minimalist

My Barbie Doll Was A Minimalist

The ugly duckling is a misunderstood universal myth. It’s not about turning into a blonde Barbie doll or becoming what you dream of being; it’s about self-revelation, becoming who you are.
Baz Luhrman

Greetings! While on my simplicity quest, I often take tiny detours down memory lane. It’s part of the process for me. It helps slow me down a little because I have a tendency to rush ahead at full speed.

Sometimes, I remember things we lost in the fire. The memories skitter across my mind in random moments of thought. In this case, I was pondering a wardrobe that could go from day to night with only a few, minor changes. (Shocker that I would think about such things, right?).

Then I remembered my favorite Barbie Doll. Day to Night Barbie. Since I’m pretty sure she’s gone on to Barbie heaven, I did a little Google searching. Oh. My. Word. I think it was an early sign from the universe. An unexpected teacher with plastic skin, blond hair, and painted blue eyes…and an outfit that went from work to play in a matter of seconds.

Let me put this out there before I go on. With as much flak as Barbie gets for creating unrealistic physical goals for young girls I stand on the other side. Firmly. It’s just a doll. Just like my cloth baby doll. I learned to dress her and change her diaper. It’s a toy.

I’m in my thirties and have no desire to change from brown hair to blonde or hazel eyes to blue. In fact, I want more muscle tone than my Barbie had :). (I also had an early eighties fitness Barbie – bright blue body suit, legwarmers, and headband. Oh yeah…)

If anything, playing with my Barbie Dolls helped me decide what I liked about me. What colors and styles I preferred. What life I might choose to have. And like the Baz Luhrmann quote states, it’s not about becoming her, it’s about becoming me.

How was my Barbie Doll a minimalist? She could go from a day at the office to a night on the town by removing her jacket and hat and reversing her skirt. Genius. I’m still totally inspired. To help you have a better idea of what I mean, I’ve gathered a couple pictures and commercials I found. I had both the doll and the home and office set. Seriously.

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Did you enjoy those? I know I did! During my search, I found another Barbie from my past that I had quite forgotten. But now that I see her – and the many ways she can wear one dress combination – I’m not surprised that she was mine as well. Dream Date Barbie.

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One skirt, many options. Oh yes! See that sequined tube top thing? I made it into a skirt and added a tank top. Yep, early signs of a versatile wardrobe addiction…

Thank you, dear reader for taking this tiny trip down memory lane with me. I’m a bit of a nutter but if you can stand it, then I’m glad you are here. Cheers to you, wherever you are and to your wardrobe – may it always reflect who you are inside. 🙂

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #10

20130909-060751.jpgHello and welcome to my tenth weekly update for The Closet Countdown. Only thirty days left. I used all my morning sunshine (and time) to take pictures for my Sarong Series (Tied Long Skirt, Tied Short Skirt, and Waist Tied Shawl) instead of taking pictures of my daily outfit.

That’s not entirely true.

I did take pictures for the Sarong Series (more coming up this week!) but the truth is that I’m just a little burned out on the whole Closet Countdown deal. The honeymoon is quite over. The magic of this experiment in minimalism has faded.

Strangely enough, this is where I get excited about the process. It means I’ve found that place where I want to quit. Not just make a few modifications. But just end this whole, silly experiment.

Words that have haunted me most of my life start to trickle into my thoughts…

That’s when I know it’s about to get really good. While this may be a silly experiment, it’s my silly experiment. When I’m not grumpy about it, I’m learning so much. I’ve been able to “get by” on the same 55 items of clothing for seventy days. That’s a big deal for me. I’m not going to quit.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I put on my leggings and my Lily dress, strapped on my ever-faithful (and sadly discontinued) Merrell Brown San Remo sandals, and decided to rock the next thirty days of The Closet Countdown.

(Pictures will resume next week.)

Thank you. Thank you so much for reading this. Though this part of my path is a little rough, the fact that you are here this makes it easier to bear.

Cheers,

G

To see pictures from previous weeks, please got to The Closet Countdown Page.

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #9

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The end of The Closet Countdown is a little over a month away. While I’m ready for it to be over, I’m also very grateful for what I’ve learned so far. Not just about minimalism or simplifying my life. But about me. About how I work and what I value.

