Let’s start with this – there’s a reason that TCB has been a little bit neglected lately, and why my last post was from August (and yes, it is now OCTOBER!). A lot of things had happened at once, and are still happening right now. First of all, I got engaged to the love of my life, and second, we have moved out of the house I had lived in for the past 4 and a bit years and in with my fiance’s parents in an effort to save money. And this week, we will be moving once again into his grandparent’s basement where we will remain, hopefully, until we are able to purchase our own home. Phew. Throw in a job and a half, social obligations, an attempt to start up a regular exercise routine again, the usual errands, and wedding planning, and this blog is sadly not receiving the amount of love it deserves.
Despite all of this, my mind has still been mulling over topics and ideas in the background. The biggest topic which, of course, is minimalism. There is nothing like a lot of overwhelm to remind you just how important it is to continue simplifying your life until only the essentials remain. My first exposure to minimalism was through the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I’ll spare you the details (I wrote a review of it here), but it was produced in part by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, who are collectively known as The Minimalists. After exploring their website, reading a few of their books, and listening to their podcasts, I got to know many of the techniques, strategies, and tips they have that could help you simplify your life. One of those techniques were a Packing Party.
In Ryan’s words, here is the general gist of it:
“We decided to pack all my belongings as if I were moving. And then I would unpack only the items I needed over the next three weeks. Josh came over and helped me box up everything: my clothes, my kitchenware, my towels, my electronics, my TVs, my framed photographs and paintings, my toiletries, even my furniture. Everything. We literally pretended I was moving.”
I didn’t have to pretend – I literally was moving, and though my intention wasn’t to have this Packing Party, it ended up becoming one simply because there was so much stuff that, about a month or so after moving, I didn’t even unpack or use. Because we didn’t have to completely evacuate our old house (my parents are the landlords and they are now preparing to sell the house), I only brought what I thought I would really need or use, leaving behind things that were very seasonal (skis), too large to move unnecessarily (furniture), or that we would not need until we move into our own home further down the road (cutlery and other kitchen utensils). Even then, most of my clothes remained untouched, something I hadn’t noticed as much until it was in boxes that are still unopened.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, I was well aware that I still had quite a bit of downsizing to do. But I think one of the most interesting things I have learned through this faux Packing Party is not what I didn’t use – it’s what I did use, and what I missed. I, obviously, used all my work clothes. I used a few select pieces of casual clothing for when I was lounging around the house. I used only one set of workout clothing. I wore about half of the jewelry I own, usually wearing the same few pieces regularly. I used my daily/weekly toiletries and makeup. I used my planner, a notebook, and read my books. And I know exactly what I’ll want to go back for and bring with me when we move for the second (and eventually third) time.
In a way, these realizations that have helped me learn more about myself and my relationship with the various things I own are sort of comforting. Being a little bit displaced and disoriented for the past month or so has just proven how little I use on a daily or weekly basis, what truly, as the Minimalists would say, “adds value” to my life, and how unnecessary everything else really is. Most importantly, it has been a clear reminder that home is not a place, it’s a feeling. And when you’re surrounded by the right people, anywhere can become home.