How I started using my special items EVERYDAY

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Here is a common pattern most of us struggle with:
We receive, or buy, or inherit, or are gifted, something 
We pause and put off using it because…

  • It’s beautiful,
  • It’s expensive
  • It’s a treat
  • It’s special
  • It’s hard to replace
  • It’s hand made
  • We were taught not to waste (insert any reason)

We comfort ourselves by giving ourselves rules.

  • I will use it when…
  • Save it for…
  • Try it when…
  • Use only a little bit in moderation
  • Or pick a special occasion we will give ourselves permission to use it.

All of this comes from convincing ourselves we need a good reason to enjoy it or believing we need to meet a certain standard before we enjoy it.

What if we flipped this thinking on its head?

We have LOADS of rules for using things because we think these rules will make using this item better, more enjoyable, and increase the pleasure. However, what I have learned is the act of DECIDING to use something takes away the enjoyment. I believe that if we give ourselves permission to use something EVERYDAY we will actually enjoy it more, even if it results in it being used up, finished, or destroyed earlier than if we had saved it. At this point, you’re begging for some examples and I have just the thing for you. 😉

Let’s start with an item that society approves of wearing everyday: the engagement ring. 
My engagement ring is the most beautiful, most expensive, most precious item I own and I wear it every single day. I am convinced a large part of the enjoyment comes from not having to decide when it’s appropriate to wear it or wondering if I’m overdoing it. I wear it, enjoy it, and use it, every single day. No excuses, requirements, or decisions are needed.
Now, what if it were not approved by society to wear your engagement ring everyday? When would you wear it?
Every Sunday?
For nice events?
On your anniversary?

Heck, it’s an expensive piece of jewelry and it’s definitely safer in a box, but that’s not what society dictates and it’s not what we do. Other examples of society-approved daily-use items are: 

  • Your phone
  • Your watch
  • Your computer
  • Your car
  • Your headphones

These are all items we use everyday and don’t have to decide when it’s appropriate. If anything, we use them too much (but that’s a different story 🙃).

Now let’s cover items that society does not encourage us to use everyday starting with specialty food items. 

This summer I had a coupon for expensive granola that I never allowed myself to buy. It was delicious and I knew after this package was gone I wouldn’t be buying it again at full price. I also knew that in the past when I had bought expensive food and portioned it out slowly it forced me to decide every time if it was a worthy time to have it, and overall it took away from the enjoyment. For this granola I made a deal with myself: I could have this granola everyday and take it everyday for lunch, until it was gone. Making that decision made it so that I could fully enjoy it. 

  • No decisions
  • No weighing the pros and cons of having it
  • No holding back
  • Everyday, until it was gone.

I know, this may sound crazy, “eat the granola, Gillian,” this is not a big deal. However, we do this ALL the time! We open something, decide there are rules for when we can enjoy it, and put ourselves through a decision vortex before enjoying it. 

Last winter I bought a beautiful pea coat I had been eying for YEARS! (Seriously, I can’t even count how many women I stared at who were wearing this coat and pointed out how beautiful it was to anyone who would listen… I digress).

The much sought after pea coat

After having to borrow my husband’s pea coat for a special event I knew it was time, so I finally pulled the trigger and bought it. Now, this pea coat was expensive, I pride myself on buying most things second hand and this was way more than I usually spend. After searching for a while for this coat second hand in my colour and size I gave up and bought it new. Knowing that this coat would be labelled special just because of the price, I again made a rule for myself: you can wear this coat everyday, for any occasion.

  • Going to work
  • Going for a walk
  • Meeting friends
  • Running errands
  • There was no task too simple or too lowly that this stunning, cigar pea coat wasn’t worthy of. 

What did this do? It allowed me to fully enjoy this coat. I didn’t get caught up in arguing with myself, instead I seized any moment or opportunity to wear it. Recently, temperatures have dropped and I pulled out this coat for the first time this season and all the feelings came back. I love this coat, I know I will wear the heck out of this coat this season.

Other examples of everyday items:
My expensive face sunscreen. I found myself arguing ‘it’s cloudy, I won’t be outside much, I should save it.’ Nope, nada, not happening, wear it, use it, enjoy it. Daily wear, baby!
My candles for my morning quiet time. I am allowed to light a candle everyday, no special requirements needed.
My special long matches. I had made a stupid rule that I had to be lighting at least 3 candles to warrant using these fancy matches. How often was I lighting 3 candles? Never, so instead I use them everyday to light my morning candle. 