The main thing I’m learning is to cut myself some slack. It’s okay that my overalls can only be worn for work and not to a variety of events (though I am quite proud that they can be worn for a variety of work projects – even in the summer). It’s okay that my wardrobe is basically black – because I’m getting better at using my accessories in creative ways. It’s okay that my closet might not ever be reduced to only 100 items (I miss having a drawer full of athletic socks). I didn’t think this way before this experiment…

Last week’s update was a bit of a marathon to read. It is what it is. This one will be much shorter. If you have any questions about any of my clothing choices, please ask in the comments below. 🙂

Just one note before I begin:

  • On Thursday, I wore my Merrell Mulberry Tiffin Cardigan and I could not find a link to add to it because they don’t make them anymore. I am a big Merrell fan but I’m getting a little frustrated that my favorites are so difficult to find. :((it’s available here in Lapis color only. Ugh.)

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Sunday (Day 56): Dickies Overalls, Mossimo Grey V Neck Short Sleeved Top (thrift store find), brown flip flops

Monday (Day 57):
All Day: Black Short Sleeved Shirt, Teal Skort, Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes

Tuesday (Day 58):
Morning Run: Black Short Sleeved Shirt, Columbia Teal Skort, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes
Rest of the Day: Black Short Sleeved Shirt, BCG Black Leggings, Sarong Tied As Over Skirt, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals.

Wednesday (Day 59):
BCG Black Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Thursday (Day 60):
Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Merrell Mulberry Tiffin Cardigan, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Friday (Day 61):
BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, Dickies Overalls, Black Rubber Boots

Saturday (Day 62):
BCG Black Cami, BCG Black Leggings, Blue Overdress (Thrift Store Find), Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #8

20130825-094429.jpgIt’s been 55 days since I started The Closet Countdown. That feels like a long time. It’s taught me more than I ever expected it would. Though I do “miss” a few items still, I don’t regret my decision to do this. What I learn about myself by reducing my options is a beautiful thing.

Each week, a little light of truth makes its way into my mind. And it’s through a wardrobe experiment. Wow. I’m surrounded by unexpected teachers…

The discipline of being committed to a weekly update post has been wonderful. Each week, I learn a little more about blogging, WordPress, and uploading media files. I’m also learning to relax a little behind the camera. I still notice things that make me cringe a little. And I still have a lot to learn about photography. But I’m having so much fun that I don’t mind as much as I did when I first started.

Plus, there are fabulous people out there who read last week’s update and took the time to leave a sweet comment. Encouraging words are like sunshine for my soul. Because of them, I give myself permission to grow and shine. If you left a comment last week, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my small but overflowing heart.

Now if you would please, dear reader, follow me through my weekly wardrobe recap…

We begin with random bits of weekly wardrobe trivia.

  • My Lily dress was the star. Again. I’ve heard that they can be a little difficult to find online. Next summer, they will be easier to purchase, I think/hope. Most of my Merrell links go to Zappos.com because that is my favorite place to shop. They do have the Lily there but are out of stock in some of their sizes.
  • My friend owns a music school in town and I spent a few days painting and cleaning the exterior in preparation for the upcoming school year. That is why you will see lots of pics of my beloved overalls and my over-sized plaid shirt. 🙂
  • My overalls are almost twenty years old. I somehow fancied myself as a budding gardener (sure wish I knew about my brown thumb at the time…) and decided that I needed some good work overalls. Even back then, I felt I had to dress the part. I had no idea they would last so long or be so useful in the years to come.
  • For fun, I added links to the items I could find online. Academy Sports is my favorite for inexpensive athletic clothing but it’s best to go to the store itself because I could not find my v neck sleeveless top or my leggings. (“BCG” is Academy’s in house brand. )
  • The link attached to my Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running shoes is for the newer version of this shoe. I have the original Arcs. When I bought mine a year ago, they did not have these fun colors.

20130825-093918.jpgSunday

Morning Run: BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Morning: BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, A. Byer Black Handkerchief Style Skirt (thrift store find), Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes.

Evening: Same as morning but added a scarf and changed shoes to my Merrell Luxe Strap Sandals (and I actually did something with my crazy hair).

