For most of my life I was a visual shopper. If I saw it then I had to have it. I also practiced retail therapy, buying stuff to feel better instead of dealing with my issues. I was one of those people who always had to leave the mall with a purchase. It didn’t matter if I needed the item or not. It was just the thought of buying something new. This behavior resulted in accumulating a lot of stuff over the years.
Then something strange and unexpected happen. I went blind. I could no longer see the items brightly displayed in stores calling my name. Sometimes I struggled with transportation to even get there. And online shopping was not even an option back then. I strained to keep up with trends and my stockpile of stuff was becoming too much.
Use Less Stuff Day
As a society we are accumulating too much stuff. People pay for storage, don’t always donate or recycle. Then there are landfills that are filling up with all kinds of things we have thrown away. Thursday, Nov. 17 is Use Less Stuff Day. This day is a gentle reminder to clean and declutter.
Clothes and Shoes
After going blind, I quickly realized I needed to make a mental change and trim down my stuff. First I started with my wardrobe. I focused on functional not trendy pieces of clothing and jewelry.
I kept my shoes down to a couple of pairs. The essentials of black, brown and navy dress styles with 2 pairs of tennis. These simple colors and styles can go with any outfit. It also made it easier to find and keep them organized.
Home and Office
To avoid falls, stumbles and bumping into furniture I downsized. I went to a modest layout, keeping furniture mostly on the perimeter of the room. Ask yourself, how much stuff in your home is a show piece? You know that sofa you never sit on because it is for those guest that don’t come over. Less is more and better. Having too much furniture can be a physical hazard and danger especially with vision loss.
Working from home has motivated me to scale down more. I don’t have to wear professional clothes to a job but I have several business suits I need to figure out what to do. I know I want to keep some pieces for videoconference calls or meeting in person.
I am an introvert so don’t mix and mingle too much in crowds. So, even my casual wardrobe has been scaled down. Just a couple of slacks and skirts with interchangeable tops to match.
Use Less Paper
I have also reduced my paper footprint. What I mean is paying bills online instead of using printed statements and envelopes for mailing. I fill out forms online and receive the majority of my info via desktop computer or smartphone. I read books from the library instead of purchasing them and watch movies through streaming verses DVDs.
Lack of Emotional Attachment
Another interesting yet peculiar thing that came with my blindness was the lack of emotional attachment to things. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a sentimental person. Like Marie Kondo, I do want to keep items that spark joy. Still, because I don’t physically see I don’t have that same level of emotional attachment.
The statement, “out of sight is out of mind” is really true. I do forget and/or lack interest in things I can’t see. This mentality leads me to constantly take inventory of my belongings. Do I still cherish it or have lost that lovin’ feeling? Every couple of months I check out what I have and what I can give away.
More Doesn’t Mean Less
However, I come from a place where more communicates prosperity, value and self-worth . When people have less the assumption is they are not doing well. But this is not necessarily true. Having less or should I say, the basic necessities of life, is peaceful and not burdensome. I know for a fact the more things I own the more I have to worry. The more I have to track and keep organized. The more stressed out I get.
A minimalist lifestyle is a work in progress. I have not perfected it yet because I live in a world of consumerism. The call to shop and buy is ever present. However, I work on it and do my best. Writing this post has energized me to do another walk through and declutter my home. Looking at what I need to keep and what I can remove. Plus, the holiday season is coming up and the perfect time to give.
Do you have a minimalist lifestyle? If not, what ways can you scale back your stuff?
4 thoughts on “Using Less Stuff: How My Blindness Supports a Minimalist Lifestyle”
Perfect, and profound to boot! Thanks for writing this!!
Thanks, I enjoyed writing this one. As I was working on it I started thinking about more stuff I can get rid of. I think I will start this weekend before Thanksgiving next week.
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Loved your thoughts on this. I myself tend to lean on the sparse side of life, preferring space to belongings. But living with a maximalist partner tends to muddle those plans somewhat.
Super interesting to note how blindness has changed your preferences. And yes to ‘the more things I own, the more I have to worry’. That’s exactly how I feel too. Nice post!
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Thanks for the comment. They say opposites attract and maybe that also applies to the stuff we have or don’t have. It can be tough striking a balance like that. But yeah, it was eye-opening (no pun intended) when I went blind and how it supported this lifestyle. I guess it was one of those blessings indisguise.
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