Empties Update

In an effort to curb the sheer amount of waste I see around me, I have been on a rampage of using things up: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, at work, (inappropriately) in other people’s lives. This rampage has also been driven by a level of upsettedness at how much I seem to have accumulated in my life that drags me down. I can barely stomach looking in my wardrobe it’s so packed with crap that I can’t deal with.

I wrote a bit about the joy of empties in the past. I’m feeling very smug because I’ve keep the process up, and can share with you the little stash of empties I’ve amassed since I began my focussed attempts at using what I have in lieu of accumulating more.

Hydroluron

You may recall me banging on about this little tube of wonder in my skin overhaul series. This little guy goes for about $33 at Priceline and does wonders for rejuvenating your skin’s hydration levels and plumping out the fine lines that pop up when you aren’t giving your skin some tender loving. This tube lasted me about 2.5 months of twice-daily use. I also accidentally used way too much in the early days, so I’m confident of it’s longevity. It has already been pre-purchased and is a non-negotiable element of my morning skincare regime.

Clinique Take Off the Day Balm 

Although pricier than your standard wiping alcohol makeup remover you can grab off the shelf at Woollies, this melting balm both thoroughly removes your makeup and acts as a healing and cleansing balm on your poor face which has spent the day dealing with the world. This tub lasted me around 3 months. I love that I don’t need to use those little makeup pad wipes to remove my makeup and I love how this product helps me double cleanse in the evenings.

Lancôme night creme

This little tester was picked up in a Sephora purchase. I mainly used it to get it out of my life – and I am glad it is out of my life. A little potent and a little not right for my skin,

Clinique moisture surge 

This little sample was gifted to me by my Wedding Skincare Consultant. It is AMAZING. The product goes on so smoothly and is cooling and hydrating and made my skin feel ready for the day. I’m waiting for the magical money fairy to fly by and let me buy this in full size one day; until then I’m ruthlessly working through some cupboard-hidden moisturisers.

Garnier shampoo & conditioner

Purchased in a moment of panic at Priceline when I walked in and felt like I had to buy something. Perfectly fine but leaves my hair a little flat. Will not repurchase save for Priceline brain-fart situations.

Rexona Travel-Sized Deoderant

These mini purchases breed in my handbags and desk drawers. As with everything else, I’m methodically working my way through them. One down. One thousand to go.

Aesop Face Mask Sample

Aesop gifted me three face mask samples that are promised to reduce acne. I used one last week, and I could feel the impact quite quickly. One down, two to go.

Revlon Foundation

Since my KonMari bathroom purge in 2016, where I discovered I had over 20 liquid foundations of different shapes, sizes and tones hiding in my cupboards, I have been committed to only having one liquid foundation that I studiously use up before purchasing a new one. I’m very happy to say this one is complete. I had already restocked in the form of a Maybelline foundation in the Priceline 40% off cosmetics sale, and am now working my way through this newly preferred brand.

I’m also proud to say I’m getting dangerously close to using up a powder foundation that I’ve had in the cupboard since my university graduation in March 2014. I can see glimmers of the pan, and am dying for the day it is done and used, and I can commit to thoughtful contributions to my makeup collection. In addition to these itemised lists, I’ve also blasted through an entire cake of honey soap that is made in Australia (it was just beautiful), and am now smashing through a bottle of bodywash I received in a subscription box.

Clothing

In other facets of life, I also listed 31 items of clothes on eBay, sold 9, relisted 14 and donated 8. The most shameful thing about this eBay extravaganza is how disgustingly full my cupboard still is, and how not-lighter I feel despite this purge. These are always excellent times for some self-reflection on why you bought the stuff in the first place, and why it no longer brings you joy, then working out how to continue with refining your tastes, your spending, and yourself. I’m going to be doing another cull this coming weekend, which will both give me a cash diet appropriate activity, as well as hopefully increasing the amount of cash I have to spend in this month of poverty.

Generally I’ve felt super inspired after heading down the no-waste internet search spiral and am now constantly looking for ways to incorporate the principles of using what you have. It is a very slow process, but also deeply rewarding.

