my clothes, the music I had left behind, was all returned. At that time, I didn’t feel like I needed any of it. I had left it all behind and lived without it for many months. It was all creature comforts. None of it was needed to survive. What I needed was to be in a safe place, free from abuse.

At times in my life when I have been in safe places, free from abuse, I have accumulated things. I have accumulated LOTS of things. Most of this accumulation of things has been the result of convenience. When I was working 80 hours a week at three jobs, it was easier to have duplicates of items because I couldn’t find something or was too tired to wash or clean an item for reuse. In a nutshell, it was laziness.

My first big foray into the minimalism journey I am now on started about in 2010. I wanted to move. I had been wanting to move for a decade. You see, I moved from Massachusetts to New York in the late 90s. I had said I regretted the move and wanted to go back to Massachusetts. I knew that to go back I would have to downsize from a 2-bedroom apartment to a single room. Rent in Massachusetts is about 9 times higher than rent in New York.

My initial declutter into minimalism was with the goal of a move in mind. That, and I had been in a safe place free of abuse for a few years and had accumulated a lot of stuff. Honestly, it was making me anxious to be surrounded by so much stuff. What if I needed to leave? Yes, I know what I would grab to take with me. What about all the crap left behind? Besides, now that I am an adult, there is more responsibility than when you are a child.

I started downsizing with an inter-state move in mind. The move never happened, as I was not financially able to find a job that would pay me enough to even rent one room in Massachusetts. I’m still in New York. While I do not want to be in New York, I have no regrets about my failed attempt to return to Massachusetts.

I digress.

I have been on this minimalist journey for about a decade. Each burst of minimalism or decluttering has basically been a response to some traumatic life event. I decluttered A LOT when I moved from the apartment to the house. We were literally 3 hours away from being homeless when I bought the house. I knew we had to leave the apartment. I knew we were moving. I just didn’t know where we were moving to. I was prepared to live in the car with the cats until the house actually came through. That is how close we were to homelessness at the time.

In the pandemic, I am staring down the real possibility of death. Everyone around me has died. I will die eventually too. No one is going to want to go through my crap when I’m dead. I’m going through it now. On a more positive note, I would like to move internationally. I like to think I am now downsizing with an international move in mind. We will see if my wish to move internationally becomes a reality or a pipe dream. For now, that is what I am planning to do.

Combine my wish for an international move with the reality that I do not feel safe in this house due to the neighbors, and I am in the perfect situation to declutter. I am not in a safe space. I need as few items as possible. I need to know exactly what needs to go with me if we need to flee from here for safety. I don’t want to be responsible for a bunch of crap left behind.

To be honest, being surrounded by fewer things reduces me anxiety. I have enough to worry about taking care of the cats and keeping all of us together. I don’t want to have to worry about or be responsible for an entire house full of stuff too. So, I am getting rid of the stuff. I am only keeping what I use or what truly makes me happy. I am trying to reduce my things to only what is necessary so that I can focus on what is truly important in life.

I don’t want to spend hours cleaning this house or all of the stuff in it. I want to spend my time enjoying my life with the cats, as my life and their lives are so very short. 

I’m pretty sure I have always been a minimalist since I was a child, but I did not have the vocabulary to express it at the time. When you grow up poor, you only have a few items because you can’t afford to buy things. However, the longer you are alive, the more stuff you accumulate. If you are in a safe place, you tend to accumulate stuff as well. 

If you have lived through multiple emergency life situations such as I have, then you realize that you just can’t be responsible for a boatload of stuff. You need the necessities and that is all. 

Before I started minimalism, I had a lot of clothes. Taking after my hoarder mother, I had 3 closets and 5 dressers full of clothes. Now that I am a minimalist, I have one dresser and 10 hangers of clothes. That’s it. I have everything I need for 4 season of weather conditions. 

Some people marvel at how much I am able to pare down, however, this did not happen overnight. It has been a journey of stops and starts well over a decade. It all depends on where I am in life. 

