Tag Archives: minimalism

A Plethora of Socks and Tees

I’m sure we’ve all heard the old aphorism “nature abhors a vacuum”.  I think nature also abhors a decluttered lifestyle.  I was taking stock of my clothing in preparation for a spring purge a couple days ago.  I found that I’ve somehow accumulated a lot of socks and t-shirts over the past year.

I tend to go through a couple pairs of socks in a day, one pair for daily use and one for my workouts and/or cycling.  I’ve got 18 pairs each of black daily wear socks and about 24 pairs of white exercise socks, plus two pair of tan socks (how did those get in there?).  I have a similar deal with t-shirts.  I go through at least one a day with my exercising, and I have more than I can shake a stick at.

It’s time to thin those herds.  Obviously, I’m not going to donate used socks but I can reduce the overall number by recycling and reusing the oldest and thinnest of them as cleaning rags and so forth.  My goal is 12 pair each black and white, which should be enough to get through a week, plus a buffer.  I’ll hold on to the tan ones, just in case.

I’m going to reduce my t-shirt collection to my favorites, plus one that was a gift a friend picked up for me in Thailand.  This in good shape will be donated.  The rest will be re-purposed.   This already feels liberating, and it’s just socks and t-shirts!

How many socks are too many socks?

Do Possessions Bring Joy?

There is a school of thought in decluttering which stipulates that one should not hold on to anything which does not bring one joy.  I understand the intent there, but I honestly do not find joy in things.

Relationships bring me the most joy in my life.  Interactions with my family, my friends, my church family, and yes, my cats all bring joy into my life.  So, is there joy in my life?  Certainly!  Is that joy dependent upon possessions?  Not so much as it turns out.

One gray area though, is cycling.  When I’m out cycling I experience true joy.  It’s the joy of movement, of the rush of wind, of sunshine on my face, and of just being close to the sights and sounds (and sometimes smells) of the world that bring me joy.  It’s not the bicycle, but the experience that brings joy.  The thing is, it’s darned hard to go out cycling with a bicycle.

So, perhaps there is more to that school of thought than I thought.

It’s difficult to enjoy cycling without a bike!

Spring Is Coming, My Stuff is Going!

Yesterday was a great spring day, just a couple weeks early.  There’s less snow on the ground each day lately, and no appreciable accumulation in the next few weeks.   The imminent return of spring has me thinking of spring cleaning.  Or more accurately, cleaning out.

It’s once again time for a possessions purge!  I have purchased three very inexpensive plastic storage bins from a nearby dollar store.  Each is going to be designated for a specific category: keep, donate, and dispose.  I’m going to go into each room in the house and sort the things in them into these three bins.  If I need to fill a bin more than once, I will bag up the contents and start over.  Stuff to donate will go straight to the back of my truck for transport.  Stuff to dispose of will go out to a shed pending trash pickup (or recycling if appropriate).  Stuff to keep will be put away immediately after the sorting is done.  Then, on to the next room.

The trick to successfully using this three-bin method is that nothing in a room is exempt.  If there is a secret to keeping stuff out of the house in the first place, I apparently have not found it!  I have minimized my purchases these past few years, but stuff still seems to accumulate.  Perhaps it’s a variation on the old adage that nature abhors a vacuum.  With all that said, I will implement a 72 hour purchase cooling-off period for purchase of non-essentials and see how that goes.

Now, it should go without saying that the foregoing does not apply to bikes, since the appropriate number of bikes is (N + 1) where N = the number owned at any time.  🙂

Useful or beautiful, or gone.

Useful or beautiful, or gone!


Ups and Downs in 2017

It’s been a while since I wrote about my decrappification activities.  To be honest, I had a bit of a lull in that regard.  I suppose it’s like a lot of things in life, in that you can’t be going full steam ahead 100 percent of the time.  If you try, inevitably you will get burnt out.  That seems to me to be a good way to inadvertently sabotage your efforts.  On the other hand, you don’t want a slowdown to lead to stagnation.

This past year I had mixed results.  For three things in the plus column, I migrated the majority of my reading to my tablet, using Nook, Kindle, and Acrobat apps.  This cuts way down on the number of magazines and books I have to deal with either for storage or recycling.  (While I agree that there is a tactile advantage to books, everything has a cost.)  Second, I went completely vegan in January of 2017, so my eating got a lot more thoughtful-by necessity as well as purpose-and streamlined.  Third, I purged some of my accumulated winter clothing of times which no longer fit well or which I have not worn in the past year.  I got rid of the equivalent of two large laundry baskets of good clothes which went to charity.

For three things in the minus column, being honest, I’ve become a bicycle hoarder.   That’s not a bad thing per se, but I rebuilt a full suspension mountain bike for winter road use, adding it to my old non-suspension mountain bike and vintage 10 speed road bike-three bikes for one person.  (For the record, I’ve been told that the appropriate number of bikes is (N + 1) where N equals the number you have at any time.)  Second, I’ve come to realize that I have way too many duplicate tools, especially wrenches and sockets.  So, a project in the near term will be to winnow out the duplicates and pass them along.  Third, silly as it may sound, I have accumulated an over-abundance of tee shirts and socks, so it’s time to purge.   The tee shirts I can pass along or donate, and I’ll figure out a way to repurpose the used socks.

As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.”.

Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Stretched Too Thinly?

Sometimes the process of decluttering and decrappification is not about messy rooms or an overabundance of possessions.  Sometimes it is about time and commitments.  There are a finite number of hours in each day, week, month, and year.  How we apportion our time has an impact upon us.

For example, for the past three years I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Maine.  It’s been an interesting experience, and I enjoyed being with the people on the Board.  However, when my term recently expired, I chose to not continue.  The thing is, I found myself stretch thinly more often than not this past year.  As much as I valued being on the Board, it wasn’t an essential use of my time.

I once read a suggestion that one should make a list of one’s top five time commitments, in terms of personal importance.  Anything that didn’t make the list would then be considered optional.  For me the top five commitments (in no particular order) are work, church, friends and family, home maintenance, and exercising.  Among other things with which I was involved in varying degrees, the Board didn’t make the cut, so I cut it.  Cutting commitments which aren’t essential, useful, or pleasurable frees up time for those which are, and decreases my stress.  Give it a try!

Time can’t be made or found, but it can be prioritized.