Neutral cardigan and the absence of joy

I love Marie Kondo’s phrase of ‘does this spark joy?’ when reviewing an item, but sometimes think it’s overstating how I feel.  My raincoat doesn’t exactly spark joy but I wouldn’t be without it.  So, I’ve tended to use The Minimalists’ phrase of ‘does this add value to my life?’.  This suits me better and allows me to make sensible choices when deciding what to keep or what to de-clutter.

But I have found that there are cases when ‘joy’ describes what ‘value’ can’t.  That’s when I understand why Konmari uses the word ‘joy’.

Some time ago, I came across a cardigan in a neutral, stone colour.  I immediately thought, ‘this will be so useful – the neutral colour will go with everything – it will be (that holy grail item) a wardrobe staple’.  I also thought that it was a bit ‘meh’ but I sensibly tamped down this feeling!

I bought it, took it home and hung it in the middle of my capsule wardrobe.  I felt pleased with myself for my sensible decision and was confident that it would add value to my wardrobe.

But here’s the thing – it didn’t spark joy.  It felt worthy and sensible and practical – but I never looked forward to wearing it.  The colour didn’t suit me, I felt I had to shrug my shoulders constantly to make it sit right and it always felt a bit dull – and this coming from someone who wears black A LOT!

I valued the practicality over the joy and, on this occasion, it didn’t work out.

Now, I have a pair of plain, black trousers – I love them, not only the trousers themselves, but because they go with so many items.  They look professional for work, I feel pulled together when I wear them and they’re comfortable.  Others may look at them and think ‘dull’!  But they spark joy for me. 

I think joy and value are unique, individual feelings.  The cardigan has helped me to distinguish between erring too much on the logical side and being comfortable with a gut feeling.

So, I’ve let the cardigan go, with no regrets.  Are you ever torn between practicality and joy?  Which wins?!!  Have a great week 🙂

Fear and clothing in Hartley Wintney

You know when you’re so enthusiastic about something that you actually put someone off?!

I was talking to a friend last week – she complimented me on my dress and I thanked her.

‘Of course, you do that capsule wardrobe thing, don’t you?’ she said.

‘Yes’, I replied.  ‘I love it – I’d never go back to how I was before.  It’s so easy to get dressed now and I’ve got more time and I’m wearing all of my favourite clothes and ….’

‘I could never do it’ she blurted, with a look of mild panic in her eyes.  ‘I mean, it’s okay for you but it just wouldn’t work for me’.

Foolishly, I ignored the warning signals.  ‘But that’s what’s so great about it – I think it could work for everyone – although in different ways.  You could adjust it to suit your own lifestyle’.

‘No’ she replied firmly.  And then she started to list reasons why she thought it wouldn’t work for her.  She ended by saying she would dread the process and I could see she was genuinely fearful of the perceived disruption and loss that may accompany it.  At one point, I think she was afraid I would turn up on her doorstep with a roll of bin-bags under my arm and the light of battle in my eyes as I anticipated a massive clear-out!

But I was cross with myself that I’d put her in a position where she felt the need to explain and justify.

The poor girl just wanted to give me a compliment on my dress – she probably won’t do that again in a hurry!!

She thought I was trying to convert her but I felt I was just sharing my enthusiasm.

This is why my blog and my readers are so important to me – I feel I am connecting with like-minded people who share an approach to living with less and greater simplicity – all to varying degrees.  I don’t feel I have many other people like that around me, so my enthusiasm can sometimes get the better of me.

Tips for not alienating those around you!

  • Don’t evangelize! I didn’t embrace this process overnight so why would I think someone else would?
  • If others see me being more content with less, it may spark questions or an interest – but it may not and that’s perfectly fine.
  • Some people have a genuine fear of missing out, doing with less, regretting de-cluttering, missing a favourite dress, shopping less or what they feel is wasting money – these are all valid emotions and ones I have had myself over the last few years.
  • Show – don’t tell! Try not to impose a view on someone who has not shown a genuine desire to change.

Has your enthusiasm ever taken over?!  Have a great week 🙂

Image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.co.uk

De-cluttering my books

Emboldened by my success in de-cluttering my clothes, some months ago I started to de-clutter my books.

The wise Ms. Kondo, in her Life-Changing Magic of Tidying advises de-cluttering books, after clothes, and this is good advice.  If I had started with books, I would never have moved past them.  But de-cluttering my wardrobe has enabled me to view my books more dispassionately.

I think we have to build up our de-cluttering muscles over time.

