Photo Kinga Rangzak by Tim Walker for Vogue UK
Not too long ago, I had a phone conversation with my mom about uncluttering our lives. She was sitting on her closet floor on a Saturday afternoon. I was relaxing on my couch, enjoying a very late first cup of coffee. After a visit to my older sister, Christina in California, she came home inspired to live a minimal lifestyle. Mom realized that she owns what she calls TMS. Too Much Stuff. (Editor's note: she liked you to think she says the word stuff instead of shit) Like most things, I wanted to do exactly what she was doing—so I listened.
Now Christina could easily be awarded most punctual or organized. You never trip over things in her apartment. Everything has a place or purpose. Even her air-conditioning is used conservatively, rarely left running when she is not home. Sometimes Christina sees this as a negative, wishing to freely spend without apprehension. But things just get messier as we siblings get younger in age, and we’ve all come to recognize our own unique qualities. I just don’t shine in this department. I’ve been known to trip over a boot or two while trying to find an appropriate mate. In fact, minimalism is not one of Mom’s, or my best qualities. We both enjoy the activity of shopping. Dangerously equipped with coffees and motivation like, “It’s on a sale, it’s a sign!” Nordstrom being the Mothership that seems to always be calling us home. But with mom retiring in the near future, she knows that her budget will shift.
So does that mean the signal to our favorite ship will fade off into outer space?
There's always an ebb and flow to removing clutter in my life. With no surprise it comes at the end of each year. Right now. Before I announce that I’m going to eat healthy and attend my gym and be on time and cuss less in front of small children. Before the big promises happen, in other words.
I do consume, but I am an avid fan of getting rid of things. I donate a lot (as does my mom). We somehow just end up with more stuff months later. Then the vicious cycle starts over, and there I am sitting in my closet, watching Project Runway as I bag items I just don’t wear or need. With wine stained lips and a German accent, I break the news to certain items and say, "I'm sorry, but you are out. Auf Wiedersehen."
So for me, it’s about stopping the cycle.
I tried to think about how clutter can make me feel, and I have come to the conclusion that too much stuff… ahem... shit stresses me out. More choices mean anxiety. It’s like picking out a greeting card. I nearly lose my mind with all the glittery options. I also hate not being able to find things. My phone. My wallet. That pair of scissors that I swear were just in my hands! Maybe fewer things will help reduce these scenarios. Maybe I just need to buy more scissors—I’m not sure. What I do know is that people exist who have next to nothing, and my complaint is often that I have too much. Which makes me feel awful inside.
As my mom went on about a minimal lifestyle, I pictured her sitting on the ground with piles of scoop-neck shirts, several that happen to be identical, and trash bags full of handbags at her feet. When I hung up the phone I finished my coffee on my couch. I stopped for a moment and decided that I should try to only buy things that will last or I truly need. Yes, I know I’ve said this all before. So it might take a lot of work to make things simpler. But eventually, the call of our Mothership could fade into the distance. Eventually.