My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

This is an addendum to my 12/30/15 post Quilts for the Quilter (and Crafts for the Crafter), recently I came across a very special homemade gift…

As part of my ongoing journey towards living with less and keeping only those things that are useful and bring me joy, I am working on dealing with mementos and keepsakes. I had three boxes of keepsakes – old postcards, cards from old friends and co-workers, newspaper clippings, holiday photo cards, etc. I now have one small box. I have let go of that which does not bring me a deep sense of joy.

During the process of working through my keepsakes, I re-discovered a quilt that my staff had made me when I was a manager at a health plan in Seattle in the late 1990s to early 2000s. I do not remember if I was a quilter yet, so it likely was not a “Quilt for the Quilter” but it is something very special that was just sitting around in a box put away.

My friend Judy, who originally got me into quilting and was a member of my work team in the late 1990s, organized a team quilt project as a holiday gift for me. Each team member made a block and Judy assembled the blocks into a wallhanging quilt. I was deeply touched and surprised with the gift, which I believe was given to me around 1998 or 1999.

This wonderful gift is no longer tucked away, I have placed it on the wall to remind me that I was that loved (because QUILT ARE LOVE, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!) so much as a leader that a team took the time to make me a quilt!

Below is a photo of the quilt.  The center of the quilt features a photo of the entire team, so I have taken a low resolution photo at a bad angle to respect the privacy of former team members who I have lost touch with and may not want their photo published on the web. (And you likely thought it was just another one of my bad photos!)

I have included a couple close ups of some of the blocks. The “Chocolate Chip Cookies” block, by one of my former team members, was made to honor the fact that I brought the team homemade chocolate chip cookies when I interviewed with them! After I was hired I continued to make the team homemade cookies.

It is wonderful to have such a  special memory visible to enjoy everyday, rather tucked away, only to look at every couple of years (or longer, when you remember it is there).

As far as the other keepsakes, as I mentioned earlier I took them down from 3 boxes to 1 small box. I love what Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014), states in her wonderful book:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

I realize many memories can be held inside my heart rather than my hand. I do not need to hold onto all those physical items to honor those memories (like all postcards I ever received – I have downsized them only a small stack of very special postcards).

And as far as the person I am becoming, I hope it is someone who is filled with gratitude for all the special moments in her life. This quilt reminds me to continue my feelings of gratitude each day.

 

Books, Music, Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey

Craft Book Purge

Yes I did it. I purged some of my HUGE craft book collection (see earlier post Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?).

Last April when I counted, I had around 370 craft books (on quilting, sewing, beading, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, card making, etc.).

Last weekend, I was ready to again take on thinning out my craft book collection.

Over the past couple of years, I have been able to let go of a lot of “stuff” as I move towards a life focused on experiences, not “stuff”. I even let go of a large amount of fabric that I was keeping “just in case” (see earlier post The Fabric Purge!). My craft books, however, all seemed so precious, and it has been difficult to part with them.

Suddenly I was ready. Following the principle’s in Marie Kondo’s wonderful book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and pulled ALL my craft books out and went through them one by one. This took nearly 4-6 hours to complete.

My primary criteria was: “Will I truly ever make something in this book?”. Using this criteria I was able to lighten my load by over 50 craft books.

The photo below shows the growing stack for DONATION in my laundry room.

IMG_1364.jpg

The cool thing was even while I was re-shelving and organizing the books I had decided to keep, I was able to weed out even more that I realized I do not need.

Last Monday, with the help of Terry the Quilting Husband, I dropped off two huge bags of books to our local public library. They will either go into the library’s collection of craft books for circulation to library patrons; or they will go to the Friends of the Library which will sell the books to raise money for the library. One of the library staff gave me a huge “thank you” on donating the books – she was amazed how many of the books were brand new and in excellent condition.

I have no regret over the money I spent on these books I never used, because they are going to either circulate in my beloved public library or raise money to support library activities!

(Yes I still have a lot of books left and I love them all. Let’s see if next year I can do another craft book purge…)

 

My Minimalism Journey

Break Up Letter to My Warehouse Club

Looking at my credit card statement for the past 30 day period, I was appalled to see how many different charges there were to Costco, our local “Warehouse Club” store – 6 in a month’s time! (Depending on your location, you local warehouse club store might be Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, or Sam’s Club).

Obviously I have a problem: How many times in one month do you need to stock up on a packages of items that would supply, say, a  small military base, when there are only two humans living in your house?

Dear Costco,

I hate to do this by letter but if I see you in person, I will not be able to be strong (I would grab a cheap frozen yogurt from your snack bar and start running through your aisles looking for all the things I do not need).

I have to take some time off in our relationship. I am not sure if I want to permanently break up or just have a “cooling off period”.

Things have gotten too intense in our relationship and I have been spending much way too time with you than is healthy (financially).

I will miss your 80+ jars of pickles (when I only wanted a couple pickles), and your triple super duper size packaging of items that would take me a lifetime to consume. Most of all I will miss your fantasy-electronics-section with its 60, 70, 80, 200 inch TVs with infinity edge 3D screens showing glimpses of what ultimate TV viewing could entail.

