The Idea: what it is and what it is not

On average we use 20% of our belongings 80% of the time. That is unbelievable to me and I am fascinated with how we can start using more of our items. I believe this is possible when we begin to see ourselves as worthy to have and use our belongings. This idea can have lots of different interpretations, here, I outline what this idea is, what it is not.

What this idea IS:

A Mindset Shift
This idea begins with your thinking, you must first see yourself as someone worthy of having nice things and using nice things. Instead of saving items for another day when you do something to feel worthy enough to use them, you use these items now.

Identifying what you are saving
This idea starts with items and belongings that are gathering dust in our closets, but it goes much further than that. What are the belongings, items, goals, and ideas that you are saving for ‘someday when?’ It may start with lighting a candle, or cutting the tags off a shirt, but soon it could lead to running a marathon or applying for a new job. Once you start seeing yourself as worthy, and knowing that ‘someday when’ isn’t coming, you start to realize the bigger things you’ve been saving.

A sustainable lifestyle
As you use everything available to you it becomes a more sustainable way to shop, dress and live. You begin to use what you have and are not constantly looking for and buying more.

A practice in abundance
Scarcity is the mindset that makes us feel unworthy, less than, and constantly looking for the item that will make us feel content. This idea shows you that there is no item that can give you abundance and contentment, it comes from the action of using your things and enjoying your life.

What this idea is NOT

Minimalism
There is no lifestyle requirement or a specific number of belongings to follow this idea. You can have 3 special items, or 3 thousand, what’s important is that you give yourself permission to use your belongings (however many there may be).

Expensive
This idea requires no purchases or orders. You are shopping your closet, rediscovering items you love and giving yourself permission to use your belongings. Put your credit cards and online shopping accounts aside. You do not need more belongings to confuse you, you need to figure out why you’re not wearing what you already own.

Wasteful
Some people argue that it’s wasteful to ruin a nice dress during everyday errands. I agree to a point, yes, sometimes we do need to make sure that our heels and dresses are in good condition when we go to a Christmas party, wedding, or birthday. However, this mentality has gotten out of hand. Why save 10 pretty dresses for occasions that happen 3 times a year? Why not wear those special items for an ordinary occasion and get that feeling every day of the year?

Judgement or a guilt trip
Sometimes when we are confronted with all the items and belongings we have been wasting for so long we can feel guilty or judged. That is not the point. Society, family, context and life have been telling you it’s better to save your best, and to keep buying things to make you feel better. These lessons have taught us to treat our houses as shrines for all our best items, but never actually use them. You were simply following the rules of life, until now. Please do not judge yourself, do not feel guilty, you are simply beginning from here, where you are. The only thing you can do is begin to question why you have been saving it and how you can make small changes to use your things.

To impress other people
You are not wearing your clothes or popping the champagne to impress other people or win a popularity contest. You are embracing all that you have been given because something happens when we stand in our power and say yes. This is not about other people, this is about awakening something inside of you that’s been hidden at the back of your closet. 

Not for everyone
I will not sit here and convince you. There is something about this idea that resonates with people, I’ve seen it over and over again. I know deep down that people need to be given permission to love and use their belongings and I am here to give you that permission. If you do not want permission, then keep going, revel in saving your things and keeping them pristine. If however, you are starting to think there is more to life than full closets and nothing to wear, then keep reading. I love this idea and want to shout it from the rooftops! You are worthy of having and using your things!

Is there anything I missed? What does this idea mean to you?!

Someday when…

I am finally releasing my blog to the world. A couple of years ago I created this site, but never publically said “here it is.” I’m nervous, excited, and ready to see where it takes me. This idea of using our best has settled into the deepest recesses of my brain and won’t let me forget it. I see it everywhere, all the time. I saw it when I read and watched Marie Kondo. She helped me find the items with the biggest sparks and the most joy, so why couldn’t I bring myself to use them?

I saw it when with laughter and honesty Brene Brown taught me to lean into vulnerability, and that it’s OK to do things that cause us emotional exposure. So why did it feel so vulnerable to walk out of my house in my best dress? 

