After #MinsGame

When you spend 31 days tossing out 496 things you don't need, it's going to affect you.

It's going to have an impact on your home, your brain, your relationships, your life in ways you may not have expected. It may even get you so addicted to minimizing that you can almost see yourself as a stereotypical minimalist.

Not my house, btw. I googled "stereotypical minimalist" for effect. 
I said almost.

As I've mentioned previously, the July #MinsGame wasn't my first experience downsizing. I'd already tried the KonMari method. I'd purged again after watching Minimalism: a Documentary about the Important Things. This time around, after already ridding my home of so much excess, it impacted me so much more deeply than I expected, in some practical ways and in some more meaningful, emotional ways. I'd like to delve into that now.

1. The Minimalism Game allowed us to pare down our wardrobe for our new house.

To appreciate this, you need to see our current closet situation and our upcoming closet situation.

Below is a panorama of our current bedroom closet, at our apartment (post-MinsGame; I WISH I had a before pic):

It's a huge walk-in, nearly the size of our second bedroom at the duplex we rented in Missouri.

Okay. Now. Here is the master bedroom closet at the house we are in the process of purchasing:

Yep. That's it. The one storage spot that will hold clothing for both of us. 

I really want to rant here about how our country has changed since the construction of this house in the 1960's, how modern consumerism has required us to build homes with walk-in closets the size of bedrooms to accommodate our ridiculous hoards of stuff. In 1964, when this house was built, that closet was perfectly adequate. But in 2017, such a closet, for two people, is socially unthinkable.

I could go on, but that's not what this post is about.

Anyway, to prepare for this transition, we've decided to try to fit our collective clothing in this one little section of our closet that is approximately the size of the closet at the new house.

Tada! The Minimalism Game helped us accomplish this.

2. I finally let go of all the skinny clothes that had unknowingly become a burden.

An entire dresser, an enormous piece of furniture that took up a quarter of our bedroom, contained only things we had...outgrown.

My husband and I have both gained a significant amount of weight since our wedding. And like so many people, we've been holding onto to every single too-small piece of clothing we had in hopes of someday losing enough weight to fit into them again.

Never mind that some of these clothes were worn, pilling, or frayed.

Never mind that many of these clothes weren't that comfortable to wear when I was skinny.

Never mind that most of these items were cheap, trendy, fast-fashion pieces that will no longer be "in style" when I reach that weight again.

Never mind the guilt, frustration, embarrassment, and humiliation I felt when I saw them. The way they made me feel inadequate when I walked past them. The way they reminded me of how I'm not living up to the standards of the person I used to be.

It turned into this deep, psychological process. I'm not that person any more. Even if I take control of my health and lose weight, I won't go back to being that person. I don't really even want to go back to being that person. What is the point of holding onto that person's clothing? Really, what is the point? 

Slowly, piece by piece, day by day, I let it all go. 

And I feel lighter. Freer. I didn't realize it, but those skinny clothes were weighing me down almost as much as the weight I'd gained physically. I feel so much better after pushing them out of my life.

3. I am calmer in my surroundings.

We all are influenced by our surroundings, but I suppose I'm more sensitive to it than other people. I've noticed a direct correlation between my surroundings and my mood. Clutter stresses me out. Uncleanliness frays my nerves. I become uncontrollably angry and moody in a messy house. 

Likewise, when my desk is neat and tidy, so is my mind. When my home is clean, organized, and inviting, I am calmer and more open to people. 

When you get rid of things you don't need, things that don't bring you joy or add value to your life, when you surround yourself only with things you use and love, it makes a difference emotionally and mentally. 

Forget amassing wealth, buying cute decorations, and trying to make your house Pinterest-perfect. Your home is your safe space. It's where you go to relax, to cry after a hard day, to create, to spend time with the people you love most. Creating a calm, inviting, well-curated environment in your home should be a priority. 

4. I made some extra money by selling junk I wasn't using.

This is always a plus! Especially for those of us following Dave Ramsey's methods. 

We took all those skinny clothes to Plato's Closet and Style Encore, two second-hand clothing stores that will give you cash for clothes that are 1) lightly worn, 2) under two years old, 3) still considered stylish. Between the two places, they took about twelve items and gave us $33.00 cash. 

I also listed a few items on eBay that I thought might bring more money that way. 

I've already sold four things and made over $40.00.

We drove to Chattanooga with two boxes full of discarded books, CDs, journals, Bibles and board games to sell to McKay's, a giant warehouse that buys and sells used media.

They took almost everything we brought and gave us $81 cash plus $3.75 store credit.

After all the stuff I've sold...I still have this huge pile of #MinsGame items to put in a yard sale this fall.

Just a reminder that getting rid of stuff you're not using can actually bring you some extra money. 

5. I figured out (at least partially) what things I thought were important to me and what things actually are important to me.

A recurring pattern presented itself while I sifted through my excess: I'm holding onto _____  for a craft project I can do someday. 

