Every January I get an urge to read self help books.  Now these self help tomes have a related theme:  they all revolve around living a simple yet elegant life.  I have a vision in my head of clean lines, clear surfaces and well chosen accent pieces.  Of a closet with a few thoughtfully chosen clothing.  Of a house that radiates refined elegance and calm. Of a mind that radiates elegance and calm.

So every January I read a few of these books.  I recently finished “Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life” by Shannon Ables.  I read through the wisdom of the author,  I find things I agree with, and things that I don’t.  But basically I try to find one or two  little tidbits of information that will make my life better.  The two tidbits I got out of this book were 1)the best way to lead a simple life is to be yourself, and get to know yourself, and 2) end each day with an exquisite chocolate truffle.   (Honestly don’t know how I never thought of number 2 before reading this book).  This assessment is not necessarily fair to the author- the book was quite good, but at this point I’m almost an expert on this subject.  She didn’t tell my anything I didn’t know.

So what are my issues?

How much time do you have?

I live in a small space.  We have things.  It’s hard to fit all the things in a very small space.  But the real question is, why do we need all the things.  So I am constantly on a quest to get rid of “things” in our home.  We adhere to a strict one in, one out rule, which just means we only buy something as a replacement, or if we need to have something, we need to get rid of something else.  I also make everyone donate/dump one item every week.  We are not a family that has a junk drawer with things we couldn’t list.  I could probably tell you the contents of every drawer and cabinet in the house.  We are not a house with pens that do not work- my family is well trained in throwing those out.  But we still have “stuff”.

And this stuff makes me agitated.  This stuff makes my not so calm self just a little bit crazier.

I have a strange battle with want vs need.  Do I need the cake stand where the top doesn’t affix to the bottom anymore?  No.  I do not need broken things  Yet why do I keep it? Well, in this case, it’s actually an expensive piece and I’m too lazy to sell it on ebay.  It was also a wedding present.  But yet it sits on display in my living room.  And it mocks me every time I look at it.

There are times I wish I could just throw everything out in my house and start fresh- buy items thoughtfully and individually based on what I actually needed and loved.  I did this with my wardrobe to a certain extent.  When I began using Stitchfix last fall, I basically got rid of every item of clothing in my wardrobe.  Other than athletic wear, I left myself with about 15 basic pieces that I either absolutely loved, or were perfect comfy writing clothes.  (yes- if I’m not in gym wear while writing I’m in the softest sweats and t shirt imaginable)

And it felt great.  It feels great.  It is nice to get dressed knowing that whatever I put on will make me feel great because I absolutely love it.  I like having very few items, because it makes my choices simple.  If I’m going on a date night with my Husband I have three outfits that I love- he doesn’t care if he’s seen me in them.  He’s happy that I feel great walking out the door.  Because that’s the point of clothing- to make you feel confident and beautiful.  No one wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t feel great.

I want the rest of my house to make me feel like I do about my closet/wardrobe.  I want to love every item.  I want to sit in my living room and find the peace and calm I need to combat my mind which is always on overdrive.

And every year I work on it a little bit more.  Every year I take a fresh look at the items that make up my space and decide if they are needed in the inventory of my life.  The statue my Father gave me for my 50th birthday?  I don’t really like it, but my Father never purchases things for me- this he went out and specifically bought for me.  i will keep this- because it’s special in other ways.  The vase I don’t even remember acquiring and I don’t really like?  Well, that gets ditched.  My Yurtle the Turtle book from when I was a child?  The one that made me a lifelong reader?  Hell no.  That’s not going anywhere.  But other books, well, unless they’re signed or written by my friends, they’re gone.  Pictures are a keep.  Bric a brac is a toss.

And every year my space gets a little closer to my ideal.   My desk is now perfect for me.  I spent the first two weeks of January making it my ideal space- it is a place I now look forward to going to every morning to write.  I’m sitting here now, and I look up and around me and my mind is at ease.  My mind is focused.  My mind is happy.  I am happy.

Every year I feel a little more peace in my mind.

Every year I feel a little bit better about myself.

Self help.

What a concept.

