Minimalish, Part Two: RIP my Killjoy boots plus sage, sage words on mental health and clutter

So where were we? Oh yeah, I’m kind of a minimalist now. Except am I? As I write, there are two computer monitors on my desk, my floor is clogged with folders and… I’m bullshitting you guys, because the spare monitor is going to be sold as I have a new all-in-one-computer. The folders are my A Level notes, pulled down from the loft, hoovered and slooowly sorted through. By sorted I mean, I’ll photograph a couple of funny notes to share with you guys, keep anything that might come in useful for work and burn the rest.

But I still don’t know if I can claim to be a minimalist, though. As I said last time, I own a lot of wall art. As in, I don’t have any more space on my walls. I don’t really collect stuff, but I love picking up little pieces of arts and crafts when I travel. It’s nice to bring a little bit of there back here. There’s quite a lot of framed MCR posters and photos too. Again, I said last time, I genuinely like it all. The first thing I did when I moved back into this bedroom was put up as many pictures as I could; I think they make a space feel like it’s yours. But then, I also own four mugs worth of pens and highlighters, plus spares (possibly not minimalist). I still own CDs, because I own a CD player. I use the CD player, because it’s also a radio and I love the radio, especially at night. I could use my phone as a radio, but that a) fries the battery and b) makes me sit on my phone in bed.

So I think I’m a minimalist in the same way I’m a vegetarian. 95% of the time, I won’t eat meat because I don’t really like it and it flairs up my IBS and it’s terrible for the planet and cows are cute. The other five per cent is when I’m in Greece and there’s bikiri meze at one of my favourite restaurants. Good luck keeping me away from that food-based piece of heaven.

Jerry from Tom and Jerry', eating an entire block of cheese
from Twitter

I suppose I’m increasingly aware of the sorts of things I want in my life, and the sorts of things I don’t. Some things won’t get replaced when they fall apart, so as time goes by I’ll end up with the objects I really want and little else.

So, what have I decluttered? Bloody loads. I thought about photographing various points where I had piles of clothes on my bed or tonnes of books in a pile, but it felt weird. I didn’t start thinking minimalist thoughts to try out a trend, although minimalism is definitely a trend. I did it because the thought of moving all that stuff from one building to another gave me a stomach ache. I’m still doing it because of that. Here are a few bits and pieces:


It might be a throwback to when my IBS was really bad, but I kept too-big or worn out clothes for ages, because on days when I was bloated and uncomfortable, I couldn’t fit into my regular clothes. I also had no desire to wear anything that wasn’t absolutely comfortable. Over lockdown, that desire rekindled, so I’ve gotten rid of a lot of underwired bras (the devil’s instrument, but I’m keeping a couple in case we ever get to socialise again), platform heels that I bought for a specific occasion even though I had other platforms that were comfier. Yes, you can get comfy platform heels. Comfy-ish. I got rid of the murderous ones, and any shoes that were too big (funny story: until recently I thought I was a size five. I measure as a size three. Once I noticed, I couldn’t un-notice). I passed on clothes that didn’t suit me, clothes that weren’t easy to move in (bye, jeans), clothes that reminded me of a bad occasion. I probably have A Small Wardrobe to thank for this, but I’m being more considerate about what I actually wear versus what I think I’ll wear, and what I wear is beginning to match a lot more.

I’ve still got way more clothes than the average minimalist YouTuber has, partly because in the UK there is a limit to the practicality of a capsule wardrobe… none of my jumpers were suitable for use this last July; none of my strappy tops are suitable for use now, because there is only so much one can layer. But I’m building a wardrobe that looks cool, is really comfortable and requires minimal ironing, so result.


Dundunduuuuun. Look, there were some that were very boring. Some I would never, ever read. Some I tried and decided my time was better spent elsewhere. Books that aren’t going anywhere: my Maggie Stiefvaters, Harry Potter (my set is practically antique; there’s an epic stain on The Prisoner of Azkaban from a glass of Pepsi when I was about eight), my guide books (they’re proof we could once travel widely, and I have every intention of returning to Corfu/Malta/Vietnam). I’ve been rereading copies of Miss Marple that my grandmother gave me. They are staying for the time being, because I bloody love a murder mystery and because I don’t have many things to remind me of my grandmother. Which brings us to…

Sentimental Stuff

This is hard. I understand the basics of keeping hold of something long after it has any practical use, or when you think it’s ugly or takes up too much room. You keep it because it reminds you of a specific time or experience, and in getting rid of the item, you’re getting rid of the person who gave it to you, or letting go of that time. This is why my brother and I protested when our mum wanted to get rid of a VHS collection of James Bond films. That giant box took up more room in our childhood than most of our aunts and uncles. It’s funny, because I’ve had no trouble chucking the stuff that reminds me of bad memories. Get this item out of my space, please, it’s interfering with my mental health.

