2011 in 2011: using failure as a motivating factor


We’ve just returned from our last vacation of the summer and are trying our best to settle into the back to school routine.  It’s hard to maintain a lot of the routines from home when you are on vacation, and I tried to go with the flow and appreciate the differences.  We went to the beach, the park, for long walks, and spent lots of time together making great memories.  What we didn’t do was think at all about how our purchasing choices would impact our home upon our return, or how our choices in food would impact our waistlines. Oops.

I’ve decided though that failures should be looked upon more as opportunities for future improvements, rather than things I should be punishing myself over.  Rachel at The Minimalist Mom had a great post the other day about setting sights on the bigger picture – if you set goals and don’t meet them, don’t be discouraged.  Re-jig your original goals to create new goals and stay motivated in your minimalist journey for the longer haul.

A few less-than-ideal highlights from our vacation included:

  • I bought new-to-us, gently used clothes for the kids even though they don’t really need anything in the clothing department.  My hometown has a great children’s consignment shop, and they were having their annual $1 sale.  Yes, one dollar. While I’ve heard of such a thing, it was like an urban legend to stumble across a sale like that.  I ended up taking two trips to the store, and bought a total of 40 new articles of clothing for my kids.  My oldest will not need any more clothing before the end of next summer.  As a frugalitarian who hates to shop but still likes my kids to look adorable, I cannot tell you how happy this made me.  As a minimalist, I am struggling to find places to put all those extra items in the kids closet.
  • I received a Tassimo coffee machine from a friend with their blessing to use it while they are out of the country, even though I’m trying to drink less coffee and am ashamed of the amount of waste that comes along with the use of these machines.  I wrote previously about these fancy machines that make coffee from pre-prepared pods of coffee grinds, and how as much as the coffee was delicious, I wouldn’t be buying one.  Well, it’s harder to turn down one of these things when it turns up on your doorstep courtesy of a very good friend.  My friends have been using this handy little machine for a few months and bought it prior to knowing that they would be moving out of the country for awhile.  So when they offered it to me, I agreed to take ownership of it for the next year.  The coffee is still delicious, and while the pods are disposable, the plastic from the Tassimo pods can be recycled if you put in a small amount of effort to clean out the used coffee grinds.  I’m also taking a small amount of solace in the fact that I’ve given up buying coffee from coffee shops, which will eliminate my use of disposable cups, lids and sleeves.
  • I ate very poorly for the second half of my vacation.  For the second part of our 10 day vacation, we were in Armstrong with family and spent nearly every day at the Interior Provincial Exhibition (otherwise known as the IPE).  With everyone being so busy taking in all the excitement of an agricultural fair, midway complete with rides, and the rodeo and stampede action, there wasn’t much time for grocery shopping or preparing meals.  We ate out a lot, and if there’s one thing about Fair food, it’s that most of it is deep-fried.  I ate more than my share of mini-donuts and french fries.  We had some friends come in from out of town to spend the day with us at the Fair, and my girlfriend went so far as to indulge in a deep-fried Mars bar.  Yes, it really does look as disgusting as it sounds.  Needless to say, there were not too many fruits or vegetables consumed by anyone in our family over the course of the latter half of our trip.  A sad statement really, considering my husband and I had spent the first half of our vacation eating very healthily and going for long walks/runs every evening.

Instead of allowing all of these things to hamper my efforts towards minimalism, simplicity and good health, I have renewed my efforts and desire to live better.  I’m trying to consider the journey more so than the destination.  If you have plans to live differently, don’t be discouraged if your best laid plans go astray – take comfort in the process and get motivated, even setting new, revised goals for yourself if that helps.  If you fall off the proverbial wagon, just renew your efforts and get back on.

Like most things in life, minimalism is a journey, and the object of striving to live more simply is more so about the process than the end result.  Rooms and closets that have been decluttered will likely need to be purged more than once in this lifetime.  Eating poorly for a few days can be rectified by a return to a lifestyle of healthy eating and regular exercise.   Dietary indulgences can be reflected upon and efforts doubled to do better in the future.  Now that a few extra things have found their way into our home, I’ll be working to declutter a little more before the end of the year.  As of last count, I’m at 4822 items decluttered in 2011.  I’m hoping to hit the big 5K before the end of the year.

If you’re decluttering this year, I’d love to hear how your project is going!  Keep me motivated by sharing your story in the comments.



5 responses »

  1. Hi Erin!
    I am making progress with the clothes for my 3 year old, now we know that he won’t have a sibling, so this summer I started to give away his remaining baby clothes and things. I would love to give that staff to family or friends, but our friends and the few relatives here have older kids. I will take backhome half a suitcase to keep items in the family – some have been given to me and now are making their way back again over the ocean.
    I am down to 10 pieces that are still sentimental, good improvement from 4 boxes. The rest will go to charity and some I will sell to a store for store credit – easier than to sell on Kijiji (in Ontario). I have probably let go of a few hundred items and I have limited what I buy from him…. we have neighbours who want to spoil him even after I have gently asked them to “not to do it so often”.
    I like to count how many boxes or shopping bags of stuff leave the house. Tomorrow it will be two big shopping bags with clothes and shoes.
    The 40 pieces of clothes would only be a problem, if you would keep buying and I don’t think you will.
    My challenges currently are:
    – a huge train table that we got from a friend, we really don’t have enough room for it, but my son plays with it almost every day and it was not a big deal to move the dining table
    – a bike from another friend my son is not ready for, I will have to put it into the closet for the winter and decide if the $20.00 training wheels still needed will be worth buying or not,.
    – do we really need hundreds of pieces of legos and puzzles?
    – my wardrobe is down to under 100 of pieces, but I am stuck with pieces that are not co-ordinating. It annoys me most days but I cannot justify buying more. On my family visits I end up buying a few items anyway.

    • They only took a few clothing items at the second-hand store (I have pocketed $4.50), the rest was donated. At the same store I have found brand new training wheels ($5.50) and a fall jacket (7.50)for my son.
      I am writing such long comments, maybe I should re-start my blog:)

    • Giving away baby clothes is hard – I had collected 6 large bins of clothes from my first son’s two years! By the time I was pregnant with my second son, I was ready to part with most of it, whittling the amount down to two bins. Whew! I recall too when my oldest was small thinking, “Why am I spending all this time organizing his closet when he would clearly just rather I sat down on the floor and played with him?” Having too much stuff to manage does detract from our kids, and that is another great reason for me to aspire to own less.

      Counting the stuff as it leaves is so motivating! I find if I stop counting, I become unmotivated to continue purging my stuff. As for the items you are struggling with, I feel that if an item is being loved and used regularly, it can stay. Maybe revisit every couple of months if it is still getting as much love, you can always part with stuff later. Clothing can be challenging, but I find that the less I own, the less pressure there is to try to coordinate stuff. My clothing didn’t all go together at the beginning, but it’s been a goal of mine to have a small wardrobe and for everything to work well together, so I’m continuing to work towards that. 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughts and hope you are having a great weekend!

  2. I’m just starting our decluttering journey – I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but last year was a big year of moving and having baby #2 so I’ve waited. Now that things are more settled we are sloooowly going through our things and trying to purge as much as we can. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • It can be slow going. I’ve been decluttering since the beginning of the year, and I’m still finding things to let go of! But the kids haven’t been missing any of the toys I got rid of and I can honestly say my husband hasn’t missed a thing and I’ve unloaded nearly 5000 items! I think a big help for me was that I knew we would only be having 2 kids, so once my second child started outgrowing things (toys, clothes), it got a lot easier to part with stuff. Keep up the good work and thanks for your comment!

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