Archives for posts with tag: minimalism

One in each colour, please.

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

According to the quote by Marilyn Monroe, I should either be master of the universe by now, or I’ve been buying the wrong shoes. I fear that the latter might be the hard and brutal truth.

I probably own around 60-70 pairs of shoes. Trainers and wellington’s included, but yes – you heard me. I already told you about my weekly shopping sprees during my student years, so these are mainly from then. You might also remember that half of my stuff is boxed up in another country, so this goes for my footwear as well. Back then my shopping behaviour was ridiculous. I’d find a cute pair of ballerinas, but not be able to decide on the colour. So I would get one of each. Green, blue, yellow, red, mustard, gray, gold and silver: I have shoes in every colour in the rainbow and the my little pony factory combined. It doesn’t make it any better to know that I’m probably not alone in this situation.

Decluttering your closet

Shoes, shoes, shoes!

There have been several surveys on how many pairs of shoes the average (wo)man owns, and some say 20, others 34 and so on. What they all seem to have in common though, is that no matter how many pairs we have, we only tend to wear a few of them. Think about it – how many different pairs will you wear during the course of a week? I’ll need some for work, some for sports and perhaps some different ones on the weekend. But on the average week, I probably only wear 3 or 4 pairs. For summer and winter you probably (or obviously) have to change your footwear, but in general I don’t really need that many. At least far from 70.

So it’s time to get rid of some, and I’ve created some rules for myself to make it easier to decide:

  1. Comfort. Are the shoes comfortable? Can you wear them for a whole day without pain or getting blisters?
  2. Style. Do you actually like the way they look? Does it represent you and how you want to appear? Perhaps your style has changed since you bought them?
  3. Versatility. Do your shoes match any of your outfits or just a select few? The fewer things they match, the less likely it is that you will use them.
  4. Type. This is naturally connected to number 3, but think of the actual needs you have for situations your commonly in. You might need certain shoes for work, and others for leisure. Having a pair or two of heels is perfectly fine and I’m not planning on getting rid of all them either. However, how many do you need of each type? I probably don’t need 3 almost identical pairs of black heels, nor ballerinas in every single colour.
  5. Frequency of use. Same as with the clothes – when did you last wear them? New with tags still? The either start wearing them or they have to go. Be hard on yourself, either way.

A classic example of a shoe that fails on 3,5 out of the 5 rules. Plus points for not making me look like an escort (rule 2) and for me not owning anything else like this (rule 5). Bye-bye, borderline hooker heels!

So it turns out that I wasn’t great at it this time around: Out of the approximately 30 pairs, I found 8 to get rid of. As some of them are in very good condition, I have decided to try to sell them. Instead of spending a lot of time trying to sell every single pair, I’ve selected a few nice leather and vintages shoes to sell. The rest I have bundled up and are selling for more of a symbolic sum. If they’re not sold within 2 weeks, I will donate them. You should decide for yourself if you have time to sell or donate, and setting a time frame can be helpful: if you have many items to sell, this can be quite time-consuming and you should consider what is worth making the effort for.

So next time I look through my shoe collection (yes, I say collection since that’s what it truly and sadly is), I might have to add a rule number 6 to my list: only keep shoes that will help you conquer the world. I’m sure I’ll have a much easier time getting rid of more pairs then.

Advertisements

So, I already told you that I’m rubbish at keeping up a good routine for something like the minimalism game. Luckily it doesn’t prevent me from getting rid of things, just weeks later instead.

Last weekend I went back home to visit my parents. When I moved abroad, I left a lot of stuff at their place. Crate after crate of clothes, shoes and household items from my student days. I went through most of my things and managed to get rid of four bags of clothes for charity, as well as throwing away another bag of things.

image

Some of my junk

In the ocean of things, it wasn’t much, but decent enough as a start. I also brought a sports bag of things with me back, with a few items to sell or give away, and the rest to replace worn out things I have here. I know that I could have been tougher on myself on that part, but most importantly is that the items now will come to use. If not, they will have to go as well.

