Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity! (Minimalism, post 16.)

It was continued home-improvement adventuring that left Sunday’s laundry undone, but I got right into that laundry yesterday. It felt like a good way to start Monday. I didn’t want to drag last week’s laundry into the new week.

Another thing not getting dragged forward in time: three boxes of books!

This is the minimalism post I thought would never happen, guys. This is the one wherein I report that I’m getting rid of a chunk of my book collection, not just a box or two as I’d done previously. From Day 1 of my minimalism journey, I’ve both wanted this and not wanted this. Behold the plot twist chez moi:


destination: donation


Only after separating out these books did I realize that yeah, they weighed a lot, physically and metaphorically.

It was just a matter of releasing my insistence on keeping all of the books, more than the books, themselves. I had this pre-determined course of action (e.g. inaction) regarding the books, and I finally decided to ask myself why. I could find no good reason for my obstinance.

What I’ve got left are two full shelves of books from end to end in my office closet, along with these stacks of books remaining from my large, stand-alone bookcases:




The exercise grew easier as I went. An exhilaration built up in proportion to the growing pile of books to be donated. The question I asked myself with each hard decision: Do I really need this? I know about the significance of Mary Lamb’s accomplishment, so do I need this copy of Tales from Shakespeare? I have a body of this writer’s/poet’s work in a larger volume, so do I need this extant publication? Do I need these classics for any reason other than they’re classics?

Many of these books entered my life during college and grad school, including anthologies and textbooks of literature, poetic theory, and philosophy. I’ve also kept related required readings. The wonderful thing about being an English major and creative writing scholar was that our required reading was largely comprised of novels and books of poetry. I loved most of them. I learned a lot as I read and studied them. Of course I had to keep them! But all of them?

Some books, my reluctance to let go came from what they were. I had this nerdy and pompous idea that everyone should have them. I went back and forth for a day and a half over The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and The Iliad, then decided that I didn’t need to hang onto them because where the ancient Greeks are concerned, I’m more interested in thought than mythology. I’m keeping Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, though, for reference. I’m keeping Aristophanes: Four Comedies for “Lysistrata.”

My decision to keep all of my collections of short stories (from classics to contemporary) sometimes came down to one work within. For instance, I’m keeping Melville’s Billy Budd and Other Stories for “Bartleby” (referenced in the title of this post).

In contemporary fiction, both literary and pop, I have a few collections: Nancy Drew (a pile that I’d purchased at a garage sale in Los Angeles in the 70’s hard-covers published in the 50’s and 60’s) and picture books from Hawaii. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. I’m keeping all of Harry Potter, as there are only seven books in that collection. I’m keeping Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series along with my favorite horror novels of his.

As for Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels? I have them all, and I wanted to keep them all… but there are 23, and while I like every one of them, I like some more than others. Actually, I discovered that I had 28 Reacher books, because I had duplicates of five of the novels. Something I wouldn’t have known! Five duplicates taking up space!

When I went to prune my Reacher collection, I ended up keeping:

  • The Affair
  • Gone Tomorrow
  • Bad Luck and Trouble
  • Worth Dying For
  • Persuader
  • Tripwire
  • Nothing to Lose
  • Without Fail
  • Make Me
  • Past Tense
  • Never Go Back
  • A Wanted Man
  • Night School


The Reacher that stays.


Plus No Middle Name, a recent collection of Jack Reacher short stories. The first three novels listed are my top three favorites, which might have something to do with the fact that they were my first Reacher novels in the order I bought them from La Fnac in Nice. I discovered Reacher in France, as I’ve mentioned before.

By the time I was finished going through the books, I felt as though I’d escaped a tyranny of sorts. This might seem a dramatic and bizarre way to regard the collection of books I’d so fiercely defended in my minimalism efforts, but I think the tyranny was that of my own stubborn self.

My bookshelves and I feel much lighter now. It’s delightful.



Reminder to self: this is why. (Minimalism, post 15.)