I found going through my books a lot harder and far more personally challenging.  I love my books in a way I could never love my clothes. But when I started to question why I had so many, I found quite a parallel with the reasons I had been hanging onto clothes:

  • Many of my books bring me a lot of joy and certainly add value – but not all of them.
  • I like to re-read many of my books – but not all of them.
  • Some of them were purchased new on impulse but I didn’t reach for them – instead I re-read an old favourite.
  • I was reading 20% of my library 80% of the time.
  • Some books I had for years and years – and I was no longer the same person who once found value in them.
  • If I liked a book that was in a series, then I had to collect the whole series, regardless of whether I liked each individual book or not.
  • My tastes have started to lean more and more to non-fiction, yet most of my books are fiction – they don’t align with who I am as much as they used to.

When I moved from Ireland to the UK some years ago, I paid a lot of money for each and every book I owned to be transported over – a costly and time-consuming exercise.  Then they were stored in boxes for months and, to be honest, I would have had a hard time remembering what I had.  But when I eventually opened the boxes and saw my books again, I was flooded with joy and relief.  Looking back, I can see I tied up a lot of my identity with my beloved books.  Moving to a country where I knew no-one reinforced my books as friends and anchor points.

I have quite a few books on my Kindle also but am always mindful of digital clutter – it can be far more insidious than physical clutter as it’s almost invisible and so harder to spot.

I had three book-cases and now have one.  There are some books I think I could never give away but that’s fine – I know now what brings joy and I’m happy with what I have.  Some favourites include:

  • Edith Holden’s The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady – beautiful drawings, that could never be replaced by a Kindle version.
  • Pamela Brown’s The Swish of the Curtain – a children’s book that started my life-long passion for the theatre
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – a timeless classic and all-time favourite
  • Somerville & Ross’s The Irish RM and his Experiences – written in 1899 and still hilarious
  • An old, grimy textbook published in 1814, An Easy Introduction to the Arts and Sciences – it’s described on its first page as ‘useful and polite learning’ – how can you not love that description?!
  • And of course Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – a constant source of inspiration!

Have you had any similar experiences?  Have a great week 🙂

Packing for US Holiday – review

I had a terrific holiday in the US – a highlight were the beautiful sunsets in St. Pete’s Beach – and my capsule worked out quite well.  There were some successes and some learning…

 

Successes:

  • I find so much value in my packing cubes! They make life simpler, seem to magically reduce the space the clothes take up and make everything easier to find!
  • I aimed to bring about 75% of what I thought I’d actually need, rather than 100%. I ended up wearing every item packed so now wonder whether I could have managed with less – maybe aim for 50% next time.
  • My medium sized suitcase was perfectly adequate and easy to carry.
  • I re-wore many items – my travel steamer was worth its weight in gold.
  • I adopted The Minimalists’ maxim of distinguishing from ‘just in case’ items to ‘just for when’ and it worked well.
  • I’m so glad I packed a little cardigan – between the coolness of the plane and the high air-conditioning indoors, I wore it nearly every day.

 

Learning:

  • Too many shoes! I brought four pairs (a huge improvement on previous holidays) but could have managed perfectly fine with three.
  • I didn’t count on thunderstorms and torrential downpours so my most worn item was an attractive plastic rain cape!
  • I over-packed my make-up bag – it was too hot to wear much and what I did wear slid off quickly – some major down-sizing has already taken place.

This time around, my travels have not only broadened my mind but restricted my packing!  Do you have any key learning points from holiday packing to share?  Have a great week 🙂

 

Summer Capsule – 14 tops!

What was I thinking?! 

Some time ago, I wrote about my disquiet regarding this summer’s capsule wardrobe .  I felt it hadn’t gelled as well as it might have done but I wasn’t sure why.  I was also slightly bemused as to why I felt the need to include 14 tops (pictures of some below!)

I got some insightful comments in response to the couple of posts I discussed this in – especially from The Change Agent, Stay at Home Minimalist, Enchanted Outlook, Introvertomatic and Value Simplicity – sincere thanks to you all – check out their brilliant blogs.  They pointed out that minimalism is not the pursuit of perfectionism, but a journey full of learning and experiences.

So I ventured back into my capsule and reviewed it.  I had a pair of trousers that did not flatter me at all but were such a useful colour.  I had a perfectly nice, well-cut skirt that I hardly wore because I reached for the unflattering trousers instead!  And I had 14 tops!  Guess what?

Turns out I’m not wearing them all!

I know!  I can feel your amazement through cyberspace, as you throw your hands up in disbelief!!

What was I thinking?

You see, I loved them all.  And they were good for different occasions.  But one of my goals is to have my clothes cross over from a work to a casual capsule effortlessly and not exist in siloes.  Yet this is what I did.   Also, summer clothes are a bit of a novelty in the UK and I wanted to include everything, not knowing when I might wear it again.  Some of my other pieces I can carry from season to season, but pretty summer tops?  Not so much.

