Book Minimalism for the Bookworm

In a continuation of Friday’s theme, let’s talk about curating our book collections. (Where my fellow bookworms at?). I love books – I especially love physical books, so I know how easy it is for those bookshelves to start overflowing with beloved “I’ve read this a million times” books, “I should keep this for reference” books, and the ever famous “Some day when I have a million free years I will tackle this To-Read pile of thirty books” books.

So how can we start taming our collection and reading voraciously without being buried under a mountain of books? (Which to me doesn’t sound like a bad way to go, but I digress…)

1.) Get an e-Reader: I am Team Hardcover, but e-Books definitely have their place – they obviously take up much less space, allow you to carry around an entire library, and (especially important for those of us who have 5-6 books going at the same time) automatically bookmark your place for you. If you prefer e-books, then rock on with your bad self, ditch the physical books, and enjoy. The one caveat I will give is that it’s easy for your eReader to become cluttered too. Make sure to delete books that you won’t be rereading and organize your files if possible. Otherwise it can still be impossible to get your arms around your collection.

2.) Donate books to your local school or library: Almost all libraries accept donations to either add to their collection or use during book sales to raise money. If you have childrens or YA books the local schools or children’s hospitals may be interested. I always find it easier to let go of things if they’re going to a good home. (I had an original Atari 2600 that I knew I never used but was sentimentally attached to (#GenXProblems) and was only able to declutter it when a good friend of mine said she’d take it off my hands.)

Speaking of libraries….

3.) Get a library card: Take full advantage of your local library, especially if you’re the “only read once” type of reader. Even a small-town library can really expand your selection. As a bonus, librarians are often happy to help you find new reading material that you wouldn’t have even considered before.

4.) Toss the reference books: I’m pretty sure you don’t need a dictionary in the day and age of the Internet. (OED> than Merriam-Webster, fight me.). Separate out all of your reference books with the intention of tossing them unless proven that the information can’t be found online.

5.) Shop Intentionally: We all have those books that changed our lives and we will read over and over again (Some of mine are the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, A Moveable Feast, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). For those few, shop locally and find the most beautiful illustrated hardcover version you can – then you will have a small quality collection of your favorite books. With fewer books on the shelf (and more eye-catching versions), this will have the bonus of being more noticeable, sparking fun discussions with guests.

These are tips that have greatly helped me get my books under control. I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your all-time, “changed my life” books (or just ones that you love to read over and over)?

Honoring your best you,

Veronica

Friday Five #1: Books

Welcome to the first installment of the Friday Five.

Today, five books you need to read. (I’ve included the Amazon links but highly encourage you to purchase at your locally-owned bookstore.)

1.) Soulful Simplicity. My copy is nearly worn out. I love Courtney’s “voice,” her story, and how she simplified not just her belongings but all facets of her life.

2.) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I read this essay over and over on Mark Manson’s site before it was fleshed out and published as a book. This is required reading for everyone. At the very least, read the essay for free at: https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck.

3.) The Little Book of Hygge. The days are getting colder and shorter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Perfect time to brush up on the Danish art of hygge, sometimes translated as “coziness” (but means so much more).

And a couple fiction books:

4.) A Moveable Feast – Hemingway at his finest. It’ll make you want to move to Paris and he dishes on all the well-known writers of the time.

5.) A Song of Fire and Ice – Sure, you’ve seen “Game of Thrones” (Which is the name of the first book in R.R. Martin’s series), but the writing is great and after all – Winter is coming.

So curl up by the fire and enjoy! I love a good thought-provoking (sometime note-taking-necessitating) non-fiction when I have a bit more energy and an escape-worthy fantasy/fiction book when the brain is done for the day. If you read any of these, drop your comments below!

Honoring Your Best You,

Veronica

Dress for the Life you Want

We’ve often heard of “Dress for the job you want.” Well I say, dress for the life you want. Especially with so many of us still in quarantine, it can be easy to get stuck in the “sweatpants and no bra” rut that is Corona Life. While joggers and baggy hoodies certainly have their place (you can pry my gray velour sweatsuit out of my cold, dead hands), living in them 24/7 will eventually start to affect mood, productivity and keep you from feeling Your Best You.

So, here’s a three-step process for getting in the groove with your wardrobe.

1.) Describe what your absolute ideal life would be. Write it down. Get as descriptive as possible. Now, what would you wear as that person?

2.) Shop your closet. What items in your closet match what you envisioned Your Best You wearing? Separate them out, and put them on the nicest hangers you have, all matching. (I love the thin copper ones, personally.) I like to put everything in one place – clothes, shoes, outerwear, etc. so I can see my entire wardrobe all at once.

