Be-You-Tiful

Today I decided to finally cross off something of my ‘to do list’ I’ve been dreading for a long time now.

Those who know me know that I’m a sucker for pretty packaging, especially when it comes to makeup and beauty products, which resulted in me hoarding those things like crazy for the past few years. Especially the makeup was getting out of control. I bought makeup I would never even wear, but just bought because it looked so pretty or because “some day” I was really going to do a full face makeup on a regular basis. Well, “someday” never came and my makeup stash kept growing and growing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love makeup! I think it’s a wonderful thing to enhance your natural beauty a bit more. There have been times I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup on, but luckily I grew more confident about my own appearance and don’t need makeup to feel good about myself anymore. When I do apply makeup, it’s because I want it, not because I need it.

So today the long and difficult process of sorting out all my makeup and beauty supplies started. I already threw out a lot of it a few weeks ago, but there was still plenty left.

While sorting out all my makeup, I noticed I had a really hard time letting go of some of the items, especially the completely unused items and the expensive ones. It just felt like a waste to throw them out, which, of course, it was. But just because it’s a waste, doesn’t mean you should hold on to it. For me, it just didn’t feel right. All that stuff was weighing me down, because every time I saw it, I felt the pressure to use it. Something I didn’t want, because I don’t feel comfortable wearing foundation or lipstick, and believe me, I had a lot of those!

While I’m usually pretty down to earth when it comes to cleaning out my belongings, the little voice inside my head saying “but…” and “what if…” became pretty present during the few hours it took me to sort out all the makeup and beauty supplies. I guess the reason I had a harder time sorting those things out than sorting out clothing and other belongings, is because I always felt, until the past few years, that I needed makeup to feel okay about myself and to get accepted by others. My addiction to beauty supplies and makeup started at a young age, making it harder to let go of, because it had been such a big fundamental part of me for many years.

So what got me to finally throw out all that stuff? First of all, necessity. Necessity really is the mother of invention. It usually isn’t until we really need to, before we change. As you all could read in my previous blog, I’m moving next month and the new house is quite a bit smaller than my current one, calling for some serious minimalising. Second of all, the burden of all those products was becoming more and more present. Every time I opened up the drawer, there were those products again, becoming heavier on me everything I saw them. Third of all, those products represent the old me, the past, the times I felt incomplete  and unaccepted without makeup.

It became quite a process, but once I really got into the right mindset, it became a lot easier! Yes, it still was a struggle and it really made me realise how dependent a person can be on stuff, but it was worth it (oh, that reminds me of that brand new L’Oréal shampoo I really didn’t like I just got rid of). Something that really helped me was to Google ‘Minimalist Makeup Bag’ and to just look at the makeup supplies others have and to read there stories. So thank you all who are sharing there experiences with minimalism. Another thing that helped me, was to pick items that felt good to me. For instance, I had a lot of lip balms, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT! I only kept the ones based on natural products, and got rid of all the other ones.

Maybe you also could use a little bit of help sorting out your bathroom cabinets, so here are some tips that really helped me along.

  1. What are your favourite beauty items? Mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow? And which brands? Those are probably the items you use on a regular basis. Keep those items. Those are clearly the items you really like and use, so no need to throw them out. If you have extras of those items (like I do. I have a habit of buying extras of items I really love, in case they get discharged), store them until you run out of the one you’re currently using).
  2. Which beauty items you own do you never use? Even when you answered ‘mascara and eyeliner’ on the first question, you can still have mascaras and eyeliners lying around that you never use. Maybe you’ve bought them because the ad looked great or because of the nice packaging. Maybe you’ve tried them out ones and decided you didn’t like the product or maybe you never even broke the seal on the packaging. Throw those items out or give them away. These are the items that are cluttering your life and mind, weighing you down.
  3. Which beauty items you own don’t you like? Do you own lipsticks even though you really don’t like wearing them? Or maybe it’s foundation, blush, powder, whatever. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing it, it’s time to part with those items. You probably will never use them or if you do, you won’t feel good about it.
  4. Do you have a hard time throwing out unused items? Give them to someone else! Someone else might love them and that way, it might not feel as such a waste to you.
  5. Make a list! Sometimes something as simple as setting a certain amount of products you are “allowed” to keep, makes things a whole lot easier! That total amount is totally up to you, just pick a number that feels comfortable to you. Maybe that number is three, maybe 50, whatever makes you feel good. You can even create a list of products and put a number behind it (for instance: Mascara (2), eyeliner (4)).
Some of the items that made the cut

