Minimalism and Books

  I got rid of 2900 books. 

When I was a young foster kid, my mom learned the perfect punishment for me. Taking away my ability to read.

Punishments would include one or two months banned from the library, packing all the books in my bedroom and putting them outside my door – where she would keep them for weeks at a time (and I oftentimes didn’t get all the books back), and (when I was fairly young) sitting in front of the fireplace because “GO TO YOUR ROOM” isn’t a punishment when you’d rather be there anyway. 

I was an introvert who loved books more than people and had a hard time connecting with other students my age. This was greatly due to the large gap in age between the other foster kids and me. It was also due to my issues with trust, fears of getting close to others, and abandonment.

As time moved on, excruciatingly slow, I learned that you had to hold on to the things you loved. I learned that if you didn’t people could take them away from you, no matter what boundaries you set or what laws were in place. Your property, your freedom, your life.

It made me hold on to things. To gather them to my chest where no one could see them. To stick them in the back of my closet, or inside my pillowcases, or hide them under the false bottom I’d created in one of my dresser drawers. 

In adulthood, this didn’t change. I worked hard for my money. 80-85 hours a week to afford things no one could take from me. Books continued to be my solace and I filled my apartment with them. 

My closets had never-opened boxes of the books I had rescued from my childhood. My shelves overflowed, bowing beneath the weight of unread pages. Every surface, from kitchen to dining to living rooms, to stairs, to bedside tables had books on them. 

This isn’t a post shaming the surplus of books. It’s explaining my need to collect them. Not just read them. And trust me, I read a lot. It’s also explaining how I was able to let them go.

***

When Marie Kondo’s Netflix series first came out I had no idea what it was about. The one thing I did know was that she said to only keep 30 books. Everyone in every book group I was in  talked about it at length. For weeks, I dug into the show, into minimalism, and into the idea of living with less clutter.

They missed her point. 

It wasn’t my first introduction to minimalism but her Netflix series was the first that resonated with me because of this. She said to only keep items that spark joy. To hold them in your hands, feel their energy, ask yourself if it brings you joy.

If the answer is no, donate it. 

She also said (and I might be pulling this from her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – I read the anime version) that this process is less about what to “get rid of” or to throw away. It is more about what you keep. 

Think of it like this, if you only keep the things that spark joy your house is filled with only the things that bring you happiness. Nothing is weighing you down. Nothing there just for the heck of it. There’s more space for Light and love.

This resonated with me. I mean, I had begun hoarding all of these books because I wanted to keep the things I loved, but I wasn’t being selective. So would any ole book do? That seemed preposterous. 

So I went through my books. All of them. I read the synopsis for every single book, even if I had already read it. I separated them into several categories:

Books I Loved: 

These were the books I had already read and found them absolutely phenomenal. 

In this category, you could find Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, On Writing by Stephen King, Zeroes by Chuck Wendig, and my entire Argeneau vampire series collection by Lynsay Sands.

Books To Be Read:
This pile had all the books I hadn’t read yet – that I actually intended to read. Repeat. Actually intended to read. 

I still plan to read Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (the movie was great), Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine, and The Binding by Bridget Collins.

Books For Naomi:
A ton of the books I’ve kept from my childhood were ones I wanted to pass down to my children one day. Before breaking these down further, I put all “Naomi” books in the same pile. I knew I would donate some of these, too.       

I wanted to collect a few old-school Nancy Drew books. You know, the ones that made the entire shelf yellow? Love them! 

Books I’ll Never Read:

Instead of chucking every unread book into my TBR pile, I read the synopsis and was honest with myself. Will I read this book? Is it truly interesting or did I only buy it because of its popularity? If the answer was no, it went into the DONATE pile.

Although, I love James Patterson I have a ton of his “series” books that I’ve never read because I’m the type of reader that needs to follow the order of a series. So, I’d rather read these as ebooks or listen via audiobook.

Books Read but Unloved:

Another type of book that I hoarded was ‘Books I’ve Read’. It’s as if I kept them as a trophy for myself. Yay! You did it. Another book down! Nope, if I didn’t love it into the DONATE pile it went. Especially if I didn’t plan to read it again.

I read You by Carolyn Kepness and passionately disliked it. I kept this book for almost a year. Why?

***

After breaking the books into their categories, I packed up the ones I wanted to donate. The rest were shelved in my favorite way. By genre. Then “loosely” alphabetical by author’s last name.

In the first round of donating, I got rid of 2,900 books. I still have many and there are much more than 30. Although, Marie Kondo said not to start with the most sentimental area I had to. I’m glad I did. Once the books were gone (donated to the thrift store), it was easier to delve into other areas of the house.

In 2020, I had a huge set back due to Covid. I didn’t declutter as many things as I thought I would. During the pandemic, I gained 8lbs and emotionally took steps backward. I hung on to many things as well as buying some stuff I knew I didn’t need. However, I was able to donate another 150 books. That’s something.

Closer to the end of the year I found things leveling out. I found myself excited to lose weight, excited to get back to minimalism, and excited to see what a future of less clutter and more joy could be like. So, here I am.

