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The Closet Countdown: T-10 Days

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I could have just decided to start The Closet Countdown right away. Jumping right in stands as a great way to get started in something that seems a little intimidating. But I’ve never tried to live with only 49 articles of clothing before and 100 days makes the road ahead seem even longer… So I opted for a little calculation before I leap. I’m glad I did. It gives me a chance to pay attention to my daily and weekly needs in light of weekdays and weekends.  I’ve made my working list and set the “chosen” aside in my closet. I put everything except underclothes and socks on hangers. So nice to see it all hanging there when it’s time to get dressed. Might become one of my personal rules of minimalism down the road.

Here is my current list:
10. Tops
9. Pairs of shoes
8. Bottoms (skirts, leggings, skorts, shorts)
7. Pairs of underwear
6. Dresses
5. Bras
4. Light Sweaters/Jacket
3. Pairs of Socks
2. Sleep Items (big, comfy sleep shirt and some lounge pants)
1. Swimsuit

I might reduce the shoes. In the heat of summer, I pretty much live in sandals. I’m out of the corporate rat race for now so I probably won’t need my basic, black pumps. I’m wrestling with some questions about the things I keep “just in case”. Like a pair of three inch spike heels that I haven’t worn in at least a year, hurt my feet, and present quite the balance quandary for less-than-graceful individuals such as myself. Yet I flinch when I think about tucking them out of reach for 100 days. Crazy stuff along my minimalism path…

Went to snag my jeans to do yard work and realized they are part of the unchosen. Instead of rethinking my countdown list, I grabbed my Lily Sleeveless Dress and an apron, pulled on my rubber boots, and got to work. Not the same. I might rethink the deal but for now, I’ll stick to my original decision just to see if I can do it. That reminds me…I need to decide if I’m going to count my rubber boots and apron. Minimalism on seven acres is a whole different ballgame when it comes to stuff like that. (I see a post about rural minimalism in my future…)

For a treat, I’ve included a picture of my third bucket of pulled weeds. And my rubber boots, of course. 🙂

These are notes on my current experiment in minimalism titled The Closet Countdown. It begins on July 1. Feel free to join me in this path along my quest for simplicity!

Minimalist Closet Essentials: Merrell Lily Sleeveless Dress

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

MSQ Lily

At its heart, I believe that minimalism is about versatility. It’s about finding the tools you need to build your dreams. For me, clothing must go from office casual, to a party, or from the library to the park (or all of the above!). I know it seems kind of crazy but it’s easier than you might think. I know. I’ve tried and I’ve found clothing that fits that description. My Merrell Lily Sleeveless Dress* is one of those and is essential to my budding minimalist lifestyle.

My Lily is one of my prized pieces of clothing. I’ve had it for a couple of years and I cannot imagine life without it. In a comment dialogue at Big Little Living, Katy asked me what I would take with me if I chose to live in a Tiny House. I’ve thought about that question quite often since then. I haven’t written it down but my hypothetical list would probably be at least fifty percent Merrell including shoes.

Here is a list of what I love about my Merrell Lily Sleeveless Dress (and the standard to which I hold all other major pieces of my wardrobe, by the way):

  • Flattering cut/style
  • Comfortable
  • Coordinates well with other articles of clothing
  • Easy to accessorize
  • Moisture-wicking material
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Built-in shelf bra
  • Easy to spot clean
  • Dries quickly
  • Looks great alone or with leggings
  • Opaque material (no need to wear a slip)
  • Versatile style
  • Wearable in all seasons
  • Durable

I have it in black and pink (officially mulberry) but my favorite by far is the black. It’s a classic. Understated empire waist, A-line drape to just above the knees, and a crisscross style back. In the summer, I wear it by itself with some sandals and in the cooler months I add boots and a sweater.  Depending on the activity, I can add leggings too. To be completely transparent, I did not wear this dress often while working at my corporate job. But my commute one way was almost two hours and I always had this dress with me as a back up. Even after being rolled and stuffed in the bottom of an overnight bag, all I had to to was shake it out and wear it. No wrinkles. No fuss.

This was an easy choice to include in The Closet Countdown. 🙂

Yes, I have put a lot of thought into my clothing and I do love my choices. But it all centers around the idea of investing the time up front so I don’t have to fret about it later. I can enjoy my life knowing that at least one piece of it – my wardrobe – is organized, efficient, hassle-free, and full of helpful (and cute) tools to help me along my quest for simplicity. I don’t have to think about ironing or special laundry instructions. I just grab and go. It is worth the time invested up front so that I can be ready for whatever adventures life holds out for me. And I do love a good adventure…

As always I thank you, dear reader for stopping by. Time is so precious and I hope that reading my words has been worth the investment. Happy trails!