My beloved bluetooth speaker landed in a Goodwill donation bin a week or so ago. This was not the plan. It was an accident, a mix-up, and when I realized it later that night, a peculiar melancholy settled into my spirit. I felt a little lost without the silly thing. I mean, it wasn’t like I’d named the speaker or anything, but I carried it around with me quite often in this big green tote bag (the one that looks like a handbag, but serves as a duffel, with my actual handbag inside).

Music means a lot to me. My music exists out there in the ether; I know that I could listen to it on the exact same speaker were I to go out and get a new one, but it was my speaker that I wanted.

The next morning, I got to the Goodwill five minutes before they opened, spoke with the manager, and walked out with my speaker, which was found after the kind people in the back searched through the bins for about 20 minutes.

This incident brought back to mind one of the motives behind my minimalism efforts: my desire to resolve my issue with attachment. It’s one thing to love a cherished item, but it’s another thing to feel forlorn if the item vanishes. The thought of my speaker all alone in a bin of discarded electronics actually had me feeling sad for it.

Emotional attachments like this are unhealthy. How can it be healthy when the loss of a material item jeopardizes your emotional well-being? Buddhism teaches against attachment for a reason.

Mind you, this speaker holds no sentimental value for me. It’s just a speaker… and now I realize that it’s kind of like a security blanket, which underscores the problem.

When it comes to minimalism, everyone has their reasons. For me, a minimalism mindset is a worthy one to cultivate because I want to stop forming attachments to material items. If this Goodwill incident was a personal minimalism test, I failed.

I’ve obviously got a way to go before reaching my goal. I’ll keep working on it!



Is Black Friday compatible with minimalism? (Minimalism, post 14.)

November was a giant black hole in another dimension, and everything fell into it. This is the last week of the month; I thought I’d be back in the gym this week, but shenanigans have ensued since my last post, so I’m still here… until Saturday. I will go back to the gym on Saturday. THIS Saturday. December 1st. My last workout at the gym was on November 3rd. I missed a whole month. See? Black Hole.

Meanwhile, I found out that when Black Friday comes along in the midst of black hole induced cabin fever, one’s minimalism efforts face a challenge. At the height of my gift-shopping adventure, my minimalism efforts for myself were challenged… but not destroyed.

Replacing things rather than piling things onto existing things works. I’m donating more than I’m buying because getting rid of one thing motivates me to give away more. It doesn’t work the other way around – buying something doesn’t motivate me to buy more things. (I look for specific items rather than browse.) Despite my online Black Friday activities, I now own less than I did before Black Friday. Black Friday can be compatible with minimalism!

I just dig a bargain. Outrageous bargains give permission for seasonal recklessness, and I love some occasional recklessness. I love The Body Shop with its amazing vegan/cruelty-free fragrant bath and skincare products. What can I say? I didn’t ask to be a Capricorn with an Aries moon and Taurus rising.

Also, it’s not my fault that The Body Shop created not one, but three limited edition holiday scents this year. I have to try them all, right? So I can know which one(s) to stockpile for the coming year?

In other minimalism updates news, I’m still seriously thinking of doing the unthinkable: getting rid of books. Maybe not all of them, but many of them. A lot of them. I’m overrun with books. A significant pruning is in order. Considering letting go of my books has me thinking about asking Santa for a Kindle, and this is also unthinkable. Who am I anymore?!

Could this be my mid-life crisis? Swapping out paper books for a sliver of aluminum that will confine every book I read? The idea of it makes my blood run cold. You know how a part of the cigarette addiction is behavioral/physical… the need to hold a cigarette between your fingers? I still remember the torture of that from when I quit smoking 25 years ago. I can feel it coming back when I think about no longer physically turning pages when reading a book. The feel of the paper. The cracking of the spine. The dog-earing. The flipping through. The tossing aside when I hate the ending. I love books. I feel an anxiety attack coming on just writing this.

