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Minimalism and Me

Updated on September 23, 2013

While in the dentist's waiting room I read in some Home/Deco magazine (it didn't look too old) that there were some studies done that compared us, North Americans to Europeans with regards to our living quarters, furnishings and general inside clutter.

It showed that Europeans live in smaller homes (obviously, less available space). They drive smaller and fewer cars (obviously, check out how narrow some of those old roadways are and even Ikea hasn't figured out how to park even the smallest car in a space made for a bicycle). They also produce less waste (that's to be expected if you start out with less naturally you'll have less waste). Throughout all this "less" or should I call it Minimalism they're supposedly happier on the whole, then us here across the big waters, Americans and Canadians alike.

After coming home with a numb mouth and possibly a drooling problem from the dentists, I looked around me. Now if I were to take that report at face value, and figure out how I can become as happy as them (mind you I haven't decided that I'm unhappy yet). How would I become one of them Minimalists? What can I change? Obviously I won't be able to shrink down my home. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, I'm sure not just mine but quite a few cars are seeing way less accumulated mileage. So that takes that issue away.

I'm down to inside furnishings etc., the material stuff that's lying around the house. Represented are a lot of things that I decided I just had to have. A lot of them are broken promises to myself; I had every intention of using these things to change my life and my lifestyle. This is okay! Let's start by change that is easily do-able, I'll minimize by giving up the thread-mill and exercise bike. (Wow! Look at that, I'm so much happier already).

While I'm at it, what exactly is a minimalist? A minimalist is someone according to the dictionary who:

  1. advocates a moderate or conservative approach, action, or policy

  2. is a practitioner of minimalism

  3. relates to, characteristic of, or in the style of minimalism

  4. is or provides a bare minimum of what is necessary

To put that all into my words a minimalist is someone who only has possessions that are necessary, and refrains from buying anything unless there is an immediate need.

Okay! Let's say I will try to conform to minimalism. I have a feeling that it could get quite overwhelming and nasty. I would think the key to success would be to start small.

Getting rid of things knock my eyes out of focus
Getting rid of things knock my eyes out of focus
Skeleton in closet made a good hat stand
Skeleton in closet made a good hat stand

My closet would be a good beginning. Looking at each item separately, if they don't fit now (having given up the exercise equipment... for the sake of my happiness... of course) chances are they will not fit 3 months from now either. But I could remake... Forget about it; simplify is the key here. Oh wow I forgot about this... I always liked this cute mini leather skirt... it should come back in style within the next 15 to 20 years... I wonder if my legs could pull off wearing that then... For an efficient clean-out job, one and all will have to be removed from the closet. What to do with that skeleton or two "hmmm, into the box for the thrift shop someone might want them for Halloween deco"... (I'm just so overbearing and firm when I'm talking to myself) I'll need to be strong, it's important my future happiness might be at stake here....

The six discard piles are growing:

  • Trash can and recycle bin: anything and everything I was going to fix when I got ‘a-round-to-it'.

  • Women's and children's shelters: anything that can help rebuild lives is always in need here, from women, children and baby clothes, toys, small household items and blanket and pillows etc.

  • Thrift shop box: all good usable items, if someone doesn't have something even if it's a bit old fashioned might be better than none. (have to remember no broken or ripped items)

  • Church bazaar or white elephant sale: remember only in-tact items, from teacups to knick-knacks, to left over yarn which are usually happily accepted.

  • Consignment shop: most of these shops take on items that are still in fashion and in good shape from adult to children and baby items too.

  • Garage sale: I wonder if I'll get ambitious enough as to try to sell all this stuff. I just have to remind myself that all the items not sold will need to go to the thrift shop instead of back in the house otherwise all this would be an effort for nothing.

later>>>>>

I did it, wow, walking into an uncluttered room sure feels different it let's me see and focus on those items that really matter. It is so much easier to clean. A quick sweep with the vacuum and dusting is done in a jiffy with all that clutter and most of those small fiddly knick-knacks gone. It shows off my key-pieces to perfection, that up till now have always just faded into the background. Also, with less clutter my whole living space looks bigger and airier.