I saw it daily in my own closet when I would go to reach for my nicest top, yet never wore it out of the house, because tomorrow, or later, was a better time.

The biggest area I kept seeing my fear was in putting off releasing this blog. Later, next month, when I’m ready and it’s perfect. Well, after a couple of years I started to realize later wasn’t coming. So, here it is. Not perfect, but showing up. 

I believe that’s a big part of it, showing up in your best dress when you’re unsure. 

Lighting the candle when you’re not sure the experience will match your expectations. 

Using the good china even though there’s a risk you’ll chip it. 

I don’t have this figured out. I still have some dresses I struggle to wear, and some shirts I would hate to spill on. What I do know is I’m getting better. I use all my fancy glasses, I light all my candles, and I drink all the good alcohol. I’m learning and growing and doing this, risk and all, and I hope you’ll join me. 

This is where you’ll find me. Figuring out why we hold ourselves back from using our stuff and offering tools, methods, and mantras for how to change that.

I hope you’ll join me as we…

🕯️ Light the candles

🍽️ Use the good china

👗 Wear the dress

🥂 Drink the champagne

🎨 Play with the art supplies

I’m done with waiting for someday when, and I hope you are too.

Photo Jen Newman Photography

Lessons from my commute

More than anything, biking to work serves as a daily reminder of the journey of life. 

In biking it’s all about timing the lights. Coming to a full stop, losing momentum, with the bonus of forgetting to gear down? You earned yourself back sweat and a disgruntled rider. 

Without even trying, biking becomes a competitive game of “can I pass that person?” When I pass someone on my commute I automatically feel like a winner. I never take into account a head start, momentum, a higher starting point on a downhill. No, it’s just my skill. And yet, when that same person comes flying past me and I’m a sitting duck at a newly turned green, I’m fuming. Them? Again? I just passed them? 

Pass someone who is stopped at the bottom of a hill, and you have the full momentum of mother gravity you feel like a grinning bat straight out of hell. Cackling as you speed by. And yet, cycling, like life, has a way of humbling you. Suddenly it’s you hitting the next red, and you’re being passed by a runner (it was uphill and his legs went on for days, while my stubs were barely keeping the chain turning).

In life I think we divide up success as the distance between two lights. We focus on getting ahead of people in the short term, instead of realizing it’s about how we ride the whole course, not simply light to light. If I get ahead of that person first, if I buy a house, land the job, find the husband, then I’m winning. But it’s not about the space between lights, it’s about where you’re going (hold onto your helmets, this is about to get cheesy). 

While you’re busy watching the other person sail past you, you’re too green with envy to notice what set that person up for success. They got a head start, they had the help of gravity, their bike is lighter and faster, they had the luck of timing. None of that I can control, but I can control my ride. I can change my mindset from lights to long term. Instead of wanting to get everything first, what about securing the foundation to a happy life? 

And isn’t that life? Sure their instagram is lit, and they suffer for nothing, but I’m working focusing on enjoying the ride and where I’m headed, not beating my fellow commuters. Aren’t we all just trying to get where we’re going?

Digital Minimalism

I started to notice that I went nowhere without my phone. The toilet, the bus, at my desk, in bed. There was nowhere my phone wasn’t allowed. 

“Do you check your smartphone before you pee in the morning or while you’re peeing in the morning because those are the only two choices,” 

Roger McNamee- Facebook early investor

That quote really struck me from the movie, The Social Dilemma. Why had this become normal? My phone had become my constant companion, and I needed a DTR (define the relationship). My phone felt like an enemy instead of a comrade and I needed a change. 

