3.07.2014

having just enough



There it is, that perfect point in life where you have just the right amount of everything. Is it even possible? When it comes to things or stuff, I think there is. What is the right amount of stuff for one person will not be right for another. This is a personal journey and only you can decide what is perfect for you.  But in general you know you have the right amount of stuff when you can find exactly what you need when you need it. You don't have to go digging through piles of junk, clothes, accessories...whatever.  Having the right amount of stuff is freeing. You feel good when you open a cabinet or drawer and you can see everything you have. It really is such a luxurious feeling.  Have you ever gone on vacation and taken just what you need and you think to yourself, wow this is so much easier than when I'm at home? It's that feeling only every day you feel like that.  It's getting ready in the morning and not having to go round and round about what to wear. Everything you have fits just right and is flattering.  No more too tight or too loose clothes. It's opening your closet and knowing exactly what is in there and  being grateful for it. It's opening the refrigerator and liking what you see. It smells good in there. Nothing is shoved in and spoiling in the back.  It makes you want to cook! It's opening your medicine cabinet and being able to reach for exactly what you need without everything falling out. All the makeup you own makes you feel good putting it on.  Same with hair products. You know you have the right stuff when getting ready doesn't take forever and you look pretty and fresh when you step outside.  The right amount of stuff feels good, it doesn't feel like a burden.  So you see it's really not a specific amount of things but rather the perfect amount for YOU.  Some people say my house is minimal and others laugh at that idea.  But it's perfect for ME. And that is what counts.  My turning point came about 15 years ago when I couldn't do any of the above and I was sick and tired of living that way.When we first got married we had just enough and then our jobs got better and so did our stuff and the amount of it  Why did we do that to ourselves?  Getting back to enough didn't happen overnight but it did happen, slowly but surely.  I started with my closet and then went from there.  Eventually, when the youngest left home we were pretty poised to downsize.  But even with all the prep I still had to let things go.  And you know what?  I can barely remember what I got rid of.  I'd have to think long and hard and try to come up with what I tossed.  And why waste energy doing that. It's gone. For good.  Why lament that?  It starts with one small step to get to enough. Just one small step. And you know what?  I still work on it.  Things creep in and stick around until I realize I'm off my path.  I hop back on and it's all good. The reward is that luxurious feeling that I took for granted and somehow let slip away.  That feeling of just enough.

86 comments:

  1. Beautifully said. Have a lovely weekend.

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  2. Amen to that. You put it perfectly.
    My goal this year is to know how it feels to have just enough.

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  3. Beautifully spoken, Janet. I have come to realize it takes time to let some things go, but to continue on, one small step at a time. I took a trunk full of things to Goodwill yesterday that were hard to let go. I felt so wasteful and ashamed that I was tossing these things out, but then I realized that maybe I was blessing someone else. It felt really good to release those burdens. I can tell that I'm changing, making wiser choices with purchases and only buying what we need and love. My house is starting to feel refreshed. My husband gave me a great tip...when shopping, to ask myself do I need it and where will I put it.

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    1. And do you want to dust it?

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    2. where will i put it is a big one for me!

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  4. I'm working towards what you just described...for me. Thanks for continuing your encouragement and wisdom with those of us who aspire to attain the peace and plenty moment.
    Karen

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  5. I remember feeling that way when I taught overseas in Poland. I brought very few clothes, but everything fit and mixed and matched. We washed our clothing by hand while there too. I had my small wardrobe hanging in a little wardrobe. I only brought a few pieces of inexpensive sterling silver jewelry to dress up clothing a bit. I always felt "together" anywhere I went. It was such a good feeling to live minimally that way. And I also observed that is how the Polish people lived--simple wardrobes. Yet, the women in Warsaw always looked wonderful.

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    1. I observed the same in Ukraine when I lived there, the women had a simple wardrobe, but watching them walk to work downtown.....they were finished and polished. It really is freeing to have less.

      ann

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  6. Janet,
    Lovely post. What have your children thought about your down sizing, minimalist lifestyle? Where they upset to see things go?

