Tag Archives: Minimalism

Project 333: Quality Over Quantity

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Writers Note: I know things have been really quiet here lately, I’ve been slacking in the writing department big time! I hope you’ll hang in here with me though, because I’ve been working on making this a much nicer experience for you guys. I’m nearly finished redesigning my own website – www.snazzyturtle.com – and then I’ll be working on the design and branding for the new blog. I’m also building up some content so there won’t be so much downtime in between posts when life gets busy. Exciting things are coming soon!

Have I ever told you about my clearance t-shirt addiction? It used to be a bit of a problem.

Academy Sports, which is like kryptonite to my frugality, always has a clearance section. Always.  They set up rack after rack of t-shirts, running shorts, cargo pants, skorts, and other wonderfulness at deep discounts. Now, I’m not a skort lover, and I really only need the standard amount of pockets on my pants, but the t-shirts get me every time. Especially on the $4.88 or less rack. I mean, who can argue with a $2 t-shirt? Honestly for $2 I might have even bought a skort, it was that bad.

So every time we went, which at times was more frequent than it probably should have been, I would load up on cheap shirts. I might only spend $30 but I would leave with an armload of new clothes. It was a wonderful thing.

The problem was this… for every one shirt out of the bunch that I loved there were usually 5 that didn’t fit quite right. Or after a month or two they started wearing thin, because there’s usually a reason a shirt has been marked down to less than the price of a gallon of milk. Academy really doesn’t have bad clothes, they sell great stuff and I love the store, but the ones they put on the lowest priced clearance rack are probably not made by the really dedicated clothes-making elves. More like the disgruntled elf who really wanted to be a leprechaun but had overly involved parents.

But I would keep them, because who wants to get rid of a brand new shirt? I’m sure I’ll wear it sometime, my tastes will probably change and the odd cut of that neckline will be very flattering in a few months. No, not so much. And so I eventually ended up with a wardrobe that I only wore about 50% of.

That was pretty easy to ignore though… until we started decluttering. I mean really decluttering, the last round or two before we sold it all and moved. That was when I couldn’t avoid the cheap t-shirts any longer. I only had so much room in the closet of the Turtle, and I didn’t want it taken up with clothes I didn’t wear. But I still tried to sneak some of the newer not flattering shirts into the bunch, because I might take up painting or catfish noodling and need something to wear.

Shortly after that I found out about Project 333 and decided to give it a shot, so you basically know the rest of the story. I pared down to 33 articles of clothing, including shoes, purses, hats, and sunglasses, for the first 3 months we were here. Obviously there wasn’t any room for stuff I didn’t like, so all of them went to Goodwill. That in itself was freeing in an odd way.

And then a funny thing happened. I started looking at the price tags on clothes a little different. I still want a deal, but it has to be worth it at full price for me to want it at a discount. The cheapest clearance rack still gets a look through, but now I usually pass up the $2 shirts. After all, 10 $2 shirts that I don’t wear would pay for 1 really nice shirt that I’ll wear for years.

In fact I even bought a $50 hoodie the other day. It was on clearance, retail price of $75. I bought it to replace all of the hoodies that are sitting in my tote waiting for the fall swap. The reason I paid $50 for a hoodie when I obviously could have found a cheaper alternative? Quality and comfort, obviously. The neck of this one was wide and comfy (my biggest complaint usually), the cut was loose but flattering, the fabric was super soft, and it was a brand that I know and love. It’ll last me years in good shape. Because of all those things, combined with the fact that now I have fewer clothes in general, I didn’t mind spending a little extra money for one item.

Quality doesn’t have to mean more expensive, you can shop around and find brands that are well made and not quite as expensive, or you can buy as you find things on clearance, which is what I try to do. But the plain and simple truth is that if you aren’t buying as much you can afford to pay more per item, that’s just math. In the end you might even find you’ve saved a little money while getting nicer stuff, which is a pretty cool bonus.