Fancy matches and candles = Everyday matches and candles


Crystal drinking glasses for my gin and tonics. Every time I pour a drink this is what I reach for. Why? Because they make the experience so much better! 

Now, this is a new way of using your stuff and I know it will come with lots of concerns and excuses.

By using my items everyday won’t I wear them out or waste them?
Yes, by using these items everyday you will finish them and wear them out quicker than if you wore them or used them a few times a season. Here is how I like to think about this: let’s say my sunscreen has 100 applications. I can either use those in 3 months or 1 year, it’s still the same number of applications. Same goes for my coat, it has the same number of wears whether I wear it every day of winter for 4 years or over 10 years.

By using my items more I’m at higher risk to break them or ruin them. 
Yes, you definitely are! Everything would be safer kept in a secure box. However, this is not what these items were designed for! These items were designed to be used, enjoyed, and seen by the world. 

Let me illustrate with a story. The other day I was putting away my engagement ring and dropped it. I could not see where it landed and ended up tearing apart my closet to find it. As I was looking for it the thought crossed my mind ‘If I never find this ring I will know I honoured it, enjoyed it, and loved it every single day.’ It was so comforting to me that I had used this item to its full potential. I eventually found it (it had landed in the rolled up sleeve of one of my dresses). This event reminded me that there are lots of opportunity for items to get lost, ruined, or wrecked, but that’s not what we need to focus on. 

Won’t using these items everyday decrease the novelty and make them less special?
This is when I bring up my engagement ring and pea coat. I wear these items so much and so often that they have become companions. I love them so much more than the items I wear every once in a while. It’s a new level of specialness, they are my companions, they are my prized possessions, they are more than novel, they are precious to me. You know what’s even better than novelty and special? Feeling like your favourite items are your companion. 

What if I look too fancy? The reason I save my special item is because I don’t want to be considered too much. 
Oh girl I get it. ‘What will people think and am I too much?’ These are two of the biggest questions that hold us back. Listen, if I were to decide to wear my engagement ring based on what people would think it would never come out of the box. It’s shfancy, but guess what? I love it! Let them think what they want! My pea coat? Fancy as hell! It’s cigar coloured, my perfect colour, and it’s such a great shape. Guess what? I don’t care what people think, I love this coat! Let them think whatever they want, I love what I love and I love this coat!! A bonus of using something everyday is that the fanciness decreases but the specialness increases!

Are you saying I should use my good china everyday? 
Yes! So many people have reached out to me saying they suddenly realized they could use their good china everyday and they aren’t looking back. I honestly believe a large part of this enjoyment is because they don’t have to decide to use it. Breakfast, brunch, or Christmas dinner, enjoy that pattern!

How to get started
Now, if this idea scares you and is so far from how you currently use your items, I’ve got you. Here is my recommended course of action.
First, choose ONE item you think is special, the thing you monitor and use in moderation

  • Coat
  • Shoes
  • Purse
  • Watch
  • Necklace, ring, bracelet, earrings
  • Lotion, moisturizer, sunscreen
  • Makeup (mascara, lipstick, blush)
  • Perfume
  • Loose leaf tea
  • Candle
  • Notebook/planner/cards

Second, think of this item as your signature. This is just what I wear, use, eat, drink or smell like now. This is what I’m known for. No reasons, no requirements, no rules, just pure enjoyment. 

Third, binge it. Use it whenever, wherever. I at least recommend using it everyday for the first week.
Take it in, enjoy it, savour it, revel in it. you are using your item as it was intended to be used. 
As it becomes your habit to enjoy it everyday, ask yourself ‘has my enjoyment increased or decreased?’ In the beginning, there will be some trepidation. What if I spill? What if I look too fancy? Let those ‘what ifs’ spin as you enjoy your item.
Finally, as you become more comfortable using this item everyday, continue to think about other items that could become your default or signature.
Remember, by removing the rules, requirements, and reasons we remove the biggest thing that decreases enjoyment: the decision to use something.


What do you use every day? What do you struggle to use everyday? What would help you enjoy something everyday?

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55m

Dare to fight the Excuses

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I had decided to have a Dare to Wear Event. I had sent out invitations and issued the challenge- wear the dress you have nowhere else to wear. I figured out the how, and then followed up with something very important: I sent all my guests an FAQ that answered all of their excuses.

