2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye 2019! Goodbye Stuff!

As 2019 comes to a close, I can't help but be a bit reflective as I anticipate a new year starting tomorrow.  In November of last year I took on the challenge to complete the 30-Day Minimalism Game.  Below is a video explaining how it's played: 

It was a success - not just in getting rid of at least 500 things, but in getting me freer about letting go of even more stuff.  I now know I want less.  

Well, that's all well and good to say, but culling through a lifetime of stuff isn't exactly easy. And unless a person is willing to be ruthless, I'm presently of the opinion that it's best to be a tad measured and methodical about it.   It took us 39+ years to accumulate all our stuff.  So what if it takes three or four, or more years to clear our home and lives of so much of it?  Don't tell hubs I said that.  Hopefully he's not reading this.

Here's the thing (and it's a big thing), one of our goals is to move into a one-story home - hopefully sooner rather than later.  We're fine with waiting until the right home presents itself, but in the meantime we're trying to be focused on getting this house ready to put on the market.  That means painting and recarpeting where needed, but cosmetically, that's about it.  Our kitchen needs a serious overhaul, but we ain't doin' it.  'nuff said on that.  The main thing we truly need to do to be ready to move is to get rid of stuff.  Not only to make this home look better to potential buyers, but so that we can fit what we're keeping inside that (probably smaller) next home we hope to move into.

Sure, it would be great if we didn't have to downsize our square footage, but that probably isn't realistic considering a one story home of the square footage we're accustomed to would have a significantly larger footprint on the landscape than our present tri-level home does. And truthfully...  while two full baths and two half baths were great while raising three boys, I'm ready to move into something that doesn't need as much upkeep.  So...  as we think about the future, stuff just needs to go.  And you know what?  Even if we didn't need to downsize, I now know I want less stuff.  But I said that already, didn't I?

Here's the rub...   I'm very much a process person.  I'm all about process.  In just about every area in my life.  I want to know how things work, why they work, how someone thought of a thing in the first place.  I want to know why people do the things they do.  Even if understanding these things is beyond me, I'm curious enough to slow down and ponder something for a bit.  So, you can imagine, as I sort through things, I want to recall memories, I want to consider why I kept a thing in the first place.  And inevitably, I get distracted.

Hubs, on the other hand, isn't what I'd call a process person.  About much, anyway...  And, as you can possibly imagine, being on opposite ends of the process/product continuum, can cause a lot of conflict.  In retirement, there seems to be a little more patience on both our parts toward the other, but our general personalities haven't (and won't) change.

That said, the 30-Day Minimalism Game actually helped me in my processing.  It didn't change me into being less about the process, but it helped me get through some of my processing more quickly.  It made me more efficient.  And I experienced the euphoria of letting go and getting free.  I like to think I got some clarity that will carry me forward.

I'm hoping to move forward here - writing and sharing about downsizing, minimalizing, getting clarity about stuff, getting clarity about letting go of stuff.   I'm not sure what that will look like.  I don't know if I'll post once a week, or once a month about it, but I do know I want to share what I'm learning and experiencing.  So stay tuned!  😉

Sunday posts (for the time being, at least) will continue to be Year of Project posts - where I share what I'm creating and anything related to that part of my life.  And scattered throughout a month I may randomly write posts about the process (and, hopefully, results) of downsizing.  Or I may find a rhythm to regularly sharing about it.  We'll see.  

Either way, I plan to share what I come across that is helpful to me in downsizing and minimalizing this year.  Tips and inspiration for working through getting rid of stuff, and figuring out what motivates me.  I expect to link to others' blog posts, books, articles  - anything that helps me and inspires me.  I already know of one person who's using January to downsize. 😃  I'll link to her blog tomorrow and I look forward to finding inspiration from her in the next month.

If you're downsizing or decluttering too, it would be great to hear from you.  If you're a blogger and downsizing, I'd very much like to follow your journey.   

Come join me, or just follow along.  I'll take the company and encouragement any way it comes!

Sunday, December 29, 2019


Yes, I've got a finish!  But it wasn't without its hurdles...

Can you see what's wrong with this sweater?

Only after I had securely sewn on eight buttons did I realize I hadn't taken care to line up the stripes on the yoke of this little sweater.    😖   Not to be defeated, I painstakingly removed the buttons and all the cotton thread use to attach them.