So, I think that’s been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this project so far, the lesson of quality over quantity. And once you apply it to one area of your life it’s easy to extend the thinking elsewhere… household items, time, fitness, relationships, even food. I think we can all agree that one really nice sandwich made at home trumps 5 gas station corn dogs any day. Right?

Look around, is there something you’ve been avoiding spending more money on by spending less money more often? Or something you’ve been giving a ton of time to but only halfway doing? I was guilty of it in a lot of areas, but it’s a work in progress!

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It’s That Time Again – Project 333 Season Finale

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This will be a two post day as I try to catch up from last week. I’ll post an update on our air conditioner situation and some other things shortly!

The end of June marks the end of my first go at the Project 333 challenge.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with my clothing inventory (And why not?) I decided to try Project 333 after we made the move to the Turtle. After going through our closet to declutter and then move I started to realize I was not the minimalist I originally thought, and it looked like a fun experiment.

So in the beginning of April I laid all my clothes out in the bedroom and painstakingly narrowed them down to what I actually loved and wore. The rest was packed away in a tote and taken to storage. For the last 3 months I’ve worn only 33 items of clothing including my shoes, purse, hats, and superhero costumes.

This first three months have been full of a lot of different temperatures, and I’ve cheated a few times, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve spent so much less time deciding what to wear, and my closet has never been more organized. And in a bit of an unexpected turn of events I’ve actually learned a few things about myself.

I don’t actually need 33. There were several things that were barely worn this time around. I’m not sure how many, but I’d be willing to bet I actually only wore 25 items on a regular basis. That gives me a little confidence in how little I can get by with.

Choosing wrong isn’t the end of the world. I made a few mistakes when I chose my wardrobe the first time, and the weather wasn’t quite right for certain shirts and dresses. The last few weeks it’s been warm enough, but next time around I’ll save those things for the ‘summer’ cycle. But even though I’ve cheated a few times, nothing bad happened. Courtney Carver didn’t come busting out of the closet and cuff me. It’s just a challenge meant to make you look at part of your life more objectively, to reevaluate your needs. The number almost doesn’t even matter, it’s the process and intention that counts.

The second time was much easier than the first. Part of that might be the similarity in the weather between these two cycles, most of my clothes from last time were already warm weather things. Part of it also has to be that I’m a little more confident in knowing the things I actually wear now. I’ve learned what I really need on a regular basis. The first time around there was an odd amount of fear that I would choose wrong or that I would want the clothes I was putting up. This time was pretty simple… I made sure about half of my shirts were comfortable t-shirts and the other half were nicer looking. I kept out my jeans and all my shorts, and added another dress that would work for a little nicer event.

My spring/summer wardrobe is getting there. I put a few shirts that just weren’t quite right into a donate pile and the rest of my non-33 warm weather stuff went back into the tote headed for storage, but this time it was only a few things. A pair of flip flops and a few t-shirts I might like more for fall than summer, plus a pair of overall shorts I’m not quite ready to let go of yet. I’m hopeful that by next year my 33 will be my actual wardrobe for the season. That might be a bit harder to do for fall and winter, because I have lots of sweaters and boots, but at least I’m narrowing down half the year.

Having a self imposed limit is perfect for me. I tend to hold onto things that I kind of like, or that I might like later on. It really helps to put a cap on that, it makes me re-evaluate every piece I keep out. It has to fit just right, be the right color, not be uncomfortable at all, and look pretty damn good. Otherwise in the tote it goes.

Today marks the start of the next three month cycle, and it was a no brainer for me to keep going. I was actually excited to go through and reset the closet, so I pulled the tote out on Saturday afternoon and chose my next 33 a couple of days early. I’m curious to see what I actually wear out of the bunch, so this time I also turned all my hangers around as I put things up. When I wear something and put it back I’ll turn it’s hanger around the right way and at the end of 3 months it will be obvious what’s been used and what hasn’t.

