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. 

 

Book Review: The More of Less by Joshua Becker

To be clear, this book is [NOT] a memoir about my own journey in minimalism. Although I share some of my own story along the way to illustrate what I am saying and hopefully provide inspiration, the book isn’t about me. It’s about you. It’s about the joys of owning less. It’s about how to implement minimalism in a way that transforms your life for the better.

Link to Book

Heya,

When I first started this adventure into Minimalism, I knew one of the first things I would do is read books about the topic. I wanted to get first hand accounts from others who have become hoarders, or semi-hoarders, like me. Joshua Becker is one of the authors that I discovered while doing research.

less

I really liked The More of Less. It chronicles the time when Becker first discovered minimalism, via a neighbor, and the almost immediate change it made in his life. He goes on to give great advice on how to become a minimalist, inspiration from his own experiences, and ways to let minimalism set you free from the confines of clutter. Sounds woowoo, but he does it in a very tasteful way.

minimalismempty

“Minimalism…it may conjure up images of sterility, of asceticism, of bare white walls, of grim frugality, or of someone sitting on the floor because he doesn’t have any furniture. How boring and colorless! Who would want that?”

In one chapter, he lists all the misconceptions of minimalism, and what normal people – who haven’t done the research – decide what living with less means. A Cult. A Fad. A misguided attempt to feel sorry for all the things they bought on their over-extended credit cards. He talks about the different ways to combat these thoughts and how to discover for yourself what it truly means.

There’s a humorous tone to the novel that allowed me to feel that this whole ‘minimalism’ thing doesn’t need to be stuffy or stuck up or serious or devoid of emotion and color. (One chapter’s title is The Battle of the Jell-O Molds) It can be jovial and exciting and tiring but yet exhilarating. That last one I felt, myself, when I went through my first de-cluttering session. I’d taken all the boxes of books out, for donation, and my table was completely clear. I could see the white! There’s was a feeling of euphoria as I noticed that it looked so together. So…adult-ish.

Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

At the end of the book, Joshua Becker includes his chapter notes on minimalism. From there you can get the names of authors, books, articles, and bible versus that have inspired him in his journey.

I would definitely recommend this to all newbie minimalists who are looking for guidance on starting out. If you’ve already read this book and want to discuss it, leave a comment below. I’m always down to chat with you guys!

Joshua Becker Creator of BecomingMinimalist.com

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

P.S. Yes, I hope to start writing book reviews again! Follow the blog to get more updates.

Meditation and Mindset

Heya,

As a part of the 31 Days of Introspection, I jumped into meditating. I read several books on the matter (You can find these in my Books: Minimalism, Meditation and Mindset post) and excitedly found time to meditate while at school, after my workout at the gym, while commuting (with my eyes open, of course) and before bed at night. I loved it.

Another thing that really made me excited about meditating is the app Headspace. At first I signed up for the free trial and then used the app’s free sessions. I love the cute little animations before each session and the topics were always great. I even made a google sheets page so I could keep track of the amount of times I meditated and for how long. My longest run was 15 days straight.

Then I fell off.

My parents came to town and quickly I forgot all of the things I wanted to implement for 2020. I didn’t intend to but everything disappeared in that first week. However, no need to dwell! Today I officially signed up for Headspace’s student account. It’s $9 a year instead of the normal $99 a year. —So if you’re a student, SIGN UP!!!

I plan to continue using the google sheet to keep track of the days I meditate and use my 2DR to stick to my Cherchez La Vie goals. If you do sign up, let me know!

 

Polish_20191207_041108132
Good Readdance,
Jade

 

(this isn’t sponsored. If you use another meditation service let me know! I’ll check them out!)

 

* From a newbie to other newbies! *

Minimalism: Emotional Wardrobe Set Back

Heya,

Ugh, I don’t want to say that it was a set back but today, in terms of my mindset and the way I flopped on the bed in self pity after I got home, it was. I started off the day excited. Traveling to the local Ikea to get home office inspiration and to check out prices. Going to Target to do much of the same. Bringing Naomi with me and she was happy the entire time, chilling in her stroller watching people peer under the hood to stare at her.