Let's hear it for Minimalism my new beginning...

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    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      FLYSCO, yup I tried really really tried but I came to the conclusion that I like stuff... my stuff that I have collected over time. The things that I moved out to the garage slowly made their way back in and now it's all nice and cozy again and not cold and clinical in my home.

      Oh well such is life

      regards Zsuzsy

    • FLYSCO profile image

      FLYSCO 7 years ago from Kings Cross, London

      Zsuzsy - I have this small mental ritual - every time I walk in the front door, I look at what I'm carrying. Every time I walk out, I do the same. If carry-in is always more than carry-out, sooner or later the house will be full.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Naul Pewman (I used to love Paul Newman he was one of my fav actors) thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      The house is back to cozy and not slick and de-personalized. I just love antiques and good buys so I made up a rule for myself (now that the house is back to nice) that if I buy a new (old thing) for anywhere in the house I will have to give away or sell one also.

      Kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Naul Pewman 8 years ago

      Cool. What's the house like now?

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      IslandVoice, I think I'm leaving the minimalism behind for others to perfect as I found my place totally cold and uncomfortable not at all cozy. Mind you we should all heartlessly clear out clutter once every few years (even if only to make room for more...I mean for a change)

      zs

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      Let me know your follow up hub on this, something for the habitual, stubborn and hopeless cases like us! I think i am better than my hubby who refuse to let go of anything. If i sell what we have in eBay, i think we can be mortgage free!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Island Voice, thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      I hang my head in shame as I have not been able to keep up with my 'less is better' home. I was a pack rat and I will stay a pack rat/ I gave the minimalism a try...because I was tired of cleaning, dusting all my 'stuff' so I got rid of soooo much...but it's filling all back in, in little bits

      I just love to have my things around me.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • IslandVoice profile image

      Sylvia Van Velzer 8 years ago from Hawaii

      It is my one wish, is to be a 'minimalist'. Between me and my husband, we 'collect', from clothes to antiques. We keep planning on building more space and the next problem is 'who's going to clean? Thanks for the tips. Surely, less is best.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Haunty, how are you? You like George Carlin too? I used to love his wicked sense of humor.

      Now, I have a confession to make....I was not able to stay with the empty house. Gradually most places filled in again. I tried...I really, really tried but I just love auction sales and antiques... My place just felt soooo cold and impersonal...I only lasted 5 months before I went to my first auction sale then it became a bi-weekly thing. I'm hanging my head in shame but I went to two of them this week but didn't buy anything...(I was outbid)

      Always glad when you come for a visit

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 8 years ago from Hungary

      George Carlin comes to mind and A Place For My Stuff. Now you got rid of some of those, as each of us should. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Vilmadoesnt! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. To be truthfull I'm not sure if I can make the whole year. I like stuff too much I guess. We'll see...

      regards Zsuzsy

    • VILMADOESNT profile image

      VILMADOESNT 8 years ago from United Arab Emirates

      nice one zbee!! i am an advocate of conservation of the environment. Your hub is really great!! An organized and neat place is a manifestation of a clean mind and an organized person.

    • poorQpine profile image

      poorQpine 8 years ago from USA

      You say Pack Rat as if it were a lower life form! HUM? Those cousins of mine are in the recycle business and doing quite well now that Humans are trying to go green. Think GREEN and indulge just be careful with your $. me, poorQpine

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      poorQpine! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting. It is really hard to stick to my guns. I'm such a packrat by nature. I passed up so many fabulous auction sales already... obviously I can live without them but I'm sure missing out on a lot of fun.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • poorQpine profile image

      poorQpine 8 years ago from USA

      Z Bee,

      This is a wonderful thing you are trying. I wish you luck in carrying this idea into all you do. Preach it to friends and family because this is the path to redemption on this planet. Good for you and your closet is better for it too. It made you feel good too. me poorQpine.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Lgali! Thanks for taking a look and for commenting

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Isabella! How are you? long time no talk... I remember the cobblestone street well. Always glad when you pop in for a visit.

      greeting from a fridgid Canada

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      very good advice I have to do same thing my home

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 8 years ago

      Fewer cars, but the traffic volume is just is bad due to those narrow cobblestone roads and loads of one way streets! Definitely less room, and less clutter. All great tips for decluttering!

