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?

Power of One: One Subscription

The cost of living is rising all over the world and many people are adjusting their budgets. The pandemic has seen a rise in the use of subscription services as people seek entertainment options at home instead of going out. 

For me, going out to a movie has always been a treat. I only went to see a movie on the big screen if it was something I really wanted to see. If I had to guess, I would say I saw a movie in the theatre maybe once or twice a year. Often, I wait for movies to come out on DVD and check them out of the local library.

My entire workday is spent sitting at a computer. When I am off work, I do not want to spend my personal time in front of a computer as well. I need a break. I have never gotten into streaming services for this reason. For me to sit at the laptop and watch a movie for 2 hours feels too much like work when I just spent 8 hours at the laptop for my paid employment.

Television was a luxury growing up. We never had cable. We always had bunny ears. The TV set got maybe three or five channels. I grew up on radio. Radio was free. It was everywhere. It was a constant companion. I love music. I always have music playing in my house and in my life when I am not working. 

As an adult, I have never paid for cable TV either. I just don’t have the money for it. I grew up poor and as an adult am working poor. I don’t have money for TV. For years when I was in the apartment, I got 10 channels for free on bunny ears. The TV was nice to turn on for an hour or so when I got home from work at night to watch something funny or brainless before going to sleep.

When I moved to the house, the bunny ears for the TV set do not work. There are too many hills and this is a rural area. We cannot pick up any television signals here. Even the radio signals are limited to just two stations. 

The past few years in the house has left me with using my DVD player with the TV set since I cannot get any channels by antenna. I still do not feel like subscribing to any TV or movie streaming services. I would not use it enough to justify the cost. There are too many things going on in my life as a homeowner with a disability. I don’t have hours a day to watch a streaming service.

However, I do still listen to a lot of music. I can listen to music as I go about the house doing my chores and what needs to be done. Only being able to reception for two radio stations is quite frustrating. I like both of them, but sometimes I just want to change the dial. I do enjoy my CDs.

Last fall, I needed to do something to break up the monotony in my life and wanted to treat myself. I decided to totally splurge and get a subscription service – to radio. I downloaded and subscribed to Sirius XM on my phone.

Sirius is the only subscription service I have. It was one of the best treats I have ever decided to splurge on. I use it every day and it is a constant source of entertainment while still allowing me to do what I need to do in my daily life. 

At first, I subscribed because I wanted to listen to radio without being subjected to all the fake news about COVID I was hearing. By subscribing to satellite radio, I can listen to music with no commercials and no fake news. There are no news breaks. I do not have to hear about how COVID is “over” when I am mourning yet another fully vaccinated friend with no pre-existing condition who just died of COVID.

If I do want to hear news, there are news stations I can listen to so I can hear what Is going on in the world. When I have had enough of the news, I can change the channel back to one that plays music only with no news. Satellite radio allows me more variety and more control over what I hear. When I have had enough of the gloom and doom news, I can choose to just hear music.

Satellite radio is also amazing because I can use it to hear sports. I hear baseball, hockey, and soccer/football games on the radio. I can hear all of the games without the market or blackout restrictions they put on TV sports. Even streaming TV sports has restrictions and the packages are very expensive. By listening to games on the radio, it saves me money. I also have access to international games that are not available with TV packages.

While the news tells of people tightening their budgets and cutting back on streaming services, my life is simple. I have one subscription service. For my lifestyle, subscription radio gives me more enjoyment and more bang for my buck than a subscription movie or TV service would. 

If it happens that I need to decrease my expenses drastically, I would only have one subscription service to cancel. I could go back to the two radio stations that are available here and my CDs. However, I get so much enjoyment from satellite radio that I think the $12 per month cost is worth the service. It is my only subscription and is the biggest splurge in my everyday life.

If you could only have one subscription service in your life, which one would it be? I hear of households that have 4-5 subscription services that are now trying to cut down to save on money each month. Would you be able to cut down to just one? Would you be able to live with no subscription services?

For me, my one subscription service is a luxury. I have never had a cable bill in my name. I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life I have a monthly bill that is purely for pleasure and not a necessity like the mortgage, electric, phone, etc. For me to cut back my expenses due to the cost of living increase, I would cut my subscription service. Beyond that, I would be cutting necessities like food or utilities. 

As many of us are looking to reduce expenses right now, what can you decrease or cut? What one subscription service would you keep if you cancel the rest? Find your one. 

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.

Desert Island

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Imagine you are stranded on a desert island … we have all played this game in some form or another. It’s a great icebreaker and a way to pass time in the car on long car trips long before the invention of the internet and modern electronic devices.

Imagine you are stranded on a desert island and only had 5 books to read – what would they be?

Imagine you are stranded on a desert island and only had 5 albums to listen to, 5 movies to watch, 5 things to pack in your bag …

As the world is still in the throes of a global pandemic, we are living the ultimate desert island scenario. We are facing global supply shortages that are not only exaccerbating the relentless food shortages of the past 20 months, but also creating new supply shortages. 