When I got to Target I thought Hmmm…here’s a great chance to try out the new style I’ve been creating on Pinterest. As I said in my Minimalism = Nothing to Wear post,  from now on I want to only choose items that spark joy for me (Marie Kondo method). I want to figure out what my personal style is so I can feel confident, loved, and pretty. As I shopped through the aisles I happily picked out boho dresses, flowy tops, and a selection of bras (because yes, pregnancy, postpartum, and breast feeding all change the girls).

I’m one of those moms that talks to Naomi as if she were an adult and, because I’m a Chatty Cathy, she listens intently. Although we can’t seem to get her to talk to us directly, she murmurs to her own toys. So as I’m going through the racks, I’m explaining to Naomi about the importance of ‘testing out’ styles before you fully ditch your wardrobe and buy the new items.

I head to the dressing room, she’s giggling because I’m tossing my dreads back and forth and entire with anticipation. As I put on each item I could feel the confidence and excitement draining from me. I could see my eyes in the mirror and every time I pulled another shirt over my head I lost a bit more. The first two shirts were horrible. They huge from my breasts and had no gathering. I basically looked like a flowy box on a pair of stilts. I took a photo of how ridiculous I looked, hoping to show it to my guy later and make a joke at my own expense and yet…hours later I still haven’t shown it to him.

The next shirt was so adorable on the hang. You know what I mean, when it hangs on those tiny white shoulders and you think, oh yeah, I’m TOTALLY this small. When I put it on I realized just how out of shape I really am. The dress was no better. It also hung awkwardly from my boobs, making me feel like Fiona from Shrek. Ugh. Today is just not a good body day, I’m bloated and I somewhat still look pregnant. That’s despite going to the gym consistently, using my 2 Day Rule, and I’m not happy about it. Just the other day I was looking small and trim. Now here I am. Set Back.

Back home I curl into bed and stick my face into the pillow. I want to cry. For a second I think, I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of the comfy stuff that I hated. At least it didn’t make me feel like crap. I hear the door open but I don’t crawl out from under my rock.

My guy came into the room, Naomi riding him with one leg pulled up for stability and so she can get a good vantage point to look down at all us peasants. He sees me and after weaseling the truth from me he says ‘Don’t worry, babe. The gym is a life style. You just keep going and keep going until you are where you want to be. And then you don’t stop. You keep moving. You keep doing ab work outs. The baby weight will come off, trust me. You’re beautiful and I love you,’ he lifts Naomi from where she sat on his lap and dangles her over me. ‘Naomi loves you. She thinks Mommy’s pretty, don’t you?’ and I release the comforter from my clutches just a little bit. Once I’ve regained a bit of my dignity, I uncover enough so that Naomi can climb onto me, her big smile filling me with joy. He bends to kiss me on my forehead and then my cheek. The support is overwhelming. Gosh, how much I love this man.

So yes, today was a set back. I was frustrated with all the bodily changes, the lack of joyous clothes, and my own issues with confidence. But I’m better now. I got up, pumped some breast milk for Naomi, hit the gym harder than I have in weeks, and walked Naomi around the living room. I plan to redo my Pinterest board. Now that I ‘tried out the style’ as I advised Naomi, and it didn’t work out I can re-evaluate and move forward. I also plan to stick to my 2 Day Rule and hit the stores again on a happier day with my goals in mind. I love peplum tops. I love clothes that are comfy. I love solid colors more than patterns —something I just recently discovered and solidified today. I do like stripes, HEY! They’re slimming. So, whew. Deep breath. I have a plan, a vision, and I’m back on track.

NOs: I really liked these dresses, this style, but today’s endeavors said these are going to be a NO.

YES: So I already owned a few items like this before I decided to become a minimalist. There were my few items that sparked joy. Here are items I’ve added to my Pinterest that align with my new style.

 

To see more selections for my new style as I add them, via Pinterest, click here to see my board!

Good Readdance,
Jade

 

 

* From a newbie to other newbies! *

Taking My Writing Seriously!

Heya,

How’s your 2020 going? Have you been keeping up with your goals? One of my Cherchez La Vie goals was to write more and to take steps toward being a better, more mindful writer. I want to baby my inner writer. Let her know she’s loved and that she can come out to play as much as she wants. In order to do this, I had to make take a critical look at what’s going on in my life that is stopping me from achieving my dreams.