And then I reattached the buttons, being careful to to line things up correctly this time:

Ahhh...  that's better.   With no one in mind to give this to yet, I have now finished my second little sweater from the pattern Fair Isle Style Sweater.

I'm curious about other's knitting or crocheting practices - do you mainly make things for known recipients, or do you simply make a thing because you want to make it - with the thought of figuring out later who to give it to?

Both ways have their merits, I'm thinking.  But making items for no one in particular takes a lot of the pressure off - especially if a project doesn't go as well as I hoped.  😅   

Lastly, I thought I'd share a few gifts I received for Christmas that might be of interest to my knitting and crocheting friends.   

First off, one of my sons gifted me this nifty hook storage case (along with some circular knitting needles):

It's advertised on Amazon as a needle case, but I'm finding it pretty perfect for crochet hooks.  

And my middle son made me several yarn bowls on his 3-D printer: 

Two of the bowls were experimental, with the tan one being made of a filament that contains wood.  I guess after the first two tries, the third bowl (the yellow/gold one) turned out just right.  So fun.

I'm just mesmerized by these - and isn't the engraving inside the gold one sweet?  No one will confuse this for say...  Dad's yarn bowl!  😉

And that's all she wrote! 

To see what other YOPers are up to, visit their blogs in my sidebar!  👉

Sunday, December 22, 2019


Last week I left off with the question:  Do I finish something I've already started, or start something new and shiny?

Well, being the week before Christmas I found myself so distracted by goings-on and plan-making that I realized starting something new just felt like another distraction.  Soooo...  I pulled out a little sweater I had started back in April and started crocheting on it again.  And making lots of new ends...

It's amazing how just taking that first step of starting again can be all it takes to finish a thing.  Especially a little thing.  Okay... it's not quite finished, but it's so close!  I even have buttons to sew on it!  That's commitment.  I'm pretty sure it will be finished and ready to show next week.  

How's that for anticlimactic?  Check back in next weekend to (hopefully) see the finished item.  

I wish you all a blessed and merry Christmas, and leave you a song below.  

A couple of years ago, after hearing a young man who'd been rescued from drug addiction sing this song with all his heart, it has become, quite possibly, my favorite Christmas song - a modern version of I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day (or simply Christmas Bells as written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow):

To be honest, the young man, with rough voice and no orchestra and "angel choir" accompanying him, who'd both lost so much and gained so much in his young life, sang it even more beautifully and convincingly.   I'm still moved remembering him singing this song.

John 16:33 - [Jesus speaking]  "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."

Peace to you, friend.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I gots hats...

With my first  helix knitted hat finished...

This photo shows the colors much more correctly than last week's

I immediately starting making another hat.  While I'm still fascinated with helical knitting, on my way to gathering more colors I noticed a lone skein of pretty ombre yarn that looked like it might just  be perfect for making a hat or two.  With no yarn changes, or any thinking required, I whipped up a second hat fairly quickly:

The pattern for all these hats is Benefaction Hat - a free download from Knit Picks.com
and here is a video tutorial for the Benefaction Hat.  

It might have been a little too easy - as it became a tad boring.  So I decided it was time to try helix knitting again - this time with more than two colors.  Needing some more help with that, I found this video simple and immensely helpful:

Wanting to use up some superwash wool, I gathered the colors I have and started knitting.  I wasn't so sure about the colors I put together, but as they all went round and round the whole thing took on very 1960's vibe. The decade of my childhood.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my little brother had a striped t-shirt with these exact colors.    I have no idea if anyone else will like it, but I'm kind of diggin' the retro vibe here:

And that was it!  Three hats finished.  I'm sort of itching to start a cross stitch project, but then I see all the crochet WIPS I have hanging around in baskets...  Finish something or start something new?

As I go and contemplate that question, let me leave you a fun video of The Piano Guys.  You've very possibly seen it before, but it's so worth watching again:


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Learning something new...

It's always exciting when you learn some thing new, isn't it?  Especially when you find out it's not as hard as you imagined.   A year or so ago I heard about helical knitting (or helix knitting) as a way to create jog-less stripes, but the videos I watched at the time did not make it look easy at all.  So I put the idea aside, figuring that it was just too complicated for the pea-sized part of my brain I've devoted to knitting.

