Simplifying Music & Movies

CDs and DVDs are the first of 25+ categories of miscellaneous STUFF you will find around your home.  Just when I think I’ve come so far…there’s so many more categories to get through!

Once again, I must admit that in my previous purge, I got rid of a lot of CDs and nearly all my CD cases.  But I really didn’t spend much time going through them, and certainly not armed with the rule that things I keep must spark joy.  Before that…I hadn’t even thought about my music collection since college.  I can’t remember ever purging my movie collection.

Anyways, I did what I always do to start…put everything in a pile on the floor.  Not

cds and dvds
Stacks upon stacks of movies and music plus adorable, curious Violet the kitty.
pictured: another full CD case that I forgot about until after I was “done”.

Luckily, I did this on the first snowy day of the year here in GA (ugh) so husband was around to help me NOT throw away movies he wanted to keep.  I have to be very careful of and respectful of his things.  In my simplification-induced glee, I am all too happy to chuck things that he would want to keep.  So rude, I know. BUT I AM VERY DETERMINED TO INCLUDE HIM in this process as much as he can tolerate.

Anyway…this category is interesting.  To me, it was tempting (yet scary) to just get rid of most of it, because SO MUCH of these things are available to me digitally.

Between Netflix and Hulu, how many of the movies I own are available at the push of a button?  Will they always be there?  I don’t know.  I tried not to let this influence my

DVD discard pile
DVD discard pile
decisions, but it was hard.  I ended up with a few different piles: definite joy-sparkers/favorites, definite give-aways and “I’m so confused.”  I am not sure why movies were so hard.  I guess because I could easily see myself deciding to get rid of something, and then REALLY want to watch it the next time I’m stuck in bed with a cold and cursing my over-zealous self.

Honestly, when we were done, I thought that we had kept too many, even though our discard pile looked fairly impressive.  Imagine my utter glee when I started re-stocking our DVD cabinet and found that what we both decided to keep fit PERFECTLY into the space-we can now open

DVDs kept
Movies kept and fitting perfectly in our cabinet!
it and see every DVD title without having to move anything around.  In all honesty, it still seems like we kept too much and I suspect I may revisit some of these choices at some point.  But for now: we reduced by close to half.  Not too shabby.

CDs were a different beast.  Very different. First of all, husband and I are basically polar opposites when it comes to CDs.  He has these giant cases that he neatly organizes…he keeps the little booklet with each CD.  He has spent HOURS organizing them, and carefully deciding which CDs get imported into his iTunes with higher sound quality than others. Bless.  I love this man. It’s clear to me that his CD collection sparks joy in him.

And therein lies the most important tidbit gained from this tidying session.  Perhaps just more of a reminder to me that my path is my own and no one else’s.  While husband and I’s paths necessarily converge and often run smoothly side by side, we each naturally take our own little detours from each other. And it’s so important to respect those God-given little things that make us unique.

I, on the other hand, decided to keep only enough CDs to fit in one CD case that I keep in my car.  Each thing I kept had to spark joy.  Everything else went in the trash (I realized I

CDs kept
What I kept!
apparently have a terrible habit of NEVER putting the correct CD in its case).

I also discovered a handful of books on CD in my car when I made my initial pile of stuff.  Even though they are technically CDs, I evaluated them in the same way I did books.  I got rid of titles that I had already listened to, but no longer reflected the type of person that I want to be.

All I kept was one book on CD, my one zippered case of CDs, and my brother’s 2 CDs. He is amazing and I am proud of him, and thus his CDs (when not in my CD player in the car) deserve to live in their proper cases.  Full disclosure: I still have an embarrassing number of Celine Dion CDs. Like, all of them.  Eh, well!

Next up: OFFICE SUPPLIES!  (Heaven help me-throwing away PENS will be harder than clothing.)

 

S

 

 

Looking for Joy in Papers

I was NOT joyful about cleaning out PAPERS in our home.  Step 1 is always to gather EVERYTHING from the category you’re working on in one place.  I have always kept files of stuff, but paper crap seems to end up everywhere, AMIRIGHT?!

