Tag Archives: need for less

All In A Day’s Work

When you run out of your own stuff to declutter–at least for a while–help someone else with theirs!

That’s what my mom and I did this past Saturday.  We went over to a friend’s house and helped her declutter and reorganize her closet, and I have to say, the end result was amazing.

Please don’t misunderstand me, though.  I’m not done with my own space yet.  There’s still more to work through; I just found myself at a sort of standstill after another layer was peeled away and decided to use my nervous tidying energy to help someone else who desperately needed it.  It was so great to see how happy she was when we had finished.  I think her husband was more than a little excited about it, too.

Even though the closet was overflowing with options before, she had such difficulty finding and deciding what to wear each day due to its lack of order.  Now, all of her favorite pieces are organized and easily accessible for daily use.

Hopefully the pictures below will give you a little motivation if you’ve been dragging on the minimalism front.

xoxo

Before:

V-Before

After (My favorite part is the empty upper shelves!):

V-After

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The Times They Are A-Changin’

As most of you know, I’ve been doing this minimalism thing for a while now and have gotten pretty darn good at it.  I’ve gotten rid of all except for maybe one fifth of everything I started with (maybe even less).  And, as always, it feels amazing!

You might remember me talking before about being a music person.  My husband and I are always trying to travel to see our favorite bands play.  We even timed our elopement to Ireland so that we could see The Felice Brothers three times while we were there!  Obsessed?  Probably, but we don’t care.  It’s the most fun we’ve had on all our trips!

Being the music enthusiasts that we are, I knew that my music collection would be the hardest thing to deal with in the decluttering realm.  It’s just such a huge part of my life that I didn’t think I’d be able to part with any of it.

But like I’ve mentioned before. . . .it’s all about the layers!  And I’m proud to say I finally got to the music layer!  Hallelujah!

I started with a binder book of mixed CDs, about 5 milk crates of vinyl albums, and an entire under-the-bed plastic storage container (you know the kind: HUGE, takes up half of your under bed space?) of even more CDs–all of which were perfectly lined up with side covers displayed by genre and artist.  I told you I was a very organized hoarder, didn’t I?

After throwing away dozens of mixed CDs (that I never listen to anymore as they aren’t really meaningful for where I am now in life), yard-selling mounds of what were more misses than hits (or collections I wouldn’t replace if they were lost or damaged), and selling the old vinyl–that I would have rather weightlessly carried around in digital form–to local antique stores, I feel LOADS lighter!  I can now proudly say that I only have one milk crate of albums, the one CD binder book (filled–yet not all the way so now–with purchased copies of the aforementioned under-the-bed CDs), and a very small plastic container holding only the few I didn’t want to throw the cases away for yet.

PROGRESS!!!

I hope to turn our small den into a music/reading/hangout room in the near future with a few books on the built-in wall shelves above a funky futon and a mid-century modern record cabinet holding only my favorite vinyl copies with a turntable on top.  I want it to be simple and uncluttered, yet warm and inviting for guests to linger.  I’ve always pictured this for the space, and am excited to see my visions becoming realities.

This was a very valuable lesson for me as I’m even more aware of the process than ever before.  I always thought: Well, ya know, I’m a music person, so I’ll probably never part with my music paraphernalia.  Wrong again.  I still love the scratchy pops peppered through the opiate hum of a record spinning on a turntable, and that will never change.  I just realized I’d rather enjoy this aspect with my favorite and most frequented albums than to be weighed down by every decent one I can get my hands on.  I mean, that’s how to always enjoy your favorite things, right?  To only own your favorite things?

Trust me when I say that there’s never an area you won’t be able to tackle on your de-owning journey no matter how attached you may be.  It just might take a little longer to get to it.  Or you might be surprised that it doesn’t take nearly as long as you thought it would.  The process is addictive; once you start, it’s almost impossible to stop!

The space you gain by giving up stuff is enough to get anyone hooked.  I try to think about my possessions like this: would I rather have this item here, or the open space it occupies instead?  For me, space almost always wins.  There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to breathe in your home without being weighed down by years of accumulation, most of which you forgot you even owned.