Here’s what I’m starting with:

1. Aviator sunglasses
2. Brown purse
3. Under Armour visor
4. Strappy brown sandals
5. Reef flip flops (I’ll have to replace these by next year… they’re mostly just decorative at this point)
6. Sneakers
7. Jeans
8. Cutoff denim shorts
9. Regular denim shorts
10. Capris
11. Nike running shorts
12. Hangout t-shirt
13. Jack Daniels t-shirt
14. Yellow Old Navy t-shirt
15. Nike t-shirt #1
16. Nike t-shirt #2
17. Green tank
18. White shirt with leaves
19. Shirt with cool back
20. Blue tank
21. Blue strapless dress
22. Coral sundress
23. Pink dress
24. Blue plaid peasant top
25. Red t-shirt
26. Black floweredy dress
27. Grey kitten heels
28. White shirt with blue flowers
29. Lacy t-shirt
30. Nike t-shirt #3
31. Life is Good t-shirt
32. Green v-neck t-shirt
33. Grey racerback tank

Swap items:
1. White strapless shirt
2. Green flip flops (In case the others don’t make it till next year)

If you haven’t heard of Project 333 you should check it out or create your own version… it’s a neat little challenge that might help you simplify your life a little more. Or at least your closet!

Don’t You Miss Your House?

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The reactions we’ve gotten since we sold our house to move into the Turtle have been mixed. Split down the middle between those who think we are crazy or broke, and those who would love to do the same thing.

We’ve made other choices along the way that people apparently think indicate our current lack of sanity as well, like selling my paid for car.

No matter how they feel about it though there are certain things it seems everyone is curious about, because we get asked the same things regularly. Things like…

Don’t You Miss Your House?

The short answer is a simple no.

The longer answer is, yes we loved our house. We built it ourselves, it was a beautiful wood sided house on a lovely tree covered hillside. We had 5 acres of shaded land and a gravel circle driveway, a nice shop and a building for the band to practice music in. A screen porch with a hot tub and outdoor TV was the last addition we made a few years ago. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

But with a house comes a multitude of responsibilities and chores. Cleaning and resealing siding, weeding and replanting beds, new gravel for the driveway, decluttering the shop and yard, cleaning the gutters, mowing the yard, mopping the floors, keeping rooms decluttered and clean even when you aren’t using them, treating the water in the hot tub, paying for 3 satellite boxes that you don’t use all the time, planting and harvesting the garden, dusting and cleaning the things you’ve bought to fill the rooms you aren’t using… I could go on and on.

The result of all that is very little relaxation. You try to sit on your front porch and enjoy the afternoon, but instead you end up thinking of all the things that need to be done. You decide to hang around the house on a lazy Sunday to do a few things and before you realize it the entire day has been given to cleaning and taking care of things, and you haven’t even had the chance to enjoy them.

There were many days that I would have big plans for enjoying the day, but first ‘I’ll just clean the kitchen real quick’. That leads to mopping the floors because they really need it, and now Marty is mowing the yard so I should go clean out the beds so they look nice, and the next thing you know it’s 5pm and I’m tired.

It’s just a fact that with more stuff comes more responsibility. Our days are our own now. We still have to work of course, but the other stuff, the maintenance and cleaning, doesn’t take up the rest of our time anymore. We bought a small boat, and if we want to go to the lake for the morning we will. We’re planning short camping trips without thinking that we really should be doing something else. We can sit outside and relax without those nagging little voices.

So back to the simple answer. I loved our house, but not nearly as much as I love my peace of mind, my relaxed evenings, my possibilities for the future. And on top of that, I love my new house. It’s cozy and comfortable, with everything I need in it. I don’t regret the trade a little bit.

Isn’t It Hard Living In Such A Small Space Together?

This one probably varies from person to person. But for us it’s not much different than how we lived in the house.

We used around a quarter of our 1500 square feet before: the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and den. The other areas were used occasionally at best. We’ve had to change things up a bit, like coming up with new morning and night routines because we went from two sinks in the bathroom down to one, and learning how to cook in a smaller area. But after two and a half months things are flowing along pretty smoothly now.