And then recently I was watching a video where Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats talked about learning to do helical knitting.  She said it was easy and she listed some resources.  I was intrigued again, but I ended up moving on to another video before taking note of them.  Having lost track of Kathryn's video, I went looking again for one that would make sense to me.  I specifically wanted to understand how to do helical knitting with only two colors.  

Very Pink Knits has a fairly helpful tutorial for making multi-colored stripes.  But for some reason I could only sort of understand - possibly because while she showed a two- color sample, she ended up doing a tutorial with three colors.  And somehow I couldn't quite translate the information to just two colors.

So I looked some more...  

Finally, it was this video by Jen at JenACKnitwear's that made it click for me.  Oh my goodness!  It is so very simple!  I just couldn't believe that I had avoided trying this for so long.

So...  with that I was off, and now I'm about half-way finished with a hat:

Not only am I enjoying helical knitting, but I'm reminded how much I enjoy the knitting of simple hats!  And now I can do them with jog-less stripes!  I even look forward (at some point) to giving three colors a try now.  Baby steps... 


Due to some cancellations, it turned out to be kind of a slow week here (which I've actually enjoyed after Thanksgiving week) and it ended up being a perfect time for...  cat sitting!   

After Thanksgiving, all three of our sons went on a road trip together to Florida, and among other things were able to view the SpaceX rocket launch.  We were pretty excited for them, and I was not just a little tickled that we got to care for two grand-cats.  (Yes...  I'm easily amused.)

While, now that the cats are gone and it feels good to clean house today and put things right from "cat proofing", we sure did enjoy them for the last 10 days.  When they weren't sleeping, or chasing each other, or watching birds and squirrels from a window, they were immensely curious about my yarn.  So finally I gave them some of their own to play with.

I know it looks like a fairly small tangle of yarn above, but numerous times they had that little ball of cotton yarn wrapped around the legs of several furniture pieces and under the ottoman or couch.  I couldn't believe how far they could spread a single strand of yarn!

I'm sure it could get old if I had to rewind  balls of yarn all the time, but for the last day or two (since it occurred to me to give it to them) it just made me laugh to discover all the many ways they could take a small ball of yarn and create a crazy maze with it.  It's been so long since we've had a cat - or any furry pet, I'd forgotten how entertaining and sweet they can be.

But let me be clear...  it is really good to have my house back.  lol  My sensibilities about things have changed and while sometimes I think I'd love to have a cat again, at the moment I'm realizing I'm content to just borrow them occasionally.  

But, for today, I'm happy to join my friends who have furbabies and share a few pictures of my grandcats.   😄

To see what other YOPers are up to, you can click on links to their blogs in my sidebar.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Things I learned on my 30-Day Minimalism Challenge...

As I spent some time in November purposefully going through storage areas with a mind for getting rid of stuff, getting lighter...  I've learned some things.  Some things may be just about me and some things I think may be truisms that anyone can benefit from hearing again (I say again because I'm not the first to say them, and I won't be the last).  

Please know that when I use the pronoun "you" I'm including myself.  If the "you" statements sound judgy or bossy, just reject that thought.  While I may think they're probably, generally, universally true, I don't know who you are, the life you're living, the root of what guides you.  I'm not thinking of any of you in what I write.  I only include you (whoever you are) as likely recognizing some of the things below as generally, universally true.

So... with all that said, here  are some of the things I learned (or  relearned) last month:

1.  Storing stuff begins the process of collecting stuff if one isn't careful.  Now, curated collections can be cool - if you're into that sort of thing, but you all know that's not what I'm getting ready to talk about here.

I don't tend to think of myself as a collector, per se, but it is undeniable that I have squirreled away far more things than I knew I had, and much that I didn't even want when I took an honest look at it.  In time, this "squirreling away" results in collections of things that can be really hard to get rid of.  I suspect because collections have a way of seeming more valuable than the individual parts.  

This "collecting" can happen in any category, and in any room or space that stuff inhabits.  It's easy to not see all the stuff - or when one does actually see a thing that's not being used, it's almost instinctive to think that that thing will be useful some day.  Afterall, why did I keep it in the first place, if I didn't think it might be useful or have a purpose? 