KonMari in the bedroom

KonMari, that magical unicorn, has (slowly) breathed new life into my musty and messy apartment, and I’m thrilled to share that just a short eight and a half weeks after beginning, KonMari has firmly settled herself into my bedroom and I’m not letting her leave.

For the uninitiated, the KonMari method is a ‘method’ of tidying developed by the ubiquitous Marie Kondo. Kondo began her tidying business in Japan, and has published two books explaining her (very) unique method: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy (released in January 2016, this is the ‘illustrated companion’ to the first book). I’ve read the first, and have my name down at the library for the second.

The core premise of the KonMari method is to: 1. remove everything that doesn’t spark joy; 2. put everything that remains away in its place. Rinse and repeat, forever and ever and ever. It’s extremely simple, but the simplicity is what makes it so effective. You read the book and go ‘well, duh’. And that’s always a nice change to having to tunnel your way through complicated ideas and systems and programs to get to some kind of solution to your fear of facing overstuffed drawers, baskets and corners of your home.So the ‘well duh’ moment you have reading about life changing magic is a welcome experience.

I KonMari’d the bathroom, and remain thrilled at how effective the process has been. Seven weeks later, everything still lives nicely in its place. The drawers look as good as they did when I first cleaned them. Nothing manages to breed on the bathroom counter; in fact, the total number of items remaining continues to decline as I use things up because I actually know I have them, instead of buying eighteen of the same thing because I can’t locate it in overstuffed ‘storage drawers’ which I’m too scared to confront. The total percentage of items removed stays at 43%, and the aim is to work my way down to 60% by the end of 2016.

Thanks to the overwhelming success in the bathroom, I let KonMari into the bedroom. This ended up being a very long and tortuous process. Unlike the bathroom, which I smashed out in a jetlagged day, the bedroom involved a lot of emotion, frustration and laziness. I also cheated. Marie Kondo, the oracle of tidiness, says one must remove and reduce before one may purchase any form of storage. However, Ikea got the better of me, and I got some extra drawers for my existing Pax unit, in the dream of folding and storing my clothes like Marie does. Totally worth it, as I build the drawers myself (what a legend), and they did become an integral part of succeeding in this process. But I digress.

First, I took a good hard look at my wardrobe. Then I also looked at my floor, under my bed, and in some random wire baskets I have because my clothes lived everywhere. Embarrassingly, I also looked in the boyf’s section of clothing storage, because my clothes seem to wander off and hide under all kinds of glorious piles.

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Ermahgerd.

I’m getting heart palpitations just looking at those photos. In case you can’t tell, this level of total catastrophe was a cause of constant and significant stress. It was impossible to sleep well, and I was constantly overwhelmed at the sheer impossibility of addressing this disaster.

But not for long! Consistently with rule one, I made a tragic pile of all of my clothes on the bed (I couldn’t take a photo because the boyf and I got in a fight about the fact I was never going to deal with all of this mess [initiated by me] and that I was incapable of being tidy [also claimed by me] and that we were going to have to sleep on the floor [also initiated by me]). But I assure you, it was large enough to bury you.

I took a deep breath, looked to the sky, and summoned the power of Kondo to help me through this emotionally confronting moment of working out what of my clothes sparked joy. A deep breath later, a vast number of my clothes were in a garbage bag.

I ended up getting rid of 80 items of clothing. Many got donated to the Salvos. Quite a few became subject to my eBay experiments and have gone on to spark joy for others around the country thanks to the magic of eBay. And the rest were thanked for all they do for me, properly hung, or folded (in the tri-fold way), and put away. And finally, finally, some peace and order has been restored.

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Hooray!

What worked?

  • Being honest with myself. There were so many things I’d held on to over the years, such as shirts from my exchange program, and dresses I’d worn for a special occasion, that I just knew didn’t spark joy but I wasn’t ready to let go of. But once I’d delved in, you could feel it within seconds of picking up the item – it was time to say goodbye. And it was necessary to just do it, and move on.
  • Actually picking up each item. Something about picking up the item focusses you on the actual thing you’re holding, and you can ask some pretty tough questions.
  • Moving quickly in bagging up the ‘nos’ and getting them out of the house. The longer I looked at the goodbye items, the more those old connections came back and I was desperate to return it back to my wardrobe. But once they were out of sight, they were out of mind.
  • Having drawers before I finished my work (my personal piece of rebellion against the KonMari method). Knowing that my space was going to need to change to accommodate what I would keep meant I could make some smart decisions in advance so that I actually had somewhere to put all this crap.
  • The folding. I love the KonMari folding. I don’t know why because folding sucks, but for some reason, I’m totally hooked.