You see, when you invite someone to a Dare to Wear Event, you are inviting them to step outside of their comfort zone. There is a reason these dresses never leave the closet. There is a reason we make up excuses for why we can’t wear it. This is when you come alongside your guests and you tell them – “I see you, I understand your fear, and I will support you, let’s dare to wear!” Without further ado, the letter to my guests.

Hello Ladies!
You received my invite and realized, this is no common event you’re attending, this event requires you to dare to wear!
Perhaps your mind took off like a racehorse, running a thousand miles an hour thinking about all the items waiting in your closet, that you can’t wait to wear.
Perhaps your mind went blank. What? Wear a fancy dress?
Perhaps you started to think of all the reasons you couldn’t attend, all the reasons it’s better to keep that dress locked in the closet.

I get it, this event asks you to be daring.
It asks you to step outside your comfort zone.
I do not take lightly what I’m asking you to do. So, I thought I would help you with some common questions and a reminder: there is a room full of beautiful, courageous, daring women waiting to encourage you and accept you. This won’t be like that time in high school when you took a risk and heard the whispers. This will be different. Read on and get excited, we are going to have a wonderful time in our finest garb! 💃

My Dare to Wear Event FAQ, read on below.

What if I have nothing to wear?
Are you sure? Nothing? There are no rules except you have to wear the dress you have nowhere else to wear. Seriously, look waaaaay at the back of your closet and see what you find.

What if I don’t have the courage to wear my fanciest dress out of the house?
Courage isn’t something you have, it’s something you do. You may feel uncomfortable, but the beautiful thing is we will all be uncomfortable together, making it an exciting, encouraging, accepting space to be brave. To practice your courage. This is one of those times I can promise you, you will not be alone.

What if my outfit is over the top and too much?
When we put on an outfit we often ask ‘am I too much?’ At this party it’s not possible to be too much. You won’t break any expectations or standards. You just come, in your best dress, with butterflies, discomfort, and all.

What if this is the first time I’m wearing this item?
Even better! We buy items for the life we want and think there are requirements for wearing our stuff. This is that event. This is the life you’ve been waiting for. Just know that there is a room full of women waiting for you, encouraging you, and can’t wait to see this dress’ debut!

What if this item was for a special occasion like a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, or a Christmas party?
That special occasion has come and gone and this dress remains. You get to choose, let the ridiculous rules stand in the way, or make your own rules and choose to wear this dress. Dare to Wear!

What if I need to buy something to make my outfit complete?
Nope, nada, not happening! Your outfit should cost $0.We are shopping our closets, only! We are experimenting and trying and mixing and matching. We are not purchasing. Pair, play, practice, but don’t purchase!

What if my body has changed and NONE of my fancy clothes fit?
Pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, breast feeding, surgery, illness. I get it, our bodies change. Here’s where we go into our closets with fresh eyes. What accessories do you have that you never seem to wear?

That scarf
Those heels
That costume jewelry
Those dangly earrings
That statement necklace
Those tights
That belt

This is not an exercise in suffering, but an exercise in freedom. Go in and put on something you haven’t given yourself permission to wear. Adorn your body with love and beautiful items, who says a statement necklace doesn’t go with leggings?
Also, who says the dress has to fully do up and you can’t show a little cleave? 

I can’t wait to see you, celebrate you and enjoy putting our excuses on hold, together!

Did I miss any excuses? What would you need to be answered to be able to dare to wear?

The excuses were up!

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55m

How to Host a Dare to Wear Event

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I recently hosted a Dare to Wear Event for my birthday. The premise of the event is simple: you issue a challenge to your guests to wear the dress they have nowhere else to wear. If this kind of event interests you, read on for the ground rules of how to host your very own Dare to Wear Event.

The Premise
You’re hosting a party and the rule is you and your guests have to wear a dress you have nowhere else to wear. You know the one, no matter what the event, it never makes the cut and never comes out of your closet.

☑️ It’s too tight
☑️It’s too bright
☑️It’s too long
☑️It’s too short
☑️It’s too edgy
☑️It’s too tame
☑️It’s too expensive
☑️It’s too cheap
☑️It’s too hard to clean

Whatever the excuse, the excuses are up and you have to wear that dress to this event. Think wedding dress, bridesmaid dress, dress you bought for that weird wedding, dress you made yourself, dress you love but have no reason to wear. It’s that dresses time to shine!