It was fairly easy to get rid of things, and the changing of the seasons is a great opportunity to go through your wardrobe. Sell, give away and throw out things you haven’t worn in more than 6 months, things that are too small, and things you could never picture yourself in again. I promise you, after not having worn certain clothes for years, you get a pretty good picture of these things (you know that moment when you tell yourself “I wore that?!”)

I feel quite good from doing it, not only for my own sake, but also releasing my parents from some of my (to them especially) useless stuff. I encourage you to do a wardrobe cleanup as well. Good luck!

I haven’t written any posts for quite some time now. Things have been hectic recently, both at work and in private life. I do very much enjoy blogging, but I need the time and peace to write.

I love learning and used to really enjoy taking on new projects. Some years ago I really hit the wall – it was just too much and I was forced to slow down. My body and mind said no. The most important lesson I learned from this, was to prioritise and ask myself why I really do certain things. It made me calm down and not force myself to do what everyone else seemingly does, at the cost of my own health. 

Aircraft workers on lunch break 1942

Photo source: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum

Of course I don’t mean stop doing everything. Believe me, I’m in safe distance from turning into a couch potato. I don’t think that anyone takes harm from forcing themselves out of bed and off to work some occasional Friday mornings when you feel extra tired. As lovely as a few more hours of sleep and a long weekend might sound. What worries me, is when you are in an environment where you feel like you constantly have to achieve. For many this is at work, but it could be a social setting – think of the housewife with her perfect household, the cool and urban single clique where you need to have just the right vintage furniture and impeccable music taste. It can be about keeping up the “perfect” facade, or being at your best at all times when you are surrounded by (what seems to be) brilliant co-workers.

My guess is that they probably feel as exhausted as you. Slowing down and not caring will take some guts, because it naturally means taking a different path than the others. But what if you need to do what is just right for you? Are you making the choices that really brings value to your life, to your health and wellbeing? I think this is vital to do in everyday life.

I will mention two incidents from work, which were meant at great advice (and could also be inspirational and valuable to many), but still provoked me. The first is when a very respected and talented co-worker left his job. He sent around a honest and nice farewell e-mail, where he also encouraged everyone to not waste another lunch again – but spend this time to get to know new people, learn a new language or similar. Lovely idea and great advice, most people thought.

The other was a new initiative from the HR department. Learning at lunch – bring food with you and attend a course during lunch. Also great! Multi-tasking at it’s best – who doesn’t enjoy food and an inspirational lecture? They also created a language tandem overview (I work in an office with 25+ nationalities represented), to make it easy for people to arrange bi-lingual lunches together.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think there is anything wrong with these ideas per se. Such initiatives are not a given at every work place. The problem is when it’s expected of everyone. The fact that it’s communicated through official channels creates that extra pressure. They are basically signalising that “That’s how we do it here: Always learn, always achieve. Never slow down.”.

I mean, don’t “waste” another lunch? On what? Calming down, getting some fresh air and recharging to be able to perform your job the rest of your day? I really don’t mind doing such things once in a while. What I do mind is when my lunch hour is turned into a chore of learning. I spend at least nine hours at work every day. There are plenty of studies done on contentration and the importance of breaks during work. And even without the studies, I’m sure you can very well imagine a day from your own life.

So I slow down. After work as well – when I feel like I have too much to do, I don’t go that extra mile to finish my blog posts. I’m attending a language course after work, but I don’t push myself to go every time. The same with the gym. Yet I enjoy it every time I go, because I have the energy and feel motivated. If it’s something that is not crucial to my happiness, I chose not to feel stressed about it. I take care of myself, and I care little of what other people think in those matters. It’s about allowing yourself to do these things, to be aware of why we make the choices we do. Perhaps you should do so as well. Ask yourself what is important to you and your loved ones, and should you constantly achieve just to compromise on your health?

My lunch breaks are holy. I never waste any of them.

I like a lot of pages on Facebook. Today I unliked 50 of them.

Favourite bands, big newspapers, brands, there are many reasons why we choose to like something. Now it’s so common to click that like button, that we do so without blinking an eye. The past year, I tried to apply the same routine to liking and following, as to signing up for something, or buying a new product. I ask myself the following when deciding: what will this give me?