Manuals from electronics and appliances shoved in drawers.  Receipts stuffed in purses, wallets and drawers.  Unopened and opened mail on the counter and in drawers and just…PAPERS. IN. EVERY. PLACE.

Again, I neglected to take pictures of the beginning piles.  I promise I will get better at that.

I basically threw everything away. From old stubs of paid electric bills to elementary school report cards.  Two trash bags stuffed to the brim.

The KonMari method says to keep one folder for “pending items” or things that need attention.  I felt we needed more separation than that, so I have 3 “active” folders in

folders for papers
Folders with papers deemed “active”.

a drawer in our kitchen downstairs. One for our recent homeowners insurance claim that isn’t quite wrapped up, one for incoming 2015 tax forms, and one for coupons. I suspect these folders will change for us depending on what we have going on.

 

Everything else I kept is upstairs in a cabinet in our home office.  I kept mortgage documents, health records, birth certificates and warranties.  That’s about it.

paper storageI was delighted to discover that all of our remaining papers AND office supplies now fit nicely in the cabinet under the printer.  And I haven’t even sorted through office supplies yet!

It is intriguing to me that each time I’ve tackled a category, the items I’ve chosen to keep seem to fit very naturally and perfectly into the storage space designated for them.  There is something very satisfying to me when things are neat and tidy; everything in it’s place.  Call me neurotic, but organization soothes me.

I’ll level with you here.  At first, it felt hard to pull a lesson from papers.  But now, as I reflect on this day of tidying, the papers-just like everything else-urge me to express gratitude to God.  I am thankful that we’ve had the means to pay the bills that were attached to the stubs I threw away; that we own a lovely home, whose documents I stored neatly away.  As I ponder old school records, I’m thankful that I was raised by parents who cared enough to put me in the schools they chose to put me in.  I’m grateful for the people I met and experiences I had along the way.  They made me who I am!

I cried throwing away the paper records I kept of my beloved cat Jo; the first pet of my

closet corner
A special spot, tucked away behind my closet door, just for Jo memories.

very own that I rescued when I moved out of my parent’s house.  She died on September 19th of last year and the wound of her passing is still raw.  But I had already pulled out papers of hers that I wanted to include in a scrapbook I made after she was gone.  I released the rest, thankful that sweet little comforting critter was snuggled up next to me for 10+ years.

 

As it turns out, the papers had a lot more emotion attached to them than I realized.  They were more than just the nuisance of clutter I’d deemed them before. Letting them go and reflecting on them now shows me they’ve been just as significant (if not more) than everything else I’ve straightened up thus-far.  Another of many little surprises.

I wonder what awaits me as I continue to plow through the rest of the items in our home!  I’m admittedly apprehensive because the next category is “miscellaneous,” AKA, EVERY OTHER THING IN THE HOUSE.  Please excuse me while I skip off to placate my anxiety by making a list of all the categories of things that fall under “miscellaneous”.

All I know right now is what’s next: Blu Rays, DVDs and CDs!

S

The Joy of Shopping?

Not too long ago, I’d probably have listed shopping for clothes as one of my favorite activities.  But as I progress on this journey of simplifying, I enjoy it less and less.  It’s such a pain…tryinglet go of more and want less on piles of stuff, over-analyzing how I look in the mirror, buying something, then hating it when I get home…being influenced by sales and advertising in stores.  WHO NEEDS IT?! Not to mention: the intentional decision to ONLY keep clothing that sparks joy has made me just…want less (and realize that I still have more than enough!).

But of course, if there’s a super special occasion, or something gets too worn out, or doesn’t fit right anymore, or I realize I have ZERO dress pants because nothing I had sparked joy, I still need things from time to time. What’s a girl to do?!

Enter a little service called Stitch Fix.  I’m sure many have heard of this, but it’s basically a personal shopping service.  You fill out a style profile, pay a $20 styling fee, and a stylist from Stitch Fix sends you 5 items in a pretty box.  You try it on, and send back what you don’t like.  (The $20 styling fee applies toward whatever you decide to buy).

stitch fix box
Always exciting to see this on your doorstep!

