61 Responses to “How to Live in the Land of Enough – Space”

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  1. I love this post! You’ve taken a topic that many have written on and included extra items that are very helpful to me. One of them is about the mind. I think my mind is calm but the moment I lay my tired body down to sleep, my mind starts racing and sleep slips away.
    I need to follow your ideas to get information out of my head so there’s space there :)

    I love the travel tips as well. I usually am in crowded lines to get on the plane..and would rather board later and travel more lightly.

    Thank you.

  2. Another wonderful post. I have places, especially in my home office/studio that I need to address soon. When I find myself bringing my computer into another room in order to work, I know I’ve let the clutter and chaos go to far!

  3. Great series Courtney. I like your real approach to minimalism on your own terms. I would emphasize that the space in your head is really the most imoortant, as all else proceeds from inside the mind. We create our reality, as we see it. Truly. XO

    • Good point Satya. It all starts with us.

      • A.

        I would offer the thought that it’s a two way street. Clearly once you’ve achieved a spacious mind it certainly flows more easily into a spacious life — but you don’t have to start here first — the process of freeing up your life will increase your awareness of your mind which is a solid start to desiring to calm it and the process of doing so. Not so long into either process you’ll find the other one starting with a “mind of it’s own” so to speak. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
        I recommend Stuart Wilde’s mini books — Silence, sorry can’t remember the whole title, is a great introduction & one I return to again and again. It’s hard for me to focus on anything if I’m talking.
        Stuart will proba beyond what you’ve considered in terms of a simple and calm mind but you don’t have to go there with him if it’s too new age for ‘ya. The principles are solid and practical, take ‘em and run with it.
        PS If you want to gauge your process or take on a challenge travel to Asia with a 12 pound pack, visit the busiest stinkiest part of your city — Ram Dass said roughly, it’s definitely easier to maintain one’s equanimity in a buddhist temple; go to a stressed out, crowded and dirty city to meditate — see how that works to get a feel for where you’re at.
        I’ve had to consider this seriously as I live with an artist whose capacity for living in creative chaos and multiples of possessions is unbelievable. I’ve hung out with my fair share of monks in several countries and his soul, spirit and mind are right up there with that level of compassion and inner peace. Go figure. I however being a much less advanced soul (with a head injury in my past) simply can not deal with it — peacefully. Who he is comes out, his art and our living space are incredible, and after 18 years we have separate closets and cabinets that house the hundreds of beautiful objects we live with.
        Personality, temperament, & your past (hard to argue with a head injury) all influence you and so influence the whole process and it’s optimal outcome for you.
        Guideline’s are just that, guidelines. Everyone’s different.

  4. I’m currently working on making more space in my office. It seems to be the landing area for all kinds of stuff, and is the center of piling papers and books, making it tricky to work in there. Since my boyfriend and I share it, we have two people’s worth of things. I am trying to clear my half of the desk so it can still be somewhat of a santuary, and have been clearing out old papers and things, but it is a slow and steady process.

  5. Oh yeah…I can so relate to this post…I started a 21 day purge two weeks ago and I’m almost done…woo hoo! It’s been a lot of work…mainly because I’ve just kept putting off what needed to be done…that is MAKING A DECISION…lol
    Thanks for some more tips, fondly, Roberta

  6. Nice article. I’m just struggling with the following question

    “How do I feel when I am in an empty room?”

    Sounds more like a mental health test question. Didn’t get the clue about it yet …

    And how often do you are in empty rooms (beside when you move in/out).

    • Courtney Carver

      Hmmmm….I was actually thinking about walking into a home before you move in, or a big yoga studio when I wrote the question. Maybe it is a bit of a mental health question although that wasn’t my intention. I think what I like about being in an empty room is that there is room to take a deep breath and think about possibility. What about you? Do you like empty space or not? Just curious…not a test!!

      • I was never in a yoga studio. But I think it isn’t totally empty. At least there will be yoga mats somewhere. Or people exercising (so not empty, too).

        I find empty rooms kinda depressing. It has to be something in – even in museums is “stuff”, not much, even just a sculpture, but something giving a reason going into this room.

        A room needs to have a reason, to be that usually there’s something in – which don’t need to be much. If you go into a new home before you move in you have a reason: checking the room, have in your mind how what you can do with it, maybe what kind of stuff you put at which part. But going into an empty room which hasn’t any purpose… nah…

        • Layla

          Oh, I love empty rooms – they hold so much potential!! :)

          Maybe because my attick has been too overcrowded, slowly working on getting it to look better & less cluttered, lol! I have a few glimpses that I’m proud of already, but still a long way to go! :)

          Cleaned the desk yesterday, it seems ‘small things at a time’ works best for me indeed!

      • A.

        Not empty spaces but peaceful ones –
        After organizing the main level (open floor plan) of our home I felt my blood pressure drop when I came into it.
        After reducing the objects in a small bathroom and changing the color scheme to white, some taupe and a touch of green I wanted to live there. It also didn’t feel “like me” — I was ruthless and created a space I hadn’t grown into yet.
        As for empty spaces – studios make me want to dance & all of them are calming and I breathe more deeply without having to try.

        • A.

          ps I used to dislike white, find it unsettling and glaring. I’m not going only white and I consider a white carpet a mild form of insanity. My intention is to start there & in basic colors in a wardrobe and build. My use of color was all over the board. And being Italian I’m not going to live without it, but it was out of control – in the clothing too.