Right now, in the pandemic, I am acutely aware of how short and precarious life is. I am more ruthless at this point in my minimalist journey than I have been in the past. Whether I die or actually achieve my dream of moving internationally, I am going to go someplace. I know that there is no one on this Earth who is willing or able to go through my crap after I’m gone, so I’m going through it now. You can’t take it with you, whether that’s in death or to some other country.

That is how my minimalist journey started. I started this blog to keep myself accountable along the way. I don’t want to go in the opposite direction of my hoarder mother who literally has her house packed full wall-to-wall and ceiling to floor of just STUFF. Her house is so full, you can hardly breathe in there. 

I want more time to spend with the cats and enjoy my life. I do not want to spend the little precious time I have here on Earth cleaning my house or taking care of my stuff.

What was your prompt to start minimalism and what does it mean to you?

Minimalism – Entertainment Media Part 2

Back in February 2022, I had written this post about my minimalism goals for my entertainment media this year.  To be honest, I have surprised myself with the progress I have made in this area, as CDs and DVDs are some of the most challenging areas for me to minimize.

This is an update on my progress.

I have been ruthless with decluttering my media. With all of my items, I am considering if each CD, book or DVD is something I would want to pay to have shipped if I move out of the country. In the first round of my decluttering, I would say I was able to get rid of about half of my items. I got rid of the low hanging fruit. Items I weeded out were those that do not bring me happiness. They are items I do not want to pack up and move with me again.

Then, when the bad neighbors across the street drove into the front of the house again and I have been forced to empty my living room, I got more ruthless with my media decluttering. I now have an entire room in my house I am unable to use. It was the room that held all my entertainment media. I am now stuck trying to find other places for these items in my house. 

Books

Surprisingly, books have been the easiest category for me to declutter. I am perfectly fine with using audiobooks and libraries. I do not want to ever have to haul a box of books when moving again. It’s not worth it. 

I have been able to declutter myself down to three books. I have three books that I am willing to keep and pack up and move with me next time I move. 

There are some books that I have in the donation box that I was keeping only because they were signed by the author. I took photos of the book cover and the signed inscription. They are honestly not bringing me joy. It is time for them to move on and be enjoyed by someone else. These are books that were just taking up space on my bookshelves. They are not books that I pick up and read. I have read them once, and once was enough.

The three books I kept are one reference book, and two books that I have read repeatedly. If I had to pack a backpack and go someplace, these would be the books I would grab to take with me. I am fine with re-reading the three I am keeping.

DVDs

Since I have been forced to completely empty my living room due to the neighbors trying to murder me by driving into the living room in the front of the house, I have realized what a huge pain it is to move the TV, DVD player and all of the DVDs.

I can tell you right now that when this TV set dies, I will not buy a new one. I will live without it. I have never paid for cable in my life. My bunny ears do not get any channels here. The TV set is only used to watch DVDs. There were many years of my life when I did not have a TV set or DVD player. When this set dies, I will go without once again.

I estimate that I have now decluttered about two-thirds of my DVDs. I am keeping only the ones that truly bring me joy that I watch repeatedly. Between the three TV series I have kept, my baseball games and movies, I think I can watch something different every Friday for “movie night” every week of the year. 

As I declutter DVDs, I am keeping in mind that at some point, I will no longer have the TV set and DVD player. I am only keeping those I really enjoy watching and would want to move with me if I ever move again.

Again, DVDs are also something that I can borrow from the library. Most of the DVDs I am keeping are ones that are not available at the library or beloved treasures that I watch repeatedly. 

Records and CDs

My records and record player are now in the closet. Putting on a record is a major pain in the ass. I hardly ever use the record player or listen to records. I put them in the closet for the next year to see if I can live without them. If they are still in the closet next spring, I will look to sell my record player and records. Right now, I think they are just collecting dust. I don’t really use them. Honestly, my record player was one of the most challenging things to move when I moved into the house to be sure it did not get damaged.