I started with some rules to help encourage me to put my phone back in its place: 

  • My phone is not my alarm clock. I use an old phone with no wifi and no SIM saving me from distractions as I set my alarm or as a transition from sleep to wake.
  • I leave my phone out of sight as much as possible- in my work bag, in another room, plugged in
  • I have no social media apps on my phone and i signed out of FB and instagram on my phone’s web browser making it harder for me to casually scroll
  • I installed a tracking app that reminds me of how much time I am spending on my phone daily.
  • Permission to think my thoughts: II leaned into a lack of stimulus. When I was waiting for the bus, I didn’t reach for my phone, I thought my thoughts. 
  • I stopped going on my computer/phone for entertainment. This meant no blogs, no youtube videos, no social media. I was allowed to use it as a tool- directions, store hours, bus schedules, but no entertainment

This week I intentionally sat down to catch up on my favourite blog. Instead of going through the home page and opening a bazillion tabs, I opened one article at a time, and when I was finished reading, I closed it. I had to be mindful of this approach and it was a lot slower. However, I didn’t feel like I was consuming and gorging on my favourite material. Instead of gobbling it up, I savoured it. 

I am still figuring out how not to be in constant communication. Whatsapp, messenger, texts, email, they take up a lot of time and attention. I want to be connected but not glued to my phone. The next goal is figuring out how to manage my communication without always being on my phone. 

What do you do to manage your phone time? Do you have any tips?

My Ode to Cycling

I have the joy of biking to work. 

Though I stand by calling it a joy, I have to do a shoutout to all the bike lane dwellers.  We earn our (reflective) stripes through biking in the dark, the wet, and the windy. To the cyclists who frequent the bike cage all year round, my helmet off to you! For those who fall into the fairweather biking category, listen up.

Winter does not smile on the cyclists. The surprisingly vulnerable part of the body when biking? The ears. Those in the car crank the heat. Those at the bus stop pull their lapels higher. The cyclists? They bike on valiantly, cursing themselves for forgetting their buffs, yet again, and swearing tomorrow will be different.

Read no further before you are reminded of the curse of the wet socks. The days at work when fate would have it that I squelch around with wet feet because my rain booties, rain pants, and fenders just didn’t cut it. Did I mention that I never thought I would be THAT cyclists who justified rain booties. You don’t make the decisions, they make you.

I could go on about looking like a flashing christmas tree on wheels, the cars that own the middle of the road oblivious to the meaning of a bike route, or the awkwardness of paniers, but I digress

My commute is my process time. Some people have yoga mats, others their meditation pillows, I have the motion of my legs, and the time to let the day fall away. Something about spinning those wheels in a productive way that really soothes the brain. The patient that yelled at me, the lack of resources or my weary feet, become less poignant, and by the time I’m dismounting, laughing with my coworkers and the beauty of the ocean have replaced it all. 

Nothing is Precious

There is a fine line between using our stuff, abusing our stuff, and avoiding our stuff. We hide behind the idea that we do not want to abuse our stuff, and our answer is to tuck it away. 

Why do we hide things away and create rules, label things as precious and then never use them? Why do I have clothes I have owned for years that I have only worn a handful of times?

I can remember wearing a new cardigan to dinner. After a stubborn fight getting a shrimp out of its shell I was wearing oily, sticky scampi sauce all over my new cardigan. After multiple fruitless attempts, nothing could remove the oil stain. That day I lost my new cardigan and with it, the freedom to use and enjoy my things. 

What if you went into every room in your house and asked “What, in here is precious?” Think about which items are protected, saved, enjoyed infrequently used under special circumstances (guests, holidays, special occasions).

For me it is my expensive Blazer

My charcuterie cutting board

My nice white shirt 

My serving dishes

My travel keepsakes

My chunky jewelry

My eyebrow pencil

What if every item you owned had two numbers on it. The date you bought it, and the number of times you’ve used it. Would that help us to remember to use our things? Maybe that would help us to combat the made up rules we have. Such as “I will only wear that shirt on a day I won’t sweat, spill, spit or stain.” That day isn’t coming, wear the damn shirt.

What if we swapped out precious, for put to use? 

Instead of protecting that white shirt so it never gets stained, I wear it proudly and prepare myself for the inevitable day it gets a spill. In the meantime, it will be enjoyed, treasured, needed, used, lived in, and loved. I bought it 3 years ago, how many times have I worn it? Here’s to increasing that number! 

