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Joshua Fields Millburn

Thoughts about Fashion and Minimalism

Joshua Becker & Ruth Carter - Two Well-dressed Minimalists at Ignite Phoenix #16 (Photo by Tom Stokes, Creative Commons License)

Joshua Becker & Ruth Carter – Two Well-dressed Minimalists at Ignite Phoenix #16 (Photo by Tom Stokes, Creative Commons License)

About a month ago, a friend asked me to comment on Joshua Becker’s post 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day. This article brings up a lot of good points – if you have a personal uniform (i.e., Steve Jobs and his turtleneck and Mark Zuckerberg and his gray t-shirt), you save time and energy getting dressed in the morning. And you save money by not having an expansive wardrobe.

It appears the capsule wardrobe is catching on – a wardrobe of interchangeable pieces. Some people who are trying to be more minimalistic with their wardrobe do Project 333 – wearing a wardrobe that consists of 33 pieces for a 3-month period. I understand the concept of these ideas, but they’ve never appealed to me.

Being a minimalist has never been about limiting myself to owning a specific number of items but limiting myself to possessions that add value to my life. When it comes to the role of fashion in my life, I love this quote from Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists:

Now nearly everything I own is my favorite thing. All my clothes are my favorite clothes. All my furniture is my favorite furniture. All my possessions are my favorite possessions—all of which I enjoy every day of my life.

I love wearing clothes that make me feel good – soft fabrics, comfortable cuts, and items that make me feel beautiful. If I’m not seeing clients, my everyday outfit tends to consist of jeans, a t-shirt, comfortable shoes, and a hoodie or cardigan if it’s chilly. When I’m speaking, I’ll trade in my hoodie for a blazer. If I’m seeing clients, I may take my outfit up a notch to dress pants, a button-down shirt, a tank top, and dress shoes.

Here are two of the things I do to make sure I’m mostly keeping the clothes I love:

1. The Hanger Flip. At the beginning of the year, I reverse all the hangers in my closet. When I put a garment away after wearing it, I flip the hanger back to the proper direction. After a few weeks, I can see what garments I’m wearing the most. By fall, I can usually tell what I should get rid of because I can see what I haven’t worn through the previous warm and cold seasons.

2. Select the Day’s Outfit in a Vacuum. I don’t open a drawer or step into my closet in the morning until I’ve decided what I want to wear. I don’t use visual cues but rather my knowledge of my wardrobe and that day’s calendar to select my outfit. It forces me to go with my gut feeling about what I really want to wear instead of getting lost considering all the possibilities.

The size of my wardrobe has diminished substantially over the last few years and I love it. (There’s no reason to own 15 sweaters when I consistently wear only 4 of them.) I love that my wardrobe is simple and filled with mostly classic pieces and awesome t-shirts. It makes getting dressed every day so much easier. I know that everything I own fits, serves a purpose, and feels good against my sensitive skin.

Day 9/90 – WordTasting Tour

Day 9 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? The WordTasting Tour stop at Changing Hands featuring Colin Wright, Josh Wagner, Skye Steele, and Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists!

Two Pasty-Pale Minimalists - with Joshua Fields Millburn

Two Pasty-Pale Minimalists – with Joshua Fields Millburn

I became familiar with The Minimalists at the beginning of my journey with minimalism. I came away from their talk at SXSW buzzing with ideas for de-cluttering my life. I saw them again during their tour following the release of Everything That Remains, which inspired me even more. I also ripped off Ryan Nicodemus’ packing party idea when I moved to my new home.

The WordTasting Tour was a fantastic experience to connect with other minimalists and aspiring minimalists and to meet others in the minimalist community – like Colin Wright. He moves to a new country every 4 months and lives like a local to learn new cultures and see the world from a different perspective. Each of these authors is an incredible wordsmith, and they were accompanied and complemented by Skye Steele’s music. This guy is wicked talented.