 

It’s FANTASTIC for many reasons.  First, no more shopping!  They always send unique pieces to be tried on in the comfort of your own home.  I believe it also eliminates a good bit of temptation to buy something you don’t need.  You have to request a “fix” to be sent, and you can leave detailed notes as to what specific piece(s) you are looking for.  There is no sale rack, or marketing.  It’s just…keep what is needed that sparks joy, and send the rest back.  Perfection.

stitch fix clothes
Pretty stack of Stitch Fix clothes

 

I tried Stitch Fix before I really began this journey to simplicity, and for me, it fits nicely into what I’m trying to accomplish. When you have less stuff, you have more time to focus on the things that matter.  When you don’t have to GO OUT SHOPPING for stuff, you save even more time. (This is of course assuming that I practice enough self control to only request a Fix when I truly need something!  Not always easy because it. is. FUN.)

But once again, I’m excited.  I’ve already begun to overflow with ideas about what my life’s work could be…drifting towards purpose and passion. Any time I can free up to pursue those endeavors is a treasure. Wouldn’t you agree?  (If you want to try out Stitch Fix, click HERE!)

Until next time,

S

Simplify and Discover Purpose

One of the many captivating and alluring concepts I came across while reading up on minimalism, simplicity and tidying is this idea that as the stuff goes out, you begin to discover things.

find things that really matter
Another fantastic quote borrowed from the fabulous Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist

Long-lost passions and hobbies, less time spent cleaning and organizing, more time for other things, discovering what’s most important in life and even your life’s purpose.

I began de-cluttering and tidying well before I had the notion to begin blogging about it. I’m not new to blogging (either personally or professionally) and I rather enjoy writing. But somewhere between reading Marie Kondo’s books and starting to tidy up using her methods, it just hit me: I want to write.  As I continued tidying, ideas continued to flow (and still are) and here I am.

I don’t know if writing is my “life’s purpose”.  I don’t know if this blog has anything to do with it, either.  But that’s part of the joy, I think.  It’s OK not to know what’s next, as long as you’re open to it.  I love that I can already look back and see how a series of events led me to this desk, typing away today.

Going to church more regularly, joining a small group and committing to more to quiet time with God led me to think about the STUFF I own in a different way.  It led me to horror at how many material things I want and/or long for, and to a stark realization of just how much I already had compared to most of the WORLD.

americas poor still live better than most of humanity
Photo taken in St. Thomas, USVI

It led me to de-clutter and start telling people what I was doing, which led people to tell me about Marie Kondo’s books.  Her books led me to continue purging and keep learning what “simple” and “enough” really look like for me, which led me to re-discover the joy that writing brings.  And that’s only where I am in the chain of events today! How exciting that there’s more ahead; more to uncover, more to learn, more to change and more growth to come.

Did you know that the human brain never stops maturing?  God created it that way.  I just love that.  It makes me think of “failures” in a different way.  We are going to screw up and get things wrong, but if we’re open to it, we can ALWAYS grow and change.  Until the day we die, because our brains have the capacity for more until then.  I don’t mean this in a perfectionist way, but in a messy, open-to-the-Lord’s-leading, He’s more, I’m less kind of a way.  Throwing our hands in the air and declaring “Your Will be done, not mine”, embracing the mess, and listening for the still small voice that beckons us onward and upward.  I hope I do an OK job of that at the end of the day

live each day with a thankful heart
Photo taken in Naples, Florida

For now, all I have is today. So in this moment, the gift of TODAY, I’m thankful for the good, bad and the ugly that got me where I am in this moment.  Today, I’m excitedly standing with my arms open, full of hope for what’s to come.

S

 

The Secret Joy Hiding in Your Books

I adore reading.  It ranks high on my short list of hobbies.  So you might think I had trouble letting books go.

Full disclosure: before I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” I had already donated MOST of my books.  (They were all sadly packed away in a closet…and the ones I kept were still in said closet for the most part.)  Frankly, ever since husband got me a Nook for Christmas several years ago, I’ve been happily collecting books in electronic form.  I still enjoy the feel and smell of a real book, although I suspect not as much as some people do.

Anyway…I did not take a “before” shot of my books, and I dropped off my discards at Goodwill without snapping pictures either (like a bad blogger).  BUT, the pile wasn’t that impressive to begin with.