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    1. they think it's awesome and were not interested at all in having any of the stuff i was getting rid of. so much for sentimentality! to this day when they come over i beg them to take things home with them. :)

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  7. I am seriously working on downsizing and getting rid of excess. It is a slow process, I work at it daily. I had the feeling I was suffocating and something had to be done. Thanks for your advice, I love it. You have helped me a lot. The photos of your neat closet and house inspire me and give me the strength to keep at it. I will get there.

    Shirley - Atlanta, GA

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  8. Janet-I love all of your posts, but this one really resonated with me. I always feel a sense of calm when I look at the pictures of your home and your wardrobe.I love that you feel that way too.Thanks for inspiring us all.I am very much a minimalist, but still have a ways to go.It is a journey...

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  9. Oh I love this post! I need to take this direction with my life.

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  10. Nicely said. I love this. Sometimes as I visit various blogs, I feel like people are always adding things to their home, replacing this and that. I wonder why people feel the need to do this. I'm the type who keeps things until they wear out, break or in the case of clothes, don't fit or are just plain worn out. I buy things for our home that I really like, and then keep them. I'm not one to follow trends ... usually. When a magazine talks about the latest "trends" in decorating, I cringe. I prefer styles that stand the test of time.
    Claudia

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    1. Good comment, Claudia - I completely agree.

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  11. lOVE THIS JANET!

    We actually just got in from our vacation, where I bought only 1 blouse and a plate! Cannot wait to keep clearing it all out!

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  12. Love this Janet. I am slowly, hopefully getting to that point one day. I think it's all about managing your clutter. If you have less, than you know what you have and shop accordingly. I think sometimes it all gets out of control when people never take the time to purge, clean out, and take stock of the household. People are just are so busy they don't manage home matters. I find the more I purge, give away, the less I want and I actually buy. Love the feeling of less to manage as well. Always such a good message here. Have a nice weekend Janet. I bet it's lovely down there. It's pretty darn nice here too.
    x Kim

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  13. Oh I love your philosophy on clutter and the pursuit of material goods.
    I am currently on a see saw...save spend, save spend, buy purge buy purge!
    Our wee house really helps keep us mindful of what is enough, because when something new comes in (even if it is second hand) something else must go out but I am a long way from your minimalism.

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  14. Wise wonderful words Janet! I think that when we come to the realization that we are enough we find that we have enough. Our homes progressively became larger & a couple of years ago we sold a home & rented a small home short term & put many of our belongings in storage. I found that I couldn't even remember what was in storage & have chosen to live in a much simpler way ever since. I find I'm almost tired of shopping, of course the news wears me out too! (have also dropped cable)

    Kristi



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  15. Dear Janet, Wonderful post. Admire what you're doing. It would make life so simple and beautiful. Somehow it's not me, though I try in a small way to de-clutter and am always giving nice things to our local church Op Shop where I volunteer. But I still have far too many things (and buy more!) like my mother's dinner sets, that I never use. They're lovely, but her taste rather than mine. Still I would somehow feel disloyal to her - as though I were ditching memories and things that were precious to her and my Dad. Perhaps because I lost my father so young, I tend to hang onto things with memories of the family, eg sitting around the table at special dinners and Sunday lunches, where they always used Wedgwood, crystal and silver. So many of our household things have memories attached: gifts from loved ones, mementos of our different lives lived in far countries, souvenirs of happy travels (not of the junk variety: icons, paintings, Venetian glass, Italian majolica, tiny hand painted Limoges boxes etc). Children's drawings and notes from grandchildren. Old photos. Tablecloths and doilies my mother embroidered when young. Where to start and not feel as though I'm chopping off parts of me and my family. Pammie xxx

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    1. Much as I endorse Janet's philosophy, I don't think we should throw out future history, especially family history, which is also social history. As long as you love these special objects and they are not clutter, why not keep them?! I have no trouble ditching old clothing or other ordinary items, but portraits, furniture, documents etc. of over 200 years of family history - no way. I like to know where we came from! ;)

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    2. pammie perhaps a local museum or historical society would be interested in some of her things? we have several small museums here in redlands that do that sort of thing. it must be so hard to make those kinds of decisions. x

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  16. I absolutely love this post. I've been reading your blog for several years now and your philosophy of living simply has always been such a breath of fresh air in this world of "more, more, more!".

