Stepping into the unknown: Reflections & Discoveries

Steps descending into mist

Blogging can, at times, feel like stepping into the unknown. You put words on paper (or technically a screen) and then send them off into the unknown. Some blogs evolve over time whereas others seem polished and ‘corporate’ from the start.

Since beginning my mindful minimalism journey, I’ve read dozens and receive encouragement and inspiration from both types. I like the sharing of current de-cluttering efforts AND the essays on particular aspects of minimalism. However I’ve become increasingly uneasy with the structure of the posts at Mindful Minimalism.  Enter stage left Katie M Anderson. Her recent post about How to come up with ideas for your blog provided the hammer to hit the nail on the head.

While I’m not short on ideas, the structure of my recent posts have included three aspects (usually) – a reflection/essay on some aspect of minimalism, what I’ve got rid of and a blog post I’ve enjoyed reading. I like all these aspects but feel I never get chance to fully explain the insights and reflections I’ve gained from the possessions I’m currently decluttering. The blog post descriptions are also not what I would like them to be. Therefore Mindful Minimalism is about to evolve.

I have decided to separate the ‘essay’ type reflections and the second part of the posts (items removed & blogs I’ve enjoyed). I’ll now be posting a weekly “Reflections and Discoveries” post containing reflections (surprise, surprise) on the items I’ve removed and the blog I’ve enjoyed. Less frequently I’ll be posting a longer essay on some aspect of mindful minimalism. The reasons are two fold. It will hopefully allow me the space to reflect more fully without a blog post changing pace half way through on to a different topic. Secondly I have a looming deadline of a book chapter that I need to write and something has got to give! For now it will be the essays.

As for the new format, here it goes…

R&D1


Reflections

This week I’ve been having a staycation (with access to a car and nursery for my daughter). The result has been three glorious days with my wife as a couple (one of which was spent de-cluttering the attic store), visiting the Rob Ryan: Listen to the world exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (and getting a sneak preview of Bob and Roberta Smith’s exhibition – I can’t wait to see it) and exploring toddler friendly places nearby that are inaccessible without a car. My reflections…

  • It was difficult to decide which part to of the attic to sort out as we’ve broken it down into several areas and our natural inclination was to put off the store as it contained papers and items that have strong associations to the past. However ‘eating that frog’ has been fantastic and it was definitely in the camp of seeming impossible until it was done. It also lead to a number of other revelations.
    •  I was holding on to past relations by keeping mementos, despite having a continuing friendship with one ex and having been happily hitched for several years. My advice – let go of past relationships to leave room for the present ones!
    • It is easier to de-clutter Christmas decorations in August.
    • One thing can trigger a memory as much as 10 things can.
    • When you realise that the ‘thing’ doesn’t contain the experience or memory it is easier to let it go. This applied to three rocks (stored in a box, in a box), a single juggling ball, a piece of gnawed beaver wood and numerous bits of paper in French.
    • Old letters can say more about the person who wrote them and what was going on for them at the time, than they do about you. I’ve decided to return some of my letters to their authors as they describe the mundane, every day occurrences of their university years. I imagine they would be valued by them more, even if they decide to recycle them after reading them.
    • Items de-cluttered from the attic store: 2 archive boxes of ‘trinkets’, 4 archive boxes of paper, 1 bin liner of rubbish, 2 bin liners textiles/shoes (that weren’t even being stored in our wardrobes), 1 box of toys & 1 tent to go back to my parents, 1 small box of broken wooden dolls furniture, 1 small box of jewellery & 1 bin liner of Christmas decorations.
  • The M1 roadworks need a serious de-cluttering of the signs. Many appear smaller than usual as they are further away and when they are mixed in with signs that are related to site traffic, and reminders to be vigilant to safety (how ironic) the result is a confusing mess that, in my opinion, creates more of risk.
  • Sometimes we have clutter occupying real estate simply because it is hard to get rid of. As I don’t own a car it can be more challenging, but it also means that when I do have the opportunity to do a ‘tip run’ I cease it with both hands. This week we’ve de-owned (to the local household waste and recycling centre & charity):
    • Everything we removed from the attic store (de-cluttered this week!)
    • The bathroom door we replaced when we moved in (occupying real estate since 2012).
    • Light bulbs & keys (de-cluttered July 2015)
    • Door and kick board from replacing the inbuilt dishwasher (de-cluttered November 2014).
    • Garden waste (lots of it – de-cluttered March 2015).
    • Random electrics (de-cluttered August 2015)
    • Washing line prop (de-cluttered 2012)

Discoveries

This week I’ve really enjoyed the exercise of writing a someday list and a today list as suggested by The Minimalists in their Someday essay. I’ve written about de-cluttering my future ‘fantasy’ self who has grand plans to fill the 60 hours in each day with crafting and who knows what else. This exercise takes the next step and while I’ve taken steps to become a present dweller, not paying attention to what I’m doing in the present is never going to get me the future I desire. Tomorrow is made in our actions of today. I recommend you try out the exercise in The Minimalists’ post to reflect on where your today is leading.

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Aim for progress not perfection…A progress report

Holding It

So last week I wrote about some of the things that were weighing me down and that when de-cluttering and minimising it’s not done until it’s done. I made a commitment to focusing on de-owning rather than simply decluttering . This blog is going to be a progress report mainly so I can look back and remind myself what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I’m not affiliated to any of the companies or charities I’ve included links to but figured it might help inspire others regarding where it is possible to de-own possessions to in order to help a variety of people (including yourself). So in the last week…

  • 5 bags of baby clothes, toiletries and toys have gone to my local Besom who make up hampers for families living in extreme poverty.
  • A floor lamp and mirror have gone to the Community Furniture Store.
  • 3 boxes of books have been sold. I use Momox, Ziffit and Webuybooks. I compare prices between them and I’ve never had any problems with them.
  • 3 bags of books to a charity book shop who I gift aid with.
  • 1 bag of bric-a-brac and a few clothes to a different charity shop I gift aid with.
  • Door catch that broke and a few items I’d purchased and hadn’t used were returned to a chain hardware store for a credit note which I used to purchase a roller blind to replace one I cut incorrectly. If you have unused items still in their packaging from a large chain store, it is worth seeing if they’ll exchange for a credit note. I recently returned stockings we didn’t use at our wedding (3 years ago!) and received a credit note which I used to buy balsamic vinegar – something we actually needed.
  • The aforementioned poorly cut blind has gone to a mum from my local parenting network.
  • I’ve listed more things on ebay and in local selling groups.
  • Arrangements have been made with three friends to return/pass on/give/lend things to.
  • I visited the local household waste centre to recycle batteries, metal items, light bulbs, electronics and 6 mobile phones! We had a mobile phone grave yard that was worse than our laptop grave yard (which is pretty horrific and still exists).
  • I’m in the process of arranging a drop off of old bedding to a local homeless charity.

As for how I feel this end of the week…Like a weight has been lifted! There is now room in the loft so that I can start to declutter more. Perhaps I’ll even declutter some of the loft it’s self! Hmmm. Where to start with that just right challenge?

Items de-cluttered this week (while focusing on de-owning) 

Roller blind, Bamboo wind chime, pot of bamboo, 4 drinks coasters, 1 pair of shoes, 1 dress, 4 tops, 1 cd & the content of the basket!

Header photo Holding it/JD Shippel/CC BY