First off, words can’t explain the gratitude I have for you. Yes, you. Reading this post, right now. Chances are, you were one of the many who read my previous post about living with depression. If you missed it, you can read it here . Over the past week, I have received an outpouring of support, and I now consider you a part of my village. The conversations we’ve had regarding mental health (whether it was you or you as a caregiver) were life changing. Mental illness affects all of us. I hope this can be the start of an ongoing conversation about how to support and care for one another. I am going to start to cry, so I’m gonna stop. But, please know, I am so thankful and incredibly grateful for you.
As part of my ongoing journey with depression, I have started to explore the minimalism lifestyle. We have written about it in earlier posts and here . These previous posts also got a lot of traction, and resonated with a lot of you.
Over the month of January, I participated in The Minimalist minimalism game. Everyday, you donate/recycle something in your house, but the number of items corresponds with the day (i.e. January 1st, purge 1 item, January 2nd, purged 2 items, etc). By the end of January, I had donated/recycled 500 items. I had done a huge purge during my medical leave from work last winter and didn’t think I had that much stuff to get rid of. Shit, was I wrong. I think this is why basements were created – to act as a storage facility for our stuff.
Organizing our homes can be very daunting. You ask yourself, “Where do I start? What do I get rid of?” Start off small, like I did. I decided to divide and conquer room by room, so the process wasn’t as overwhelming. I also set a time for 45 minutes so I could stay focus and not get distracted. How did this process go? Read below to see my game plan:
Kitchen & Living Room
I started in the kitchen and it was great to take an inventory of what we had. For real, who needs 5 spatulas?! Now, when we cook, we know where everything is and our Tupperware container drawer is actually organized. Miracles do happen! After the kitchen, I focused on the living room. Not much in here, except for some of Emily’s toys which she never used. I also tackled the front hall closet and is where I found 10 scarfs. Who knew one person can own so many?!
AKA Emily’s toy room. This room took almost a week to purge. Books, old toys, clothes and other random items (like an old dog toy from under the couch – thanks Badger!) After tackling the kitchen and living room, I found the process was getting easier. I was able to differentiate between what to keep and what to donate a lot faster. I was actually looking forward to the next purge day! I also felt a physical weight coming off my shoulders. It’s amazing how less stressed you feel when your house isn’t filled with unnecessary stuff. It is also embarrassing and not in a cute way. I was embarrassed with how much stuff we had accumulated. No one needs 15 pillows. No one needs eight long-sleeve gray shirts. A child doesn’t really need baskets full of unused toys. You quickly realize how much we covet stuff and how easy it is to mindlessly spend money. Once I was done this room, our house purge was half way done. Now, it’s so much easier to clean up the Emily tsunami after she’s done playing.
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Bedrooms and bathrooms were next. So many expired creams and make up. Nasty! I am still sticking to my capsule wardrobe and have about 40 pieces in my closet. Overall, this has been great. It takes the guessing game out of what to wear. All my pieces fit well and suit my lifestyle. Read this previous post to learn more. Since I had recently done a clothing purge in both mine and Emily’s closet, these rooms didn’t take too long.
Saving the best (worst) for last, was the basement. I kept this to the back end of the month, because I knew I’d be able to hit the number really easily. I set my watch for 45 minutes each day and went to work. From January 20-31, I spent my time in the basement and holy shit did I find some treasures. So many old photos, yearbooks, report cards, baby stuff and other random things lined our basement shelves. This was the hardest room because I really needed to think about what to keep and what to donate/recycle. I was able to get 10 boxes of stuff down to three. In total, six large black garbage bags went to Goodwill or recycling. I wasn’t quite finished by the time January 31st came around, so I extended the game into this weekend. Happy to report, we actually have some empty shelves in our basement!
North Americans love stuff. This is no surprise and if it is, well, sorry to burst your bubble. If I had to calculate how much I spent on the things we donated, it would be staggering. Many of us are seeing the negative effects of consumerism and starting to change our focus with how we spend our money. The current trend is changing to intentional spending. We are starting to ask ourselves the why behind our purchases. Once we have our love of collecting stuff under control, we will gain control of our finances. I have started to make a weekly financial goal, and happy to say I have been able to keep it. This week’s goal is to only spend $80 (for variable expenses, such as meals out, clothes, personal care. Fixed expenses are not part of this). Cross my fingers I can do it!
Want to learn more about the minimalism game? Read more about it here
If this post inspired you to start to re-evaluate your spending habits, let me know! I can be here to support you and talk you through this journey. Trust me, its so worth it.
Not sure where to donate or recycle your items? Here are a few suggestions:
Shout out to my work wife, Margaret, who edited this post and added these links! You’re the best!