And it is at this point where some variation of a scarcity mindset can take hold - you may say to yourself...  I'd better not get rid of this because when I want it, I might not be able to get it.  Or I know as soon as I get rid of it, I'm going to discover I need or want it.  You maybe even pause for a minute or so flip-flopping between finding a safe place to put it so you'll be able to find it when you need it, or making a conscious decision to leave it out in the open so you don't lose it.  Or am I the only one who does this?  😏

Somehow, in this emotional juggling, I forget that if I truly do realize later that I need it or want it, I can most likely replace it very easily.  Overcoming the different variants of a scarcity mindset was the first (and is probably a continual) hurdle for me in the letting go of stuff.  Even stuff I don't particularly like. 

2.  Fortunately, getting rid of begets more getting rid of.   As the process of getting rid of stuff continues, one begins to see one's stuff through a different lens.  Over the course of the last 30 days I found myself actually curbing my desire to get rid of stuff just for the sake of getting rid of it.  The experience of clearing space and letting stuff go was not just a little bit euphoric.  And frankly... that worried me some, so I told myself to be measured about it.   But I found it interesting that releasing things was so freeing I just wanted to get more free.  While we all know collecting things can become addictive.  I was thrilled to find out that experiencing freedom by releasing stuff is pretty addictive, too.  

3.  Getting rid of something isn't giving up on it, or me, or the idea that I might pursue it in the future.  It just doesn't!  Believing that was a challenge - until I let go some things I'd been holding onto for this very reason.  

4.  If you can't bring yourself to believe #3, be gentle with yourself.  Believing is seeing, in this case; but it's okay if you're not ready to believe.  Try believing in something small to start.  Big changes can start small.   And if you have to remind yourself of #3 as you go through different areas, well... I suspect that's probably normal.

5.  Organizing isn't the solution to too much stuff.  No matter how organized hoarded stuff is, it's still a hoard of stuff. Using stuff or getting rid of it is the solution.  If storage helps one use what one has, then great.  But if organizing just makes all the stuff look better, the underlying problem of having too much stuff doesn't resolve.  In fact, if one isn't mindful and purposeful about all of this, storage and organization will likely just enable the collecting of more stuff.  And round and round we go...

6.  Find different and responsible ways to get rid of excess stuff.  Donating and selling your unwanted items will likely make you feel better about all that you've spent money on that you're now recognizing you don't even want anymore.  Of course, recycling or throwing away what isn't going to bless someone else is certainly an option, but inasmuch as it is in your power to do so, try to not let your "getting rid of" become someone else's burden.

7.  Making your excess stuff someone else's burden can take many forms.   For example: 
  • Expecting adult children to appreciate and want what you don't want to store anymore.  
  • Not knowing what is recyclable in your area and disposing of it incorrectly.
  • Defaulting to tossing things into the trash just because it's easier than making a phone call or driving across town to donate it, or quicker than checking out a few websites to see if there's someone out there who can make use of what you can't use, or don't want to use anymore. I'm not judging you.  I'm speaking to me here.  I'm just guessing someone(s) else could benefit from it.
  • That said, sometimes we really do need to keep moving and may find ourselves tossing something that could otherwise be useful to someone else.  At this point though, I suggest having an honest moment with oneself.  I benefit from acknowledging whatever the reason is that causes me to throw the thing away.  Did I buy thoughtlessly?  Did I use it properly?  Did it become ruined because I stored it carelessly?  And most profoundly...  did this (often cheap) thing I'm throwing away come at the expense of another, like... the possibly underpaid (or worse) worker who made it?  the farmer who planted it, then prayed for rain?  the laborer who did the backbreaking work of picking it?  The possibilities of the questions we might ask ourselves are going to come from the various knowledge and consciences each of us has.  I'm sure you can come up with similar questions that are meaningful to you.
  • While I strongly encourage applying oneself to thoughtful questions like those above, don't let these thoughts so paralyze you with guilt over things/situations that are past that you do nothing to change the future.  Rather, acknowledge what's possibly true and let that truth inform future acquisitions and how to treat those acquisitions.  Always move forward.  Just move forward better.  Move forward with more thoughtfulness.

8. Stop buying or acquiring stuff just because you can.  Or just because it's on sale.  Or just because!!!  Become more intentional in what you bring into your home.

