Simply: The Allure of Minimalism & Self-Sufficiency

10.09.13 / the living room

my attempt at a clean living room

If you took a tour of our apartment on any normal day of the week, you’d find books, papers, and clothes sprawled across the the floors of a few rooms; junk mail piled on our makeshift coffee table; and one of two couch cushions available for sitting, the other taken by books, knitting, and the cat. It seems half the surface space in the apartment is taken over by objects, both trash and useful.

I have a lot of dream lives, but the most prominent one floating around my brain at the moment is to live on a farm being as self-sufficient and minimalist as possible while having time to write in between taking care of the place. I imagine a collection of sheep and goats, a chicken coop, a vast garden to sustain Dan and myself. I picture an airy farmhouse full of sunshine with a big kitchen, a window above the sink, and the rooms decorated with items I’ve made–knitted, canned, repurposed, whatever. There’s a room for writing, an entire wall made up as a bookcase, floor to ceiling, wall to wall.

At least once a day, I think about living a more minimalist life. It’s an incredibly tempting idea, isn’t it? And as a mild pack rat, getting rid of anything to live more simply is often like pulling teeth (except I like getting teeth pulled). It took two weeks for me to let Dan put my roller derby skates–used maybe three or four times–onto Craigslist, then I took it back and asked him to take the post down. But I’ve been thinking about it even more lately as I read Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity (which I’ll be doing a post about soon). I think about going through my clothes and getting rid of all but a few things, necessities. Some days I think I’ll keep just a few dresses to wear seasonally. But then I think about how much I like my style with more than just dresses (especially my shorts/tights/flannel combination).

It’s not a perfect idea–there are a lot of questions about its feminist aspects, its impact on those around, and its sustainable nature–and I’m certainly not good at implementing even the smallest details at times. I can go through my clothes for an hour, two hours, but I’ll still end up putting everything back, saying, “I like this too much,” or, “This was a gift; I can’t get rid of it.” So my drawers and shelves continue to overflow onto other surfaces. I can shove as much junk into my desk drawer as I’d like, but somehow the top still seems full of books, knick-knacks, and unanswered letters. Browsing pinterest, there’s no challenge in trying to find pretty work spaces that are minimalist and clean. It’s a tantalizing thought to have a perfectly curated home, a task made easier by having few items to keep organized, but the real challenge for me is getting over the idea that I “need” everything that I have.

Simplifying, minimalism–I think I’ll take these one day at a time, one list at a time, until I find the perfect balance, because this living room littered with socks just isn’t working for me.

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6 thoughts on “Simply: The Allure of Minimalism & Self-Sufficiency

  1. I go through this all the time too! At one point I wanted to just throw everything in the dumpster and start over with only the necessities. I’ve read several books and blogs on the subject. I’m pretty proud that I am currently down to one closet of clothes in my house now. I used to have a major problem with shopping. I put things I don’t wear too often but can’t part with in a bag in my closet and if I pull it out to wear during the month I keep it, if not I take it to the resale shop to trade for something new. 🙂

    • That’s actually a really good idea. I should get a bag and start doing that. I feel like if I stuck to it, I would get rid of quite a bit of stuff that way.

  2. I’ve been having similar thoughts lately as well – recently I was able to go through and donate a fair amount of clothes to thrift shops, but I’m finding more and more that I’m hoarding things that I don’t necessarily need, but feel that I do. When I come home at night, sit down on the couch, and just look at all my “stuff” I feel overwhelmed and not sure how to tackle it first. I think reading this though, I need to just do it. Afterall, who seriously needs so many knick knacks that they don’t have places to put them anymore?

    Though, your living room does look quite cozy!

    • Thank you! I cheated, though, and cleaned the living room before taking the photo, hahah. I figure I’ll take it one room at a time (if not one surface at a time), and see where that leads me. I just got a coupon for Barnes & Noble, though, so I have a feeling I’m going to be getting another Simpsons figurine before it expires.

  3. I’m one of those people who can’t stand the idea of being a minimalist myself. I just love collecting, and having, and enjoying stuff too much. I love being surrounded by stuff, old and new. I love browsing and buying clothes, and make-up. Not to mention lots, and lots, of stuffed animals and toys!

    However, I do want my stuff to be important. I grew up as a packrat, and with my OCD, I can make up a reason for keeping *anything*. I have a hard time letting go of stuff – especially if it’s something I deem special. I think I waited three years just to throw away a pair of jeans Jen bought me, that I loved. I couldn’t even wear them anymore, they were so holey.

    Plus, Jen and I like the idea of living somewhere small (and preferably mobile). In a motorhome, or sailboat, or tent… you can’t have a lot of stuff, sadly. If we do go the apartment/house route, then I still want to have enough room to showcase what we love. But I could never imagine living anywhere huge. Small and cozy, is where it’s at. 😀 Right now, where we live in Jen’s childhood bedroom and spend pretty much 24/7 in here, I would like to limit our stuff. Throw away what can’t be saved, make use of what is still good, and have room for what is important.

    ❤ I hope you achieve all of your minimalist goals, friend!

  4. Pingback: “Produce More Than You Consume” | Sonya Cheney

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