Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review

Many of our fine friends have suggested the international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Brian and I have dutifully read it. There are a few tips and tricks within the pages of Marie Kondo's book, but overall no earth shattering secrets were revealed. We really feel as though the minimalist community online has been such a great resource, but do appreciate what we learned from Kondo. Here are our favorite quotes and how we intend to implement them (or how we've already started living by their rule).
"The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not "things" but a means for conveying someone's feelings."
Quite some time ago Brian impressed on me the idea that instead of things as gifts he would rather get a piece of paper with a promise to spend time together. So instead of asking for material gifts we now include a short list that includes things we can do with the people we love. Most recent 'thing to do' gift received: River cruise (ooohh aaahhh). Most recent 'thing to do' gift given: Twin's game (yay!), they lost (boo!).
"No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important." 

This, I feel, is a great motivator when it comes to tackling our precious mementos. How do you decide which family heirlooms to keep, which to give up, which to pass on to your children (and their children and their children's children) and which to pass on to Goodwill? Seriously. how do you decide?

"Does this spark joy?"

My coworker Kirsten gave me in to this simple piece of advice earlier this year and it really works well, especially when it comes to clothes. Does this make me happy? If it doesn't, then why do you have it?
"By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process the past."
Kondo tends to anthropomorphize a lot (CONFESSION: this word is not part of my vocabulary, I looked it up, you can look it up here) and this quote lends itself to the more sensitive side of her KonMari method, however it is true, and it does work. Don't let sentimental items, papers especially, sit in storage, go through them and decide whether or not you can let them go. Kondo says this will help to process the past and then we can let go of clutter and move on to clutter-free!

Interestingly enough I stumbled upon this blog post by Leo Babauta that touches on the same topics. He says that the objects that make up our clutter are crutches that we depend on for various reasons; for excitement, for holding on to the past, for love and for security. If I take anything away from Kondo and from Babauta it's that I should redefine what happiness is, what it looks like, and what evokes it. And the way I want it to look has nothing to do with a closet full of shoes or a bookshelf full of doodads. It has everything to do with the people around me and the things we do together.

Need not,
Brian and Josey

We got our copy from the library, but if you feel like you need your own copy click here for Kondo's website.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Minimalist Attitudes

While becoming minimalist (great blog by the way) has been easy when it comes to living in our little sheltered apartment bubble, as soon as we open our big mouths around other people about the way we live, people start to squirm. I don't think its that they are uncomfortable per se. I really think that it just gets people to start thinking. While we hope that people don't view our exultations as judgmental we understand that they might feel, well, judged.

Just because we sleep on the floor - doesn't mean you have to. And just because we no longer are slaves to the xfinity/comcast cable conglomerate doesn't mean that you should feel bad that you are. Seriously, this is the type of living that makes us happy, but your type of living might and should look different and that is great. Especially if you are happy living it!

And that brings us to a few simple words of encouragement:
  1. If you own something and it doesn't make you happy, don't own it anymore
  2. Start small, we started with one item a week and now we've been decluttering and de-owning for half a year. yowser.
  3. Always ask yourself, "Do I really need this?"
  4. Confucius says, "It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop."
  5. Josey's CONFESSION: It helps to do it with someone who will support and encourage you along the way, even when other's think you might need a psychological intervention or more stuff.
Other minimalists' have had to defend the lifestyle from those that see it as too radical, too frugal, and too anti-economy. We just hope that you will (read our blog and) live life the way you want to and don't feel like our lack of stuff is a way for us to judge you or your stuff. Leave comments below if you have questions on how we cope or need another one of my amazing 'Tip of the Week' tips to help you out.

Need not,

Monday, June 8, 2015

Brian's Tip of the Week!

(CONFESSION: I am bad at blogging when I go on vacation)

Maybe you have plateaued, I know our items last week were weak: deck of playing cards and an old tea tin. riveting. So how do you get over the hump and find more items to get rid of, without being ridiculous and getting rid of items you actually need? Brian drew inspiration from a book he's reading, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. And while the title of the book is anything but minimal there are some great pointers to be found in this short book. So without further ado we give you...
Start with one category. Brian suggests clothes, shoes, coffee mugs or books. Instead of going room by room, sorting like a crazy person, feeling as though your items keep multiplying, finding piles of stuff you never knew you had, even though the people at Arc know you by name. You'll find items of the same category in practically every room of your house, so gathering all the same items and then sorting through them tends to be more efficient.

Example: clothes - maybe you have some in storage (seasonally sorted) and maybe you've got a front closet, a bedroom closet, and any number of dressers. Gather and conquer.
Example number 2: mugs. Laura is to blame for this suggestion. Because let's be honest, how many mugs does one girl need? How many wonders can one cabinet hold? Okay. focus. Perhaps if you only use one coffee cup per day, and you do the dishes once a week - you should max out at 7 mugs. However, challenge yourself further. Maybe, you can rinse your coffee cup out after each use, and then you technically only need one coffee mug. period. Mind blown.
Example letter C: gift bags. oooh curve ball. All of your gift wrapping paraphernalia should be collected in one general area. This includes all tissue paper, bows, ribbons, packages, boxes or bags.. you know what I mean. Start using this stuff up. Do not buy until you have used up your supply of gift giving container holder wrapperses.

Good luck!

Need not,
Brian and Josey