the minimum: 35/365

In direct contradiction with my tendency to save stuff, and/or because of it, I love getting rid of things and fantasize about a life with only the minimum.

I imagine what the minimum would look like–seven of everything clothes-wise, ten books, one set of dishes, two sets of towels, two sets of sheets, one blanket, no coffee table books, one purse.

I wonder if the minimum is even a realistic goal if a person lives in a house that used to hold six people and that now at peak times hold thirteen. So thirteen sets of towels?

I would kind of like to give away all the books I have no intention of ever reading again. But does that make any sense when I have the space for them, enjoy them, have already bought them, and may actually need them for future writing or teaching projects? The same goes for shoes, coats, purses, pens, and pads.

I’d love to know what you think.


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38 thoughts on “the minimum: 35/365

  1. I did that in 2009 while writing My Call to the Ring. But I had moved into a much smaller farmhouse and discovered I didn’t use most of what I had amassed over the years. It’s amazing what you don’t need. Even with a full closet, there are only a few go-to pieces I wear again and again. But one purse would never work for me. And I need lots of shoes from mudboots (2 pair) to tennis shoes, flats and a few pair of heels. I have tiny closets, so I go through them every season and give to Goodwill what I never wore. As for books, I had no choice but to give most away and use my Kindle. I did keep (and treasure) the signed editions and the ones I’ve read more than once and will read again.


    • Ha I know. I can’t imagine choosing one purse. But what I can’t figure out is how to get rid of stuff without moving–because I have the space for it still…and I suppose we might use it at some point. I just don’t seem to have a good enough reason to get rid of it. And I want to pair down my books (that’s one place I am running out of room) but I went through 20 the other day and only managed to get rid of one–Lance Armstrong’s.


  2. I also tend to keep way too much, and probably need to simplify. There are clothes that I have not worn for a long time, and I should just go through them and give a bunch to Goodwill. Also, I have lots of technical books in my bookshelves that I bought while working, many of which I never read or even used. This includes many books I received as a technical proofreader or reviewer. Since I now have quite a few of them in electronic format, I could probably even sell the print versions and get a little money. This just might be the trigger that gets me moving. Thanks for the nudge.


  3. Everyone in my house tends to keep or collect things, largely because we’re all creative and it’s the “I may be able to use this,” or it’s the “we’re not rich and we may be able to use this,” or it’s with the idea that someday I actually plan to use this, right? But I long for simplicity. In my case I don’t have the space, and there are things I’d love to get rid of or store “away.” That’s really what it is for me—-years of longing for life itself to be less cluttered, not just the surroundings. I can’t see that it will ever happen though!


    • Donna, I hate throwing away those pieces of cardboard that come in things–when the kids were little I didn’t throw them away. Packaging these days is so alluring that it’s hard to throw it away. Surely this nice box could be used for something. My grandmother used to use those plastic bags newspapers come in as extra wrapping for freezer items! Yeah, it’s hard to imagine life becoming less cluttered. But maybe it will one of these days.


      • Oh, man, packaging! lol You should see what we’ve got here! lol About a year or so ago, when I was finally getting to big organizing/cleaning around here that was long overdue, I purged some. There’s still a lot!


    • I hear you. I could get rid of all my clothes and not miss a thing, but most of my books I would miss. However…I have to admit that at this moment my books are a little out of control, and I actually think I would enjoy them more if I could give some away. The problem is until now, I’ve kept every book I’ve bought (with the exception of a handful), but now I really want to only keep books I love.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I once read that one should look at every item in one’s life and ask “Do I love it? Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do I use it?” Also, if it’s broken or needs mending, am I actually going to do that? Where most of my friends and family have closets and garages and storage and more houses full of stuff, I’ve gone the opposite direction. Every year, I get out the bags for Goodwill and fill them. I’ve delivered truckloads of stuff. How do I feel when I do this? Have I ever regretted something I gave away? Almost never. I feel more light. It’s easier for me to do what I love and to travel. It’s easier to clean. I only kept the books I love and want to re-read and cherish. Just writing this and savoring the memory-feeling, I’m smiling a freedom-smile.


    • You know, just today I was looking for a mug someone bought for me (it was actually one of the cafe workers/pals at the Barnes I used to “live” at) simply because I was always drinking tea at that time. It had a little net thingy in it and a cover. I never drank tea that wasn’t already bagged, so I had no use for it and it was an uncomfortable mug to drink from. Anyway, I finally actually needed it today because I have to drink tea that’s not bagged! I looked and could NOT find it. I have a feeling this may have been one of the things I “purged” and now regret it *sigh* THIS is the reason it can be SO hard getting rid of certain things : /


    • Kirie, I’m so jealous. One of these days I hope to be able to say the same.

      But like Donna with her teacup, and especially with books, I feel like I might need one one day–for an essay or to look something up, even if it’s not one I cherish or want to re-read.

      But life is short and clutter weighs us down. So one of these days…


    • You’re right, Patricia. That’s basically the reason I wrote above that I couldn’t part with things–just in case I might need it one day. Perhaps I will now be able to discard that reason as justification for keeping something!


  5. Moving does simplify a lot of decisions, obviously, and it did for me with the exception of books. It was a couple years before I began donating my books, and now it is something I really enjoy doing. I am down to about 200 (from somewhere in the thousands). I use the library a lot and have appreciated that addition to my life. I guess I keep thinking of the planet. We have so much. Thanks, Cynthia!


    • Karen, 200 books at first sounded like a lot, but that’s just 10 shelves of 20 books. So not that many, actually. If you want to keep a new book, do you feel like you have to discard one? And do you donate to one place in particular?


      • And not all books are the same size so some shelves hold more than 20, hence I have 8 shelves. So far, the dilemma of new book vs. old has not really occurred for this simple reason: within that 200, there are least 20 that will be going and maybe more. That said, I have at least 5 new books that I am keeping. As for donating, I prefer private apartment communities but will go with the more established public donation entities if those communities are not accepting. I found donating to be quite easy and enjoyable.


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