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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

winnowing wednesday

to winnow: [transitive] a) to remove, to get rid of b) to sift or separate c) to blow on to remove the wheat from the chaff

So...maybe all this Wednesday winnowing needs a little explanation...
(or maybe not, since I think my main readers are family members who have probably heard more than they ever want to about the joys of minimizing)
...but anyway here it is. I can't remember when I started on my personal journey of "living with less", "less is more", or "Mama's gone minimalist!" (well, not really). I do know that it started in earnest quite a few years ago when I began to entertain the notion that we might move one day. At that time, thoughts were swirling around about a possible future transplanting to southern France (Minou's homeland) or Portland, Oregon for graduate school. And then it occurred to me what a horrendous proposition moving house would be.

Little by little, I began to cull and winnow my possessions. Family was sympathetic to this preoccupation as long as it involved upgrading technology--for example, it was a win-win situation when we got rid of our old, gigantic square box TV and traded it in for a smaller flat-screen one for movie watching. Or the move from stereo system to Ipod. You get the idea. And I learned to keep my impatient mitts off of other people's treasures after one too many enthusiastic suggestions that were greeted with alarm and resistance.

Really, the roots of wanting to live with less go much deeper. But let's focus on the results and not the roots for now. Although we have remained firmly settled in place, and indeed have dug in deeper into our little community here, I think that living with fewer possessions and thinking about what we bring into the home has had long-term benefits.

To get specific: It is easier to find things.  It's a heck of a lot easier to clean when there is less to move around. There is less to pick up and put away. In the past, one of my p'tit minous had shelves full of clothes that were deemed unacceptable for school or what-have-you, but still managed to make it through the wash cycle at least once a week (I know you didn't wear that, since you rejected it four mornings this week! Why am I washing it?!) The way our little home is structured, I share a closet space with one p'tit minou and have a single dresser in a shared space--how nice that all my clothes fit into one-third the closet and that dresser.

My goal is just enough--what we need and use, or love and that brings beauty into our lives. Over quite a few years now, I have gone through intensive "decluttering" or "minimizing" efforts in different parts of the house, the attic, the garage we share with my mom. My inspiration tends to come and go in waves--followed by a long dry spell and a slow, steady silting up of new possessions again. I have found that lately with work, classwork, family life, running, commuting, there is not much time for this downsizing process (though I will never forget my favorite anatomy & physiology instructor saying that she discovered an urgent need to clean her closets just before every neuroscience exam--seems to hold true for nursing coursework as well).

Around the New Year on January 1st, I thought seriously about starting a "One a Day Declutter" through the year, inspired by Colleen at the blog 365 Less Things (her motto is "It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I'm slow").  But I abandoned this idea because...well, it was too slow. However, around mid-April it struck me that if I had been doing this all along, that I would already be at least 105 items further along in my quest to find new homes for things that we (I) no longer need, use, or love.

So, Winnowing Wednesday was born. Once a week I will collect the items that I have winnowed or culled from my home once a day throughout the week, photograph them to share with you with a little bit of explanation, and then pack them away into appropriate donate/sell/White Elephant/to friends bags. When the bags are full enough, out they go (except the White Elephant items which will wait for our neighbors' much anticipated Winter Solstice party).

Here we go with this week's 7 for 7:

1) Actually have needed to be returned to their rightful owner for many a month--regret delayed act
2) how many of these can one really use?
3) too holy to wear, even too holy to repair
4) almost gone, but dispenser also broken...
5) its mate is missing
6) not very sharp duplicate
7) in excess

Total count: 21 items.

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