Clearing my mind. (Minimalism, post 6.)

In a warm comment the other day, a new subscriber (hello!)  wisely noted that “everybody’s version of minimalism is going to be different.” I loved that she wrote that. Her words inspired me and got me thinking about minimalism in a broader sense, leading me to ask myself:

What am I hanging onto in my mind that might be creating clutter? My answers:

  • The past… those negative parts of my past with nothing left to teach or offer me.
  • People… those who do not share my belief – sometimes long-held – that we’re connected in some meaningful way.

Getting at the heart of it, I’m becoming aware of the difference between decaying memories vs. thriving ones, and true, lasting personal connections vs. insincere or transient ones. Am I hanging onto rotten memories? Am I holding onto the belief that there’s a relationship where there isn’t one, or where there was never one?

Sour memories… I’ve been working to put them at rest.

Relationships that have been chimeras all along… I’ve been realizing and processing the illusory nature of them. It’s painful, somewhat, but it’s time to minimalize.

I write this without bitterness, in the spirit of realism.


through the water glass


Decluttering my mind has become a part of my minimalism journey. Just as I need to let go of things without personal value, meaning, and purpose, I need to let go of memories without without value, meaning, and purpose. I need to learn to let go of people, too. I need to work on clearing my emotional cache.

To me, minimalism is really about that… letting go. We’ve been hanging onto things, and now we’re striving to free ourselves from those attachments. Making this endeavor in a realm beyond the physical feels just as cleansing. To clear the mind of clutter is to make more space for treasured memories and real connections.



Writing and writing space updates! (REVISED office tour.)

Writing updates, in brief: I’ve been working through my second draft, mostly polishing, but also doing more extensive re-writing where I see the need. I’m loving this part. There’s nothing like a good chunk of time to clear your vision. 18 months later, I can really see this manuscript, and I’m going to town with it, just having fun. It’s exciting.

Office updates: I’ve got a bunch of pics to share for those of you with a penchant for seeing other people’s spaces. I get you. I’m one of you.

Main changes I made to my office since “office tour May 2017”: I snagged my old desk from its spot in the guest bedroom, added two small console/bookcase things to fit in the corner behind the desk, and acquired three more houseplants.

I loved sitting on the floor at my old German trunk, but the anti-ergonomic nature of that set-up became apparent. It was a matter of time, I suppose. I enjoyed it while I could! The books came up off the floor at the same time that I did (enter the small console/bookshelf things behind the desk). In the process of minimalizing, I removed the wall clock and the Luche Libre poster, and the only thing left hanging behind the door is my pair of boxing gloves (covered in dust, since I never use them).

About the houseplants: I’m up to five. I haven’t decided whether this counts as a minimalism fail. Does it? It doesn’t feel like it does. It feels like the energy within my ring of plants encourages my creativity. I would like to add one or two more, in fact.

Here’s the view from my window:


view to the front yard


…and here’s the interior:


looking in from the doorway


I keep the room neutral and plain. Only the plants add color.


where I write (same as before, except at an actual desk)


Nenette often naps on the futon. I can easily see her when I look up from my screen.


view from the desk, left of center – Nenette on the futon


Here’s a better pic of Nenette:


Nenette napping on the futon


To the right of the futon:


3 plants (Holder, Icarus, Barclay)


Behind my desk, right side:


another plant (Linden)


Behind my desk, left side:


another plant (Jerome)


Back of the door:


boxing gloves I love, but never use


That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed this. I love peeking into other people’s offices, so this was fun to do.


Brought to you by my bookcase. (Minimalism, post 5.)

Going through my bookcase the other day, I came across the literature that rooted the notion of minimalism in my mind years ago. It’s a book by Meryl Starr called The Personal Organizing Workbook: Solutions for a Simpler, Easier Life, published in 2006. Starr had published its prequel in 2003: Home Organizing Workbook: Clearing Your Clutter, Step by Step. Starr had already been an internationally renowned expert in this field.