Nothing but me. ME.

I’m the one stopping myself because I am not taking it as seriously as I need to. These things aren’t hard at all. I’m a procrastinator, and if you are too you know what I’m talking about, and I need to work on my will power. I can be completely honest with myself, as I’ve stated in other posts, and I know that ‘Just Do It’ should be my new mantra. (As a nod to Nike of course.)

The Switch

In my attempts to become a better fiction writer, while attending other writing workshops, I’ve discovered that I love creative non-fiction. It was something I never knew I could write before. I always felt that no one wanted to read anything ‘real’ from me. That the things I’ve gone through in my life (child abuse, foster care, racism, shame, sexually-intended attacks, pregnancy loss, etc) were too hard for people to read. Especially coming from one person. I’ve been asked how do I stay so optimistic about life, when up until a handful of years ago mine hasn’t been the greatest, and a part of me always wants to put a pinkie to the corner of my mouth and say ‘keep reading my non-fiction and you’ll find out’. So if you are a fan of my non-fiction writing, please comment, subscribe and like my posts to let me know.

Anyway, so during the 31 Days of Introspection I discovered this overwhelming love for creative non-fiction. I no longer cry when I try to write out my experiences, and if I do it’s because I feel a sense of weight being lifted from my shoulders. I’m able to release all of my demons onto the page and hope that the fact that I’m still standing is an inspiration to others. The reactions that I’ve received have been amazing and fill my heart.

Who wouldn’t want to feel that?

The MFA

Due to my switch from fiction to creative non-fiction I have suddenly realized that I need to rethink my choosing of MFA (Master’s of Fine Arts) programs. I have these large lists of fully funded programs that accept Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Non-Fiction and so far I’ve only been looking at schools that take fiction. Now I need to restart my search to broaden the circle. But I guess, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m also closing the circle. I know now exactly which program I want to go for and whichever schools don’t align with that are automatic NOs.
A Minimalist Office

Another way I’m taking my writing more seriously is by setting up a home office. I have created a Pinterest and everything. I’m just so excited. I’ve included a few photos from my board that are giving me major ‘writer’ vibes. I’m looking at Walmart, Target and Ikea’s websites for a nice desk with a drawer, a computer chair (I have one so I could replace my dining chair and move this one to the office area, I’m not sure yet), an organizer, and a desk lap. I’m really happy about this because I can section off time for homework when I’m at home and Tony, and Naomi, will know that when I’m sitting at my desk I am not to be disturbed. Hilarious that I think that’d work, right? A girl can hope.

 

How is your home office set up? Did you have a list of things to buy in mind? Did you create a pinterest board like I did? By the way, here’s the link to my Writer’s nook pinterest board! YAY!!!
Good Readdance,
Jade

Books on Minimalism, Meditation, and Mindset

Heya,

Because I’m a reader, above all else, I just knew that I had to share my list of books to help me dig deeper into Minimalism, Meditation, and Mindset. I usually lead a busy life due to school and Naomi and so lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the books through Overdrive.

Overdrive is an app (don’t worry, it can still be used through browser) that syncs to your library account. It is completely free. You can either get audio books to download or listen in browser, or you can get the eBook. It’s absolutely fantastic for when you need to be hands free – like when holding a baby or on your commute to work or school. Otherwise, the library is a great way to save money and space should books be an aspect you are minimizing.

If you’ve read any of these let me know! Also, if you have some great books about these topics, put them in the comments. I’d love to check them out!

That’s where this list came from! 

FYI: I’ll be adding to this list as I go and I’ll put a big fat X next to the ones I’ve completed. Check the KEY at the end. I hope to write short reviews of these books as well. 

Fingers crossed! 