All the items I ended up with

Here’s the list of items I ended up with. My total amount came down to 30. It still seems like a lot, but right now, these are the items I feel comfortable keeping. If it turns out I won’t be using some of these items, I will get rid of them.

Eyes

  • Mascara (2)
  • Eyeliner (5)
  • Eyeshadow primer (1)
  • Eyebrow pencil (1)
  • Eyelash curler (1)
  • Eyeshadow (3)

Face

  • BB cream (1)
  • Face primer (1)
  • Powder (1)
  • Blush (1)
  • Bronzer (1)
  • Concealer (2)
  • Highlighter (1)

Lips

  • Lip balm (3)
  • Lipstick (1)

Miscellaneous

  • Clear nail polish (1)
  • Fast dry drops (1)
  • Pencil sharpener (1)
  • Baby powder (1)
  • Hand cream (1)
Untitled-2

Some of the items that made the cut

In the end, I’m really proud of how I handled this process. It might seem trifle to some, like it’s just throwing out makeup, but to me it was closing a chapter of my life. It took me two full years to realise that I don’t need all that stuff to feel good about myself, that I don’t need makeup to be pretty, so to finally getting rid of all those beauty supplies and makeup items really meant a lot to me. I feel so much lighter now and the items I kept, are items I really love.

All the items I got rid of

All the items I got rid of


Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

It’s that time of year again: the minimalist in me is screaming and kicking to be let out. I recently came across Project 333, which introduced me to the concept of the Capsule Wardrobe. Basically, this challenge holds its foundation on creating a completely functional wardrobe with 33 items, including shoes, accessories and outerwear, which you’ll be wearing for 3 months. However, being the extremist that I am, I just decided to empty out my closet, pick 33 items and throw everything else out, permanently. So no box somewhere stuffed back in a garage holding items from my non-33 items wardrobe for me to take out again after the 3 months are over. I do have to add a disclaimer to this: My 33 items list will consist, for now, only of clothing. Even though I’m taking a bit of an extremist approach to this challenge, I do take the advice I read somewhere on the website of making this challenge work for YOU seriously. So to make this challenge work for me, I’m not taking my jewellery into account as far as the list goes. 1. Because I want to. 2. Because my jewellery takes home in a very pretty inherited wooden case, so it makes no difference in counter or closet space whether there’s one pair of earrings or ten. 3. Because I want to LIKE doing challenges like these, I don’t want it to become an unbearable suffering. Same goes for purses and bags. I already threw out about eight or nine purses and bags during my last cleaning spree, but I still have more than necessary. Not sure if I’ll be cutting down on those yet 1. Because I don’t want to. 2. Because I store a purse in a purse in a purse, so it takes up little extra space. 3. Because see above. I do however want to keep track of which purses and bags I do and don’t use for six months and throw out the ones I haven’t been using after that period of time. Same concept for shoes, coats and jackets. I might be downsizing even more in the future, but for now, I’m just sticking with the clothes.

