Intention

Let me start with a little reflection on decluttering…

I started my decluttering in 2011. I think I was ahead of the trend. By a smidge anyway. I had a tonne of boxes to go through because of my separation and move to my solo life apartment. I was depressed and anxious. I wanted to feel better about myself, my stuff and my space. I happened upon the book Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst and used it to clear up my space both physically and emotionally. It might not be the book for everyone, but I learned a lot from that book. It started me on my road to minimalism and simple living.

It also got me shaking maracas I got in Cuba during a solo heart healing vacation and burning sage to move energy around. I love doing both of these things.

There is something to be said about doing things with intention. Doing things with intention makes action more meaningful. It makes change more likely to stick. it sets a foundation and focus on how you want to feel and what actions you need to take to get you there. It helps you get things done, stay present and optimistic.

I think it’s a very powerful thing.

I have a tattoo of the letter I on the inside of my right wrist. It stands for INTENTION.

Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe – Prep

I’ve decided to start wearing my Fall 2016 Capsule Wardrobe on the first day of Autumn – September 21st. This means this week is about the preparation. I’ve usually followed the Ten Item Wardrobe from Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris, but this season I’ve decided to combine it with Courtney Carver’s Project 333 so I can have ten main items (which I have really enjoyed these past two years) and set a limit for my extras (footwear, outerwear, t-shirts and accessories).

My Process

First step is to make an inventory, refine and purge.

I’ve done a few major declutters of my wardrobe since 2010 so I don’t have much to do as the seasons change. I know what I have. Instead of a lay it all on the bed and go through things one by one what I do is more of assessment of a few items. I take an inventory of my 20 or so items of clothing to see what still fits and what doesn’t. I examine each item to see if it’s still in good condition, needs repair or if it is too damaged to be repaired.

Here is what I’m donating this season.

blog-160914-collage

  1. High heels that have seen better days. All 4 pairs have scuffed toes. The two middle pairs I’ve had for 12 years or so. They’ve earned their keep. The blue pair on the left were for a burlesque costume for an act I no longer do. The black pair on the right I’m so sad to see go. They are from a vegan retailer I quite like – Novoca – and were such smart looking shoes for when I had professional meetings and the like. But I’ve had them for over ten years and the scuffs are just so obvious now. I think I walk in a funny way that causes toe scuffing. :(
  2. A lilac cashmere wool sweater from when I stopped being vegan a few years back. It has some stains. I’m actually going to keep it for at home wear in the winter. Electricity is very expensive in Ontario and I’ll need to watch the thermostat.
  3. My very tiny jersey from my 21k run in the early 2000s. It really doesn’t fit and I don’t need the t-shirt to remember I ran the race. Not a fall item, but after this summer I knew it was time for it to go.
  4. A bathrobe that I never ever use. It was a gift from my mother so I kept thinking I’d wear, but I’m not a robe person. Keeping things just in case typically means that the items just use up space and are never needed. I follow The Minimalists’ 20 20 Rule on this one. Also not a seasonal item, but since my move I haven’t worn it once so I know it needs to go.
  5. A lovely top from Jacob that is long in the front and short in the back. I called it my fancy black top. I’d put it on and immediately take it off because it didn’t feel right. I probably wore it all of 3 times. This is a summer item that I wore only once. Hopefully, someone else will enjoy it.
  6. A black nylon security vest to store personal items. I’m more concerned for fire and floods so I store things like my passport and birth certificate in a fireproof, waterproof safe. Not a seasonal item, but you get the drill.
  7. Another cashmere sweater from my non-vegan stint. This is a dark blue turtleneck. I feel itchy around the neck and claustrophobic when I wear it. It’s in excellent condition so I’m hoping to sell it at a consignment shop.

Second step is to select which items will be in your capsule wardrobe. I need to try on the different options together to see which work best. I don’t want to deal with something taking up space that I never wear because it doesn’t feel right (see item 5 above).

For sure the core ten items will include: 1) short sleeve white shirt, 2) black blouse with white polka dots, 3) wine coloured 3/4 sleeved blouse, 4) blue blazer, 5) black jeans, 6) blue jeans, 7) long black jersey dress.

I will also likely include another dress and one or two skirts. I need to try them on with the blouses to see what works. These decisions will depend on my shoes. I have some new boots and I need to see what they work with besides jeans. Mainly though because I do a lot of walking and I’m on my feet all day at work I need to choose my shoes wisely. I’m aiming for three pairs flats, heels and boots.

Next up will be the extras such as base layer t-shirts which I already have – one white and one black. I wore them this summer and they are in great condition (thank you line drying). I will also need top layers for colder days and nights. I have 4 nice sweaters to choose from. I will see which work well with my core items and how far along I am in hitting 33 items.

Then is outerwear. I have mid-thigh nylon coat, jean jacket and fancy satin trench. I’ve had these for 15, 12 and 8 years respectively and they are still in great condition. The nylon coat has had its buttons replaced, but they haven’t needed any mending besides that.

Finally there are my accessories. I wear my FitBit most everyday, all day so I won’t be counting that as part of 33. Same thing with my earrings. I have had an irritation so I’m wearing studs for the next 6 weeks as it heals. What I’m left with are scarves, necklaces and bracelets. I have a very small collection so it should be easy to choose.

Putting It All Together

I’ve downloaded the Stylebook Closet App and I’ll spend the next few days adding my items to it and let you know next week my final decisions.

Overwhelmed But Want a Simple Wardrobe?