But I must be strong. I hope you can carry on and stay open without me.

Sincerely,

Tierney

 

Books, Music, Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

The Empty Drawer

Sometimes love is shown in small sweet ways…

This post is an addendum to the post The Space in Which We Live in which I share how Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing inspired me to downsize my unused and unneeded clothes and get rid of our second dresser in the bedroom.

Since I got rid of the dresser I used, I needed somewhere to store my socks and undies. I convinced my husband to give me one drawer of his tightly packed dresser. He groaned a little at first but realized how much space it would free up in the bedroom to only have one dresser. So he reluctantly cleared out a bottom drawer in his dresser for me.

I jokingly said: “Might I have a top drawer?”  A day later I discovered my stuff had been moved to a top drawer, all neatly organized by my husband.

Surprisingly, it did not take me long to get used to living with one drawer. Then the other day, I got quite a surprise: I was opening my top drawer quickly and not paying attention and accidentally opened the drawer below it.

AND IT WAS EMPTY!

My husband, without saying anything, had somehow cleared a second drawer for me, right below my newly beloved solitary top drawer. I now have TWO DRAWERS!

The Empty Drawer
The Empty Drawer

Recently I have been listening to a wonderful book on CD from the library called The Empowering Women Gift Collection (1997) which is a collection of lectures by the motivational and inspirational speakers Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, and Susan Jeffers. Although this CD is from 1997 most of the inspirational information is still pertinent. One of the speakers discusses in her lecture that men may show their love differently than women. Basically they might show their love by fixing the faucet for you rather than getting all sweet and mushy, etc.

I definitely consider this unexpected and unrequested (second) EMPTY DRAWER an act of love!

Books, Music, Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life, Sunflowers!

The Space in Which We Live

Sometimes a statement really resonates with you…

I am currently listening to the audiobook of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Kondo, 2014).

The author, Marie Kondo makes a very powerful statement when she discusses letting go of mementos from our past:

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

This book is not your average “here is how you organize your stuff type of book”. It takes a very different and profound approach on dealing with clutter, permanently. Getting rid of physical clutter helps free your mental clutter. I have already experienced this through starting to work through this book.

Marie Kondo approaches dealing with “your stuff” in a very beautiful way. In a way that honors your stuff and the happiness or the function it may have brought you in the past.

Her process requires that you physically touch every single thing you own and decide honestly: “does this bring me joy?”

Her process also involves thanking those things that you give up for what role they played in your life and then letting them go. (This all may sound strange but it is not, it feels very right and very peaceful).

Completed “Phase One”

I have made it through the first phase – letting go of clothing I do not need (she has a specific method and order in which you deal with different categories of your stuff). Two big things happened yesterday: 1) I took a huge carload of clothing and other random stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store; and 2) I got rid of MY DRESSER!

Our bedroom always felt kind of cluttered with two dressers (my dresser and my husband’s dresser). My 25 year-old dresser blocked part of the area I use to get out of bed. My husband was able to make space for my undies and socks in his dresser. Everything else (including old socks and undergarments not in the best condition) was either discarded, donated or folded/hung up in the closet.

I did touch each item, determine if it brought be joy, and thanked those that did not (bring me joy) for their service before discarding them. We placed my dresser outside on the curb and 5 minutes later it was gone (I believe the Universe gave it to the person who needed next)! Suddenly with the dresser gone, the bedroom appeared to have better flow and energy. I now have room next to the bed to put out my yoga mat in the morning!

Unbelievably freeing experience, so far

You must read or listen to this wonderful book for this all to make sense, and it will. I highly recommend this book and the “Eastern Philosophy” influenced perspective of letting go of the stuff that clutters our lives and our minds.

I continue to work on letting the space that I live be for the person I am becoming now, not for the person I was in the past.

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life ;-)
Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life 😉
Books, Music, Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Studio

The Fabric Purge!

Before I talk about my FABRIC PURGE, I wanted to give a little follow up on my Addicted to Audiobooks post:

I had mentioned in the post that one of the disadvantages of free audiobooks from your local library is a short loan period (14 days for example). Recently I discovered that my library allows up to a 21 day audiobook loan period but you have to set up your account that way! I guess when I first set up my digital book account with my library originally I accidentally selected the 14 day hold as my default. I wish I knew this earlier as recently I was in the middle of enjoying Beyond Willpower by Alexander Loyd and my loan expired! The audiobook has other library patron holds on it so I have to wait patiently until my turn comes around again. Ultimately it is my fault for alternating between three audiobooks at once time – 21 day loans will make it even easier (maybe I can alternate between four or five audiobooks…just kidding!)

FABRIC PURGE!