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What didn’t work?

  • Taking my time. I got really stressed out having piles of crap everywhere. And whenever I did the washing, I had nowhere to put the washing…and then nothing changed for a while. Set aside a weekend, tackle the job through the end and be able to enjoy the benefits.

So Marie Kondo remains my favourite person on the planet. I love her method, I love having an organised space, and I love actually living a bit like a grown up for once – as in, someone who puts things away and has drawer dividers and gets a thrill from folding and goes, ‘Saturday night! Perfect opportunity for laundry and tidying while thinking of organising and how to optimise my space!’

It’s awesome. I hope you find your own brand of awesome through the KonMari method too.

 

Steps to KonMari-ing the crap out of my bathroom

A year later and I am on board the KonMari train to tidying and magically transforming my life into a world of unicorns and rainbows dancing around all the newly freed up space in my home!

I got back to the land down under on Saturday and, after watching all the crap spill out of our suitcases, adding to the stuff already filling up our little home, I was itching to get discarding. I defied the KonMari laws and started with the bathroom, because I embarrassingly harbour very strong emotional connections to my clothes (I know, I’m insane), and wasn’t ready for that horrible process of saying goodbye.

With jet lag waking me at the delightful hour of 4.50am, I got up, got to work, and “discarded” (aka got rid of a tonne of sh*t). Below is a step-by-step guide to my first foray into performing magic upon my bathroom.

Step 1: Take a before photo or two ( obviously )

   

  

Room deets: combo bathroom/laundry. Contains 3 drawers, three cupboards under the sink, and one long cupboard with 6 shelves. Laundry sink is also full of random items. There is an additional box hiding in the bedroom containing nail polishes.

Step 2: Does it spark joy?

Every item got lovingly held, interrogated about its ability to bring me joy, and put either into the bin (see ya exploded lip gloss I never dealt with), the throwing away box or the keep box. This was quick, as a lot of the stuff was embarrassing (shimmery Ed Hardy body lotion? Seriously, why).

Step 3: Get tracking

I sat down with a clear coffee table, notebook and pen, and wrote down every item and tracked whether it went in the discard purgatory or the bring-me-joy-baby keep pile. (This step was motivated by Cait Flanders, and an intention to start a shopping ban).

(PS – want to see what 73 nailpolishes looks like? I know. I too am mortified with myself. When the heck was I thinking I could use up 73 polishes? The total square meterage of my finger nails is like 0.05.)

  
Step 4: Wet wipe the world

The adventures of my rank bathroom cupboards required a massive wipe down of every single item and all containers. Apparently my foundations like to randomly squirt out of the bottles and cause havoc when I’m at work. Surprisingly, that process served as a second-round cull, as it did not bring me a single speck of joy to look after some of that stuff and I never wanted to wipe down hundreds of items again.

Step 5: Order boyfriend to take out rubbish to avoiding risking the “temptation” of hanging on to any of the non-joy-giving-devil-items.

(Love you babe xoxo)

Step 6: Give everything a home

I really wanted to go to IKEA to buy the perfect storage, but I held strong to the Oracle (all praise Marie Kondo) and used what I had around the home, since the solution isn’t buying more storage, but having less stuff. I even put my iPhone 6 box to work, since the book had specifically recommended apple product boxes. I took this extremely seriously. 

Step 7: Get grumpy

This takes frickin forever. I got grumpy and had a nap.

Step 8: Resume finding shoe boxes in which to neatly stack your stuff after refreshing nap.

