Everything I’ve Bought so far in 2016

Okay, 13 things. That’s not horrible in 2.5 months, right? And technically it’s 18 things (when I was snapping away, I forgot about my oil diffuser and four cloth napkins). Still, not an insignificant number if you are trying to live with less.

But that’s okay. Cath and I have not considered ourselves minimalists in any strict sense. That’s why we are learning to live with less. Living with less isn’t a fixed goal. I don’t think once I own only 200 items, I’ll be complete! Or once I stop buying things, I’ll have reached an inner contentment (oh, if only it were so easy). It’s learning how little I can live with without feeling too restricted. And I honestly think that is different for everybody and will change for you depending on where you’re at in the rollercoaster of life.

I started getting rid of stuff five years ago right before I moved overseas. I got rid of a lot so that I could move to Edinburgh with just two wheelie suitcases in tow. At the time it felt liberating!

And then, a few months after wearing the same staples in my wardrobe again and again, I lost my mojo.

I currently have a very small closet (compared to my pre-Scotland days) but it took me a few years to figure out how to create a small closet/wardrobe that I love and don’t feel restricted by.

So don’t feel discouraged if you take three steps forward and two steps back when you’re learning to live with less. You will buy new stuff and possibly regret getting rid of certain things, but overall, learning about what you really love and need is the joyful part of this process.

And even the process won’t stay the same for you. What you love and need will change with your life. That might sound obvious, but I definitely didn’t get that when I first started getting rid of things.

After getting rid of things five years ago, I really thought “okay, now I won’t ever have to worry about shopping again — I’ll just replace what I have once pieces get too worn.” But my style has changed and so have my editing abilities. Give yourself some breathing room as you learn and as external changes happen in your life.

The same goes with KonMari-ing. When I KonMaried my flat in Edinburgh, the method worked perfectly for me and for the next year that I lived in that flat. Once we moved back to the States, methods that worked in my old flat didn’t translate as well here — so I’m still figuring that out.

And “figuring stuff out” is all part of it. So enjoy the process and don’t worry if you feel like you aren’t always adhering to your rules (or Marie Kondo’s rules) perfectly. Being too restrictive or hard on yourself will make any process unsustainable. Learning to live with less is all about what works best for you, while helping sustain our beautiful wee place in the universe.

16 thoughts on “Everything I’ve Bought so far in 2016”

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Lar, I swear this is just what I needed to hear this morning. I so appreciate your insight into the three steps forward, two steps back feeling. I definitely struggle with fixating on an end-goal and sometimes losing patience with the process it takes to get there. Or maybe I’m just not patient with MYSELF. I told Sam the other day “I don’t think I really am a *perfectionist*–– I’m just a do-my-absolute-bestest-all-the-time-ist…!” LOL! >< What a ridiculous and impossible standard to hold myself to! We laughed. Ahhh, it's good to laugh. 😉

    "Being too restrictive or hard on yourself will make any process unsustainable." PREACH, sister!! So applicable to simple living–– or just straight-up living living.

    1. Haha! Ellen, I love that! Cath and I can both me do-my-absolute-bestest-all-the-time-ist too! So we totally know what that’s like. It’s one reason I wrote the blog post — to remind myself to let me off the hook some times.

  2. I love this post! Because it’s all so true. I think a lot of people think minimalism is getting rid of everything that’s not absolutely necessary. Or that you should have two black tshirts and one button-up white blouse to have the perfect starter wardrobe. Or that consumerism in general is bad. I think whenever something gets categorized by absolutes, it becomes fake and unrealistic.

    I know you think you’ve purchased a lot since January, but it’s really impressive how little you have! For me I haven’t purchased many clothes, but I’ve kind of made up for that on the make-up front. When I walk into a drugstore, I can’t help myself. I must have a new lipstick! Gotta work on that one. . .

    1. Exactly! I know I’m terrible when I focus on absolutes. It will work really great at the beginning and that okay for a while and then I feel too restricted and pitch the whole thing in.

      I totally think it makes sense too that we all have weaknesses with certain things — like you say no so many times and then at the end of a long, stressful day you see a bunch of pretty lipsticks at Target — that’s so hard to keep saying no. But you’ll get their Kitcath! Don’t be hard on yourself!


  3. I got rid of nearly everything when I moved to Edinburgh as well, although some of the beloved stuff to heavy or hard to cart in suitcases is still in storage Stateside. When I read Marie Kondo she promised that you basically do this purge just once and it somehow just maintains, but I find that it is an evolutionary process as well.

    1. Hi Deserae! I hope you made it through the Edinburgh winter okay — the days are getting longer now, aren’t they? I do think with Marie Kondo one big purge sets you up for a while and then you sort of learn the rhythm of whittling things down and reviewing what you have — so true!

