Minimalism and the closet purge

Otherwise known as “Finding Balance – Part 3” which seems to have hijacked my life – are you tired of this topic, yet?

As you have undoubtedly surmised, I’m not entirely happy at work. I need to remind myself, though, that I am not entirely unhappy, either. And while I am feeling – well – a little out of balance, I have taken a detour from my normal fiction reading into the world of non-fiction – looking for guidance – or inspiration, really. I am borrowing and buying as many books on “minimalism” as I can find. I know – the irony…

Anyway, before I tackle my work-life balance problem (is it a problem? – hmmmm- I probably have a few things to work out) the part of me that needs to feel in control is taking control of whatever little pieces I can grasp – starting with my closet.

grasping balance through my closet

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? I don’t exactly embrace everything she suggests, but I am planning to take the plunge – clothes first. The criteria for choosing what to keep and what to eliminate is whether or not the item “brings joy”.

clothes pile

Ummmm, so, clothes don’t really bring me joy. What worked for me, though, was asking myself the question “how does this make me feel?” I discarded anything where the honest answer was “lousy” or “uncomfortable” – including a few items that I wear regularly. Why continue to wear something that makes me feel bad?

So – this process wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. I sorted and discarded and even started looking at some of my clothes differently.

sorted clothes

I am no where near a ten-piece or even a capsule wardrobe. But just getting started feels like a refreshing change.


So, Greg is pretty happy about the whole closet cleaning thing (my closet, that is) – but a little concerned over my interest in minimalism:

Greg: I’m not sure that I’m on board with this minimalist thing
Me:    Don’t worry – if it brings you joy, you get to keep it
Greg: Well, my radio brings me joy, and my train brings me joy, those pictures bring me joy, and my TV brings me joy…
Me:    What? – your CDs bring you joy? – when is the last time you listened to them?
Greg: Not my CDs – my TV
Me:    We’re not getting rid of the TV (sheesh)
Greg: Well, if we get rid of the CDs, what will we put on that shelf?
Me:    Empty shelves are okay…

Yikes… So, yes, this is going to be a long process.

According to the book, my next step should be books – and this is one area where Marie Kondo and I will have to agree to disagree. My books do bring me joy – and not stashed in a closet. My books bring me joy on my bookshelves, on my coffee table, on my nightstand, in my work bag – stacked every which way in every room of the house.

And then – just because spring is finally springing in Boston…

So, the reality is that I will probably never truly be a “minimalist” – and the reality is that I have more than enough. I’m working on it…

Which do you enjoy most –  being surrounded by your keepsakes, or more simple surroundings?



13 responses to “Minimalism and the closet purge”

  1. Sarah Avatar

    Boy, do I wish we could have coffee and have a conversation over this. I found clothes easier too, fit or don’t fit, feel good in it or not. Same for us and books, no way, no how are they leaving, we just keep adding, rarely subtracting. The place we just at for vacation, had a cozy minimal feel, that is where I would love to get to, or at least a little closer. But memories are also stored here in things, while we may not use them every day or even every year, I would be sad to know they aren’t here anymore. We will probably always have a storage room with spill-over, and a manageable spill-over is who we are.

  2. Debbie Avatar

    that last question is so difficult to answer. but before we get started on that, bravo on cleaning out the closet. i have read that you should toss anything you have not worn in one year – but i like your angle for keeping things, comfort and joy!! comfort is paramount to me!!

    i love books scattered around a home. my coffee table/shelf books are different. scrapbooks, blog books, souvenir books from places we have visited. my ability to read real books passed on, a long time ago.

    i do enjoy having my keepsakes around me, they are all special, with special meaning. reminders of fun trips that i want to think about every day. when i see those reminders, i smile!!

    so to answer your question, i think you can do both. i keep stuff but i am neat and organized so i feel like that makes it ok!!!

  3. Debbie Avatar

    ooooh and i love the pansies!!!!

  4. Lynne Avatar

    Well . . . first . . . I ”enjoy a read” with you . . .
    Like your truths, zest, smiles . . .

    Clothes closet . . . I make that “purge”step often . . ,
    I admire the minimalist . . . not sure if I will ever make the mark . . ..
    Gotta have my books around . . . old favorites, ones to read . . .
    probably could go through, down sizing my “work reads.”
    Retired now for eighteen years . . . doubt those “ work reads” are relevant today.