If you’d like to see some different pictures of the Merrell Lily Dress or buy one, go check out Merrell.com or Zappos.com. These links should take you directly to the dress.

*Let me go ahead and clarify that I am an unpaid Merrell (and Zappos!) cheerleader at this point. If you choose to buy any Merrell clothing that I recommend, I do not get a penny. If you let me know that you made a purchase based on my recommendations, then I get the satisfaction of knowing that I made your simplicity quest a little more exciting. 🙂

Please read my Merrell disclaimer here.

Rabbit Trails and Stumbling Blocks

Since my last blog post, I’ve started at least ten different posts but have not finished them. Not because I’m no longer passionate about my blog. I just got a little…um…sidetracked. 

 
I’m on this quest, right? I’m searching for simplicity and I’m using minimalism as a tool to help me along. I picture myself in some Mary Englebreit greeting card. Backpack all loaded and my adventure hat on. With zeal and a bounce in my step, I take off on the open road to find my truth in this grand adventure…

 
So I’m going along, all fired up about minimalism, simplicity, and experimenting with my life and all that jazz when I decide to take a “tiny” detour into the blogosphere on minimalism and simplicity. It’s a beautiful path, let me tell you. So many wonderful people out there are living simple lives, blogging about it, and making money while doing it. I got all caught up in the wonder of it all. So caught up that I forgot about my quest. I got lost in suggestions on goal-setting and how to be happy. Wardrobe suggestions. How to pack your life in a suitcase. Drastic clutter-cutting solutions. Fabulous photos with each post. Lots, and lots of books for sale. 
 
It was like looking a thousand billboards of pretty, flashing lights. These guys and gals (yes, I say gals) really seem to have it all together. Even those who outwardly claim that they don’t have it all together seem to be making some decent bank from their efforts. Tons of followers. I started thinking of my own small blog. Perhaps I needed to have a “system” to teach. Or a book to sell. I need a website and a discussion board. I need to start telling my readers how live a simple life and how to make money. 
 
Every time I sat down to write, I saw those flashing lights and the words just didn’t “flow”. My thoughts felt clunky and forced. Like I had tripped over some of those beautiful blogs and the bruises kept me from moving forward. I decided to make my way back to my original plan for this blog. 
 
I’m back on track now. In case I had not made this clear before, My Simplicity Quest is not a money-making blog. If I make suggestions or include links to other sites, I don’t benefit from it (aside from the personal reward of sharing the treasures I find along the way). I do not have a “proven system” and I’m typically not great at offering advice. What I do have is a love to share my sunshine and what I learn along my way. 
 
If you want to get more organized or learn about minimalism or just how to live a simple life, there are at least a hundred great blogs out there. I encourage you to read them. Just don’t do what I did and get lost in the glamor of it all. I think the idea of hard-core minimalism can be a little bit romantic. Beautiful but sometimes a little unrealistic. 
 
I’m finding that true simplicity (like so many other important things in life) is not a destination to get to in one day. I’m guessing that once I get there, I’ll have to work to stay there. Like any great quest, it never really ends. That notion appeals to me because I like the changes I’ve experienced so far. 
 
I still believe in the quest. Even when I get distracted. Even when I stumble. The rabbit trails and the stumbling blocks become part of the story I tell about my adventure. Thanks for reading my story. I really appreciate it. 

It Has Begun

Well, I did it. I packed up most of my stuff and now I am officially on my journey. It was hard work. I have a lot of junk up in the attic right now. But that’s okay. For the rest of the year, I’m just not going to let it bother me. I’m on vacation from my things. They will still be there when I get back but I hope that when I do, I will see them differently.

I kept telling myself that the investment I was making with my time and energy was going to pay off big time throughout the coming year.

It’s only Day 2 and I can see how that is true. Getting dressed in the morning is as easy as ever. I have a few options (most of them brown) and so far, I’m doing all right. ( Good thing I love brown).  I’ve also become quite the minimalist when it comes to personal hygiene so my personal care time has been reduced as well.

Maybe I’ll publish a blog about my old/new obsession with baking soda someday…

I have no idea what this blog will look like. As a writer, I have lots of experience with a piece (fiction and non-fiction) that does not look like what I thought it would. But the not knowing is part of this adventure – this quest – to find out who I am without all my stuff.

While putting my books in boxes and deciding which essential oils I could live without for a year, I realized something: I’m a binge buyer. I don’t know if  that is an actual, usable term but it’s what I do. When I get excited about something (knitting, quilting, massage – to name a few) I want to go buy all the best and latest do dads and thingymabobbers to with it. All useful tools, of course.

