Let’s Play a Game – Final Thoughts

Here are the pics of (most) everything I pledged to get out of my house during the game.

Arranged in a nice little collage, it doesn’t seem like so much. Until you start at the top and SLOWLY scroll down and realize how much is there. And I’m not kidding when I say this is just a start.

I have a busy Summer ahead of me, but I hope to continue to clean out the excess. We plan to host one big garage sale, and anything that isn’t carried out by someone else will be donated. We would skip the garage sale part, but it will be easier to have other people haul most of this off rather than rent a U-haul to take this stuff out!

If you decided to challenge yourself  to play the Minimalism Game, here are a few pointers.

  1. TAKE PICTURES! They hold you accountable and don’t lie.
  2. Challenge someone else to do it with you. While my partner didn’t last long, we have spent many hours discussing our hoards and how we plan to manage them.
  3. Get rid of your items as quickly as possible. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the original rules call for the items to be gone by MIDNIGHT each night. This makes a lot of sense to me. The stuff is GONE, and there is no temptation to retrieve an item.
  4. Everything you get rid of doesn’t have to have VALUE. Sometime we simply have trash laying around that we don’t at first recognize as trash. THESE ITEMS COUNT!
  5. Continually challenge your beliefs on how much you actually need in your life. One of my favorite blogs discusses their “packing party” where they packed every item in the household as if they were moving, then unpacked things only as they needed them. I might try this on a smaller basis, perhaps a room at a time?
  6. Understand that NO ONE can tell you what the right amount of stuff is for YOU. It is an individual choice, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the health and happiness of those around you.

If you want to move beyond clearing out your own junk to making less of an impact on the world around you (in negative ways…I think we all want to make a positive impact on the world around us), then consider how you CONSUME. What is your footprint on this Earth? I was totally blown away by Lauren, who lives in New York, and lives a no trash lifestyle. Click here to see how much trash she has tossed in two years. And here’s an example of the trash produced by a family of four living a no waste lifestyle. If you want more inspiration, watch this 8 minute video.

So, take it slow or go crazy. But if you want to make changes in your life, there’s no better time to start than right now. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Let’s Play a Game – Day 30

(See the rules of the game at end of post.)

I did it! I made it to day 30! Oh the joy of playing the game during a month with only 30 days! I have gotten rid of over 465 items or groups of items including today’s group! This does not include the piles and piles of stuff I had gotten rid of in previous months, before undertaking the Minimalism Game. These earlier items included coats, pants, shirts, shoes and genuinely nice stuff.

I started this journey with my oldest daughter. She lasted about 4 days before throwing in the towel. To her credit, it wasn’t getting rid of stuff that got her, it was the taking pictures for me as evidence, and getting the boxes out of her house that did her in. She did manage to get rid of an impressive amount of clutter during the month.

I need to do it again. And again. My next challenge might be the 100 things challenge. That’s right, you pare down until you only have 100 personal possesions. I started a list:

  1. guitar
  2. bike
  3. camera
  4. waterproof camera
  5. Walking Dead Compendiums 1-3 (THIS IS ONE ITEM, PEOPLE…DON’T ARGUE WITH ME!!)
  6. Signed print of original cast of Walking Dead
  7. my wallet

That’s my list so far. No clothes as of yet. I might need to work on this a bit more.

So what do I have for you to criticize me about today? A variety of large and small items. Some broken and useless, some valuable to another. Two mowers, a steam cleaner, a light fixture we replaced, a couple comforter sets, the broken patio umbrella pieces that have been laying around for far too long as well as the furniture pads that were destroyed by weather and crafty squirrels. 7 boxes of stuff belonging to my daughters. I am no longer the keeper of their crap. A snow shovel that frustrates and infuriates me every time I use it. Thank goodness we had a mild winter this year. I think we can set aside some money for a new shovel. Random chords. Old paint cans (2). T-shirts (24 of them!) with “Kansas Highway Patrol” on them that are no longer worn and will have to be burned because my husband doesn’t want just ANYONE wearing them. Four pair of pants. We are well over 40 items at this point, so can I quit?