With Skye Steele

With Skye Steele

I walked away from this event inspired, not only to be more dedicated to minimalism (remembering that things are just tools and focusing on the activities that add value to my life and allow me to add value to others’ lives) but also to my writing. Joshua Fields Millburn has an eloquent saying: “Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.” But I think the most profound thing I heard at this event came from a poem by Josh Wagner: “Shut your mouth and scream.” As a writer, this line spoke to me. It reminded me to quit dicking around and do what I need to do, say what I need to say.

In case you missed it: Day 8 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I almost met The Namby Pamby!

The Undeniable Recap of 2014

Wow – 2014 was a year for change for me. I never would have predicted that so much would be different in 12 months’ time – mostly for the better. It has been a tumultuous ride but I think it’s allowing to lay the foundation for more good things to come.

I keep a running document for The Undeniable Recap from the beginning of the year and it’s so fun to look back and remember everything I did in the last year. It’s always hard to come up with the top 5 events for the year but here goes.

Photo by Julia Kolsrud

Photo by Julia Kolsrud

1. We Moved! I’d been living in my parents’ second home since I moved to Phoenix and I decided it was time for Rosie and me to get our own place. After months of searching, I found a condo that I fell in love with at first sight. It’s less than half the size of our old place – just 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, an office, and an open kitchen/dining/living room. It’s the perfect place for a girl and her dog.

2. The Packing Party. I read about Ryan Nicodemus’ “packing party” in the book Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn. I’ve been an aspiring minimalist for a few years now and moving gave me a chance to step it up a notch. When I moved, I put everything in boxes and only unpacked what I needed when I needed it. It took 72 days to go through all my boxes and a lot of my stuff is going to charity. It was eye-opening to see how little I need to be comfortable.

3. Week in Wickenburg. At the recommendation of my therapist, I spent 5 days in Wickenburg last spring at a workshop at The Meadows. It was an intense experience where I got to do a lot of personal development work and look at who I am, what’s important to me, and when I’m in a hand basket. And with no computer or cell phones allowed on the campus, it was a valuable centering experience.

Post-Brunch Handstand - Photo by Erika Brown

Post-Brunch Handstand – Photo by Erika Brown

4. Birthday Stories. I had the most awesome birthday this year. I always take the day off on my birthday to do whatever I want. This year I asked my friends to send me stories about something related to our friendship. Dozens of people responded. I spent a few hours curled up in front of my laptop taking a wonderful trip down memory lane. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to thank each of you who contributed individually but know that your stories were very much appreciated!

5. Lindsey’s Wedding Weekend. The best trip I took in 2014 was for Lindsey’s wedding in the Bay Area. I’ve known Lindsey since she was probably 7. We were gymnastics teammates and we’ve been friends for decades. It was great to get back to my old stomping ground where I crammed in as many people as I could in a 72-hour period – teammates, coaches, and other friends. And to top it all off, I got to see Lindsey get married. Of course we had a post-wedding handstand contest.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Firsts in 2014
Aerial Yoga class
Polar Plunge
Encyclopedia Show
Yelling at a server at Buffalo Wild Wings (not my best moment)
Performing at the Orpheum
World’s Largest Pi Fight
Mass mailing for Carter Law Firm in honor of Captain Kirk’s Future Birthday
Virtual Presentation at a Conference – ABA TechShow 2014

Poolside Rosie

Poolside Rosie

Batting cages
Getting crapped on by a bird
Day trip to Jerome
10K race that I ran the whole time
Visit to the big dinosaur in Gila Bend
Ice Bucket Challenge
Overnight trip to Sedona w/ Rosie’s first hotel stay
Buying real furniture for my new place
Ignite Phoenix After Hours at The Mint
Driving myself to Prescott
Hiking the Wind Cave Trail
Local Events: Arizona Wind Symphony Performance, Art Detour, Scottsdale Arts Festival, Tempe Arts Festival, Heard Museum, and Zoolights

Hanging with Peter Shankman

Hanging with Peter Shankman

Medical Firsts: Cardiac ultrasound, Beta blocker, Anti-depressant, Stress test
Food Firsts: Pho, Rutabaga, Matzo ball soup, Sugar cookie in a mug,

Celebrity Sightings
The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The Oatmeal – aka Matt Inman
Chris Guillebeau
Peter Shankman

Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 10.5 – Finished the Packing Party!