Because I had to start somewhere, I took the list form one of the articles on the website and started tweaking it for my needs. For instance, on the list you can read that there’s only one pair of jeans and some other forms of pants, such as dress pants and chinos. The only kind of pants I wear are jeans and shorts… Same with blazers. I own one, a black one I’m not even sure I can close anymore, and that’s all I need, because I rarely have to dress formal. Dresses; I dislike those things with a passion. I love how they look on others, but I just feel incredibly uncomfortable when wearing them. So I basically keep about three of them just in case of a funeral or wedding, that kind of stuff. Same goes for heels, I hate walking in heels, but keep one pair just in case. I do own a ton of jackets and coats though, along with a huge stack of t-shirts, long sleeved shirts and tank tops.

The way I usually clean out my closet, is by just throwing everything on the bed and put things into four piles:

  • Love
  • Like
  • Want
  • Broken

However, because I gained some weight recently, something which never happened to me before, I now also have to take an extra point into consideration:

  • Fits

The system is really simple: if I love it and it fits, I get to keep it. If I like it, it has to fit and somehow has to go well with the clothes I love and there needs to be space for it. If I want it, it’s usually something I don’t fit anymore or that doesn’t pairs well with my other clothes. I do keep two items in my closet that I don’t fit anymore, but are so pretty I can’t let go of them yet (one pair of flared legged jeans and a beautiful black polka dotted dress). Also in the ‘want’ category, I have one floral printed dress, completely out of my colour chart, but which I like so much, I keep it (luckily, it still fits!). The ‘broken’ pile is easy: trash bin. All the other clothing that’s still fine, but which I don’t want to keep, I’ll donate or give to friends.

As I was trying things on, I came to the conclusion that none of the three shorts I had still fitted. One I could still put on, but it was so tight, it almost amputated my legs. So a new pair of shorts is something I need to buy. UPDATE: I went out the next day and bought a new pair of jeans shorts and a pair of bootcut dark washed jeans. So when I got home I switched out the too tight pair of shorts for the new pair and added the extra pair of jeans to my clothing collection. A good rule to live by is “One in, One out”. If you buy something new, get rid of something old. In this case I only followed this rule partially, as I only took out one item, while I bought two new ones. However, I felt the need to add an extra pair of jeans to my wardrobe and that extra pair brings me to the amount of three pairs of jeans, which makes me more comfortable than owning two pairs. Again, make things work for YOU.

Funny thing that happened while cleaning out my closet: I came across an adorable black jacket that I forgot I owned. For most of the time when that happens, I just throw the item out. However, I tried this jacket on and it looked really nice! Jackets and coats are not part of my 33 items, but they will all be on my watch list to check if I’ve actually worn them by December 31st.

There are still some items on the ‘maybe’ pile, despite me kicking and screaming that I wouldn’t be keeping a box with clothing I’m not sure about yet. On the ‘maybe’ pile right now are one light blue t-shirt, one jeans button up, one purple fleece sweater and one beige cardigan. These items are allowed to stay in my closet until September 30th (so, till the end of summer basically). If I haven’t worn them by then, they need to go. I put them in with the rest of the stuff to see if I will grab them when getting dressed.

UPDATE 01/05/2014: Two items on the ‘maybe’ pile went straight to the trash today: the jeans button up and the purple fleece sweater. I was folding all my clothing neatly today and came across those two items and thought to myself: “Why do I keep these items? I don’t feel all that comfortable wearing them and I haven’t worn them last year, so it’s highly unlikely that I will this year…”. So I got rid of them.

UPDATE 04/05/2014: On the list, nr. 24, you can see that I had a white t-shirt in my wardrobe. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? It was the only white shirt that was left after the big purge (to be honest, I only had two white t-shirts to begin with and threw out one of them during the purge). But every time I opened the drawer with my shirts in it, I saw that shirt and it made me feel uncomfortable. I liked the butterfly print on it, but the fabric and the cut of the shirt was just not working for me. So why did I keep it, I asked myself? Because I think a white shirt should be a staple in every person’s wardrobe. So I went on a quest today to find a replacement for that white t-shirt. It had to be figure flattering, reasonably prices, comfortable and no need to iron. And I found one! As soon as I got home, I threw the other white shirt in the trash to make room for the new one.