Step 9: Take after photos

  
* ta da *

  
And finally – my review of the process in point-form:

  • Discarding items is awesome and eye-opening. I had SO MUCH MORE junk that I even fathomed – see you later high horse of “I live in a small apartment and hardly have anything”.
  • Tracking your items is tedious but very rewarding. I made up a spreadsheet afterwards so that I can continue to track what comes in and out of my life, and share the total stats below.
  • Don’t ever subscribe to makeup subscription boxes. They increase your Total Crap Percentage (or TCP) by a factor of a zillion, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll use any of it.
  • Clean or wipe down everything before putting it back – this step really made me appreciate what I had and inspired me to want to look after what I have better so I don’t have an urge for shiny new stuff all the time.
  • Shoeboxes as storage is awesomeeee.
  • Marie Kondo knows her stuff. While I didn’t thank all my items out loud for taking care of me at my worst and loving me at my best and whatever, I did generate a very deep appreciation for what I have, and mentally engaged in some serious gratitude (alongside a little self-berating of why-did-you-ever-even-think-it-was-a-good-idea-to buy-this-you-idiot questioning and avoiding mentally calculating the money I wasted).

So without further ado, the numbers:

Total items owned: 369

Items discarded: 155

Percentage discarded: 42%

See you for round 2 – Clothes, otherwise known as the Era of Activewear Confrontation.

While sitting in the Trinidad airport (as is my wont these days… But only until Saturday!), I stumbled across some articles in Google, and found out that even IKEA thinks we’ve reached peak consumption? Well, if the company that, to me, is the true definition of consumerism, has openly admitted we’ve just got too much stuff, then I suppose this de-clutter/simplify/minimalism movement really has some weight behind it.

Homewares hasn’t really been a huge issue for me. We moved into a shoebox apartment, and were given most of our furniture courtesy of generous family and forward-thinking parents. That combination of lack of space and already having everything meant that there was no need to go shopping for all those delightful items to fill our home, since our home was very rapidly filled. Still, I am sure with the gradual inheritance of more space as we potentially move in the future (we’re committed to our cosy one bedroom for another year at this stage), will come the desire for more to “fill it up”. I’ll have to keep this concept of Ikea’s in mind – that we, as the human race, have peaked. It’s time to chill out on the buying and perfecting. 

I’ll be re-reading the KonMari book on my final (14 hour) flight home, and look forward to sharing the progress I make on our home (which is relatively low on homewares but still, likely to contain far more than I realise!).

[De-Clutter] Trying my hand while on vacation 

So as I mentioned, I read The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying up, and I’ve really got the itch to give the method a go. But in true first world problem style, I am on a month-long vacation and can’t possibly de-clutter (although my boyfriend would disagree, since I am known to be a chronic over-packer, but on the other hand, he’s now acquired two tennis racquets to bring home to Australia. Things are equal). 

But the itch still needed scratching and I decided to apply the “does it bring you joy?” test to my Instagram account at 3 in the morning, when another bout of insomnia had me staring at the ceiling. I’m a passionate consumer of social media, and, tragically, reality television shows (amongst other things such as cute clothes). I follow a lot of irrelevant people  and stores who I don’t know on Instagram, and from the book, realised that bloated number of followed accounts and feed full of crap was most definitely not bringing me joy. 

I had done a similar cull in November, after I spend $180 on clothes from an online store who only advertised on Instagram. I was pretty mortified at myself, and immediately went about an extreme cull of brands that caused me to feel inferior and as though I needed to purchase more and better to be happy. 

But letting go in this way can be such a process. Last night I culled every Bachelor and Bachelorette Australia account (it seems like the former “contestants” just go on to a career of mediocrity, unsubtlely advertising miscellaneous irrelevant brands on their Instagram after the show ends), all brands, every celebrity (save for Kayla Itsines, whose #fitspo life I truly can’t get enough of and, pardon my wilful state of gullible-ness, seems not to advertise anything but her own workout app regime anyway) and any other person who I actually didn’t feel “joy” at seeing their account.

The celebrities (real and faux) weren’t too hard since honestly, who cares. I found it trickier to click the unfollow button on people from high school who I wasn’t even that close to back then, or others who at one stage I did care about but truly have nothing in common with any more. I really felt the battle between my instinct, which was surprisingly ruthless, and my brain saying “what’s the harm, sometimes it’s nice to check in and anyway it’s just Instagram, it’s not like you’re clearing out your closet?”