Anyway, just a little post to fill you in on where I currently stand with my junk.  I know I haven’t written in a while.  I’m hoping to change that over the next few months.  I’m even contemplating a video tour of our home.  We shall see!

Thanks for reading!

Have you triumphed over a seemingly difficult area in your own life when it comes to decluttering?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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We Did It

When we pulled into the quaint Bed & Breakfast in the small coastal town at the base of northern Irish territory, I was already a bit frantic. We were running behind, had gotten a little lost, and I had driven the hour and a half for the first time on the opposite side of the car and road. Nervous was an understatement.

As we unloaded our luggage from the trunk, we saw him drive into view. Our photographer had arrived.

I had been hoping to have an hour or so to myself before we met up with him. After all, it was my wedding day, and a girl needs time to fix her hair and put on a touch of make-up. Even simple, low-maintenance girls like me.

We apologized, stating that we might have to get started a little later than we had planned. I, bare-faced, explained how we’d gotten lost and how the car rental company had not initially found our reservation in their system, setting us back another half hour.

He was so relaxed and assured us that we had all the time in the world.

I calmed some, but still didn’t want to keep him waiting. I am never late for anything.

I went upstairs, Gene not far behind, flinging open my suitcase, feverishly searching for my makeup bag. We had so strategically packed and repacked our belongings in our minimal luggage, that this was a feat in and of itself. Which bag is it in?!

I finally retrieved it and began the familiar motions of putting on my face. I tried to give my hair a tad more oomph, but quickly changed my mind, as I knew it wouldn’t make much difference. The air was so misty that day.

And there he was, buttoning his shirt so calmly, grinning from ear to ear. Why couldn’t I be more like him, even if just for this one day?

Gene went downstairs to check in with our photographer, telling him I needed a few more minutes, before returning upstairs to gently hurry me along. As unprepared and thrown-together as I felt, I told him I was ready for him to come up to get some shots of the final “getting ready” touches.

When they both entered the crisp, white room over-looking Carlingford Lough, Tim walked up to me and softly spoke, “Listen. You have nothing to be nervous about. This is going to be a great day. No pressure. No rush. Let’s just relax and enjoy it together.”

He also commented on how great I looked in my lacy dress I had so hastily thrown over my head while Gene went to fetch him. A peace suddenly came over me. What was I so worked up over? Everything so far had played out even better than we’d ever imagined possible. Why should I fear that this day would be any different?

Becoming aware of my nonsensical behavior, I decided to let it go. He was right. It was going to be a great day.

I began to actually enjoy myself. Tim snapped shots of Gene putting on his tie—the tie we’d just bought the night before we boarded the plane—and me putting on my casual jewelry. We didn’t worry about how fancy we would be dressed. We didn’t worry about traditions or things old, new, borrowed, or blue. We were just ourselves. True and simple.

Then she entered the room; a young girl with a pacifier in her mouth, not even waist-high. In her hand was one of the most gorgeous hand-picked bouquets I’d ever seen—another element I didn’t bother to arrange that day. She was the granddaughter of the B&B owner, and wanted to pick flowers for “the princess” on her wedding day. This was the sweetest of moments, in a way that could never be planned or manipulated. It was perfect in all its spontaneity.

We made our way downstairs and rode in the backseat of Tim’s car up to the woodsy car park at the base of the mountain. Our mountain.

Reuben, our minister, was not far behind. Introductions were made, laughs were had, and up we went.

The hike took about twenty minutes and was more difficult than expected. We were all breathing heavily by the time we reached the top, and nothing could prepare us for the view we were about to experience. All we could do was stand there in silence, in awe of the beauty on all sides and as far as our eyes could see.

Worth it. This moment, this marvel, made everything—all the planning, stress, nerves, questions—feel worth it.

We just stood in complete wonder for about half an hour before any vows were exchanged. Just being here with the person I loved so much, experiencing it all together, felt like our vow in and of itself. We both knew that to say those solemn words in this miraculous place would just be the cherry on top.

We turned to face one another, embracing in our joy and gratitude. This time was a gift, a gift that neither of us would ever take for granted. We thanked God with every fiber of our being, for each other, for this trip, for this life.