Comments: I did housework and prepared for the week ahead and then we had a birthday to celebrate (not mine). I wanted to show how easy it is to dress up a simple ensemble. So I added the scarf and shoes and ba blam! Instant party attire. 🙂

20130825-093929.jpgMonday

Morning: Ann Taylor Grey Boat Neck Cotton Top, Danskin Black Basic Skort, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals (discontinued style 😦 )

Evening: Neiman Marcus Plaid Big Shirt (thrift store find), BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals, (later, I put on my rubber boots)

Comments: I love my over-sized plaid top. Until this little experiment, I had no idea how much I liked it. Thrift store find. It’s a vintage Neiman Marcus men’s shirt. I’m pretty sure I bought for some arts and crafts project to do with kiddos.

20130825-093942.jpgTuesday

Morning: Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Sarong, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Afternoon: Neiman Marcus Plaid Big Shirt (thrift store find), BCG Black Leggings, (Lily dress underneath)

Evening: Dickies Overalls, Mossimo Grey V Neck Short Sleeved Top (thrift store find), Brown Flip Flops

Comments: I had an appointment in Austin in the morning and went straight to the music school to help paint. It was certainly a lesson in being a better planner when it comes to work projects. I hated trying to be careful with white paint and black leggings. And I decided that my plaid shirt was cute. (Can’t get paint on a cute shirt.) So I went to my house, grabbed my overalls, and then I went to my stashed boxes of clothes and grabbed a work shirt. Work went much faster (and I was a happier worker) when I didn’t have to worry about my clothes.

20130825-093958.jpgWednesday

Morning Run: BCG Black V Neck Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Most of the day: Dickies Overalls, Mossimo Grey V Neck Short Sleeved Top (thrift store find), Brown Flip Flops

Evening: Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Beaded Elastic Belt, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Comments: After a long day of painting, we went out to celebrate our hard work with Mexican food and margaritas. I experimented by adding the belt to the Lily and while I like it as a possible option in a pinch, it’s not my favorite variation. I like the style. I just don’t consider it very flattering with the empire waistline in place.

20130825-094042.jpgThursday

Morning: BCG Black Tank Top, Danskin Black Basic Skort, Grey Hoodie, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Afternoon Run: BCG Brown V Neck Sleeveless Top, BCG Black Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

Evening: Merrell Black Lily Sleeveless Dress, Merrell Luxe Strap Sandals.

Comments: Spent the morning catching up on stuff after painting for three days. I love to do housework in my running shoes. Makes me feel all athletic.Then we went to open mic night in the evening. You can read here about why my smile is so weak in the picture.

20130825-094100.jpgFriday

All Day: BCG Black Tank Top, Travelsmith Black Voyager Knit Pants, Sarong (tied into a top, Merrell Brown San Remo Sandals

Comments: I bought the Travelsmith pants in set with a top and a matching sweater. It’s a super light, wrinkle-free material. I kept them for The Closet Countdown as versatile lounge pants. I mainly sleep in them. But they sure came in handy as pants as I had to deal with another hangover allergies after a fun/inspiring night out with my man.

Saturday

All Day: Basic Black Short Sleeved Shirt, Travelsmith Black Voyager Knit Pants, Merrell Black Barefoot Wonderglove (mary jane style) Shoes.

Comments: none.

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This is my bonus picture for Nancy at My Year of Sweat. It’s my Coconut Sarong Tie Thingy. Up close and personal. 🙂

It’s a long update. I know. I’m working on brevity. But that too, is part of the learning process.

Thank you, fellow traveler, for joining me on this path. I always appreciate the company (and the comments!). Cheers to you, wherever you are!

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #7

20130818-102655.jpgAlmost 50 days since The Closet Countdown began. About half way there…

The Closet Countdown experiment continues to teach me new things about myself. I wouldn’t say I love it at this point. I do miss a few items. But I’m not experiencing strange twitches. Just learning more about what I need from a wardrobe. Part of my goal in this project was to create some extra time to focus on my goals and what’s in my heart. Well…know what I found in my heart? Clothes! Go figure…

Here, for your reading pleasure are the blah blah blahs. 🙂

To Keep or Not to Keep TopI have a top that I’ve only worn once since I decided to keep it for The Closet Countdown. It’s so cute. To me, it is super cute. But it’s kind of a pain. It’s cotton. I do love cotton but I do not like to iron it. Sometimes, I can just hang dry cotton items and they are fine. But not this top. It looks pretty wrinkled. So I have to ask myself if I’m going to stick to my “Hell Yeah” way of life when it comes to my closet. How much of a Hell Yeah do I need something to be for me to keep it? How hard core am I going to be about it?