I held my books in my hands one-by-one.  For books, not only are you deciding what brings you joy, but you’re also paying attention to the words in each title.  KonMari talks a lot about the power of words and how tidying up can not only physically de-clutter our spaces, but also lighten a person’s load; unburden and clear out the mind.

books that spark joy
I did not place these books on my shelf in any particular order, but my special little collection ended up “sandwiched by happiness.”  Every time I see this, I smile.

She suggested that another way to think about what books to keep is to think about what kind of life you want to lead-to keep books whose titles align with who/what you want to be.  (Her example is if you’re single, but want to find a relationship, don’t adorn your bookshelves with books about being single!)

I love this unexpected, secret sliver of joy; I truly do.  I believe in the power of positive thinking and affirmations in daily life. I believe positive words cultivate positive thinking and a thankful attitude towards God.  It fosters contentment and appreciation in our lives. And I must admit…while I don’t believe keeping certain books will magically change my life, there is something exciting about seeing books that not only spark joy, but whose words have a special meaning to my life as well.  It was surprisingly delightful to see that the books I kept really reflected the things that are important to me (Family, my marriage, my pets), things I’m working on (searching for my purpose, focusing on the positive/happy, being thankful) and even places I want to visit (San Juan Islands, anyone?!)   

It is suggested

joyful desk decor
Random desk shelf joy: journals and trinkets I kept

that all books ought to be stored in the same space. In general, I think that’s useful for keeping track of how much you have. But I did not follow that advice with my books.  I enjoy using books as decoration in a few different places in our home, although most of them are in our home office.

I found the end result of book tidying to be well worth the effort.  I love the idea of surrounding yourself with words that reflect the kind of life you want to lead.  And now, pretty much all of our books are out on display where we can see them and leaf through them any time-not shoved in a closet; forgotten and taking up space.

more joyful books
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” always seems to survive the purge.  🙂

I think with each bag that gets taken to Goodwill or thrown away, I am gaining clarity.  Each time I let go and give away…I find that I still have more than enough.  It sounds crazy, but there is truth to be found in this process.  This thankfulness, this reflecting on why I’m doing this, it’s somehow cultivating openness to God’s leading in my life.

My experience won’t be everyone’s experience, but I hope that you will spend some time thinking about what you have-material and otherwise-and just be thankful today.  There is enough.

Next time, I tackle the dreaded “PAPERS” category.

S

Choosing Clothes that Spark Joy

If you’re following KonMari’s method of tidying, the category you begin with is CLOTHES. This includes clothes, undergarments, socks, shoes, and handbags.

I’m pretty diligent about purging clothes every so often.  But in my pursuit of less stuff, it was HIGHLY bothersome that my side of our master bedroom closet was full, AND I had a whole bunch of other stuff in the guest room closet.  One of my goals was to ONLY have clothes in my half of our closet.  I was nervous to begin.  Nonetheless, I pulled everything out of every closet and drawer.

all clothes on the floor
Oh, the joy!!

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to tell which items sparked joy.  And the truth is, it was a little confusing in the beginning.  But as promised in the book, the more you do this, the more you “hone” your ability to decide what things spark joy in you.

 

Ladies, level with me here.  I had a LOT of clothes in my closet(s) that did not fit anymore. I’ve been working hard to lose some weight, and I’d been holding onto a TON of stuff thinking it would be a waste to get rid of it.  I practically had a whole wardrobe for when I got back to the size I used to be.  But you know what?  Almost every single item of clothing that didn’t fit went in the donate pile.  NONE OF THEM SPARKED JOY.  They were just reminders that I had failed at reaching my goal, that I wasn’t thin enough, etc etc.  I realized that they were holding me back from loving who I am TODAY, RIGHT NOW.  More importantly–from feeling GOD’S love for me just as I am.  How silly that a piece of clothing had that power over me!!

donation piles
My donation piles.  Need a hanger, anyone?

I can’t tell you how freeing it felt to let go of those things and only keep things that I really love to wear.  I gave away probably a little over half of my wardrobe. Possibly more.