And there is more. So much more. You can stick a fancy name on it (Minimalism), but what I am striving for is to just not have so much. I want to be free of the burden of my stuff. Stuff that doesn’t add to the quality of my life. Stuff that robs me of my time shifting, dusting, working around and just thinking about. Stuff that ISN’T in the way, but that isn’t being used.

I know people who have stuff shoved under their beds. I haven’t had ANYTHING under my beds for years, because I KNEW it was there and it kept me up at night. We have always been able to park our cars in the garage, because folks…THAT’S WHAT GARAGES ARE FOR. Not boxes of trash and crap. But even though we don’t need therapy for our hoarding, we still have those tendencies. To hang on to the unnecessary, the worthless, the broken, the duplicates.

When I die I want to be buried at Heart Land Prairie Cemetery. Wrapped in a sheet. If you can make it to say goodbye, great. If you can’t, don’t sweat it. I will rot in the ground and help the prairie grow. There will be no headstone, but there will be a nice path to walk on if you choose to visit. I do not want my children burdened with feeling obligated to build shrines to me. Or to spend precious time disposing of my stuff. I came into this world with no possessions, and I plan on going out with as few as I can. Because the only real things I need are my life, my family, and my friends. Now THAT’S Minimalism!

Until we meet again:

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(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 29

(See rules of the game at end of post.)

Quick and Dirty. I’m nearing the end and it’s been  one heck of a week. And not in a good way. So…what do I have 29 of that needs to go NOW? You don’t realize how significant 29 of something is until you have to find 29 actual items!

But I know what I have too much of: CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS! Problem is, the strands of lights that I need to toss are at the cabin and I don’t have a picture of them. I will be there tomorrow, though, so I will get a pic and update this on Sunday. I’m not even sure how many strands of lights there are, but I do have 29 items to pitch! (update: the pic has been added!)

The first group is much more painful to say goodbye to than the second. Twelve items of clothing that have strong memories. Two Hays High cheer jackets, a Ruppenthal Middle School cheer jacket, some dance costumes, my oldest grandchild’s first Halloween outfit, a bridesmaid dress, and a jacket from a friend in Denmark that proudly proclaims, “We are red, we are white, we are Danish dynamite!” along with “Danmark” all over it. She gave it to me before she went back to Denmark after a year studying at the college I attended, and I’ve been reluctant to get rid of it over these past 28 years.

I need to add that most of the girls dance costumes were gotten rid of many years ago. I have no idea why these few are still hanging around. I remember selling some at a garage sale and one mother being horrified that I was getting rid of them. It turns out she had vacuum sealed every one of her child’s costumes to “preserve” them…for what I don’t know.

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This second picture is but a few of the Christmas decorations I need to part with. As I said, I have MANY strings of lights that I am releasing. Some of them are those icicle lights, but the really cheap variety where the chord is too short to make it to an outlet without an extension chord. The box of decorations includes my “plaid bows and apples” from when I had a “teacher” tree theme going on. The others are just random what-nots and who-zits that don’t really have a place when the holidays come around.DSC_0467

I do love Christmas. I used to have trees in nearly every room of the house. But I just don’t decorate like I used to. The last two years I’ve decorated a smaller tree at the cabin, and not even bothered with one at our “city” home. So it is definitely time to let someone else enjoy the hoard I have. The items from today are just a start.

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Saturday’s post (day 30) will not be up until May 1, because I have several pictures to take and it’s now dark outside! I guarantee it will be a hodgepodge of junk like you haven’t seen during this challenge! No theme, just a variety of gems that do not serve us anymore. Until then, go clean out a drawer or two of your own.

(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 28

 

When I was in High school and college, I loved collecting buttons. It started with one that said, “You can’t hug a child with Nuclear arms”. It was so bold, so in your face; it spoke for me as it rested on my jacket. I knew people would read it and think, “wow, she has so much insight and wisdom”. That’s what buttons meant to me.