The reason behind it is simple. You know that you’re going to check your facebook account several times every day. Then take charge over your own newsfeed. The concept isn’t new of course – you can hide and filter updates. But when liking something, you might not be aware of what you will get. Didn’t you ever end up feeling a bit stupid, when you’re being spammed by someone you actually chose to like?

I realised that I hadn’t been so strict with myself, and started getting annoyed with the spam like updates. So it was time to unlike: I unliked every page who’s stories I felt like hiding. For every product that I don’t intend to buy (helps temptation anyway!). I’m a person who likes to keep updated on the news front, but I’ve chosen to limit it to a few media now – where every post at least on an average has actual value to me.

I also realised that pages like Newsweek and Time – hey, you can create great stories like no one else, but in social media? I’m sorry, but what a load of clickable crap. I’m willing to think that you create your updates for journalists and media agencies to pick up on your stories, but I hope you’re not posting for followers like me. If I want to see cute kittens and funny infograpics, I can google it myself.

image

It's hard to believe that these people are capable of selecting person of the year.

Then there’s the more tricky category – your friends’ pages. Can you unlike your best friend’s page about knitting? Well, I completely believe in supporting my friends, and staying up to date on what’s important in their lives. However, I have limited this to my closest friends, and have stopped feeling obliged to accept when acquaintances send me like suggestions. You can actually send them some friendly and encouraging words instead.

The last tip, is to not always like everything with all your accounts. I don’t follow the same things on Facebook as on Twitter, but choose the media I think is better for the cause. You could for instance keep your facebook more private, whilst Twitter is your main news feed. Similar rules can apply to the rest of your accounts – you get the picture.

My newsfeed looks much nicer now, and I can actually see what my friends are posting. Which us how I would like it to stay. How about you? Feel like your newsfeed could use some decluttering?

For one month, do the following:

On day one, you get rid of 1 item.

On the second day, 2 things.

The third day, 3 items – and so on. You get the picture.

There are various games and challenges that you can play to jump-start a life of living with less. What I just mentioned is called the minimalism game, and you can check out #MinsGame for inspiration and to see what other people are up to (or even share your progress). You can read more about it on the Minimalists’ blog.

I already know that I won’t do it that way myself, simply because I know I will fail at do it consistently. However, I think it’s a very nice idea! And for many people it seems to work well, especially for the more competitive ones of you.

For years I have had my belongings stored in various places due to my frequent moving, but now I have most of it in one place. For a flat the size of mine, well – let’s just say that it’s pretty intimate. And I love having space! So I thought it would be a good idea to go through my stuff, especially my wardrobe. I already know that I don’t wear half of the clothes, so March will definitely be a month of selling and donating.

How about you? If you want to play, March is right around the corner!

Well, it technically it didn’t break down. But the power supply did. It started squeeking like a mouse and refused to charge my laptop.
“Nooooooooooooo”, was pretty much my initial thought. My laptop has been dead ever since.

So here I am. Waiting for my newly ordered adapter. I pretty much hate using my phone to order things, check my bank etc., and this week there seemed to be  a lot of it. Sigh. On the bright side, I have spent far less time on social media and mindless browsing around online.

My computer free evenings have forced me to do something else, so I try to organise things around the house. Or should I say room.

Remember the story of how I lost half of my belongings? Well, the other half is more than enough for 30-something sq.metres. Half of it is still in boxes and piles in the middle of my living room.

So here’s my first little project:

image

image

My coffee table. It came in a horrible lime green. It was rusty and dirty. When I saved it from the street (yes, the STREET. We do that where I live), I was confident that I could bring it back to life. You know, one of those renovation projects you never actually do, but just store for years.

The rust was superficial and I’ve been sanding and painting the boards white. White and shiny. Happy white (yes, I do love white).

I’m quite happy about the outcome so far. So happy that I wish I had a good “before” picture to show you. It turns out that a dead computer isn’t as bad as first feared. It’s not the end if the world. It has forced me to get up and do those things far down on my to-do-list. And I quite like doing them too.

Awareness, mindfulness – many people encourage being more aware of what we experience on a daily basis. We sense the world through our bodies, yet in a hectic everyday life, a lot of us rarely find time to do so.