The first pass through my CD collection, I listened to all of my CDs. Every. Single. One. I boxed the ones I did not love enough to keep. That was about half of my collection. I will admit that there were some albums I gave a “free pass” because I did not feel like listening to them. That was a mistake. If I don’t feel like listening to it, then it needs to leave.

Since the neighbors drove into the front of the house and I have been forced to empty my living room, I have gotten more ruthless with my CD decluttering. I have decided to declutter from three pieces of furniture holding my CD collection down to one piece of furniture holding my CD collection. This means I only have space to house about one-third of my original collection.

I am not in Round 2 of my CD decluttering spree. This time, I am paying attention to CDs I reach for and play. Obviously, if It is one I listen to a lot, I am keeping it. 

I am also doing a second round of “listen to every single CD.” This time, as I listen to every single CD, I am doing it with this thought: “Is this a CD I would pack up and pay to ship to a different country?” If the answer is no, it is leaving. I want to curate my collection so I am only keeping music I absolutely love. I still have radio. I only need to keep music where I absolutely love listening to the entire album and albums that do not get much radio play. My CD collection is the most challenging for me to downsize.

Conclusion

All of the media I am currently decluttering is being boxed to be donated spring 2023.  Given the ruthlessness with which I am decluttering right now, I want to allow some time in case I change my mind about certain items.

I have never had any regrets about any item I have ever decluttered and I don’t want to start now. I figure that if the books, CDs and DVDs stay in the boxes for a year, then I am ready to part with them and they can leave. 

However, if I find myself pulling a certain movie or CD out of one of the boxes in the next year, then that is an item that should probably stay. 

The typical advice is to box things for three months and if you have not opened the box in 3 months to donate it. With my books, CDs and DVDs, I am going to box the items for about 10 months and then declutter them. I am going with a longer time frame because I am more attached to music and movies and they are harder for me to declutter. I want to be absolutely sure I am ready to part with them before I donate them. 

What is your most challenging decluttering category? Have you moved to a different country, and how much did you take with you? 

Minimalism – Entertainment Media

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When it comes to downsizing or decluttering, they say to always leave the most difficult items until last. For many, the most difficult items are sentimental items. For me personally, the most difficult items are CDs and DVDs. I love music. I love CDs. 

Artists create albums as a work of art. It’s not just the music, it’s the cover art and the insert that goes with the disc. In this way, CDs are similar to records for me, only CDs are smaller. The exerience is almost the same. The one key difference is that the sound of a record is vastly different than a CD, but I digress. Everything else is essentially the same.

I am at that point in my minimalist journey where I feel comfortable tackling the hard stuff. I do think that part of this is pandemic related. Part of it just happens to be where I am in my journey not related to the pandemic. I also have goals in life that are causing me to be more ruthless in my decluttering strategy so that I am prepared to meet my future goals with less stuff.

Here is my strategy and how it is going with my some of my most challenging decluttering categories.

Books

Originally, I thought books would be a hard category to downsize. However, when you look at CDs, DVDs and books, I found it very easy to downsize books in comparison to music. I started with close to 1,000 books. I would spend hours cataloging them by various methods – author, title, genre, ISBN. 

I can borrow books from the library and frequently do. In fact, I was borrowing so many books from the library that I was not reading the books in my house. There is no point in keeping all those books if I am not going to read them. It is time to pass them on so they can be read and enjoyed by other people.

Decluttering my books has been a very gradual process over the past decade. When I declutter books, I donate them either to the library book sale or to the Little Free Library cabinets that I tend to find in parks. 

If I enjoy a book so much that I have checked it out of the library at least twice to read it (two different distinct times, not simply renewing a book I did not have enough time to read), then that is a book I need to own. My goal is to only own books I enjoy enough that I read them several times. If I only read a book once and do not have the urge to read it a second time, then it is time for that book to move on to be enjoyed by someone else.