With a deadly airborne virus that shows no signs of letting up any time soon, our houses are a desert island. Gone are the days when you could replace something in under 20 minutes. 

Enter minimalism. Do you have everything in your house / desert island that you absolutely love? Do you have too many things? Do you have things you don’t love? Our houses are the desert islands now. If you don’t need it or love it, get rid of it.

All those things you hang onto “just in case” – the emergency is here. Living in a global pandemic is an emergency. If you are not using it right now, you won’t ever need it. There is no need to continue to hold onto those just in case items.

Who is going to clean out your house when you die? It’s not a pleasant thought, but we are all going to die sometime. The pandemic has just accelerated that process. Have you ever had to clean out someone’s belongings when they die? It’s not a pleasant process. It’s tedious and emotionally exhausting.

Why not make it easier on whomever has to clean out your things when you die? Live with less things.

A global pandemic is the perfect time to downsize our homes and lifestyles so that we are surrounded only by what we love. Life is short – do what you love. Why spend extra time cleaning?

Once I complete my half marathon this fall, I will be approaching minimalism with a renewed vigor. I don’t want to have a bunch of junk for someone to have to throw out once I’m dead. I’m going to attack my belongings with ruthlessness now. 

My house is my desert island. I only want what is useful and what I love. If I’m not using something right now, it is going to leave. The emergency is now. We are living it.

I have no regrets over anything I have gotten rid of during my minimalism journey. I have not missed anything I have donated or gotten rid of. In fact, I don’t even remember the items that are gone.

One of the most challenging areas for me regarding minimalism are my CDs. I love music and I love CDs. However, my CD collection is overflowing the space currently available for it. I will be going through and listening to CDs this winter and hopefully only keeping those I truly love.

I remember a few years ago, I tried to purge CDs. It was the hardest aspect of minimalism for me. If I remember correctly, I got rid of / donated about a shoebox full of CDs. I don’t remember which CDs are gone. Must be those CDs were not favorites. My goal this winter is to be able to weed out another shoebox full of CDs. 

My house is my desert island and I only want to have what I absolutely love.

Have you ever applied the desert island scenario to your home in your minimalist journey?

A Minimalist in Hell

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Some of the many sound blocking panels installed in the office.

 

There are at least four houses of people on my street who have quit their jobs since the US government started giving a monthly stipend (universal basic income or UBI) to people with children. Since then, the level of noise and chaos on my street has increased exponentially. 

As if living next to a group of Proud Boy terrorists was not enough, there is a house about four doors down who has decided to purchase a drum set. They have not done any sound proofing to their home. They think that it is okay to drum full bore from 8 am to 8 pm. The local police do nothing – our noise ordinance goes from 11 pm to 7 am. There have been at least five other houses who have complained of this loud music during the day. 

The loud drumming is causing trauma to veteran and civilian survivors of large-scale events. It is causing ears to bleed. It is causing windows to crack and break. It is causing people who work from home to either lose their jobs or be put on probation because you can’t work when people can’t hear you because you are being overpowered by a drum set.

The village code officer refuses to do anything. They say there is no noise ordinance that covers this, even if this one house is terrorizing not only all the other houses on the street, but houses on neighboring streets as well. (Yes, it is that loud.) There is no talking to the house in question to knock it off – when you go over there to try to talk to them, they instantly shove a gun in your face. I, for one, do not want to be shot in addition to being terrorized non-stop in my own home by deafening sound.

The only recourse we have is to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits take money and who wants to make a court appearance during a deadly pandemic? I’m not willing to die for this. The gun waving is bad enough.

I have been reading up on sound proofing to try to figure out how to block the noise from my office so that I can work. Note that my office is on the far side of the house away from the offending house. The offending house is also four doors away. (Yes, they are that loud.)

Actual sound proofing done by a handyman or contractor costs thousands of dollars. Who has that kind of money in a deadly pandemic? We are still struggling with food shortages. 

I have been reading up on DIY sound proofing. Most suggestions to block the noise suggest things I have already done – close all windows and doors, use heavy drapes to block noise. I do this anyway to block light and heat to try to keep the house cooler in the summer.

Other suggestions for DIY sound proofing are to put a ceiling to floor bookcase against the wall and fill it to try to block the sound. The basic premise is to fill the entire room with stuff so that the offending noise does not echo around.

I am a minimalist in hell.

I have purposefully been trying to empty the upstairs of my house. It is difficult for me to do stairs safely. I have been trying to get all of my belongings on the first floor with me to reduce the number of times I have to do the stairs. I am a fall hazard and fall on the stairs frequently. My goal is to have empty rooms upstairs. 

There is one exception. My office is upstairs. This is so that my workspace is separate from my living space so that I have a positive work life balance. Now that I am 100% a remote worker, it is critical to have that distinction between home and work. 

I actually have divided one room into two different work spaces. There is a work space for each job. This helps me with transitioning mentally from one job to the other. There is also a distinction in that one job I am an employee, where the other job, I am the boss / an independent contractor. One job provides me with their equipment that I must use. The other job I have to provide all of the equipment.

Aside from the office and the bathroom, the goal is to empty the upstairs.

