Minimal Monday: Storage

We live in such a weird society. It's been this way for awhile and we are the reason it has become so overwhelmingly habitual. You drive past houses and see it. You go on trips and see it. You even know someone that's doing it right now. Worst part about it is, people pay hundreds of dollars for it a month without batting an eye. What is it? Storage.

From self-storage to mini storage, we either have it, or know people that do, and for what? Hanging onto items that we don't use is a growing epidemic. In the United States alone, the self storage industry is one of the fastest growing sects of the commercial real estate market over the last 35 years, with annual gross revenues of 22.45 billion dollars. The self storage industry is considered to be “recession resistant” by many Wall Street analysts since one out of every 10 homes currently rents a storage unit, there are about. 2.3 billion sq. feet of rental space, which is roughly three times that of Manhattan island. To put it another way, there is 7.3 sq. feet of self storage space available for every person (man, women, and child) in the nation. Operators of self storage facilities report occupancy levels to be at 90%. (source) And if you're a storage facility owner that means huge bank on people's obsession to "hold on."

With those numbers it's no wonder hoarding, hanging onto, and emotional attachment are an issue. People seem to feel possessions are something that have "feelings" and with that they need to hold onto them for whatever reason that has been created in the mind. Emotional attachment to items is something that everyone has felt and knows what I'm talking about. The movie tickets from a special date, the dinner napkin from a night out, or how about your high school yearbooks, or even baby items (the baby is 16 now). There's always a reason we give ourselves to hold onto something. But that's just it, holding onto "something" isn't the issue. It's holding onto hundreds of "somethings" that's causing the issue.

In the town we live in there is a little over 15k in population and the town currently holds four separately-owned storage facilities. In the SNS household we used storage when we first moved to Oregon and we had items in our storage that we didn't even remember packing when we moved. We moved everything into the rental home we were in and then turned right back around and packed up the nonessential and stored them. We were paying for end-of-service bills from Arkansas, current bills in Oregon, as well as a storage facility bill each month. We were on such a tight budget at the time I have no idea how we made it. The storage facility bill was $75 a month and we had it for about three years. If you think $75 isn't much, think again. *gulp* To make this story even worse is the fact that after those three years, we ended up selling everything in the storage building in a yard sale and only making back $200.

So in order to not repeat what we did and end up losing money completely on a service that is really unneeded, the best way to do it is to not do it. Don't store items you don't even use. If it has a value, sell it. If it can be used, donate it. If it has no value, recycle it/discard it. Don't pay for someone else's retirement, life, or vacations through a storage facility. Storage unit owners make a lot of money off of people that put emotional attachment on things.

Here is the best advice I can give you on getting rid of your storage unit:

• Conquer it immediately. Use whatever time you have off and get it done. Make a time frame of two weekends in a row, or three, or even four if needed. Allot that time to just sort things out.

• Use the storage building.  Pull items/boxes out one-by-one and sort right there on sight. You've rented the space, use it. Sort into piles of what is important and what isn't. Get rid of the "not important" pile immediately. Then deal with the "important" pile.

• Sort immediately. Sort the remaining pile into smaller piles and be strict about it. Sort into piles of "Keep," "Donate," "Gifts," etc.

• Just let it go. Get rid of the donate pile immediately. If you get rid of these piles immediately then you aren't prone to hanging onto them longer.

•Finish it up and close it out. Give gifts to the person right away, and the "Keep" pile should only contain items that are of everyday importance, or add value to your life in some way. Everyone's "Keep" pile will contain different items, but make sure everything has some sort of value and earns its place in your home. Make one last sort of the "Keep" pile and see if you can't part with a few more things in the end.

Once you have sorting everything and the only pile left is the "Keep" pile, your storage unit should be empty. Cancel that lease and say goodbye. It may seem easier said than done, but keep in mind it was a chore to fill that unit up in the first place, so it will take time and effort to empty it, but you can do it! It took us about two straight weekends to empty ours and during the time we were cleaning it out, we were selling items of value in our yard sale. It was a task, but I am so glad we did it. Keep in mind that these same principles can be applied to any other place you are storing items-basement, attic, garage, etc.

Be practical, think practical, and live practical.

Friday things

I realized, after the Minimal Monday post, that I haven't posted to the blog in two months. I left off with a "Friday things" post on January 13 and picked up with the last post, before this one, on March 13. Totally not planned. Honestly. But here we are, with another "Friday things" post and picking right back up where we left off. Of course, it is almost 9:00 p.m., so I am a bit late today. The sunshine will come to an end tonight and we are back to freezing temperatures again, but just for Saturday (as of right now) Blah! I saw on another blog I follow, that New York had snow. I am okay with winter when there is snow, but with just rain and cold, no way! I am so jealous that they have snow there again. Maybe we will get a grace of white once more before spring is officially over. We'll see.

