Shake off the ‘winter layers’, get rid of all the excess and BREATHE again!!!!
Listen… do you hear the birds singing? Do you hear nature awakening? Can you see the first blossoms on the trees? This is my favorite season: everything comes to life again! I love it! You can just feel the energy flowing, new life emerges everywhere.
Feel one with nature,
go out and
tap into that new, bubbling, rejuvenating energy.
This is the perfect season to clear out the cobwebs: not only in your house (part 1), but also in your body (part 2) and in your head (part 3). This week, I’ll talk about the clearing out of stuff in your house, next week I’ll talk about getting your body in shape again and the week after, about the letting go of all that is stuck in your mind.
Part 1: rebirth of your house.
It’s no coincidence that we have the tradition of ‘spring cleaning’, it feels so refreshing to open all the windows, to let the fresh air in, to clean the house, to get rid of all the clutter that has accumulated during winter time (or longer). During winter we stay inside, we curl up and sit around the fire, it’s dark, we tend to hoard and our energy is rather low, we live inwards. But now, as spring is in the air, it’s time to open up your house, to let in the fresh air, and breathe!!! Do yourself the biggest favor ever and get rid of all the stuff you don’t use, you don’t need, … stuff that is just laying around and eating away your energy. You’ll feel so much lighter when all your clutter is gone. If you want a guide to declutter your house, (body and mind), step by step, read my book “Less is Yes!” *, it’s a very practical and easy to follow guide. Part 1 is all about simplifying your house. You’ll be so happy to see your house getting cleaner, roomier and you’ll wonder how you survived all these years of living in this suffocating clutter which we so conveniently call cozy cushions, nice souvenirs, pretty decorations, … It takes courage to start but try it and see how you feel.
Go room by room, closet by closet, shelve by shelve, … take everything out, and make a triage**:
Trash, which goes out, are all the things that are broken, worn, useless.
Transfer, things that are still useful to someone but not you, put them all in a box and donate them, or let them get picked up by an organization that helps people in need.
Treasure, things you really need, things that you use, things that actually give you energy.
It seems like a huge task, and it is, but it is so worth it. Decide for yourself how you will get started: half an hour every day, an hour … or 1 day/week. Schedule it in your agenda. Make it as fun as possible. Put on your favorite music, take a picture before and after, get a buddy to go through the process together…. Whatever works for you. Then enjoy the result, savor every bit of energy you feel flowing again!!! Be proud of every inch you have decluttered!
A playful way of getting started, as a warming-up if you’d like, is to do the 30-Day Minimalism Game***. You get yourself a buddy and you choose a month to play the game. On day 1 you both get rid of 1 item in your house, take a picture, send it to each other and then get the item out of the house, otherwise you are just re-organizing your clutter. On day 2 you both get rid of 2 items, and so on until you’ve reached day 30 where you both get rid of 30 items. By the end of the month: 465 items will have left your house!!! It’s so much fun to do because sometimes the pictures are hilarious because of the odd items you have kept all those years, and most importantly, you are motivated because you do it together. It’s the perfect warming up to get the ‘real work’ started and to go over every room, every cupboard, …
Give it a chance because we are creatures of habit and every change feels uncomfortable at first. Be thorough and stick to the 3 T’s: trash, transfer and treasure. Choose just a few pieces that really make you happy, that put a smile on your face, real treasures, and hide what you’re not willing to let go of yet. You’ll see that, now, you actually notice what is on display, what is in your closet, and therefor you enjoy it so much more than when an object gets lost in other decorations, in other stuff, so that you don’t even notice it anymore. Once you’ve experienced for a while what you like and what stuff was just being here out of habit, you can start getting rid of things you never look at, never wear anymore. I love the story of the 3 vases of Courtney Carver, who is my wonderful mentor on my minimalism path. She had 3 vases in her bedroom which were a wedding gift, and as she was trying out what stuff made her happy and what not, she hid them for 3 months. Then she put them back. Because she knew she had not missed them, she said to her husband, I’ll get rid of those vases, they are just standing here, gathering dust and I don’t get any joy out of them. He said, no, don’t take them away, I’ll miss them. (That’s what happens with gifts: you think you are emotionally attached to them because they were a gift). She asked: did you notice they have been gone for 3 months? And he was flabbergasted, he had not even noticed they had been gone!!! That’s my point exactly, we keep a lot of things just out of habit, because we think we will miss it, but we don’t, because we think we have to hang on to them because they were a gift, but we don’t! Try it! You’ll feel that, once you have less stuff, the energy can flow freely and
you’ll experience more space,
you’ll enjoy breathing more freely,
you’ll have room to move around,
there’ll be less cleaning,
there’ll be less input because the more stuff you have around, the more visual stimuli you experience,
there’ll be less stress because less input means less stress, also less cleaning means less stress, less stuff equals less decision-making stress,
you’ll have more time to do fun stuff,
you’ll experience more freedom!
Start small, notice how it makes you feel and enjoy every step you’ve made. Remember you’ve gathered all your stuff over years and years of time, so be kind to yourself and realize it’s a process, go step by step, go slow but steady. You’ll notice, once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier and easier and it even becomes fun! I promise!
One particular closet, may cause you a lot of headache though …. and that is your wardrobe… I dedicated a whole chapter in my book* just to this one closet. Again, now, with the weather changing, it’s the perfect time to dig into that massive pile of clothes, shoes, handbags, …. and see what you actually enjoy wearing. Here again: make 3 piles: out, maybe, keep.
Out: everything that does not fit anymore, that is worn, that you never wear. See what you can donate and what goes directly to the trash.
Maybe: you can’t decide right now: wear it for one day and tag it: ‘liked it’ or ‘did not like it’. The ones you did not like: donate, transfer, them.
Keep: your absolute favorites: they fit you, they fit your lifestyle, they make you feel good, hence these are your treasures.
Especially this closet is a process, try things out, reconsider, get rid of all the ‘one day I may be wearing it’: if you haven’t worn these clothes for years, you’ll never wear them. Be very aware that you don’t fall into the trap of: now I have room in my closet, I’ll buy new stuff. You need room so that the energy can flow, you need space in your closet, you need to see all you have in 1 look. Try out what feels good, what you wear and what you don’t wear. If you do need new stuff, keep a rule: 1 in, 1 out or even 2 out. Only then you’ll keep a minimalist wardrobe.
If you want to take it one step further: read Courtney Carver’s Project 333****. She takes it to the next level by choosing 33 items every 3 months. Those are the items you’ll wear for these 3 months. You hide everything else. This is a process you optimize by doing it. In the end you’ll see clearly what you like, what you wear and what you can get rid of because you never pick these items. It’ll make you realize what your favorite things are and that they are all you need. We wear 20% of our wardrobe, 80% of the time. So, it’s very clear that we can drastically simplify our wardrobe and once you have created your capsule wardrobe , it’s so much fun because all you have in it, fits, and is what you adore wearing.
Another benefit of a capsule wardrobe is: less to choose from means no more decision-making stress because you actually see all the clothing you have and you can’t get it wrong because they are all your favorites.
Make the decision to simplify your life, make the decision to let the energy flowing freely through your house again. Plan it in your agenda, start the decluttering and enjoy the feeling of lightness that will come over you.
feel energetic again,
feel fresh and rejuvenated!
Next week, we’ll look at how we can ‘clean’ our body and get the energy flowing again so that we feel better, lighter, healthier, in better shape.
Thank you all for reading me!
*”Less is Yes!” by Katrien Degraeve.
**”The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay.
***30-day Minimalism Game by The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
****Project 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More by Courtney Carver.