This year has really made me look at my life, my things and my way of living with new eyes. I felt a huge draw to minimize my life and adopt a more minimalist lifestyle with the intention of appreciating what I have with more gusto. I came across Kinfolk magazine's summer edition - an ode to living life with the idea of essentialism. It wasn't about tossing things away and living minimally. It was about determining what one couldn't live without.
Here's my mind: KAPLOOF! Do you ever read something and then all of a sudden this cord deep inside you just starts buzzing? This article completely shifted my perspective. Why had I never thought of decluttering/minimizing in this way? Instead of going through a frenzy and tossing out seventeen pairs of shoes, old makeup, dinner plates, vases and pens - yes, I REALLY have been into the KonMari method - I shifted my perspective to look at my things and determine what I simply couldn't live without.
It might seem strange to use this approach with a pencil or pen, but suddenly a hearty record collection is no longer taking up too much space - it is a treasure. Essentialism gives us a reason to have our tiny treasures, prized possessions and quirky collections, like excessive stamps, tiny spoons, old magazines or crystals.
As a writer, I have newspaper and magazine clippings from my work, but are they organized in a neat binder? No, of course not. They're tossed in my office, folded in half and not treated like anything special making me feel like I should toss them all in the garbage. When in reality, they are little treasures of accomplishment that I can't bare to get rid of. I've recently retired my column and now seems like the perfect time to close the cover of that book and tuck it away neatly on a shelf. NOT IN THE GARBAGE! I keep every issue of my column that makes its way to my doorstep, but I don't treat it like anything special even though I feel like it is. And with a magazine background, I keep back issues of Dwell, Architectural Digest and Kinfolk. I feel like I should throw them out, but I revel in seeing their stacked spines dating back to the 2000s. It makes me feel something tingly in my belly. Why should I eliminate that good feeling from my life? And my stuffed bookshelves with books I may never read again? I can't just get rid of them. I reference many, and some I even wrote myself. A lot of those books feel like a part of me.
Now, the books that are about some tweeny-bopper love story that I'll never read again? Yeah, 'kay. I get it. Bye.
And then there's the art collection. Derek gets frustrated when I bring a new piece home, exclaiming we don't even have any more wall space to fit these pieces on. He's right. But when I look at the art on my walls, I realize there are some I could live without, and there are some I completely adore, spending lazy afternoons staring at them, drawing inspiration for the stories I write. Landscapes. Power animals. Quirky drawings. Illustrations friends of mine made. Yes, some of these art pieces are essential to my life. And some aren't.
While I think that using an minimalist approach to one's toiletries, bathrooms, kitchen utensils and even general clutter is a great way to finally get rid of all our excess - looking at our lives, wardrobes, decor and collections with essentialism in mind is more realistic, and even more rewarding.
To start, I went through my home and found the things I couldn't live without. Things. The items that felt like me. I LOVE THINGS! I'm like a giddy child who was just given a lollipop when I march through a thrift store. It's embarrassing. I used the same approach (sort of) that one would if the house was burning and you only had so much time to grab something. Only that approach leans toward what is practical; the essentialism approach picks things you like just because you like them. I chose things for no other reason than I like how they make me feel, whether that is igniting cozy memories, making me feel independent and feminine or anything else.
1. My black leather jacket
You know when someone asks you if you were an article of clothing what would you be? I'd be a black leather jacket (or maybe a pair of good jeans). I sometimes buy the same piece of clothing in a couple colours... and I always just wear the black one. So all those other jackets that I don't wear but manage to take up some vital closet space? Donate.
2. Faribault 100% wool black and red plaid blanket from Tiny Feast
I'm a biiiig snuggly blanket collector (see #4 in this post). But here's the thing about blankets: they get scraggly. A scraggle blanket is gross. I went through all my blankets and threw out the ones with gaping holes, questionable stains, etc, and even added my sheets and bedding to the mix. We are making the upgrade to a kingsize bed (Derek is a big dude), and since I was going to be buying new bedding, this seemed like the perfect time to really get into the bedding for our guest room.
3. Canadian Goose Print from the Animal Printshop
OK. I have an art addiction. Or is it an essential treasure in my life? I'm super inspired by the art I hang in my house (see this post again and take a peek at #11), and I have a new affinity with Canadian Geese. Or the Goose. Even my nickname was Gooser as a child (I'm not sure if I honked a lot or had a deep laugh). I love the stark white backdrops that Sharon Montrose uses for all the animals she photographs - it's even inspired the photos I snap for this space! I have such a shamanistic pull as I carve into my mid-to-late twenties and I've purchased a lot of her work to hang in my house. They're essential to me.
4. White Eames Armshell Rocker from Modernica
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY WEIRD STAND ALONE CHAIRS IN THE BASEMENT. TOSS. TOSS. TOSS. I worked in a furniture store that really shifted my perspective on the furniture we choose for our homes. Buy a bunch of cheap things that I'm going to constantly replace or invest in a pricier item that will go the distance? This rocker is the chair I like the best. I rock my baby in it. It matches my space. It makes me feel good. I don't need all those other chairs.
5. Stendig Calendar
A part of me thinks of this as practical art... so I can get away with keeping it. True story: I've ordered this calendar through Tiny Feast for a few years now and I recently frantically emailed co-owner Danika when I realized the year end was encroaching on us and I didn't have next year's lined up. The store recently put a call out as to who wanted the calendars since they sell out so fast and like a loser I totally missed it. SHEER PANIC. So right away, I know this oversized sans serif calendar is essential to me. The idea of not having it actually woke me up at night.
As soon as I started doing this, certain pieces/things I had didn't seem to fit with me. It became easier and easier to sift through and identify things like - WOW why do I still have that? That isn't me. This piece isn't a good representation of who I feel like I am. That girly vintage white mirror? I'd like it better if it were rustic barn board. Those mismatched pastel teacups? I prefer the ceramics I made myself in my pottery class.
This is a good starting point that you can expand on. And while my "treasures" might seem like nothing - even junk - to someone else, that isn't the point. These items make my spirit sing. They feel definitively me. And while a baking dish might never feel "like me" you'd be surprised what coffee mug, cheeseboard or cast-iron dish will. I found this pin for a good starting point in your kitchen.
I guess I have used a combination of the KonMari method, Marie Kondo's decluttering method as explored in her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with some tools of essentialism woven throughout. If you can't tell, I love nesting, and would be totally happy living life as a professional nester.
It won't happen overnight, but it is a good project to adopt while the nights begin to cool, calling you indoors and back into the nest that you adore and feel safe in. I started with my closet - that glorious beast Derek and I built last winter - and everything in there feels organized and quintessentially Van.
Seriously go through your things. What can't you live without?