After a decade of going through this process with these perameters, here is my current status. 

There are 8 books on my book shelf that I have identified as books I have read multiple times, intend to read again in the future, or simply cannot part with (books that have special autographed messages from the autthor). 

In addition to the 8 books on my bookshelf, I currently have one reusable shopping bag full of books that I intend to read. As I make my way through this bag of books, I am deciding if I will keep the book or if the book will be donated and move on to be enjoyed by someone else. So it is entirely possible that I will end up with more than 8 books on my bookshelf as I make my way through the bag of books I have.

My goal is to make it through this bag of books this calendar year in 2021.

 DVDs

My goal for DVDs is only to have as many as I can fit in the DVD cabinet. Right now, not only is my DVD cabinet full, but I have DVDs that have invaded by bookcase. DVDs have been an escape for me in the pandemic, and I do not have cable to watch TV, so I have more DVDs than space allows.

I have decided that I am definitely keeping all of my TV series and my baseball World Series. I am currently watching all of my movies to decide what is staying and what is going. This has been a challenging exercise. 

I will admit that there are some DVDs where I am on the fence. If I am on the fence, those DVDs are going in a special box. They will not be donated to the library book sale this year. I labelled the box 2023 and am going to put it in a closet. If I don’t feel like watching any of those movies in the next year to the point where I pull them out of the closet, then they will be donated in 2023.

There are some movies where I watch them, and right away, I know that I am done with that movie. Either it has served its purpose – I enjoyed it, but it is not one I reach for on a regular basis, or I have “outgrown” the movie. I am no longer at a point in my life where I feel like I will watch that movie again. I have enjoyed it and it is time to move on.

I am currently working my way through watching my movie DVDs to help everything fit in the space provided. The goal is that the DVDs will all fit in the DVD cabinet and that there will no longer be DVDs invading the bookcase.

Records and CDs

This is probably going to be a shocker for those who know me well, but I have decided my records and the record player will be leaving. I had a record player and records long ago that were lost in a flood. Then, for graduation for one of my four degrees, I was gifted a record player. Over the years, I acquired a milk crate full of records all second hand from either the library book sale or from the used record store in town.

In looking through my records, almost 100% of my record collection is a duplicate of an album I own on CD. I rarely listen to the records. To be frank, it is a pain in the ass to connect the record player, place the vinyl on the turnstyle and line up the needle to play. Sure, I love records. I love the feel, smell, and sound of them. However, I am getting much more enjoyment out of my CDs and they are easier to use. The records and record player are just weighing me down at this point. I have future goals that require me to be as light and nimble as possible.

When it comes to CDs, this is my most challenging category to downsize ever. I love music. I love CDs and my collection. A few years ago, I got rid of a shoebox full of CDs. At the time, it was hard. I was all emotional donating a shoebox of CDs. You know what? I don’t even remember what CDs were in that shoebox. I don’t miss them at all. 

Looking at my CD collection today, I have 700+ CDs. I don’t listen to them a lot. CDs are similar to the 80/20 rule for clothes. I listen to about 20% of my CDs 80% of the time. 

The CDs are also way out of their space. All of the CD cabinets are full. CDs have invaded the bookcase. They have overflowed even the bookcase and are just laying around in boxes on the floor. I have way too many CDs. While CDs are my most favorite form of music, I’m not listening to them as much as I used to.

A few months ago, I stopped listening to radio. I just can’t take news anymore in the pandemic. I had to stop listening to news in order to keep my sanity. I still get news. I do not bury my head in the sand about anything that goes on. Now I go to a few different news source’s websites a few times a day to get my news instead of listening to it on the radio. This way, when I have had enough news, I can stop looking.

I also splurged and put Sirius radio on my phone a few months ago. I now listen to music without commercials and without news. I am thoroughly enjoying a bevy of my favorite music stations. I enjoy satellite radio so much, I am not listening to my CDs as much.