  4. I think that once you’ve done that first purge and change your mindset it becomes easier to maintain, but part of maintaining is also purging further down the line – I just think that if you apply the principles you probably won’t need another large purge again unless you move, redecorate or change in style.
    I do think that what “sparks joy” is definitely an evolutionary process, I have noticed a few times that certain items that initially sparked joy, didn’t a few months down the line, so I threw them out – but as I now have less and am more focused on appreciating what I do have, it’s easier to weed those out now.
    I haven’t been KonMari-ing that long yet but for me, not even a full year, but the changes I have made in that year defo feel like maintenance to me as supposed to another overhaul.
    Great job on the amount of stuff you have bought so far – 18 doesn’t seem excessive to me! I mostly try to focus on buying things I really need or want (aka sparks joy – and will actually make use of) as supposed to mindless shopping.

    1. BTW – how do you guys handle the whole spark joy thing with online shopping – I find it really hard to do. I find myself doing more and more shopping in actual shops, with the occasional foray online if they didn’t have my size or I am trying to find it cheaper elsewhere.

      1. Michelle, that’s a great question. I usually find with online shopping if I think it’s sparking joy (aka I’ve put it in a shopping cart and then wait a few days, even a week, and can’t stop thinking about it), I’ll buy it. But if I get it, and realise it’s not exactly what I wanted or doesn’t actually spark joy when I hold it in my hands, I will return it. I hate the faff of returning things, but I’ve been much better about it since doing the Kon Marie method. Hope that helps you when you are shopping online!
        x L

    2. Michelle, I totally agree with you! I do think with an initial big purge you do change your mind-set. I haven’t done another big purge again and I find the process of getting rid of other things has been much easier. I’ve also found that what “sparks joy” changes, not just with my tastes but also where I am. My rain boots spark way more joy in Seattle than in Edinburgh (no body except for tourists wear them there ;D).
      And well done you, for shopping (or not shopping) so mindfully. Most days I’m pretty good, but once in a while I buy things without thinking them through all the way.

  5. Lar, I loved this article, especially your point that editing abilities evolve and strengthen. I think this is an important skill that Marie Kondo glosses over in her book – if you can buy with a discerning eye or with intent, you have succeeded in minimalism while balancing happiness! Although that could just be my justifying purchasing new laundry baskets (her point about not buying organizational/storage equipment hit me hard, haha.)

    Could you elaborate a bit on what you mean when you say KonMari worked in Edinburgh but doesn’t suit your new space in the US? I’m struggling with a version of this myself in that I live in a studio (with my boyfriend!) and I find myself pseudo KonMari-ing with regret. Like, “I could sell this end table now since it’s not working in this tiny apartment, but what if we move to a one bedroom and we don’t have symmetrical bedsides?!” I’m curious how different spaces determined your purging.

    1. Hi Research Warrior!

      Thanks so much for reading! Actually, it’s interesting you mention your laundry baskets because I did end up buying some organizational “furniture” in our new apartment in Seattle. Whereas in Edinburgh, I bought a small Muji organizer for my makeup but everything else somehow fit perfectly in boxes or drawers I already had.

      The biggest difference between my place in Edinburgh and my place back in the states is that we now have a lot more room and a lot more storage which actually made it harder for me to be as good about editing down what we have. I’m sitting next to a closet in our living room that could do with another edit, but silently ignoring it until we feel a little more settled. I’m also aware that with more space, I might acquire more stuff just because I can — so I’m finding I have to be a lot more aware when I’m out shopping.

      Also, moving back to the states, we had no furniture because our flat in Edinburgh came furnished. So we had to buy the basics: a bed, a couch, a table and chairs. Going through all that buying made it kind of hard to stop when we didn’t really NEED any more stuff. So I’m still trying to settle back into my European-mode of not buying stuff just because I can.

      I totally understand how you feel about that end table too because I do have a few pieces of furniture at my parents’ house on the east coast that I’m sneakily keeping at their place until we get more settled. That said, though, I’m thinking of getting rid of these items (a lamp and a kitchen table) because I do find holding on to things that might work later usually weighs me down. You might not find that with your end tables. If you really love your end table and don’t think you could find one similar again, definitely keep it. For my poor lamp and kitchen table, they did spark joy but not quite as much any more.

      Sheesh! Sorry for the ramble! I hope that helped a wee bit!


    2. You know, Ieas thinking about that, I don’t think Marie Kondo was necessarily saying buying organisational devices isn’t allowed, just that they are not a prerequisite to a tidy house and given that everything should spark joy, I think that if you van organise everything to your satisfaction with what you already have, that is great, but if what you have doesn’t quite work for you, get/make something that does work and does make you feel happy and sparks joy. I think her point was to contemplate what works for you and your space, don’t just mindlessly buy because some tidying guru or marketing/advertising campaign tells you it will solve all your problems.

  6. “What you love and need will change with your life.” So true. I got rid of a lot during our KonMari tidying session, but I’ve also bought a lot of workout wear for the number of Bar Method classes I’ve been doing.

    I love this “Be gentle on yourself during the journey” philosophy!

    1. Yes, exactly, Lisa! I didn’t work out very much when I was KonMari-ing and I’ve ramped it up since we’ve been in Seattle. We now own a pair of hefty weights (and might even buy a medicine ball!) that I never ever thought I would own in my pre-gym days. I love hearing about your progress with the Bar Method. It’s so inspiring!

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