Hi, Salt & Life readers! My name is Carrie, and I’m so excited to be guest posting today! I’m a twenty-something mama to two little girls, a wife of 7 1/2 years, a pre-med student and a YouTuber! I make videos about simplifying life and I’m here to share a little bit about that with you today. But first, let me share a bit of my backstory.
Growing up, I was constantly overstimulated by excess stuff (i.e. toys, art projects, etc) and I would remedy the stress by throwing all my stuff away. Once my mom caught on, however, she’d dig my things out of the trash and help me put them away in my deep walk-in closet. But the stressful cycle would start over again when I had pulled too much out and didn’t have the concentration to put it all away again.
As I grew older, my stress levels rose and I learned to cope with food. My earliest memories at barely 4-years-old are of lying on the couch trying to fall asleep because I had stuffed myself sick with whatever food I could find. It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized I had a problem, and it wouldn’t be until my early twenties that I learned I suffered from Binge Eating Disorder along with depression and anxiety.
Over the next several years I graduated, got married, gave birth to my first child, struggled through long seasons of unemployment, moved states multiple times and continued to fall deeper into a cycle of depression and anxiety.
But everything was okay. I was normal, and could function day-to-day. At least that’s what I told myself.
Why I Started to Simplify
My attempts to simplify were both accidental and intentional. I was nine months pregnant when I was introduced to the idea of capsule wardrobes in the book, “The No Brainer Wardrobe.” The idea was simple- identify the items in your closet you absolutely love, let go of the rest, and enjoy dressing every morning without the dreaded “I-have-nothing-to-wear” excuse we all feel even though our closets are stuffed to the brim!
So I bought the book and implemented the suggestions right away. And friends, the results were life-changing! For the first time in my life I had a small collection of beautiful things I felt great wearing without any excess surrounding them. I didn’t have to buy new things (right away, at least), I just had to clear out the noise and confusion that was blocking my view of the beautiful things I already owned and loved.
From there, I adapted the principles of the capsule wardrobe to other areas of my life and discarded the things I no longer needed. My spice collection was completely gutted, then my junk drawer, then my makeup and toiletries, then my craft closet…. eventually, every single item in my home had been put under review, and whatever I didn’t love, I let go.
The Results of Simplifying (both the good and the bad)
The initial results of a good purge are immediate- euphoric even. You begin to see your life in a different light. You see your passion more clearly, and you gain an incredible desire to live life to the fullest.
But you also see your demons too.
It was when I purged my home of the excess that I realized the depth of my issues with mental illness and an eating disorder. But because I had let go of so much literal physical weight in my home, I had more emotional resources to tap into to get the help I needed.
Shortly after that massive step toward simplicity, I stepped into recovery for the first time in my life, and as a result I’ve been free of my eating disorder for years! Because of that freedom, I recognized my desire to become a health care professional to women and babies, and I’m now pursuing a hobby as an ObGyn! Without simplifying, I would have had neither the space nor the emotional energy to realize any of this.
So as you can see, there are both beautiful and difficult results to simplifying your life (and this is only naming a few!). But it’s in dealing with the difficulty that freedom comes and you can begin to enjoy yourself and the others around you in a deeper, more passionate way.
Your life is most definitely different than mine, and your story will turn out differently as well. But I can guarantee you, as I’ve seen it done hundreds of times, your life will be lighter and more enjoyable than ever before after simplifying. You will grow in ways you would have never imagined. And you will love the person inside (and that’s the kicker here- you already ARE that person, you just need to clear away the clutter surrounding you to see yourself more accurately!)!
Tips to Simplify
Here are a few tips to begin, along with several of the best resources I can share to help guide you step-by-step in simplifying your life.
On Discarding/ Purging:
First, you have to discard ALL the extra stuff in your home. Do not think- even for a second- that you can simplify any area in your life and KEEP IT THAT WAY until you’ve gone through everything and simplified your home. It takes a little time, but if done correctly the first time, it will never have to be done again.
- FOCUS ON the things you LOVE (rather than the clutter you’re anxious to discard!)- you’ll know you love something when you hold it close to your heart. If it makes you feel lighter inside, that’s love!
- Learn to let go- Go through your home (starting with the wardrobe is the easiest) and purge! Take out every single item in that one single category and, one by one, identify the items that you love. Place the “love” items in one pile and the remaining items in another. Donate, recycle or throw away the remaining items accordingly.
- Don’t keep things “just in case” : These items are the definition of clutter. They are not needed.
- Realize when an item has fulfilled it’s purpose, be thankful for it’s use, then let it go. This includes gifts- a gift fulfills it’s purpose when it is received graciously. If it’s simply collecting dust in the back of a closet, donate it so someone else can enjoy it.
- Half-finished projects should be identified just like items. If you pick up a project and you feel guilty for not finishing it, let it go, along with the supplies acquired to finish. Be thankful that you were able to use your hands to create, and realize that the projects you truly loved at the time were the ones that you finished (or are actively working toward finishing with joy).
- Don’t worry about over-purging. You likely won’t, as long as you’re focusing on the items you love.
- DO NOT start purging and discarding sentimental items until you’ve simplified every other area in your home first. These are the hardest things to sort through, and you won’t be able to properly define what you love by starting here.
- When you feel the need for “retail therapy,” sort through and discard a few items in your own home instead. You will feel better immediately without spending money or adding more stuff to your closet
- When focusing on the design of a room in your home and it just doesn’t “feel right” (you know what I mean!), instead of looking for items to fill the gaps, remove an item or two instead. Negative space is a grossly underused and much-needed decoration in nearly every American home today.
- When in doubt, don’t: If you’re not sure if something you want to buy is something you will love, leave it in the store. It is better to have less of what you want than to have too much of what you don’t want. If you can’t stop thinking about it for days, you know you love it and you can return and purchase it later (spoiler alert: this is almost never the case). If it’s meant to be yours, it will be there when you return!
On Simplifying Other People’s Stuff:
- You can’t change anyone else but yourself, so don’t try. Don’t discard anyone’s things but your own (young children, to a degree, are an exception)
- Be VERY careful discarding children’s toys. Young kids may not notice, but older kids will and you can create a hoarder by stealing a child’s right to feel ownership over their things. Instead, talk to kids *when they inquire* about letting go of your own things and inspire them to learn to discard on their own.
- Your family WILL simplify after they see the positive results in your life, but ONLY if you let it happen naturally. Start preaching or teaching, and they will only hold on to their things with increased passion. Trust me, I’ve seen it done more times than I can count!
Simplifying is not always simple, so to go more in-depth into specifics, check out my favorite resources below:
- My YouTube Channel– From toys and clothes to the words we speak and the relationships in which we invest, everything in life can be simplified. Watch my videos where I share all my best tips to do so (Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and sell you anything!).
- The No Brainer Wardrobe– The book that started it all for me. It’s a short, fun and light-hearted read that will help you define your style, identify the items in your closet that you love, and get dressed quickly and easily with practically no mental effort whatsoever!
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up– An in-depth, specific guide to identifying what you love, discarding the rest, and never falling into a life filled with clutter EVER again! This is the best practical guide on the topic that exists today, no question.
Thank you so much for letting me share with you today! Be blessed, my friends!