Then, in that voice that always steadies and comforts my soul, he spoke into my ear.

“We did it.”

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A True Minimalist Wedding

The idea of a wedding can be super daunting for a minimalist couple.

Everywhere you look, there’s potential for some other frivolous expense: engagement photos, save-the-dates, wedding cake AND groom’s cake, fancy invitations, will-you-be-my-bridesmaid? gift boxes, wedding party gifts, bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen tuxes, something old/new/borrowed/blue, a cute little pillow for an equally cute toddler in a tux to carry your rings on, centerpieces, decor you will never have use for again but will feel guilty for throwing away after the big day, and even the several-thousand-dollar wedding dress that will sit in your closet for decades to follow. . . .

The whole thing is a lot to take in!

So when me and my guy decided it was our time to take the leap, we knew we didn’t want to do it like everyone else. It just wasn’t for us.

Instead, we just decided to elope.  To Ireland.  On a mountain.  Just the two of us.

And we couldn’t have been happier with our decision.

Despite being extremely close to our family and not wanting to exclude them, we still felt this was the right decision for us. We’re not frivolous or extravagant people, and the thought of having to spend (or having my parents to spend) such a large sum of money for only a couple of hours of showy celebration didn’t sit right with us.

We ended up getting a lot more bang for much less buck as we enjoyed a two-week trip abroad, and said our vows in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

My dress cost $80, and it’s something I can wear over and over again. We spent about $75 on his attire, using some pieces he already had in his closet. My jewelry wasn’t fancy, just some pieces I already owned, minus the bracelet I got on sale for $15–also something I can wear over again.

We ordered a simple 6 inch cake–chocolate with espresso Italian buttercream icing and chocolate ganache on top–that we ate in the middle of a meadow, and didn’t even bother fooling with something old/new/borrowed/blue or even a bouquet.  (Although the little granddaughters of the B&B owners where we were staying picked me a handful of the most beautiful flowers from their garden!)

Everything was simple and perfect.

We didn’t stress much over the day at all. We took three months to plan the whole trip (much with the help of our amazing photographer and his wife), hopped on a plane, hiked up a mountain, and made it happen.  Then after, we drove around southern Ireland for a week.  Ah-mazing!

I recommend more people go this route. Of course, if you want a huge wedding with all your friends and family present, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think you should go for it!  Just make sure it’s what the two of you really want and not what society has said you should do.

And if you have hesitations about doing it the “traditional” way, I hope that a story like ours will help you see that it’s OK to do things a bit differently.

I’ve heard so many married couples say they wished they had eloped instead of going through with the big wedding, but have heard none who eloped say they wished they hadn’t. There’s something very moving about it just being the two of you on that special day. After all, that’s what it’s all about. You two. Not all the hundreds of people (most of which you may not even know very well) you will have to impress and feed after the ceremony. It’s not about the mounds of gifts you will receive. It’s not about how fancy your dress, hair, or makeup is. It’s not even about the size of your diamond (mine is only .05 carat, and I couldn’t love it more!).

It’s about the two of you and the commitment you’re making to one another.

Another fun detail:
Due to the strict laws in Northern Ireland about getting married (you must have been a citizen for two years and can’t get married outside!), we actually legally tied the knot at the beach in Florida a week before we left for Ireland. We spent a four-day weekend laying on the beach, eating seafood, and drinking fruity drinks–a honeymoon in and of itself–before going on our actual elopement trip/honeymoon. Not too shabby.

Have we got you seriously considering eloping, now?  DO IT!!!

If you want to know any other details about how we did our big day, please feel free to ask in the comments! I’d be more than happy to share with you all!

Now, for a few of the gorgeous pics from our day as well as a closeup of my simple rings–that I’m totally obsessed with!

Thanks so much for reading!

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love         Photography by This Modern Love

 

Photography by This Modern Love Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

Photography by This Modern Love

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No.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with saying yes when I really want to be screaming no.

Or in some cases . . . .

Hell no!

Not gonna happen.

Are you nuts?!

Why, on God’s green earth, would I do that for you?!

I’d rather gouge my own eyes out.