End of the Packing Party: Boxes for Charity, December 21, 2014

End of the Packing Party: Boxes for Charity, December 21, 2014

Put a fork in me. I’m done! My packing party is over.

In the last 72 days, I moved to a new condo and left all my things in boxes and suitcases until I needed them. During the last month, I went through each box and bag and decided what remaining things would “survive” and what would be donated to charity. I finished the last box this morning.

Last week I had three boxes and a few clothing items in my suitcase to go. Many of the books survived because they are resources I’ll use at work, like my Blue Book for legal citations but most of them are in a box with a 1-year limit to read and/or donate them to charity. All of my remaining clothing items survived, mainly because they’re professional clothes and I’m joining a law firm next year. Besides, I do a systematic annual closet clean-out which will show me what I am and am not wearing.

There is a stack of 9 boxes and a few other items that will donated to charity. I had 9 boxes of things to give away after I did my big minimalism project in 2013 and got rid of a bunch of stuff before I moved. This process really showed me how much stuff I don’t use and what types of things I keep around “just in case.” I need very little to be comfortable. And having an uncluttered home helps me feel calm and focused on what matters.

So what’s next?

  • The humane society will be picking up the charity boxes to sell my stuff at their thrift store.
  • I’m moving into my new office in January so the baby gate, office dog bed, office boxes, and many of my framed wall hangings (i.e., diplomas) will be going there.
  • I ordered an oversized reading chair for my home office and a dining set. They’ll be delivered after the holiday. I’m still considering getting a swivel chair to put next to the couch, but I want to see how the condo feels once the boxes are gone and the furniture arrives first.
  • I want to hire my handy man to install a big 4’x6’ white board in my home office and a wall or ceiling-mounted bike rack to get my bike more out of the way.

Like I said last week, minimalism is an ongoing to process of putting my time, energy, and money into things that add value to my life and clearing out the things that don’t. I’m excited to see how I feel and if anything shifts once all the boxes are gone and the furniture has been delivered.

Here’s how the place looks now. I’ll shoot another video after the next furniture delivery.

Thank you to Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists for inspiring me to do my own packing party. I enjoyed reading about your journey in Joshua Field Millburn’s book, Everything That Remains. I look forward to seeing the documentary about minimalism and your book tour.

Other updates from the Minimalism in 90 Days project:
What was Unpacked During Week 1
What was Unpacked During Week 2
What was Unpacked During Week 3
What was Unpacked During Week 4
What was Unpacked During Week 5
What was Unpacked During Week 6
Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 7
Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 8
Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 9

Minimalism in 90 Days Update from Week 7

I'll be going through these boxes by the end of the month.

I’ll be going through these boxes by the end of the month.

I am just over 7 weeks into my variation of Ryan Nicodemus’(of The Minimalists) “packing party.” I still have my notebook where I track what I unpack and get rid of each day, but at this point it seems almost redundant to post the day-by-day list of what I’m using, unpacking, and donating to charity. If you’re really interested in seeing the daily lists, let me know.

I finally went a day where I didn’t unpack anything because I needed it. However, I’m unpacking things if I know they’re going to survive the final cleanout and adding them to the charity pile the moment I know that an item is not going to survive, so even on that day where I didn’t “unpack” anything, items still came out of the boxes. But in case you are wondering, that fateful day was Day 49.

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m using this minimalism project as a way to avoid fully settling into my condo. So I’m using this month to do the final cleanout. I’m trying to go through a box a day and at least unpack the things that I know for sure are going to survive the final cleanout. If I find an item that I’ve forgotten that I had, that’s a pretty good indicator that that item can be added to the charity pile. If it wasn’t important enough to remember, it’s probably not important enough to keep. Also, as soon as my brain has placed an item in a particular place in my condo, I try to unpack it, even if it’s an item that someone might consider frivolous like a flower vase or a stuffed animal.