You obviously have to both be on board with the move, but having a narrow doorway or smaller closet shouldn’t be grounds for not being able to live with someone, in my opinion anyway.

I have been surprised though how many people have the initial reaction of “Oh there’s no way we could live in that together, we’d kill each other!”. I’m seriously starting to wonder how many couples actually like each other.

Luckily we do like each other, because I wouldn’t advise living in 350 square feet with someone you don’t like. In fact I wouldn’t advise living anywhere with someone you don’t like, but that’s not a topic for this post.

What Do You Do If It Storms?

Obviously in light of Monday’s flooding the answer to this has changed a little. Before Monday my biggest worry was high wind or tornadoes, which aren’t that uncommon in Tennessee. Depending on where we’re parked though flooding is something that may come up from time to time. Most campgrounds are pretty flat, and a lot of them do have some kind of water near the sites.

What we do if it floods is the same as someone living in a stick house, we leave. The advantage we have in that situation is we can then move our house to higher ground so the same situation doesn’t happen again. In fact Saturday we’re moving, again, to the next row over (so we can face away from the evening sun), and that site has even less risk of flooding than the one we’re in right now. Had we had more notice we could have even moved before the flood ever happened, but what happened Monday was a flash flood. It came up too fast for us to do anything. If we had been parked beside a river that started to rise more slowly though we would have been able to get out of harms way.

As far as wind and tornadoes, of course it is a valid concern that a high wind or tornado could take us out, and we pay attention to the wind more now than we did in the house. If the weather warrants it we’ll leave and go to the main building, or even a friends house if we have enough time. This is no different than living in a mobile home, which so many people do. We know the limitations of the Turtle, how much wind we can take before needing to leave. We have good radar and weather alerts on our phones, we pay attention, and we take it seriously. That’s really all anyone can do.

Do You Miss Your Stuff?

This one’s a lot like the house question, and the answer is the same. Actually, I miss my stuff even less. I can’t even remember half of what we’ve sold or given away over the last few months. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate when you have the space to do so.

We didn’t go full throttle minimalist either, we kept the things we thought were most important to us. To make the cut they had to either be well used or well loved, and the result is that I now know where every single thing I own is. I appreciate the things I kept more than I ever did, and I don’t feel any nagging guilt from knowing I have so many things that I never even look at, much less use.

It does come with a few complications, like if something breaks we’re less likely to have a suitable replacement stuck in a closet somewhere. On the upside though we can usually buy a little bit better something to replace it with if we need to.

Are You Just Going To Travel Full Time?

Not yet.

Lots of people do start traveling full time when they make the move, and while that sounds awesome the rest of our lifestyle isn’t conducive to that right now. There are kids to be near and yards to cut, so for the moment at least we won’t be leaving for an extended period of time.

This part of the conversation normally includes a confused look, where the person I’m talking to is trying to figure out why I would move into a tiny moveable house without the intention of traveling… why not just stay where I was at? I refer you to question one.

Truth is, we do plan to travel and have more fun, and are already doing so more than we ever did before. In the last 9 years we have been on less than half a dozen real trips, not counting the time we spent working on the road. If we weren’t spending the weekend working on someone else’s house we were working on our own. There just wasn’t time to go.

So far this year we’ve already reserved campsites for two trips this summer and are planning two more. We’re going tent camping over the July 4th weekend and visiting a national park in August to check out a giant yard sale they have in the area. We get to go to the lake with the boat now, or take a day trip around the state to see something new. We plan on taking two or three short trips a month, because with the tent or the camper it costs us virtually nothing to stay several nights in a new place. If we even want to stay a month in a different place we can and will.

Travel doesn’t have to be a full time thing, you don’t have to leave for months at a time and move around the country. You can take lots of shorter trips, go hike or see waterfalls, explore neat little towns and find hole in the wall restaurants, find a festival that’s three hours a way and make a weekend out of it. I’m sure other parts of the country are the same way, but I feel lucky to be in an area with so many state parks, lakes, and things to see. The hardest part is deciding where to go.

