#8 Prune Your Environment
When you prune your trees and shrubs you make way for the new growth, which comes in more beautiful and stronger. Can the same be true for us? If you prune your environment, you’ll make room for yourself and new growth.
After moving into the new house last year, unpacking my clothing in my new, GORGEOUS closet, I couldn’t shake a feeling I had. It’s hard to put into words, but it felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. As I hung up dress after dress, business suit after suit, and put away more pairs of heels than would fit on the floor to ceiling shoe wall, I sat down in the middle of the closet and burst into tears.
In part I was on overload from the stress of everything going on at that time and the other part was that It felt like all my STUFF was burying me. Sitting there on the floor, looking at everything in that closet, I saw… excess. Ridiculous excess. I sat there for a while and just looked. That’s when I made the decision to cull out everything, one-by-one, and get my wardrobe down to the basics. With a goal of simplifying and reducing stress I committed to getting my excessive, now inappropriate wardrobe to a minimum; “Get thee down to basics.”
#8’s suggestion is taking the Capsule Wardrobe approach to prime time and applying it to your entire environment. I am going through my house, one room – one bookcase, coffee table, closet at a time. Looking at each tchotchke, book, random pen and clicker at a time asking myself what function it serves.
- Do I already have 350 others just like it? (Pens. I love pens and paper. It’s an addiction. I horde pens. And paper pads, notebooks, journals.)
- Do we USE it for something? How often?
- Does it cost money for upkeep?
- Is that upkeep in line with or contrary to the value the item gives?
- And, yes, what is the sentimental impact of this item?
I’m trying to be honest with myself in this review process. It’s weird because there are two reactions I’m having – three if you count no reaction.
My gut wrenches.
- Pictures that are gathering dust. They’re not placed in open, easy to see places so removing them would not change how often we see them. It would simplify the bookcase and reduce the upkeep efforts. But, would it be disrespectful to take the picture down?
- Souvenirs that are cluttering bookcases and are totally useless. When I see the Kalimba that sits, unplayed (and yes, gathering dust) on the bookshelf, it makes me think of my dear friend Greg who brought this back for me from his dream trip to Africa. Greg passed away about 10 years ago. I can’t look at the Kalimba without remembering him and the fun times.
- Books and books and books that either have been read (a few) or will be read (most of them and… MAY be read… maybe). Books on French history, Einstien’s biography, Picasso’s Blue Period and how Dan Harris learned to be 10% Happier (I did read this one, thank you very much.) I just KNOW I’ll get to those I’ve not read yet and will definitely want to revisit those I have. I love books.
My palms sweat
- The hotel pens we brought back from our recent road trip that are laying on the counter by the pen holder because there are already 100 other pens crammed in there and not one-more-pen could possibly be added. But, we’ve already established; I love pens.
- The multiple pairs of earbuds and old iPhone, 30-pin charger cords because… you never know when you’re going to need them!
- All the clothes culled out of my closet during the capsule wardrobe exercise and relegated to the back closet before tossing or donating. …am I SURE I won’t need those 6 black turtlenecks or those 8 dresses that totally look like a bank uniform?? OR – how about those size 26 jeans?? I just KNOW I’ll fit into those again one day. …no No NO!! I don’t want to fit into those again!! If I do, that will mean I’ve gone through another relationship breakup. Please, Jesus, no. I’m happy with these additional 10 pounds, thank you.
- Kurt’s Chicago Cubs souvenir glasses.
- Kurt’s PS4 equipment and games.
- Kurt’s golf videos, shoes, clubs, etc etc etc.
You get the drift. It’s wicked hard to downsize STUFF that means something. For me, and possible for you, it’s easier to startwith #2. #s 1 and 3 are fraught with risks. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go through STUFF to which you have emotional attachments – or STUFF that is the property of someone to whom you’re emotionally attached, it’s just that those things have to be handled a little more carefully.
Me – I can deal better with my sweaty palms (aka: #2). I KNOW I don’t need another pen. As much as I LOVE them, I know my life will not be better with another pen; or, another pair of earbuds; or, an irrelevant 30-pin charger that fits nothing I own any more. And! I am not going to put any of this STUFF on eBay, spending 6 hours to a dollar-fifty. Into the Goodwill box it all goes. The size 26 jeans – off to Goodwill. If I ever fit into size 26 jeans again, send help. I’ll need some wine, chocolate and a kind ear. (See WTF for more details)
Minimalist Living; Simplifying; Tiny Living
Give it whatever catchy name you’d like. “Minimalist environment” and “Minimalism” are hot terms now. Capsule living? It’s the kind of sorting you’d have to do preparing to move into a tiny home. So, call if what you’d like; what I’m talking about is creating an environment that supports your more simple and fulfilling lifestyle – and a happier life.
10 Ways to Simplify Your Life and Be More Fulfilled