Nothing is precious, has become my battle cry!

When I pass over a shirt I pause. When I reach for the cardigan instead of the blazer, I pause. When I reach for the simple studs instead of the delicate dangly earrings, I pause. When I reach for the tea bag instead of the loose leaf, I pause. When I save the serving dishes for guests, I pause.

Nothing is precious! 

I would rather be looking my best covered in scampi sauce than stain free and stuck in fear. 

Light the candle, wear the blazer, put out the china and wear the damn clothes. Nothing is precious! 

How I got off my phone and on with my life

I wanted to stop mindlessly using my phone to entertain me, and learned from author Cal Newport that I shouldn’t expect to simply stop using my phone, I had to replace it with other things.

Enter, permission to do ALL the things

I picked up my crochet hooks for the first time in years. I was rusty at first, but now have toques for my niece and husband.

I went to the library and got a stack of books. I now read before bed and never leave the house without a book

I started listening to an audiobook and made a rule I could only listen when moving- on went the runners and I started looking forward to enjoying the Fall changes alongside plot changes. 

I started blogging again- seriously I stopped consuming media and instead make my own!

If you limited your phone time what could you do/make/accomplish/experience/love? What did you use to love to do before you learned to swipe? Think about it. 

10 steps to declutter your closet

Clear the bed, open the windows, and get excited because it’s decluttering day! (said with the same enthusiasm as Anna on coronation day)!

I have decluttered my own closet and helped many others declutter theirs. I’m excited to help you in your process by sharing my tried and true method. This will not only help you keep the items you cherish, it will also help you reflect and learn about your past decisions.

Before you begin make sure you are well fed and watered. Light a candle, open the blinds, put on a pump up playlist and get ready to conquer your closet!

  1. Pick a small category
  • Clothes are not a category. Think shirts, pants, shoes, bags, make up. The smaller, the better!
  1. Take a picture of these items in their current home. The messier the better!

  2. Pull out EVERYTHING from that category
  • If it doesn’t make it in the pile and you find it later, it automatically goes in the goodbye bin – this isn’t meant to scare you, but to show you the importance of having EVERYTHING out
  • Remember those scattered items by thinking of out of season, travel, storage spaces and pull it out!
  1. Pull out your favourite item in the pile
  • Stuck? Think of someone asking you to put on the item in the pile that makes you feel your best- this is the item you start with
  • This does not need to be what you use most often, it actually might be what you never allow yourself to use
  • Ask yourself what about this item you love. Take note of your answer
  1. Continue to work through the pile, pulling out your favourites, the ones you love and enjoy
  • Ask yourself what the items you have chosen so far have in common. Is there a theme? A style? Do they all contain memories? How did you come to own them? Look for themes.
  1. When you have about 25% left, pause and start asking yourself what the remaining items have in common
  • Why did you not pick them up? Why are you not drawn to them? Look for themes, are they from the same store/clothing line? Are they poor quality? Have you worn them out? Did you choose them or were they given to you?
  • Decide if you want to keep any of these remaining items. Otherwise you are looking at your goodbye pile
  1. Pick up each item in your goodbye pile and thank it. 
  • Whether you used this item or not, it has taught you something, thank it for the memories and the lessons learned
  • This may seem strange, but this is a way of honouring the item, and helps with the letting go process
  1. Put the goodbye pile in an easy to get out of the house method
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Large brown gardening bags work well, and are recyclable
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Garbage bags should be your last resort because they are not recyclable
  1. Re-evaluate your keep pile
  • Are there any you want to reconsider?
  • Are there any items that need repairs? Put them in a separate pile
  • You should be looking at a pile of your favourite things!
  1. Give your items a new home
  • I believe thoroughly in every belonging having a home. As you declutter you may be surprised in how things fit better, or a new method of storing them
  1. Pick another category and do the same process until you have completed that area
  • See the image below for categories
  1. Take an “after” picture to celebrate all that you’ve done!
  • This is a big accomplishment. Not only have you curated your space, you have learned a lot about your choices and belongings. 