We were planning a cross country trip that I had hinted at in some posts, but the circumstances around that didn’t work out. It was a bit of a ‘working’ trip to move someone out there, and now they’re staying here, so we weren’t upset. And now we can take the money we would have put into that and use it for our other adventures… and a boat, which we obviously already bought.

How Do You Get Your Mail?

Ours is quite a bit easier than someone traveling full time. We just pay for a post office box, which is a little over $20 a year. There are services available to people who aren’t in one place for an extended period of time, places that will receive your mail and then forward it to where you are, or scan it in and email it to you. We haven’t had to deal with that yet, so I can’t offer any advice there. If we have bigger packages coming or need a physical address we use the campground address for now.

What About Internet?

Ask me this one later, because this morning my internet situation isn’t the greatest.

Most campgrounds provide some sort of WiFi, but it’s not always very reliable and with multiple people using it at one time the speeds can be slow. Because I work online we use a Verizon Wireless MiFi to have broadband internet, and normally it suits my needs just fine. We do have data limits though, and this month we’ve gone over those once already and may use up the overage allowance as well. This is an abnormality, if it becomes a regular thing I’ll up our plan and avoid the usage fees. Because of the limits and slower speed we can’t stream TV, which is disappointing, but not a deal breaker… we do have satellite after all.

It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the only one I know of that will work where we are. I’ve seen other options similar to Verizon but without data limits, but they don’t offer coverage here. For now this works fine for me most of the time, but if I find a more reliable high speed option I’ll be all over it.

I can already think of several other questions we get on a regular basis, but this post has gotten lengthy already so I’ll save those for a part deux.

If you full time or live ‘differently’ are there questions you get asked a lot? Do you get mixed reactions or are you just known as the guy that lives in a van down by the river? Don’t you miss Chris Farley? I do…

The End Of An Era…

I guess the guy working the back door at Goodwill was understandably a little overwhelmed when we let down the trailer door.

After all, he seemed to be working alone, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and who has a yard sale on Sunday anyway?

People that don’t want to load all their stuff up again, that’s who. People having their second multi-family yard/moving sale in one month.

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Dozens of empty totes

We didn’t have as much stuff this time, but it was still enough to fill seven folding tables, one 10 foot clothes rack, a piece of plywood balanced on sawhorses, two tarps on the ground, and multiple totes just opened up for your digging pleasure.

We started Thursday evening setting everything up, and ended up with a pretty good looking yard mall comprised of five pop up canopies and an improvised clothes rack. Friday morning we opened for business, and it was just a big blur of eating and selling until Sunday afternoon. We hadn’t planned on continuing into Sunday, but honestly we never do. Once you’ve unloaded everything and arranged it in the yard it’s hard to not succumb to the ease of just leaving it out one more day, hoping for a few stragglers to stop by and give you a little more money for things you don’t want anymore.

Saturday afternoon in a valiant attempt to load back up as little as possible we decided Sunday would be dirt cheap day, with everything being priced at $1 or less aside from one small tarp of things we knew could be sold online for more.

Signs were made, Facebook posts were issued, and the plan went into action. We did okay on the $1 sale… I think if we had tried it on Saturday it would have been a bigger success. You just don’t get a ton of traffic at Sunday yard sales in the south, and you do get the occasional dirty look. But I don’t think we were quite there yet Saturday.

By about 2 o’clock Sunday we were all completely worn out, so when a heavy shower popped up suddenly we decided to call it a day. We had already gone through and pulled out anything that would be worth selling online, so after one more quick walk through (I did rescue two shirts I might want for my fall 33) we boxed and bagged up the rest to donate.

That’s when I started having mixed feelings. At first I thought it was about letting go of everything, because now it would all really be gone instead of sitting in boxes in the trailer. But looking around I realized it wasn’t about the stuff, I had gotten rid of it all for a reason.