The idea of having to fill my office with stuff in a futile effort to block noise is driving me completely nuts. My goal is to empty rooms, not fill them up. 

I am trying to figure out what I can put in the office to block sound. I have purchased sound blocking panels – they do nothing against the onslaught of noise we are experiencing. I have put my container of sewing fabric in the office. I have put my one container of childhood memories in the office. I am doing what I can to block the sound. 

However, trying to fill up that room is driving me almost as nuts as the noise. Except for the bleeding ears and damage to my hearing. (Yes, I have seen a doctor who says my hearing is being damaged by this.)

The best solution would be for these horrid neighbors to stop making the noise. I am not, after all, the only house that is being bothered by it. However, stopping the noise would be way too easy. These people are so self-centered, they do not realize there is an entire village that is being terrorized.

The village office said they had sent a letter to the offending house a few weeks ago. However, the people who live in the house making all the noise can’t read. So sending them a letter does nothing. A phone call or some sort of consequence for their action might go further. However, the fact that they constantly come out and wave the guns around is something to worry about also.

I’m just a minimalist in hell trying to figure out how to block noise by filling up a room. My goal for my house is to empty the upstairs rooms, not fill them up.

I wish people would remember to be human and that there are other humans on this planet too. Some of us are right next door.

 

Death Cleaning

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Spring is coming and we all tend to come out of hibernation and move around more. This includes spring cleaning, minimizing, and downsizing.

I have a room upstairs that I use to collect items throughout the year for donation. I wait until spring when I can get around easier to take everything to be donated. Thankfully, the place where I typically take donations has an outside contact-free drop off point. 

This weekend I went through all the items upstairs for donation. I sorted everything into piles based on where it needs to be donated. For example, there is one box of items specifically for the animal shelter (old towels, sheets, etc). There are also items that can be recycled now that it is easier to put recycling out since the snow is gone.

I have a few items that, quite honestly, need to go to the dump. I do not have a clear idea how to get rid of them. One of those items is a broken vacuum cleaner. When I moved into the house, there was a vacuum cleaner already here. I had brought my vacuum cleaner from the apartment. It worked out perfectly so that I could have one vacuum cleaner upstairs and one vacuum cleaner downstairs without having to try to lug a vacuum up and down the stairs. 

This past fall, the vacuum cleaner that “came with the house” broke. Now I have to figure out how to get rid of it.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about downsizing and minimizing even more so than in previous years. I have been on the minimalist journey for about a decade, and the journey never seems to end.

In working on my photo project of making an album for myself, I thought about all of my belongings more ruthlessly. What do I really need? What would happen to things if I die?

The way the pandemic is going, I will honestly be surprised if I survive it. My only goal is to outlive my cats so that I can keep them all together. Right now, that seems like a very big and very impossible goal.

 I have applied some minimalist philosophies, such as getting rid of things that are part of your “fantasy self,” and packing things up for 3 months before getting rid of them. However, there are still some items that seem to stay.

The twin bed in the upstairs bedroom is one example. Years ago, I debated whether or not to get rid of the bed in the spare bedroom. I decided to keep the twin bed. It even moved with me from the apartment to the house.

I have had this fantasy self that thinks it is there for an overnight guest. I like to think I am fully set up for company if anyone ever needs a place to stay. I have only had this actually happen one time when one of my friends was in nursing school and my apartment was closer to the hospital where she was doing her residency. She stayed with me for the duration of the residency. That was actually the impetus for purchasing the twin bed.

The twin bed does not actually get used. Sure, I use it myself occasionally when I feel I need a change of scenery or want to feel like I am on vacation while I am at home. However, there are a total of three beds in this house for one person. I can get rid of the twin bed and still have two other beds in this house.

There is my bed (full size) and the couch pulls out into a bed. In fact, I took vacation last month for my birthday, and the cats and I camped out in the living room on the bed that pulls out from the couch. We never even used the twin bed upstairs. 

With the pandemic, I honestly don’t see anyone visiting me for an overnight stay. Even if I did have an overnight visitor, there is still the bed that pulls out from the couch. That bed is pretty comfy. I slept on it for two years before getting the bed I have now.

I am becoming more ruthless in what I am getting rid of due to the pandemic. When I die, someone is going to have to go through all of this stuff. I’m sure most of what I own will be donated or trashed. If that is the case, I may as well donate or trash things now. I only need to keep what I absolutely need and am using.

Of course, the less I have, the easier it is to clean the house as well. That is a definite plus.

In addition to the twin bed, another item I have held onto for an absurdly long time is the metal bed frame to my full size bed. Well over 5 years ago now, I took my bed off the frame and put it on the floor. Kitty had arthritis in his back legs and was having a hard time getting in the bed with me. Once I put the bed on the floor, it was much easier for him. Kitty passed away 4 years ago. My bed is still on the floor because it is easier for me to get in and out of, as well as the cats who are with me now.

I honestly don’t think I will ever put my bed back on a frame again because it makes the bed too high. I think it is time to get rid of the frame.