Across the total last two culls, my estimate is I unfollowed 80 accounts which I deemed as not bringing me joy. This was a timely reminder to me to try keep track of some numbers, although I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I undoubtedly feel lighter, calmer and happier when I scroll through my Instagram account (which I do far too often, but that’s another issue). I’m definitely looking forward to applying the method to my apartment when I get home. 

[De-Clutter] Trying my hand while on vacation 

So as I mentioned, I read The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying up, and I’ve really got the itch to give the method a go. But in true first world problem style, I am on a month-long vacation and can’t possibly de-clutter (although my boyfriend would disagree, since I am known to be a chronic over-packer, but on the other hand, he’s now acquired two tennis racquets to bring home to Australia. Things are equal). 

But the itch still needed scratching and I decided to apply the “does it bring you joy?” test to my Instagram account at 3 in the morning, when another bout of insomnia had me staring at the ceiling. I’m a passionate consumer of social media, and, tragically, reality television shows (amongst other things such as cute clothes). I follow a lot of irrelevant people  and stores who I don’t know on Instagram, and from the book, realised that bloated number of followed accounts and feed full of crap was most definitely not bringing me joy. 

I had done a similar cull in November, after I spend $180 on clothes from an online store who only advertised on Instagram. I was pretty mortified at myself, and immediately went about an extreme cull of brands that caused me to feel inferior and as though I needed to purchase more and better to be happy. 

But letting go in this way can be such a process. Last night I culled every Bachelor and Bachelorette Australia account (it seems like the former “contestants” just go on to a career of mediocrity, unsubtlely advertising miscellaneous irrelevant brands on their Instagram after the show ends), all brands, every celebrity (save for Kayla Itsines, whose #fitspo life I truly can’t get enough of and, pardon my wilful state of gullible-ness, seems not to advertise anything but her own workout app regime anyway) and any other person who I actually didn’t feel “joy” at seeing their account.

The celebrities (real and faux) weren’t too hard since honestly, who cares. I found it trickier to click the unfollow button on people from high school who I wasn’t even that close to back then, or others who at one stage I did care about but truly have nothing in common with any more. I really felt the battle between my instinct, which was surprisingly ruthless, and my brain saying “what’s the harm, sometimes it’s nice to check in and anyway it’s just Instagram, it’s not like you’re clearing out your closet?”

Across the total last two culls, my estimate is I unfollowed 80 accounts which I deemed as not bringing me joy. This was a timely reminder to me to try keep track of some numbers, although I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I undoubtedly feel lighter, calmer and happier when I scroll through my Instagram account (which I do far too often, but that’s another issue). I’m definitely looking forward to applying the method to my apartment when I get home. 

[Book Review]: the life changing magic of tidying up 

The first book I read of 2016 has been the book that has been talked about non-stop  for the last year – Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’.

First I should say, I’m on vacation. This is probably book better read on a quiet weekend at home. While I enjoyed it, naturally you want to implement straight away – which just isn’t going to happen while vacationing. 

Second, I was pre-prepared for the nature of the book from the ten billion reviews of this quirky guide online. I knew it talked about odd things like thanking your socks. That’s fine. 

Third, I’m an impatient reader. 
With these things in mind, my response to the book was that it was fine, but there was far too much filler to allow it to be good. 

The ‘KonMari’ concepts are great. I love ditch (or declutter) first, store second. I love the simplicity of the questions you ask of yourself in the throes of decluttering. But I got bored reading them on repeat through a lot of mindless other observances. These detracted from the message: create a home containing only those things that will spark joy, and your life will more easily fall into place. 

The practical tips were great. I liked the folding method. I loved the specific examples of whacky items that irrefutably satisfied the ‘does it spark joy?’ test, despite being inexplicable to an outside observer. 

However, there was so much repetitive crap around the outside to wade through that I found it hard to engage with the core message. That’s been better clarified by reading the one trillion articles that more clearly define the message. 

My general position is to just read those articles. But perhaps you miss the full experience of the KonMari method if you don’t take the two hours to just engulf the book. 

In the end, the repetition and some of the weirder aspects such as thanking your bag each day when you unpack it don’t hurt anyone, and it’s up to you to find your personal spin on KonMari. There’s no dictation. I definitely intend on implementing a few aspects into my life once I return home. 

Rating: 3.5/5