In all honesty, I was still a little nervous about what I had left (or more like what I WOULDN’T have left!).  But let me assure you…when I saw that all the clothes I chose to keep fit perfectly in my side of the closet…I was so happy!

And again, even though I gave away a TON of clothes when I did this (about a month and a half ago), I have realized in the time since: I STILL HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH!  I’m also pretty sure I ended up keeping a few things that don’t really spark joy–but the more I go through this process, the easier it is to identify those things, express gratitude for them and let them go.

One of the more surprising things about this is it’s SOOOO much easier to get dressed in the morning.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d stood there, looking at all the clothes I used to have (including the stuff that didn’t fit anymore) and thinking how I had nothing to wear.  Now, if I want to wear a light sweater, I have 5-6 choices, know they all fit, and I love each one of them.  It’s delightful.  Truly.

minimalist quote
Photo Credit: Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist

Truer words may never have been spoken.  Ready for the “after” shot in my closet?  I took this photo today.

Closet After
It still makes me so happy to walk in here!

Next category I’ll tackle: BOOKS!!

S

 

In Pursuit of Less Clutter

For me, this whole project began with a desire to clean out and de-clutter.  Step 1 was room-by-room purging. If you haven’t done it in awhile, donating or throwing away old stuff isn’t that difficult.  Once we begin, most of us know immediately what isn’t of use to us any more, and those things are easy to part with.  After an initial few rounds of this sort of de-cluttering, countless trips to both Goodwill and the garbage bin, I was struck by how much was left.  Despite carefully choosing which things to get rid of, every drawer, shelf and closet was still full (albeit organized BEAUTIFULLY).

I was also pretty surprised that after taking the time to do all this purging, I honestly couldn’t really remember what I had given away.  It’s as if all the things I parted with had never been there or were invisible somehow. I knew I wasn’t done.

Around this time, two of my friends (independently of each other) told me about a little book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by a Japanese woman named Marie Kondo.  life changing magic of tidying upIt sounded interesting enough, but it wasn’t until months and months later that I actually purchased this book on my Nook and started to read it.

The main idea of the book is that the “secret” to “tidying up for good” is to keep only those things that bring you joy.  The book also describes the best ways to fold/store things in your home so that everything has a place and looks appealing.  Once I started reading, I was hooked. Partly because I am a neat freak, but also because this was a much different approach than I had been taking.

In all my efforts to de-clutter before, I had certainly made a LOT of progress and became infinitely more appreciative of how much we are blessed with.  I am thankful for that process.  But as I went room to room, I was making decisions about what to get rid of.  In her book, “KonMari” (as she’s called), says that in deciding which items in your home spark joy, you are making decisions about what to keep.  It was a subtle but intriguing difference to me. I excitedly thought: perhaps going through our things using her methods could alleviate some (or all of) the stress I felt about how much stuff we still had.

KonMari has a very specific sequence for how you tidy the things in your home.  For each category of items (which include: clothing, books, papers, etc), you gather EVERYTHING in that category into a huge pile, touch each item one-by-one and decide if it sparks joy or gives you a little thrill.  If it doesn’t, it goes into your discard pile.  This might sound time consuming.  And it is.  But I have found that the time I’ve spent on this project thus-far has been very rewarding.

As luck would have it, Marie Kondo recently released a follow-up, more detailed book on her process called “Spark Joy.” spark joyI am in the middle of reading it now, and am using it as a guide of sorts as I make my way through each category.

I should note that while I am very excited about these methods, her books are very distinctly “Eastern”. For example, that socks ought to be folded and stored a certain way because they work hard on your feet all day and thus deserve a nice resting place while not in use.  It is not my aim to criticize these things, but rather view them through a more Christian lense.  I don’t believe my socks have feelings, but I do believe that if I fold them a certain way because they will last longer, I am being a good steward.

For items you don’t keep, she suggests thanking them for their service before parting with them.  Again, I don’t think I need to speak to the things I give away, but I DEFINITELY believe in cultivating a thankful attitude and that is what’s important here.  I’ll be thinking of the ways in which I can thank the Lord for something before I send it off to it’s new owner (or the trash!).

First category: Clothing.

Until next time,

S