Books on Minimalism: 

XThe Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker
XThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (Manga or Book version)

XThe Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

X — Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

XThe More of Less by Joshua Becker

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

C — Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Books on Meditation: 

X Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris — A 10% Happier How-To Book
X10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story by Dan Harris

 

Books on Mindset:

CThe Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

How to Stop Feeling Like Shit by Andrea Owen

DNF — The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Adulting: How to Become A Grown-Up in 535 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

C The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell

Authors Suggested to Me:
Colin Wright
Courtney Carver
Leo Babauta
Joshua Becker

Good Readdance,
Jade

KEY:

X: Finished

DNF: Did Not Finish

C: Currently Reading/Listening

* From a newbie to other newbies! *

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! *

Minimalism = Nothing to Wear

Heya,



In April 2019 I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl Naomi. She was everything that I hoped for, wished for. I loved the idea of being a mom and after she was born I fell in love with her even more. During my high-risk pregnancy I embraced all of the things that changed. I loved my stretch marks and even called them my Baby Ink. I took the engorged breasts in stride and the swelling feet was an uncomfortable thing I knew I could handle. My fluctuating weight – and fears of not gaining enough – didn’t hold me back from feeling optimistic. Any time someone mentioned a downside about their body, in regards to pregnancy, I took in the positives and thanked Naomi for remaining healthy.

It wasn’t until I was five months postpartum, that I felt in loving her, and all that a new babe brought to my life, I had somehow fallen out of love with my body. I still embraced the things that had changed but I just didn’t feel beautiful anymore. I didn’t feel happy with the way I saw myself in the mirror. Then, I noticed it wasn’t my body. It was my clothes. 

I hated my wardrobe. Most of the clothes that I wore during pregnancy would no longer fly. During those 9 months, I donned tons of cute crop tops, high-rise leggings and jeans. I wore tight dresses because they looked beautiful over my ever-growing belly. I didn’t realize that, after birth, I would no longer feel happy in these. My stomach was flabby. I often still looked pregnant due to swelling or bloating. My breast milk filled boobs wouldn’t fit into the tighter tops I’d worn just weeks before. Instead, I wanted to wear flowy things. I wanted to twirl in boho dresses that flowed around my thighs. I wanted to wear jeans again. I wanted to wear leggings beneath peplum tops and billowing blouses, at least until I lost the baby weight. Then after I wanted the carefree feeling and aesthetic that style would give me.

I had none of those things.

 


So I turned to my closet. The drawers were overflowing. There were clothes strewn about the floor because I didn’t have enough space to pack them in the already packed closet (that’s also filled with non-clothes items as well). I instantly recoiled and for a week I tried to put the daunting task of decluttering and figuring out my new personal style out of my mind. 

One section of decluttering is Clothing and I followed all of the rules. In using Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering, I was able to go through my closet and get rid of all the things that no longer sparked joy. I threw out things I knew I would never wear. Donated clothes that I couldn’t fit. I even found shirts that still had tags. I then embraced the folding and stood my shirts and jeans up in the drawers for easy removal. I flipped my hangers to see what I wore often and what never left the closet and donated those pieces as well. I even pared down my gym clothes and the enormous collection of jeans that could use a dusting. You know, because I hadn’t gone to the gym in almost a year and hadn’t been able to fit into jeans in at least six months.

After I did all the STUFF, I felt happy. My bedroom no longer had clothes strewn about, my clothes only took up one small corner of the closet, and my drawers could close all the way. I thought that the only things I kept were items that “sparked joy”. However, after three weeks, I still couldn’t find anything to wear. I would return to the closet over and over asking myself ‘do I really want to wear this’? I would look in the mirror and feel sadness that my clothes didn’t suit me. I still didn’t feel pretty.

One of the things that they don’t tell you after having a baby is that you will never be the same. You are a completely different person. You’re a Mom now. You do Mom things. You have a Mom body. You have to look at yourself in a different light.

Those things I wanted to wear weren’t in my closet. My wardrobe didn’t make me feel together or like a mom. A part of minimalism is owning things with purpose and loving the things that inhabit your space. I still held on to things that were from the ‘old me’. I had nothing that showed I had grown as a person.

 

Remember, this was before I fully embraced the idea of becoming a minimalist. All I knew was that something had to change. I pared my wardrobe down even further. My new question wasn’t ‘Does this spark joy?’ My new question was (is) “Does this reflect the new me?” and if the answer was no, I threw it out. Mostly. I knew I had to keep enough things so that I would be clothed because, you know, they don’t let us run around naked, but the majority of the items went right into a box.