These past few weeks have been up and down with political issues and I stood along with my sisters (and brothers) during the Womens' March and again I stood along side my fellow Native Americans and protested-and cried-when the order to complete the DAPL was given. I also was present when Day Without a Woman hit on International Womens' Day and in my own way, I didn't answer text, emails, phone calls, or even the door. And right along side me was The Mr. and The Bean. My husband stands beside me in the same beliefs that women are equal and not below, and definitely not behind men. The Mr. and I have also raised our son to honor, and lift up the women in his life. The Bean knows what's right and that all beings are equal on this planet. It's crazy to think that the earth is one giant mass that we all live on and all can appreciate, but here we are downgrading others, treating others with so much disrespect, and building walls between us like we own the earth in some way. People argue that there are ones coming into countries to do harm that aren't citizens of those countries, but my thought on that is this, there are people, especially in the United States, that are born and raised here that want to do just as much, if not more, harm than those seeking refuge. Nothing can stop violence. Violence is an unfortunate part of our world, but we can change the way we deal with violence. Targeting a group based on their beliefs, their gender, their country, their job, their place in society is and never will be the correct way to deal with violence. These are my thoughts on the last few weeks. I am just a blogger, but I truly believe that hate is a horrible, nasty, soul-eating force. It will consume you in the end if you don't stop it on your own. The best place to start is your own thoughts. Stop yourself from seeing the negative. Change one thing about how you view others. If you always see the negative, you will always see the negative.

Here are the things that made my week worthwhile.

1. Bicycling.

We've been out and about on our bikes a lot more lately. With the actual "winter" being over here we can leave the house without getting wet or frozen. Seems contradictory to my above statement of wanting more snow, but it is what it is. The Bean and I have been riding to meet The Mr. after he gets off of work on random days. We ride on a main highway without bike lanes too. -Living on the edge and stuff, you know. In all honesty, I prefer to ride on the highway more than in town here. Not a bike friendly area by any means. Which is a shame, because the next town over is a bike friendly community.

There are still times that we ride in town and just have to let it be. The last ride we took some lady yelled from a car, "You're obstructing traffic, get off the road, it's illegal." Not exactly sure what that means, but apparently she doesn't know the laws. We just kept pedaling and enjoying the sunshine on our faces as we passed other car drivers looking all scour-faced at us.

The Bean got some new lights for the back of his bike. When he rides by fast, it turns into something sort of sci-fi-ish.

...And don't forget to check out this month's reading selection. "Hello Bicycle" by Anna Brones. Pretty informative if you are wanting to get a move on by way of bicycle. You can find the information about it here.

2. Planting.

I've been in a springtime-planting-mood lately and I have already planted some seeds indoors. The Mr. and The Bean bought me a greenhouse this past Valentine's Day, but it's still not time to put them out yet. In the meantime, my little seeds are sitting on a small table indoors and are peeking out of the soil slowly and any sunny day we have I take them outside to soak in the warmth and light. The picture above is from our local co-op and is their "living wall." I admire it so much every time we go grocery shopping. I think one similar would look awesome with a bunch of herbs growing in it. 

3. Houses.

The Mr. and I have been eyeballing some tiny homes lately and have started to draw up some plans of our own. We are still on a hunt for some land out of Linn County and have had some good options, like this one, but nothing exactly how we want it yet. The hunt continues, but in the meantime, we have a good start on some floor plans and the book below helped us in that area. The house pictured above is in Corvallis, Oregon, and was built completely by the owner-one reclaimed board at a time. I feel, every time we see it, that it is a great role model of a house and owner, on where we want to go with our plans.

4. Minimizing.

Still at it here and I have started a series on my blog that I will post to every Monday on minimizing called Minimal Monday. So I am excited about that. Last Monday was the first one and it was on clothing. If you missed it, you can find it here.

And a gentle reminder...

5. Yogi Surprise and Mighty Nest.

Great items this month! I am loving the body butter. You can sign up through the ad spot on the right-hand side of the blog, or here.

And the Mighty Fix for March was Meliora All-Purpose Home Cleaner and a refill of the Soap Flakes to make another bottle's worth . Awesome stuff! Sign up for the Mighty Fix here.

A few things I want to mention:

1. This Bench.

Placed on the Lake Quachita Vista Trail in Arkansas by my dad and the group that maintains the trail (The Trail Dogs). It is there to honor my late grandmother, Wanda Hardage, who passed away on April 16, 2011.

2. This Special.

My mom's cafe, Crystal Springs Mercantile and Cafe, had a special on my mom's amazing chicken and dumplings and I demanded asked that they be named after me. Seriously though, my mom named them after me because I could eat them all day, every day. It's awesome to know that something bares my name there and it makes me tear up to know that I have a mark in the cafe in some way. I hope the customers ordering them enjoy them as much as I do.