The passage in Starr’s book that interested me the most was this:

When you walk into a room or open a closet door and you can feel your energy just drop, that’s your signal that you’ve found a perfect place to begin. Enter this problem area, close your eyes, and imagine what that space would look like with nothing at all in it. Just thinking about that empty space, you may notice your spirits beginning to lift already. Next, ask yourself: if you lost all that stuff, what would you really miss? Make a mental list… no peeking!

Based on this philosophy, she succinctly advises on various areas. The closet, for instance. She offers step-by-step guidance:

  • Get some boxes
  • Empty everything completely off the racks in your closet, and throw it all on the bed where you can see it
  • Divide your clothes into categories: shirts, pants, dresses, etc.
  • Pick out your favorites in each category… you can put them back in your closet.
  • Pull out items you don’t like, things that need repair, and clothes that don’t fit
  • Look at the pile you have left over. This is your pile of maybes – maybe keep, maybe donate, maybe sell. To help guide you when going through the items, ask yourself these questions: “When was the last time I used this?”, “Do I love this?”, “Do I have another one similar to it?”, “How does this make me feel?”


Meryl Starr’s book from 2006 (my minimalism journey inspiration)


I bought Starr’s book in 2006 and did absolutely nothing with it except take her initial quiz, acknowledge that some minimalizing was in order, and then fantasize about doing it. I may have made a false start or two; something held me back from getting started in earnest. Starr’s book lingered in the back of my mind, though, as her book has lingered on my bookshelf. It all came back as I encountered my post-its while flipping through the book the other day.

It’s funny that the one thing I (so far) refuse to minimalize is books, and that’s why I still have Starr’s book encouraging minimalizing!

That bit of personal history aside, on with my minimalism updates! I don’t have many. Since my last update about a month ago:

1). I replaced the high-tops I’d given away; the new shoes provide much better support with their thick, quilted ankles. They actually help me to keep my balance while doing lunges.

2). With reluctance, I went to Target to look for a dress (needed for a specific event), and I DID NOT allow myself to be lured by the camo bomber jacket that Target obnoxiously positioned between the dresses and the fitting rooms. I recognize a trap when I see one. I did not fail at minimalism that day.

3). I combed through our coat closet and identified five pieces of outerwear I can do without. I’d attempted this area before with no success. Meryl Starr’s book helped me over that hurdle.

With the holidays upon us, our house looks less minimal than before. We’ve got our Christmas tree up and decorated, wreaths, string lights, and other bits of festive decor. It’s cheery and fun, but I’m looking forward to baring the house more than ever in the new year.

My everyday make-up + Minimalism update blurb!

Today I’ve got make-up, for those of you who are into it: ladies, gentlemen, and anyone else who enjoys wearing make-up and/or knowing what other people put on their faces.

We can thank Callaghan for this. I took a mirror selfie the other day and set it as my FB profile pic, and he promptly cropped a close-up of my face and posted it while talking about my skin. I can’t take all the credit, though: lighting and make-up had a lot to do with how the pic came out. I’m going to explain the make-up part. It’s my “everyday” make-up routine, though I go bared-faced half the time.

However, I did take the selfie for this blog post in the first place, the reason being that this was going to be a minimalism update. I wanted to confess to my latest t-shirt replacement acquisition. The selfie was a FAIL for that purpose (because I still suck at taking mirror selfies), so here’s just the shirt:


The shirt that got me THIS time.