    My husband and I are in the process of downsizing (at age 25) after buying the Big Suburban Mansion Dream Home and then realizing that having 2000+ sqft to fill with stuff simply didn't make us happy. We've been purging our belongings in preparation for the move to a home about half the size of what we have now, and in this post you've articulated exactly what I've been striving for -- having just enough of what we need, no more, no less. It really makes life so much easier. We've taken multiple carfuls to the thrift store of things that we've been hanging onto for 5+ years because of the fear of "we might use/need/want this someday!" or "I'll really regret it if I get rid of this!" but if you asked me now, I would have absolutely no idea what we've donated. Turns out we don't miss the stuff at all, which makes me wonder why we bought it in the first place and hung onto it for so long.

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  17. In my mind this is the very definition of "minimalism" and what I have been working towards in all aspects of my life for a while now. Living with just the right amount of "stuff" is truly liberating, though I am finding that I need less and less as time goes on.

    I think this may be your best post EVER!

    Spud.

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    1. P.S. Here's an interesting related article:
      http://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/why-we-should-love-material-things-more/

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    2. thank you anonymous @5:03 that is a wonderful read!
      and as always thank you Janet for the great discussion (long time reader, first time commenter).

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  18. A wonderful post and an inspiration. Thank you.

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  19. love this post so much J.I love your just enough for you idea!

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  20. Janet, I have never commented before but just wanted to say that I love your blog and to thank you for inspiring me with your way of living. This was a beautiful, eloquent post. D

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  21. I have no problem with doing this-I've always been the less is more chick, BUT my husband is a saver/collector/etc-what about your guy? Is he good about keeping his clutter to a minimum, too, or do you handle that?

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  22. Janet,
    I found your You Tube video, "Lets build a home." So cute. Amazing the transformation of your cottage.
    Last year you talked about your husband riding his bike instead of using the vehicle: is that still happening?

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  23. Janet... I truly love and agree with all of the ways you have.made your life more functional and frugal. Paragraphs would have made it easier to read and I mean that in a very sincere way. I first thought as I read, that you were doing a sort of a parody on a perfect life, but ha! It's all so true...you are right on target. Minimize and set yourself free! Thank you!

    XO,
    Jane

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  24. Thanks for the clear and inspiring post. I was just today wondering why I have 11 tote bags and only regularly use 5. The extra 6 are being donated as you helped me decide to let them go. Onward!

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  25. This is a great post! I have been purging a lot lately, and it is so freeing. I give away whatever I don't want on Freecycle. It is great to see thee adage "One man's trash is another man's treasure" come to life. I also agree with Kim that the more I purge the less I want.

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  26. Janet well said! I love the way you write, I really do and I often read your posts 2 or 3 times. I find I am at this point in my home though I have to make sure I donate things when I bring in something new, I try to donate several items for each new thing, then I feel like I am making progress. My last frontier is our "tool room", we don't even know how to use most of that stuff so I'm not sure why we have it. I'm planning on organizing it and then inviting our handyman-renovator over to have a look at it/take what he wants/then donate the rest to Habitat for Humanity.
    I tackled the garden shed last fall and that was AWFUL but I did it, I can't wait to open the door and see it all looking clean and simple in the spring.
    Have a great weekend.xox

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  27. This post is hitting home as I retrieve the boxes of stuff I packed away before my kitchen renovation. Now that it's over and I can unpack, I wonder what's in these boxes that I've lived happily without for seven months.

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  28. I adore the way you think on this subject; your last two posts have stayed with me for some time. I can really see this one being published somewhere - it's that good. (oh, wait, it IS published on your blog. silly me.)

    I am struggling with this philosophy but really want to live it. I have a spare bedroom (my "resource center", mind you, NOT my "junk room") and it pains me to enter it. I literally have a mental block to moving forward and getting rid of stuff when I am in there. But I am working on it.

    I think I would adore you in person, too. Donna

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  29. Love how concisely you explained how I feel - or am working on TRYING to feel, I should say. Before I allowed myself to write this comment, I spent 10 minutes and went through a small closet with shelf and hanging sweater organizer and two drawers and have TWO 2-foot tall piles of clothing I will be donating today. So 100% easy to do, but, I was only lazily actually DOing it. Today, I actively, mindfully did it. I also have to say that I am down to 1 storage unit (from 3 huge ones) after the downsize to the tiny house, and that storage unit will be completely empty next week (sold a large queen sleigh bed set and only have 4 other large items in there). So, you are inspiring me to actually ACT on what Ive been feeling for many years. 1000 times thank you for that!

