• Category Archives my story
  • Seeing the Clutter of our Home as if for the First Time

    My out-with-leather epiphany was merely the start of a chain reaction in our shift towards minimalism. As I removed all the leather shoes, coats, belts, handbags and gloves from my closets, I couldn’t help but notice the sad, cluttered state of affairs that remained in my drawers, closets and cupboards. On the face of things, with the closet doors shut and cabinet drawers closed, things didn’t look too bad. But hiding behind these closed doors was a surprising amount of useless and/or unnecessary stuff.

    And beyond the closets, I took notice of the abundant furniture that filled every room. And the artwork covering nearly every wall. And the open shelves and bookcases that were filled to capacity.

    We moved into our current home in 2000. We had gotten rid of a lot of stuff prior to that move and had begun life in our new home with a fairly clean slate. But, our current home is twice as large as the old home, and, as the boys grew and hobbies blossomed, we slowly began to fill the open spaces with a variety of toys, electronics, furniture, art work, books, and other ‘stuff.’ It was a gradual, almost imperceptible, filling of the available space.

    As I began to look around our house with fresh eyes, a dawning realization began to creep its way into my awareness.  To my surprise, we were effectively living in a state of clutter overload!

    Honestly, as I surveyed our home, I felt like I was seeing it for the first time. And what I saw filled me with a sense of both hope and dread. The dread came from realizing how much work lay ahead, and the hope came with the awareness that I couldn’t wait to get started!

    The time had come for some good, old-fashioned clutter-busting…

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  • My Minimalist ‘Aha!’ Moment

    It’s not that I woke up one day and suddenly decided to embrace the minimalist lifestyle. No, the dye was cast after the innocuous, or so we thought, decision to watch a documentary on the local on-demand-channel. It was a Friday night, January 15, 2010 to be exact, and we chose to view “Food, Inc.”, a movie we knew nothing about.

    So we watched. Having been a vegetarian for over thirty years, I went into the viewing fairly confident that the movie would probably affirm my choices and perhaps I would come away with a new insight or two. Oh, such sweet, simple naivete!

    My husband observed the movie from a somewhat detached vantage point while I watched with increasing horror and dismay.

    By the end of those 93 minutes, I knew I could not live in denial anymore. It was impossible “unknow” what I had learned. Like a cosmic light switch flipping in my awareness, I knew I had to make some changes so that I could live with integrity in my own skin. I adopted a vegan diet and a leather-free life-style then and there.
    The next day, I went to my closet and began pulling things out.

    Good-bye salmon-colored designer sandals with the clear, round Lucite-bubble heel; good-bye taupe knee-high, western-style boots; good-bye aqua-hued, faux-crocodile mules; good-bye woven red leather chunk-heel sandals; good-bye black mary-jane flats with the leather flower accent on the ankle strap purchased at a summer sale in Paris. Good-bye dark chocolate brown boots with the ultra-pointy toe.

    Good-bye cherry-red leather gloves lined with gray rabbit fur.

    Good-bye numerous leather coats and suede jackets and elegant handbags and turquoise padded opera-style wallet that snapped shut with a reassuring ‘click.’

    Bye-bye Leather

    It was with a mixture of relief (mostly) and regret (a twinge, but hey, some of these items were kinda chic) that I donated all of these items to Dress for Success, a nonprofit group which provides professional clothing to help low-income women successfully enter the workforce. It took more than one trip.

    Afterward, as I glanced in my closet, I felt a sense of peace. The first round of purging had left a little bit of space between my hangers and I could actually see where the back walls met the floor.

    And I knew that my work had just begun.

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