Both the bed frame and the twin bed are items I have held onto for a long time. Part of it is because I figure I have the room for them.

However, with the pandemic, I am realizing that someone is going to have to go through all this stuff when I die. Even if I do manage to survive the pandemic and outlive the cats, there will come a time when I need to leave this house to either go back into an apartment or a nursing home. 

You can’t take things with you when you die.

This year, I am going to start employing the Swedish Death Cleaning method to my belongings. I am starting with the twin bed and the full size bed frame. I have many other things to go through as well. It will be a process of trying to figure out what I am absolutely using and what items can leave. I want to make my life as simple as possible. 

Swedish Death Cleaning is the notion of cleaning things out before you die so that your loved ones are not left to do it after you are gone. I did not think I would be death cleaning in my 40s. I thought I would be death cleaning in my 60s. But here we are, in the middle of a pandemic. Life is short. The time to death clean is now.

The most difficult part is trying to figure out how to get rid of everything. Not all places are taking donations of items right now. That means it’s possible that more items will end up in landfills, which is not what anyone wants either. 

My project for the next 6 months or so is not only to death clean through all my belongings but to actually get rid of the items. This past year I have just shoved things into a room upstairs. Now it is time for belongings to leave so that I can have an empty room I don’t have to clean.

I have gone through just about every minimalist philosophy so far. I have asked items if they spark joy, I have played decluttering games, I have packed boxes and then gotten rid of them after 3 months. Now is the time for death cleaning.

For some, death cleaning may seem extreme. Given we are in the middle of a pandemic and many people are dying, I think the time is now. 

Have you tried death cleaning? How did it go? What are some items that you got rid of that were surprising to you?

Minimalist Holidays in a Pandemic

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Jolene sleeping hard wrapped in a blanket.

The snow is falling outside and it is absolutely stunning. There are about 3 inches currently on the ground. It is early morning, the sun is up. We just went through Daylight Savings and are now on the sense of time I enjoy the most. It is November 2 and this is our first snowfall of the season. 

What makes it even better is that I don’t have to drive in it. The car is in the garage in case the man who does the snow plow comes. I have the day off, but even if I didn’t, I would be working from home.

I am inside the house with the cats nice and warm enjoying some Sinatra and coffee watching birds and snow. Life is good. 

It’s holiday time. I will tell you that due to the food shortages, I already started holiday planning back in September. This year is going to be the first time I have cooked something special for Thanksgiving in 5 years, since 2015.  In 2015, as I finished my Master’s degree, I decided to cook a lentil loaf for Thanksgiving to celebrate my retirement from being a college student. The lentil loaf was so good it has become a staple food item in winter that I make about once a month or so.

This year will be the first time in almost 20 years that I have bothered to cook any type of poultry for Thanksgiving. I have a Cornish game hen in my freezer that has been there since the end of September. There is no point in cooking an entire turkey for just me. I am going to put the Cornish game hen in the crockpot with cranberry and orange. It is the perfect size for one person while still being a “full” poultry. 

I am also hoping to make sweet potatoes with it, if I can get them. If not, I have plenty of yellow potatoes in my house right now. But sweet potatoes would be a special treat. 

I am just happy that the cats and I are all in the house together and safe. That is definitely something to celebrate in this hellish year. The way things are going with the virus and the economy, we may be dead next year, or we may not be in the house. But for now, things are good, and we are going to celebrate the holidays. The cats and I are truly home. This is the highlight of my life.

For Christmas, I am going to keep everything the same as every other year. The goal is for the cats to think everything is normal. I don’t want them to know we are living in a global pandemic and the world is in crisis. I’m trying to shield them from that and give them a good life.

This will be Jolene’s first Christmas with us. I adopted her in January last year, right after the holidays. It will be her first time with a stocking, a Christmas tree and presents.

Since I only had two little stockings, I went and hand-sewed brand-new stockings this year, so that all three cats have a stocking and they all match. Jolene needed a stocking. I did not want her stocking to be any different from the boys because I work hard to treat them all the same. So I took some Christmas theme fabric I have and made them all a stocking.

In our house, Santa fills the stocking. He comes down the chimney, fills the stocking, and goes. Presents under the tree come from mom and each cat typically gets 1 to 3 presents each. 

Since being in the house, Christmas is especially exciting because we have a fireplace with a real chimney so Santa does not have to use a “special key.” Santa usually fills the stockings with a few small toys and treats.

I added one Christmas present for each cat onto the October Chewy order to be sure I have their presents. The next Chewy food order does not arrive until sometime in December, and I didn’t want to put the presents on that order that close to Chrismtas in case it didn’t arrive on time. 

So each cat has one present from mom this year. Santa will fill their stockings with small toys (I have some left over from a package of toys from last year that I kept for this year). I will add cat treats for the stockings to my Instacart order.

Christmas for humans is another story. Again, I typically do 1 to 3 presents for each person I buy a present for. Usually everyone gets one present, so that won’t change too much this year. I honestly don’t have money for Christmas.

The only change will be in type of gift. While I usually do a gift bag of various coffees, teas, and cocoa for people, this year the gift bag will be one coffee and potentially one other item.