 

 

80 thoughts on “Simply, Luxuriously, Minimal

  1. I looked into Stitchfix but it was too expensive for me-I’m not much of a shopper anyway. My husband gets agitated with me because I would prefer to go to a thrift store, buy clothes and bring them home and wash them rather than go blow lots of money on brand new ones. Every once in a while he buys me a shirt or I will buy something from New York & Co. because I have a credit card there. (That is the only place I can buy pants and jeans off the rack that fit my short ass!) Clutter bothers me as well but we keep it to a minimum around here too. Certain things like my albums or my Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean Koontz collections will stay no matter what. We move a lot so more and more of MY stuff seems to get trashed or donated, why won’t he do the same? He has shirts that literally have the collars worn off, lol!

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    1. I actually go through my husbands clothes with him. If I think something is gross I make a face at him and he knows the item needs to go….. I hate shopping but I like to feel good in my clothes….which is a dilemma. I hate shopping so much I tend to buy things that are cheap and easy, and I felt lousy.

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  2. It’s much easier when it’s only yourself to contend with. As each child moved on I had less to worry about as their stuff was finally not invading into my spaces. Also, being married to a small scale hoarder had me on edge, so after divorce…well that was just one more perk to be happy about!

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      1. I like to get my daughters “experience” gifts. They are usually once-in-a-lifetime things, so I’d rather they have that then some clothes that end up on the floor or jewelry that’s thrown on the dresser.

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  3. I can relate so much! Every year my goal is to completely go through my home. And when I don’t get anywhere near covering all the rooms, I am disappointed in myself. I need to embrace your “every year” approach.

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      1. I have no problem with the size of this house [it’s considered small in this neighborhood], but my own inability to know what to do with the clutter/furniture/memorabilia is what trips me up. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  4. I’m the child of someone who shops as entertainment. She’s 81 now and it’s still a problem. I’m beginning to think she’d find it easier to get rid of everything than to make choices. My daughter got me disciplined with my wardrobe. It’s a small one and three-quarters of it are things I wear pretty much daily. The rest is what I call “dress wear” and it was carefully curated, is good quality, well-made and expensive. I never have to think what to wear when invited to something dressy, as I already have it – and the accessories to go with it. But I really have a problem with letting go of things which are associated with a life I used to have but don’t at the moment (such as hosting large family get togethers). Where I live is temporary (and has been for the last four years!) but I aim to change it. Sometimes I wonder if that aim is unrealistic though. I look at de-cluttering as eating an elephant – you know, one bite at a time and just keep on at it till you get there.

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  5. I envy you all for your persistence in purging. However, I think I’m missing that gene and Feel a little differently. You see, I’m a collector. When my 2nd husband passed away I sold my big home and moved into a two bedroom condo. I got rid of 4 or 5 sets of dishes ( I was married twice so I had quite a lot of china plus holiday dishes and got rid of all but one set of bone China and my blue willow every day ware.), I donated so many books to the library, senior centers etc. but kept my vintage set of Mark Twain classics from the early 1900’s and first edition Dorothy Parker poetry books, Vintage Shakespeare, Austen and Holmes classics.
    I donated closets filled with clothing that I knew I would never wear again . So I down sized in every area. But I’m a collector and it brings me great pleasure to sit in my leather wing chair surrounded by my vintage Shakespeare china tea pots and plates etc. when I read. I feel as if I am hugged by my favorite authors when my books and antique china are displayed in my corner hutch and book shelves built by my late father.
    You see, I grew up in the 1950’s when minimalist modern was the rage. It seemed cold and boring to me compared to the warm and cozy home of my grandmother. I still have her sterling tea set she got when she married in about 1915.
    I live in South Florida yet if you walk into my condo you’d swear you were in an English cottage. I love water colors and vintage English paintings, especially from the late 1800’s and my walls are tastefully covered with art. So…. I am comforted by what you all might consider clutter. I am not a horder by any means. There is definitely method to my madness and I’m constantly looking at my items and thinking… hmmm time to donate that. I guess what I’m saying is that we each find peace from different items. Or lack there of. I NEVER presumed to tell my sons what to throw out because they each collected different things. One had guitars and old cameras and the other sports memorabilia and Star Wars stuff. They both have their own personalities. Now they own their own homes, one with a family in his 40’s, the other single in his 20’s. And I learned early on when I donated the original Star Wars items when my oldest son was in college that they were valuable and he was devastated never to purge my kids’ stuff. It turned out that son had to re-buy everything for his son 20 years later. My youngest son is now making tv shows and movies so his antique camera collection is displayed in his home. – BTW, watch his new show “The Resident” which is now on Mondays on Fox. My son is the Assistant Director on that. If it gets renewed then he continues to get healtcare through the director’s guild and for a kid in his 20’s that’s important. . Sorry I digress. So I guess we’re a family of collectors. My daughter in law enjoys the vintage jewelry I’ve given her. So we all have our own way of finding peace through purging I suppose. Whatever makes you happy and gives you comfort.