Congratulations! This is no small thing, you have taken one step closer to the life you want. Now is the time to relax and enjoy your newly curated space!

This checklist is from makinglemonadeblog.com

10 decluttering myths debunked

There has been a big focus on tidying up and decluttering in the last few years and with that can come some misconceptions. Read on to have those misconceptions moved out! 

  1. It is a focus on what you’re keeping. It is not a focus on all that you’re getting rid of. 

Think of this like looking at your music library and you want to make a kickass playlist of head bumping, foot tapping melodies. Just like a playlist you don’t focus on the songs you’re leaving behind, but by focusing on how nice it will be to listen to all your favs without Celine Dion bursting in to remind you your heart will go on. Decluttering is a focus on keeping those items you want to cherish, not a determination to downsize.

  1. It is removing belongings from your life. It is not spring cleaning

Marie Kondo, the magic master herself, says “Tidying is the act of confronting yourself – cleaning is the act of confronting dirt.” As you prepare to conquer your stuff, don’t be surprised if you confront your past, present and future self while you’re doing it!

  1. It is getting curious about who you are. It is not judging who you were or who you have not yet become

Tidying up is the act of going through your belongings and discovering what you love and cherish right now. Not who you were 17 months ago, not who you hope to be next September, who are you, and what do you love, right here, right now. 

Often decluttering can bring up emotions of guilt, shame, judgement and fear. Instead, just like making the playlist, it doesn’t matter if you used to be obsessed with Celine and now no longer care for her ballads. Allow your past self to stand for itself, and embrace who you are, and what you enjoy today.

  1. It is putting your priorities and your past in order. It is not about who can have the least amount of items at the end

Tidying up is not about the number of bags that get donated, or having fewer hangers left hanging in your closet. Decluttering is all about surrounding yourself with things that reflect who you are right now, and that you enjoy in your present circumstances. Changing your mindset from “what do I want to get rid of” to “what do I love and reflect who I am” is integral to this process.

  1. It is a time to reflect and process your belongings as a reflection of your choices. It is not an excuse to keep everything

Remember what made you want to start this process. Something about the way you are currently living and the belongings you are surrounded with is bothering you. Otherwise you would not be interested in decluttering, you would be satisfied. Get curious about how your belongings are not serving you. Remind yourself of this often throughout this process

  1. It is about pursuing a home that reflects you. It is not about copying and pasting someone else’s lifestyle 

Think about spaces you enjoy being. It could be a park, a campground, your favourite restaurant or coffee shop, a hotel lobby. Reflect on what you enjoy about those spaces. Is it natural light, simplicity, vibrant colours, relaxing environment, good smells, or greenery? What about those elements is missing in your current home? How can you make your current home more like your favourite space?

  1. It is about figuring out how you’d like to live in your home. It is not about downsizing

There’s no need to force yourself to let go of items! If you want to keep your entire encyclopedia collection, go for it! There is no minimum or maximum requirement. The only goal is to cherish the items you choose to keep. 

  1. It is about honouring and being grateful for your belongings. It is not about carelessly discarding mountains of things

As you discover items that no longer serve you, instead of tossing them into the pile, you reflect on how much this item served you in your time together. Think about when it first came into your life, how much it meant to you, the lessons it taught you, and wish it well as you donate it to make someone else happy. This is a crucial part of this process, 

  1. It is about making space for what you love. It is not about organizing

Clutter obscures what’s most important. Discarding that which doesn’t support your ideal lifestyle creates space for treasured possessions to be used more often and enjoyed. As a bonus, it leaves room for future joy-sparking additions.

  10. It is a clarifying process, it is not exhausting and overwhelming

Yes, looking at a pile of your clothes can seem overwhelming, but the new found space, the clarity of your values, and the appreciation for your belongings is a worthy goal to push on!

6 ways curating your closet is like a Spotify playlist

If you can make a playlist (and I know you can), you can curate your closet!