It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it, but an upside of having less clutter has been that I feel calmer. Not zen-calm, but not as messy. If you’ve been here for a while you’ll know I have a very messy brain. Less stuff does seem to equal less brain mess. As I said last time, I’d like to put my mental energy toward things that aren’t, well, things. But when that stuff is a reminder of better times? It’s hard, dude. Some objects I have aren’t being decluttered yet, or ever, because I’m not ready to consider getting rid of them. Other things, I looked at for a bit and then my desire to have an easy moving day won out. For example, these boots:

Studded black faux leather boots

I called them my Killjoy boots. I got them in Paris in 2009 and wore them to death. I realised in about 2011 that they were knackered and hurting my feet, but they were too much part of my identity to part with. One of the cool girls at school came up to me on a non-uniform day and asked where they came from. Paris. I think it was a chain store, they were probably about 40 euros, but still. So I moved houses with them, twice, even though I never wore them. A couple of months ago, when I was having a wobble about how much shit was in my bedroom, I pulled them out and realised the faux leather was shedding everywhere. So I took photos for posterity, said ‘thanks, boots, we had a great time’ and then put them in the textiles recycling (there was no rehoming them. Look carefully and you’ll see a random shoelace replacing a zipper. I had them reheeled too).

I guess I lied about not photographing anything. I thought I might talk about minimalism on here one day. I couldn’t make a big social-media-sharing thing out of it, though, because the entire process feels really personal.

This post has gotten really long, again, so I will keep talking in the next one, which is about technology. Do you have any decluttering stories? Horror stories? Have you ever kept a pair of shoes for nine whole years because they made you feel cool when you were 15? Let me know in the comments.

Look after yourselves!

Here is part three of this series., about swapping my smart phone for a brick phone.

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Minimalish, Part One: learning about minimalism and I might be a bit of a hippie

Hellloooo and happy almost-Halloween! (I’ve just remembered that tomorrow is MCR’s one year return anniversary and I’ll have been blogging here for eleven years. ELEVEN YEARS. What.)

I’ve been thinking about writing about this for a little while, but I thought it might be a) boring and b) preachy, which are two of my least favourite attributes in blogs or videos. But I reckon I can strike a good balance… I’m also not sure what else to talk about, because most other things I’m working on are either very personal and therefore secret, or not-quite-done and therefore currently secret. So let’s talk about minimalism!

First of all, what is minimalism? Wikipedia has some ugly tables and blocky architecture. Good Housekeeping thinks minimalism as a lifestyle might be Buddhist and essentially revolves around having less stuff, so you appreciate the stuff you do have more. All the other articles I could find were on sites about being minimalist, which I’ve avoided because you wouldn’t trust a unicorn to write a book about magical creatures. Okay, you might. I just thought it’d be good to share links to sites with relative neutrality. So, yeah, having less stuff. Taking care of the stuff you do own.

Sooo am I here to out myself as a minimalist and talk about how everyone should throw away anything that isn’t sparking joy then paint their entire house white? Nope and nope, god. At least, I don’t think so. I’m here to chat about my current head space, I suppose.

This might require back story. Okay. So, thinking back on it: I have moved three times and each one of those times was in less than fun circumstances. The first time I was 10, so it was your standard house move in which no one consults their children. I hated the entire process. The second time was when my parents split up and I moved out with my mum, back to the place we’d moved out of when I was 10. I think I was 19. I didn’t hate the entire process, but the ‘separating parents’ situation isn’t as fun as the normal ‘moving out as a young adult’ situation. The third time was last January (um. 23? Time has been hard recently), when I moved back to the house my parents moved us to when I was 10, where my dad and my brother live. Also not fun. Three house moves, two houses. A bajillion hours of where is this painting going to go and you need new bed linen because it’s a different sized bed and this box is really too heavy and a general sense of… why is this a fucking toothache.

The last two times, I packed up dresses I hadn’t worn for years. Books I never got round to reading, boxes of gifted notebooks I hadn’t used because I write quickly but not that quickly, random receipts from when I started my stationery business and didn’t have a filing system. I knew that I needed to take some time and figure out what I really wanted and needed, but both moves were pretty quick and/or very stressful, so I did what I could in the time frame and told myself I’d deal with all the extraneous stuff later. There wasn’t that much, actually, not when you minus all my work stuff (computer, novel notes, stationery stock, paperwork). You could fill a moving van – maybe one and a half moving vans, if they’re small – but I wasn’t hauling dozens of coats and eighty pairs of shoes around. Most of the personal stuff was books and a lifetime’s collection of junk jewellery.