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    1. I actually love a well curated collection. I think the people that are true collectors are amazing because of th3 time they take to learn about something.I am a little obsessed with visiting Museum homes. I went to Versailles last year and I was in heaven. I would love the look of your house (I have this whole Anglophile thing)My friend M is a collector of tea cups and I love looking at the stuff she adds to her collection, but….my interest ends there. It’s one of those time to visit but….I think much of my attitude stems from my mothers hoarding tendencies, and her belief that buying someone things equates to love….but that’s my own emotional baggage. My sister is completely opposite me btw….

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      1. I think the older you get you learn to cherish the sentimental rather than the collection quantity. I used to collect unique tea cups and demitasse cups as well but I wouldn’t have room to display them in a condo so I gave most of them to my daughter-in law and nieces. I saved a few. I had a bunch of teapots and kept my Shakespeare and my blue Willow ones but donated the rest. I realized with the last hurricane that the thing that meant the most to me were my mother’s journals. So I carefully hid those in a closet that was far from any windows and wrapped them in garbage bags to prevent dampness or water from seeping in. And I took my treasured books and did the same. But other than that, I left and stayed with my sister and figured what the heck. I realized then that stuff is just stuff and after I am gone, my children will probably keep a few of my things they feel are special and either sell or donate the rest. The important thing is that we enjoy what we have. And use it. I have a guy friend who I taught with and his mother is my age. He said she was a border and he would have to go to her home monthly and clear out things. He said she couldn’t even sleep in her bed. That’s a difficult thing to deal with and I know how much it pained him. But he kept up with her to make things at least more livable. It is no wonder you are a minimalist. My sister is too. I think in a past life I must have lived in Victorian times because I enjoy that style of detail. However, the modern me loves my iPad, iPhone, apple TV and Macbook pro. So I say I have the best of both worlds. And now that I am a grandma and a new rescue kitty owner, I am less fussy about my English country cottage. LOL Keep writing. I look forward to reading your posts. You are SO authentic in what you write and that is so refreshing!!!! xoxo

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  6. Great thoughts! We went on my first cross-country drive two years ago, living from our suitcases for two weeks.
    I came home, looked at all the EXTRA SPACE (we, in contrast to you, live in the suburbs and have a lot of space) and wanted to be back on the road with just the suitcase.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I just read some of your posts and thoroughly enjoyed them. You all are adorable. But, I gotta say, if my kids bought me a gift card to a restaurant I’d be hurt. It’s so impersonal. I wouldn’t say anything to them, but I’d be insulted. It’s not a loving gift. Just a clue folks. Would you want that after years of raising your kids? My son in his 20’s who lives out of state sends interesting things like last year I got chocolate covered strawberries that came delivered to my door. One year it was a singing teddy bear decorated as a rock star. ( I was in a rock band when I was young). My other son got me a pandora bracelet and adds charms to it. But a gift card to dinner? Really? Both boys often get me Sherlock Holmes trivia, a Jane Austen action figure etc. ALL things that represent who I am. I am not not trying to “dis” your gifts, but as a widow living alone what I miss is their attention. So I’d rather they take me out to dinner than give a gift card. Just saying… maybe rethink those gifts. Now a mani and pedi at a spa? That’s more like it but I’d never use a restaurant gift card but myself. Just letting you know what your parents might be thinking. It’s different when your children are grown and out of the house. Those visits are special. And gifts? None necessary. A visit is better than anything. Luckily I get both, but rethink what your folks might want.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Honestly, most people I know don’t want stuff. This year we paid for the hotel when they came to visit for Christmas and they were thrilled. I actually hate receiving gifts. I mean hate so much my husband and daughter don’t buy me things. But that’s me. I’m not a gift kind of person, but I think it’s great if someone is. My friends sister bought her something….she had it listed on Craig’s list an hour after her sister left. I think it’s real individual….some people like gifts, others dont