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 8 years ago from London UK

      Hi Zsuzsy Bee, thankyou, I would have to add that i have never, ever met anyone who is as minimilistic in every aspect of possesions! clutter free!

      Greetings 2U2 from a cold and damp London:)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      SEO IT! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • SEO IT! profile image

      Karla Whitmore 8 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      Organization is one topic I can never get enough of, but most organization articles bore me to pieces. Yours is entertaining AND helpful. Thanks!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Compu-smart! I'm having a dickens of a time staying with it. I keep trying.

      Hope you're well, greetings from a cold and damp Canada

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 8 years ago from London UK

      Minimalism and Me too!!:)Hi Zsuzsy Bee

      I am extreamly minimal, and clinical and i have nothing such as ornamants or anything..If it has no purpose other than to look good, its not welcome in my abode!

      I find being this way is easier to clean and find things! a place for everything and everything in its place!;)

      I know soo many people who hoard and collect so much rubbish and never ever use them, where there are soo many charities who will take off your hands and put to good use! Or why dont they sell them on Ebay! make some extra money and again, let people who really need it and will put to good use have them!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Tony! I haven't even bothered to clear out the garage and then I still have two sections in the barn that has all kinds of """usefull""" stuff in it too. I notice myself starting to look at things with 'I could use that for...' again. I need to stay strong because I promised myself that year to stay clutter free of which there are still 5 months left.

      Glad you stopped over for a visit regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Earth Angel! I'm always glad when you pop in fro a visit. I often wonder if this keeping things has something to do with not having an attic full of family mementhos. So to compensate for that I stash everything that might come in handy in another 72.5 years.

      take care and talk to you soon Zsuzsy

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for this Hub. I need a lot of encouragement to get rid of stuff - I'm the original hoarder, just come and see my garage and workroom! Still working on gettting rid of so much clutter!

      Love and peace,

      Tony

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 8 years ago

      Another GREAT Hub ZB!!

      Ahhhhhhhhhhh, one of my vices uncovered!! It may be neat and orderly, but I keep EVERYTHING!! I'm 53 and still have a skirt hanging in my closet from kindergarden!! (I'm smaller now than I was then as a chubby child!!)

      I'm pretty good about parting with things if I know they are going to a good place/person!! The battered women's shelter is one of the BEST!!

      Happy Thanksgiving Gentle Soul!!

      Blessings always, Earth Angel!!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      You're so right Michelle. It is so much easier to hang things in a closet and forget about them then to get rid of them.

      Hope you're well kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi Zsuzsy, it feels great when one is able to straighten things up and remove all the clutter..and one can finally have the "courage" to let go of one's possessions. I confess I have a hard time doing that too. LOL But its really funny how we accumulate things again. That is why we have to do it on a regular basis. Kinda like ourselves. We have to stop every so often to stop and unwind and remove excess baggages and renew. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      C.W.! We'll see how long I can last. There is a mega auction sale coming up and after all I have room now right...we'll see how strong I can be,

      Always glad when you stop in for a visit, Hope the recoup is going well

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Good for you. I need to do this in my closet. Too many clothes I never wear any more, but can't seem to get rid of...

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      PopcornSalt! That's a pretty good point. I never thought of that.

      Glad you came to take a look. regards Zsuzsy

    • PopcornSalt profile image

      PopcornSalt 8 years ago from wandering about

      Nice hub! You don't mention that Europeans have a lot less space to store food in their homes--I wonder if that therefore means they don't "outgrow" their clothes like we do, so they save on closet clutter! :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Christoph! Thanks I'm glad you agree with me on that exercise clutter and as you said with everything cleared out and empty I have so much room to fill. I have to be good here I promised myself a year of clutter free living. An experiment that is quite tough on a packrat like me.