9. Keep receipts - for however long the fine print on your receipt says you have to return items.  And don't hesitate to return things if you have buyer's remorse or find you don't need the item(s) you purchased.   If you've lost your receipt, many stores will give you the the most recent lowest price on an item if they still have it in stock.  Returning merchandise isn't a great long-term solution to buying too much stuff.  But recognizing that unused items can be returned, and returning them will help create the mindset that you don't have to be a storage facility for everything that catches your eye.  

10. You  don't have to always have a surplus of everything you're going to need and use.  That doesn't mean it's not a good idea to have an extra package (even a big package) of toilet paper tucked away, or the next tube of toothpaste you're going to need in a drawer at the ready.  Or any number of other consumables that get regularly used.  But be careful that you don't find yourself being a stockist of the numerous sundry items that you may use someday.   

11. Which brings me to this point.   I don't know if this is a universal truism, or if it's simply true for some, but I have come to recognize that the more stuff I have, the less productive I am.  Energy (mental and physical) is drawn upon to keep track of and deal with my stuff rather than being freed to be creative, loving, caring, taking care of myself, giving to help meet the needs of others, etc...

12.  Doing this exercise for an audience really helped me.  It wasn't an accountability thing so much as I knew the challenge of posting a daily picture and writing a little something would serve to motivate me. And the encouragement I received was really helpful.  It helped it feel like a game.  I wanted to think of fun ways to present my "junk".  I don't think I want to subject blog visitors to month-long minimalism challenges very often, but finding a way to share the continuing decluttering adventure might help me in the future.  We'll see...

13.  Look for and watch, listen, or read about others' experiences in minimizing.   Avoid (for a time, anyway) books, videos, even people who are a wealth of ideas for finding creative ways to use stuff.  Or organizing stuff.  These resources are terrific when the time is right.  But if you're wanting to get serious about not having so much stuff, get insight from those who've truly embraced the idea of minimalism.  They've got some very good things to say.

I'm not a minimalist, and likely never will be.  But boy, do I want to become freer from stuff than I am.  I'm pretty sure this is a life-long pursuit.   And while I don't have as much life ahead of me as I have behind me, it still seems like a worthy pursuit.  I'm finding in these senior years that I still care (maybe care more) about what my purpose in life is.  I want to "get it right" more than I ever have before.  I want to leave this earth with my loved ones full of good thoughts about me, not burdened down by how they're going to deal with my stuff.  

Lastly, but very importantly to me....  getting freer from stuff goes hand in hand with my faith and Biblical teachings that instruct me how I am to live.  It is consistent with thoughts I have about how I want to treat this earth and other people who inhabit it.  So much more to write about this, but I'll continue to try to live a life of owning less stuff before I opine too much.

Several people have either commented here, or mentioned to me privately that they've found this series of posts motivating.  I can't tell you how happy it makes me that my little effort at "getting rid of" has been that for anyone.  But it shouldn't really surprise me.  It was reading articles and watching videos of others that inspired me.  That's what we need to be for each other - inspiration and encouragement.  Thank you to everyone who was that for me over the 30 days of this little experiment.

Now, hopefully I can carry this minimalism challenge into this next month and the new year.  It will take a whole lot longer than 30 days to truly effect a real and lasting change in this area of my life.

If you're thinking about doing something like it, I can only encourage you to do so.  Give it a shot.  You've got nothing to lose.  Except stuff!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

It's December!

So glad that my November 30-Day Minimalism Challenge is over - though, the hardest part was stopping to photograph every day's items that were leaving.  Sometime next week I think I will post some thoughts about the experiment, but I'll just say here...  the challenge to declutter, get rid of, minimize - has only begun!

This weekend, after the Thanksgiving celebrating was over, I picked up my crochet hook once more and made some pretty Ariel Snowflakes:

I'm not sure why they're called snowflakes since they have 10 points, but that shouldn't stop anyone from enjoying them.  The pattern (which is searchable online) is well written, and I enjoyed working these very much.  I had to fiddle a bit with the picots to get them just right (it could have been just me, though).  And it wasn't until pinning them out to block that I noticed I completely left one picot off of one of the "snowflakes" above.  I'm actually surprised only one small picot is missing - that last round was bit tedious, and my eyes tended to want to drop off to sleep...   


While I was decluttering in November, other than making the two scarves I showed last week, the only other yarny things I worked on were knitted dishcloths.

I dug into my scraps for some of these. 

And that, dear reader, is all she wrote!  

To see what other YOPers are up to 
visit their blogs in my sidebar.