Charity boxes 12-2-2014

Four full boxes going to charity! More to be added I’m sure.

My goal by the end of this month is to have all the minimalism boxes out of the condo and to have at least ordered the final pieces of furniture that I want, which include a dining set, armchairs for the living room and office, a white board for my office, and a floor lamp for my office. I might end up with more furniture than what other minimalists might have, and I’m OK with that. Minimalism isn’t about having less than what others have, and using it like a badge of honor. It’s about having things in my life that give me value without having the things that don’t. For me, it’s important to have a home that is cozy, inviting, and comfortable so I’m diligent about selecting furniture and fabrics that are comforting.

I’ll keep shooting videos of this project, and I might start doing some where I open the remaining minimalism boxes and to talk about what will survive the final cleanout, what definitely won’t survive, and to talk about the uncertainty I have about whether I should or shouldn’t keep an item. One thing I know that has been handy in the past is Joshua Fields Millburn’s 20/20 rule which he talks about in his book Everything That Remains. His suggestion is that it shouldn’t be a big deal to get rid of something if it takes less than 20 minutes and less than $20 to replace.

I’m looking forward to having this portion of my minimalism project complete and sharing the journey with you.

Other updates from the Minimalism in 90 Days project:
What was Unpacked During Week 1
What was Unpacked During Week 2
What was Unpacked During Week 3
What was Unpacked During Week 4
What was Unpacked During Week 5
What was Unpacked During Week 6

New Project: Minimalism in 90 Days

I’m taking my minimalism project to the next level. When I moved to Phoenix ten years ago, I moved into my parents’ second home – lovely two bedroom, two bathroom, 1800 square foot, furnished place with a pool and a yard. It’s been a wonderful home but it’s time for Rosie and me to get our own place. I recently found a condo that I loved from the moment I saw it – 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 900 square foot place with a patio and a nook that will be my home office.

I’ve been systematically cleaning out my stuff for the last eighteen months but for this move, I’m stealing an idea from Ryan Nicodemus, one of The Minimalists. When he decided to become a minimalist, he and his fellow minimalist friend Joshua Fields Millburn had a “packing party” where they packed up all his stuff as if he was going to move. For the next twenty-one days, he only unpacked what he needed as he needed it. After the twenty-one days, he went through his boxes, pulled out a few extra items, and got rid of the rest. By packing up his stuff, it opened his eyes to how little he actually needs to be happy and comfortable.

I suspect my new place will look like this for a few weeks. Charted by Shelah from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I suspect my new place will look like this for a few weeks. Charted by Shelah from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

So here’s my plan for the move. I sold or gave away all my furniture before I left Oregon. (As a joke, I signed a lot of it – does anyone still have any of that stuff?) Once I take possession of my condo, I’m going buy a few staple furniture items that I know I’ll need – bed, couch, desk, and probably not much else. (Oh, and I promised Rosie a memory foam bed for her birthday.) I’m going to box up all my stuff – and probably use file size boxes so their easy to use and stack. Each box will be filled based on where the things were stored in the house and labeled so it will be easy to find stuff after I move. I’ll also go through my boxes of kitchen stuff and linens from my Oregon apartment and get rid of the stuff I know I won’t need in my new place.

After I move, everything will stay in the boxes. I’ll only unpack or buy things as I need them. I’ll probably do this for three months. By then, the weather will have changed from warm to cold so I should have all the seasonal items I’ll need unpacked. I’ll probably spend the dead week between Christmas and New Year’s going through the boxes one more time before giving away whatever I’m not using. If I get to the point where I know I’m not going to be going into the boxes anymore, I’ll call it early and do the final clean out then.

I’m curious to see how many boxes of stuff I actually own right now compared to what I actually use. There’s nothing like moving to motivate you to get rid of your stuff.