It took me a little while to realize where the mixture of relief and unsettled was coming from. But once I knew that it wasn’t regret for letting go of so much I was okay to just keep packing boxes and trying to figure it out.

Part of what I came up with might sound a bit greedy, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way. It was a little hard to let go of the potential money we could have gotten if we kept everything for ‘just one more yard sale’ instead of giving it away.

That’s what we’ve done in the past, we’ll get through on the last day and decide that we have enough good stuff left we should just let it sit and have another sale later, in a few weeks or months. The problem with that is at a certain point your return on investment starts to shrink. With lots of $10 and $20 items there was a good return for waiting and doing it again. But when you’re down to things that might have sat dormant through all the previous sales, and you’re selling them for $1 or less, you’re spending more energy loading, unloading, packing, arranging, cleaning and storing stuff than it’s worth. It becomes as much of an energy drain as taking care of all that stuff was to begin with.

Secondly, it also feels a bit like the end of an era. The end of our big yard sales, no more hanging out and socializing all weekend with friends while we sell, no more sitting under a shade tree while people hand us money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a ton of work and I always end the weekend exhausted, but there’s something really fun about it too. Without all the excess stuff we’ll have to find other reasons to hang out… I think a celebratory cookout might be in the near future.

But most of all it brings to an end the last five months of selling off our excess stuff. We really started in January focusing on getting rid of it all, we’ve sold tons on Craigslist and Facebook, negotiated furniture into the sale of the house, and had yard sales to sell the small stuff. It’s been a huge focus of the first part of this year, and it’s nearly over. It’s almost a bittersweet feeling.

We still have a few things left from the house to sell… our mattress is too big to fit in the Turtle so it has to go, and a leather loveseat is waiting to be re-listed on Craigslist, plus one small tote of items I pulled out of the yard sale.

But for the most part, it’s all gone. We’re down to what we really need or want, and there are no more areas where things sit unnoticed waiting to be decluttered. If it’s in the Turtle or in a tote in storage I know what it is and why it’s there.

I have my 33 clothing items here in the closet and one large tote in storage waiting for the next swap, that’s it for clothes and shoes. All the dishes and cooking stuff we own fits in our kitchen, and the same goes for the bathroom, den, and outside stuff. In storage I have long term files and business paperwork (2 small totes), one Christmas tote and one tote of fall decorations, my wrapping paper, a few odds and ends like a small desk I refinished by hand and a large antique basket that I don’t have room for but don’t want to let go of, and two totes of heirlooms and truly loved things. And oddly, that feels like a lot. Even though it’s probably less than an eighth of what we had at the house.

We looked around yesterday and realized we can now fit everything we own that isn’t in the Turtle into our 6×12 closed in trailer, maybe with room to spare.

It’s a bit of a weird feeling, as this is the first time in my adult life that I’ve had so little, but at the same time it’s exciting. It’s like starting with a clean slate. I don’t have to worry that I’ve lost or forgotten something, I have everything I need and most of it is in use at all times, and if I desperately need something in the future I just imagine I can find a store that sells it. It’s sort of like another small weight has been lifted now.

So that’s how we ended up pulling up to Goodwill on a Sunday afternoon with a trailer full of boxes and bags. We filled three of their rolling carts and piled the rest inside the door. It wasn’t all ours, I’d say it was more like 50/50. But it was still enough to make you a little sick thinking about all the money spent on stuff.

What about you? If you’ve gone through this process or are going through it now have you had similar feelings? Do you miss anything you’ve sold?

Defining Simplicity. Or Not.

I think sometimes when people start trying to change their lives for the better by making intentional choices and downsizing they get caught up in all the labels, numbers, and monthly challenges that are floating around.

They start reading blogs, looking for ideas, learning about a lifestyle that’s relatively new to this generation. And there are so many great blogs out there right now, there really is a simple living movement going on (more on that in a future post!).

