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Monday, May 25, 2015

The Less is More Project: Week 21 - Two questions, take two

Kevin Dooley, Flickr

Sitting on a long chair in the backyard with a book. Wearing shorts and t-shirt, yet not feeling cold despite the shade. Finally. I had forgotten how good this feels. 

Life can now happen both indoors and outdoors, without the need to change clothes. I have been waiting for this all winter. And in most parts of Canada, winter (i.e. freezing temperatures and the potential for snow) lasts from October to April.

I am alive again. Mother nature is alive too, as the birds and the budding leaves and our freshly planted garden all remind me. The bugs are also back, but I couldn't care less; I am happy.

It occurs to me that such weather, if it lasted year long, would make it so much easier to be a minimalist. It's perfectly acceptable to live in cramped quarters with few possessions when the outdoors can act as living space. Or if you can at least open the windows! I could thrive in a tiny house in warm weather - in the summer my favorite place to sleep is a tent, and my favorite place to eat is at a picnic table or even right on the grass or sand. But in the winter? Not quite as appealing.

How do you reconcile harsh weather with a minimalist lifestyle?

Two questions, answered

What would you do if money were no object, and if you had all the money and time in the world? Here are the answers I gathered, both on this blog and from conversations with friends:

  • do a job that's actually pleasant
  • work less
  • start a meaningful business
  • go back to school
  • spend time with loved ones
  • engage in favorite hobbies (reading, etc.)
  • do nothing at all
  • help others (less privileged people)
  • keep the house under control
  • travel
  • pursue creative goals (writing, painting, playing an instrument, etc.)
  • pursue athletic goals (training for a race, etc.)
  • buy something simple that will improve quality of life (as opposed to buying something luxurious for the sake of buying or for status boasting)

Notice that no one mentioned acquiring big, expensive things. Perhaps it's a sign that many of us are already minimalists at heart, and that stuff is not what we think of when the sky actually becomes the limit.

Also, notice how no one mentioned completely overhauling their life, like divorcing, moving to another country, or the like. Perhaps it's a sign that most of us are not miserable with our life; we might have some areas of "under-fulfillment", but a few small tweaks might do the job.

Let's go back to the list above, and to your specific answers. Is there anything you can do, in this life, to get closer to the accomplishment of those "dream goals"? Are they entirely unattainable, or can you slowly start making your way toward them? Of course, it will require thinking outside the box, getting out of your comfort zone, and perhaps some sacrifice... but it might be worth it! 

In what ways are you making room in your life for those "dream goals"?

Two new questions for this week

Decluttering is a daunting task. Simple tricks can make it more manageable. For example, looking for one object to ditch in each room (what we did last week), or tackling just one drawer at a time. To make it easier to part with your stuff from an emotional standpoint, here are two questions you should ask yourself when unsure whether to keep an object or not:

  1. do you use it on a regular basis?
  2. does it spark joy?

An object you don't use on a regular basis can probably go. (With the exception of seasonal items: if you only use your camping gear in the summer, and your fondue set in the winter, you can still keep them, provided they are used at least a couple times a year.)

An object that does not spark joy can probably go too. There is no reason to keep something that does not provide you with a significant positive feeling. It will only gather dust, or fill storage space. Say goodbye!

Look through your things and tell us what objects you got rid of based on those two questions.



No temptation this week either. However, vacation time is approaching fast, and we will be traveling, both to big cities and small, cute, historic places. Remaining focused will certainly be a challenge. Better start thinking about it now in order to come up with strategies!

Donations (good riddance)

I had a semi-formal outing, which hadn't happened since the beginning of this challenge. It took me quite a while to decide what to wear. It forced me to reassess the clothes I possess that are more "chic". I got rid of a few pieces. 

We also got rid of yet another bag of toys. The kids are moving into pre-teen years and it shows.

I tackled the bar this week. I realized we very rarely drink our strong alcohols, even when we have company: most people seem to stick to wine and beer. The unopened bottles have thus moved to my "regifting shelf", the one I browse whenever I need a hostess or teacher gift. The opened bottles have moved to a more convenient location, so that I will remember to use them (summer cocktails, anyone?) Once they are empty I will probably not replace those bottles.

Observations and cogitations

It's confirmed: I hate gardening with a passion. It's weird since I usually enjoy the outdoors very much, appreciate a pretty yard, and love harvesting from our veggie patch and berry bushes. But how I despise doing the work! 

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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  1. I'll play the contrarian here for just a moment: I don't own a farm. Repeat: I don't own a farm. If, however, I did own a farm, I would bet that farm that if time and money were not a concern, many many married people would walk away from their marriage. Since time and money are concerns for most everyone, I'll suggest that this is not the place where they would admit it. Just speculation on my part.

    Living a warmer climate absolutely makes minimal living easier, and more desirable. I am currently looing at small motorhomes to live in. I hope to have one purchased by July or so. Even on the coldest winter nights here in January and February, a good dog and a down comforter are as good as a heater -- I have both.

    1. Interesting point, and interesting way of explaining it! :-)

      Dog + comforter sounds like a lovely way to keep warm.

  2. A tiny space is easier to keep warm. Otherwise I need space. And natural light. Well ok, I don't need them, but I want them. A lot.
    Unlike you I like gardening. Blood, sweat and tears go into it, but by the time things bloom or fruit the pain is a distant memory.

    1. You have a good point there! I remember sleeping alone in a tent that was too big in cold Canadian April... I understood that day why they make single tents so small!

  3. oh how I adore and second your sentiment of LIFE CAN NOW HAPPEN BOTH INDOORS AND OUT.

  4. I live in a mild climate, and yes, I spend as many waking hours on the patio as I can. And I have a small townhome patio. :)

    I would retire. And then volunteer rocking neonatal babies. And then make a serious dent in my Kindle list of books. I would re-teach myself to sleep later. I would make more day trips in our Mini Cooper. I would spend sunsets at the beach more often. I'd walk the dogs more often. I'd be 15 lbs. lighter (at least) because there would be no work day, mid afternoon stress callings for sugar. LOL

  5. Remember Senegal? You wore summer dresses made out of 1/2 meter of batik cotton and so did I (though mine used more fabric); a couple of dollars got us leather sandals made to measure by the local shoemaker, he also made pencil cases. Curtains, tablecloths, furniture coverings and lampshades were also (home)-made of traditional cotton prints, dishes were Corelle or Duralex and cutlery was cheap korean stuff. We probably spent more time outdoors in the shade than inside, if you exclude sleeptime. We also spent much more time talking, playing, and having meals with friends and neighbours...

    If time and money were no object, I would not go back to Africa, but I would spend more time birdwatching, volunteering, reading, painting, gardening and cooking. I would travel more often to visit friends and family, and I would take better care of my health.

  6. Your sample size is a little small. I'm sure there are plenty of people that would want to do what you mentioned. Just check out some lottery winners. :-)

    I have a minimalist motto for you based on a line from Ovid's Metamorphosis:

    What we had yesterday, what we have today, we shall not have tomorrow!

    1. Small and biased, for sure. But I like the list.

      Lottery winners see their levels of happiness increase for a year, then they are back at square one. Says a lot!

    2. Fortunately the opposite also happens. Happy people who are met by tragedy return to their high level of happiness. I hope we don't have to test that one.

  7. I love the "does it spark Joy" way of thinking about whether to get rid or keep something, it's really helpful x