Looking now at this pile of crap I think I needed my head examined. There are the buttons that showed my high school and college spirit, those that showed how important I thought music was, as well as my support of teddy bears, unicorns, education and the state and University of Nebraska. There are buttons with my picture on them, a couple buttons of my husband’s, and the mysterious blank white buttons.

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Some do bring back fond memories. The “I SAW E.T.” was handed out to us before  the first showing at the old Stuart Theatre in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jolly good show and experience, the audience was awesome. Some of the political buttons I bought because I thought they were funny during a particularly lackluster election year. One reads: “Nixon. Now more than ever.” I don’t remember who was running that year, but it almost rivaled the mess we have going on this year. On second thought, no, it couldn’t have.

“Remember Pearl Harbor” seems to be important, but I’m not sure why I felt the need to have a button to remind me. Kermit is a classic, but I am still holding on to a stuffed version of him with velcro arms. The stuffed version comes in handy for hanging on the grandkids and making them laugh.

So this is the end of my button collection. It never really amounted to much, and it was fun to look at them one last time. I might just have to keep that nuclear arms one, though.  That one still speaks to me loud and clear. And maybe I’ll wear it so people will know I belong with the righteous and insightful humans. Or not.

(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 27

Today I dug back into my closet and looked to see what additional items I could get rid of. I mentioned earlier that I never wear dresses, but have several, so I started there. Then shoes, including a pair of bridal heels (not mine, I wore flats). I had several of the girls’ dresses (prom and dance dresses…my oldest daughter’s wedding dress, veil and slip) in the basement hanging around waiting for I don’t know what, so those were added to the purge as well. An expensive purge to say the least. Those Prom and wedding dresses weren’t cheap!

I threw in a couple animals and dolls to keep things interesting. The Anne Geddes dolls belonged to my oldest. My youngest had a panda collection, and there are plenty more of those to be gone through. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed the girls’ collections more than they did, but it is time to set them free.

But back to clothes. My goal is to have a spartan wardrobe when school starts next fall. Several articles have been written about why successful people wear a “uniform”. I don’t necessarily mean a real uniform, like a police officer or something, but a set “look” or color that makes it easy to get dressed in the morning. Here’s a good read on the subject:  8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day.

My uniform would (or will) be black, tan or brown pants, solid t’s and cardigans. That’s pretty much all I wear now anyway! I’d need a pair of black shoes, and a pair of brown shoes. Black and brown socks. That’s it. Sounds like a plan.

Posting early before the storms hit tonight and knock out our internet. Part of me wants to throw all this stuff out on the lawn and let the storms take it away. But that wouldn’t be fair to the person whose property it landed on. Stay safe, Kansas!

(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game -Day 26

Argh! Back to my husband’s closet. As you can see, he had a lot of nice stuff in great condition. Except maybe his shoes. Those were just old and yucky. This time I counted each pair as one item, and in combination with the 17 polo shirts (yes, those are ALL polo shirts, and you can’t really see all of them) and 5 sweatshirts, his closet is another 26 items clearer.

What is it about us that we hoard clothes that we don’t wear, and maybe don’t even like? I think for me it was the “security” of having so many choices. So many choices that I was overwhelmed and unable to pick out anything other than a few favorites. They say you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. I think it’s more like 5-10% worn 99% of the time.

Another problem is the easy accessibility to cheap clothing. Hey, it’s only $5 and it might be fun to wear sometime. NOPE. If it does actually get worn, it is once. We need all these backup clothes in case something happens to the stuff we like. Wouldn’t it be much easier to just go buy (even at full price) something that needed to be replaced?

Some people keep clothes in a variety of sizes to accommodate their ever changing body. This could certainly be the case for me! But about 18 months ago I lost some significant weight, and decided to NOT keep the “fat” clothes but trust that I would keep the weight off. I was proud of letting go, but with the reality of that lost weight creeping back in recent months I could use some of those clothes now! I have very little to wear that fits comfortably. I figure I have two choices, lose the weight again, or go buy more comfortable clothes. I’ll try the former, first, and see where I end up when the new school year rolls around in August. Stay tuned.