I wore my wedding dress

The Purpose
This is an event to practice using your best. If you want to stop at dresses that’s fine, but think of all the other things you never have a chance to wear. Think of the possibilities…

💎 Jewelry
🧣 Scarves
👠 Shoes
👛 Purses
💃 Belts
💅🏻 Nail polish
🧦 Socks
💄 Make up (looking at you lipstick)
💃 Hair accessories
👙 Lingerie

Beware of the Excuses
Now, something happens when an idea like this comes along. It’s equal parts exciting and intimidating. It forces us out of our comfort zone, we start excited and then lose steam. The excuses start to brew and we begin to think, yes but….

Yes, but it has to be at a proper tea salon. 
Yes, but it has to have _______ number of guests. 
Yes, but I should do ______________ before. 
Yes, but my house has to be…
Yes, but I have to lose weight first
Yes, but….

I know these excuses from experience, as I fell into this trap myself. This Fall I knew I wanted to host a Dare to Wear Event, but I got stuck on the idea of having it at a tea salon for a reasonable price. After doing some research I realized that my dream of high tea for a bargain wasn’t going to happen and I stalled out. After a couple months I realized what I was doing, I was putting off doing this event perfectly instead of focusing on having this event and making it perfect. Once I realized this, I made some invites, sent them out, recruited my husband, and popped the bubbly. Dare to make it doable.

The Event
The Dare to Wear Event can be anything! It can be a stand alone event or the theme for an already existing party. 

🎂 Birthday party
🎄Christmas party
👯Bachelorette party
👰🏻 Bridal shower
🖇️ Office party
😎 Summer soiree

A Dare to Wear Event can happen on any occasion!

My Dare to Wear Event was for my birthday!

The Budget
As the host of this event it should NOT cost a lot of money. The idea is to use what you have. Do not buy a lot of supplies for this event, look around your home or borrow from others to make this party happen. You have complete creative liberty with the food, the drink, the theme. I find high tea lends nicely, but anything will do!

The Decor
This event does not have to be fancy. There are no rules on the food. If you want to keep with the theme of using your best, consider using:

🥂 Your good glassware – champagne flutes, coup glasses, whiskey tumblers
🍽️ Fine china
👉 Table cloth and cloth napkins
🫖Hosting dishes
🍽️Display dishes

Again, there are no rules, but if you’ve been waiting for the perfect event to pull out these items, you may just be having it!

The Wisdom
My favourite part of this event is gathering all the guests together and asking the story of their outfit. Where did they get it? Why did they decide to wear it? What holds them back from wearing it? Naturally a shared wisdom starts to flow from a room full of women daring to wear. It’s beautiful and you’ll realize all the excuses, reasons, rules, and expectations are made up, and thanks to your beautiful friends you feel encouraged and cared for. Dare to share!

Listening to the wisdom

The Photos
This event will be one you want to remember so make sure there are pictures. Don’t go all out with a balloon arch, but keep it simple and make sure the dresses and laughs are documented.

Tag Me
I love the confidence, joy, and freedom this event brings! If you decide to host your own Dare to Wear Event please tag me and use #daretowearevent

Will you host a Dare to Wear Event? What would you wear?

Dare to wear

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On Sunday I invited my nearest and dearest to celebrate my birthday and issued them a challenge that went like this:

You’ve been invited to a cordial affair:
one with lace, and earrings, and dresses to wear!
No ensemble’s too much;
grab your most ornament clutch.
On this day I give you a dare,
don the dress you have nowhere to share.

They had to dare to wear!

Sunday brought bunting, bubbly, birthday cake, and a bunch of babes dressed in their best! Everyone accepted the challenge and took it to the next level. We had bridesmaid dresses, debut dresses, and a wedding dress.

I wore my wedding dress! I have felt for a long time, it is such a waste that our wedding dresses only get to be debuted once. I love my wedding dress, it is the most expensive dress I’ve ever owned, so why would I only wear it once and tuck it away forever? This party is about giving an event for all the dresses that have nowhere to be be worn.

My favourite part was when we sat and shared the story of our outfit. Why did we have it? When did we get it? Why do we struggle to wear it? 

Heels, pea coats, velvet socks, choker necklaces, statement earrings, hair pieces, clutches too small for a phone, peplems, bridesmaid dresses, problematic patterns, where do I wear this? 

And then the womanly wisdom was shared. 

“I’d pair that with sneakers”

“Throw on a bomber jacket”

“That necklace is so versatile!”