My next step was to hit the thrift store. Say what you will, be who you are, but I love thrifting. I love it. Finding great pieces at great prices has been something I’ve enjoyed my entire life. I would go to thrift stores and garage sales with my mom on the weekends and I always came home with something I enjoyed. Yes, this is definitely what contributed to my issues with shopping and hoarding but we’ll talk about that in another post. 

 

On my trip to my safe place, I found ten items that I loved. I pulled them off the rack with an excited flick of a hand. Then I stopped. I looked down at Naomi, who was happily chattering away in her car seat, and shook my head. I was about to do the exact opposite of what I came to do. Find things that reflect me. I took another look and aloud I said “Naomi, does this look like the new me?” She smiled when she heard my voice but was otherwise no help.

Taking a second, even third, look at my selections told me that no, they didn’t reflect me. They looked like the same items I’d just tossed away. I decided to take them to the dressing room anyway, to see if I was just being dramatic (which…I usually am). After trying them on, I realized that only four out of the three pieces made me feel pretty. They made me feel like an adult woman who knew who she was and had her own style. A mother who is taking back the reins of her body. One that is redefining what it meant to be stylish, in her own eyes. They are items that would also look good after I’ve lost the 25lbs (that I am pledging to lose in 2020 – also another converse for another time).

 

When I got home, I excitedly tried on every piece and did a fashion show for my guy in which I employed my best catwalk. He laughed and told me I looked happy, light. I did. I do. With every piece that I’m buying that reflects me I no longer feel that my closet is fighting against me and my happiness. I can’t say “I have nothing to wear”. It’s a journey, as I’m no expert at this, but every time I put on clothing that fits and makes me feel sexy, pretty, positive, and light I know I’m on the right track.

I hope that I’ve inspired you to not only ask ‘Does this spark joy?’ but ‘Does this reflect the new me?’

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

 

* From a newbie to other newbies! *

Cherchez La Vie December 2019

Goals! Goals! Goals! *to the beat of the SHOTS song*

Here is my quick Goals list for the first 6 months of 2020. I’m really excited because I have some great ones that I’ve already been putting into practice with my ideas from the 31 Days of Introspection.

I want to implement the “2 Day Rule”. This means that I can’t go more than 2 days without doing something towards my goals. I’ll put 2DR next to the other goals that must apply to this.

1. Meditation! I want to make sure that I am taking time out of my day to meditate and center myself. One of the great things to come out of the 31 Days of Introspection is learning all I could about releasing stress and calming myself before I freak out. 2DR.

2. “Schedule” class prioress for my online classes. One thing that I realized about myself is that I need to have specific times for each class. Just as if I would go to a Face to Face class, I need to say Tuesdays at 10 am I am going to work on Theory and Practice. At 11 am…etc. This will help me stay focused!

3. Gym LIFE!!! I currently weigh less than I did when I was pregnant with Naomi. However, I’m almost 20lbs more than I was when I first moved to Orlando. I actually thought I was on the heavier side back then and it surprises me to look back and find that I wasn’t fat at all and almost had a flat (albeit flabby) stomach. In all seriousness, I’d like to get back to that size. That’s a big feat though. So I’m hoping for 15lbs in the first 6 months of 2020. I want to tone. I would like to get rid of the ‘pregnant’ look, even when bloated. I actually just bought an ab roller today.

4. Stick to my nightly 10 Minute Clean Up. I want to make sure I’m keeping the apartment clean and tidy as much as I can. Doing this nightly clean up will help me stay focused and remember why I wanted to become a minimalist in the first place. 2DR.

5. Read!!! I want to make sure that I take time to read every single day. Being a full time student and a mom means I often have less time to read when I’m in the thick of a semester. I’m including both physical books and audio books into this! I love using Overdrive to get free kindle books through my library. I am also lucky that our library system delivers. I don’t have to leave my house if I am unable to! 2DR.

What are your goals for 2020? Any resolutions that are life changing? New career? Weight Loss?

Good Readdance,

Jade

31 Days of Introspection: Week 3: Relevant vs Irrelevant Information

Heya,

So…the oddest thing to think about is the fluidity of life. My thoughts from one week to another. The way things change just by a few well  timed words. It’s all incredulous and I’m in awe at how things turn about.