3.) Clear out the clutter. Now, take the rest of the clothes, shoes, etc. and box them up. No need to part with them yet. Just get them out of your closet, and preferably put the box somewhere you won’t be tempted to “break into it” like the attic or garage. Be sure to put the date on the box.

4.) Take inventory. Your closet is probably a lot smaller now – perhaps too small if you didn’t have many clothes in the “Your Best You” category. No rushing to the store – that defeats the purpose here. Slowly curate a list of the key items you need to complete your new wardrobe. Perhaps create a Pinterest board.

5.) Curate your wardrobe. After at least 30 days you can start slowly shopping for the PERFECT version of each item on your list. No compromising or “making do.”

Hope this helps. It’s a fun little (or perhaps big depending on your closet) project that can really help give you clarity and get you out of the Quarantine Blahs.

Honoring Your Best You,

Veronica

The KonMari Step We All Skip (And Why It’s So Important)

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As everyone knows, the first step in the KonMari process is clothes. Dive in and tidy any shirts, pants, and other apparel that doesn’t spark joy, thanking them for what they have provided you before moving on to books, right?

Wrong.

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says:

Before you start getting rid of things, take the time to…visualiz[e] the ideal lifestyle you dream of….Think in concrete terms that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.

This was the main reason I have had trouble decluttering my wardrobe (if you’re a regular reader, you know this is a constant battle for me ), as I wrote about in “Find Your Wardrobe, Find Yourself.”  For me, not picturing (and being honest about) my ideal lifestyle didn’t effect tidying books, kimono, or even memorabilia, but showed in the large and completely incohesive closet (and dresser, and coat closet, and shoe racks (multiple).

However, this doesn’t just apply to clothes. Not clearly seeing whether you would like to start holding formal dinner parties could lead to unnecessarily holding onto fine china, not to mention the cabinet to keep it in. Not being honest about whether you’re really going to take up skiing could lead to boots, poles, and skis gathering dust in the basement.

So do not skip this step. Visualize the lifestyle you want to work towards (avoiding the Fantasy Self trap that is easy to fall into with the KonMari method), get as specific as you absolutely can (I literally planned what a weekday and weekend would look like from waking up to bedtime), and write it down.

And then? Knowing what sparks joy and needs to remain in your life to reach your goals becomes a breeze.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

What I Learned from Another Failed Project 333

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford.

Back in early April, Courtney Carver of “Be More with Less” sent out another Project 333 challenge (You can read up on the challenge and its rules here.) Although I had attempted Project 333 a few times before and always given up after two or three weeks, I  decided to give it yet another go.

So, two months later, I have finally quit. Except not really. This time I stuck with the challenge long enough to learn some very good lessons about how many clothes I really need, what I need in a wardrobe (hint: Not real pants), and what I really wear on a daily basis.

In early April, this is the 33 items I pared my wardrobe down to:

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Thanks to a never-ending winter, I had to include everything from a down parka and mittens to tank tops and a pair of shorts to accommodate temperatures from 10F to 80F and everything in between. It actually ended up being a Project 323 because I never wore that white button-down shirt.

So two months later, this is what I’ve learned:

  • hate black clothing. On myself, that is. I love it on other people but don’t feel right or comfortable in it at all. My go-to neutrals are white and gray.
  • I don’t need fancy clothes. Or even business casual clothes. Or real pants. I wore the khakis and nicer shirts to the myriad doctor appointments I had just to make myself feel more adult, but it was totally unnecessary. I would have done better to switch those out for more t-shirts and another pair of shorts.
  • finally learned how to pull together a cohesive wardrobe that goes together.
  • I do like having about 33 items in my closet to choose from.
  • I also like putting away non-seasonal items and getting them out of my closet.

So, like I said, I quit the challenge, but have just re-done my closet with a different 33 item capsule wardrobe with the following rule changes to make Project 333 work better for me:

  • I will be changing the capsule wardrobe when the weather changes. Having one pair of shorts to wear while my parka was still taking up space once the summer arrived drove me batty.
  • I will not be counting my Converse collection towards the total. (Yes, I have a problem. No, I don’t plan on seeking help for it.)
  • I will also not be counting jewelry. I almost never wear any in the first place, but I want to be able to accessorize on the rare occasion I do wear it.

So here’s my summer capsule wardrobe that I’ll keep until it cools off in the fall:

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Admittedly, with these new rules the challenge is a lot easier, but it’s also much more workable for me and my situation. I’ll provide an update either if something changes or when I switch to my fall wardrobe.

And the Converse collection? Here she is, with another pair currently shipped and on their way.

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Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Gifts for Minimalists

It can be difficult to find a gift for someone who is trying to declutter and reduce the number of their possessions. What do you give someone who doesn’t want “things?”