“Oh, it’s definitely work-appropriate!”

“That pattern is perfect for…”

Multiple items were debuted at this party, and worn for the first time. Something magical was shared by many; the barrier had been removed. Now that it had been worn once, perhaps it could be worn again.

Maybe it didn’t need to be saved for the perfect event, but an event could be made perfect by wearing it.

What would you wear if you were invited to a Dare to Wear party? What dress is hiding in your closet with nowhere to go?

All photos are thanks to my dear and talented friend Jen Newman📷@jennewmanphoto

What we can learn from kids about enjoying our stuff

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This week two kids made me smile.

First, on my bike ride home I saw two girls about four years old, taking their dog for a walk in their best party dresses. You know the dresses that look like a Disney princess? They were wearing their best, on a Tuesday, out for a walk.

The second scene was a little boy playing with his sword that lit up and made swooshing noises every time he swiped it. He was enthusiastically chopping the air in his front yard, as his dad called out from the porch “OK Samurai, time to wear a jacket.” Kids are allowed to play, to enjoy, to pretend. Why can’t we do the same?

These scenes reminded me that kids revel in their best, they love to use, enjoy, experience, and repeat their favourite things. They aren’t afraid of wasting or ruining or missing their favourites because they use them and enjoy them every chance they get.

Who hasn’t seen Spiderman weeks before Halloween? Who hasn’t seen a child show up in their superman costume everyday of kindergarten because they love it so much? The parents beg and bribe to convince them to wear something else, but it’s their favourite in this season and they’re wearing it.

When was the last time you got a rip in the knee of your pants? It’s been years since I’ve had a hole in my clothes, but when I was a kid you can be darn sure I wore out all of my clothes until they had holes. As I think back on my childhood I can think of multiple absolute favourite items that I wore to death.

Things we can learn from kids:

Wear it out! 
Love it, obsess over it, reach for it, let it be your favourite of the season and wear the heck out of it! I love that with kids you know exactly what they are obsessed with, what they love, and what’s their favourite. 

Don’t follow the rules
A party dress for a dog walk? Spiderman costume for the grocery store? Sounds perfect! The rules are fake anyways! Wear what you want, when you want!

Have a favourite 
Kids are obsessed with favourites. They like something and have to have it ALL the time. Why not try the same? Lean into having a favourite and give yourself permission to use it as often and as intensely as you want! We can learn so much from kids and how they aggressively use their favourite things. 

What are your favourite things this season? What are you obsessed with right now? What would you wear if there were no rules?

Strategies for Out to Pasture

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You think it’s time to put some of your items Out to Pasture, but you’re just not sure, you’re hesitating. Let me first say it is so normal that you’re struggling! Think about it, Out to Pasture items usually falls into 2 categories:

  1. They used to be your go-to, your favourite, your old faithful, but they’ve been overworked. They are tattered, faded, and showing their age. 
  2. They were never used. Either you bought them for your aspirational self or they were a mistake from the beginning. 

Both of these categories have emotions attached. You either have LOTS of memories with this item OR you realize your life is different in reality than in your imagination. This is when it’s helpful to come back to the goal: we want to be in love with all the items in our closet. Let’s get rid of the ho-hum items so we can focus on the YES items. 

Out to Pasture items are cluttering up your space, distracting from your workhorses and show ponies, and overwhelming your decision-making. Without further ado, below I share some strategies for getting off the fence and onto making clear decisions about these items.

The Victory Lap

This method is to help you use and celebrate and enjoy this item one more time. Think of it as when you know you’re going to break up with someone so you savour one last date or the last drink before ending the night. It’s bittersweet, but it helps. The point of this is to consciously enjoy this item one last time. Perhaps you wear the outfit one last time and cook one last meal. This strategy comes with a warning because it can be dangerous, you can convince yourself you love the item and cannot possibly part with it. I like to think of it as a final way to honour the item. Take it on one last victory lap and then put it in the declutter bin. 

Time Will Tell Bin

I had been using this strategy for years, but Dawn, from the Minimal Mom has such a great name for it that I borrowed it. If I start to notice that I’m not reaching for an item, but I may not be ready to say goodbye, I put it in my Time Will Tell Bin. Here comes the beauty of the Time Will Tell Bin, it serves 2 purposes:

  1. It gives me separation from this item so I am not as attached when I go to declutter. I find a little space from this item helps to create clarity and decreases my attachment to it.
  2. It gives me confidence that I can go without this item. 

