October 5, 2008
September 22, 2008
i once taught a seminar on “the personal benefits of serving others.” actually, i called it “the joy is in the serving” which is not all that more catchy now that i see them side-by-side. regardless of the boring title, it was good information and a good seminar. i especially enjoyed teaching it because i really do believe that there is personal joy associated with serving others.
this weekend, we received an opportunity to continue our minimalizing and mix in the personal satisfaction that comes from serving others – both at the same time.
at my son’s bus stop (of all places), my wife struck up a conversation with a lady who volunteers with Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. they help refugees and immigrants gain personal independence and economic self-sufficiency. the volunteer mentioned the desperate need the organization was having for donated towels, linens, and cookware. knowing that our household (along with most of America) has more towels, linens, and cookware than we need, we offered to help and quickly compiled several boxes of the desired items to be donated.
of all the minimalizing projects that we have done around the house, there seemed to be a special joy associated with this one. the special joy of knowing that our stuff would be going directly to people who need it. there is a satisfaction and sense of purpose that comes from serving others… almost like we’re not truly living unless we’re living for others. look up your local chapter of the USCRI and see what needs your local chapter is experiencing. you just may enjoy minimalizing more than you ever have before.
September 19, 2008
thursday evening is garbage day around my house. knowing that the trash collector and the recycling truck would take away anything i put out on the curb tomorrow, i got to minimalizing as soon as the kids were put to bed.
first, i spent some time in the fridge – i’ve posted about my condiment failure previously (and apparently raised quite a stir with the “condiment table” that i posted just for fun). i got the condiments a bit more under control now.
after the fridge, i went to the basement and continued going through old boxes of memories picking up where i left off. the old boxes of memories always slow me down – as well they should. they are filled with people, events, and places that bring back many memories to relive. and secondly, deciding what to do with the stuff can be very difficult depending on my mood. tonight, i kept more than i should have…
all in all, i ended with 2 large bags of garbage, 2 full containers of recycling, and one small pile of ebay items. magically, when i wake up in the morning, the garbage/recycling will have disappeared forever. the garbage man does bring a certain sense of motivation, doesn’t he?
September 11, 2008
over the past 2-3 weeks, we have been using our old wedding napkins at meals. while cleaning out the basement, we found a box of several hundred and promptly decided to use them until they were gone. to be honest, i’m not sure why we kept them in the first place. believe it or not, over the past 9 years, we just haven’t found the right occasion to use light blue napkins that read, “joshua and kim, june 12, 1999.” so we have decided to use them during our family meals.
using the napkins has had several benefits:
- we’ve been able to tell our kids about our wedding.
- we minimalize every time we sit down to eat.
- we are being good stewards of the environment.
- we’ve saved like $1.30 in napkin expenses from this month’s budget.
August 21, 2008
i did some minimalizing around the house yesterday. i didn’t set out to find a minimalizing project, i was just looking for some dishsoap. but when i opened the cabinet door under the kitchen sink, i knew i had found my most recent minimalizing effort – cleaning solutions of all sorts, sponges, scrapers, and plastic bottles.
i followed my typical formula: pull out everything, create three piles (sell/donate/trash, relocate, return), reorganize, and complete. but for this project, i added one important step: test. that’s right! i took every product that we don’t use regularly and tested it before deciding to keep it. it’s amazing how many “specialized” cleaning solutions seem to do the same job as one multi-purpose disinfectant.
it took me one trash bag and about 45 minutes to complete the task. at the end, i had one new minimalized, clutter-free cabinet, a new understanding of our cleaning solutions, and one clean shower (the bathroom cleanser worked so good i decided to keep cleaning and finish the shower too).
my advice to my wife and to you – the next time you are about to buy a new, specialized cleaning solution in fresh-looking packaging, ask yourself if you really need it. and if you do, ask yourself how you ever kept it clean without it…
July 18, 2008
i have been going through a bit of minimalism withdrawal lately. over the span of 36 days, i will be in town for only seven – and those seven have been filled with visiting relatives, spending time with my kids, and meetings at work. as a result, i have had nothing to report about my personal minimalism efforts (maybe you have noticed). and even worse, i have been itching to get back to the job that i started 45 days ago.
luckily, this evening (friday) i was able to sneak in an hour of minimalization around the home. i was quickly drawn to the storage room downstairs and went to work. old toys, old knick-knacks, old books, old tools, and old boxes went flying. 4 large trash bags tied and ready for the dump later, i feel satisfied. i have had my minimalism fix.
i wonder what i would have said if somebody had me told when i was 21 that i would soon be spending friday nights celebrating the trash that i have collected… oh well, maybe if somebody had told me when i was 21 to stop buying stuff, i wouldn’t be in this mess today.
July 3, 2008
i have been working the past few mornings on minimalizing our basement/storage room. it is a large room with tons (possibly literally) of storage from the past nine years of marriage, two kids, and four houses. to date, i have collected over eight 33-gallon garbage bags of items to throw away/sell. it’s been an overwhelming task and i have hit “the wall.” the easy stuff is done – what remains is the pile of “questionables.”
and i needed a break, so i chose an easier project this morning - cups.
it took me about 15 minutes to minimalize one of our kitchen cabinets – the one with glasses/mugs/cups/plates/bowls. it doesn’t take too much brain-power to know which cups we use and which we don’t. those we use, i kept. those we don’t, i threw away. i removed over 40 items from our cabinet and i love the result.
i’ll let you know about the storage room…
June 29, 2008
i didn’t wake up saturday morning with any minimalist projects on my mind. i just woke up a little bit earlier than everyone else and happened to walk downstairs.
in our storage room, i noticed an old, empty box from a light fixture. i also noticed a large empty box from a stereo that i purchased 9 years ago. i have a habit of holding on to empty boxes from purchases (mostly major purchases, but there are some minor purchases too). i like to have the boxes because it makes taking the item back easier if i need to.
but as i looked around the room i couldn’t believe how much space was being taken up by boxes. so i made a decision to recycle every box from any purchase made over 6 months ago. i recycled over 15 empty boxes saturday morning.
feels good to have space back.
June 25, 2008
i’m excited about my minimalizing project this evening. today, i took four 33gallon trash bags and walked around my house throwing things away. the fact that the project took me only 40 minutes to complete speaks to the amount of stuff in my house – we’ve got a long way to go. but i made a good dent.
i’m really excited about the accomplishment, but realized how lame the story is when i couldn’t even get my wife to listen to the whole thing. so i titled it a “not-so-exciting project” to warn you the reader.
if you would like to experience the thrill yourself, grab one large trash bag from the garage and just start walking around your house. it’s hard to describe the rush in words.
and if you would like to complete the project quickly, just start in your basement…
June 25, 2008
somebody gave me some good advice about junk drawers. they said, “not only is it okay to have a junk drawer, i recommend it. it gives you a place to put things rather than leave them out on a counter. however, you need to clear things out every 2-3 months.”
tonight was the first time in more like 2-3 years. as you can notice, i removed so much stuff from the drawer on the right that i was able to make the other drawer a place to store my children’s art and craft supplies. i threw away everything that i absolutely didn’t need to keep. as you may notice, a pampered chef scissors is apparently absolutely needed (i’m convinced that you could stamp “pampered chef” on anything and women would buy it). of everything that i absolutely needed to keep, most of it was placed into its original home (game closet, work bench, etc.). everything that needed to remain was nicely sorted into transparent ziploc bags. i’m pleased with the outcome… and as long as the scissors stayed, so is my wife.