Sometimes you have to let go of clutter to make space for your creativity. I had collected an unwieldy amount of fabric in my 15+ years of being a quilter. My fabric collection (aka “Stash”) includes purchased new fabric, purchased (from thrift shops and garage sales) used fabric, recycled fabrics (old jeans, manufacturing remnants), and fabric given to my by quilting friends.  When I say “fabric” I mean anything from a 1/4 yard to several yards of fabric, not scraps. We won’t talk about my scrap collection at this point…

I had organized all my quilting cotton, non flannel fabrics either by color, by type (Batiks) or by collection in an old IKEA bookcase cabinet. This cabinet was REALLY STUFFED. It was so stuffed that I could not find smaller pieces that have somehow “melted” into the larger pieces. It was time to reevaluate what I really loved and needed in my collection and to let go of that which I do not really love or really need. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off from work for a little “staycation” so I had no excuse not to begin the PURGE!

The purge was kind of painful and tedious. I do not want to discourage anyone from evaluating their clutter and purging, I just want to be honest. I removed all the fabric from the bookcase cabinet and it transformed into a scary mess on the floor. In the spirit of honesty and full disclosure – I did at one point sit on the floor crying and exclaim: “Why do I have this much fabric? I do not need all this!” I had to keep self-coaching to get through the project, reminding myself how wonderful it will be to quickly find the fabric I am looking for and to get rid of what I will never use.

It took two days of sorting through fabric and refolding fabric to complete the project (by the way, I did take many breaks of course and did other things on my “staycation”). I found on Pinterest this wonderful link to instructions on how to uniformly fold your fabric using a ruler so that your fabric will stack easily together: How to Tuesday: Ruler Folding  (from a lovely blog – Create Kids Couture). I organized most of the fabric by color (this time I integrated the Batiks) and some by special collection (one shelf). I purged a giant bag of fabric to give my local quilting friends (oh no I am just adding to their stash so they have to purge someday!)

The fabric purge was worth it, despite some brief emotional distress. I feel like I have made room for my creativity by eliminating clutter!

BEFORE THE PURGE

IMG_0324.2015-04-26_195115

AFTER THE PURGE

IMG_0328.2015-04-27_194415

Books, Music, Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey

Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?

Isn’t realization the first step to admitting you might have a problem?

Have you watched the TV show on A&E Network – Hoarders? Well I am not at that level (yet), but I do have some concerns over the size of my craft book collection.  I finally made myself count and I have 370 craft books.

IMG_0144I have crafts book on:

  • Quilting (of course)
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Beading
  • Pillow making
  • Bag/purse making
  • Potholder making
  • Scrapbooking
  • Organizing your craft space
  • Art inspiration
  • Beading
  • Metal clay
  • Felting
  • Etc.

In addition to craft books, I have quite the collection of crafting related magazines. I refuse to count them. I am still reeling from the shock that I have 370 (or more as I likely under counted) craft books.

So what am I going to do about it? I already gave away all the books I know I will never use to local charity thrift stores (some of the books I originally bought from a charity based thrift store, so I am completing the cycle).

What I would like to do (complete fantasy) is the make at least ONE ITEM from each book and then post it on my blog. That could be 350 new craft projects I would complete (at least 20 books are about organizing and inspiration not the actual making of a craft).

I am going to do it. Maybe. Watch in the future for an ongoing series of blog posts about actually making things from my craft books. Perhaps.  For now, I am seriously going to work on curbing my acquisition of craft books. Definitely.

This post serves as an addendum to the post Living with Less?!?!?! to further support why I would be challenged to scale back to 100 personal items, though I still daydream of living this minimal.

My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

Living with Less?!?!?!

A favorite pastime is to browse the library shelves for crafting and home design/decorating books. During a browse the other day I found a book Living with Less: how to downsize to 100 personal possession by Mary Lambert (2013).

I am really into the “Tiny House” movement and I am known to blow a weekend afternoon looking at “Tiny House Porn” on YouTube. I love the idea of scaling back and scaling down your life and “living with less” in exchange for quality of life. Ms. Lambert’s book provides an excellent process on scaling back your life to 100 personal possessions.  In exchange for this downsizing you can gain an “ordered life” and  “liberate your mind, body, an spirit”. After reading 1/2 of the book and skimming the other half – I was sold on this wonderful concept.

Until a casual conversation with my husband…

My husband Terry has been very tolerant of my obsession with tiny houses and scaling back our lives. We already live in a 1300 square foot house (having scaled back 9 years ago from a 2800 sq. ft house) and we have a fairly simple and thrifty lifestyle. Still I fantasize about being able to “quit my day job” in health care and dedicate myself full-time to tierneycreates.

Terry, the Realist, quietly nods his head while I give him an enthusiast summary of the book Living with Less and idea of each of us pairing down to 100 possessions. Terry gets up from his chair and begins to start counting out loud the quilts hanging on the wall, hanging on the quit rack, on beds and chairs, and then in a cabinet. He states: “do these all count as one item or 25?” Then he begins to count the craft books I have on the shelf, and I tell him to stop (as I do have an issue with craft books).

He sighs and states: “So will you just be keeping a pair of underwear, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and 1 outfit in your scaling down?  And, do all those fat quarters of fabric count as one piece of fabric?”

So, as much as I admire Ms. Lambert’s concept of scaling down I do not think it can happen anytime soon.

My pile of scraps for making scrap quilts: Do they each count as 1 item or can I group all the scraps together as one item?