So here we meet again, minimalism. I have to think about what I want. I have to think about how much time I’m willing to invest in an item if I’m going to keep it. I have to decide if all the feel good I get from the compliments are worth the ironing. Damn.

Black Shoe SwapI swapped out a pair of shoes this week because I went out on Monday night. My practical, comfy, (kinda boring) black heels from my corporate job days were just not working with my favorite little black dress. The ones I kept are not as comfortable (my plan is to upgrade them soon) but I think they are rockin. And a little bit sexy if I do say so myself. 😛

Taking pictures of what I wore every day reminds me of when I kept a food journal while I tried to lose twenty pounds. I did not enjoy the process. It is a tedious project to take on. Have you tried to do it? Ugh.

As usual, the things I’ve decided I don’t like become my best teachers.

I had no idea that I changed outfits so often. I’m pretty sure I do it to avoid doing laundry every day. I live in Texas and a summer morning run ends in sweat. Though I’m a pretty “natural”, “rugged” gal, I don’t groove on spending my day in perspiration permeated apparel (like that one?). Workout clothes sometimes stay on for some housework but they don’t make it the whole day. Plus, I don’t know about anyone else out there but I don’t like to spend my day in a sports bra.

When the weather gets cooler, I can see myself wearing my clothes throughout the day. One of the main reasons I’m doing this whole experiment is to help me refine my adventure closet. I want what I own to take me through my day without any changes. Oh, and I want to feel good in what I wear and feel like I look good too. Not easy. Well, it’s easy if I just choose to wear yoga pants and an big t shirt (like I used to). But that’s the easy way out.

For the record, this project really stretches me on a personal level. With every picture, I’m aware of my wild woman hair, my belief that I’m not photogenic, my lack of photography basics, and that I have no idea how to pose for so many pictures (my current favorite is obviously the one leg behind the other and the hand(s) on hip look). I only kept six pairs of shoes – two of which are athletic – so I wear my sandals all the time.

I feel vulnerable as I put myself out there. I will feel it until I click “publish”. Then I will feel dread. Then I will feel awesome. Because I did something that took a little more courage than I thought I had. Next week, I promise to focus more on the positive. I’m just grooving on this honesty/transparency thing so I had to report what is going on inside as well as outside. (Thank you for your patience as I wade through my own, emotional crap.)

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Lake Day: Swim suit with sarong cover up, White cotton top
Zither Music Birthday Jam: Black tank top, Pink Cameleon Convertible Skirt/Dress, Brown sandals

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Monday

Housework: Lily dress, Leggings, Merrell Barefoot Mary Jane Shoes
Out with friends in Austin: Little Black Dress, Black high heels

Notes for Monday: 1. I added the little coconut sarong tie to my Lily Dress to make it easier to get housework done. 2. I’ve had that little black dress for nine years.

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Black Lily Dress

Note for Tuesday: No pictures of me today. Puffy eyes due to hangover allergies.

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Wednesday & Thursday

Wednesday: Brown v neck tank, flowy black skirt, leggings, sandals
Thursday: Black tank, leggings, blue over dress, sandals

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Friday

Yard Work: Brown v-neck tank top, Overalls, Sandals/Black rubber work boots (not pictured)
Brunch: Emery Dress
Dinner (out and about): Emery Dress. Again!

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update 7 Saturday

Morning Chill Out: White cotton top, Pink shorts, brown sandals
Evening out: Emery Dress with coconut heart accent, Merrell shoes

Note for Saturday: Wasn’t planning on going out but had some friends invited me to hear them play at a local bar. Grabbed my previously worn (but not dirty) Emery dress to catch the show.