Right? “COFFEE” in a Metallica-inspired style… are you kidding me?! I got rid of my Metallica shirt because I liked this one better. Who needs a Metallica shirt when you can have one with COFFEE looking like Metallica? It was too awesome to pass up. [*shakes fist at Target*]

I should just stop looking at the damn t-shirts at Target. There should be a sign: THE GRAPES ARE ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE STORE KEEP WALKING

Back to the make-up I’m wearing in the pic:


(“everyday make-up” – click to enlarge)


The products:


Current everyday make-up


The routine, in order: Physician’s Formula Super BB cream (“light” – applied with a dampened make-up sponge from the package in the upper-right corner of the pic) (A), then Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion (original) (B), then e.l.f. eyebrow powder (“dark”) (C), then, from Urban Decay’s original Naked palette, eyeshadow (“naked”) (D), then eyeshadow (“sin”) in the inner corners of my eyes (E), then Urban Decay Perversion liquid eyeliner on my upper lids (black waterproof fine-point eye pen) (F), then black Urban Decay Perversion mascara (G), then Urban Decay 24/7 glide-on eye pencil (“zero”) under my lower lids (H), then Nars* Radiant Creamy concealer (“light”) under my eyes (I), then Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer (“light neutral”) down my nose and around my nostrils (J), then NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator (“sunbeam”) on my cheekbones and tip of my nose (K), then Pacifica Natural Minerals Devocean lipstick (“natural mystic”) (L), then Pacifica Bali Coconut lip balm (M). I remove most of the lipstick, then put lip balm over the stain that’s left.

*Sadly, Nars has been recently removed from Cruelty-Free Kitty’s cruelty-free brands list (“soon to be sold in China”), so I’m looking for a replacement product for that concealer.


The lighting: there’s a frosted window up near the ceiling behind me through which the late-afternoon light shone and reflected off the mirror in front of me, and the light tan walls around me in the very small, enclosed space (our master bath) turned the light golden, which turned me golden.** The fluke convergence of lighting and angels worked with the cream highlighter on my face, which resulted in this airbrushed look. I believe that’s what happened, anyway.

(I was just concerned with trying to get the shirt. The phone dominates the picture, covering part of the word COFFEE that’s backwards, anyway, because duh, mirror. Haha.)

**I don’t self-tan, and I’m not wearing bronzer, contour, powder, or anything like that in this pic… or ever, for that matter. With the exception of eye make-up, I don’t put powder products on my face anymore.

The End.

P.S. Let’s see if I can get through the next two weeks without replacing a t-shirt with another t-shirt.


…but more steps forward than back. (Minimalism, post 4)

Minimalism updates.

Target is the biggest threat to minimalism on earth. To my minimalism effort, at least.

I don’t even want to talk about it.


Pictures speak louder than words.


Can you even see the cozy fluffiness of that top? I don’t think so. You had to be there to feel it.

To my credit, though, the following items have gone into the new Goodwill pile since my last update:

  • 16 tops (mostly t-shirts and tank tops)
  • 4 jackets/coats
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of shoes (Converse – now I just have 1 pair)
  • 2 sports bras

This is progress, fuzzy polar bear jammies aside.

You may be looking at this wondering how many clothes I had to begin with. I’ve already donated a lot… how can there be more?! Well, things like t-shirts proliferate, especially when you have a t-shirt problem. I admit to my t-shirt problem and also to my sleepwear problem, but I’m aware and I’m remedying them with modifications (i.e. I donate a t-shirt when I get a new one.) The polar bear jammies are, so far, the one exception to my new minimalism ethos.

We’re still loving minimalism as a way of life. It feels good to have less, and it fits into our overall survival/emergency plan, too. In the event that we have to GTFO of dodge, we’re going to be readily mobile, rather than encumbered by stuff. We’re getting there.

By the way, I might be seen wearing that fluffy polar bear pajama top around town. I could get away with it. It’s more like a sweater than a pajama top, and it looks great over black leggings.

Now you see it, now you don’t. (Minimalism, post 3.)

Starting with a side-note: I just ate after coming in from my first garage gym workout of fall 2017! It was 70 degrees out there and perfect. You know I had to document the occasion. Look for that post on Tuesday, fitness fans!

Today’s topic: an update on my minimalism journey.

Two weeks in, all I have to say is that I’m rolling in the wealth of nothingness, and I’m not even finished yet. I wish I could describe how good it feels to have as close to nothing as I’ve ever had in my adult life.

