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?  

Isolation Log: Covid Date 5.b.20

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Snow in my backyard on April 16, 2020

Ending the shutdown and going back to work right now is a terrifying thought. No job is worth your life. In the past 7 days, three people I know have died from COVID- 19. I know 2 right now who have it, but are not hospitalized. This is not getting better. It is getting worse.

Testing in my area does not exist. Only the rich and privileged who have access to a vehicle and can drive can be tested. The nearest testing site is an hour away. I know someone who drove to the testing site and was tested. They passed out after the test and almost got into an auto accident on top of everything else. Many testing sites are drive-thru style, yet the test makes some people pass out.

With lack of testing, the numbers reported in my county are very low. There is also inaccuracy in reporting. One of the people I know who has died was a nurse and has lived in her house for 20 years. Instead of her death being reported in the county in which she owned her home, her death was counted in the county in which she was born. It doesn’t make sense to me.

I guess it doesn’t need to make sense to me. The point is, the virus is everywhere. 

Opening the economy is not worth all this death right now. Public health officials need to get a handle on this before we all go back to work. Hell, if you look at my street and the area in which I live, we are not under any restrictions whatsoever. People are still out doing whatever they want in large groups and driving all over the place. From where I sit, people in my community are going about their everyday lives as if people we know and love are not dying right now.

Maybe I’m just special in that I know 3 people who have died. I guess I have a different perspective.

The COVID response is not going to end with some sort of economic stimulus plan or some big go-back-to-work package. The only way this is going to end is through widespread societal structural changes that the US will never do. So I expect that we will see the death toll to continue to rise and be large.

In happier news, many people in isolation think this is all fun and games and have been sharing stupid things they are doing. 

My stupid purchase right now is that I ordered another set of World Series DVDs. This particular World Series has been on my wish list for a long time. However, the DVD set has always been in the $300 range. With everything going on, the price of the DVD set is down to $50, so I ordered it. 

Yes, it was a non-essential purchase. Yes, I feel bad for having something stupid like that shipped to me. The way I was thinking about it is that if I’m going to die, then I want to see that particular World Series before I die. I’m considering it both my birthday and my Christmas present this year since I did not get anything for my birthday and who knows who will still be alive come Christmas.

Of course, there is a delay in shipping for non-essential items. I probably will not receive the DVD set until next month at the earliest. Everyone else has cable and internet to watch things. I just have a DVD player. I already viewed all of the DVDs I had checked out of the library and am now reading through my stash of books.

What non-essential or wacky purchases have you made in isolation? 

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

Enjoy without owning

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My library card gets a voracious workout. Now that I have officially retired from a 20-year career as a professional college student, my library card is starting to rival a heavyweight champion. I am very fortunate to live in an area with a well-stocked library that also has an impeccably organized inter-library loan system to be able to get virtually any item I may desire. From books to DVDs to music CDs, I can check out pretty much all forms of media and entertainment you could possibly imagine.

The joy in this is that I am able to continuously feed my mind without my wallet getting thinner. Libraries are free. If I were to purchase everything I have recently checked out of the library instead of borrowed it, I would need to buy stock in Amazon or Barnes & Noble, as the tally for my mental stimulation is staggering.

I have gotten so much enjoyment over certain books or movies that I have checked out of the library lately that I have put some of those items on my Amazon wish list. Then, I noticed the tally on my wish list and realized I need to slow down. Way down. Just because I enjoy something does not mean I need to own it.

If you enjoy something you have read once, how likely are you to read it again? I do have some novels on my bookshelf that I will re-read continuously because I enjoy them that much. Many of my novels I do not re-read, even though I enjoyed them immensely the first time through. This is why my barometer for purchasing an items is often “if I have checked it out of the library 2-3 times, then I need to own that item.” Lately, I have caught myself putting items on my wish list after only one go-around.

Realizing what I was doing, I went through my wish list and deleted items that I have only read or watched one time. Sure, I enjoyed it the first time I read or watched it, but did I enjoy it enough that I will probably want to revisit that item multiple times? Probably not. I simply got caught up in the holiday flurry of making a wish list for items that you want-but-don’t-need.

Over the past few years, I have been working on curating the movies and novels in my house so that my collection is housing well-loved items that I will visit time and again. There is no need to have to dust, store, and take care of items you are not using or that do not bring you joy more than once.

Using my library card instead of purchasing every item on my wish list ensures that my house only contains items I truly love. It also helps to be sure that my budget stays on track and that my money is being allocated to expenses that truly need to be met and is not spent frivolously on wants. Money saved on books and DVDs on my wish list is money that can be used to fund experiences – so that I have moments with friends in which I can make memories that last a lifetime.

How does enjoying without owning increase your happiness? Do you have more time for family because you spend less time cleaning? Do you save the money you would have spent on an Amazon wish list and use it to take a vacation instead? Enjoying without owning helps to reduce the clutter in our homes and frees our time for things most important in life – memories and experiences.