Let's get a little personal.
While I've always been a rather organized person, I've also always had a penchant for collecting things. First it was books. I'd amassed a library of 5000 books in my younger years and enjoyed them at times, for sure, but also became acutely aware, when I moved with my husband to Michigan, that they became more a burden than relief from burden. As a family of four, our space was limited and decisions were required to make the most use of our space and to feed our mental health and the health of our family, as a whole. Not only was a book-purchasing habit financially ill-advised at the time, but they drew me away from acknowledging and dealing with stress in a healthier manner. Obviously, this doesn't speak to everyone who has a library of books at their disposal, but is only a comment on my own experience with this addiction.
And I've found, over the years, that my answer to stress or guilt or grief was to feed my addiction to acquire. Yes, I donated my entire collection of books to the local library book sale and moved exclusively to borrowed, rented or electronic books. But when grief became a constant friend a few years later, I found myself acquiring things anew. This time it was tarot decks and purses and clothes and things I felt would somehow provide a fulfillment that I was otherwise missing because of the loss I'd recently experienced.
It took a long time, four years actually, to recognize the habits I'd formed and how they negatively impacted my mental and spiritual space, and to take steps to rectify the behaviors and partake in a little self love by, well, not partaking, as the case may be.
2020 Has Been A Real BITCH.
I've reduced my wardrobe, purses, tarot decks, personal items, kitchen items, only to those things I truly value, that I use or take time to appreciate daily. If it had time to collect dust, that's time I'd forgotten what worth I'd assigned to that thing in the first place. And I'm aware now, more than before, the impact that unconscious spending and acquiring has on my life and the wider world. Last year, I had more than 200 Amazon packages delivered to my home, 200 boxes and bubble wrap and packaging in landfills, 200 trips to my door. And how many of those 200 items did I truly find value in? I actually went through my 2019 Amazon orders and only 19 are items I still have or would purchase again. Wow. Talk about an eye-opening exercise!
So I've become conscious of the waste I leave behind, and the distraction from the people and things important to me. And, as a business owner, I don't want to contribute to waste and clutter and things without value. Sure, I make baubles and sell baubles and love that people wear my baubles and enjoy them. I love that people value what I offer and that I can offer something worthy of that at all. But I want to do so consciously. Purposefully. Meaningfully.
Because of that, you may notice some changes to how I run my business and offer my products. It's been a journey in itself, finding solutions to product packaging, for instance, that are entirely eco-friendly, while still embracing a minimalist home. If you run a business, you'll know what I mean.... it can over-run your living space! So I was on the hunt for packaging I could buy in bulk (thus reducing the amount of deliveries and carbon emissions) but would fit in the space allotted to it, and was 100% recyclable.
When you receive a package from me, the entire box, from the packaging tape to the label can be tossed directly in your recycle bin. Easy peasy. No mess. No guilt. And an entire year's worth of supplies fits snugly in my office nook. No more overtaking cabinets or closets in every room of the house.
But it's not just packaging. While this may not be everyone's favorite change, I am no longer accepting any custom requests for anything not currently in my available materials inventory. I am only ordering jewelry-making supplies once a year, again to reduce carbon emissions and packaging waste. If I do not have a 24" chain to substitute with the 20" chain offered, for instance, I will not be buying chain specifically to accommodate that request. While I don't typically take custom requests regardless, if I should take one and it requires materials I don't have on hand, the request will (sadly) be denied. I want to push myself (and encourage any artist out there to do the same) to use what I have before investing in more. More, in my case, is simply a distraction from creation. I call it "decision overwhelm", when I see too many things and fail to actually start a project because I can't decide what to use. It's the same reason I reduced my entire wardrobe to essentials. I no longer have to spend time deciding what to wear and can just put on what's available and get on with doing things.
And, I'm sure, during the months to come, the need for more change will make itself apparent, and I hope you'll bear with me while I continue to transition to a sustainable, minimalist and ultimately happier way of life. It continues to be a struggle, but I'm daily working towards buying consciously from people and brands I believe in, for things I truly value, and to offer those things to others in return.
Stay creative, folks (and I assure you that you can do so with less)!
9/15/2020 07:49:29 pm
Congratulations to you for practicing minimalism in all things! Much work in recognizing, acknowleging and restarting with a fresh new outlook...one free of cobwebs and tangles...Godspeed my friend!
9/16/2020 01:44:27 am
Thank you for this Nicole it is truly helpful to me as I am, as we speak trying to clean up a craft/work room with great difficulty. I can relate to not being able to accomplish because of too much choice and distractions and as well it has carried over to the rest of my space and life. You have given me some motivation.
