Subconscious Minimalism

Coffee and flowers shot
Maintaining a minimalistic lifestyle even when you're not paying attention.

There's a misnomer that to be a minimalist, you have to constantly be giving things away or minimalizing your life. That this - owning as little as possible - is all you think about.

Come on. There comes a point when you've downsized every part of your life to perfection. And when that happens, all you have to do is maintain it.

I can hear you say, "But what if that consumeristic lifestyle creeps back in? What if I start buying and not purging? What if I stop becoming a minimalist?"

Okay, for that to happen - especially if you've strategically and knowingly changed your habits at work and home - you'd have to become someone else. As in, your old self. 

And in case you haven't noticed, we're constantly evolving. We humans adapt and change, but we also know what's important and remember what we like, or want to keep in our lives. 

We may fall victim to a shopping whim occasionally, but when we've discovered it's as pleasurable not to buy as it is to buy, it's going to be very tough falling back into old routines.

If minimalism is important to you, you can still love to shop. But buying everything you want isn't a part of the shopping plan anymore. Instead, you pick and choose - and you choose with great care - an item, whether it's clothing or a dish, that you're bringing back into your home.

If you're like me and have slowly transformed your life to one of minimalistic joy, where things have become less important than the people around you, it's going to be difficult to fall off the consumeristic wagon.

Once you see how much happier and freer you are as a minimalist, going out to buy an outfit, or a pair of shoes (or in my case, one more mug to my vintage mug collection) isn't going to revert me back to my old ways of consumerism.

I'm not suddenly going to forget about how much I love having less in my home! No way. It just won't happen.

So put your mind to rest.

Here's how you can maintain minimalism - and not stress about reverting back to consumerism - even when you're not paying attention.

One-in-One-Out Rule: By far and away, this is the best rule I've picked up through my minimalism journey. If I have something that wears out, like a pair of shoes, then there's zero guilt in replacing it. I've not increased the number of items in my closet but merely replaced it. And that way my love for shoes (because yes, I do have a serious love for shoes) stays at a level that is manageable for me. 

Here's another example. I have a huge love for vintage mugs as well, so when I find them (thrifting is how I find all of them or at a lucky garage sale) I make sure that if I buy a mug, it needs to replace one I have, or it's replacing one that broke (which happens). 

Rarely, I will add one to my collection without giving one away. It's unusual though. I don't have any more room to add to my collection, and I know I can't possibly use all the mugs I already have. I want to use all the mugs, but realistically, it's not possible. So, that keeps me in line as well. If I use the one-in-one-out rule, there's really no way to go back to my old ways of living.

Less is More Aesthetic: Once I've become accustomed to owning less and loving the way it looks, I get a huge boost of serotonin when I see what I've created. I am so happy to walk into my closet and see everything tidy, lined up, and all used on the regular. None of my clothing isn't worn. None of my shoes aren't worn. Every belt, every sweater, and every tank top in my closet is loved and appreciated.

The bonus of owning less is a clean and neat home. When my home is clean, I'm happy. When I'm happy, my family is happy. Owning less, once I know what I truly love and want to be around, is a pleasurable experience. Why would I walk away from that?

Now that I live in calm, beautiful, and intentional spaces, I don't want to go back to any other way of living. (There may be moments of temporary chaos, things may pile up, and stress and circumstances may change, but it's not hard to get back to the routine of a clean aesthetic when the stress is gone, and my circumstances are back to normal.) 

I've come to love the minimalistic aesthetic and that's the only way I want it.

Read about Minimalism: One way to keep minimalism in my life, even now that I'm done getting rid of everything in my home that doesn't belong there, is to read about it. (And in my case, write about it.) There are many websites devoted to minimalism. All you have to do is a quick Google search and see that there is far more data out there than we can possibly read on the subject.

I read books, signed up for a couple newsletters, read other articles and blog posts, and make it a part of my daily reading. Reading about what I want - by seeing and studying what other people do - helps me in my daily quest to maintain minimalism.

It's not boring, or taxing, either. It's like drinking eight glasses of water or exercising. I've made it a part of my life because I know it's good for me and because of that, my life is simple, gratifying, and at the level of minimalism that works for me.

I just read Joshua Becker's short Kindle book called Simplify. I've read all of his books and I highly recommend them, but this one is short and sweet, and a great one to have on hand if you struggle to stay on track.

When you make minimalism a part of your everyday life, and you do this for months and eventually years, even if you have to make purchases - even if you want to make purchases - this won't upend your work of living with less.

You can get right back in the saddle, dig your minimalism spurs in, and keep moving forward.

Swedish Death Cleaning │Margareta Magnusson

 A few months ago, I read a fantastic book about Swedish Death Cleaning, colloquially called "Dostadning" in Swedish.

I'd heard of this concept years ago but hadn't realized it is essentially minimalism. The Swedish figured out that minimalistic living is the way to live and for good reason.

Swedish Death Cleaning is kind of what it sounds like: it's about cleaning and death. 

Only, it's all good. It's really a way to truly live before death arrives. Here's a definition: Swedish death cleaning is a method of organizing and decluttering your home before you die to lessen the burden of your loved ones after you've passed. Usually older people or those battling a terminal illness partake in Swedish death cleaning.

Since beginning my minimalism quest, I've read many books on minimalism. This one is that, but it deals directly with doing minimalism as a way to alleviate the future pain that you or your family won't have to endure. This book is called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, written by Margareta Magnusson.

I love this woman's books for many reasons. But one of the best reasons is this: her books are small. They're succinct, to the point, hilarious, and practical. Her pages aren't filled with repeated points, or unnecessary diatribes. Her chapters are organized, and simple, and she gives practical examples and advice.