I have had more and more occasions recently to throw out something that has actually WORN OUT. The joy I get knowing I used something up is incredible. The most recent item was a well worn pair of Nike hiking boots. They had to be at least 17 years old, and I recently started wearing them again because they were so comfortable. After about a week of wearing them, it felt like one was lop-sided. A few steps later and I noticed pieces of the sole literally falling off. The “gel” supports had blown out, and the shoes were disintegrating before my eyes. I was THRILLED! I certainly got my use out of those. I only wish I had snapped a pic of them for old time’s sake (hoarder).

But back to today’s purge. My husband’s closet has been clean for over a week now. I need to ask him how he likes it. I have noticed him wearing a wider variety of his shirts, which I hope means that he can actually see what he has and not resort to the one or two same things all the time. I’m guessing it feels like he has MORE clothes now.

Less really IS more.

 (Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 25

(See the rules of the game at end of post.)

Some of you may be tiring of seeing the same sort of junk going out my door every day.  But I will tell you that these are the items that I have stored in boxes and opened several times over the years to “deal with”, only to silently close the boxes again. Indecision and procrastination are my enemies. It is easier to shove a box back in a corner than to make a decision about what to do with an item.

I love Christmas. I LOVE Christmas music. I know how annoying it can be, particularly in early September when the temperature is still taking leaps towards the 100 degree mark. But there is nothing like a warm house on a cold day, fire blazing and lights twinkling, the soft sounds of Christmas instrumentals playing peacefully. Or maybe the lyrics of songs we know so incredibly well, enticing us to belt them out in our Broadway worthy tone.

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All but one of these CDs is Christmas music. I know 99% of the songs like the back of my hand. And hopefully I will continue to, because for THESE CDs I took the time to upload them to my computer. There is no guarantee I’ll listen to all of them again, but I love the security of knowing I COULD, if I wanted to.

Peace to you, my friends!

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(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 24

Today is a ridiculous and embarrassing purge. 24 times two (that’s 48, folks!) plastic cards that represent bondage to debt and money and consumerism. You have to realize that this is my PAST, and not even a good picture of my past.

When I met my husband I had just graduated college with money in the bank. HE was loaded with credit card payments, a car payment, trailer house payments…I don’t really know what the amount was, I just knew it was too much. So in the early months that I knew him I helped him get that stuff paid off.

We married, and thus began the money shift game. We used cards with money back gimmicks because “it was FREE money”. We bought a car with a zero percent interest rate, even though we had the cash in the bank to pay for it outright (we actually did that twice). We took out a truck loan because that’s what you are supposed to do. We had 30 year mortgages and as we kept “buying up” we would start over with a new 30 year mortgage. I did pay extra on the mortgage for most of those years, but we never seemed to get closer to a paid off house.

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I took out credit cards from just about every store to get the 10-15% discount for opening. We earned rewards, we (mostly) paid off the cards each month, so it seemed like the smart thing to do. We started being rewarded with higher credit limits to the point that I started to make fun of the credit companies. If we were to use every card to the limit, we would be approaching the National Debt level for ourselves!

I got smarter around the time I started listening to Dave Ramsey. I didn’t follow his rules to a “T”, but I did hate playing those games with the credit card companies. I stopped activating the cards when they would send me new ones, and began collecting them for my “plasectomy” (where you destroy them all creatively and get famous on The Dave Ramsey Show). I never got around to destroying them, however, and they sat in an envelope in my dresser drawer as a reminder of the dangers of playing with other people’s money.

The final straw was when Marshall’s, after begging me in several email blitzes to go “paperless” by setting my account up online, charged me a $45 late fee on a $38.47  charge. I was livid. I had never received my “online bill”. It seemed like a scam to me, so I angrily called them, had them remove the charge, and told them to cancel my card. I don’t need the aggravation of chasing a $10 rewards check for spending 5 million dollars in their store. I am absolutely, 100% cured of ever taking out a rewards card again.