This does not mean I can live without my CDs. I still love them. I still have times when I listen to CDs because I want to hear a certain album or a certain song whenever I want. Although I am enjoying radio on my phone, digital music is my least favorite form of music for listening. My CDs still hold a tremendous amount of value for me.

In 2022 this year, I have embarked on a project to downsize my CDs. I am listening to every single CD.

Yup, that’s right. Every. Single. One. 

As I listen to them, I am deciding which ones I am keeping and which ones I am donating. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised. I will pick up a CD and think “this one should be donated,” then I listen to the CD and fall in love with it all over again. It stays. There are other CDs I pick up and think “this one should have a free pass to stay,” but I force myself to go through the listening exercise anyway. Then Ilisten to the CD and think “why was I going to give this one a free pass? I never listen to it and it’s horrible.” 

I have come to realize that just because I enjoy a specific band or musician does not mean I need to own or like every single piece of music they make. There are some bands where I have all of their albums just to have all of their albums because I love the band. But you know what? I may love the band, but some of their records really sucked. And that’s okay.

This year I am enjoying a muscial journey through every single CD I own. Again, the goal of this exercise is for all of the CDs to fit in the CD cabinet. CDs should not be invading the book case and overflowing into boxes of CDs sitting on the floor because there are so many of them. 

I only want to keep what I truly love and enjoy. That is the entire purpose of life. Just because I love a band does not mean I need to keep their one album that sucked. No artist is able to produce albums where every single one is stellar. Some are less than stellar. That’s okay. 

Conclusion

My biggest goal as a minimalist is to only be surrounded by things that are useful and things that I love. Just because a band brings me joy does not mean I need to keep an album that I did not love as much as the others. 

I also now have future plans that are going to require me to be nimble and easy to move. The more I am able to downsize, the easier it will be for me to realize my future goals. Even if I do not realize my future goals, my goal for right now is to only be surrounded by what I love. If I don’t love something, then it needs to leave. 

Yes, I love CDs. I love music. CDs are my favorite form of music. I’m sure I will be just as happy with 300 CDs as I am with 700 CDs. As long as they are all albums I love, that’s the point. I do not have a set number of CDs I want to declutter down to. I just want them all to fit in the CD cabinet and not overflowing and invading other spaces. 

What is your most challenging decluttering category?  

Minimalism: Shoes

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Shoes are hard to minimize for some people. There is a stereotype out there about how women love shoes and have entire closet fulls of them. You hear tales of people having 30, 70, even over 100 pairs of shoes! If that is what makes you happy, go with it.

As a minimalist, I try to have only what I need. For me, shoes are a necessity. As a runner, I would rather pay more money to have a few pairs of high quality shoes that are going to preserve and protect my feet than be fashionable.

I have roughly 6 pairs of shoes right now (pictured above). Each pair serves a purpose.

Starting at top left, there are my rain boots. Those are obviously for rain. I started wearing rain boots back when we started to measure rain in inches, and the field at Fenway Park was underwater. You needed rain boots to be able to walk without wet feet. As someone who has previously experienced homelessness, dry feet are a must. You must keep your feet dry to stay healthy. I always have a good pair of rain boots. This black-speckled pair is the third pair of rainboots I have owned, after pairs one and two became cracked and started leaking water.

Next to my rain boots, are my sloggers with blue paw prints on them. I also like to refer to my sloggers as “shit kickers.” These are water proof, similar to my rain boots, however, they are shoes. Sloggers are great just to have by the door to slip on when I need to go to the mailbox, the garage, or just out in the yard. Not only are they good for small amounts of water when it is raining, but they are also good in mud.

On the top right, are my snow boots. I live in the northeast USA, so we definitely need those. For all of my shoes, the priority is traction. I need all of my shoes to have good traction so I do not fall. I am already a fall hazard with my MS, so any extra traction I get is most welcome.

