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Friday Fun! (Staycation Report)

Hello my lovely readers!  I hope you didn’t miss me *too* terribly much while I was on vacation.  😉  I must say, a vacation was exactly what I needed.  I had a lot of time to think without the stress of work or job hunting or school or any of that hanging over my head, and I feel like my head is screwed on much more straight now, I must admit.  I’m re-focused and have new energy.

So what all did I get up to?  Well, I went out for Asian fusion with one of my friends.  The mix of sushi, seaweed salad, and kushiyaki was awesome, but of course the highlight of the meal was the White Crane sake.  Nom.  That is all I have to say about that.  I also hit up a local pub that has a huge, huuuuge beer selection.  My friend calls it “the cheesecake factory of beer.”  Damn straight.  It just so happened that the final game of Bruins vs. Montreal was on, so we got to take that in with the crowd as well.  It was quite the memorable night.

I also met up with a member of Team Unicorn for lunch.  I so rarely get to see any of them outside of our periodic gatherings.  I also spent an afternoon reading by the Charles (and getting sunburned), as well as taking in the sights at the MFA.  I wanted to see the Chihuly exhibit, but I never did find it.  In fact, I had trouble getting out of the Asian and Ancient Europe section.  Ah well.

A friend and I hung out and made this incredible recipe of doom.  It was amazing. And there was strawberry jam all over my floor the next morning.

As you can see from my post earlier this week, I also took in the Boston Ballet for the first time since I was very young.  I had a fun time, but I must say it was not what I was expecting.  I also finally tried Zaftig’s restaurant for the first time after hearing it highly praised among Team Unicorn for a very long time.  I had an in-house made black bean burger, and I admit, it was the best one I’ve had in the Boston area.

I spent a day riding my bike around the city, partaking in a session with my trainer, and lounging around Harvard Square and on the river.  After that, I got the urge to spring clean.  I sorted, organized, recycled, and bagged up four trash bags of items to donate this week.  I also started scrubbing down the walls, but still have a few left to do.  My whole apartment feels so much lighter, fresher, and more homey now.  I’m so glad I took the time to spring clean.

That was pretty much my staycation, and I think I did a fairly good job keeping it well-rounded.  I’ve returned refreshed, and I must say that I fully intend to not let so much time go on before I take another one again.  Happy weekends!

Five Questions to Minimize Your Possessions

September 15, 2009 11 comments

I’ve been doing my best to be a minimalist for the last four years.  Most people don’t know this about me, but they do notice the results.  My friends have made comments ranging from how quick helping me move was to how does a librarian only have around 200 books of her very own?

Recently a couple of friends have told me they would love to have the organization and ease of care that comes with owning less random stuff like I do, but they don’t know how to accomplish it.  I’m actually going to be helping one of them out in person, but I thought given American’s propensity to be packrats, perhaps a blog post of my techniques might be useful to other folks on the interwebs.

In order to minimize the stuff you already own, you of course will have to sort through it.  Allot yourself plenty of uninterrupted time to do this.  Have trash bags handy for junk and boxes for donations.  I recommend doing the sort as close to trash day as possible so you can get the junk out of your house asap.  Here are the questions I use when evaluating whether to keep something:

1.  Is it actually junk? If it’s a piece of clothing, is it torn/stained/beyond repair?  If it’s a game, is it missing pieces?  If you think you can repair it, stop and think if you actually will.  How long has it been waiting to be repaired?  If it’s going to take you more than a week to get to it, toss it!

2.  Do I need this? By need I mean need as in I’ll have to go naked/starve/will lose my sanity without this.  I count clothing, bedding, and things that help me relax under this category.

3.  If I don’t need it, do I have valid reasons for wanting it? or Am I only keeping this for sentimental reasons? Things that are ok to want for sentimental reasons:  a picture, a letter.  Things that are not ok to keep for sentimental reasons:  that piece of ribbon your girlfriend tied around that bunch of flowers she gave you one time.  The key behind this logic is the minimalist mantra of quality over quantity.  You won’t lose the memory of her giving you the flowers if you throw out the ribbon any more than you did when the flowers died.  It really is just a piece of ribbon taking up space and how often do you really look at it?  In contrast, a stuffed animal she gave you that you snuggle periodically is a quality reminder of your love for each other.  See the difference?

4.  Are there negative emotions/memories attached to this item? Even if an item is useful and in good condition, if every time you see it you remember a negative experience or emotion, you shouldn’t keep it.  It just serves to bring a negative vibe to your household.  Maybe you dread opening a particular drawer because that item is in there, or a lovely painting is on display that everyone likes but you feel badly looking at it.  These are simply not worth keeping.  They aren’t improving your quality of life; they’re bringing it down.  This goes for items that predominantly bring negative emotions/memories, not that have a minor one attached that you rarely think of when seeing it.

5.  Is this a quality item? This is my final sorting step, and one that has really helped me keep items I’m prone to collect down to a reasonable number.  Remember that your possessions take time to maintain.  Items that aren’t as high-quality to you will prevent you from enjoying other items as much.  My book collection is a good example of how quality vs. quantity helps to minimize possessions.  I only keep books that I either loved or want to have around to loan to people.  Yes I love books in general, but my collection is a reflection of me.  I want to look at my bookshelves and know that I only kept around the ones that are truly of quality to me.  Otherwise it’s just collecting for the sake of collecting isn’t about the enjoyment received from the item.

After you’ve finished sorting, bag up the junk and get it out of your house.  Take the boxes of donations to the best places for them to be used.  Now you are left with only things you need or that truly bring more happiness to your life.  Put everything left away.  Don’t be afraid to reorganize as you go.  You’ll have much more free space and new ideas may present themselves.