I regularly go through my Time Will Tell Bin at least every 3 months, and it’s amazing how much more confident and detached I am when I declutter. 

Force yourself to wear it

If you want to keep it, you have to wear it. I’m serious, set an intention of when you’re going to wear it and don’t let yourself talk yourself out of it. If you can’t wear it in the next 2 weeks, why are you keeping it? Often when we wear an item we realize why we don’t reach for it. It pulls, it’s uncomfortable, it’s not our style. Wear it, learn from it, then make a decision. This strategy is great when you’re starting to have doubts that you should keep the item.

After you’ve done these strategies, if you’re still struggling try asking yourself some helpful decluttering questions

Do you have any strategies to make decluttering easier? What has worked for you in the past?

How I became car free

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Biking is my main mode of transport and I love it. I call it a joy and it has taught me many lessons. Today I want to share about my choice to sell my car and commit to biking. Now, before I do, here is my warning: the choice of going car-free is not for everyone. I live in an urban setting with great transit and bike lanes. I used to live in the suburbs, and being car-free would never have been possible. Without further ado: My choice to go car-free!

In 2019 I realized my car was costing me way too much money each month. At this point, I was living in a city and already in the habit of biking to work when the thought of selling my car crossed my mind.  I decided to give myself a trial run. To do this, I took the insurance off my car for 3 months and parked it.  I chose to do this in the summer – this was not a trial in suffering, I wanted to see if I could get around via bike and transit only.

After 3 months I didn’t miss my car at all and actually, my life felt better because of it.  When my husband and I got together he didn’t have a car either and we both found the lifestyle fit us really well. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

PROS of not having a car

🚴‍♀️I save money

🚴‍♀️I never have to worry about parking and always park right in front of the store (heck yeah bike racks)!

🚴‍♀️I don’t feel rushed – for some reason when I drove I always cut it close. Now, with transit and biking, I build in lots of margin.

🚌 More time to read and listen to podcasts – I get so much reading done while taking transit, it’s a fantastic way to build reading into my everyday life.

🚴‍♀️It simplified my life. Now, when I think of going across town to go shopping I think twice. Not having the convenience of a car has simplified where I go and what I do. All of my necessities are in my neighbourhood, if it’s not nearby, there’s a good chance I don’t build it into my routine.

🚴‍♀️My stress is so much less! At the end of a work day, when I dismount my bike I feel more relaxed than I ever did driving home

🚌I never have to worry about drinking and driving – seriously, whenever my husband and I go out for dinner we transit home. It’s so nice to never have to think about it.

🚴‍♀️I am more active- I’m generally way more active by not having a car. Even just walking to the bus stop really adds up. 

🚴‍♀️ I experience the weather – there is something about biking and taking transit that gets you in touch with the weather. When someone says ‘it’s been a dry Fall.’ I know exactly what they mean, I know exactly how many times I have put on my rain gear. I get to daily interact with the outside world, leaves changing, and changes in my neighbourhood, I notice it all and feel way more connected.

CONS of not having a car:

🚗 It’s hard to get out of town for an adventure – my husband and I enjoy hiking and it’s hard to get out of town. I often tag along with friends but realize this is very limited by not having a car.

🚗 Weekend trips don’t happen – we have to be way more planned if we want to go away. We borrow a family member’s car or book the bus. We are still able to get away but it takes much more planning.

🚗Seeing far-off friends is challenging – I have friends who live a one-hour drive outside of my city and it definitely means I see them less. We try and meet in the middle, but I won’t lie in saying it doesn’t affect who I see.

Some questions that came up:

Do you bike all year round?

Yes, I bike all year round. I live in Vancouver which has more rain than snow. I started to bike to work when I was a nurse, due to the early and inflexible start time I found biking the most convenient. I have since switched to hospital administration and still bike most days. The best part is I know exactly how long it will take me to get to work. There is never traffic, parking issues or transit delays.

Is Vancouver hilly?

Yes I bike hills both ways to work. I am lucky to have bike lanes and it is a very bike friendly city.

Do you take transit/rent a car?

I have a bus pass and use Evo, a car share network in my city. Again, this is not a trial in suffering, I enjoy taking transit, but when in a pinch or late at night I take an Evo. Overall with all these different methods I save SO much money.