. . . . the list goes on.

I know that by saying yes in certain situations, I end up saying no to the things that are actually more important to me.  I’m only hurting myself by obligating my time and energy to things that are not beneficial to my personal growth. 

I just can’t do it anymore.

I don’t want to snap, or be unnecessarily rude to someone in my life, so I will just say no.  No explanation is required.  I do not need to justify my choice.  

It will just simply be no.

Does this mean I will never sacrifice my time to help others?  Of course not.  I’m only weeding the unwanted, crazy, pointless, dumb, stupid tasks and commitments out of my life.  Being asked to complete a task by someone who is perfectly capable of executing said task themselves is just not going to fly for me anymore.

I have so many things in my life that I yearn to say yes to, that I really can’t afford to waste time on the tasks I consider too stupid or meaningless to perform.

This will require brutal honesty in some cases, but I’m OK with that.  I know, in most cases, my honesty will be better for both parties involved.

Are there things or people in your life you need to learn to say ‘no’ to?  What things would you rather be saying ‘yes’ to?

 

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Personal Manifesto

Today is the day.

It’s time for me to get my life together.

I’ve been pussyfooting around for months now when I’ve known, all along, the things that I’m capable of.  I can achieve greatness, so why waste time being so sluggish about it?

I’m going to start eating better.  Today begins my 3-day fast: a fast from wheat, dairy, sugar, and meat to kick-start my body.  After that, it’s moderation from then on out, while still striving to avoid the foods that are poison.

No more laziness with my body.  I will start exercising 4-5 days per week and spend time in prayerful meditation daily.

I will get back on my novel.  It needs me to finish it.  I will finish it.

I will continue to eliminate the unnecessary from my life.  I’ve done extremely well with this endeavor so far.  I will keep up the pace, attacking the areas that are more difficult with a vengeance.  My world needs to represent my life now.  I will not have my home be a museum of my life or let the past’s junk define me.  It’s difficult enough trying to find out who I am and where my place is without having to trudge through the reminders of yesterday, telling me who I used to be.  I don’t owe the past anything.

I will press on toward my goals.

Today begins the rest of it all.

Today is the day for change.

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Show Me The Money!

After another Friday night / Saturday morning yard sale weekend, I walked away very pleased with my continuing progress.

This time, I made $400.  AND got rid of quite a few bulky items that I’ve been sick of seeing for a while now.

My aunt, uncle, cousins, brother, brother’s girlfriend, Nana, Mom, Dad, and I all came together — each of us pitching in items that we were ready to be rid of.  We always have the best time.  

My aunt made a breakfast casserole, Mom had a crock pot of BBQ chicken for lunchtime sandwiches, and Nana brought over some cake and brownies for us to snack on.  We’re a super close family, so even though there was some labor involved throughout the weekend, we just visited and enjoyed one another’s company.  

One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend.

All of us combined made about $1,000.

I hope this inspires some of you to host your own yard sale.  You really can make a good deal of money, making it worth your trouble.  If you need any pointers, just leave a comment below!

I hope y’all have a great week!

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Storage Unit

Recently, my boyfriend and I had quite the argument.

Having relocated rather quickly from his previous residence, he was forced to rent a small storage space to store the larger items, books, and winter clothes until he could get back into town with a truck to haul them away.

Time passed, and — as you all can probably imagine — the clearing of the storage unit had begun to lose its urgency.

In fact, the bill even went unpaid for a few months.

I finally told my guy that we would go as soon as possible to retrieve the items, which also meant paying up on all those missed payments.  Since work was pretty demanding for him at the time, I offered to work out all the details if he could just take a day off to drive the 2 hours with me to get the load of mess.

After a few phone calls and a little more anger than I care to admit, we learned that the items in the unit had been auctioned off due to my sweetheart’s lack of recent payment.

Of course, I was outraged.  “They can’t just sell your stuff without trying to contact you first!” I heatedly proclaimed.  Then I got back on the phone with the storage company to try to find the buyer of said auctioned items and to report that he couldn’t legally sell them without attempting to contact my boyfriend first.