    Love photos of the grands, greats . . . on a dresser, in the bedroom.
    I did remove half of them . . . when there wasn’t room for one more pic . . . that counts, doesn’t it . . .

    Magnets and refrigerator notes, pics, artwork, I am better “than I used to be” not perfect . . .

    I get stuck with Heirloom pieces, collectibles, tiny dishes . . . help me please.

    Doubt I will ever make it to “minimalist” . . .
    Maybe I should start eliminating my dot dot dot thingy’s . . .
    May I join you and Sarah for coffee . . .

    1. Karen Lakis Avatar

      Yes – absolutely! Coffee would be wonderful.

  5. Carola Bartz Avatar

    This post really resonates with me, and I wish you luck with getting rid of some things. I go through my clothes regularly, but it’s getting more and more difficult to discard something because by now I feel good in almost all of my clothes. Books is a completely different matter. Like you I love books, and I only get rid of those which I didn’t enjoy that much or I am 100% certain I won’t read again. Those I bring to the thrift store (where I go through the book shelves again to fill up the space I just created…). I started cleaning out my studio, and that was actually very liberating.

  6. Lisa Gordon Avatar

    Karen, I love the way you are going about this. Using the books as a guide, but putting your own ‘spin” on it. Everyone is so different, and no matter what, but especially when it comes to paring down, it is definitely not a “one size fits all.” Kudos to you, and thank you for sharing your adventure here. Also, for sharing the conversation you had with Greg. I LOVE it!

    Have a wonderful week ahead, my friend!

  7. Beatrice P. Boyd Avatar

    I have read parts of the Joy of Tidying Up and adopted some of the suggestions. For example, rolling tops and placing them in the dresser drawer seems to conserve space as well as let me see what’s available more easily. I have parted with some items that “no longer bring joy” and actually did handle many first as the book’s author suggested. Clothes purging is ongoing. I have a bad habit of collecting too many books, but then will purge them for donation to the library or local thrift stores or sending to friends. Collectibles were never “my thing” thankfully, but we do have some special Boyds Bears figurines, especially Beatrice & Grenville ones. Also, I have some items from my late parents, thankfully not too many.

    It was nice to see the Boston blooms and we experienced some firsthand after spending a weekend there at the end of April. The Boston Public Garden was not completely in bloom. but lots of folks were there including us and the Swan boat ride was fun. It’s also warning up here in Nashua, N, and hopefully WOodstock, VT will be warm when we visit next week.

  8. Michelle B Avatar

    I have been saying since January 1, I need to clean out my bedroom closet. It hasn’t happened yet. Now weeding and mulching have taken a priority and the whole closet thing may have to wait some more, unless there is rain (then maybe). I haven’t read The Joy of Tidying Up, but I do know it feels good when things are tidy. Clearing clutter seems to lighten my physical load and somehow I feel like the ‘load on my shoulders’ is lighter too. (If that makes any sense.) My daughter stress-cleans, I know something is going on when she is cleaning her bathroom and I didn’t have to ask. If only I could get her to clean out my closet… Your spring flowers look beautiful! Can’t wait to see what you clean up next. 🙂

  9. Jeevan Avatar

    I always look out for things to be simple and neat and worth minimal than useless with abundance. I like your neatly arranged cloths in 3rd picture and blooming of flowers

  10. Terri Avatar

    I have begun to whittle down my “junk”, but it is a very slow process. I cleaned out closets and rooms last year only to have my granddaughter move in, which threw a winch in my closet cleaning in that rooom because I had to move all my junk in there to make room for her. I’m having more difficulty with clothes because I don’t like anything I own much but I hate to throw things out. We still have a couple of years, but I am, promising myself to keep on keeping on with the “getting ready” part of retirement.

  11. Debbie Avatar

    i was thinking you should get those slim, space saving hangers. i have them and they are wonderful!!!

  12. Barb Avatar

    I really try to keep it simple. I’m good with the closets and drawers. I don’t have a lot of what my husband calls “sit around stuff.” It’s photos that are my downfall – too many photos of friends and family displayed everywhere. I just like the memories they evoke, and I like seeing them around me. Karen, I’m getting caught up on your new site. I signed up for e-mail notification. I like these thought-provoking posts (and of course the photos…). Is there any way your site remembers people so you don’t have to fill-in your info every time?

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