But it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the stories of people doing awesomely cool things and having so little to tie them down. And everyone seems to have their own name for what ‘it’ is… simple living, voluntary simplicity, minimalism, no one is the same. Which is perfectly fine, it’s a beautiful thing that we don’t have to conform to one certain way of living.

But for someone just diving into this world there might be more questions than answers at first – Am I a minimalist or do I just believe in voluntary simplicity? Is there even a difference? Do I have too many pairs of pants? She only has one outfit… I look like a hoarder in comparison. Could I fit everything I own in a single suitcase? I could see how a person might even give up before they make any real change in their own life.

There may be a feeling of perceived peer pressure… if you can’t get down to 100 possessions, or 33 items of clothing, or cut off your cable, what’s the point of doing anything at all?

Or inadequacy… If you aren’t going to quit your job, move to Guam and start a school for orphans, then you might as well just stay right where you’re at. What’s that? You don’t want to sell your house and live in an RV? You like your dishwasher?! Well, you’re just in the whole wrong place then.

There are so many distinct and amazing stories of people changing their lives available in a single Google search that it can be really easy to start comparing yourself to these people, your stuff to their stuff, your life to their life, and get frustrated.

Monthly challenges like Project 333 are a fun way to expand your mind and help you realize how little you really need to be happy… or maybe that you really like having more than 33 items of clothing. I love taking on a challenge that pushes me out of my comfort zone, just to see what I can do.

Reading blogs is another one of my favorite things, it’s a nice way to see how others live and get tips to apply to your own life. I learn something every day from some of my favorite bloggers.

But challenges and blogs are not definitive guides to being minimalist. There is no one right way to change your own life.

The thing is, minimalism/voluntary simplicity/intentional living/zen living/whatever you choose to call it is never the goal. If your goal is to own nothing while not improving your life in any way then you need to reevaluate.

Simple living is the means to an end, and both the means and the end will be different from one person to the next.

Maybe your end goal is to quit your job and start a lifestyle business, or maybe you love your job and you just want to have more free time on the weekends because there’s less to maintain.

Maybe you want to be able to spend more of your time or money helping others, or maybe you want to travel the world while you can.

Maybe you like to kayak every weekend, or maybe you’re perfectly happy at home watching a movie.

It doesn’t matter what your goal is.

Intentional living is the act of removing the unnecessary so that you have more resources available for the things you love, whatever those things may be.

Its about having an extra healthy respect for moderation. Understanding that you have a finite amount of resources available to you – time, money, energy, space. By choosing to focus those resources on what improves your life you are helping those things grow in your life. The catch is that to do that you have to take something away.

If you’ve spent all your time working a soul-draining job to pay for a house that demands too much from you than there’s no time or money left to devote to enjoying a hobby that feeds your spirit, or to just relaxing and enjoying your family.

If your closet is stuffed with clothes you don’t really like then you can’t appreciate the clothes that make you feel great.

It’s about keeping what you love and clearing away the rest.

If you dearly love your wedding china then by all means keep it, and use it! But if you haven’t opened the cabinet since before the honeymoon maybe you can let it go and make room for something better to come along.

I’ve kept all sorts of things that other people won’t understand. I have a seashell on my desk that I found on the beach last year… it’s a perfect conch shell. To some people it would be clutter but I find it beautiful, and it makes me feel a certain way when I look at it. It’s also one of only a very few things I have sitting around. And because of that I get to look at it nearly every day and remember walking on that beach and being so happy to find a perfect shell. How many of your favorite things do you look at every day?

On the other hand, I’ve gotten rid of countless knick knacks, most of the pictures hanging on my walls are now in a box waiting to go in albums, and I have a total of two coffee mugs, but other areas of my life are improving so much because I’ve made room for them to.

It’s amazing what starts showing up when you clear a path for it.

Project 333 – Thoughts From Day 22

wpid-IMG_20130327_172538_070.jpgI’m now 22 days into this experiment in paring down my closet, and I thought it might be time for another update.