From last weeks summary, I remember an emotional rant about perception and deleting my Facebook because of my inability to externalize the opinions of others. This week, my guy and I were out on our upstairs porch, him standing with one hand tucked in one pocket, the other balancing a thick cigar between two fingers, and I, sitting on the roof with my knees pulled up close to my chest, two boxes of matches jammed between my sock and the edge of my sweats, my cigar dangling from my fingers.

We chat about life. Our goals, as if we aren’t already aware of each other’s aspirations, and any emotional hindrances from the week. It’s not until rain starts to patter on the porch, chasing us inside, silently down a flight of stairs (so as not to wake baby Naomi), and onto our screened in porch that we get to the meat of it all.

This is something we regularly did, him and I, before Naomi was born. It wasn’t just cigars. Often times we’d go out to hookah lounges, or our favorite cafe that serves hookah, and we’ll spend hours entwined in each other’s legs, our thoughts mingling. This night, we discuss minimalism and how I’m on this new journey of decluttering and keeping only the things that “spark joy” and how he’s a natural minimalist and doesn’t even know it. He tells me how appreciative he is that I’ve taken this huge leap to make our house more of a home. That it’s safer for Naomi to scramble about on fawns legs because I’ve gotten my shit up off the floor and gotten rid of piles of useless, unread books. There’s a compliment in there somewhere.

Our convo, now that we are in the throes of Our Time, turns to what he calls Relevant and Irrelevant Information. I tell him how I want to delete my social media. How it all just makes me feel like shit. Why do I need justification? Why do I need people to “Like, Comment, and Subscribe” (Blah blah blah)? Why can’t I just get on and happily watch cat videos without thinking no one cares about me? That no one loves me? That their opinions cut so deep without them saying anything? And yes, we are long since working on my aforementioned abandonment issues from childhood, but this is a deeper level of questioning. This isn’t just the want to understand. This is the want to change.

He flicks the ash from the end of his cigar and turns to look at me. I don’t know if it shows in my face, as I gaze back at him, but I need to know. “You can never change the perception of others,” he says. “It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Their opinion, negative or positive, is just that. Their opinion.” I nod but my mind wanders and I think about all the “branding” lessons I’ve learned in business and how it makes a difference when showing “yourself” to clients or employers/employees.

What he’s talking about is different. “If you knew someone didn’t like you, Jade, you’d want to know why…” he knows me so well. I’d have questions, internally at least. “I don’t want to know why,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Even if they were  to tell me, what would I do with this information? I wouldn’t change myself to suit their needs. So why?” This -another thing we discussed at length- might make him sound arrogant but as someone who knows and loves him I can tell you, he is not. But that sentence right there tells you how much I care. What he was saying made sense to me though, or maybe it’s because we have a bond. He cares what Naomi thinks, I think, and the opinions of his parents but there’s little else that can shake him. I’m strong like that, but definitely not in the area. I care a little too much.

Later, when our cigars have burned down and I’ve had to pinch the lip end of mine with both hands so as not to burn my lips as I drag, I tell him an experience I once had with perception. “I once had this girl tell me she didn’t like me because I was too happy. Seriously, she was mad because I always walked around happy for no apparent reason.” Now, this was before the pregnancy losses, before the attack in college, before adult life chewed me up and spit me out again. I had a rough childhood. An angry one, and in that sliver of between time that was the last two years of high school, I had gotten to a place where optimism and light were my unspoken motto and she stomped all over it.

“So…” he flicked his cigar again, “ what did you do with that information? Be less happy?” He had that sly, sideways look. With one corner of his mouth tilted up and one caterpillar-like eyebrow raised.

“Right?” I smiled ruefully and handed over the scorching hot butt of my cigar. I folded my legs beneath me and tilted my head at him incredulously. Because I’d never thought of it that way. Yes, I always remembered that mantra that force into you as a kid ‘be who you are’ and ‘it’s okay to not be liked’ but I never took ownership of my own feelings in the matter. Responsibility of the part I played. I did dim my light for her. I remember seeing that chick in the halls and feeling like I couldn’t smile. Like I couldn’t be happy.

“See, the problem is that people aren’t honest with themselves. Be honest, Jade. You want people to like you. You want everyone to like you. Most people do.” I wasn’t offended but I did feel attacked. Damn, Bear (my nickname for him).