The man on the other end of the line, God love him, informed me calmly that the company did in fact try to make contact with no success.  Several times, I might add.  My guy forgot to change over his address when he moved (it’s gotta be a guy thing), and so all the letters sent out in hopes to contact him went to the wrong place.  The company had also tried to call him at the work number they had on file — which was correct — multiple times, but were told that no one by the name he gave them was employed there.

I hung up the phone, completely baffled, and immediately filled in the boyfriend on what I’d found out.

Then came the light bulb moment.

Since the name my boyfriend gave the storage company was his legal name and he actually goes by a shortened version of his middle name, none of his new employees would know who Mr. Legal Name was when someone called asking for him.

Simple misunderstanding where really no one was to fully blame.

I originally acted out in anger towards my boyfriend for his forgetfulness and for not taking the time to call and give a change of address, but I was mostly upset because I couldn’t remember all the items in the unit that were lost.  What if we lost something super important?!  This obviously wasn’t the case considering I couldn’t remember anything of dire sentimental value — except for one thing; an old photo album containing the only childhood photos my boyfriend owned.  (There are others at his mother’s house, along with all the negatives of the photos we lost in the auction.)  Everything else could be replaced or wasn’t even worth replacing to begin with.

I had actually planned to sell most of it at my next yard sale, but we quickly realized that no money would actually be made on the items, seeing as how we’d have to pay the storage company for the months that we missed.

I never handle losing items that I don’t freely give up very well.  I’ve sort of taken my time with this whole process, and deciding each and every item’s fate is part of the therapy of it for me.  This was yet another wake-up call in my life to my attachment to things that don’t really matter.  Even the things that I’m not even sure I own — or my boyfriend owns, in this case.

I hate that I spent that much emotional energy on a bunch of junk.

After the dust of the loss settled, I quickly felt my anger being replaced with something else.

Yep.  Relief.

We didn’t lose any more money on the auctioned items.  We didn’t have to take off a day of work to go retrieve them.  And we didn’t have to deal with the aggravation of storing them just so we could deal with the annoyance of later trying to sell them.

Please note that I’m not an advocate of not paying your bills on time.  This was just the positive outcome of innocent forgetfulness, and nothing more.  But what a weight that was lifted from our shoulders.

That storage unit is now one less responsibility that is cluttering my mind, preventing me from focusing on the here and now.

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Road Tripping

The yard sale was not a huge success this time.

We knew going in, that having it on the next to last weekend of the month had the potential to be not-so-beneficial.

We were right.

So, we’ve boxed up all the odds and ends and decided to try again next month. I made about $300 that weekend (mostly from a couple of items I sold on Facebook), so that was a good amount to take with me on the road trip my boyfriend and I had spent so many weeks planning.

And what a memorable trip it was!

We spent a day in Washington D.C., a day in Philadelphia, two days in the Catskill Mountains, a day in New York City, drove through Amish country, and took a couple days in Gettysburg before journeying back home.

I’m always amazed at how well my guy and I mesh when we spend significant amounts of time together. Aside from the occasional bickering over the other person’s driving skills, I’d say the trip was quite serene–even despite the constant moving we were doing. The scenery was breath-taking, and it was so exciting to see so many places we’d only seen in movies or read about in books for so many years.

We didn’t love NYC like we thought we would, probably because of the crowds, traffic, and stench. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised at how quickly and repeatedly we fell in love with Pennsylvania. Such an awesome state to visit! Our goals on this trip were definitely achieved. We got to see The Felice Brothers at the first ever Felice County Fair, where even Simone Felice joined in the fun for the day (most pleasant surprise of the trip), and we got a good sample of many places in order to see which ones we care to revisit in the future.

And we did a little wine-tasting and purchasing at a little winery in the Catskills. One of my favorite experiences.

We also learned a lot about ourselves. We both realize that our time is not always spent on things that grow us. Of course this can’t always be controlled, but we definitely see that traveling together is something that has to be a top priority for us. We know that we have to make time for it in our lives. We both love and crave it so much.

We’re already thinking about where we’d like to visit next. San Francisco, maybe?

We shall see!

What were some fun places you’ve traveled to in the past or will travel to in the future? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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