Taking a Face-Break

I think I’ve coined a new term. Taking a Face-break. If there was an urban dictionary definition for this it would be:

Face-break  – Taking a break from social media sites such as Facebook to remind oneself the world is not all a bad place full of trolls, bad news and that there is more to life than scrolling through someone’s holiday photos.

Now before anyone shouts at me for calling out the holiday photos, that is actually one of my favourite things on Facebook. I love seeing pictures of my friends off having fun, and going to places. However I can literally spend hours looking at Facebook. You know, you log on with a cup of tea, have a scroll and two hours later, you’re still there watching a racoon submerge itself in a bowl of cereal wondering where your life went.

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One woman’s rubbish is another’s new outfit

It’s been a while since I’ve turned to minimalism on the blog, it’s all been about this turning 40 business, mixed with a bit of mindfulness, but minimalism is still a great passion of mine and I am proud of how my wife and I have reduced our belongings and our needs.

Alongside this reduction in things, I’ve seen an increase in time spent together, in improved wellbeing  – I feel calmer, happier and more organised –  and in the time spent in experiencing things, rather than tidying, cleaning and paying for it all.

Yet there are still key areas that I can’t get round with minimalism; my wardrobe, throwing things away and reducing the waste we produce.

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The clothes buying ban – an update

So it’s been nearly a month now since the self imposed buying ban. If you have no idea what I am on about, you can read my post here on the decision not to buy any clothes for a 6 month period. The aim of this torturous activity was to identify why I kept buying so many clothes, many of which did not satisfy the feeling I was looking for in buying them for the first place.

So in a month have I collapsed and bought a mountain of cloth? Am I gnawing at my fingers, desperate for a new top? Surprisingly not, although there have been some mild panic induced moments, particularly when a sale pops up unawares outside of my mail filtering tools.

Initially I made a note of what I chose to wear and realised I do have a style without even realising it. I like plain clothes in slightly alternative styles with contrasting and bright accessories or layers. So a black dress with a floral blazer, or a colour block dress with a bright yellow necklace. I do not like fuss in clothes. So plain lines, not too many pleats, no frills and definitely no rips. Pretty much your classic shift/sweater dress , a blazer, a shirt or a t-shirt. Nothing too fancy. For work I like a one piece dress and a blazer or a cardigan. For home I like jeans or jeggings and a tunic, or a shirt or t-shirt. I like to have a couple of day dresses for occasions and a few outfits for more swish occasions. I like plain colours and I like bold patterns. I like dark neutrals and bright brights. I do not like anything in between like tie die or little diamonds or god forbid beige or baby blue. So I knew this already, but it was buried in me. I was trying to find an alternative style, to be something I’m not.

Why has it taken me soooo long to work this out? And we’re talking the whole two years I’ve been practicing minimalism , not just a few weeks. I’ve been buying clothes on a pretty regular basis, in fairly consistent quantities for ages. I buy them, I look at them, I might wear them a few times and then mindfulness takes over and I realise I don’t feel great in them.

Taking this purchase pause is allowing me to breathe…it’s taken away the impulse to buy because I’ve told myself I can’t. I’ve also gotten more creative with clothing. So I used some Dylon dye and I’ve dyed a purple  tweed blazer ( one word, why?) that’s been hanging in my wardrobe for ages a lovely shade of indigo and I’ve employed my not so great hand sewing skills to turn a denim dress I’m bored of into a peplum top I really love. I’m pretty proud of this. With less in my wardrobe and nowhere to turn I’m looking at what I’ve got and thinking ‘what can I do with this?’ I’ve not run out of clothes yet, and everything I’ve worn I feel good in. I feel like ‘me’. No I can’t explain it either but I think it’s about being more mindful about my wardrobe and thinking ‘What do I actually like to wear?’

I still have just over five months to go so we’re not out of the woods yet – there’s still the fact I’ve got a pretty small winter wardrobe, so layering will have to be the order of the day and I have to get past the lure of the January sale…My ban ends in March and my current aim is to buy a few pieces then to compliment what I know I love.