Development 1: Callaghan caught the minimalism bug just by watching me burrow through my things. I would never ask him to get rid of his things, and he loves his things, so it took me by surprise when I saw him hauling boxes of his stuff into the dining room.

He said what I’d been thinking: “I can’t believe we paid so much to have all this crap shipped from France!!”


Development 2: The whole rest of the house is next.

When we’re done weeding out our personal belongings, we’re going to focus on everything else, starting, probably, with the kitchen.

Callaghan is even more into it than I am. I started on this journey with no intention of disturbing our decor, which we don’t have a lot of, anyway. Callaghan’s talking about donating things like the huge mirror that covers about a third of our living-room wall. It’s a simple mirror with a thick, distressed black frame. It’s beat-up and austere. I’m quite fond of it.

He’s been schooling me in minimalism with his questions.

“Do we really want that huge mirror?”

“I like it.”

“Are you sure?”

If minimalism is a game, he’s winning… but I’m all in. Maybe I don’t really want a big-ass mirror taking up all that wall-space.

Realization: I love that he found the mirror in a discard pile near his work and brought it home. I think that finds like that are the best… but minimalism means that my dumpster-diving days are over. It’s okay. Now that I’m used to the idea of a bare wall, I’m looking forward to naked walls all the way around.

Categories of things I’m not minimalizing:

  • survival gear
  • books (as you know)
  • socks

I don’t wear most of the socks I own, but I did when we were living where it’s cold. You never know. The last thing I want to have to do is buy socks should we find ourselves living in a cold climate again. In my mind, cold-weather socks fall in the “survival gear” category.

As far as things to which I’m emotionally attached, I’m keeping just a few relics of yore. One of these is this porcelain cat I received as a gift when I was 16. This cat has been with me for over three decades. This cat has survived jaunts all over tarnation.

You’ve seen him before if you’ve been reading here for a while, but I took a selfie of us the other day. “The glass eye.”


With the porcelain cat I got in 1984.


Our dining room is empty again after hauling away the results of our first big sweep. We have house-guests coming in at the end of next week… and they’re staying for over a week… so we’ll dig in for the next big sweep somewhere in the third week of the month.


Less is everything. (Minimalism.)

It has begun!

Minimalism is happiness, I’m finding. Less is not just more. Less is everything.

In all actuality, I don’t have as much “stuff” as the average person. Since I want to own as little as possible, though, what I do have seems to be a lot. I’ve been going through it slowly, over small increments of time, and I’m happy with the dent I’ve made so far.

There’s a growing mountain of stuff in our dining room area. (The wall that divides our living room from the dining area conceals it, so you don’t see it when you walk into the house.)

This project has been interesting as well as cleansing. I’ve found things. I’m keeping a small, important thing that I didn’t know I’d lost. I’m setting aside (for donation) things that I didn’t know I still had.

Items high in sentimental value go in a separate box; some of these are probably higher in dollar value, too. They’re nice things. I’ll gift them.

I’m sparing items used as decor around the house. I’m sparing books, as previously mentioned. Household items such as kitchenware will be evaluated with Callaghan at some point, as he’s been wanting to trim that down, too.

I made a sweep through my makeup case and modest collection of personal products, wincing at the waste and vowing to stop accumulating such things.

Looking at my shoes, I realized that I have three pairs of a brand that doesn’t align with my ethics, so I did a lot of research and honed in on a brand that I’ll feel good wearing. They’re not cheap, but they’re not much more expensive than the others. (Hopefully, the new pair will feel as good and perform as well as the ones I’m replacing. They’re athletic shoes for working out.)

This is a good example of how I’m moving forward: purchasing one pair of shoes to replace three. To avoid accumulation, I’ll donate an item if I acquire something new of the same kind. The plan is to replace things, rather than to add to them.

Progress report #1 conclusion: I’m happy paring down my life, and I’m happy to make donations out of the effort. Nothing is a waste if it can benefit someone else. (Plus, donations are tax-deductible.)

All in all, minimalism feels right to me. I’m looking forward to continued progress!