I initially intended to keep a dark blue dress as well, for more formal occasions. But the thing with that dress is that it wrinkles like crazy and I NEVER iron anything. So that dress needed to go.

So now it’s time to present to you *drumroll*: My final list!

  1. Black dress
  2. Flower dress
  3. Grey skirt
  4. Jeans (skinny, light)
  5. Jeans (skinny, dark)
  6. Jeans (bootcut, dark)
  7. Shorts (jeans, distressed)
  8. White sweater
  9. Black knitted sweater
  10. Blue sweater
  11. Green sweater
  12. Grey vest
  13. White vest
  14. Black vest
  15. Blue cardigan
  16. Grey cardigan
  17. Black cardigan
  18. Beige cardigan (short)
  19. Black blazer
  20. Blue tank top
  21. White tank top
  22. Blue t-shirt
  23. Blue t-shirt
  24. White t-shirt
  25. Black t-shirt
  26. Grey long sleeved shirt
  27. Purple long sleeved shirt
  28. Brown long sleeved shirt
  29. Blue long sleeved shirt
Just a few of the items that are left in my wardrobe which I really love

Just a few of the items that are left in my wardrobe which I really love

I’m actually really proud of myself that I’ve managed to keep my list even below 33 items! To be honest, when I started cleaning out my closet, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to get the list down to 33… Sure, I might still add some items to the list in the future, such as a new dress or skirt that makes me feel comfortable and maybe a grey t-shirt. But I’m also pretty sure that I’ll take some things off this list as well. Maybe shirts that I turn out not to like as much as I do now and vests and sweaters that get worn down by the end of next winter.

But for now I’m down to 29 items and 4 items still on the ‘maybe’ pile. Keep in mind that this list of items consists of a year-round wardrobe, so there are no separate lists for each season. Partially because the seasons in the Netherlands are not all that extreme and some years even non-existing, and partially because I didn’t really even think about that when cleaning out my closet.

I fully recommend this challenge, whether it being in it’s original form or adapted like I did, to everyone. I went with the 33 items of clothing as a maximum, but you can also opt for 50 items in total or whatever feels right to you. I just feel so much calmer now I don’t have to open my closet every single day with all those items just laying there, making me feel stressed and guilty that I’ve spent money on those things and am never wearing them. Because of this challenge, there are now only things in my closet that I either definitely will be wearing (about 75% I guess) or items that I’ll either will start loving again or that I’ll be throwing out by the end of the year.

I feel as if the more items you own, the more energy it takes from you, the more it will clutter not only your home, but also your mind. By giving minimalism a try in a way that makes you feel inspired, motivated and happy, you’re giving yourself the chance to make more out of life.

Why I believe animals deserve a higher place in modern society

This is a subject that usually causes a riot when discussed. A lot of people are against this idea, because it’s their believe that animals don’t have feelings and are put on this earth for humans to dominate and use them and to rule over their lives. Most humans believe they are at the top of the food chain.

However, there are also those who do believe in this statement. I’m one of those people and I strongly believe animals should have a higher place in modern society.

First of all, I don’t believe people even have a higher place in society than animals. We’re an arrogant specie, entitling ourselves to be superior over other species and dumbing animals down, claiming they don’t have feelings and are worthless to society, other than providing food and needs for humans. I always wonder why humans believe they are at the top of the food chain. We’re not faster or stronger than a great deal of animals. Yes, we humans have a great deal of intelligence at our disposal. But then again we’re also the only species who are bent on killing the very planet that sustains all life. Intelligence is relative.

Also, animals don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves, so I believe humans should do that for them. Do I think animals should rule human society? No, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to kill, abuse, starve, torture and slaughter other living creatures. It’s illegal to kill another human being, but somehow it’s okay to kill and harm animals, as if that’s any less worse. It’s an illusion that our treatment of animals has no moral significance.