9/16/2020 04:23:27 am
I really commend what you’re doing and I totally agree about a cluttered space cluttering your mental space as well! For me I think things fill me up where I feel empty. But the feeling doesn’t last for long. I wish I could say covid was propelling me into a less cluttered space, but alas no, not right now!
Kathleen Mary Woodhams
9/16/2020 05:40:00 am
Well done on that journey. It resonates with me in so many ways. I need to follow your example to clear my life of clutter and to stop spending for self gratification which never works. I know I will feel much better for doing so.
9/17/2020 02:06:43 pm
I can SO relate to ALL of what you write, Nicole. I purchased some helpful organization things like a turning thing to keep my bits for the dremel tool in because i kept knocking over the tray that i had been using and at least once a week. I also got a desktop organizer that spins to replace the beer mug and tape dispenser, and a couple of other things that were on a huge lazy susan on my work bench. Simple things like hooks on the front of the storage drawers for my various pliers i use all the time went sooo far to help contain the organized chaos i had going on here. I freed up so much space on my make shift bench that i was able to break down part of it! and I no longer have anything on the floor. Gads! I had so much stacked on the floor next to the bench. It's little wonder I was buying new beads and stones.. I had no idea what I already had. Everything was stacked up! Altho I cannot seem to help myself when i get those emails... "HUGE PRE-BLACK FRIDAY SALE! Save up to 75%!" ugh.. i need to unsubscribe from all of the sites i have ever purchased 1 stone from.. LMAO
9/19/2020 09:08:44 am
Wow. It has been a journey for you and I hope you continue growing going forward. It is hard to let go of things- books, beads, fiestaware. All of which bring me joy, but are not always on my priority list. I am glad you are finding ways to reduce and keep joy in your life. Inspiring.
9/27/2020 09:22:33 am
Nicole, It's Sunday morning, Sept 27th. I am just now reading this blog post. I want you to know, that it could not have come at a more perfect time. When I started this journey 6 years ago, I was no longer able to work and needed something to fill my time. So I was purchasing anything and everything regarding beads, wire, findings. Making a little of this, and a little of that, trying to find my niche. Trying to find a path I actually enjoyed traveling. Just yesterday I was searching websites for a certain item, and it dawned on me, I may already have that. I opened boxes and drawers and thought, look at this crap! Yes, I called it crap. Because of my husbands job, we have moved between states 3 times, and another time because of condo being sold. So in 6 years we have moved 4 times. Each time dragging all this crap with us, and each and every time, I unbox, go through, sort, and pile it back up. I'd decided yesterday that I needed to de-stash. I don't use seed beads. I don't use colored wire. I don't use choker necklaces. I don't use ceramic dog bone beads. I don't use metal broaches. I just don't use! But then I thought of the money spent, and it well what if? Reading your blog made me realize, NOPE. No what ifs. I know the rewards will far out way the what ifs. Thank you
10/5/2020 10:23:39 am
Kudos to you - and I won't be asking for 24" chains anymore. I will use the ones I already have! I don't know why I didn't thing of taking the pendant off the chain before. A true "DUH" moment.
10/7/2020 08:28:46 am
thank you. I too agree. As I said goodbye to my home of over 20 years this year, so I spent much time sorting to downsize. Now I am preparing to move into a new house, I am looking to take with me in a far more careful and conscious way and also looking to be more sustainable, when part of my life is making pretty things with things dug out from the ground. Storage has taught me there is much I can live without and some things that I am really looking forward to seeing again. Through this we see real value and worth. All the best as we continue on this journey.
10/10/2020 09:42:28 am
I know this has nothing to do with this post but I do have a question if you are ever going to post more videos on YouTube. I'm just curious because you're the reason I actually learned how to wire wrap and weave and fell in love with it and I miss seeing your videos so I was just curious
12/5/2020 07:10:08 pm
I will die before I wrap all I have here in the house. Yet I still see sparkly stones that I end up ordering. Thanks for the reminder that I can stop.
3/2/2021 08:30:46 am
I used to "buy" everything under the sun, my cousin came for an extended stay when my dad passed whom I was extremely close with. She taught me to ask myself this one thing are you buying it "because I want it, or because I need it" if the answer was "because I want it" put it down. I saved a LOT of money!...since then I have cleaned out a lot of space donated a lot of new items, used items. When we moved, I downsized on purpose, threw out 75% of what I use to own, I am sure the garbage people LOVED us. We just donated two large carton of books to the VA. We read a lot, The VA can use it more than a book sale, our soldiers are forgotten, my husband did two tours and I refuse to put him in any type of home.
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