Photo by Scott Simon
Minimalism. While not an entirely new concept, has been making its way through popular culture in the past few years with the help of books about tidying up, Pinterest, and a rising popularity in tiny homes. During a staff Christmas party, back when I was still pregnant, we went around the table sharing something unique about ourselves. A co-worker, and friend, Jessica, explained how she is a minimalist - only 15 pairs of clothes per season, x amount of kitchen utensils, no television in the house, no paper towels, and all while bringing up her daughter. I found the idea to be pretty fascinating, but didn't really know how to put it into practice -- especially considering the never ending mountain of stuff that my unborn baby was racking up.
Then, one day around my 30th birthday, when my little one was a little over a year old, I stared at my closet full of hangers and bins of my pre-baby clothes and accessories that I kept in the event that I would ever fit into them again. And while many clothes were quite close to zipping, I found my inner Joan Rivers saying, "just because it zips doesn't mean it fits." I thought to myself, "why am I keeping all of this stuff. Do I really need all of these clothes? Do I really think they will fit? Do I want them to fit? After all, I'm turning 30 and I'm a mom - aren't these clothes a little young for me now?" I took it all down, making piles of dresses, pants, swimwear, jeans, shoes, anything and everything that I hadn't worn since having a baby, or hadn't worn in the past six months. I thought about what I wore on a day to day basis, and realized I rotated maybe five different outfits for day to day life. I was finally ready to let it all go, and solidify the new "me", even if it was just through clothes, shoes, and bags...for now.
I would no longer cling to my cute and trendy outfits from Forever 21, the ones I would wear to go out with my friends or on date nights with my husband before having a baby. They served me well for that time in my life, but they'll serve someone else better now. I'll find fun and sexy outfits that I fell good in right now. Why wait to feel sexy until I fit into my old idea of sexy?!
Out went most of my stilettos and pointy toe pumps. Pregnancy left me with some crazy foot issues, and those old size 6.5 torture devices don't serve me anymore. Off they go to a new home where they will be worn and appreciated.
Out went my beloved high waisted, flared designer jeans that no longer fit around my new hips, along with the idea that I needed them to fit me anymore. These hips are a permanent three inches wider because I grew a child in my womb, and I am damn proud of that. I'll find new jeans that accentuate my new hips.
Out went my athletic attire that clung to me like a wet bathing suit two sizes too small. Out went anything and everything that didn't serve my new body or my new self. My closet was tidier, my laundry loads lighter. Shopping is simple now. I have two pairs of jeans - one denim, one black. I won't buy any new ones until those are worn out. I have four pairs of workout tights (I am a fitness instructor, so it's my uniform), two pairs of sweatpants, and two pairs of loose, light "athleisure" pants. I have two tight workout tanks, and a few loose ones. I have two sports bras. I have two casual jumpsuits. See the pattern here... I don't buy anything new unless I need it because of fit issues or wear and tear. I have a set amount of each category of clothing. This makes dressing, cleaning, and packing a hell of a lot easier. It may seem silly, but it really does give me more time to focus on important things. Because I spend less time deciding what to wear everyday, I have more brain power for the bigger, more important decisions my life entails nowadays.
I may not be a textbook "minimalist", but I certainly embrace the idea of living with less. I love letting go of things. I love purging my belongings. Self evaluation can come in many forms, and I am all about self evaluation. Sometimes we need a little tweaking and editing, and hanging on to physical stuff is usually just a representation of hanging on to our emotional stuff. So, if you need some weight lifted off your shoulders, grab a few big bags and head into your closet, your pantry, your makeup drawer, your handbag pile and purge away! You'll feel the sweet relief of letting go, and by donating your extra stuff, someone else will have gained a pile of treasures.
Because my closet is clean and organized, my life feels clean and organized. The shedding of these clothes represented the shedding of my old self. The self I was before a baby, before medical complexities, before career changes, before the new, wiser, more humble me. (Not that my previous self was so terrible, she was just different.) It was a journey into acceptance. Acceptance of how my body has changed. Acceptance of what my life looks like now. Acceptance of who I am, in this moment in time.
P.S. Thanks to Jess for teaching me how to live with less, and showing us that it is totally possible -- even with a kid!