“Well,” I said. “It’s not that I want everyone to like me.” I took in a deep breath and he lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t have a problem with people not liking me! I don’t! I just…want to know why!”

”But it’s not Relevant Information,” he said. He went on this long monologue about how Relevant Information is the Information you get that you can actually utilize. Mostly from those you genuinely care about, and vice versa, and secondary players in your life that still affect you- like a boss or mentor. It’s constructive criticism. It’s when people build you up. It’s kudos. It’s even when someone is giving the harsh truth that might make you WAKE up, ask the hard questions, or the feedback that pushes you to strive harder toward your dreams.

“Irrelevant Information”, he says before taking a long drag on the remnants of his cigar and expelling slowly, “is all that information from the unimportant people in your life that you can’t use. it’s the opinions that serve no other purpose than to bring you down.” It’s what that girl said about disliking me because I was too happy. Was I supposed to dim my light? Why did I? What did I gain from that except heart ache! What did she gain except satisfaction — then she probably promptly forgot who I was. It’s the information from people who aren’t a part of your life, they don’t matter.

Now, it’s not to say negative information is always irrelevant. Like I said, if someone says something that does hurt you, but it pushes you to work harder, be stronger, move higher, then that is Relevant Information. It’s all crazy and feels like common sense, but me thinking of it in this way was like a light bulb moment. I was finally able to just let go of all the old friends, the sordid past and start over.

Keeping those people around will harm you, destroy you, dim your light. I realized I didn’t need this repeated social hiatus- not for this reason at least. I just needed to change my circumstances. I needed to change the audience. Get back to what my social media intention is really about— why I use it in the first place.

Minimalism. Declutter, not Deactivate.

I went from around 530 Facebook friends down to 32. (seriously? Old high school classmates that didn’t even like me back then and don’t talk to me now? Random people I met and never connected with again? Hundreds of people I’m dishing my soul out to and expecting them not to trample on it? Yeah. No.) I kept only the people I felt I truly wanted to keep. Then I deleted a few dozen more. As my guy suggested, join groups you like and the people who are into those topics will fill your page. It’s kind of like keeping the things that “spark joy” only…virtually.

I want my social media – my feeds – to be about Books, Writing, amazing places Traveled, and philosophy. Instead of my hiatus I’m re-tailoring with honesty in mind.

Week 3 Summary

Since you stuck around after that whole thing, thank ya thank ya. I’ll keep my summary of this week brief.

I met up with the Black Moms group for my area yesterday and it was amazing. I really feel like I might have found a community here that can help me and provide fun events that aren’t so solitary. I met several cool women with age variety – and a surprising amount of twin moms. We sat, had tea and cackled over all things culture. I definitely want to make it a point to attend more events in the future.

It really sucks not having a laptop. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do the business, writing and editing, university work, and freelance work from my IPad. If anyone wants to gift me a laptop, I’d love it. I’m laughing but boy am I serious. Har har har. We’ll figure something out eventually. We always do.

I’ve read almost 118 books this year. My goal was 100 due to the baby and switching universities. Most of those were in the second half, and a ton of that can be thanks to audio books. I use Overdrive which is a free app you can link to your library card. Oh man, I’ve read/ listened to so many in the last three weeks. Y’all should check it out.

Lastly, I’ve been keeping the apartment clean!!! Yaaaaaas! I’m so happy because now that I’ve made it into this routine I can clean so much faster and so much easier. I’m loving this minimalist life and I know I still have more to get rid of but the hard work is done.

One more week of Introspection, guys! Then I’ll spend the last 3 days of December reflecting over the month. Cherchez La Vie is the last Sunday of the month. That’s the real holiday, I can’t wait to look over the last 6 months and set goals and plans for the next 6. Things are turning out better than I thought and I’m feeling like a better, mentally healthier, and lighter person already.

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments your thoughts, goals or aspirations. Are you a minimalist? Interested? Yogi? I want to know it all, let’s chat.

 

Good Readdance,

Jade

To help me with my writing skills, my guy suggested that at least 50/100 of the books for 2020 have to be in a genre other than Romance and Detective/Mystery. Game on! I’ve already dug into science fiction a lot this year and I’m ecstatic about it, taking any and all suggestions!