Monday, June 21, 2010

Sarah and the Art of Minimizing

Make that HAD a lot of clothes.

As my departure date draws nearer, my list of things to do over the next four weeks has been growing; it seems that things are being added faster than they are being checked off. But over the past few days I have managed to officially completed one of my goals: Minimize.  On Monday I got rid of nearly all of my clothes; I traded them in at consignment stores for some higher end items that will last longer and keep me dry during the rainy months (which I'm told are January through December, with a slight break in August).

I also cleaned out every hiding spot I've created in my apartment. There's the nook between the bookcase and the window where important papers go to die; the drawers in my desk that have become a graveyard for old (and ugly) stationary and over-sized thumb tacks I apparently thought would be a wise purchase at the time; under my bed where the huge tote bags, satchels, and luggage found their permanent resting place; and, most frighteningly, "The Linoleum Room." The Linoleum room is a spare room that came with our apartment. It has linoleum floor s(hence the name), a sink, awkward and unusable shelves, and windows that lead to the fire escape, that, unfortunately don't open for various reasons. When we moved in, we slid all our odds and ends that didn't have an immediate home into The Linoleum Room with wonderful intentions to sort through them later. Then we made the mistake of hanging up a curtain in the doorway so you wouldn't be able to see the mess. A year and half later, the odds and ends are still there, with many more additions that have settled in quite nicely.
Saturday I forced my way through box on top of box filled with unused decorations, birthday cards, board games, cleaning products, and miscellaneous mementos. My mantra: "Do I really want to pack this?" And if there was still some hesitancy: "Will this really fit in my Honda Accord?" The answer was usually a resounding NO and the Good Will on Broadway is now fully stocked with all the junk I've collected since I moved out of my parent's house 5 years ago.

I looked around The Linoleum Room, with linoleum floors now actually visible and my brain felt so much lighter. I turned to my closets, opened the doors and examined the few articles that survived the purge. My shoulders didn't feel quite as heavy as they did a few days earlier. Even though I'll be going to Portland with nothing but some picture frames and my books, and will most likely be that girl that wears the same outfits every week, I feel so liberated. All that "stuff" was only holding me back. It's hard to wrap your mind around a major life change of any sort when you're anchored by so much stuff.  And it really was just "stuff." None of it meant anything important, none of it was hand made or given to me out of love or importance. It was plastic and cheap and making me feel toxic without my even knowing it.

I tried to look at the experience as an artist's date.  I was able to sort through several boxes of great memories and flip through some old journals and laugh at what a changed woman I am.  But being able to purge so much was also a great exercise in reconnecting with my right-brained self.  As a creative individual, de-cluttering the mind is so important; you have to push away the clutter to let the inspiration trickle in. Creating a clutter-free environment is a huge part of that. I'm a big believer that the space you make around yourself is a reflection of what's going on in your mind. I've proven that fact in my own life time and time again: when I'm distracted or depressed or stressed, the environment around me starts to mirror that with piles and messes and acclimation's.

Handing bag after bag to the employees at Good Will and looking back at my empty car and thinking about that empty Linoleum Room and empty closets, I could feel my mind open up a bit. I didn't feel so weighted down and the task of packing up a Honda Accord didn't feel so daunting. Getting to check that off my list was HUGE and now I'm wondering what to do for the next four weeks before I leave. (Just kidding, I still have plenty to do).

But now I have to ask for advice, and I think it might resonate more with our female readers.  As I was cleaning out those over-sized bags under my bed I came across... The Boyfriend Box.  You know, the box you keep little trinkets you collected from various relationships over the years.  All of the things I've kept only represent truly good memories, and as I flipped through the items I couldn't help but smile in remember the spirit in which they were given.  But, as usual, those good memories come with the crappy realization that are, in fact, only memories.  So, my question for you fabulous readers is: Should I take the box with me to Portland or do I throw the whole thing away?  Have you dealt with a similar situation and if so, how?  Did you burn the box?  Because I'm thinking that might be kind of fun.  Just kidding.  Sort of.


  1. Oddly enough, I ran into a similar situation: the Boyfriend Drawer. I lives beneath my bed and is a plastic organizer drawer...thing. I'll through everything out if you throw your Boyfriend Box out. Deal?

  2. If the memories are good ones, keep it. Someday when you're old (ahem), you might like having those mementos. By then, they might not represent old relationships but instead reflect you, at a younger, different time in your life.


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