Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
I think you’ll enjoy this submission from Becky L., who tells us about her annual purge—something I also love to do each January!
I married a minimalist, and he had a curious past-time in January of each year, of going through everything he owned. A consummate hiker and backpacker, he’d go through all his gear and fix, mend, and discard. He’d toss any book on the shelf that he hadn’t read that year, mend or toss clothes that were getting worn, and took a look at hobby paraphernalia that no longer suited him – an ice axe for technical climbing, jig saw puzzles, books on birding in New Zealand – and sent them out the door. He also went through all his paperwork so when tax time came, he was organized and ready to go. It goes without saying that unwanted holiday gifts went out the door as well.
I took up this annual practice with gusto! Armed with checklists and questions from the many simplicity books that abound (Do you love it? Do you need it? If you saw it in a store, would you buy it?), I roamed the house and not only purged my own stuff, but hit the kitchen, garage, and even the garden. It’s amazing how fewer plants often look better, and low-maintenance groupings that mimic the natural world are not only easier to maintain but are lovely to look at and great for attracting wildlife. I also purged many of my started projects like half a knitted hat, hand-made papers for book binding that I never got to, and quilting equipment that I kept even after deciding that quilting was designed for people more patient than I.
I make a point to tell people about this annual purge, and it’s fun to see their face fall when they realize that just tackling a closet would take them all of January. They were interested, though, and almost all of them said they needed to clutter clear themselves. Initially I enjoyed the process every year but as the days stretched on and I was still sorting and surrounded by papers and things I didn’t use, it wore me down. I also try to find homes for stuff and bring items to the break room at work with “free” signs, put them out on the curb, or donate them to a nearby pre-school that loves slightly used art supplies. This whole time-consuming process teaches me an important lesson — to lighten up so I can be doing other things with my time. I now think twice before bringing anything into the house!