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  30. I've weeded out all of my too tight clothes in the 12 months, I've been brutal and unconcerned about how I'll replace them all, I'm just over 'trying to hard".

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  31. I don't know why it took me to middle aged to figure out enough is enough. Do you think it is part of aging and growing wiser? It pains me to think of all the time and money I spent acquiring; why was I so vulnerable to marketing and societal norms? In any case, I'm so happy to figure out how little I need to be happy. It's interesting to me how varied we are in how much we like and need around us. So people are happiest in a house full of choice and others in a tent; there is no right or wrong and it's wonderful there is such a continuum.

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  32. I feel the SAME way. I used to hang onto things because I changed my mind about my "style" and felt guilty. Then one day, I just had enough and donated it all and started over. But this time, I truly only have what I love and adore and what makes me happy. My home is not a catalog but I love it even more so.

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    1. One more thing. I USED to be a minimalist, now I consider myself a simplest. It was nice having less but I found things like shoes, I was wearing out in 3 months vice maybe having a few more and lasting all year and then some. Things break, get old, rip, fade, etc and that is life. I am learning to enjoy what I have, when I have it and it's ok to want to change my mind now and then. I still purge every 3-4 months because life changes and moves on and I have learned to go with the flow of life. I just lost my mother a few weeks ago and she enjoyed her stuff. I am now not so worried about a little dirt in the house or a messy closet. I am more interested in getting out and living life now. It's fun to clean and organize but it's more fun to live.

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    2. Simplest - I love this word. That's just what I'd like to be and I hope you don't mind if I use it too.

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  33. So true Janet. Excess and cluttered closets, drawers, pantries, etc. create mental baggage and stress for me. Having just want you need is freeing- even if that includes three drawers of cloth napkins:):) Hey, but they're organized!
    Now, waz up with that price tag/barcode on the plastic pot??! :) Asked with decorating-love of course!! ;) xxoj.

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  34. So beautifully said, Janet. My extra things have been in storage for just two months now, and I'm already forgetting what's in there. Guess I didn't need all that stuff after all. xoJennifer

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  35. Janet, thank you so much for these articles. They've inspired me to tackle one spot of clutter each day as part of observing Lent. I'm fasting from clutter!

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  36. "for the love of a house" had me laughing out loud when she asked, "Now, waz up with that price tag/barcode on the plastic pot??!" Don't think for a minute I didn't wonder the same thing. Thought about it, and after a while chalked it up to something Janet doesn't worry about, or maybe the mischief in her wondered just how long it would be before one of us asked her. ;-)

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  37. Thought I'd take a moment to mention Dominique Browning's March 7 post --
    http://www.slowlovelife.com/

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  38. Janet,
    I never really liked -buffets or "all you can eat"- I much prefer a la carte!
    Great post

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  39. This is a lovely post, Janet. I really identify with that goal of having "just enough." I'm interested in the part of your post where you write:

    "When we first got married we had just enough and then our jobs got better and so did our stuff and the amount of it Why did we do that to ourselves? Getting back to enough didn't happen overnight but it did happen, slowly but surely. I started with my closet and then went from there. Eventually, when the youngest left home we were pretty poised to downsize."

    I think it is very common for people to downsize once their children are grown, but what about those of us who have small children at home? For me that seems to come with a lot of, well, STUFF, and I don't think it's just a matter of me feeling like I have to keep up with the latest decorating trends.

    I'd be very curious to hear your thoughts about this from your current vantage point. What would your current self say to your mother-of-young-children self about what is "just enough"? What might you do differently, material-conditions-of-life-wise, if you had it to do over again?

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    1. hi sarah. because we had 3 boys i think their stuff was easier to handle. when they were little all the really played with when inside the house was legos. we had tons of legos! but they are pretty easy to contain in under bed storage containers. they mostly played outside with outside type things that were stored in the garage. looking back at my younger mom self i would definitely tell her to not spoil them as much as we did. that is another subject though. :)

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  40. Lovely post. Full of truths. And the flower in the growers pot...I thought, there it is again. This time I thought Janet is doing it on purpose! It makes me laugh. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  41. I've only been reading for a while but this is a beautiful post! I am in the process of my own 365 things in 365 days challenge, well over 200 now and honestly life is so much easier with less. My attitude now is that if I have something in my life that does not add value in any way, out it goes!