Fancy working better with your wardrobe? Here’s some tips to get you started

  1. A purchase pause. Even if it feels like going cold turkey and you can only do it for a month, resisting the urge to spend all your free income on a few new ‘bits’ to tart up your wardrobe and going back to look at what you have will really help you gain perspective
  2. Upcycle it – Can you dye the t-shirt you’d quite like if it was a darker shade? Can you take up the hem on the maxi you’d love as a knee length dress? Will altering the sleeves or changing the neckline give you a new outfit? Give it a try
  3. Clothes swap – Lots of cities and towns now have clothes swapping parties- the crux with this one is you have to be the same size as someone else which as a large woman leaves you with little option but if you can find a party that works for you, then you can create yourself a new wardrobe for nothing and get rid of your old stuff to boot
  4. Put things into seasons – even if you’re short on space, making your wardrobe seasonal is a better way to see what you have and haven’t got, and what you might need. That way you get rid of those jumpers in summer, and when it comes to pulling them out again, you’ve often forgotten what you had and you almost get a new wardrobe! You can use vaccum bags and store under the bed, or fill a suitcase.

Is there room for sentimentality in minimalism?

This is a question I’ve asked myself a number of times as I’ve sifted through old birthday cards, my diary from aged 12, photo’s of friends last seen 20 years ago and numerous paper clippings and school reports.

My wife says I am sentimental and that stops me throwing all these things out, but they occupy a whole chest and a desk that means we can’t get our bedding in, and that I am hanging on to an awful lot of stuff.

Many of us hold onto things for the memories; scrapbooking, buying a postcard, photos, keeping mementoes of a time gone. There are numerous blog posts and bits of advice on how to do it. Here’s mine;

  1. Look at each item individually – yes this may take a long time, but you need to be able to make a decision on each thing. Ask yourself what memories does it evoke? Happiness? Reminiscence of better times? The loss of a loved one?
  2. If you want, write a few words about what holding on to this gives you? Peace of mind, reassurance, motivation not to return there?
  3. Then ask yourself, are there other objects that might also bring these feelings? Can I hold these feelings in me, without an object? Can I keep a digital image of this object, and it would still bring out the same feelings? For example I keep all the birthday cards and letters my Nan sent me. She died two years ago and I miss her terribly. I also had some of her clothes and I just felt I couldn’t part with them. I have kept the birthday cards and letters for now, but just for big birthdays or where she’s written a lot in them. Then I used some of the material from her clothes to get a memory bear made. These are fabulous. You can have a little bear (in fact you can get most animals) made for you in a material that will hold memories of a loved one. You could keep photo’s of cards or items that bring you fond memories. They can still be evoked through a digital image.
  4. If you then realise you’re holding onto an item for reasons such as ‘it makes me feel young again’, ‘it reminds me of better times’, ‘it’s something that reminds me of my school days’, ask yourself if you were in a fire or a flood would you save these items? Do these items really make you feel younger, or are you just going back to a time when things were less complicated. Can you make changes in your life now that will bring those feelings?
  5. Create yourself three piles – to keep, not sure, to bin/recycle
  6. Pick up your next piece and start all over again !

 

So I did this myself at the weekend – I sifted through all of the chest and found things I didn’t know I had including;

The stage management prompt book I made for my theatre degree course

Newspaper cuttings from the year I graduated of the graduation ceremonies

Sorry you’re leaving cards

Birthday cards

Flyers from plays I wrote at school

All of my old creative writing for my Uni course.

Old sketches that were pretty rubbish

Art materials – I had a phase of doing life drawing. I loved it but it’s fair to say I was crap at it and mindfulness is my way of getting calmness in my life now

School Year Photo

Guest Book from 30th birthday

Guest Book from leaving school

Drawings and notes from my brothers when they were little

I took each one out and looked through them again. I marvelled at the fact I had to use a typewriter to write out my plays and essays at University. I laughed at some of the drawings I’d done at life class, and was impressed with one or two. I looked at the newspaper clippings, and the leaflets and the drawings and I had a real trip down memory lane. Then I took the six steps above and found;

  • I don’t need the plays and essays from Uni. I don’t write plays any more and I don’t actually know why I kept them.
  • I got rid of most of the cards apart from the one’s that had something really special on them
  • I kept the guest books as there were lots of memories from lots of people and I want to use my 30th guest book for my 40th (and 50th)
  • I kept the drawings and notes from my brothers as they were so precious
  • I have redistributed all the art materials to people who use them
  • I got rid of the massive prompt book I had at Uni as I am not even interested in stage management any more, and I never even liked the play!

The result is I have kept some of the thing that are more precious to me, that I will look at again. I have got rid of about 75% of what I was keeping and don’t miss it at all. We can now get all our sheets comfortably into the chest. Job done!