Nah. I probably won’t do it…


Not decorating is the new decorating. (Minimalism, post 13.)

I’ve always loved decorating my living spaces. I have a new décor aesthetic now, which I’m quite enjoying. It’s called “Not Decorating.”

There’s a wealth of beauty in “nothing.”

My office is alive with plants and not much else as you look around. Save for a few around my desk, my books are behind closet doors and stashed on shelves in other rooms.

Speaking of books, another update from the minimalism files: I did what I insisted I couldn’t do. I filled a laundry basket with books to be donated. (The laundry basket’s also going. It’s broken, but still serviceable. We finally got a new one.)

I finally had to do it, guys, and by the time I got to this point, it wasn’t that hard. The more stuff I gave away in my minimalism journey, the more the books were crowding me out. I cleared half of the shelf of books in my office closet. The other half remains full, and all of the bookcases in the house are still jam-packed. It’s a start. It’s more than I’d thought I’d do, at any rate.

Interesting how getting rid of things creates the illusion that what’s left takes up more space…

Shocker 2: I gleaned my t-shirt collection again and ended up setting aside almost 50%. This is where you wonder who I am and where is Kristi.

Our second big sweep has begun! My next minimalism update will include pics.

Happy Friday Eve, all.



Blind data. (Minimalism, post 12.)

Prompted by the recent demise (my fault) of my laptop and the subsequent acquisition of a new one, I’ve turned my minimalism efforts toward my electronic files… a necessary undertaking I’d been putting off. Can you imagine a task more tedious than going through archived files on various flash drives? I mean, there’s a tedium level of minimalism high up on the scale, and the electronic stuff is definitely on that level, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve been combing through these four flash drives for a week now, and I’m still doing it, a little each day, looking through and comparing files and deciding what to keep and what to merge… until my eyes bleed. Not only is it bad because it’s taking up space, but also because when I want to find something on the drives, I can’t, or it’s difficult because I have to sift through piles of crap.

I don’t remember what I named something. I don’t remember when I took it or put it there. I don’t remember what folder it’s in or what drive it’s on. I have flash drives bloated with redundant files, files within folders nested in folders nested in more folders. Every time I got a new laptop, I transferred files onto different drives without thinking about it, because I was always in a hurry, and general wisdom says keep all of your files. It’s wisdom that comes from the umbrella mentality of always back up your hard drive so you don’t lose anything. We’re taught to be obsessed with backing everything up, so we end up backing up stuff we don’t need.

If there’s one area in my life in dire need of minimalization, it’s this, because electronic clutter is still clutter, and it’s the worst. It’s the most. I have more clutter on flash drives than anywhere else.

I have duplicate files. I have different versions of the same document. I have files that have overlapped from hard drive to hard drive. Since I’ve also gone back and forth between flash drives over the years, it’s not clear what files came from what laptop, though I’ve tried to keep things findable and organized.

Not only is this minimalism task tedious, but it’s maybe the most difficult in terms of letting go, emotionally. It’s one thing to make a decision whether or not to keep an article of clothing with sentimental value attached, and it’s another to look at a scanned picture of, say, a family reunion and decide whether I want to keep it: Why would I want to keep this picture? Do I need it? Does it bring me joy? Does it still matter or really matter? Am I going to want it one day and regret that I don’t have it?

Hundreds of image files piled up all over the place. What makes me crazy is the idea that having come from a pre-digital era, I know that I wouldn’t have all these pics if the digital era hadn’t been invented. When we all used manual cameras and took our pictures to be manually developed, did we take a hundred pics a days? When our primary concern was Kodak or Fuji, did we collect receptacles in which to store all of our developed pictures? Unless we were photographers, most of us did not. We did not cart around boxes bursting with 15 years’ worth of albums and loose paper pictures.

Our technological advances have enabled us to hoard, and it goes unnoticed because you don’t have to a clear a path to walk through the house when what you’re hoarding is electronic files; authorities are not going to bust into your house and report you to the producers of Hoarders.