      Glad you came over for a visit talk to you soon

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      Zsuzsy: Great hub! Also, the excercise equipment was a wise choice to go. It takes up so much space! Taking on the closet is brave and a place where a tremendous impact on clutter can be made. And when you are done, and you stand back and admire your "minimalist" new diggs, just think of all that room you have for new stuff! That sounds like a plan!

      Very entertaining! Two dumpsters up!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Cris thanks for taking the time to comment. I think most of us get into a habit of collecting and hanging on to stuff. Just stuff and clutter... kindest regards Zsuzsy also thank you for joining my fan club

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I've never realized that cleaning out could be so much fun! Thanks for the epiphany! I'm an instant fan :D

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Dayzee! Thanks for coming for a visit and your comment. I'm wondering if I'm the right person to be uncluttered.

      greeting from a cold but sunny Canada regards Zsuzsy

    • dayzeebee profile image

      dayzeebee 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thumbs up ZsuzsyBee. I often used Minimalism in my production design concepts and later used it in my personal space as well. What I noticed was, physically clearing the clutter helped in clearing the muddle in my mind, body, heart and spirit too. May the move bring more joy in your being. Be blessed:)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Aya! Thanks for commenting. I raised my three children as a single parent and I can vouch that everything I had came the hard way so I understand not wanting to get rid of things very well. I'm attached to every piece of my possessions one by one. I live now and have even when it was still unfashionable to be green saved and found other uses for things. So I'm not sure how long I will be able to hold out with recluttering my space. (I still feel the most comfortable in my sewing room which luckily has escaped the wrath of my minimalism experimenting hand)

      I promised myself a year... we shall see how long before I cave in.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      RGraf! Thanks for taking a look. I was (am) a pack rat. I have regretted getting rid of some of my things but... oh well what can I do. I hope I can stay focused. I find second and third uses for so many things... I promised myself that I will try to stay clutterless for a year and if after that I still crave clutter then I will know that I was meant to have clutter around. I did this whole downsizing at the beginning of the summer... if I can remain good I will write another hub about my progress.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Zsuzy Bee, thanks for a great hub. I, too, need to do a considerable amount of de-cluttering. However, it occurs to me that people with more minimalized living quarters aren't necessarily the ones who bought fewer things. They are those who were not afraid to get rid of something, once they no longer wanted it -- no matter how much it had cost them to get.

      It's those of us who are trying to be thrifty who are afraid to get rid of our old stuff.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Three Cheers for Zsuzsy Bee! I've slowing doing this. It doesn't help when the others in your house feel like you are evil for doing away with all those dust-collecting items. You've given me more drive to get this done.

      Thank you and enjoy your clutterless rooms.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks Patty! I took three car trunks full over to the women shelter. Stuff I was not going to use anymore. The big pots and casseroles dishes and such because I don't do that much large amount of cooking anymore. Would you believe I had 82 tea cups and saucers? Who in their right mind needs that many cups? And mugs I took two banana boxes full to the shelter. Stuff I have been hording and not using for years. It felt good. But I'm afraid I'm incorrigable. I bet soon I will see a sale on some kind of kitchen gadget and poof it will be. Oh well at least I have room for new stuff.

      take care regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      I love this Hub and am clearing out my bedroom this weekend. I put things in bags for recycling and then I have to drive them to the site and sometimes do need to go in that direction, so things pile up too much. At least gas is cheaper now and I can make one big trip.

      The pictures and especially the skeleton are great!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Marian! Thanks for visiting. I'm bad, everything I cleared out will just get replaced sooner or later, I just know it. It's sad but when they say a leapard can't change their spots it's true. I wrote this piece about my experience over the summer and I was really good till my friend invited me to go along to an auction... I had room now... I really love my pair of antique book shelves. I also feel more comfortable in my crowded sewing room then anywhere else in the house. However cleaning is much more of a breeze.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Marian Swift profile image

      Marian Swift 9 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Around here, it's time to drag the ol' bulldozer out of the closet and plow into our own minimalizing. This Hub put me in the right mood for it. Thanks!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thank you Patty for pointing out the MIA comment capsule in the forums.

      regards Zsuzsy