3. This Car.

We ended up donated her to OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting), which is PBS (Public Broadcasting). It was sad to see her go, but it was a necessary thing in order for us to minimize excess that we don't need. We are a one-car-family anyway, so it just made sense. The best part, when she sells at auction, the price that she sells for we get a tax deduction.

4. Yogi Surprise and Mighty Nest

I really have to mention these two. The February Yogi Surprise Lifestyle Box and the Yogi Surprise Jewelry Box's for the month were fantastic. As posted above, you can sign up through the ad spot on the right-hand side of the blog, or here.

Not a dull item in the box.

I have to say, the favorite thing from these boxes was the chocolate.

Mighty Nest was another one that hit the mark in February too.

Metal drinking straws. Always a plus! You can sign up for the Mighty Fix here.

5.  This Flower Stand.

Super cute!

One last thing, our new dinning room table has been a blessing. "around the dinner table" now all comes together. Spending time at the table is an amazing thing. Most families don't even eat at the table unless it's a holiday. Screens/electronics are a distraction and I feel that kids, and adults alike, need less screen time and more togetherness. Of course, if you are sitting at the table eating a meal while reading my blog, I thank you, but really, this post, my blog, and my thoughts are plastered on this screen-they will be here after you're finished. I promise. Enjoy your table time, together time, and your family. Life truly is so short. Kiss and hug, and tell people you love them often. And most of all, tell people you appreciate them in your life. One thing I wish I could give people more of is appreciation. Love is one thing, but appreciating someone is quite another. It's a great feeling! Don't take people for granted. "Love people and use things. The opposite never works." -The Minimalist.  So use the table and love and appreciate the ones that gather 'round it. 
Have a great weekend!

Minimal Monday: Clothing

We've been on quite a mission here in the SNS house. Downsizing clothes is something of a task really, especially when clothing is something of a need over a want. But the difference is controlling what wants we think we need and actually keeping our clothing to minimum. And it is easier than it seems.

Some minimalist stick to the 333 Rule, or the 30 for 30 (30 x 30), but others might stick to a stricter regimen of clothing rules and only keep maybe 20-30 items. Those items would include; shoes, belts, and other accessories that are needed to get through your weeks. For example, having three black dresses may seem practical, but when you're only wearing one and the other two just sit in your closet, the practicality of it all seems redundant.

We have adopted the backward hanger approach, after downsizing a lot. The Mr. has even been able to let go if his hockey jersey collection in the process-a total of seven jerseys. His loose plan for them was to wear them to hockey games, or hang onto them for memories of hockey games he had been at in the past. The problem was, we haven't been to a hockey game in over eight years, and his memories of the games are just that, memories and a few pictures in the photo box. So letting go of them was the best plan. -Which is a big deal-really. The Mr. and I both never push each other to let go of things that the other feels shouldn't be held onto. We give each other ample time to let go of our "precious" things in our own time. It does come, it just take a bit longer to let go of some things. I feel the key to minimizing with a family is to not push the other. The Bean's baby items were something I've held onto for 13 years now, but in the long run, I have cut back from two large totes to a small bag of little things that I just can't let go of. The Mr. has a few things that he is holding onto and we are both okay with that.

Letting go of the little things has been bit of a struggle and we really do have a ways to go still in our house. Clothing-which includes, for us, shirts, pants, socks, undies, shoes, pajamas, ties, etc., have all been downsized over the course of the last year, and organized to who needs what and why. If an article of clothing hasn't been given reason for keeping, out it goes. We donate what we can't use or make a reason to keep it in our home.

Here's a breakdown of what we have done so far. This may work for you, or the other plans may be something you could use to help you break down your clothing. FYI: This plan works for kids and teenagers too. Teaching them what's important is what's important.

• Shirts: Two for dress     Five for t-shirts/other
• Pants:  Two for dress     Three for other (jeans, etc.)
• Socks:  Five for regular wear     Two for boot/warmth/wool
• Undies:  Eight total     (sometimes this slips up to 10, but no more than that)
• Shoes:  Five total     (still working on pairing down, but it's a work in progress)
• Pajamas: Two total
• Ties: Two total (The Mr. let go of all of his ties, but The Bean still has two)

If you were keeping count, the total here is 36. I feel we could do a bit better, but for now this is what works for us.

One more thing, we don't store or separate warm and cold weather clothing in our house. We hang, or fold all of them together. and that's the total number of all of our clothing for all seasons.

Hopefully, these tips can help you gain some control of your clothing during your minimizing process. The best advice we can give from the SNS house is to not give into consumerism and buy things you don't need, you don't really want, and stop trying to impress other people with your clothing. It will always leave you feeling like you and nothing you wear is enough. Be practical, think practical, and live practical.