Minimalism and Liposuction

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“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost from The Road Not Taken

Have you ever tried to lose weight? I have. You set your goals, you visualize a thinner, more muscular you. You work hard. You count calories or cut sugar or carbs or whatever. At first, it’s so easy because it’s so fun. Every minute spent working out feels like you are getting closer. Soon, your favorite clothes will fit again, your skin will glow, and everyone will ooh and ahh over the new, fabulous you. You’ve got your eye on the prize there’s no stopping you. But then maybe months weeks down the road did you start thinking oh eff this! I’m getting liposuction!?

Everything turns to rubbish. Your once-beloved salad combo makes you want to gag. Your favorite exercise guru has grown horns and uses her/his pitchfork to remind you of how you just need to work harder. Maybe you’ve lost a little bit but you still can’t zip your old jeans. And then you really must decide if it’s worth it. I call it the liposuction crossroad.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…and I chose the one with all-you-can-eat chocolate cake and potato chips.

No I didn’t (though I do love chocolate cake and potato chips). It took me a year to lose twenty pounds. Not four weeks or even four months. A year. This post is not about why I wanted to lose twenty pounds. It’s about minimalism. Really. It’s about my decision to not take the easy way out.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…and I chose the one with fewer processed foods and trails for running.

When I was about ten years old, I had a teacher tell me that I always take the easy way out. Ten. Years. Old. It was like a curse in a cheesy movie. Only she failed to tell me how it could be lifted. I had to find the “cure” on my own. I took her words and lived them and fought against them. I still do. My antidote for the curse is a constant dose of gratitude and forgiveness when I think of her. (And I think of her every time I hit those cruxes in my life.) I have to ask myself if I’m choosing the easy way out.

Here on my simplicity quest, I am at my liposuction crossroads. I just want it to be over sometimes. Throw it all overboard and get on with it. I want instant clear spaces and hours and hours to write and dance and run and think. I’m tempted to take a few boxes back up to the attic. The Minimalists, and Leo, and Courtney have become like my old Daisy Fuentes workout video. Irksome reminders of how far I have to go. I’m one phone call away from telling Clean Sweep to come and make it all better. Or go on a shopping spree.

Then I’m ten years old again. I see my teacher’s face. I hear her words. And I have to ask myself if I’m going to let this curse affect my simplicity quest and my desire to fully embrace minimalism. Will I take the easy way out by quitting?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…and I chose to take the wide open path marked by rows and rows of incinerators and shopping malls.

Not really.

I take a deep breath. I go for a run. I watch the clouds roll by overhead. I remember how much I’ve sorted through already. How good it feels to see the empty space where a box of stuff used to be. Stuff I don’t need and stuff I’ve thought about and sorted and pushed out of my life. I think about how having less of that stuff means having more time for the important things.

I remember that there are others who have chosen the more difficult path to simplicity. I find strength in their stories. I am not alone…

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…and I took my ten-year-old self by the hand, gave the finger to the curse, and grabbed another box from the attic.

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #6

20130811-073629.jpgForty-one days since The Closet Countdown began. Wow.

Here is what I think my updates have been reduced to:
Blah. Blah. Blah. I wore my Lily dress. Again. Blah. Blah. Blah. Here’s some more pictures.

Doing this experiment has certainly highlighted my love for my Merrell dresses. I mean, I knew I liked them but I had no idea. I also had no idea one could wear a dress so much and not get sick of it or have people say “Um…do you wear that dress all the time?” Perhaps it is the accessories I choose. Or maybe because I think it’s so darn cute, I feel cute in it and my confidence overshadows the monotony of the dress. Or maybe my friends are nice enough to keep their thoughts to themselves. No matter.

I wore my Emery dress for a birthday dinner on Wednesday and the black Lily dress to shop and lunch on Saturday. I wear my pink and black Lily dresses throughout the week too. It’s so easy to throw one on and be “instantly” dressed. If I need to do an activity like jump on the trampoline (oh, I mean if I want to join my five-year-old friends and transform into a super hero and battle the aliens who are trying to take over the world). I just put on a pair of leggings, cinch the bottom hem with my coconut tie thingy (note to self: must look up what those are called), and I’m good to battle the forces of evil.

