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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Less is More Project: Week 19 - Minimalist Midlife Crisis

AndreasS, Flickr


Over the past 15 years, D and I graduated from university, entered the workforce, got married, had kids, bought a house... and so "real life" began. As the years passed, we saw our purchasing power increase, and with it the amount and value of things we owned.

During that same period, our parents, now in their fifties and sixties, were beginning to either get rid of their belongings or replace them with more luxurious options (as their purchasing power was also increasing toward the end of their career).

Meanwhile, our grandparents, in their eighties and nineties, moved into assisted living residences and could not keep all their belongings - guess who "inherited" most of it.

The consequence? We ended up with a lot of stuff. I was pretty happy about it. But the truth is, it was too much stuff for our own good. 

In my mid-thirties, I gradually realized that all that stuff was weighing me down. I appreciated some of it, but definitely not all. I also realized that acquiring new stuff only had a very ephemeral positive effect on my mood, followed by a more enduring negative effect on the clutter in the house. I also realized that each dollar I spent shopping was a dollar I could not use for more rewarding activities such as travelling. Finally, I realized that I was not so comfortable with the idea of contributing to the inevitable pollution that comes with the manufacturing, transportation and, later on, disposal of goods.

And so, gradually, the shift occurred. I hopped off the consumerist bandwagon just when it was beginning to get really interesting. Having money to buy things was no longer a sufficient reason to buy such things. I decreased my consumption to the point of deciding to buy nothing new for a year (this year). Already owning things was also no longer a sufficient reason to keep them. I started getting rid of stuff. Finally, I made other lifestyle changes with the hope of minimizing both our footprint and potential health issues.

I did not completely renounce the freedom, comfort and pleasure that comes with money and nice things, but I became more mindful of my relationship to the the material sphere.

How has that all felt? Pretty darn good, if you want to know.



WEEK 19 IN REVIEW


Temptations

None that I can think of. Isn't that wonderful?


Donations (good riddance)

More clothes. More books. More kitchenware.


Observations and cogitations

In the category "I don't know where my money is going", eating out wins hands down. As an acquaintance of mine recently remarked: if you've been cutting down on your spending but still have the nagging feeling that a big chunk of your paycheck disappears in a pipeline, look into your consumption of food and drinks outside of the house. You could be surprised!

Speaking of food and drinks, our kitchen is beginning to look pretty minimal. Lots of counter top space has magically appeared. Another perk of minimalism for sure!


Your turn to share about your struggles and victories of the week! What did you resist? Did you donate or get rid of anything? Did you face any challenge? Please comment below! And...

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25 comments:

  1. No major temptations; I did buy a new camera to replace the old one which wasn't working well for me anymore - donated the old camera (it still works well, just not with my tremours) as well as three boxes of books.
    Still finetuning our eating/shopping habits, and the veggie garden is taking off quite nicely. Can't really eat more locally than that!

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    1. Love the very local backyard garden for sure!

      If I "cheat" this year it will be for a camera. Really need one now.

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  2. Great job! Have you read Marie Kondo's book? It has revolutionized my life! :)

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    1. I heard about that book! Thank you for reminding me of it!

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  3. When first I moved away from home my father (who was still supporting me) asked that I wrote down everything I spent, no matter how small, for a month.
    I learned then that a cup of coffee here, a sandwich there adds up. And they are not usually as good as the ones I make at home.
    Health challenges continue to dominate here, so I haven't continued the simplify/declutter process except in a very minor level. I haven't brought anything new into the house either. A win.

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    1. Very interesting! Writing it all down is a great, eye-opening exercise!!! Maybe I should do that!

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  4. I RESISTED!!!!
    I was so so so tempted to celebrate my book release with a THING (necklace) and I celebrate with my ole standby of an EXPERIENCE instead.
    <3

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  5. The only thing new coming in replaced a worn out item which went out ... so ... good there. Still feeling bogged down by 'stuff'' so more work needed there.

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    1. Keep decluttering! The positive effects will come. :-)

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  6. Victory: On his passing, I took most of my father's belongings to the Nevada desert and burned them. I had no use, no space, and no need for 99% of his belongings. My daughter would not have wanted them, and there value was minimal.

    Struggle: On his passing, I took most of my father's belongings to the Nevada desert and burned them. I had no use, no space, and no need for 99% of his belongings. My daughter would not have wanted them, and there value was minimal.

    There are times now when I wish I had even a few of what mattered to him, even if it didn't matter to me; a tweed coat, a footlockers, his captain's insignia and so-on.

    At the end of the day I think what I did was correct, and I still subscribe to my minimal living standards. This past Monday though, on the 3rd anniversary of my father's passing, I had nothing more than memories of him. That's okay I guess, but I would have like to have held an old shirtsleeve of his to my cheek, if only for a moment...

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    1. Keeping one item would be reasonable. Keeping everything, not so much. We learn something every time we make a decision. :-)

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    2. Next time you are in that area, grab a handful of dirt, and put it in a special jar. When you need that connection with your dad, hold that jar, Roy.

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  7. Not so different from what I experienced, except I didn't get any material stuff from my grandparents. I remember going through the time when almost all my possessions (other than a motorcycle) would fit in my backpack and I was quite happy. Then realizing that with acquiring money I was also acquiring stuff, but my original values won out and that materialistic hook never set. I bought a couple of toys, but they are all about having an adventure with life. I tend to attribute it all to my learning good values from my parents.

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  8. Well I haven't done any sorting out, clearing out this past week ... I have been out enjoying the better weather and looking at the beautiful Spring Time flowers. The blossom trees are looking good, I feel I have even more spring in my step.

    Possessions are not important - health and well-being is ... the older you get the more you appreciate this.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Enjoying the spring is definitely a minimalist pleasure. Love it. :-) And I agree that health and well-being become important as we realize we can lose them any moment.

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  9. I have been minimalist for a few years and I love it! I keep looking to reduce more and more. I do have to say that I do see a lot of money going to eating out. For us though, minimalism is not so much about the money, but the freedom from stuff. However, eating out too much can definitely have unhealthy side effects, so that is our focus for cutting down on going out.

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    1. Agree with all that! My favorite thing about minimalism is the mindfulness. :-)

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  10. I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF I NEED AND WANT to get rid of but then of course, my hoarder self just CANNOT get rid of such things!!! My parents just inherited a whole bunch of stuff from their parents - and my mom was trying to pawn a whole bunch of things off on us children, but I just cannot do it. Everyone has a whole bunch of STUFF. I want less STUFF and more love, respect and success :)

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    1. Less stuff and more of the rest, that sounds like a plan. One object at a time, I know you can do it!

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  11. I love decluttering... when my family come to visit they are amazed at how much of my collections have gone and how much space I have... I love it...
    I haven't brought anyting extra into the house for the last two weeks but.. my sister was staying with us and she bought mum flowers and some potted Gergeras... finding places to put them disturbs mythings and clutters up the table... .. Mum is 98 and rarely goes outside so things for her are kept close to her lounge chair or on the dining room table..
    hugs... Barb xxxx.

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    1. I love decluttering too! Once you start you just can't stop!

      My grandmother is 98 as well and it's harder to give her gifts, since she couldn't do anything with them. We bring her food but she mostly seems to appreciate our presence.

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  12. Between what you, your brother and half brother left when you left, and your grandmothers "inheritances", I now know why I need a large house J

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