For those just getting here I started this month by joining Project 333 for the first time, a 3 month long challenge which entailed taking about two thirds of my wardrobe, packing it away in a tote, and moving it to our storage building for now. You can find the original post here.

I wasn’t sure how easy or difficult it would be when I started, even though I didn’t wear a ton of clothes to begin with. It was just a little scary those first few days, looking at the gaping hole in the closet where the rest of my clothes used to live and not having the options I had before.

Now, 22 days in, I have made a few mistakes, learned a few surprising things, and can honestly say I really do enjoy it and will continue on when this 3 months is up. It makes me proud to look at my clothes and realize that I’m really only using what I need, and I’m looking forward to going through a full 4 seasons of this and finding out what my resulting wardrobe looks like.

Here’s a few bullet points… mistakes, surprising revelations, high points, etc.

I think my most surprising realization was the effect that this has had on my overall happiness. I didn’t realize this benefit until about a week and a half in… I looked in the mirror one day, and for about the 4th day in a row said to myself “You look pretty good today, good on ya!”. Because I don’t always talk to myself, but when I do I want to sound like an Englishman from the 1800’s.

The point being, that by having to choose my absolute favorite clothes I now end up wearing something I love every day. By extension, even though I’m wearing the same clothes more often, I feel better about myself. And ya know what else? Nobody notices or cares that I wore that shirt six days go. I logically knew this would be a benefit, but I don’t think I expected it to have an effect on my overall mood and self confidence, so that was a neat surprise.

– I lost my cardigan for several days (it fell to the bottom of the closet behind Marty’s shoes, and I didn’t look for it hard enough apparently) which really messed up some outfit choices! I did eventually find it, but the whole ordeal confirmed that for me, in this season, it’s a staple of my wardrobe.

– There have been a couple of times that I’ve gotten a little frustrated because something I wanted to wear was in storage. It was never a style issue, it was actually all weather based… we had a really cold snap and I ended up being outside for extended periods twice during it. But, other than my one cheat (see below) I managed to get by. And I realize that the frustration wasn’t at the challenge itself, or the lack of enough clothes, but at my own failure in choosing the right clothes for our weather. I’ll know better next time around hopefully.

– I did end up cheating once. I didn’t keep a long sleeved shirt out originally, I had a pullover and a cardigan, but there are times in early spring that a long sleeved shirt layered under a t-shirt is the best choice. We had a ballgame to go to on a particularly nasty cold evening, and I didn’t want to freeze to death for the sake of my experiment. So I found a long sleeved shirt that I hadn’t taken to storage yet (it was in the wash at the time), I had thrown it in the back of the closet to take later. Even with the long sleeve, my pullover, and the North Face jacket I still froze! I hated to cheat, but not enough to be even colder for those couple of hours. That also reaffirmed the fact that I need a long sleeve at all times, just in case!

– I bought a few things yesterday, which were mostly upgrades to things I already had, but two of them did have to be swapped into the closet and something else removed. I took out my North Face jacket until this fall and replaced it with a bit lighter weight zip up sweatshirt that I bought on clearance. I also swapped out a strapless shirt for a long sleeve shirt I picked up (also on clearance). The strapless shirt will probably come back out for the summer round, but I really won’t have much chance to wear it until then. I’ll be better equipped to make realistic choices based on the weather from now on I think.

I don’t buy clothes very often, but I’d like to eventually have a smaller wardrobe made of higher quality pieces… so I picked these two well made shirts up on after season clearance, as well as a pair of really nice, thick, comfy lounge pants, and a nice running shorts/tank set (did I mention it was a great clearance sale?!). I then swapped out two pairs of pajama pants that worn out or didn’t fit, a pair of running shorts that didn’t fit well, and several pairs of pajamas and a few workout shirts. I think all in all I came out with less items and more quality, so no buyers remorse here.

So far my overall impression of Project 33 = really positive. I’ll be joining up again at the end of this season for sure… hopefully you’ll join in if you haven’t already!