Finally, animals are not ours, animals are not things. They are living creatures, just like humans. Animals actually do have feelings. By not responding on the torture that’s going on, we actually do respond. We are equally responsible for what we don’t do. To me, it’s not about if animals can reason or talk, but about the question “Can they suffer?”.

I want to believe in Leonardo da Vinci’s wish: that one day the time will come when men will look upon the murder and harm of animals as they now look upon the murder of men. And if slaughterhouses and factory farms would have glass walls, would you still be able to look an animals in the eyes and say you can’t see the pain we humans are causing? Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.

When spending less money becomes a need

Spending less can be a fun challenge and even a great lifestyle change. However, when spending less becomes a necessity instead of something you just do because you want to, it become a whole lot less fun to do.

When I started this blog my goal was to spend less money, to consume less stuff and to be happier this way. And for me it worked! I was able to kick my shopping addiction to the curb and even had some money on my savings account. I wanted to do this, so I could be happier. And that’s what I got: I got happier by spending and owning less stuff.

But now spending less is no longer something I just want, but it became something I need to do if I want to be able to pay my rent at the end of the month. And when something becomes a need instead of a want, it all of a sudden becomes a bit stressful and not so much fun anymore.

As some of you may or may not know, at the beginning of September I went back to college, for the first time in years. Before, there were an awful lot of reasons why I wasn’t able to study, but that’s a story for another time. So, I’m a college student now and as we all know, college is expensive. I’m okay with that, I study something I truly love and which will give me a better future. But that doesn’t take the fact away that there’s even less money left at the end of the month.

Somewhere around mid-September one of my cats, Tijger, got seriously ill and I had to take him to the vet. Luckily he’s okay now and I thank God for that, but can you say “ka-ching!”? He also needs to stay on a special diet for the rest of his life, which I’m more than happy to provide because I love my cats more than anything, but, once again, it leaves even less money at the end of the month than there already was (or wasn’t) before.

As you can see there are multiple cost that got bigger and bigger over the past few months. Cost I’m willing to pay because they are worth it. But because of these extra costs, me wanting to spend less money became me needing to spend less money. So how do you deal with that? Here are some tips to help you deal with money stress.

Appreciate what you already have

This might sounds like an obvious tip, but a lot of people don’t really see how lucky they already are. When money is tight, the thought about what you can’t buy can quickly become overwhelming. This is a very negative mindset. It might help you out if you start to think about what you already do own and to realise that that’s enough (here’s the minimalistic thought again). I don’t have a lot of money, in fact, at the end of my money there’s still some month left. But that’s okay. I can provide the basic needs (food and shelter), I can take care of my two cats and sometimes there’s even some money left for a new pair of jeans or whatever. Look inside you closet, look around you, and ask yourself: Do I really need that new dress or is it just something I want and why?

Of course, if you’re no longer able to provide the basic needs, you can appreciate all you want, but that appreciation won’t be able to give you food and shelter. If this is the case, please seek contact with your local authorities for help.

Regain control over your financial situation

Make sure you know exactly how much money you earn and spend each and every month. This way you won’t have to stress out when you’re buying groceries or whatever, because you know exactly how much you have to spend. Make a feasible budget and stick to it.

Try to stay out of debt

If you’re already in debt, seek the help of a professional to help you out. If you’re not in debt, do your best to stay that way! Debts bring stress with them and when money is already tight, debt-related stress is the last thing you’ll need. And yes, sometimes you have to maintain an extremely sober lifestyle in order to stay out of trouble, but so be it. When money is tight and there’s nothing more you can do to change that, you sometimes have to realise that for now you won’t be able to go to the cinema, to eat out or to go clubbing with your friends. This is not the end of the world. There are a lot of fun activities you can do at home, without it costing you a single penny. For instance, watch a movie at home with your friends, do yoga, go running, go to the local petting zoo, go on a hike through nature, write, take pictures etcetera.