Subscribe to continue reading more about my journey and how I heal through minimalism. 

 

Messy Minimalist: 4 Steps to Sticking With It

Heya,

One of the most difficult things that I’ve found, now that I’m on this journey, is that becoming a minimalist is very different from being a minimalist.

I say this because I was so excited to get started that I jumped right in. I had already ingested as much Marie Kondo as I could and requested tons of books on decluttering and having a comfy home. I created the 31 Days of Introspection and even before December 1st I was packing things away to donate or throw away. I swept through the clutter in almost the first day and was finished by the first week’s end. Everything was given a place and everything was then put in its place.

Then the reality set in.

Minimalism isn’t just about decluttering, just as I’d read. It’s more about the mindset and I just didn’t have it down yet. Well, I should say ‘don’t have it down yet’. I am a messy person. Messy, not dirty or gross. I clean things (bathroom, kitchen, lint from the dryer) but I’m less likely to have an empty table, books will be strewn about, and clothes aren’t put back in their place. I couldn’t figure out why this new thing I was so obsessed with wouldn’t last. I knew it had to change. I wanted my apartment to reflect the changes consistently.

Step 1: Be Honest

No, I’m not going to tell you ‘Click here to take this test at this link and get this…’ and all that jazz. I’m more interested in finding out your personality type strictly in relation to cleaning. We can talk about the deep dark depths of your soul another time. (Unless you just really want to tell me what your personality type is. I’ll take it. Comment below.) 

In order to get the best out of this step is to be honest with yourself. Seriously! Be honest! Figure out what type of person you are. Are you the ‘I’ll take the trash out later’ three days in a row type? Are you the ‘I can’t start eating until I completely clean the kitchen’ type? Do you need a checklist in order to keep you on top of chores? Do you just let dishes pile up until you have to clean before you can use your sink? If you set the goal “I’m going to make my bed every single morning when I get up” will you stick with it?

My Truth: Through Introspection and trial and error, I found that I wasn’t the type of person to pick up all day. One of the reasons I struggled in the beginning was because I am a mom and a full time student. I don’t have the time, or the motivation, to clean all day. I lie to myself and say that laziness doesn’t play a part but it does. When I have a moment to sit and hang out, I want to read, not clean. During that short period of craziness I would run around like a headless chicken and scream at anyone that left things dirty. Yeah, that’s not for me. I don’t want to become THAT minimalist. 

Step 2: Solve

In order to keep on top of things you must create a schedule or idea that could help you stay on top of things. 

Once I was honest with myself I was able to come up with a solution. I’m currently writing this as laundry sits on the floor in the bedroom, the living room has toys all over the place, and the kitchen is in disarray from roasting chicken and my parent’s 5 day visit. But I’m not frustrated by this, as I would’ve been only a month ago. In that 2nd week of the 31 Days of Introspection, I would get frustrated every time things were out of place. I had this “idea” of what Minimalism (capital M) looked like and any time we forgot to put a dish in the dishwasher or left Naomi’s toys out I’d go running to frantically make sure the apartment was clean. I was burnt out in less than two days. Now, I know what I’ve set in place for myself, and I’ve been sticking to it. 

My Solution: I follow the 10 Minute Clean Up. I came up with this on my own but you’ve probably heard of a quick clean up or created a mini version of your own. Throughout the day, I go about life as normal. Of course, I try to be “mindful” (my word for 2020), by putting things back in their place after I use them, but I don’t spend all hours fumbling after myself, the baby, my guy, and myself again. 

At the end of the night, before I grab a book and go to bed, I walk around the apartment. I spend 10 minutes straightening, wiping things down, picking up Naomi’s toys, loading the dishwasher, and taking out the trash. I set myself up for the next day by putting my laptop where it should go or making sure my backpack is set up for school. It doesn’t always take 10 minutes and sometimes I race against my own clock because I’m weird like that. Once all of this is done, I do my skincare routine and moisturize my dreads (newbie at these too, and I love them). Then I hit the sack.

I used to hate the dishes, and let me be honest – it’s still not my favorite thing, but it really doesn’t take that long. Especially if I am being mindful during the day by immediately rinsing them. The only real issue with the night time pick up is trying not to wake Naomi with all the clinking, clanking and water pressure.

Step 3: Stay Focused

Once I was honest with myself I realized that a 10 minute clean up before bed would help me round out my day. 

My apartment was clean, things were in their place, I’d already cut down on my ‘getting ready’ time by decluttering clothes and keeping a small shoe rack by the door. Also, my backpack or purse was already set (via the 10 minute clean up) and I can grab and go. Now, I just needed to stay on track. I was able to release the stress and stop chasing my guy around whenever he put a cup down on the coffee table or forgot to fold the blanket from the couch. Okay, that’s not true. I still do that sometimes because he’s not on this journey with me and so he hasn’t quite caught on to the concept yet. But he is working on helping me keep things together and I’m sure he’s much happier, in general, that our apartment is de–cluttered and consistently clean.

