Constant Culling

Today I went through the regular motions of getting ready to leave the house – got dressed, attempted to calm my hair, ate something, etc. It was after glancing in the mirror while brushing my teeth that I made the big decision: “I don’t like this shirt”. Decision made, I headed upstairs after teeth were fully scrubbed, changed my shirt, and placed the offending garment in my current Good-bye Bag. No second-guessing, no last minute reprieve, just done and moved on.

Minimalism, being tidy, and all things similar are quite trendy right now. Which is good, I guess, as long as for the majority the trend phase of these movements shifts into the habit phase. It would be nice to have purchases become more thoughtful, rather than the time-wasters and high-givers they are know. But that is another topic for another time.

I have always been a shopper of used things. My mom taught by example by taking us to garage sales on a regular basis, and they continued to be a normal way to acquire goods as I got older. Stores like Goodwill are usually our first stops when we want to shop, and the thrill of finding treasures has gotten to be quite addictive. But while shopping used is a great way to recycle – and often save money – it doesn’t mean that we automatically have fewer things. In fact, sometimes the fact that an item is inexpensive is often a justification for buying something I do not need. Unfortunately, it is also a justification I sometimes use too often.

Generally, I have TOO MANY CLOTHES. I keep them because feel I need to justify the purchase. You know the feeling, right? The feeling that you have to wear something so many times so that you get enough “use” out of it to justify paying for it, that the cut/color/style/length/pattern/fit really aren’t that bad; in fact, other people say the item looks fine on me, so I should keep wearing it! So silly, I know. But we do it anyway, and things accumulate. Sure, you can do some deep cleaning occasionally and get rid of all of those extras, but that isn’t enough for me. Sometimes I need to get rid of something RIGHT NOW, just finally make that decision and be done with it. Hence, the Good-bye Bag.

We usually have 2 or 3 boxes or bags going at any one time to collect those things that we finally realize we can do without. Once an item gets collected it is considered gone from our lives. No more hemming and hawing about it – we don’t need it or like it, let it move on. Then, when we are running errands we can take those boxes and bags to drop off along the way.

This is something that has taken some practice to be a habit – and to recognize when something is not valued in our house. But that practice has taken off and helps us recognize when it is ok to get rid of something. An affect of that has also been that we are more thoughtful (well, sometimes – nothing is 100%) when we do make a purchase. For example, I can now look at clothes and remember that I historically do not like a certain fabric, or design detail, a shape, whatever, and won’t try to convince myself otherwise. Being aware of those things makes me feel better about myself when I can decide NOT to make a purchase, because I know that it won’t make me happy in the long term. Speaking from experience.

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