I’m a book worm so I have to have at least one (if not several) on the subject. Then there’s the catalogs that come with them. Oh, and the options of colors and ways to personalize even the plainest knitting needle. So I have to have it all. And most of the time, most of it ends up in a craft closet, or storage bin. Ugh.

For a little while, it feels so good to have the new things to go with my new passion. I have grand visions of completed projects that are beautiful, adored, and earth-friendly. I design my little etsy shop in my head while I surf the net looking for other enthusiasts.

But the magic wears off and I have to choose to push forward without new stuff (because hey, how many knitting needles do you really need if you can only knit a scarf?) or find a new passion. So, I find a new passion.

For two days, I have been free from the burden of unfinished projects. Evidence of my binge buying is up and away. Not buried. Not burned. Just not in my face. And I get to focus on my new passion: me and my family. I think it’s who we are without our things that matters most. Who we are to ourselves and who we are to the people we live with and count as important. For me, there’s other things too. Like writing. And making up songs. And playing Rat-A-Tat Cat with my favorite six-year-old…

Sleepless

A couple of nights ago, I could not sleep. This is very rare for me. I can sleep anywhere, any time. My friends utter words of envy when they hear that I took a short nap in line at an amusement part or in a noisy van full of people. I count it very high among my many blessings.

But this post is not about my sleep habits. It’s about what I do when I can’t sleep…

Because of my rather full days, I’ve not managed to move as quickly as I would like on the packing up process. * I think about it often but all while doing other things.

So, back to my strangely sleepless night. I need to mention here that I was also a bit upset about some other issues. Relationship stuff. Soul-searching stuff. Life stuff… But I wasn’t in the mood to sit down and figure out what to do about all of it. So I did something that has always been soothing for me: I started packing up my stuff.

I went straight for my closet. I ended up with a big, beautiful pile on the floor. My brain and heart found peace as I thought about the things I would “need” over the next year and how wonderful it was not to have to stress over whether or not I should get rid of the shirt I loved but never wore. If I really need to have it again, it will only be as far as my attic.

Then there were the thoughts of all that I would DO with the time I was buying myself by not having to take care of so much crap. Walks outside? Spend more time on my writing and with the marvelous children in my life? Make plans for a date night? As I pondered which skirts to keep, pack up, or give away, I realized something. Once all this stuff is gone from my outer life, I will still have the stuff I need to deal with in my inner life.

The issues that kept me awake that night aren’t going up in the attic or to the local charity thrift store. They stay with me. They are me. And when the stuff is gone, they will still be there. And I’m okay with that.

Maybe by the end of the year, I will have learned how to lighten my load inside too…

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

*I realize that packing up my stuff instead of giving it away makes me a big weanie but I’m okay with that.

A Crazy Idea

This IS a crazy idea.

Really. But it’s one of those ideas that have been nagging at my soul for a very long time. I feel like I need to do this. I feel like if I don’t, I will miss out on something amazing. And life is just too short not to.

I’m on a quest for simplicity. Here are some basics:

Who: Me (Ginny Love Moore)

What: I’m going to pack up everything I think I will need for the next 11 months in two totes, a garment bag, and an old, metal trunk. I will give away or store the rest. (As if I’m headed to a far away, fully-furnished  place…)

When: 1 February 2011 through 31 December 2011

Where: my home

Why: I want to see if having fewer things will make my life easier and happier.

This month (January), I’m going to systematically go through my personal things to get a “head start” on my quest. I’ve already composed many blog entries in my head. I’ll post them when I make the time. So far, let me just state that preparing for a life of simplicity is not as simple as I thought it would be.

Making decisions about everything I own is difficult sometimes. And it’s time consuming. I have a life that includes a wonderful, loving man, children, three business adventures, and a pace that does not seem to slow down. Though I’m very blessed to work from home, there is not a lot of extra time to decide if I should give away or store dust collectors on my shelves in the bathroom…

I met my friend Shay while she was walking across America. She said one of her reasons for deciding to do so is because she wasn’t sure if she could do it.

I know how that feels right now.

While buried in my mountain of laundry, I think that life will be SO much easier when I live off just a few things. But I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot about my relationship with those things. Clothes. Knick knacks. Office supplies. Shoes. Craft projects. And I wonder if I’ll be able to do it.

Will I get bored with the same wardrobe? Will I miss my hair dryer? Will I break down one day and scramble up to the attic just so I can listen to my music boxes?

Or will I be so full of peace from spending time with the people I love that none of that will matter?

This is my quest of course but it is one that is inspired by the minimalists and simple life-lovers I’ve met and read. While I hope to learn new things about myself and draw closer to my God and my family, I also hope that sharing what I learn inspires others to embrace a simpler lifestyle.