On the bottom left are my everyday shoes. These sneakers are actually trail running shoes. I choose trail running shoes for my everyday shoes specifically for traction. Trail running shoes are designed to help you grip on uneven terrain and help you to stay steady even in mud. I have been using trail running shoes for my everyday shoes for a few years now, and the traction is great. The only way the traction on these things would be any better would be if I was wearing cleats.

Next to my everyday shoes are my slippers. Everyone needs to be comfortable around the house. Again, I chose slippers that have hard soles with good traction. These ones do. They are not your typicaly slipper soles that are either simply flat or just have lines of ridges. These slippers have bottoms that provide traction. So if I do end up running outside in my slippers (typically due to some issue with the outside feral cats), I do have traction both outside as well as inside. Traction is essential even in slippers, as I have to do the stairs to get to the washing machine, and I am walking on non-carpeted floors.

On the bottom right are my running shoes. I run in Mizuno wave riders and have been my entire running career. I’ve been running in Mizunos for about 15 years now. I typically have two pairs to rotate in and out to preserve the support. However, I just rotated a pair out that had reached it’s mileage limit and are out of support. I only have the one pair right now. I have not yet obtained a second pair to be able to rotate in with these ones.

All of my shoes serve a purpose. I have everyday shoes and slippers. I have running shoes. Then I have my seasonal items of rain boots and snow boots. Sloggers are a luxury. I could probably live without them. However, I just like having them by the door. I can slip out of my slippers and into my sloggers if I need to go outside quick and I know I have great traction in my sloggers.

I am definitely not the type of person that has a closetful of shoes. Each pair serves a purpose. When they become worn, lose traction, or no longer support my feet, I replace them. Being a runner, my goal is to be as kind to my feet as possible so that I can continue to run as long as possible.

While I do not have a set number of pairs for shoes, every pair serves a purpose. I am not a stickler for numbers as a minimalist. For me, as long as my items are useful, beautiful, and fit in the space I have to store them, I am fine. 

I do not need extraneous pairs of shoes. More shoes would just be more things to store and take care of. I do not want to have to take care of more things than I need. The less things I have, the less things I need to clean. However, I do have enough shoes to be able to function in my everyday life. 

By having fewer pairs of shoes, I am able to purchase high quality items. They last a long time and are kind to my feet. I replace things that need to be replaced. This year, I will be looking to purchase a second pair of Mizuno wave riders to be able to rotate in with my current pair.

Minimalism is not always a numbers game or how few things you have. For me, minimalism is only having things that are useful and things that I need so that I am free to focus on the things that are most important in life. What’s most important are my cats, people, and experiences. I have enough shoes to meet all of my life needs.

Never Say Never

All through this minimalist/simplifying process, the one thing I said I would not touch is my CD music collection. Typically, every person has that one thing that they will not touch, and for me, that was music. For some, books are hard to declutter, for others, their closet, and for others still, the boxes of artwork their children made.

This week, I actually got rid of a shoebox full of CDs.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was only listening to some of my CDs. There are many CDs that I have not bothered to listen to quite literally in years. Similar to how we wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time, I realized that I was doing the same thing with my CD collection.

I have also come to the point where my collection is so massive that it is overwhelming. I have two containers of CDs stored in a closet. I physically do not have enough space in my living room to display the entire collection of CDs. The idea behind storing some in the closet was that I would be inclined to listen to the CDs physically displayed in the living room more often. This has not happened.

I’ve decided to cull the CDs.

Decluttering my music collection is one of the most challenging categories to declutter in my home. Like many others, I thought books would be the hardest to downsize. Books were surprisingly easy. As with DVDs, I only keep books that I have read more than once. There is no point in keeping a book if I do not intend on reading it again.

Sidebar: my library has begun printing how much money you have saved each year by using the library. They use list prices to ascertain that if you had gone out and bought the book/DVD/CD new instead of borrowing from the library, you would have spent so much money. I have saved over $400 so far by using my library this year.