The formula for this year for gifts is going to be: coffee, hat, or socks.

These are all items I can get, and they are all “essential” items. I am not going to have someone risk their life in a pandemic for a Christmas present. That’s cruel and inhumane. 

Fancy coffee I can add to my Instacart order and get rather easily with my normal grocery order. It’s nice at Christmas to be able to splurge on the expensive or fancy coffee to enjoy as you watch snow falling out the window.

A hat or socks is something you can wear and keeps you warm. Therefore, they are essential. I have been focusing on hats and socks this year mostly because I am cold. If you have a hat and warm socks, then you will be warmer. A lot of us are having financial difficulty in the pandemic and can’t afford the heating bills. If you have to turn your heat down to try to keep the bill down, then a hat and warm socks are going to be needed to stay warm. 

Socks are one of the most requested items by homeless people. Take it from a former homeless person, a warm pair of socks is like Christmas. So this year, a warm pair of socks may just be Christmas.

Back in the First Great Depression in the 1930s, Christmas gifts were often something to eat or something to wear. Children would often find an orange or some other citrus in their stocking because citrus was hard to come by. There might be a yo-yo or small hand carved toy.

In this line, the cats get some treats and some small toys in their stocking.

During the First Great Depression a Christmas present might be a scarf or gloves that someone hand crocheted or knit. I don’t have that kind of talent. But I can order warm hats and warm socks. 

Another Christmas throwback this year will be method of delivery. I’ve seen old home movies from back in the 1950s. A beloved family member comes home for the holidays. They pull in the drive way and pop open the trunk of the car to display a pile of wrapped presents inside. There is one for each family member. 

In the event I cannot figure out any other way to safely deliver presents this year, that is what I will be doing. Open my trunk and grab your present. Safe and socially distant.

Another tradition in which I have been engaging for a long time that I am hoping gains widespread adoption this year is card writing. 

I always take time to write personalized messages in cards for that person. Someone told me recently that the only thing they want from me for Christmas this year is a card because I write great cards. In this socially distanced pandemic, I am hoping that card writing like that catches on.

We cannot be together this year. We still need to be sure that people hear things they need to hear. We need to be sure that people know how we feel abut them, especially with so many dying. May your Christmas cards this year give you the opportunity to send heartfelt messages to people you are unable to see.

I am not sure if we will be doing photo cards for Christmas this year or not. I will decide that next week. It mostly depends on if I can afford them. I want to do them, for the cats. I have great photos of all of them for this year’s Christmas card. The only one I do not have a great photo of for this year is me. But it’s not about me. It’s about the cats. We will see if we do a photo card this year or not in addition to the traditional hand-written cards.

Luckily, I have enough Christmas items so I do not have to worry about buying gift bags, wrapping paper, etc. Most people do. I’m sure if you look around the house you will realize you have enough Christmas stuff too and don’t need to buy anything.

I will admit that when I buy gift bags, etc I try to get them in neutral red and green colors. This way I can use them for birthdays and other holidays, not just Christmas. I have some Christmas theme tissue paper to make them festive. That way I get a lot of mileage over any packaging I may buy.

There is also the old stand-bys of using newspaper and paper bags as wrapping paper too. You can even draw and color on them to make it more special.

The only differences the pandemic is making in my minimalist holidays is that people are strictly getting one present, where some years there may have been 2 or 3. Also, less people will be getting presents this year than usual. I just don’t have the money. But people will still be getting cards with heartfelt messages. Sometimes the present is just that I am happy you are alive.

How will you be spending the holidays in a pandemic?

Wardrobe By Number

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“Be Kind:” One of the new shirts I obtained to replace the threadbare ones.

Many minimalists have some sort of magic number for either their clothing or total items owned. You hear of people with 100 possessions, 37 clothing items, etc. I have always said that minimalism is not so much a numbers game as it is being content with only having what you need or have space to store. There are times when I do enjoy playing by numbers, but I had yet to apply a numbers concept to my clothing. 

For my wardrobe, instead of going by set numbers, I have always gone by space available. I use one closet for my clothing and I do not want the closet to be stuffed to capacity. I have a four drawer dresser, and as long as everything fits in the assigned drawer without being crowded, I do not count number of items.

I do laundry one day a week. As long as I have enough clothing to get through the week until laundry day, I do not count the number of clothes I have. When I was a child, laundry was a once a month thing and it was a huge production.

As a child, your clothes were always in garbage bags. There was no dresser and no closet to store clothes. You had a garbage bag of clean clothes and a garbage bag of dirty clothes. Laundry was not done until you were literally out of clothes and were not able to get dressed tomorrow without wearing something for the 5th time or just being naked. 

I remember being dropped off at the laundry mat with several garbage bags of laundry and a $20 bill to obtain quarters. Laundry could take an entire Saturday. It was a chore to be endured. Frequently, clothes were worn multiple times no matter how dirty they were because we just did not have the money for quarters to do laundry. 