The bonus? She has a wicked sense of humor.

Unlike other minimalism books, even if the goal is to prevent your family from having to deal with your stuff, this one comes right out and says it from the start. Make your life minimal before death has the chance to take you and leave the miserable task of cleaning up after you.

The point of Swedish minimalism cleaning is specifically so you won't have to deal with your trash when you're dying... nor will your family. It's a way to free yourself (and your family) from a lifetime of clutter and stuff that no one needs or will need.

Magnusson is probably in her 90s, but we're not positive. She doesn't specify that and I think that's awesome. 

If you're 21, read her book.

If you're 91, read her book. 

The Art of Aging Exuberantly book
Then, go on to read her other book, The Swedish Art of Aging Exuberantly. I read this one a few weeks ago. Just as witty and funny as the Swedish Death Cleaning book, this one is filled with more tidbits of minimalism and cleaning, as she opens up about how to live a happy and free life through aging. I loved reading through her experiences. This woman knows how to live.

Though she lives in a different country than the country I grew up in, I see the differences and take them with a grain of salt. But that grain also allows me to see how she lived through her eyes; what she loved; and what she learned through her work, children, husband, and travels.

We may be different but we're more alike than different. And I love seeing those differences.

Regardless of who we are as unique and beautiful individuals, I think we can agree that Swedish Death Cleaning has logic and reason at its core, with a simple, minimalistic, and free life as a result.

Who can argue with a wonderful life like that? I encourage you to read her books. They're funny and full of sagacious advice on living minimally with love and authenticity at the center of it all.


Save or Give Away? │ Three Tips on Minimalism Living

Learning to Save What Needs Saving and Giving Away What Doesn't

When my youngest son graduated high school just a few weeks ago, I knew it was time to find the graduation decor I had specifically set aside knowing this occasion would arrive again.

My oldest son graduated college a couple years ago. 

When I set out to buy the exorbitant-costing supplies and decor for the party, as a penny-pinching individual, I knew I would save some of it for my next son's party. Not all of it, of course. Some of it got destroyed and used, as it should have. 

But for the pieces that I salvaged, and pieces I knew could also act perennially for my next son, why would I rebuy what I already had?

One of the tenets of homesteading is to hold onto things you may need in the future. While I'm not an advocate of holding on to everything (because I'm a minimalist and because I don't live in a remote area and everything I could ever need for myself or any of the people in my house is within a five-minute drive) I understand the value of a dollar and holding onto things you may need in the future. Also, you can be a homesteader and a minimalist at the same time. (A great book by Bea Johnson called Zero Waste Home covers this idea of combining the homesteading experience alongside minimalism.)

A dollar more I spend on gradation decor means one fewer dollar to pay off the mortgage early. One dollar spent on things I will eventually throw away means I should keep what I didn't have to throw away and remain a good steward of my finances.

A dollar saved is a dollar earned.

But, as a minimalist, I had very carefully thought through the ramifications of holding onto the decor. It would take up space; I would not use it at all for the next two years, and ultimately, it sat living a useless life doing nothing. 

However, it was a good amount of money I didn't have to spend again for my son's high school graduation (win.) They were being reused and enjoyed (another win). And this time, I could throw away the items because they were sufficiently used (or give them to someone else who can use them - which I did!)

So, how do you know what to save and what not to save? For me, it all comes down to a few things.

Substantial Money Savings: The term "substantial" is subjective. A hundred dollars to one person may seem like pennies to another. For me, spending another 100 dollars on gradation decorations is substantial. I decided that holding onto those items - for two years - was worth it. And in the end, it absolutely was.

I knew what decor I had, it was easy to reassemble, and everything looked fantastic. The savings outweighed the desire to buy the items again so that's what I did. And no one noticed I was using the same decor. If saving an item means substantial savings, it's worth holding onto.

Replaceable Versus Irreplaceable: Could I have bought new graduation items? Sure. But I didn't want to because of the cost. I also originally purchased graduation decor that could be reused. Meaning, I didn't buy decor with the graduation year on it, but instead purchased items more along the lines of "Congratulations graduate." 

I saved what wasn't as easily replaceable. I made sure to find what could be reused and did just that. The graduate decor was irreplaceable to me because I couldn't guarantee I'd find what I wanted in two years. So, that helped my decision to keep the items. If it's going to be hard to find and you know you will need it again in the future, that's a reason to save the item in question.

Love Over Like: I'm of the mindset now, as I've progressed through my minimalism journey, that liking something isn't enough to keep it in my life (I would dare to venture this concept even with friends as I get older, but that's a different post to contend with). If I keep something, I have to love it with every part of me and if I do, it's worth keeping. Like isn't enough anymore. I loved the graduation decor and valued what I paid for it, so I kept it for another day.

I can apply this to my closet, my collections, the accessories in my home... everywhere. It's a waste of my time and life if I keep clothes I only like, but don't love. What's the fun in that? Outfits should be special, unique, and fun. If it's all blah or the whole "Well, I paid for this and I sorta liked it at the time," that is no reason to keep the article of clothing. 

A day not wearing something I love is a waste of an outfit. Truly. As a vintage clothing wearer and seller, I firmly believe this. If I miss one day to really love what I look like, and instead wear something I only kind of like, that's one less day to live passionately about what I love.

Our days are numbered. People should know what you love. They should see it in your life, around you, and hanging from your head like a crown. From your activities to clothing, your job, to how you love people, it should be so obvious that you live the life you love, not out of convenience, or laziness, but because you truly love it.

When you're going through a closet, or cleaning out a drawer, or wondering if you should keep the party decor, think about these three things: if it saves you money, is irreplaceable, and is something you love.

It's quite simple.

And that's what it's all about.