    Love your blog, it is very peaceful and uplifting

    Cheers
    Judy xx

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  42. I think you found the title of your book ;)

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    1. I think the title of her book should be "Maximizing Minimalism" :)

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    2. Sounds even better, Stephen :)

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    3. I think that this post could be the introduction to your book!

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  43. Janet,

    Although I am at the point in life where I want to and have begun to scale down my belongings, it is definitely a process. I really do think it is an age thing. I never understood my parents when they were older, why they never wanted any gifts. My mom even had me return a top that I gave her for her birthday!

    I probably mentioned before that I do not like clutter. That said, my closets and drawers are a different story. For example not too long ago I cleaned out a junk drawer and found over 100 pens!! (partly my teacher husband's fault)

    You really have given me the motivation to simply my life, now if I could just find some time to set aside to do it. I seem to always have some other house project or something else that needs my attention that is more important. I guess I need to just take baby steps...donating stuff/selling on Ebay and limiting what I bring into my home is a start!

    Really loving your posts lately, looking forward to the next one!

    Linda
    xo

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  44. What a beautifully written and inspiring post! Yes, Janet, you should definitely write a book! Just include your posts with some photos! You already have the book written! I think the title should be just as you have it in this, your best post ever!
    title: "Having Just Enough" with a sub-title such as .. "and Loving It!" or "and feeling prosperous!" or... just
    "Having Just Enough.. one woman's journey to prosperous (or meaningful) living....
    You are a great writer, Janet. You can think of something, I'm sure!
    Just DO IT!! I will be the first in line to buy your book!

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  45. Forgive me...this is off-topic but I wondered if you have any suggestions for a laundry detergent that doesn't smell like cheap perfume. "No dyes, no perfumes" is printed right on the box of the detergent I am currently using and yet it stinks to high heaven. And when I add the "Free & Sensitive" fabric softener dryer sheets that are supposedly equally free of dyes and perfumes, that's yet another layer of the cheap perfume smell.

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    1. hi gail. before i went on this strict budget i enjoyed dr. bronners and also loved mrs. myers. they both have scent but they are very light smelling. right now i'm using the .99 store detergent and even though the bottle says it has scent i cannot smell it on the clothing. i'm happy with it thus far. sorry i don't have much more than that to offer. :)

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    2. Try Purex: you can purchase it at Walmart. No perfumes, dyes,etc

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    3. Mrs. Myers was the best when it had Snap Pea. I loved that scent. It's still a great cleaning soap, but the fragrance is the seller. Snap Pea was discontinued and I don't know why.

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  46. I like having extra room in my drawers or cupboards so that when something special comes along-there's room if I decide to make it mine.

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  47. I read this post when you first posted it and have just spent the weekend going through drawers and cleaning and clearing shelves. I've emptied out a complete cabinet! I can't believe the STUFF that I've accumulated! I've tossed a lot and I have some to donate and I might even try putting some stuff on eBay. If I lived closer to you, I'd donate a flower pot to you! LOL!
    Seriously though, Thanks SO MUCH for this post!

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  48. Janet,
    had to return to say that one of my most favorite movies is "The Jerk" with Steve Martin where he says -"All I need" - and begins to grab silly things, like an ashtray....etc. Watch it and laugh.
    Sometimes just enough is truly all we really need.
    pve

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    1. patricia i love that movie and love that scene!

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  49. Lovely and inspiring post! We are working on it for a few years now, but we are still far away for "having just enough". We are good with not buying stuff that is not a need. We struggle sometimes to let go of things that cost a lot but are not regularly in use.

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  50. What a great post.

    And that plastic pot is killing me! : )

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  51. Just wanted to add - Its been a few days now and every time I open my closet, it gives me a very satisfied feeling that it is not so jam-packed with clothes that I cant even tell what is in there. It IS a nice, settled feeling. loving this series...

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  52. We were in the midst of simplifying...and were almost there. Then his dad passed away, we have to start all over again. It is harder when suddenly you are the steward of many generations of things that tie you to many more generations. We will have begin again....