1. Focus on the songs you love

When you create a playlist from your music library, you don’t focus on all the songs you are avoiding. Instead, you choose the songs that make you want to dance, remind you of a special time in your life and make you want to sing along. You don’t even pause for the ones that get stuck in your head until Wednesday at noon.

This should be the same when we are decluttering. Instead of focusing on all that you wish to remove, focus on the items that sing to you (pun intended). The items you adore. The ones that light your face up when you see it, use it and wear it.

Decluttering is a focus on what you cherish, not a determination to downsize.

2. Focus on how you want to feel

When you create a playlist, you choose songs based on how it will make you feel.

Want to feel adrenaline, pumped up and excited to workout? Put on upbeat songs with a great beat! 
Want to feel reflective and focused? Put on slow, soulful songs. 
Want to feel romantic and loving? Put on love songs with soothing lyrics. 
When we choose a playlist, we prioritize how we want to feel when listening.

What if we treated our belongings in the same way? Asking ourselves how we want to feel and then deciding accordingly. 

Do you want a house that is vibrant, makes you feel full of life and inspired? Surround yourself with belongings that make you feel that way. 
Do you want to feel grounded, mindful and calm? Create an environment that supports and encourages those feelings.

Focus on how you want to feel and then ask yourself if your belongings are helping you feel that way.

3. You do not save songs for later

When I am into a song, I am IN to it! I will play it on repeat (much to my roommate’s chagrin). I will play it in the car, on a run, in the shower, when getting ready. When I love a song, I allow myself to love it fully. I am never afraid of wearing it out, wasting it, or saving it for the perfect day. 

What if we did this with our clothes? 
Imagine being obsessed with your new blazer! You wear it on a date, you wear it to visit with a friend, you wear it to work. You want the world to know you love this blazer!

We could love our clothes and use our belongings as much as we play our favourite song.

4. You skip songs and you skip clothes

When you’re listening to your playlist and you skip the same song, every time, it’s a sign. This song no longer fits with how you want this playlist to make you feel. Instead of questioning what that says about you, you simply remove the song

When you are constantly skipping over items in your closet (such as that dress who hasn’t seen the light of day since September 2017) we don’t question it, we accept it. Suddenly we have a confusing closet. We aren’t sure how it’s meant to make us feel. Upbeat, excited, downcast, grounded, sad? What is the mood of this closet? No one knows, least of all the closet curator.

5. No one has to tell you that you love a song

No one approves of your playlist. It makes you feel powerful and strong when you run, so you listen to it. Full stop. You love the beat and you can’t stop yourself from singing along, so you listen to it.

Why do we let other people inform our style? We bring friend’s shopping to weigh in on decisions, we ask people how we look before leaving the house, we look for affirmation from others to affirm our choices. 

What if instead of asking other people, you asked yourself “how does this make me feel?” And just see what comes to the surface.

Flabby, uncomfortable and put together, are not words we are aiming for.

We want strong, brave, confident, loveable, kind, brilliant. If you aren’t feeling that way, why are you putting it on your body? 

6. Your taste in music is allowed to change

You do not judge yourself for your favourite music genre changing and no longer loving a song you were obsessed with last summer. 

The other day I realized I didn’t have the song “Closer” by The Chainsmokers on any of my Spotify playlists. I couldn’t believe it! The summer of 2016 I was obsessed with that song, listened to it everyday, and knew all the words by heart. Realizing I didn’t have it downloaded on my playlists four years later did not make me judge myself, but made me grateful that for all the songs I’ve fallen in love with since. 

Just like it’s OK to let your lyrical world be rocked in a new way, by a new song, it’s OK to love new clothes and styles. Let go of those items that no longer sing and have faith you will find items that make you feel how you want

We do not have to keep every item we have ever loved, instead when we declutter we make room for new favourites.

Quick Recap: 

  1. Focus on the clothes you love 
  2. Focus on how you want your clothes to make you feel
  3. Do not save clothing for later
  4. Notice when you skip clothes
  5. No one has to approve of your style choices
  6. Your style choices are allowed to change

If your closet was a playlists, how would it make you feel?