I hope by sharing my process you have a gained some ideas about how you can go about creating your own capsule wardrobe.  Still unsure – don’t stress – Courtney shares great suggestions in her post Ten Tiny Tips to Take Towards Your Tiny Wardrobe as well as many other posts on her website. She even created a fantastic micro-course all about how to do it. Highly recommended!!

Simple Yet Glamorous?

My life is simple in that I discovered some mindful and minimalist life strategies that bring balance and serenity to my day-to-day. It’s glamorous in that I love burlesque and I adore creating dazzling, silly performances and shows. Having both in my life brings me much satisfaction and pleasure.

It also means that I find bobby-pins by the door and glitter most everywhere, but that is OK by me. They remind me I’m living the life I want to live.

Perhaps SIMPLICITY & GLAMOUR is an odd combination, but it’s my version of Yin and Yang. They help me embrace LIFE in a BIG JOYFUL way  and I think bringing both into my life is an important part of my journey.

Life is complex.

My simple living and compassionate mindset allows me to meet life’s challenges, express what’s on my mind and in my heart. It’s what keeps me grounded yet able to fly free. It’s what helps me connect to those I love.

Keeping certain things simple lets me bounce around in the complex with joy, gratitude and authenticity. Bounce around in the unpredictability, uncertainty and vulnerability knowing I have a safety net. Having a toolbox of strategies and skills makes me more resilient when sh*t hits the fan – because it will.

So, what do I simplify?

Everything involved in my everyday is structured in a simple way. This took some time. I had to reflect on what I owned and what owned me. I had to think about my possessions and my space and how they made me feel. Yes, I used the Marie Kondo Method. While I’m not a 100 item minimalist, I have downsized in a BIG way. I know each and every one of my belongings and where they live. And I love them all.

My burlesque costumes may have sequins and fancy fringe trim, but they also are chosen and made with simplicity in mind. They are easy to store, maintain and to perform in (and out of). Streamlining my burlesque life means I don’t tear through my space last minute looking for a costume piece or have to create something last minute. I have just what I need. Not more, not less. When I have a show I know I can focus on my performance, deliver as best I can and be present for the entire process.

My internal life?

I simplify that too. It’s absolutely essential in fact because there is a part of my mind that likes to tell stories  – often attaching shame, guilt and fear to them. Then there is my gut that likes to do somersaults. And of course, my heart that likes to race.

I’m betting this all sounds terribly familiar.

Thank goodness there is a solution to this mess of stress and struggle. Mindfulness meditation – it’s the simple antidote to the busy mind poison. Sure, it’s a popular buzz word these days but there is a reason for that. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s an active way of thinking that helps calm the mind. For goodness sake, it creates new neuro-pathways! So freaking neat!

In a nutshell, it’s about observing yourself, your body, your mind’s stories, you name it and not trying to change anything. Experience them without judgement. Let all the weird, uncomfortable and painful sensations and thoughts just be. Then approaching it all – especially yourself – loving kindness. So simple yet so radical.

One of my favourite meditation resources is the work of Tara Brach. She has a wonderful weekly podcast aswell as incredible books I refer to. My therapist suggested I read Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance and helped me immensely in developing some equanimity. Something I had been seeking since I was a little girl.

And of course, there is Vietnamese Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. His books on finding peace within the present moment are some of the most accessible and beautiful out there.

I am sure I will write more about these topics in the coming weeks and months (maybe years – who knows!). If there is something specific you would like me to write about with regards to my exploration of simplicity and glamour, let me know!

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Back Online

It’s Friday night. I’m in my new apartment. I’m using my computer and the Internet.

Finally.

I did enjoy my break from technology though it wasn’t a total one. I used up a bunch of data by using my iPhone excessively. Thankfully, I have a good package. But yeah, I wasn’t really as offline as I could of been. On the other hand, I was without cable so I didn’t watch TV at all. That was rather nice. I liked it mostly because the decrease in tech use allowed me to fully unpack and get settled into my new place. Not a box is left.

Such a relief.

I have been here since July 1st and it’s been amazing. I am so glad I moved. The new status? Me, Rufus and Martha. Happy as clams (Hey – why are we like clams when we are happy? Someone tell me. I need to know). I have been enjoying the quietude of my new space, the lack of renovations and no workmen knocking on my door at 730am. Not to mention no more rude building managers that made me ever so anxious.

The cats have settled in too. They have been enjoying the new sights and sounds.

Unfortunately, being offline computer-wise though has meant I am behind in B-School. Thankfully, the resources will always be available and I don’t think I have lost momentum. I am still inspired. I just have to figure out how to schedule some class time for myself. As I learned early on from Marie Forleo – if it’s not scheduled it’s not real.

And why am I unsure how to schedule my time?

I have a job.

I have worked for myself for so long – building websites, creating porn, producing shows and writing. It was always based on my needs and my schedule. Now I am no longer doing the at-home office thing. I am getting up early, taking a shower, putting on proper clothes (not staying in a housedress or PJs), packing a lunch and taking the Metro to the office. 9-5 is obviously pretty common place, but it is not something I have done in 15 years. This past week has been an adjustment.  A stimulating, exciting adjustment. Technically, I am still an independent contractor, but now I go elsewhere to work and I am working on someone else’s projects.

Super neat.

Indeed, these past two months have seen a lot of changes for me. I did a huge purge of papers and belongings, I moved to a new place,  I gave up some bad habits (I will blog about that in the future as it certainly is its own topic), I started B School and came up with a new vision for my websites (also a bit of a renewal of an old one)  that matches well with how I feel as I get further along in my forties. And I am helping others create a dream project.

I finally feel like I’m building a strong foundation for my life.