That’s not to say I never cleared things out except for in a pre-move dash; I got rid of a lot when I came back from Asia, because living out of a backpack for three months gave me a lot of perspective… I also realised that pre-Asia, I’d kept all my holey socks. I had loads. I’m not sure why. I put them in the textiles recycling the day I got back.

It’s a long winded back story but my point is: I’ve developed a bit of a thing about moving. As in, I bloody hate it. But I also love that crisp new feeling when you realise you’ve got a fresh start. You can leave your baggage at the old place and make new memories! Except… even when I’ve had that crisp new feeling, I’ve always brought baggage. The physical type and the mental type. Suitcases everywhere. Boxes with that indestructible brown tape. Random nicknacks from a holiday several years ago. It’s probably because I’ve pinged from one house to the other predominantly because of my parents’ lives, not because I moved for myself. I’m also very aware that I’ll move again. Not specifically to anywhere or on a certain date, but I won’t live in my dad’s house indefinitely. When I go, I want it to be as hassle free as I can possibly make it. (In my Psychology AS level, we looked at stress and apparently moving house was up there with getting married and a loved one dying. It’s never going to be smooth, but I’d like it to be less of a nightmare next time.)

So, minimalism. I first started thinking about it when I was searching for some certificates in January and accidentally began decluttering paperwork as I looked (I actually mentioned it on here at the time). Around then, YouTube suggested I watch something by A Small Wardrobe, which is clearly proof the devices are listening. At first I watched a few videos and thought ‘this woman owns ONE hat? Nope nope nope.’ Then, when Covid reared its head, I decided to get a head start on quarantine activities and tidy up my bookshelf. Which became a tidying of the wardrobe, which became ‘why do I own this hat which I have not worn since 2011?’ It dawned on me that one of the reasons I felt mentally cluttered could be that I was surrounded by actual clutter, a lot of which felt like it belonged in someone else’s life. It’s a natural side effect of being in your mid-twenties, I suppose. Something from just a few years ago can belong to a completely different time. Keeping it around might not be doing you any favours, even on a subconscious level.

I should probably add that around the same time, my mum was clearing out her stuff in preparation to move abroad. She hasn’t moved, because 2020, but she had way more stuff than I did, and the process of watching/helping her organise bits and pieces was eye opening. Some of it was really nice (we had a hilarious afternoon going through my primary school projects. There were very early signs of genius). Some of it was depressing as hell, because it was like watching someone’s entire life go to a charity shop. I should add she still has belongings. She owns six squillion pairs of shoes. It was just quite disconcerting. It made me think of when my grandfather died, and my nan chucked out most of his stuff. He wasn’t a hoarder by any means, but he’d kept bits and pieces that meant something to him, like cards from his parents, and my nan got rid of virtually everything.

I guess a combination of all those things have done a number on my brain, because here I am discussing how I might be a bit of a minimalist. A minimalish. Have I painted my room white? Hahah, to do that I’d have to move some paintings. Are you allowed to own paintings when you’re a minimalist? I think so; all mine spark joy. Some aren’t paintings. Some are ceramics. A couple are necklaces suspended from a nail. THE JOY IS SPARKING. But I have been getting rid of what the kids would call a fuckload of stuff. I’ve passed on some books. Actual books. I didn’t think authors were allowed to give away books, but this one doesn’t want to try getting them all down the stairs come moving day, so byeeee. The upshot is, I’m becoming increasingly aware that objects take up mental energy, and I’d rather put my energy into other parts of my life. Especially in a world where we might lose all our stuff to floods or wildfires or coastal erosion, or where we might die from Covid before we’ve had a chance to enjoy all that stuff we’ve accumulated. But do we really want all the stuff, or do we just feel like we should own it because it reflects where we think we ought to be in our lives? God I’m becoming a hippie. If you see me wearing hemp, throw a glass of water over me.

This post has become really long, so I’m going to wrap it up here and continue in the next one. I guess this has been an introduction to my becoming a minimalish. For sharing/SEO purposes, here is a photograph of my old desk. There is very little on it because I took the photo just before I moved. Also the desk was in a cupboard, so you couldn’t really clutter it up. I’d love to tell you that it influenced this mindset I find myself in, but I just used my bed as storage space instead. When I needed the bed, the stuff went on the desk. When I needed the desk, the stuff went on the bed. I was very organised, though.

desk and shelves inside a cupboard

Look out for the next post soon-ish. Have a lovely Halloween and look after yourselves!

Here are part two and part three of this series.

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