If you want to try living without a car here are my recommendations:

  • Trial it, take the insurance off your car and see what happens.
  • Be prepared. I invested in rain gear, bike lights, and paniers. Even when I’m taking the bus I dress for the weather. Good walking shoes and an umbrella are almost always indicated.
  • Take note of how your life improves
  • Wear your best. I’m always surprised by how easy it is to wear my second-best workout gear

How do you get around? Have you ever thought of selling your car or changing how you get around?

Questions to ask while decluttering

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Out to Pasture items are not always obvious. These are the items you no longer reach for and you have an inkling, little voice in your head saying ‘why do I have this if I never seem to reach for it?’ Out to Pasture items usually fall into 2 categories:

  1. They were a workhorse and you’ve worn them out. You no longer reach for them because they’re worn out, tired, or ruined in some way. Often these items need to go to the garbage, be made into rags, or be demoted.
  2. They were show ponies that did not work. Whatever the reason you never could overcome it to use it and enjoy it. It’s time to give them to a home that will. These items can often be donated, sold, or given to a friend.

However, whenever you go to declutter these items our brain gives us all the reasons we could use them or all the possible events we may need them for.

Today I am giving you new questions to ask when you are decluttering

How long have I had this and how long do I expect to have this? 

Think of when you bought it, seriously, figure out the month and the year you first got the item. Do the math, how long have you owned it? Now ask yourself, ‘what would be a reasonable amount of time to have this item?’ 

I have a sweater from nursing school and realized it had become a tired workhorse. When I thought about decluttering it I thought ‘I can’t get rid of that, it’s from nursing school, it’s sentimental!’ Then I realized I had had that sweater for 8 years, I had loved it for 8 years, and I had worn it for 8 years. I have gotten lots of use out of this sweater. 

Then I thought If I didn’t declutter it now when would be a reasonable time to declutter it?  Do I expect to have it for 8 more years?  I realized there is no right, perfect, or good time to declutter it, I simply get to make the choice. 8 years was long enough, I have loved this sweater. It’s OK to let it go. Realizing how long I have had an item and that there’s no reasonable time to get rid of it, helps me with the process. 

What else have I bought in this category since this item?

I find this question really helpful! Often when we hold up an item and think about getting rid of it we remember how we felt when we first bought it. That euphoric, joyful feeling comes over us and we think ‘I can’t possibly get rid of this!’ Even if you haven’t reached for it in over a year. Instead, when I ask ‘what other items have I bought in this category since?’ This helps me recognize that I have new workhorses and that maybe I don’t need these items as much as I once did. 

Back to my nursing sweater, it was my go-to sweater for a long time, the one I reached for walks, campfires, and chill nights on the couch. Now, I have a ¼ zip pullover that I adore! I wear it all the time, it’s my go-to! I have a new workhorse that I love and it has replaced the nursing sweater. If I only focused on the sweater at hand I would never realize I have something that I love even more.

Would someone else love it more? Could this be someone else’s workhorse?

These questions are gold when you are decluttering a show pony! Sure, it’s beautiful and precious and lovely, however, are you loving it and using it to its full potential? If you gave it away would someone actually use it and enjoy it? I often think about when I find a gem at the thrift store that immediately becomes a workhorse. Remember, your Out to Pasture could be someone’s workhorse!

Is it an absolute yes? If not, it’s a no

This question serves me well both when decluttering and shopping. I am filling my closet with workhorses and hell yeses! If it’s a meh, maybe, or OK, it doesn’t belong in my closet. When your brain starts to argue about all the ways it’s OK, or alright, remind yourself – if it’s not an absolute yes, it’s a noooooo.

What’s the problem?

Asking this question can solve the dilemma of why you aren’t reaching for this item. Does it pull? Do you hate the material? Is it hard to get on? Do you need to figure out how to wash it?

If you know the solution, do it!

If you can’t fix it, make a note. I have learned SO much from the items I have decluttered so that I don’t make that same mistake again.

I won’t give you a certain number of items you should have in your closet, that’s up to you. For me, I want to wear my favourite items all the time. I want to feel good in all my clothes and honour them by wearing them. To do this, I have a smaller selection so I can wear more of my favourites more often. This works for me. My goal in removing items that no longer serve me is to focus more on the items I love. I want to remove distractions and wear my workhorses.

What questions do you find helpful to ask while decluttering? What items in your closet need to be moved Out to Pasture?