Choose to build a wealthy future

Use your money to create a secure financial future instead of spending it on material possessions. This way you’ll get a feeling of freedom and peace, something spending money you don’t have on all the expensive toys in the world will never give you. The first step to a less materialistic future is realising that money won’t buy you happiness. And yes, that is a cliché, but clichés are clichés because they are true. Of course, you need money to provide the basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. But when money, or rather spending money, start to take over your life, it’s time to take a real hard look at what’s really going on. Are you trying to fill a hole by buying stuff you don’t really need? Because that’s what I did. I felt so much sadness and I was really lonely, that I kept buying things just to feel a spark of happiness, even if it was for just a few seconds. Or maybe, there’s another reason why you’re so caught up in materialistic possessions. If you feel you can’t deal with the underlying issue by yourself, I highly recommend seeking the help of a professional, there’s not shame in that!

Do what works for you

Try to find a way of spending less that works for you in the long run. Maybe that’s by quitting materialism cold turkey or maybe by bringing your budget for clothing down just a little bit. Try to make your changes last, to create new habits that will help you and feel good to you even years from now. For me that was seeking the help of a professional to help me with my psychological issues, to create a healthier lifestyle for myself and to realise how blessed I already am, and that that has nothing to do with stuff.

Miss Minimalist

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is a bit of a late announcement, but Upgrading Your Life With Less got featured on Miss Minimalist!

Click here for the original post

So here’s what I wrote:

Minimalism… Until about a year ago I never even heard of it. I mean, I knew about minimalistic art and design and found it to be utterly boring. I like colors, bold prints, wonderful fabrics! So, how did I fall in love with minimalism then? It’s a funny story really. Or, well, not really. But it has a very bright silver lining to it though! So stick with me.

About 2 years ago, I collapsed at work. Just dropped on the floor, totally blacked out for a moment. Turned out I was overworked. And not just overworked in the way that I needed a few days off to sleep a bit, regain some strength. Overworked as in the way of not being able to sleep at night, because all I could think about was my job and what would happen if I failed at it, overworked as in the way of not seeing my friends and family anymore, because all I did was work and after that I was too tired to do anything else. Overworked as in the way of yelling and screaming at my beloved boyfriend and my sweet feline friends about every little thing, because I was so tired and stressed out all of the time. Overworked as in not eating well anymore, because I had no time and energy to prepare meals. Overworked as in feeling like the only way I could make myself feel worthy and not like a total failure was by buying stuff, lots and lots of stuff…

So, that’s what I did, I bought stuff, and some more stuff, and some more. Shopping was like a drug to me. I would feel good for just a moment, but after that I would feel even worse than before. I’m pretty sure I was addicted to it. Until one day. It was about a year after I collapsed. I left my job after that horrible day, stayed home for a whole year, just to get a grip on reality again, to regain some energy, spirit and strength. After that year I felt ready. I didn’t knew for what, but I was ready for whatever would come my way. As I was browsing the Internet, I came across a weblog, called the Zen Habits. I started reading and a light went on. This was what I needed! To regain clarity of mind I needed to clear out my life!

So, I started right away. Not only did I deleted all phone numbers of people who were toxic to me, I also dropped all beauty products I needed to value myself. After that I went to my closet. Armed with a dozen trash bags I tackled all the clothing that I had that made me feel uncomfortable and/or didn’t fit my body or my personality. I felt so relieved, so… light! So my journey continued. I was reading every blog I could find about minimalism, including the wonderful Miss Minimalist, and I became more and more enthusiastic.

It has been a year now, and I feel better than ever. I don’t have to worry about stuff anymore and I regained my self-worth by realizing that I am not my stuff. I still feel like I’m on a journey when it comes to minimizing my lifestyle and belongings, but isn’t the journey part of the fun? I think it is!

Looking back at before I made the chance that might have saved my life, I felt like the wheel was turning, but the hamster was long dead. I think I knew all along that my way of living wouldn’t make me happy, and I’m so thankful for discovering minimalism. It gave me back my life.