What makes CDs challenging is the fact that I have listened to them all multiple times. Yet the collection is so massive that it is overwhelming. The very first CD that left the house was one that I listened to in college back in the 1990s. I put it in the CD player and could not for the life of me figure out why I had the CD or why I had listened to it so much 20 years ago. That album is crap. I suppose that music tends to just fit depending on the points we were at in life. Yet this “crap” album had no memories associated with it, other than I remember listening to it back in the day.

The albums in the shoebox that left are all albums that either holds no meaning, or when I listen to the CD, I only really like one or two songs on the album. I do not think one song is worth it to hold onto an entire CD. If I want to hear that one song that badly, I’m sure I can find it someplace online when I need a “quick fix” of listening to one particular song.

Getting rid of one shoebox of CDs is huge for me. Music is the one category I said I would not touch in the process of simplifying my life. However, I am learning the economic theory of diminishing returns and that you can have too much of a good thing. When your music collection is so large that it is overwhelming and no longer enjoyable, then it is time to curate that collection.

In the grand scheme of things, one shoebox of CDs is very small. There is still 1 and ¾ of a container of CDs stored in the closet. I’m sure this is going to be a slow journey, as music is my most challenging category, but the ultimate goal is to get down to the amount of CDs that can be displayed in the living room without having any stored in the closet.

Before anyone says to just digitize everything, keep in mind that digital clutter is still clutter. I’m not about to make the conversion from physical clutter to digital clutter. Not to mention, I’m not a huge digital person anyways. Especially with music, I like to have the physical product for the experience. Remember things called concept albums? How album covers, art, and packaging all contributed and added to the music inside to create a story? I’m really into that experience.

As we move to simplify our lives to focus more on what’s important, we all have that one category that we won’t touch. That’s ok. If decluttering your home and purging items is painful, then you won’t stick with it because it feels like punishment. For me decluttering my home is not punishment, it is a sort of freedom in that the less items I have to clean and maintain, the more time I have to spend with the people who matter the most. The only reason why I am finally touching that one “never declutter” category is that it has become so overwhelming that it no longer brings joy.

What is your “never” category? Is it still sacred and untouched? Or, have you started to downsize that category? What strategies did you use to attack the most challenging category to simplify?

Demon Snuggling

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In my efforts to downsize and minimize, some items are easier to evaluate and part with than others. The two criteria by which I usually decide an item’s placement in my life is if it is useful or if it brings me joy. Perhaps the items most difficult to go through, not only for myself, but also for anyone are sentimental items. While not useful, sentimental items tend to fall under the category of “joy.”

It is completely understandable. The coffee mug that reminds you of your Alma Mater, or the quilt your now-deceased grandmother made by hand are items to treasure because they make your heart sing. While these points seem obvious, what is perhaps more difficult to understand is the phenomenon I will dub “demon snuggling.”

I recently got down and dirty “demon snuggling,” and am happy to declare that I am demon snuggling no more.

These past few weeks, I decided to go through the “stuff from growing up” box. Most everyone has one. Parents usually save items that were significant from childhood including baby shoes, report cards, art projects, teddy bears, and other well-loved items that usually make their way into adulthood. If you have children, then this entourage grows, as most parents tend to keep a box of precious belongings for their children in turn.

While for most people, these are happy memories, for me they were not. I had a less than stellar childhood, and I prefer to leave it behind. I am proud of the fact that I overcame some challenging circumstances, but I do not need the reminder of that triumph locked in a box to peruse for the rest of my life.

So, I got in down and dirty for some demon snuggling and was able to reduce that box from an approximate 50-quart storage bin down to an approximate 10-quart storage bin. While earlier in the fall, I looked to the future in Playing Dress Up , this winter I dealt with the past by demon snuggling.

A 50-quart box of things from growing up is not something I would ever want to cart with me if I move. Yet, and I am sure most of you would agree, it’s not something I want to get rid of completely either. Some things like your first Winnie the Pooh always stay with you.