Leave Guilt and shame in the closet

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Why do we buy items we never end up using? Perhaps you bought it for a life that hasn’t become a reality. Perhaps you bought it and thought you’d love it, only to be disappointed. Perhaps you bought it thinking it would motivate you to lose weight, make more money, or ask for more from life. Sadly, more often than not, these items do not follow through, someday when never comes, and we are left disappointed, and dripping with guilt and shame. When we buy items, we are often purchasing a promise. Today I want to talk about the final entry of the Show Pony Summer Series (it’s October after all, time to wrap it up) #14, Leave Guilt and Shame in the Closet.

One of the big things that can hold us back from using our special items is the guilt we feel over them. I can’t reverse your decision to buy it, but I can give you permission to use it. You have two choices, start using your item or get rid of it. Yup, it’s really true.

Sure, you can hold onto your item, hoping that someday you will have the kind of life where you host immaculate dinner parties with flowing champagne, or you can start drinking your orange juice out of the champagne flute. 

I wish I could give you the kind of job where you floated around in a power blazer or swirly dresses. Your job isn’t changing tomorrow, but your choice to start wearing those blazers for school pickup can.

I wish you had immaculate penmanship and incredible ideas to fill your beautiful journals with swirling calligraphy. Or, you can start using those beautiful journals for lists, to-dos, and random thoughts. 

We ruminate on previous decisions, criticizing ourselves in our heads and using these items as measuring sticks for all the ways we’re not enough. Guilt and shame over past decisions and disappointment in ourselves does no good in helping us use our things.  I can promise that what does work is making an intention to use your stuff, and shifting your mindset away from scarcity ‘will I have enough?’ to abundance ‘I have everything I need.’

I know it’s made a massive difference in my life to use everything I own and see myself as worthy and enough to do so. Join me in the place of permission to use and enjoy your stuff, guilt and shame are not invited here. 

Do you struggle with negative thoughts about previous decisions? What will it take for you to give yourself permission to use your stuff?

Talk back to your brain

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What is the biggest thing holding us back from using our stuff?
It’s not what other people will think
It’s not your bank account and worrying you can’t replace it
It’s not overwhelm at the number of choices

It’s your thoughts. 

I know, it sounds too simple, but I’ll try my best to show you. Picture your special item (fancy dress, heels, bag, champagne, fabric, good china, candle). Now, picture waking up tomorrow and using it. Seriously, go through the scene in your head. 

Now, hear that soundtrack? Those are your thoughts, questioning your decision. I don’t have to read your mind to know what they sound like:

Really? Today?
Who do you think you are?
For a random Tuesday?
What if you ruin it?
What if you spill?
What will people think?
Psht if you use this now you’ll have no motivation to __________ (lose the weight, make partner, raise good kids, save money).

If this scene sounds familiar then you need Show Pony Summer Series #13 Talk Back to Your Brain.

Boy, are these thoughts convincing, constant, and critical! But, we’re stuck with them! So, if you can’t live without them, you need to learn how to work with them. Now, it’s very tempting to get really loud and tell them to all shut up, but sadly, they don’t go away when you yell at them, instead they come up later, all sneaky and ‘I told you so.’ The secret to quieting them down is compassion. It’s not sexy, or mighty, but it works. 

When you hear: Who do you think you are?
You respond: 
Thank you for trying to protect me, I have this beautiful blazer hanging in my closet and I thought I’d wear it, not because I think I’m a boss lady, but because I think clothes are worth wearing.
Crickets!

When you hear: The good china? What if you crack it! What if it breaks! This is against the rules!
You respond:
Thank you for warning me about the preciousness of this china, but I believe my items are meant to be used. Just because I’m using it tonight and not saving it for Christmas dinner doesn’t mean I’m being reckless. I want to enjoy these dishes and using them is part of that. 

Now, if talking back to your thoughts seems awkward or lame, a good warm-up is a mantra. These can be a quick and practiced way to respond when you hear your critical voices starting up, simply insert your mantra. You can borrow some from me if you can’t think of your own.

Don’t let your candle melt in the closet – this is a reminder of what can happen when we save things for someday when

Nothing is precious – this is a good reminder that items aren’t precious, people are.

Spend out – this is borrowed from author, Gretchen Rubin and is her call to action for herself to not save things, but use them.

I’m enjoying my life as I live it – this is a reminder that we’re not saving things for someday, we are using things now.

Do you have a mantra? How do you talk back to the negative and critical voices that try and convince you not to use your stuff?