January 13, 2015
I wasn't really sure how to approach this here, and why I basically left this space quiet for so long, but here goes. I am tired of writing a blog that mostly focused on acquisition of goods for myself, while encouraging others to do the same.
There. For the three of you that are left, that's how I'm feeling these days.
The dirty secret of the blog world is this: we consume, hoping you will consume, and when you do we make a fee for our efforts and it all gets very exciting.
It's a hamster wheel, and if you aren't vigilant about keeping your head above water, it can pretty much drown you. At what cost?
At some point in 2014 I had a big "what the actual hell, Lauren?" moment. I think it was on our honeymoon. For two weeks, I traveled with nothing more than a carry-on and a tote bag, with my husband by my side...it was all I needed. Traveling light is nothing new to me, but this time it really hit me. Did I really need more than I already owned? Did I really need everything I already owned? Did those things make me as happy as this gift of travel, of unconditional love, of fulfillment that I was experiencing?
That was the start of a shift of epic proportions, and I never saw it coming.
As a creative, I can appreciate the beauty in many, many things. And fashion? It's art. The perfect fabric, the way a blouse drapes just so, the careful stitch on a well-made garment. The loftiness of a dreamy cashmere, a delicate sheen of silk. It plays to all my creative senses and I really can't get enough. Borrowing a phrase from one of my (now) favorite books, the right garment totally sparks joy for me.
The dangerous pitfall is that falling in love means you want it, nothing can stop you from getting it and who cares if you really need it?
By some happy coincidence I ended up reading "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. It came out in October, just as we got back from our honeymoon and I was ripe for change. The premise of the book is this - keep only what sparks joy.
Do extra cords, cables, manuals to printers and software discs bring you joy? Toss.
Does that sweater that you keep having to sew a button back on because it's cheaply made bring you joy? Toss.
Did you buy that shirt thinking you would wear it all the time and now it hangs in your closet because it was really, really expensive, causing you guilt every time you open the closet door? Donate.
I'm a fan of decluttering, but this book spoke to my heart. When I narrowed down my list of the five things I was most thankful for in my life, did an object land on that list? No.
Can you see where this is going by now?
Within about two weeks, I quickly donated two car loads of items to local charities that could use them more than me. They weren't bringing me joy, but boy I wish I could have snapped a picture of the faces on the staff where I donated. I would look at it any time I felt down.
I recycled and trashed about 20 bags of goods.
You might think by now I must have been a hoarder, and our place a disaster, but that's really not the case. Those who know me best wouldn't declare my home messy, or say that I had too many things. Our apartment wasn't sparse, but it wasn't bursting at the seams.
Besides the financial investment when you purchase an object, we forget about the "cost" of maintaining, storing, and moving them. There is an emotional cost, too. Fresh off Marie and eager to keep pushing forward, I read "Everything That Remains" by The Minimalists.
I experienced a little resistance in my gut when that word kept coming up. Did it mean I would have to live in a stark space, with none of my favorite photos or art? Did it mean I would have to get rid of 90% of my closet and only cycle between 10 items?
What I learned, is that minimalism looks different for everyone. But the basic philosophy is this - the best things in life aren't things, and clearing the excess out of your life allows you to focus on what matters most.
Lately, by not focusing on acquiring things, I find myself with all sorts of free time. I'm working out six days a week, trying new classes that previously I would be scared of, or not have time for. I'm reading every single day. And I'm feeling more creative - with time to document it.
And here I am, doing just that, in this space. I need to get this excitement and spark I feel recorded. When I'm having a moment where I want to take the easy route, this will be my inner voice.
I am no longer a resolution or list person, but this year I wanted to give myself a word to focus on. Mine is presence. Whatever I'm doing it, I want to be all there. I owe it to life. I want to notice the little things, feel it all. And I will always, always stop to smell the roses.