Living in the digital age doesn’t mean I have to sentence myself to a lifetime of carrying around every single image and document and version of my three resumes (one with administrative experience, one with writing and editing, and one with combined admin and writing/editing, many of which I’d organized differently for the application of different sorts of positions).

All of this to say, I’ve been sitting on a list of the minimalism tasks I want to begin in the near future, but I’m starting this one now. When I got this new laptop, I sat and looked at my flash drives and sighed. I did not wish to clog up yet another hard drive with unnecessary files, only to transfer all of them plus additional hundreds of accumulated files when I get my next laptop.

It’s been chugging along. I’ve trimmed things down considerably. I’m not done, but I will be soon. I’m not finished yet, but I’ve learned. I’m not allowing this to happen again!

UFC-inspired minimalism musings and The Body Shop lipstick review! (Minimalism, post 11.)

Minimalism paradox of materialism: when you’re so bored with everything, you want nothing. This is a new mindset for me, one that developed naturally as I began to settle into minimalism. It used to be that if I grew bored with something, I would want something else, or I would think of something else. Now, it’s just good-bye when I’m no longer enamored with that thing.

I do differentiate between replacing something because 1.) I’m bored (“I need something different”); 2). there’s something else that I want (“something has to go”); and 3). there’s necessity… something happened to my old one, or I have to get one because I need it and I don’t already have one. With minimalism, my inclination toward #1 has melted away.

Then there are special cases of I just want that thing, like last Saturday when I bought a new t-shirt and it didn’t replace a damn thing. UFC Fight Night came to Phoenix (specifically, to Glendale). We went, and we were confronted with once-in-a-lifetime merch. It was a t-shirt that had to happen. It’s one of those shirts that if I’m still alive 30 years from now, I’ll come across it and bemoan that it’s full of holes and falling apart. The shirt will go on into infinity. Good memories will wear the shirt more than I ever could.

Come to think of it, though, I do have a thing for souvenir merch. I always get a t-shirt when we go to concerts and whatnot. We don’t go to them so often that I’ve had the opportunity to consider it since moving my mindset into minimalism. I’ve had the opportunity now. I bet the UFC has no idea that it can inspire people to think about minimalism.

Speaking of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night case and purchases made to fill an empty space (this one would be the red lipstick space): I wore one of my new The Body Shop lipsticks to those UFC fights, and I wanted to report on how it held up, because that was a long night. This is my public service announcement to you lipstick-wearing individuals: The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipsticks kick ass. I give this product five out of five stars.

I was impressed by how well the lipstick held up after eight hours of wear. The color stayed vibrant even after chewing gum, eating a protein bar, drinking water, and applying lip balm over the lipstick several times. (Granted, a protein bar is not a good indicator of how well the lipstick would wear while eating an actual meal.) I took some selfies in the car on the way home, in three different lights, as lighting fluctuates on the freeway. As usual, I didn’t filter these pics, neither did I use a lip-liner. The color-saturation shown here is authentic, and the color is visible even in the darkest light. It didn’t bleed onto my face in the absence of lip-liner, either. This is The Body Shop’s Colour Crush lipstick in 125 (“Crazy Sexy Crimson”):


The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick in 125 (“Crazy Sexy Crimson”) – 8 hrs later


No retouches after eight hours! Callaghan’s surprise was real, too, and he expressed it even though I didn’t ask him about it. We got home and he said, “Did you put on more lipstick?” and I said, “No,” and he said, “Wow that stays on!” Yes, it does… especially surprising because the lipstick is so weightless and moisturizing. I added to the moisture with lip balm, as I’d said; you’d think that several applications of lip balm over lipstick would cause the color to fade and bleed. That did not occur.

The next time I purchase this lip product, it will be a minimalism-considered replacement. I would love to get another UFC souvenir t-shirt, too, but that’s much less likely to happen.

Getting rid of music? (Minimalism, post 10.)