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  53. What a lovely and refreshing post, Janet. Although I believe to each her own, I've found so much satisfaction and joy by adopting a similar outlook.

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  54. As I'm in the middle of downsizing, this post is just what I needed. Right now I'm going through rooms and closets and wondering, okay, what will I really need, what can I get rid of? And the answers aren't as clear and obvious as you'd think (as least for me). I've gone through things and I'm realizing I have to do it over because I've kept too many of those "maybe we'll need this" items. So...starting over with this post printed out where I can see it. It's so encouraging to know that the wonderful feeling of "just right" is at the end of all this work.

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  55. Loved the post as well! This is exactly where I am trying to head but in my case it is not cowboys but thrift stores that are my weakness. Finding something beautiful and beautifully made at an absolutely indecent price....well, the resistance to acquisition just sort of falls away. And the thrill of the hunt seems positively primeval in my case. I even bag great finds that I give to others. Is it hard wired? Can I overcome it ? do I want to ? Thrifters' Anonymous, anyone?

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  56. Came across your blog and added it to my FAVORITE based on your life of living in a cottage. Now that I have been following you for awhile, I see myself .... I down sized to what I need, not what I want; friends think it is strange that I live with so much less than what I used to have and just this week, a bundle of clothes went to Consignment (first time I have tried this; I usually just donate my things). How much less can I live with? I am on a path and find your own blog an encouragement to reach that goal. NOW, if I could just locate a garden cottage that was once part of an estate to call home.

    Awaiting your next installment of your BLOG most eagerly.

    BLBC

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  57. HI Janet! I used to travel a lot for work and know very well what you mean regarding being on holiday and being very satisfied with the little amount of things I had with me. I loved it so much (still do in fact!). My husband knows that my dream is to live in suite 1015 at the Marriott City Center! hahaha. But seriously...I think what appeals to me in keeping a simple home is the feeling of no domestic responsibilities. Though I love a beautiful home and lovelove to cook and entertain, I also very much love having no chores to do. Keeping a simple home eliminates a lot of chores for me. Last month, we sold our three bedroom home and moved into a one bedroom apartment, in a small building that we own. We are so excited to divest of a larger property with a yard that was difficult to maintain. And we are so thrilled to have an opportunity to do a big reset before we move into a slightly larger place. (Our one bedroom is 600 sq feet and we have a five month old son!) We are thinking of another apartment in the same building that is 1100sq feet. We were by no means pack rats or people overly sentimental about our things....and certainly are thrilled and motivated to downsize, even with our new little boy...and yet...it has been unexpectedly challenging. Your blog is keeping me focused in an area that I feel very well intentioned and experienced in. (Part of the issue is that we don't have a lot of junk or broken stuff or clothes that don't fit. It's all beautiful, functional, well loved things...just too many of them....and again...not a lot...but there is only so much room...damn...it is tough!) I have a few of your posts bookmarked and I refer to them when I am in the thick of unexpected resistance within myself. Though...I do tell myself occasionally when I struggle to sell/donate/trash/keep that my decision making is hampered by sleep deprivation! Anyway, Janet. You are so helpful and loved by all of us....Thank you!

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    1. thank you samantha for this lovely comment. it is hard to continue the purge when all that is left is gorgeous stuff. getting rid of crap is so much easier right?! i continue to want to declutter and there are some really lovely and even sentimental things that are on the chopping block right now. it comes down to usefulness and whether i want to continue to maintain certain things. i think the exciting part of all of this is that it never is really over. or maybe it is but i haven't gotten there yet? so congrats on paring down and with a baby too. xo

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  58. This is beautiful, Janet! Great inspiration once again!

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  59. Vickie, I know you're reading this post. Please keep replying, I miss you thoughts and comments.
    Kathleen

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  60. Can't, dear. But thank you. Enjoy Janet's beautiful blog. Feel peace, ok? Her blog is about the good stuff, not the bad......

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    1. I came here to see if you commented here, I wondered what happened. I hope your are fine!

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  61. ‘I don’t want anything I don’t have.’ Gloria Steinem (she will be 80 on March 25th, 2014

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  62. I love this. It's so honest.

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kindness is never out of style.