This blog includes reflections, creative work and resources. It is a glimpse of one person's journey within the realm of inquiry, experience with the human body and spirit. Look for ideas rather than answers. No claims are made. Perfection is not implied. I write as inspired to do so. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you share anything from this blog, either verbally or in writing, please do your best to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for visiting.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Zen & The Process of Wardrobe Minimizing

By American standards I do not shop often or spend a lot on clothing yet have what seems like a lot of it!  It is time to get real, take stock, sort, donate and enjoy a little more simplicity.  To appreciate ebb and flow it feels alright to let the tide go out on the clothing, see it sweep away to somewhere else.

Let's visit examples of successful minimalist people I've known over the years:

- A woman who has a wardrobe in four solid colors:  white, khaki, black, denim.  Hanging in her closet are perhaps a dozen pieces all together, at least two pieces in each color with the most pieces in black.  Her clothing is carefully selected, a perfect fit and high quality.  I've known her to go to New York for a shopping trip once a year.  She always looks good.  If she wears cosmetics the effect is subtle.  She keeps up with her figure, hair and skin.  This woman is a yoga instructor so in addition to the hanging items she has a little folded stack of workout clothes.  Obviously if your occupation requires business attire more pieces would be helpful.

- At the home of another yoga instructor I discovered she owned just a few pairs of socks when she sent me to her room to borrow a pair.  Her closet was much like the previously mentioned woman:  no more than a dozen pieces.  And she always looked great.

- Another time a fellow shiatsu practitioner directed me to her room to borrow shorts for a session.  [Rest assured, if I come to your home chances are I will not have to borrow your clothes.]  The drawers were nearly bare and she had all she needed.

- I know a man who owns only a dozen pieces of everyday clothing.  He basically has a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, a swimsuit, a few t-shirts, a sweatshirt, a few casual collared shirts and 2-3 jackets.  He has a reasonably sized high quality business wardrobe for his occupation which he must have.

- In college there was a student from Bermuda.  All his clothing would transport on his body and in a knapsack between Bermuda and Long Island.  Not including education related material his personal belongings consisted of a sleeping bag, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of soap, 1 towel, deodorant and a surfboard.  I can ask an old college friend but he may not have even owned socks or a pillow.   

- My husband's cousin has been a world traveler for twenty years and had boiled down his needs to the very basics.  He came to visit for a week one summer with a pair of white pants, a pair of red polyester basketball shorts, a black t-shirt, a white "A" undershirt, a short sleeved colored button down, a pair of sneakers, a pair of black shoes, some underwear and socks.  Everywhere we went and everything we did he had the appropriate attire, from running, going to the beach, out to dinner and seeing a band play.  Indeed, he was attuned to my daily laundry cycles as he would always have two to three pieces to run through.

These six people are an inspiration.  If you're wondering, their choices were not out of being cash-strapped either.  In fact, all of them are/were financially quite alright. 

My husband and I recently finished a floor-to-ceiling wall cabinet in our bedroom.  It holds mostly clothing but also occasional linens, extra blankets and off season apparel.  When I started moving things into it a funny thing happened once the bursting closet started to gain space.  I came to appreciate space over unneeded items!  As I go through the decision making process it is peculiar.  Why did it feel hard to allow for an ebb cycle?  I do not demand the ocean have only a high tide.  Interesting!  I'm over it now and ready to tackle the job.  A charity can make a little money, someone can wear these things that have been hanging around and I gain a clearer mind.  Ebb & flow, ebb & flow, ebb & flow...

Something to consider is "shop therapy".  The show 'Til Debt Do Us Part on CNBC featured a busy, overwhelmed, in-debt-to-their-ears couple.  One of the several reasons for the debt was the woman's habit of shopping in order to have some time to herself, to "fill her cup".  With some help gaining perspective on her reasons behind the shopping, she joined a health club and used the time there to enjoy a break from her husband and children in order to attend to herself.  She was overweight so this solution addressed two aspects of her life being out of balance. 

Never in my formative years did I intended to live in a city of any sort.  Over the last 18 years there have been times of grappling with being in a densely populated area with all its noise and activity.  One period of time I noticed being drawn to garden art, bird feeders and statues in the stores.  Now, there's nothing wrong with buying a big cement toad.  But for me I noticed what was behind the desire to buy.  It was a desire for nature.  With the new awareness I simply started spending more quiet time outdoors.  This is off the topic of clothing but touches on "shop therapy".  Desire is not bad.  It may be helpful to look at desire from different angles in order to learn about yourself and to nudge and shape your decisions surrounding desire. 

A few final words in closing now.  In the 25 years I've been donating clothing to charity I have never once regretted a piece of apparel being gone.  And one cannot overlook the way of spiritual masters such as Jesus, The Buddha, Mother Theresa and Peace Pilgrim.  In the wisdom of a not-so masterful Tyler Durden in Fight Club, "The things you own... they own you."

All this said and yes, my dog has a coat...

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