Since Fridays have become pretty intensive yard work days, I continue to pat myself on the back for keeping the overalls. I wear them with a tank top and at the end of the day, my arms are a nice, golden brown. My legs are still pretty pale. Oh. Well! The dogs certainly don’t care. 🙂

I supplemented my jacket and top with a hoodie and a sports bra.

There are a few items I haven’t worn as often as I thought I would. A black skirt I thought I loved and a blue dress.

See? Blah. Blah. Blah. Lily Dress. 🙂

Thanks for sharing this space on my road to minimalism. Hope you don’t mind that I wear the same few dresses. Over and over again! Cheers dear reader! 20130811-073642.jpg20130811-073652.jpg

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #5

20130805-054950.jpg Thirty-five days down and sixty-five more to go on The Closet Countdown. It’s amazing to me how much can happen in a week. I feel like clothes help tell our story. That’s probably why we have closets full of items we don’t even wear any more.  Through this experiment, I find that one dress can now tell many stories. It’s my adventure closet. Because that’s how I see life. 🙂

The Lily was the star again this week. I wore it to an open mic night with my sarong* tied into a bag (I’m a nut when it comes to using that thing in about a hundred different ways…). I got compliments on the dress and the bag (sarong). Sweet! It amazes me because I wear that dress all the time (as I’m sure you’ve already gathered).

People are just not as focused on us as we are. How liberating!

Last week, I had dinner with friends and I wore my Merrell Lily Wrap Dress (soon to be featured in its own post). Same great material with sleeves and a wrap style.

20130805-055018.jpgI spent my entire Saturday wearing my incredibly versatile sarong as a dress (yep, the same one I used as a bag on open mic night). Cool, comfy cotton on a hot, summer day. The more I let go of my things, the easier it is for me to relax. Simplifying my life is not on my “someday maybe” list of things. It’s happening every day. So on days when I choose to kick back, I do it with all my heart. I feel like my brain load is lighter.

Tossed another item. A jacket. No big deal. I just realized that I seldom used it. Too bulky for a run and not water resistant. I’m down to 52 items. Now that I’m over my t-shirt withdrawals from last week and because I committed to run a half marathon in January (oh my!), I’m probably going to supplement with some active wear.

Another item is on its way out… Did you know that leggings can get runners? Like those terribly unattractive things you can get in pantyhose? Did you? I didn’t. Until Tuesday. I have a runner in my leggings. I confess that they are BCG brand (one of my favorite, inexpensive brands of athletic clothing found at Academy Sports) so they probably weren’t meant to last forever. Good thing I kept three pairs of leggings for my “bottoms” category. Still peeved but prepared to make the best of it by using that pair for home only and perhaps under a tunic/dress.

That’s all for this week. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU for taking the time to read this. It’s nice to have company along the journey. Cheers!

P.S. I added a few more pictures on The Closet Countdown Page.

*The sarong is pictured in a photo in my Mini Minimalism Experiment: Three Days One Dress.

Minimalism. Just. Got. Real.

Sad painting

“When I diagnose my depression now, I think it was partially about saying goodbye to these kids that I always expected to have but already knew that I wouldn’t.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Years ago, I had a crazy idea to put most of my things in the attic. I’m still going through them. Since the beginning of this year, I have braved the cold and heat of the storage space to chip away at the pile of boxes and random bags of things I don’t need. Piece by piece, I have lightened my load significantly. I am almost finished. I have only a few boxes left.

So close. Yet so far away.

At first, going up there was fun. Discovering boxes of things I could easily get rid of was thrilling. But now there are few surprises. The boxes that are up there are there because I’ve been putting them off. I know what’s in them. And this is where minimalism and I must get very real with each other.

The box I must face next is plain, average sized, and labeled “baby clothes”.

Minimalism and personal development seem to go hand in hand. Do we choose minimalism because we are ready to start dealing with our emotional inventory? Or does the internal work come with the commitment to minimalism? All I know from my experience so far is that it’s happening at the same time. In committing to dealing with the things from my past – things I don’t need anymore and things I hide from myself – I am committing to deal with the emotions and memories from my past as well. Not an easy task for me.

The baby clothes are mine. My mother saved them for me. I kept them in the past because they reminded me of my fabulous early childhood spent in San Salvador and Naples. I don’t remember but I imagine myself wearing them while scooting around with my parents from place to place where strangers would pinch my cheeks and touch my blond hair. As if holding the fabric would bring all that back to my mind somehow. But there is another reason I still have my old baby clothes.