After I last talked to you on Thursday, I went on an unexpected minimalism sweep, and I mean a major one this time… maybe the second-biggest anti-haul since my initial one. Three days of on-and-off plundering later, I took the spoils to be donated.

[Sidenote and speaking of my last post: I read it again later that day (the Geronimo post), and I found a typo (a missing ‘s’, I believe). I went in and fixed it. Please do let me know if you see typos or other errors in my writing! Don’t be shy. It’s like if I have something green stuck in my teeth, I’d rather someone point it out to me than allow me to go around talking to another hundred+ people like that. Haha.]

I didn’t plan this latest minimalism undertaking. You know… accomplishment in itself feels amazing, but unexpected accomplishment adds an extra kick of satisfaction. This time, I had no mercy. I slashed my sock drawer in half, when up until now I’d maintained that I wouldn’t go there. This progress suggests that my next major sweep might very well include – gasp – books. Could I possibly get to a point where I can decide which books to donate?

While going through the closet in the guest bedroom, I re-encountered my collection of music books, which largely define my childhood. I found Hannon and Czerny exercise books; instructional book series; rhythm and timing workbooks; collections of works by specific composers; collections of popular hit music from the 70’s and 80’s; loads of sheet music (popular, classical, and the blues); holiday music of several different cultures; and my practice notebooks going back to my very first day of piano lessons. Even my violin instructional book is in there! I took violin for six months before my school lost the program and the lessons stopped. My parents got a piano, and I picked up my music studies from there. I was a lucky kid. An excellent piano teacher came to the house once a week for the next nine years; she basically watched me grow up.

My first piano lesson was on November 14, 1978. It’s written on the first page of my first lesson notebook. Just the sight of my teacher’s handwriting brings back memories. The date of each lesson. Reminders to trim my nails (at the top of each entry, sometimes in all caps and with multiple exclamation points – my piano teacher invented screaming in all caps). The practice time charts she drew every week (for me to write in the time I’d spent practicing each day. “30 minutes minimum!!”) And her assignments for the week, numbered in order of priority.

There’s no reason to keep the music with me, but trashing it is unthinkable… at the moment, at least. There was nothing to decide on Saturday. Instead, I sat down and spent some time looking through the material. I’m not even sure that some of it still exists. For instance, are Wesley Schaum rhythm and timing workbooks still in print? Do music students learn rhythm and timing from them anymore? The Schaum workbooks I have were published in 1969 and 1970. They cost $3.00 each.

The memories of this homework, guys. Book Three, Lesson 15: Counting with Ties and Slurs. “On the staffs below, some of the measure bar lines are missing. Draw in bar lines where necessary to make the proper number of counts in each measure. Then write in the counting on the dotted lines (include the word ‘and’ where necessary).”


From Wesley Schaum’s Rhythm Workbook, Book Three.


It’s also interesting to see the evolution of my penmanship in the way I wrote my name at the top of each page. (By the way, is penmanship even a part of grade-school curriculum anymore?)

It’s possible that I’ll be back one day to report that I’ve thinned my bookshelves, but it may be longer than that before I start dismantling my music collection. Most of it would have to go into the recycling. Stuff like my completed rhythm and timing workbooks? Useless to others. I’m not sure that anyone would want my sheet music with my teacher’s comments in the margins, either, not to mention the stickers I’d chosen for each piece I’d mastered. That was an interesting evolution to observe, too, how the award stickers got less and less babyish as time went on.

I don’t know. I might do this dirty work one day, or it might be up to someone else to dump the music after I die. It’s hard to imagine minimalizing music when it’s printed on paper. Paper is not technology that becomes obsolete.

More letting in, more letting go. (Minimalism, post 9.)

I was telling a friend the other day that since I’ve embarked on minimalism, my emotional crisis impulse is to raid my closet to see what else I can get rid of.

The rest of the time, I’m still trying to be conscientious when it comes to purchasing.