As an adult, I do laundry once a week. I am currently very privileged and have both a washer and dryer in my house. Theoretically, I can do laundry whenever I want. I could do laundry every single day if I wanted. I do not want to spend my life doing laundry and I do not want to get in the habit of being dependent on the luxury of having a washer and dryer. Laundry once a week is reasonable and sufficient. 

Last year, I went through and updated all of my underclothes. For the first time in 5 or more years, I updated my bras, underwear and socks. I am very glad I did that before the pandemic hit. As every single item in life is either scarce, hard to get, or expensive, I am grateful that I have new and clean underclothes. That is one less item I have to worry about obtaining. 

This year, as we are quarantined and I am home more, I have noticed that many of my tee-shirts are becoming threadbare and see-through. They have deteriorated to the point where they cannot even be donated. They can be used as rags, but they are no longer suitable to be worn. Two tee-shirts in particular are surprising. I had bought them just last summer at a rather high-end store. The fact that they only lasted a year is very disappointing.

Normally, I would not notice the threadbare tee-shirt issue, as I only wear tee-shirts two days a week. Five days a week I would be in the office in my business casual wear. Since business casual attire is expensive, I have not been wearing it while working from home. I am “preserving” it for when we are able to return to the office and I have to wear business casual attire again.

So, I have been living in shorts and tee-shirts this summer. The threadbare tee-shirt situation is forcing me to take a new look at my wardrobe and it’s requirements. While I have previously focused my wardrobe on available space, I am now looking at my wardrobe by numbers. Maybe it is pandemic related, and I am trying to exert some sort of control by doing wardrobe by numbers. Who knows? There is some comfort in knowing exactly how much you have and that what you have is enough. 

Here is what I have determined is going to work for me for wardrobe by numbers. My formula is based on the premise that laundry is done once a week, on the same day each week. For me, laundry day is Monday right now. 

Given that every Monday is laundry day, that means I need at least 8 outfits to make it a week from one laundry day to the next. Yes, there are 7 days in a week. But you don’t really want to do laundry while naked, so you need an 8th outfit to wear on laundry day. If you want flexibility in your schedule, then you need more than 8 outfits. You may need 10. 

For example, if you are not able to stick to a strict schedule where every Monday is laundry day, then you need more than 8 outfits. Say one Monday you are really busy, and can’t do laundry until Tuesday or Wednesday. Well then, you better have more than 8 outfits or expect to wear things multiple times.

I am going to take advantage of the luxury of in-home washer and dryer and go with 8 outfits. If I had to use the laundry mat, then I may go with 10 or 12 outfits. For me, 8 will work.

Here is how my formula is going to be put in action:

For my business casual work clothes, I am actually not touching them right now. I am just letting them be until it is time to wear them again. The formula that I have devised for them when the time comes is as follows: 

8 tops

4 bottoms

2 sweaters / cardigans / extra warmth layer

For work clothes, this formula is actually a little excessive, as work clothes are not worn everyday. They are worn 5 days a week. As far as bottoms go, since I work in an office environment that is not overly messy, I am okay with wearing a pair of pants twice before washing.

Some people will suggest when minimizing your wardrobe that you should do away with the distinction between “work clothes” and “home clothes.” To do this, it is recommended to dress up your “home clothes” a little, and dress down your “work clothes” a little so that you have one wardrobe kind of in the middle and whatever you wear is fine for work or home. If this works for you, fine. It does not work for me.

I prefer to have two separate wardrobes. The reason why is that I find office attire to be extremely uncomfortable. If I had a job where I could choose the dress code or that did not have a dress code, I would not pick business casual. I do not want to wear “work clothes” any longer than I absolutely have to. As soon as I come home from work, I change because my office wear is so uncomfortable. 

Some people will argue that if that is the case, I should purchase more comfortable office wear. That is an oxymoron. Comfortable office wear does not exist. My preferred standard uniform is something like shorts and a tee-shirt or jeans and a hoodie. I digress.

For my “home clothes,” I have the following formula to see me through 7 days of working from home:

8 tops

4 bottoms

6 extra warmth layer

For summer, my 4 bottoms is 4 pairs of shorts. For cooler weather, my 4 bottoms is 2 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of yoga pants. So, I do have seasonal elements to my wardrobe. I plan on wearing each “bottom” twice before washing. 

For tops, I do have tank tops for summer. I am pretty sure there are 4 of them. For the 6 extra warmth layers, I have 4 flannels shirts, and at least 2 hoodies. When the weather is cooler, I like to layer things on top of my tee-shirt. Tee-shirts are the first layer that is worn pretty much year round, so those get a lot of use. 

For tops, I prefer to wear them once and then wash them. Especially in summer, when weather is hot and we are sweaty, I do not like to wear a shirt twice. That just feels gross.

I am applying the same concept to my pajamas. Even though I am now wearing pajamas twice before washing and could get away with 4 nightshirts, I already have 8 nightshirts, so I will use what I have. I am not going to get rid of nightshirts just to get down to a certain number. However, this means that as nightshirts wear out, I will not replace them. If one night shirt wears out and leaves me with 7 nightshirts, I am not going to replace that night shirt. I will wait until I get down to 4 or 5 nightshirts before replacing one.