CC Valerie Rosen (flickr)

CC Valerie Rosen (flickr)

With our bodies, we confront our surroundings. In “The Eyes of the Skin. Architecture and the senses”, Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa discusses architecture and it’s role as something that helps us settle ourselves in the world, to “recognise and remember who we are”. My favourite chapter is that of touch, which gave me the idea for this post.

“The door handle is the handshake of the building. The tactile sense connects us with time and tradition: through impressions of touch we shake the hands of countless generations. A pebble polished by waves is pleasurable to the hand, not only because of its soothing shape, but because it expresses the slow process of it’s formation; a perfect pebble on the palm materialises duration, it is time turned into shape.”

Pallasmaa, J. (2005). The Eyes of the Skin.

Through touch, we experience being near, we caress and can show affection. Feeling connected to time and place, through touch, smell, vision, hearing and taste. However, it is no longer a given in our lives. When was the last time you ever stopped to just listen? Or when did you sit down, smell the air and let your hand glide across the bench or rock you were sitting on?

Many will perhaps find that this is best done on holidays. When we are not distracted by e-mails and work calls. When the beautiful, yet peculiarly unimpressive imagery from google’s picture search comes alive through scenery of calm oceans or wild forests. Or when walking down the narrow streets twisting through a medival town. The smells and sounds, whether of freshness, calmness or passionate conversation with a hint of cinnamon in the air – we become aware of time and place, and our own position in this world.

Yet it is easy to limit the everyday touch to, well sadly, the screen of our phones. In beautiful scenery or not. The typing on keyboards. When am I most aware? When the “t” on my phone isn’t work properly. Or when my wrists ache from hour after hour of typing. At least the keyboard offers a tactile experience beyond the tips of my fingers. Being touched as well – try touching your hand and see: How is the sensation of your left hand different from the right hand? The hand that touches from the one being touched? Or when you walk with bare feet across the room? Pallasmaa continues:

“Gravity is measured by the bottom of the foot; we trace the density and texture of the ground through our soles. Standing barefoot on a smooth glacial rock by the sea at sunset, and sensing the warmth og the sun-heated stone through one’s soles, is an extraordinary healing ecperience, making one part of the eternal cycle of nature. One senses the slow breathing of earth.”

My experience so far? It’s like finding a lost art. I have found that it is not always easy to be more aware, it requires practice and focus. Nor is the purpose to do so all the time. How do different textures and temperatures feel, or the weight and densities of things?  Start small (I am trying right now as I’m typing). To pay better attention to the sensation of touch, as well as the feelings and memories that arise from doing so, can actually be giving and somehow also very soothing. Perhaps because it makes you aware of what is now. So slow down and feel.

“What about the blue crates?”, I asked him.

“Crates? Which crates? There’s nothing left up here. Did you get everything from the basement?”

Blue crates

CC focalpointx (flickr)

I felt my stomach starting to tie up in knots. This was not good, not good at all. I didn’t want to admit it, but I immediately knew that my things were lost forever; my record collection, my good speakers, my cute little vintage bags. Irreplacable. Gone.

My ex looked down at me from the attic, signalising that he was coming down. He balanced on the chair’s back rest with one foot, placed the other one down on the seat, leaving a dirty footstep on the black leather. Well down, he brushed off the dirt, but his eyes caught my puzzled little face. In my head, I was already calculating the damage. At the moment I wasn’t sure if it my mistake of leaving my belongings there would cost me more in euros or in mental anguish.

“I really don’t know what you mean. If they’re not in the basement, then I don’t know where they are.”

“Are you sure? They were milk crates, blue ones. About this big”, I said and drew the shape of the crates in the air with my hands. “There were at least ten of them, if not fifteen.”

His eyes said “no”, and I knew that I couldn’t ask him again. I knew him well enough to know that our talk was over. I could sense him getting annoyed for me asking, as fifteen identical crates full of things simply can’t be misplaced or forgotten in a flat. Especially not one this size.

I was here to finally pick up my belongings. After the breakup, my things in the flat had slowly found their way to the flat’s basement, the attic and nooks around his shop next door’s. My biggest worry was that nothing in the basement had been packed to be stored like that, so I was fully prepared for that some things would just have to be thrown out directly. I was less prepared for finding out that half of my things were missing. Presumably stolen from the basement.