There’s purchasing that adds to your things for no reason (want), there’s purchasing that adds to your things for a valid reason (need), and there’s purchasing in order to replace things that need to be replaced.

I have a problem replacing things that need to be replaced (not products I’ve used up – that’s a different kind of replacement), as you may remember from my post about a sweater I wore until it fell apart, and another one about my disintegrating t-shirt from the 80’s.

It was this problem that largely steered me into minimalism. I didn’t feel good being so attached to things that I couldn’t bear to part with them. It’s not healthy to love an article of clothing so much that I wear it to death but continue wearing it because I can’t let it go. You can’t be truly selfless if you’re held back by material attachments. Not to mention, material things shouldn’t matter so much that I go around looking like I rose from the dead wearing what I wore when I was buried.

I recently had to say good-bye to my house slippers and my favorite jacket. It’d become uncomfortable to walk in the slippers with their soles torn up into a lumpy mess. And the jacket? Its day of reckoning was the day I put it on over a bralette and found large flakes of dead jacket all over my collarbones and upper chest when I took it off.


Jacket and slippers looking not too bad on the surface.


These look okay, right? But get up close at certain angles, and it’s apparent that the jacket’s long gone. Turn the slippers over, and it’s apparent that I’m a crazy person for continuing to wear them.

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you)


No comment necessary.


Those slippers!! They do look fine when they’re on, went the reasoning of my denial. The top and the insides are still in good condition! They look pretty good! It’s just the soles (only the most important part) that wore away into pieces.

I admit that I entertained the idea of duct tape for the slipper soles.

The slippers were cheap and flimsy, but I wore them year-round for almost two years, regardless of the heat. The fake leather jacket was also cheap and flimsy, and it actual did very well in lasting as long as it did. I bought it at Charlotte Russe in 2008, and I wore it relentlessly for the next 10 years, even in the summer. AZ air conditioning is no joke. You could get frostbite in such conditions.

So I picked up replacement slippers at Ross, and I found, on the Charlotte Russe website, an updated version of the same jacket! It’ll be just as cheap and flimsy, but I know it’ll be good for 10 years.

As for repurchasing things I’d used up: I got off my ass to do that the other night (I’d already filled my cart at The Body Shop, but I’d been sitting on it. It took a mental health mini-crisis to prod me into checking out). What also happened, though, was three lipsticks made their way into the cart that night. I’d been thinking of trying lip colors outside of my comfort zone, but I’d be lying if I said that my obsession with Krysten Ritter’s lips in Jessica Jones had nothing to do with it. Being obsessed with Krysten Ritter’s lips is not a good reason to buy lipsticks, I’m aware.

All in all, I’m pleased with my ongoing efforts to minimize around here. It’s become second-nature to get rid of things. Raiding my closet to purge when I’m upset? I’m happy with that.


Keeping history. (Minimalism, post 8.)

In terms of minimalism, I’ve been thinking about the difference between historical value and sentimental value in objects. I’ve been focusing on sentimental value – I’m enjoying lightening my life, but practicing the discipline of physical non-attachment to things is the real spiritual “work” behind minimalism for me.

Parting with items of historical value, though, is something that I don’t consider, apparently. (Luckily, we don’t have too much in the way of such objects!)

This train of thought began when I was getting ready one morning and my eyes fell upon an object that I’d found in a box of things. I’d set the knick-knack on my dresser without a second thought. I didn’t ask myself whether I wanted it, or whether I needed it, or whether it filled me with an overwhelming sense of happiness. I just set it out and forgot about it.

I only thought about it when I really saw it that morning. I saw an object of historical significance, made in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a relic from a past era; somehow, that saves it from minimalism… in my version of the practice, at least.


“Made in USSR”


My first minimalism sweep included objects that brought me great joy at one time, some that I still liked, even. It felt good to part with them. I’m just not keen on getting rid of something that says “Made in (insert name of place that no longer exists)” on the label. For me, sentimental attachment to objects is one thing. Desire to remember history is another.