For better or for worse, sentimental items are perhaps the most difficult items to downsize. There is so much emotion attached. In demon snuggling, I had a lot of starts and stops to the process, as I had to process through pain in order to part with some items. The pain, however, was good, as I was able to kick some major negativity to the curb. However, it is almost always easier to snuggle with your demons than to face them.

Many of the items that were shed, I took photos of them and uploaded those photos to the cloud. I am perfectly fine with looking at a picture of the happy-gram I received in 1988 for “appropriate attire in physical education class” as I was in physically having the happy-gram. In fact, I am pretty sure that when I’m dead and people are going through my belongings that if said happy-gram was still among my possessions, that whomever was going through my stuff would put said happy-gram in the trash anyway. Replacing the physical happy-gram with a digital photo of it that exists in the cloud does not in any way diminish the lessons I learned by dressing appropriately for gym in 1988. I have 14 marathon medals, and many of those were earned in inclement weather. I am pretty sure I am well versed in being able to dress myself for participation in physical activity.

While something such as a happy-gram seems quite innocuous, I did try to keep in mind (forgive the morbidity, but we’re talking about demon snuggling here) that someday someone will be going through my stuff after I am dead and gone. What type of burden do you want to leave for that person? It is going to be hard enough for loved ones to deal with the fact that you have passed on, do not give them the added chore of needing to spend months or even years going through all of your stuff and trying to figure out what to do with it.

Keep in mind that what is left behind after you die is also a part of your legacy. Your most intimate possessions tell a part of your legacy. What do you want your legacy to say about you? Do you want your legacy to say you had a whole bunch of things hoarded from the 1980s (as people find your old band outfit and track ribbons)? Or do you want your legacy to say you had a full, active life full of adventure (as people go through your luggage and sporting equipment). What you have is not as important as what you do or how you make people feel. How you make people feel is your greatest legacy, and hopefully you have the chance to touch some hearts along the way.

Back to demon snuggling.

Many of the items in my “growing up” box were not there for the happy sentimental feelings they evoked. Rather, there were many things in that box that brought to mind painful memories, and made me sad, mad or hurt. For some reason, it is easier to snuggle with our demons than it is to kick them to the curb. It was actually more challenging to rid myself of the items that evoked negative emotion than to contemplate whether or not something brings me joy.

Life is too short to be unhappy.

I do not need reminders of times in my life in which I felt pain or was not happy. Yes, those are parts of my life that happened and I must own. Just because I accept and admit that they happened does not mean I need a constant reminder or slap in the face to remind me of what I have endured or overcome. Many times we demon snuggle because it is easier to live with the pain than it is to process that pain and come through the other side. Pretty much anyone who has faced their demons in life fails to come through unscathed. However, the triumph of facing demons far outweighs a few scars.

I am not sure why demon snuggling is so easy. It is counter-intuitive that it is harder to part with pain than it is to part with joy. I don’t have enough time or space to figure that one out.

I will say that downsizing sentimental items is challenging. Setting a limit on what number or type of container you want to hold onto is helpful. For me, I wanted to downsize from a 50-quart box to a 10-quart one. Maybe you have three boxes of stuff from growing up and want to downsize to one. Maybe you are struggling with all of your children’s treasures that you are saving for when they leave the nest someday.

Taking photos of items such as artwork and certificates is helpful because they can be stored digitally without taking up space. The less space taken up by paper products means more room for teddy bears and action figures.

How do you deal with sentimental items? Do you find some items evoke negative emotions? Have you figured out a system or a way to cap the treasures you keep? Just because you dragged that Care Bear everywhere does not mean that your children will do the same. They will have their own cherished object that goes everywhere with them.

Are you snuggling with your demons or have you kicked them to the curb? As I strive to only have things in my life that are either useful or that bring me joy, I am happy that I am able to recognize when I am demon snuggling so that I can kick them to the curb.