Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Living With (Even) Less

Note: this post is not about veganism, however, since veganism is about being more aware, it is related.

We're back to using our original marble table, purchased
17 years ago when we first married.

A few weeks ago, I interloaned a wonderful little book by minimalist blogger Francine Jay, called The Joy of Less (thank you, Carnegie Library). Jay is an expatriate who writes a blog called Miss Minimalist. What sets her book apart from so many of the other so-called organizing books out there is that she introduces a philosophy about our attachment to stuff including how it overburdens us and doesn't make us any happier. She even had a funny section asking how you would feel if, after you died, people had to go through your stuff? Would you be embarrassed by what they might find? It was eye-opening to say the least.

When I moved here, even though the movers were thrilled by our smaller (compared to most people's) stash of possessions, unpacking it all was a real pain that really hit home to me. I mean, my goodness, our household is just two adults and a tiny cat. So, do we really need 3 tables & (8 chairs) to eat off of? Or fourteen dinner plates? Am I really going to read all of my books again (especially when they're so easy to get from the library)? Do I need five black purses? Am I going to be able to use up all 63 of my old stash of pens before I (or they) die? I don't think so.

True, before we moved, I did have Vietnam Veterans stopping by almost weekly for stuff since we'd be moving to a much smaller place, but still.

I'm going through everything, including the hidden stuff: sewing supplies, craft supplies (the "Ghost of Activities Past" Jay calls them), office/scrapbook/school supplies, tools. We haven't even looked into the boxes we moved into the garage last July so you know what we'll be doing this spring, don't you?

The other tip that Jay had was, when organizing/decluttering, completely empty out that drawer or room. Decide what to keep instead of what to remove. Sometimes removing things from where they've always been gives you a new perspective. All of a sudden, that broken piece of furniture looks awful when it's no longer in the same corner of your living room where it has been forever.

So, after painting our entire first floor (kitchen, dining room, & living room) a few weekends ago, this looks so much better. We gave away a huge pine cabinet that used to store our television, VCR, & stereo equipment years ago. We no longer own a television & my small tabletop stereo has replaced all the long-gone separate stereo components.

Just to give you a little example. To date, since we sold our house in Michigan, we have donated the following furniture via the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America, family, & Freecycle:

2 wicker chairs
1 buffet
1 twin bed (frame & mattress)
1 dresser
3 bookcases
2 desks
3 end tables
3 plant stands
1 daybed
2 outdoor garden benches
1 large (entertainment center) cabinet
1 dining room table with 4 chairs
1 desk chair
1 filing cabinet
1 small wooden cabinet

That's over half of our furniture! I think it's just crazy that we had accumulated that much! And our last house was tiny (1100 square feet) compared to most houses! It's so true you expand to fill your space and now I'm going in reverse: reducing my possessions to better fit into my new smaller space. It's kind of addicting, but in a good way.


  1. Any tips on how to get large extended families to consider a toddler a minimalist?

  2. Try this Gift Avoidance Guide on the blog, Miss Minimalist.

  3. I love it! I'm trying to convince myself that less is more