The Uncomfortable Truth I realized: I spend zero hours each week making crafts.

I forced myself to come to terms with this fact, ask myself some questions, and make some decisions. 

Will I ever actually get around to making something with the remnants of this Jane Austen coffee table book? Do I even want to? Do I really want to keep these 200 card-sized envelopes so I can start an Etsy shop that sells homemade cards? Do I really want to spend time each week making cards? Do I seriously want to take that on? And if so, when do I plan to accomplish this? What hours will I set aside each week to make this happen?

That's when I discovered that I don't even really want to craft. Or, at least, not badly enough to dedicate my rare, precious free time to it. The idea of DIYing is appealing, but I'd much rather spend my free time writing. Or hiking. Or traveling. 

None of which I do all that I often, I realized. 

Like my skinny clothes, all of my uncompleted craft projects were sitting around, staring me in the face, reminding me of my many failed aspirations. But when I actually pondered this, I realized they weren't even my aspirations anymore. I don't care about an Etsy card shop. I don't have any idea what I'd do with those Jane Austen pages. 

These things don't matter to me. So I let it all go. 

Perhaps some truly crafty person will find my yard sale a treasure trove and will actually gain value from my reasonably-priced discards. 

This feels like such an important realization. Discovering what you feel obligated to do in your free time versus what you actually would find joy in doing with your free time? This has the potential to change your life drastically for the better. 

So often, I struggle with indecisiveness. When I find free time, I'm so overwhelmed by all the things I could do, I usually end up watching Netflix. And I immediately regret wasting my time in this manner. Maybe, if I could eliminate some of the options I don't really want to do, I'd be more likely to choose something I do want to do. That's ultimately what my craft project junk has become. One of too many options, a distraction from something I'd enjoy. 

6. I am dreading Christmas more than ever. 

Like everyone, I've held onto sooooo many things I don't want, don't use, don't even like, simply because I love the person who gave them to me. There's a lot guilt associated with tossing out something your sweet mama took the time to pick out for you, something she used her own limited income to purchase for you. 


When so many of these things- that's all they are, mind you, just things- begin to take up space, collecting dust as they sit untouched, they, like the too-small clothes and the unused craft project pieces, become a burden. They become one more thing you're gonna have to box up and carry down three flights of stairs when you move. One more thing you're gonna have to unpack and find a place for in the new house, even though, if you're honest, you really don't want it at all. 

You never wanted it, actually. 

When your mom asked what you wanted for Christmas last year, you said, "Nothing. We need nothing. Except to get out of debt. We don't need any more stuff. Gift cards or cash are the only things we could use right now, if you want to give something for Christmas."

But because she feels like she has to give you something for Christmas, she ignored your requests and bought you stuff anyway. 

This has become such an issue as an adult. Every year, Christmas gets harder, because you realize that all you really want for Christmas is for somebody to pay your bills. Or a vacation. 

I truly don't want more stuff. I want experiences. I want memories.

I wish that, for Christmas, instead of buying each other stuff we don't want or need, we could all just pool the money we would have normally spent on gifts and go on a trip together. Or have some kind of shared experience like this. 

But because of our consumerism-centered culture, these deeply-ingrained ideas of what Christmas is supposed to be- giving and receiving stuff you bought at the mall in a stressful rush- so many struggle to not give physical, something-you-can-open gifts. 

So, after this round of the Minimalism Game, I can't help but think to myself, Christmas is a few months away. Nooooooo. I don't want my family to buy me more stuff. I can't do this again. Please no.

I'm just dreading it. I want my entire family to sit down and re-evaluate what we want Christmas to be about, but getting everyone on board for this is impossible. Christians love to go on and on about The True Meaning of Christmas, all the way to the mall on Black Friday. I just wish we could get past the Christmas that consumerism has shoved down our throats and actually focus on the nice, happy, warm-fuzzy talk we talk about true Christmas. 

So maybe now is the time to start having these discussions. Now, when Christmas is still a few months ahead in the distance. Now, before people start their shopping. 

Whew. That was a bit of a tangent, but it's a very bothersome consequence of the Minimalism Game. The idea of getting more stuff I don't need after working hard to get rid of nearly 500 things I don't need...ugh. Just no.

7. I basically want to get rid of everything.

Most days, as I walk through our apartment, I still get overwhelmed. Mostly in the kitchen. We still have more stuff than our cabinets will hold. Things are crammed into every nook and cranny, there's no neatness, no organization...

Sometimes, I just want to get rid of it all and start over. 

But anyway, I said this to say that I'm not finished minimizing. I don't think I could get rid of another half a thousand things (not if I want to stay married, anyway, lol), so this month, I'm trying to find at least one item each day to remove. 

One month, 31 things. A far less intense version of the Minimalism Game, but a Minimalism Game nonetheless.

Have you played the Minimalism Game? How did it affect you? Do the things around you add value to your life, or does all the stuff create anxiety, frustration, or any other negative emotions? Do you think you would benefit from taking on this challenge? 

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