So my blogger friends helped me put things in perspective, re-visit my capsule, swap some things out and just chill.  While the number 33 is only a framework, I noticed I started with 35.  I changed to 31 and am so much happier.

Turns out less is not just more, less is enough. Have a great week 🙂

Holiday Packing

Does anyone else get excited about packing for a holiday? I’m going to the US for 10 days and cannot wait!!

 

I know that, to some, packing can be a chore but I love it!

I enjoy the planning aspect – it leads to anticipation and heightens the whole holiday experience for me.

I also feel that it is compulsory minimalism and I mean that in a positive way because:

  • It’s a brilliant time to try out a capsule wardrobe, if you were thinking of dipping a toe in the water
  • The clothes contained in your suitcase comprise your capsule
  • If you didn’t pack exactly what you wanted, then it’s a chance to be creative, not an opportunity to shop!

A bit of forethought and planning can go a long way.

I have a fair idea of what the weather will be like and what activities we have planned:

  • A bit of sight-seeing
  • Dining out
  • Time on the beach
  • A lot of playing with my nephews
  • Some chill-out time for Mr. Minimal-Lol and me

So it’s just a case of finding clothes that are suitable for all these activities and that can be mixed and matched. I have no anxiety when it comes to repeating outfits or pieces, which makes it easier still.

My planning self has developed a little cheat sheet to help me plan and pack. I want to wear my clothes at least 2 or 3 times each, with some pieces, like accessories, being worn almost every day. And it’s so easy to give clothes a quick wash, if they require freshening up – my summer pieces are light and dry quickly.

I’ll bring a small suitcase – ideally I would really like to travel with hand luggage only – but I won’t for fear of Mr. M-L fainting in horror. (Some day I will write a blog post about a minimalist living with a ‘maximalist’ – he may need a suitcase for his shoes alone!!).

I have tried to heed the lovely Courtney Carver’s advice – the founder of Project 333. She advises you to pack for half the number of days you are actually away. I don’t think I’ve quite hit that mark but maybe about 75%? Baby steps!

But I will be reviewing what I actually wore versus what I packed. I do this every time I go away and have ended up with quite a robust formula for a weekend away – just need to extend this for a slightly longer period of time.

Anyone have any words of wisdom for packing? Or for travelling in the US? Have a great week 🙂

Mystery Blogger Award – Answers & Nominees

Dear all,

The lovely Onyx-Natasha at Value Simplicity nominated me for this award.  I didn’t even know what a blogger award was and had to do some research!  But it sounds like a lot of fun and I’m so grateful to Onyx-Natasha for including me in this.  What a lovely way to build the community of bloggers and find out a bit more about each other and our blogs 🙂

Okoto Enigma created this award to recognise brilliant, inspirational and sometimes lesser known blogs.  She called it the Mystery Blogger Award, as a play on the name of her blog ‘Enigma’.  Click here to find out more about it.

Rules of Award:

  1.  Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. Nominate 10-20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice, with one weird/funny question!
  9. Share a link to your best post

Onyx-Natasha’s questions for me were:

  1. Who inspires you?  Anyone who has the integrity to walk to the beat of their own drum
  2. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would they be?   Anne Tyler, my favourite author
  3. What meal would you serve them?   Salade Caprese with home-made bread
  4. What is one question that you would ask that person?  What is the overlap between memory and imagination when writing a novel?
  5. Do you have a party trick that is unique to you and you alone?  It’s not a trick but I make a mean Margarita cocktail, which is always a favourite at parties – does that count?!!

Based on the number of views and comments, I think my best post is the one where I write about why I first became interested in minimalism.

3 things about me:

  1.  My name is Lorraine and my family and close friends call me Lol – but when I sign off at the end of an email, blog post or comment using Lol, it is sometimes interpreted as me ‘laughing out loud’ – not always appropriate given the tone of the post or comment!!!
  2. I have a lovely fur baby – my cat Cody – who turns my house into a home.
  3. I studied sign language for a few years and received a qualification at the end – Irish sign language is the most beautiful language I know.

My 10 Nominees are:

  1.  The Change Agent
  2. Introvertomatic
  3. Stay At Home Minimalist
  4. From Type A to Type Ahh
  5. The Casual Stylist
  6. Green Lights Ahead
  7. Good and Goodbye
  8. The Healthful Saver
  9. Autumn Whewell
  10. Minimalist Marketer

My 5 questions are:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. What is the best thing about blogging, for you?
  3. What book/film speaks to you most?
  4. Where would you most like to visit?
  5. Do you have a nickname?!

Thanks to all of you who joined in and to the brilliant Onyx-Natasha – I look forward to reading all your responses 🙂