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      1. Oh I totally agree. I tell them to buy something for themselves or the grandkids. BUT since they were kids it’s become a thing to find unique gifts for “The Mom” ( That’s my sons’ nickname for me. I’m not just Mom I’m THE mom. They have given me a title).lol I’m very, very lucky that I’m so close with my children. And whatever they do or don’t do is ok with me regarding presents. But seeing and hearing from them is the best gift of all.❤️

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  8. It must be the season… this is the second post I’ve read today on this subject. I really need to up my game and get rid of more stuff. My problem is that we have too much room. It’s easy to put things away so the clutter isn’t as evident. Most rooms are fine – we even have near-empty cabinets and a guest closet that guests can actually use – but our offices are too full of stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow you are way ahead of the game! My guest room is filled with my kids’ stuff they want me to keep for them. I’ve given them a time limit. Lol But I know if I clear out all my cabinets I’ll just buy more stuff. Lol

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree. Less is more and the same with words spoken. How many times can we say something? I love to get rid of things and my husband frequently worries I will get rid of his record collection and his book. I won’t but one day we will downsize and sell these items.

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  10. About that whole ending each day with a truffle..as in one truffle.. Are there people in the real world who can eat just one? If there are, I bet those freaks have houses that are spotless and clutter-less… with one drawer full of truffles of course- truffles that they are not remotely concerned about inhaling in one sitting. (freaks-🙄)

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  11. I am doing ok with my clutter but inherited a bunch from my mom and have tried selling it, no takers ( incomplete set of bone china anyone) I have donated some furniture items and later found them in a local antique store so now I am hesitant about giving anything away again. I don’t know why as I can’t be bothered with selling it so I might as well. These items are sitting in my basement so out of sight-not a good thing when you are trying to declutter. I will keep plugging away.

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    1. I can relate Whenparkspeak. I was just getting my own clutter taken care of and then inherited my parents’ things. And somehow their stuff became more valuable to me (in a sentimental way) than my own stuff. Why? Because their stuff was the stuff of my childhood memories and I cherish it. My mom wrote journals from her childhood until she passed away. She saved every drawing and every story I ever wrote. So I have a plethora of items from a lifetime lived.Even my Beatles tickets, my first news article published… pictures of me in the local paper when I was in my rock band in high school, as Juliet in college. So how can I get rid of that??? I am scanning photos now trying to digitalize everything to pass it down to my grandchildren. I may never finish this monumental task. Sometimes you find treasures when you declutter.

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  12. Well, I’ve already admitted to being a digital hoarder. And yes, this tendency spills over into the physical world. But I am in the process of recovery. I got rid of a dozen redundant unmatched coffee mugs just this week. I little bit at a time, I’m trying to get down to just the stuff I love (much of which, these days, is yarn, lol.)

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  13. Well, I don’t just have one junk drawer. . . but at least 6. It’s a constant battle. We tend to fill the spaces we have, and more space means more stuff. I wish I had you strength in this area. I despise clutter.

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    1. Honestly, it’s because my space is so small that I’m sort of brutal. You can’t help but be really mindful of what you actually need/want/use. I’m short, so I organize things by how accessible I need them to be….

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  14. Figuring out my work space us one of my goals for this year. I too want a space where I look forward to going every day. Good for you for finding your space. It’s so important. I’ll definitely be writing about decluttering in future posts.

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