Every night, that 10 Minute Clean Up needs to happen. That being said, should something happen stopping me from doing it (too druuuunk, tired beyond exhaustion, in pain or hurt…there are reasons), I can’t let myself freak out. Light and Happy. Light and Happy. 

Step 4: Remember

This one is easy and not really a step. When I notice the apartment is getting a bit messy I remember why I decided to de–clutter in the first place. If I’m getting into bed and I haven’t cleaned, I get up before that warm plush mattress pulls me in. I do my quick clean up and get in bed happy, knowing that my apartment is clean, I’ve kept a promise to myself, and that I’m stress free. I can breathe.

So…Mission Accomplished.

What about you? Are you a messy person? Do you struggle to keep up with the neatness that minimalism has imparted? What was your solution to being a messy minimalist? Is it working? Have you had to try different things?

Good Readdance,
Jade    

 

 

* From a newbie to other newbies! *

31 Days of Introspection + Becoming a Minimalist

Heya,

It’s been a while, I’ve had so much to do with school, writing, and a new baby. A busy life has allowed me to realize how messy my life is. I own thousands of books, boxes upon boxes of papers and old notebooks, purses I never use (especially with a baby, I basically use a fanny pack), books I’ll never read (not to be misconstrued with the books I’ve actually read and loved), and just miscellaneous objects that are just all over the place.

bedroom

I’m sick of it. My true turning point came about a week ago. I have decided to get dread locs, that’s a story for another time, and I was up late at night and twisting my hair. My guy was tied up and asked me to grab Naomi because she was fussing. I thought I could grab her really quick and bring her into the master bed/bathroom area and I slipped on a pile of clothes by the bed. I almost cracked my head on the corner of the wall, with my little baby tight in my arms. I almost cried. Because of my messiness, my laziness really, I had almost seriously injured my daughter. Things had to change.

desk

 

Before I decided to fully jump in, I cleaned my bedroom. *APPLAUSE* Thank you! Thank you! I folded all of my laundry (which also includes Naomi’s laundry and even a bit of Tony’s) and then I finished my hair. I had some TV show playing, as usual, but I couldn’t focus on it. The entire time I kept looking down at my tiny human, watching her wiggle about on her little mat. I wondered how I would feel if she had really gotten hurt because of my carelessness. What about upstairs? In the loft? She could eat something, pull down a messy bookshelf or find a needle from my crochet bag. Or in the dining room where there are exact-o knives and random piles of books and a paintbrush she could poke herself in the eye with. What about that? What about her own tiny area in our living room? She could have swallowed nonsense we tracked in on our shoes or pull down unsteady books from those shelves.

livingroomminim.

So I decided to change things. I have to get my life together.

shelfwithplants

It’s not just about the material things in my apartment. My mind is messy. I’m not sure how to be fully confident. I don’t know what to expect from myself. I’ve been through a lot over the last decade and I have packed myself so deep into the ‘strength’ box that now, when my dreams are coming true, I’m not sure how to measure myself.

All I know is that I can finish school, graduate school, and become a professor but can I?
All I know is that I can be a great mom to my little rainbow baby, Naomi, but can I?
All I know is that I’ve been a fantastic woman to my guy, Tony, but have I been?

What’s my truth? Am I the best I can be? Can I be better? Who am I now that I’m a mother? (They don’t tell you that you feel like a COMPLETELY different person after giving birth. Why don’t we talk about this?) Why can’t I just believe in myself? Why do I question things that I say I Believe with a capital B? I just don’t know the answers to these questions yet.

KitchenMinim.

I demand to know the answer to these questions. I owe it to myself to find out. I owe it to my future self to find out. I also owe it to my guy and my daughter, who I hope to raise to love herself and trust herself.

31 Days of Introspection is all about changing my life. Not only do I want to embrace the Minimalist lifestyle, I want to find out who I am in this new role as a mom. I want to discover my true goals in life, not just the fanciful dreams I wish I could have. I want to go into 2020 with a clear head and plans for the new decade.

For the month of December 2019 I am going to take a hiatus from all my social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I plan to write my thoughts every day in one of the journals I sell in my shop, TheElyzabethCo, meditate, and focus on getting my apartment together. I’ve created a schedule for my mediation that will help me answer those questions.

So it’s Dec. 1st and I’ve decided to use my Black TheElyzabethCo Journal. I love Black and thought why not use the grid page pattern. I’m also going to keep track of The Twitch (the times I itch to get on social media, etc) and so the grid pattern is perfect because I’m shading in a box for each time. Oh lord.

e65fff25-a215-48bc-a3d5-20fae52d204d.jpeg

 

Stay tuned for the specific details regarding this month! I plan to upload them November 25th!

livingroomminim2
The photos I’ve included in this post are inspirations I pulled from Pinterest. I want my apt to be homey, with plants, comfy and exciting, but clean and decluttered. I want to focus on furniture that matches our style and isn’t just thrown together.

Good Readdance,

Jade

 

* From a newbie to other newbies! *