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


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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.

Making money the minimalistic way

As I told you guys in my last post I had quite a big amount of books, DVD’s and CD’s I wanted to get rid of. So, today I packed it all in some bags and little brother and I went to a second-hand bookstore. The guy there took a look at it all and chose whatever he wanted.

He wanted 27 books, 9 DVD’s and I gave him all the CD’s for free. He paid me € 50,00 (around 64,07 USD/43,01 GBP) for the whole lot!

So today I actually made some money by cleaning out some stuff I don’t even use and/or need!

IMG_7381Look at that crispy new bill!

The rest of the books I’ll be giving away to a local thrift store and to my in-laws, who also really like books!

I even managed to redecorate my living room a bit by ducking up some old cushion covers and vases and replace the current ones with them. Didn’t cost a thing!

213 Items less to weigh me down

213, seems like a bit of an odd number, doesn’t it? Well, let me explain. A few days ago I suddenly felt the urge to clean out my house, to get rid of all the stuff I don’t use. So, I grabbed a few trash bags, boxes and other bags and started with my closet. I took everything out, threw it on the bed and just started dividing the clothes into three piles: 1 pile for clothes I wanted to keep, 1 for clothes that I wanted to donate and 1 for clothes that needed to be thrown away (because they had holes in them and stuff). After that came the shoes, and then the belts, and then the books, DVD’s, CD’s… And after all was done, there were 213 items that I’m either donating or selling. And here’s what that looks like.

Untitled-1Look at all that stuff. I really have no idea how I’ve ever managed to fit all that, AND all the clothing that’s still left, in my Ikea MALM 6-drawer chest (especially because I only use 4 out of those 6 drawers for clothing). I must say, in this case, I’m a bit amazed by my own packing skills…

Untitled-2I’ll be selling all these items to a second-hand bookstore. Whatever they don’t want, I’ll give away.

Just a quick observation which came to mind while typing this blog and having the TV on at the same time: Commercials (whether they are on TV, in magazines, out on the streets or whatever) are all about separating you from your money. It’s never about making your life better.

Anyway, I’m glad I’m going to get rid of all this stuff. I feel so light and free!

When you talk a lot but don’t say anything …

I saw this movie once, called “The Princess Diaries”. I like Anne Hathaway, I like romantic comedies and I like cats, so the movie was perfect for me. But I also like it when a movie makes me think about stuff. In this case it was this one line that got me thinking for years: And then I realized, how many stupid times a day I say the word “I”.

I say the word “I” numerous times a day (in the last few sentences I used the word 6, no wait, 7 times already). Why? Well, I guess it’s because when I don’t know what to add to a conversation, I tell about something that happened to me that can be linked to the subject. Afterwards I feel really bad and start wondering why people never tell me to shut up.

So what is it that makes people like to talk about themselves?

Why this subject all of a sudden? Today one of my best friends told me something about myself that made my cheeks turn red because of the shame I felt. It had to do with me talking about, well, me a lot of times sometimes. Research led by Diana Tamir shows that the same brain circuits that are triggered by money and food are also triggered by self-disclosure, even when it is something as insignificant as telling others whether you like Harry Potter or not.

So if you’re a bit like me, finding yourself going on about yourself sometimes, these tips might help you out:

Talk less. Add a small gap of silence between the end of the speaker’s thoughts and your response. It will minimize your tendency to interrupt and may encourage the speaker to open up more.

Be approachable & receptive. Genuinely want to listen. Authentic sincerity creates an atmosphere of trust. Be receptive to the speaker’s needs – he/she might just need you to listen, and not try to fix his problem (sometimes being listened to is enough). Listen with a non-judgmental attitude. Allow the speaker to fully explain his/her position, problem etc., before jumping in with your reply. Don’t interrupte, it will give the speaker a sense of importance and a potential self-esteem boost. Look at the speaker with interest, but not with a quizzical expression that may imply something is wrong.

Give the speaker your complete attention. Stop whatever you’re doing and completely focus on the discussion (eliminate distractions. Turn off your email, send all calls to voicemail, and close the door to limit outside distractions, if necessary). Face the speaker directly and make frequent eye contact to let him know that what he’s saying is important to you. Acknowledge key points with a nod, smile or brief comment  (like: “I see,” “I understand,” “right,” etc.) but be careful to not be too repetitive with your comments, as it can make you seem insincere.

Maintain appropriate body language. Make eye contact (but don’t stare) and lean slightly forward to show your interest. Face the speaker directly. Stand or sit close enough to the speaker to show your interest, but not so close as to make him/her uncomfortable. Gently nod your head to acknowledge a point and encourage the speaker to continue. Change your facial expression (a smile or a concerned look) to show you understand. Adjust your chair so you’re eye level with the speaker to avoid creating an atmosphere of superiority. Pay attention to the speaker’s body language. His/her tone or volume of voice, facial expressions, body movements and gestures may have a different meaning than his/her words (he.she says he/she’s excited about a project, but speaks in a flat tone while sitting back in his/her chair).

Sincerely work to understand the message. Listen with the genuine intent to understand what the speaker is communicating. Make a mental note of questions to ask when the speaker has finished sharing his/her thoughts, so you don’t interrupt (the speaker may clarify the issue hisself/herself by the time he/she’s done speaking). Focus on the message rather than the delivery or choice of words. The latter can distract you from the value of what’s being said. To eliminate any misunderstandings, check yourself by rephrasing what you heard (“So you’re saying…”).

Ask relevant, open-ended questions to clarify and learn more (“What do you mean by that?” or “When you say…”)

For anyone who’s interessted in more information, you might like to visit http://www.talklesslistenmore.com/pdf/ebookletsep.pdf from which I got most of the information myself.