Here’s some ideas:

  1. Subscription Boxes – There are now subscription box services for nearly every interest. I would recommend one that comes with perishable items that must be used such as YumBox, which sends a box of snacks from a different country each month.
  2. Food Box Service – On a similar note, a meal subscription service such as Blue Apron may be much appreciated for busy people.
  3. Dinner Out – Either taking them out for a meal to catch up and enjoy each other’s company or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
  4. Babysitting Services – For those who have children, a homemade “gift certificate” for a night of babysitting will be much appreciated.
  5. Other Services – Know someone who hates to mow their lawn? Hire a yard service for them or show up with your lawnmower every couple weeks. Housekeeping, handyman work, and other services are other ideas.
  6. Tickets – A gift card to the local cinema for a movie night or tickets to a show they want to see or museum they’ve been wanting to check out.
  7. Discarded Item Disposal – If they are in the middle of decluttering (especially an “all-at-once” KonMari-type of decluttering), offer to take away their discarded items for them. As discussed in my article a couple weeks ago, this can be one of the most difficult parts of tidying. Offer to make that dump run, drop-off trip to the thrift and/or consignment store, or even put items of value up on eBay or Craigslist for them.

I’d love to hear other ideas that you may have, so please comment below!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Decluttering Your Fantasy Self

I know I’m a bit late to the party, but wanted to write about decluttering ones fantasy self. (Yes, everyone did this in October. I call it being fashionably late.)

Credit goes to The Messy Minimalist, whose video was the first on the subject that I saw. I’ve linked it along with a couple other good ones on the topic below. (These are all excellent channels, by the way, so definitely give them a follow!)

So what is your “fantasy self?” This is the self that you attain to be but just realistically isn’t you. For example, part of Fantasy Hobbit is that she mails out handwritten notes sealed with a sticker or hand-stamped ink on the back of the envelope. Note: I have sent maybe two of these in my life. Both to my Abuela Julia.

The tricky thing about fantasy selves is that the related items usually pass the “Spark Joy” test of the KonMari method, so if this is what you used to declutter, you probably still have a lot of unnecessary and unused belongings laying around.

These items can be difficult to let go because it can also feeling like letting go of a dream. However, I believe a healthier and more positive way to look at it is as a step towards accepting and loving your true self.

Here’s what I decluttered and more importantly, what fantasy aspects of myself I let go of:

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Fantasy Hobbit wears an apron when she cooks and cleans to avoid ruining yet another shirt. Nope. She also takes vitamins every day. The expiration dates on these would say negative on that one as well.

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Fantasy Hobbit gifts beautifully wrapped presents to those she loves. Nope. Online shopping with gift wrap options is where it’s at for me, folks. As mentioned earlier, she also sends out letters and cards to keep in touch in a more personal way. NOPE.

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More stationary, and finally, Fantasy Hobbit is a huge comic book and graphic novel fan. I may be a bad geek for this, but I’ve tried and tried and just can’t geek that way.

Here are the videos I mentioned earlier. I highly recommend watching them if you’re having trouble letting your fantasy self go. So, what are YOU holding on to?

 

 

 

No Sidebar E-Mail Program Review

Good afternoon all!

I thought I’d provide a review of No Sidebar‘s 30-day e-mail course.

Overview: Every day you receive an e-mail with a mini-challenge, some of which build on others. These challenges cover areas from social media to decluttering to the mental side of minimalism and is more focused on minimalism as an entire lifestyle rather than focusing solely on decluttering. Also includes membership in the private Facebook community group.

Cost: $15 U.S., although if you follow them on Facebook on occasion they have a discount code that reduces it to $10.

Pros: 

  • Most days are “do-able” challenges that break things down into manageable pieces. There’s no “Today throw out all of your clothes.”
  • Least expensive of the minimalism/decluttering courses available.
  • Includes Facebook community group.
  • Covers unique topics.

Cons:

  • The challenges were so varied in topic that sometimes it was difficult to “see” a cohesive picture of what the course was aspiring to achieve.
  • No other content such as videos, interactive webinars ,or web portal.

Recommended: Yes

Final Thoughts:  Although there isn’t much interactive content, the challenges are refreshingly different than the usual decluttering challenges offered in minimalism courses and books, and the price point can’t be beat, even if you don’t catch them during a discount code.

-Pip

Welcome!

Hello there! This is Pip, the Minimalist Hobbit. I live up in the Shire, otherwise known as Lake Placid, NY, and am on the journey towards minimalism – not just with my physical clutter but electronic, social, etc. I hope you’ll join me!

If you’re wondering what Minimalism is, although it means something different to everyone, I like The Minimalists’ definition the best: “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” – https://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/.

I will start regular posting soon, but will leave you with some quick book recommendations to get you started: (Please note that these are affiliate links. Your patronage is appreciated.)

Looking forward to traveling this road with you.

– Pip