I currently have 4 bottoms for my night wear as well. That keeps with my current formula of 4 bottoms. There are other aspects of my wardrobe that are slightly “over number” right now as well. For example, I have one storage tote labelled “winter,” This storage tote holds all my sweatshirts, sweaters, and other “extra warmth layers” for winter. I am not sure how many extra layers are in there. The winter box may be another situation where, instead of getting rid of items, I simply do not replace things that wear out. 

My wardrobe formula is currently acting as a minimum threshold. My available space idea is a maximum threshold for clothing. The reason why I decided to come up with numbers for the minimum threshold is that I am looking at replacing at least 4 threadbare tee-shirts in my wardrobe. So I seriously began to question if I really need to replace them.

The answer is yes. Now that I am home in quarantine, I do need to replace those tee-shirts. Tee-shirts are my base layer year round. However, given that I spent $20-$30 apiece on two tee-shirts at a high end store last summer that barely lasted a year, I do not want to make another worthless investment in my wardrobe like that again.

This year, I opted to replace those tee-shirts with some more affordable options, each below $10. Time will tell if the tee-shirts I purchased for less than $10 each last longer than the ones I bought for $20-$30. If I have learned anything, it’s that just because something is expensive, does not mean it is good quality. 

The only aspect of my wardrobe this does not apply to is my running wardrobe. That has its own set of rules and is a post for another day. 

In general, my wardrobe goal is 8 tops, 4 bottoms, and 2-6 extra warmth layers to allow for seasonal fluctuations. This works for me with doing laundry once a week. While some categories may be above those numbers, I am not going to get rid of items just yet. I am simply not going to worry about replacing things that wear out. 

This gives me one less thing to worry about while giving me the illusion of being “in control” of something in the middle of the pandemic. 

How do you organize clothes? Do you use available space or wardrobe by numbers? 

 

Bathroom Minimalism

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Simon is cleaning Jolene’s ear, while she cuddles with one of her “babies.”

A few years ago, I focused on kitchen minimalism when I was still in the apartment. It definitely made the move from the apartment to the house easier. I have no regrets over anything that I got rid of from the kitchen. I have everything I need for everything I make to eat. I seem to use all of the kitchen items in my cupboards on a regular basis.

Since I recently made the switch to cloth baby wipes to conserve toilet paper for the pandemic, I decided to do a little bathroom minimalism. Many bathrooms tend to be overflowing with items either in the shower or on the back of the toilet. If you have cupboards in the bathroom, we often forget what is there.

I do not get to use my bathroom much, as it is difficult for me to use the stairs. I have a commode I use downstairs. But at least once a week, I do make it upstairs, at least to clean up there. Actually, I do make it upstairs every few days to shower. Even though I could technically use the sprayer on my kitchen sink downstairs to “shower,” that is not preferred unless I am having a day when I cannot do the stairs at all. In that case, I typically go without the shower. I digress.

Here is my process for bathroom minimalism.

Mouth & Eyes

My toothbrush and contact stuff / glasses are downstairs in one of my kitchen cupboards closest to the sink. I have two reasons for this.

First, it is difficult for me to do the stairs, so it is easier for me to have my toothbrush and glasses on the first floor where I spend most of my time.

Second, even when I was in the apartment and there were no stairs involved, I kept my toothbrush and glasses in a cupboard near the kitchen sink. I heard that there are many germs in the bathroom – flushing toilets, etc and it is not good for your toothbrush to be in that environment. Also, I heard it is best for your toothbrush to be able to dry completely between uses. 

Therefore, I keep my toothbrush and glasses in the kitchen, not in the bathroom. I keep them in a cupboard near the sink so that they are not cluttering up my sink area and are out of sight.

The shower

Many times, people have very cluttered showers. There are lots of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc in there. For me, this makes it harder to clean the shower because I have to move all of those things for a proper cleaning. I try to have only what I need in the shower.

So, what’s in my shower? Here are the details – my shower has sliding doors, so on the door outside the shower hangs a hand towel and the bath mat. I have a vertical grab bar to help me get into and out of the tub/shower without falling (this was a frequent occurrence before the grab bar was installed). The grab bar also helps me to safely get out of the bathtub if I actually take a bath. 

Once inside the shower, I have a non-skid mat on the bottom of the tub that helps me to not fall down. I have a little rubber thing over the drain that allows the water to drain but catches hair so the drain does not clog. 

On the little soap shelf, I have the plug for the tub in case I want to take a bath. Next to that is a rubber frog (like a rubber ducky, but a rubber frog) for bath tub use.

On the bathtub ledge, is the pump shampoo / body wash. There is only one company I have found in the United States that makes toiletry products without all of my allergens. Therefore, I can only order bath products from this one company. Luckily, their shampoo is also a body wash. It works wonderfully. One item in my shower washes my entire body. 

On the bathtub ledge is also my allergy friendly conditioner, which I use for shave cream. There is no allergy friendly shave cream, so my work around to that is to use conditioner. Next to that is my Billie razor, which is one of my favorite products ever.