I looked at my phone. The van would be here in fifteen minutes, and my friends too. He gave me the keys and suggested that I’d do one more round to double check if I wanted to.

“If I’m in the bath when you leave, just chuck them through the mail slot.” He gave me a big, long hug, his woollen jumper brushing against me cheek. It was newly washed and the smell of detergent mixed with the homely smell of him that I knew so well. “I feel really sick, so I need to get some rest. Let’s not let this be the last time we see each other, ok?”

“Ok”, I said looking down, tears in my eyes.

He left trough the shop door and I held my breath and waited. When I heard the door slam next door, I finally let myself breath. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”, I thought to myself. “Why on earth would I let my things be here for so long?” I took a deep breath and decided to do one more desperate stroll around the place. Attic, nope. Storage, nothing. Creepy basement, no, nada. The rest of my stuff was lined up in front of both entrance doors. Chairs, table, a few crates and bags. That was it.

It was long overdue to collect what was mine, to let his space be his again. We needed closure on several levels. I looked at my phone again. Five to seven. I went outside to check for the van, and as I opened the door, I was met by my friend’s sweet smile in the dark and cold street. There was snow and sadness in the air.

“Are you ready?”, she asked, rubbing her hands together as she was eager to start.

Her happy face made me grin from ear to ear as well.  “Yes. You’ll be pleased to hear that I have fewer things than I remembered, so I’m more than ready. Let’s get this over with.”

Today I deleted 3 e-mail accounts.

Yes, 3.

Accounts.

You might wonder how I can have so many accounts that I can “afford” deleting three of them. Well, account hoarding happens.

92 unread emails. Hope I didn't miss any.

CC LeoAlmighty (Flickr)

Imagine that you lead a very active online life. Imagine that you are slightly paranoid about one day having your account compromised. It’s in general a good idea to have a few seperate accounts, like a personal, serious one, and one more anonymously named. You don’t always want the spam that signing up for competitions and newsletters might generate, to land in your regular inbox.

The problems starts when you have twenty of them. Or even thirty. One for each blog you ever started. Several with your name. One with a nickname for those annoying newsletters. Another for your freelance work, one for your spam and for your slightly less serious newsletters. I even have one with a name similar to “toomuchstuff@email.com”. I should dedicate one to my plethora of e-mail accounts soon.

Before deleting them, I made sure that all important accounts and profiles connected to them were closed. By important, I don’t actually mean that their content or form were particularly important to me. I simply made sure that the personal data connected to my profiles were deleted – sometimes it takes more than clicking that unsubscribe link. You might have to log in to delete a profile, or even ask the company to delete your user data. Write them anyway if you are in doubt and make sure that it’s confirmed. It might take some time, but it feels great to do some digital decluttering!

For unsubscribing newsletters, there are nifty little programs you can use, such as unrollme, but I haven’t tried this myself. I would prefer not to open yet another account for something. With each account and profile comes a password, and the burden of remembering these is also taken off my shoulders. Ok, ok – it might not be a burden on a daily basis, but quite the pain in the ass when you have to request a new password each time you log in because you’ve forgotten it. Right now I feel lighter and happier.

Do you want to feel relieved? I can highly recommend you to go on a digital deleting spree.

I’m back from the dead. Well I was obviously never dead, but my blog was.

A year and a half ago I started this blog on exploring minimalism, but quickly got distracted as I (semi-)spontaniously decided to quit my job and leave the country to work as an intern in Berlin. It was a radical change, and blogging just wasn’t a priority as it was a bumpy ride. Short update on that: I’m still in Berlin and working full-time for the same company.

I have however decided to start blogging again, and I’d like to share my thoughts and updates on some changes I am doing this year – as well as choices and mistakes I have done.

It took me a long time to settle down, and I’m still unsure if I will stay in this city. For now, I would like to do some positive changes to my life, including getting rid of physical belongings as well of some emotional baggage. In this blog, you can follow my journey, and hopefully my experiences can help and inspire you as well. Even if it means that you’re thinking “Jeez, I’ll never, ever do what she did.”