I was looking for something in my wardrobe the other day when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t bought a new pair of shoes in months and months and months. Now this may not seem like a big thing to you lovely readers out there, but this realisation was somewhat of a watershed moment for me. Did I actually need to buy a new pair of shoes over the last few months—absolutely not. I know for a fact there are shoes in my wardrobe right now that have hardly ever been worn. But, if I’m being really honest here, when it comes to shoes (and, sigh, handbags) ‘need’ never really came into it.
(Shoes, handbags and puppies—you can never have too many—that was my mantra—although I hasten to add I was always much more responsible when it came to the puppies . . .)
So why such a watershed moment? A couple of years ago it began to dawn on me that I had far too many possessions for just one person. (I swear the foundations of the house were starting to sag.) I had (literally) hundreds and hundreds of books, and although I loved them all, some (most) of them had not been cracked opened in years. I also had drawers full of cds I never listened to, dvds I never watched, boxes full of arty stuff I never used (okay glad I saved that as, yay, am using it now) and wardrobes stuffed with old or unused linen, clothes, shoes, and enough handbags to start my own store. Not to mention all manner of odd broken bits and pieces that had started to gather together in the garage, along with bucket loads of ‘I-won’t-throw-that-away-just-yet-as-I-might-need-it-later’ stuff. I was starting to suffocate under the weight of it all.
And then I came across The Minimalists —two young guys writing about how to live a great life with less stuff. The answer to all my prayers—right? Well—yes and no. Although I have always liked the sound of minimalism, and I love the philosophy behind it—I also know that I really like a lot of my stuff too. Owning less than 100 things was never really going to be a viable option for me. But the more I read the more I came to realise that it did not have to be an all-or-nothing thing—there could be a happy medium—and over the next couple of years I made slow but serious inroads into divesting myself of a lot of my extraneous stuff.
I gave most of my books to Rotary and even managed to not buy more to replace them. (Well, not ‘proper’ books anyway. My Kindle now needs two hands to lift it but it doesn’t take up any more space than it ever did.) I cleared out wardrobes and drawers and gave away bags and bags of clothing (and, yes, even shoes), linen, crockery, ornaments and the like to the local Op Shops. I’ve thrown away boxes full of ‘WTF did I hang on to that for’ paraphernalia, and even (Sssshhhh—not so loud) managed to bin some of the oldest, most decrepit (and smelliest) doggie toys without them being missed (Maudie probably still thinks they are hidden in her ‘special place’ in the back yard . . . )
Did I miss any of the stuff I got rid of? Maybe. For about a minute. Out of sight out of mind. In fact I was happily surprised at how much I didn’t miss it. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I wasn’t tempted to buy more things—old habits die hard (and there are so many pretty shoes out there) so before I start to sound all holier-than-thou, let me assure that if I was to try to move into a tiny house today, I would possibly the only one alive towing a tiny house, two garages and a garden shed . . . .
So, still very much a work in progress and that’s okay. Little by slow works for me. I have had a couple of days off work this week and have used some of that time to do a bit more clearing out (it feels a bit like spring cleaning, but it can’t be that ‘cos it’s freezing outside) and I am still finding myself constantly surprised at how much I can look at and say ‘I wonder why I didn’t get rid of that before?’ (Could it possibly be because the local council only sees fit to provide us with teeny-tiny rubbish bins and then only allows the bin-men to come and empty said teeny-tiny bins once a fortnight? Mmmmm . . . )
Anyway, I have decided that ‘Less is More’ is my new mantra (although . . . the puppies . . . sigh ) Whether or not I will be able to stick to that for the long haul it is anybody’s guess, but I have started and hope to go on. I know I will be sorely tested later today as my friend Pammy and I are going down to Forster for a day’s shopping—and I do still love to shop.
Perhaps it will be okay if I only buy teeny-tiny things that will fit in my future teeny-tiny house . . .