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Monthly Archives: August 2011

what to do with knickknacks

We all have this stuff. Little objects that are emotionally valuable, but don’t serve any practical purpose. My collection looks like this:

And I have stored them in the same way since I was about ten years old. I love Converse shoes, so I kept a shoe box and put all of the things inside:

Every so often I will empty the box and sort through the objects, reflecting on the memories they represent and removing the ones whose significance I can no longer remember, or the ones to which I’m ready to say goodbye.

During the most recent declutter, I decided to part with my I Love NY pens. Every time my family visited New York City I would buy a new pen that I would use for nothing but journal-writing.

It was the age at which I was proud to have used up an entire pen’s worth of ink – that was a lot of writing then. Now I have this picture (and this blog post) about the pens instead of the pens themselves. Now when I run out of ink, to ease my frustration, I recall the sense of accomplishment that the same inconvenience made me feel years ago.

I keep all of my knickknacks tucked away in my special box. Over time I forget what exactly is inside, so when I open it up in a few months it’s a pleasant surprise. When the time comes to part with an object (or seven) I remember that it’s the experience attached to the object, not the object itself, that is significant.

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redefine luxury

Luxury pour moi, daily life for Miss Blair

“The only way to really feel luxury is to go without it and then take a good long gulp.”

The Art of More for Less: Savvy Chic by Anna Johnson

She is right. Luxury is only luxurious if we are not accustomed to it. Gossip Girl lifestyles seem luxurious to me, but they can’t possibly be as luxurious to the characters to whom a casual trip to the Chanel house before a $500 date is the only way to live (live. exist. whatever you want to call fiction. That show is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of “luxury” so I’m sticking to the comparison).

The quotation allowed me to realize that luxury is relative. It is different for everyone. It is different for me depending on my situation as well – for instance, after my tri-annual six-hour no-sleep flight to England, my flimsy dorm bed is all the luxury I need.

The first time I practiced yoga, the instructor defined the practice as “finding your limit and challenging it.” I’ve been hooked on the idea ever since, whether it’s increasing my flexibility through yoga, or decreasing the clutter through minimalism. As I become more comfortable with less, I also require less to feel luxurious. Since I usually air-dry my clothes, retrieving a load of laundry fresh and hot from the tumble dryer is a thrill. Reading most of my books on my kindle makes hardcovers, even paperbacks feel luxurious in my hands. Accepting a shiny pink Betsey Johnson bag with thick black ribbon handles is an indulgence, since I always carry reusable shopping bags.

However, depriving myself of pleasures just to experience it “in one gulp” is not the only reason I am a minimalist. In fact, many of the habits I have shed are not ones that I miss. Since I’ve been vegetarian, I have not craved meat. Since switching to Lush’s toothy tabs I can’t imagine going back to toothpaste. My home sock drawer seems overwhelmingly full compared to the easy-to-find pairs to which I have pared down (couldn’t resist that one) at uni.

So I tell myself: Live with what you need. Enjoy what you want. Keep challenging your limits.