Chase is trying to lure me right now to use a credit card to pay for certain purchases with the promise of 5% cash back. No thanks. I carry three debit cards in my wallet. One from our bank in town, one from our online bank (where most of our money is kept), and one from Target, where we do much of our regular shopping. And we don’t shop much, so even if we need to buy something, because we purchase so little, we can afford to pay full price and not wait for a sale. If you only buy a new pair of jeans every couple years or so, it isn’t necessary to get a deep discount. Although I still try to avoid paying full price.

If you still use a credit card for ANYTHING, I beg you to stop. We haven’t used one in many years. Our house is now paid off, we pay cash for groceries and and refuse to borrow money for any reason. It sure makes life easier.

(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 23

I am old enough to remember taking pictures on a real camera. You’d finish the roll of film and have to rewind it in the camera before taking it out and to the store to have it developed. You couldn’t wait to get the pictures back because it would  be the first time you would know if any of them turned out or not. No instant replay like digital pictures. No do overs. No 10 bazillion shots to get “the perfect one”. Film was expensive and so was developing.

Maybe that’s why pictures have always been so important to me. They capture our lives for one small instant. The bring back happy memories of times important to us. I used to display photos of the girls all over the walls, each one nicely framed.

But guess what? I can take those 10 bazillion shots, pick out one or two favorites and post them for the world to see in a few clicks. And I can take 10 bazillion more the next day and pick out two more favorites. So printing and posting a picture on the wall doesn’t have the same lasting feel that it used to, when we’d take a “professional” portrait a couple times a year (or less).

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Which means I display way fewer pictures in frames in my house. I will never have a use for the 23 frames I’m sending out the door today. Some of them are in sizes that we don’t even print in anymore. And I rarely print anymore! Yes, the collage frame is kind of neat. But I don’t decorate in blue or with geese, so why keep it?

I did carefully take the pictures out of each frame, with some hidden gems to be found behind some of them. My next step will be to organize the 10 bazillion times 10 bazillion digital photos on my computer. At least they aren’t cluttering up my walls!

(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)

Let’s Play a Game – Day 22

(See the rules of the game at end of post.)

Posting early as I will not be around internet service the next couple days.

This was a much needed purge. My sock drawer! 21 pairs plus two mis-matched ones for a “hybrid” pair. It was easy to eliminate any with even the slightest of holes or thinly worn spots. I had no trouble with the black ones that now looked navy or gray. There were some really nice brand new ones that I just don’t wear or have a need for. And a few styles that went out in the 80’s, if you believe that socks go in and out of style.

Anyone else have trouble discerning between black and gray in the early morning while trying to dress for work? I bought some nice Starfish pants from Land’s End, a pair in black, a pair in brown, and a pair in navy. I returned the navy ones because I just couldn’t take the pressure of trying to decided which was which! I don’t need to show up at work and suddenly realize in the light of day that I am mismatched! I have enough trouble trying to not look like a homeless bag lady most days.

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But back to my socks. I actually sorted these out a couple weeks ago in anticipation of playing the game. The only trouble I had was that every time I threw another pair on the pile my husbands would chime in, “those are nice socks”. Again…hoarder. Maybe I should wrap a couple up and give them to him for Christmas next year?

Anyway, my socks now consist of some black, brown, light tan and navy dress socks (probably need to ditch the navy ones), as well as white and black sport socks. The dress socks are neatly nestled in one of my shallow drawers, and I haven’t opened it since sorting, except to retrieve a brown pair and tan pair once each. Because all I ever really wear to work are the black athletic ones (shhh, don’t tell).

(Rules of the Minimalism Game: Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. My daughter and I are playing during the month of April. The original rules require the items to be out of the house by midnight each day, but we have agreed that we are going to have a garage sale for many of our items so they will go to my basement until June.)
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