Happy Trails. (Minimalism, post 7.)

Here’s a general question:

What do you do when you’re a minimalist and you don’t even like shopping for shoes but Famous Footwear sends you a coupon for $5.00 off any purchase $5.00 or more for your birthday month and you’re also a Capricorn so you love a bargain and you know that with FF’s clearance section you could end up with some high-quality shoes for free?


Seriously, though. I walked out of there with a pair of $60.00 casual-nice sandals for FREE, because after the clearance price, birthday coupon, and additional discounts with points earned (buying gym shoes at Famous Footwear when you have a membership account does have benefits), the sandals ended up costing 0.


But they were free. (Okay, and they’re gray.)


I didn’t donate a pair of shoes when I acquired these sandals because I didn’t have anything comparable; my scant footwear collection consists of gym shoes, boots, a pair of moccasins, and a pair of flats. I have two-buck rubber flip-flops for around the house. I didn’t have any “nice” sandals. This may be one step back (pun not intended) on the minimalism path, but at least, I reasoned with myself, I didn’t add to a category of things. I actually did need some nicer footwear, and FF’s coupon got me past my loathing for shoe shopping long enough to look and find these.

At the same time, I’m more aware than ever that I’m a sucker for a good deal. Awareness is good.

Other than that, I’ve started getting antsy looking around the house! This morning I stood in the middle of the living room and thought, that bothers me (the star mirror), that bothers me (the roses), that bothers me (the small vintage floral), and that bothers me (the large square mirror). The things themselves don’t bother me, but the fact that they’re on the walls does. I would like to stand in the living room and see more… nothing.

Callaghan got here first. It was his idea to remove the large square mirror and the roses a while back, and I resisted. (But you gave me those roses!)  Now I’m with him.

Until next time!

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.


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!

The pull toward minimalism.

Have you ever looked around at your stuff and wondered, “What if I were to get rid of it all?” I have. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been seriously thinking about getting rid of everything.

Okay, not everything. Just a lot of things. I’ve actually been lurking around the idea of minimalism for quite a while now… for years, in fact. I’m now realizing that it’s time to do it.

I look around at things I don’t need and will never use, and I’m thinking, why is that stuff still here?

I write a post about a falling-apart article of clothing, and I’m thinking, why am I so attached to it?

Knowing, right, how ridiculous it is. For one thing, as a Buddhist, I’m fully aware that attachment to material things makes no sense at all.

I’d thought about it before, but I really started to feel the pull toward minimalism since that post about the ancient sweater I couldn’t trash. That was back in February. I wrote that post. Then I wrote the KSJO t-shirt post. Then I had to sit and examine my life choices.

I should just get rid of stuff.

Why do I develop emotional/sentimental attachment to things?

One part of my mind says “keep this” as another part says “but why.” It mostly boils down to sentimentality and “I would want this if….” But what I want more, now, is to break away from such attachments.

Three months after the sweater post, I took my first step in the minimalism direction when I overhauled my office to create as empty and blank a space as possible. Now I’m looking around wondering how I can empty the space even more. I’ve discovered that my creative energy has more freedom to flow in the absence of physical distraction.

Now it’s three months post-office-overhaul, and I’m ready for the next step. This is how I know I’m not making an impulsive decision. I tend to make big lifestyle changes slowly, in increments. (Have I ever mentioned that going vegan was a six-year process for me?)

There are degrees of minimalism, and the degree I’m going for isn’t a drastic one. I don’t aspire to a life that can fit into two suitcases, but I do plan to pare things down much as possible. I should add that I’m talking about my personal possessions, not household-type items.

Too, there are categories of things I won’t touch. At this time, anyway, I won’t even consider getting rid of books. I have books in three different rooms, on shelves, in closets, on the floor. There are hundreds of them, and they’re staying right where they are. I won’t violate my book collection with minimalism.


Books: exempt from minimalism


We’ll see how things progress from here!