I kept them in case I had a daughter someday.

Years ago, we tried to have a baby. I’ve always wanted children. Because I worked with kids so much, I reckoned I’d be an awesome mommy. I’ve attended five home births. I’ve studied homeschooling and taught homeschooled children. I’m great with kids, most of my friends have them, my sisters have them, I’m pretty sure it would make my mother’s year if I had them. It’s what women my age do…right?

I didn’t get pregnant. Instead of going through a lot of trouble to “make it happen”, I searched my soul and found something unexpected: I don’t want to have kids. I made the decision (and until my biological clock stops ticking, I continue to make the decision) with eyes wide open. I made it knowing all about the beauty and rewards of being a mother. I made it even though I knew it would disappoint people. I made it because I looked at my life and decided to put everything I could be as a mother into the lives of other women’s children – and into my relationship with my favorite man on the planet.

Getting rid of the box does not mean my decision is final. If I ever change my mind or if Mother Nature has other plans, I can always buy baby clothes. But getting rid of that box feels like a message to the universe. Not a reminder of my regrets but the decision to intentionally disappoint people. The decision to leave a few dreams behind so I can build new ones.

I know I don’t have to get rid of it. I’m not a hardcore minimalist. Not yet. I just don’t want to hide things anymore – things, emotions, or anything else. I don’t want to have things I’m not willing to face. I don’t want a box of beautiful of baby clothes to rot so I can tell my mother I saved them for her someday grandchildren.

Minimalism is not just about things. It’s about facing the past. It’s about facing the future. It’s about getting very real with who we are and what we want out of life. I believe our physical life is a representation of our internal, emotional state. I have a long way to go before I can say I’m a minimalist. But box by box, I’m getting there. I force myself to deal with the things I keep hidden.  With each decision to keep or get rid of something, I decide where I’m going and who I want to be.

A box of baby clothes is not just a box. It’s an opportunity to create my journey and move forward. Nothing hidden. No regrets.

The Closet Countdown: Weekly Update #4

20130728-101007.jpgIt’s been four weeks since I started The Closet Countdown and the honeymoon phase is pretty much over. I still remain positive about trying it. Determined to see it through. A strange mix of optimism and stubbornness, I know. It’s working for me so far.

I miss t-shirts. I kept one of my man’s white v-neck Hanes shirts to sleep in or wear with shorts if I needed to. Love it. But I wish I had a few more. The tops I kept are versatile – I can wear most of them to work, work out, or go out. They are even comfy enough for just hanging out around the house. But I miss some of my girlie, fitted, soft cotton t-shirts. I may not get rid of t-shirts when this is over.

I also miss some of my other summer dresses. If you’ve read any of my previous updates, you know that my Lily Dress makes me very happy and is a GREAT summer dress. It’s everything I need in easy going clothing. But this week, I missed my vintage cotton dress. It’s a beautiful hassle: cotton fabric requires ironing, extra under clothing, and special washing instructions. But I still love it.

20130728-101048.jpgI think a big part of minimalism is discovering what you really need and what you don’t want to live without. There are things that hold us back and there are things that lift us up. I find joy in figuring out how that applies to each item in my closet – and my life.

On a different – and less whiny – note, I did not wear my Lily dress out this week (gasp. shock. suprise!). I did wear it to play outside with kiddos but for a change of pace, I went with another great travel gem: the Merrell Emery dress. Dinner at a friend’s house on Wednesday and then out and about to brunch and a movie on the weekend. I even slept in it because I was behind on laundry (and I don’t have any extra t-shirts). The fabric is so soft. I changed the look of the dress by adding a little thing I use to help keep my sarong in place. Not sure what it’s called but it’s made of coconut shell and has two holes. Changed the look of the dress and I loved it.

20130728-101106.jpg  20130728-101801.jpg

I found another shirt I do not love. I want to love it. I really do. But it’s not a Hell Yeah. So I had to let it go. I’m down to 53 items now. Might have to go grab a couple of t-shirts to supplement. 🙂

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, commenting, and encouraging. It helps keep me going. Cheers!