That’s it. That’s all I have inside my shower. No caddy. No over the spout hanger. No products lining the wall falling down all the time. That is everything in my shower. I have two bottles of product, a razor, a rubber frog, the tub plug, bathmat, and drain catcher. 

When I am in the shower and the bath mat is on the floor in preparation for me to exit, my bath towel hangs on the outside shower rail, so it is close to grab.

Bathroom sink and medicine cabinet

There is no cabinet underneath my bathroom sink. I do have a medicine cabinet above the sink. Sitting on the side of my bathroom sink is one pump bottle of my allergy friendly hand soap. That’s it. What else do you need on the side of the sink to wash your hands? The hand towel is conveniently hanging on the outside of the shower door.

The following items are in my medicine cabinet: razor cartridges, band-aids, neosporin, small manicure set (nail clippers, tweezers, etc). 

There is nothing else in my medicine cabinet. I have heard that heat and humidity found in bathrooms is not good for medications, such as tylenol. Due to this, all of my medication is downstairs in one of my kitchen cupboards. I have a shoebox of medication downstairs. Every 6 months, I go through the shoebox and pull out any cough syrup or anything expired to take to the medication disposal events in my county. I do not keep medication in my medicine cabinet.

Toilet area

Many homes have lots of things on top of their toilet. Items are either directly on top of the toilet, or on a rack or shelf above the toilet. I have no rack or shelves above my toilet.

My toilet has grab bars on both sides that help me to sit down and stand up. The only thing on the back of my toilet is a box of paper facial tissues. That’s it. If for some reason, I need to take the lid off the back of the toilet, I do not want to have to deal with “cleaning it off.” I have one box of tissues on the back of my toilet. 

However, now that I am using cloth baby wipes for pee, I have a basket of clean baby wipes on one side of the toilet, and a bucket for used baby wipes on the other side of the toilet. I also have a small wastebasket next to the toilet. That is all.

Open Floor Space

I am blessed with a large bathroom. In a corner of the bathroom, I have a chair so I can sit down to get dressed. This helps me so that I do not fall. Above the chair are three hooks on the wall. On the hooks, I hang my towel post-shower, and my pajamas. Sometimes there will also be a hoodie sweatshirt or flannel shirt on one of the hooks in case I am cold. 

Next to the chair, I have a little stand with my “toiletry tray” on top of it.

These are the items in my toiletry tray: 

Flashlight (I have a flashlight on every floor for emergency purposes)

Bottle of perfume

Allergy friendly body lotion

Deodorant

Half pint size mason jar filled with Q-tips that has a reusable plastic lid

Vaseline

Those are pretty much all of the items I need post-shower. I try to make myself as low maintenance as possible.

Bathroom Storage

I do have a closet and two cupboards in my bathroom. The closet contains all my clothes and the cleaning supplies for the bathroom.

In the two cupboards above the closet, are my winter blankets, my hair clippers, extra towels, wash clothes, feminine hygiene items. 

I also have all the back-ups for my allergy friendly items in bathroom storage. I typically order two of each item so I have one to use and one for back-up. It takes 1-2 weeks for me to receive items when I place an order. I also like to place a big order when I do order so that I get free shipping. So there is an extra allergy-friendly shampoo, allergy-friendly lotion, allergy-friendly hand soap, etc in my storage cupboard. Really, what else do you need to store in a bathroom? 

Technically, the winter blankets should probably be stored elsewhere, but I have so much storage space in my bathroom, that I decided to take advantage of it.

How many towels?

A few years ago, when I went through my bathroom, I had downsized my towels, hand towels, etc.

When I moved to the house, I had to buy all new towels, as the bad water the last 4 months I was in the apartment dyed all my towels this funny blue color and I could not get it out.

I have three towels, four hand towels, and about 8 washcloths. I am one person, so this works for me. All of my towels are beach towels, so they are multi-purpose. I love using beach towels as everyday towels because they are bigger and I can cover my whole body with them. Plus, the beach towels feel more plush and luxurious than normal bath towels. I typically use about two towels a week. I figure I have a third towel in the unlikely event I have company. 

The third towel can also actually go to the beach as a beach towel. I have plenty of towels for one person. I rarely have company. 

Conclusion

Of course, everyone’s bathroom space is different. I am fortunate in that I have a large bathroom that allows me to move around safely and can accommodate extra items like grab bars and a chair to help me. 

Everyone’s bathroom routine looks different. I try to keep mine as simple as possible. I’m sure that for most people, their shampoo and body wash are two completely different items. For me, the one company that makes my allergy friendly stuff has a shampoo/body wash combo (and that’s the only way it comes), so that is what I use. Thankfully, even though it is one company, I do have choices in my shampoo. For example, I can choose tea tree oil, unscented, lavender, etc. So while I may have one shampoo/body wash choice, at least I have multiple options. 

If you are still in quarantine, maybe take some time to look at what is in your shower. Do you really need all that stuff? Only have what you need, and not only will you shower more safely, but it will be easier to clean.