  7. I really enjoyed this post. When I read some people’s ideas of minimalism where all walls are white and there is no color anywhere I cringe. I love color and couldn’t live life without it. I can live without clutter everywhere and that’s where minimalism fits in for me.
    My kids and I have also started walking to get places instead of taking the car every time. We live in Colorado so that’s not going to be possible all the time through the winter, but my goal is to bundle up and walk as many places I can.

    • Courtney Carver

      Paula, I can imagine. I was just in CO and being car free in some of the rural areas would be a challenge. I think an all white home looks beautiful in pictures but I am so inspired by color that it will always be part of my life.

  8. Your process is very similar to the one we are working through now with our Big Purge. We started in the closet, then moved to the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Next will either be the office or my daughter’s room. We also recently removed our TV from our bedroom. We sold our living room TV and moved the bedroom TV into the living room. I think you’re right on the energy of the room being different. It feels more peaceful in there now.

    • Courtney Carver

      I love this! One room at a time works. You don’t have to overhaul your life in a day. Slow, deliberate change sticks. Congrats on your peaceful bedroom!

  9. Courtney,
    Although I am working on clearing the excess in my home, one of my big ones right now is the mental clutter. Learning to let stuff go, not be bothered by things, relax and just be…
    Bernice
    http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2010/focus-on-be-ing/

    • Courtney Carver

      Bernice, I read this on twitter today: “Make a point to not take anything personally for a whole day, and see how you feel” or something like that. I think it’s a great suggestion to help with the mental clutter.

  10. I love this post and I love the way you are approaching simplifying your life. I like that color is important to you. Being a fellow artist I can relate to that. I think even as I work at minimizing things with the goal of living bigger with less, I don’t envision ever not having art on my walls or artsy things around, but I am working on having less of them and less clutter. You are inspirational. Thank you.

  11. Courtney Carver

    Thanks Diane. I’m glad you can relate. The cool thing is that when all the “stuff” is gone, art comes to life and takes center stage. It’s the first thing I see when I walk in the door, and usually the last thing I see before I fall asleep.

  12. Layla

    Okay, overall: very inspiring. Great blog & I love the idea!

    However: These items aren’t in good condition: trash. No no no!!!

    Check if there’s a fabric bank where you live, or if there’s a creative re:style project nearby or such… Some kids groups or workshops or ‘special needs’ places or such might be happy to get any materials for free creative reuse too!!

    It’s just soo wasteful to just ‘throw things away’ – these are materials and resources that could become something beautiful again!! (either as ‘surface’ or as ‘filling’ or as spill mops or doggie bed or whatever!!)
    Consider where in your community this could be put to good use, offer on Freecycle or on Etsy… Awesome things are being done from old fabrics!! (Or have a workshop with kiddies yourself? :))

  13. Layla

    Oops, sorry the italics overload, forgot to add the /i!

    (Just shows how passionate I am about this lol!)

    As people we are creating way too much trash and for me, the minimalist lifestyle is closely connected to the zero waste lifestyle, aspiring to them both! (Still learning and struggling and figuring things out as I go along sometimes too, lol!)

    Anyway, thanks for the great inspirational blog!

  14. Layla

    Oh, and in the car – you can have a small ‘bin’ or reusable container with a lid, maybe eg old ice cream/margarine tub or nice box or such for any ‘leftovers’ or compostables – hope you compost those apple cores and such! :)
    (When I go for trips car-free, with friends/car-sharing, I usually bring my own Tupperware-like container in my rucksack, with food, and afterwards put any compostables there too.. been guilty of an occasional bag too, but ideally it’s the reusables – I mean, who wants to wash a yucky bag, let’s be honest??)

    For water bottles you can have a box too, maybe carton box or fruit box, whatever fits… Maybe even a bag, okay, as long as it’s reused many times! :) (check that it doesn’t get moldy tho, close the lids of any juices/sodas or such and rinse at home and put into recycling) I hope you’re not drinking too many sodas anyway, not good for the health! Could also just bring reusable bottle? hmm? (= more minimalist-?) :)

    Being greener can also be more minimalist, often! :)

  15. Excellent post! I’m most of the way to my first Project 333, still trimming down. Never too late to start, as you said.

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  20. ScT

    Don’t take box # 3 to the trash! Find a program that will recycle clothing fibers! The humane society will take rags to line cages, H&M will take used clothes and either donate them to be sold via charity or be recycled, etc. DON’T trash them!!!!

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  22. barbara

    Hi, I am a minimalist, have been for years .. but the 33 in the closet has been a bigger challenge than I imagined. I cannot seem to get down below 45. So I just bought the micro-course and am taking on the challenge … Step one, print this page and go! Any suggestions welcome!!

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  24. Candace

    I just performed the 4-clothes pile purge and was astonished at how many items of clothes I was hanging on to-out of style clothes from the ’90′s and clothes that no longer fit. I threw out clothes that were washed a million times and looked it as we’ll as worn-out shoes. I feel liberated!

  25. uti

    just wanted to point out that clothing that is NOT in good condition should NOT be put in the trash. i just learned this myself. I used to trash clothes with holes or stains too. apparently the fabric can be re-used but only 20% of used fabric is recycled. most of it is trashed. call your local goodwill and they will usually take this old clothing- you can label it ‘rags’ – for re-use/recycling (such as in upholstery, carpets, etc.). thanks!

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