Creating Space: Part 1

 
Recently I’ve been on a mission* to get rid of stuff. To purge unnecessary items. To cut out clutter. To simplify. In essence, to create space.
 
*(does anyone immediately think of Nickelodeon magazine when they hear the phrase “on a mission”? I know I can’t be the only one)
 
Physical clutter is frustrating for a lot of people, how else would we have an entire store dedicated to containing all our stuff? I love The Container Store as much as the next organizer fanatic but the issue is about more than clutter. Even if everything I own right now was 100% organized in my home, the excess would still bother me. Those tidy and organized boxes are still holding things, things I may never use again. These are things I don’t need to hold on to.
 
Sometimes my anxiety seems related to the amount of clutter and stuff around me. I almost feel claustrophobic, like my collections of things will trap me. I’m weighed down by my material possessions and I obsess over how to reduce them.
 
I’ve always preferred neat and tidy. But my recent fascination with downsizing and getting rid of things is new. I blame a lot of it on moving twice in two years — does anyone like packing? Or moving heavy boxes up and down two and then three flights of stairs? How about unpacking?  I hate moving. I hate moving and every time my husband I moved I realized we still had too much stuff. Even though we’re done moving for a while (we bought our first house in August of last year) I still want to get rid of things we don’t need.
 
Another event that has inspired my desire to simplify is my grandmother’s passing. My Grandma, Ruby, died in 2014. Soon after, my family went through all her belongings that my Grandpa wasn’t keeping. My Grandma was a collector. She collected so many different, interesting things: ruby glass, vintage and vintage-esque food tins, jewelry, cardinal figurines and more. She was also an avid crafter. She painted gorgeous ceramics and made her own jewelry. Seeing all her belongings laid out in my aunt’s basement made it feel like she was with us. I even found an empty perfume bottle: it smelled like her.
 
That afternoon going through my Grandma’s things was cathartic. It was bittersweet but educational – I learned things about my Grandma I had never known. My dad and my aunt shared stories from their childhood and my sister and I recounted ours with our cousins. But what do we do with all her things? We took turns picking items to keep, a ruby glass piece or a cardinal figurine. I selected several pieces of jewelry and some of her vintage style food tins. But even after everyone had chosen something to remember Grandma by, we still had so much. It was overwhelming! At first, we worried that if we didn’t keep it, it meant we didn’t love her. But we realized that Grandma wasn’t contained in the things she left behind. We keep her alive in our memories of her and by talking about her. This helped us be able to choose items to donate or sell at a garage sale later in the year.
 
This experience made an impact on my parents and my aunt and uncle. They didn’t want to leave a bunch of things for me and my sister or my cousins to sort through and wonder about. “Why did they keep this?” or “What should I do with this?”. Our semi-regular family garage sale that year was huge. We all went on purging sprees. We actually held more than one garage sale at many family members houses — sometimes at the same time! 
 
The last reason that I’ve been especially focused on reducing for the past few years or so is that I’ve been reading more about simple living and minimalism. The idea that we don’t need more stuff to make us happy is appealing. I follow blogs about minimalism and listen to podcasts on the topic. I save tips on how to purge your closet of the clothes you don’t love and read books about decluttering.
 
I’ve decided to share a little of my journey in “creating space” with you. It’ll be a multi-part series. I’ll share some of my experiences along with the tools I’ve found most helpful along the way. A post on what I did with all my excess stuff is a must as is a post on how to not fall back into the same habits again.

Tiny Purse from Thirty-One Gifts – Review

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Until recently, I always carried a big purse. My purse was my safety blanket and it had to be big enough to hold a snack, a book, my reading glasses, my sunglasses, my iPad, paper and pens, and the things I actually needed to have in my purse: my wallet and keys. I was always anticipating “disaster,” going somewhere for dinner that didn’t have enough gluten-free foods for me to eat or being stuck somewhere and getting bored. I felt safer having an emergency snack or book to read, just in case my day didn’t go as planned.

My first purse that I really used wasn’t an actual purse. It was a deep green army bag I bought from a vendor at the Heritage Festival in Piqua while I was in high school. It was perfect for my big purse needs: nice and roomy, a separate compartment for a water bottle, small pockets on the inside for pens and pencils and an adjustable strap. I was able to carry EVERYTHING in this bag. I even decorated it by sewing on fabric patches I had collected from attending birding events. I loved this bag so much – it even went off to college with me.

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Once I graduated from college though it was time for more adult looking purses and bags, sans the birding patches. I’ve had black bags with space for a portfolio and cream-colored bags with room for an iPad. They always had room for a book, a snack, anything I might need and plenty of things I didn’t. Just in case.

Just in case items get heavy, though. I was constantly switching my bag from shoulder to shoulder, or carrying it one hand, then the other. I usually had neck and shoulder pain on the days I was out and about, large purse or bag in hand. I also could NEVER find what I was looking for in my bag. All that stuff and I never had what I needed quickly. Something needed to change.

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Let me introduce to you, my new tiny purse! This little gem is made by Thirty-One Gifts and has changed the way I carry my essentials when I leave the house (I just carry the essentials). I love the bright cobalt blue color of this purse (technically it’s a wallet) and the zip around closure. It’s super small so I can’t carry anything with me that I don’t actually need.

When I was asked by Thirty-One Gifts to partner with them for a review, I chose this wristlet (it’s called Tons Of Funds in Daring Cobalt Pebble) thinking it would be my “travel purse.” Which is what I initially used it for and it was perfect! Plenty of room for cash, credit cards, keys, and an emergency tube Burt’s Bees lip balm (some habits are hard to break).

I couldn’t fit my original glasses case for my reading glasses in this purse, but I found a fabric case which fit perfectly (and my glasses are still intact six months later!).  I also found a pair of sunglasses that fold fairly flat and fit in this purse. Both pairs of glasses do not fit at the same time, but I’m usually wearing one of them so it works. If I pack the purse correctly, I can even fit my phone in it. ? After my last trip to Seattle, I didn’t feel like swapping everything out of my blue purse to go back into my bigger bag. I just kept carrying my tiny purse, which has become my go-to bag.

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Thirty-One Gifts is a direct sales company that sells purses and wallets, bags and totes, jewelry, home organization products, thermal food storage products, jewelry, and accessories. Most of their products can be personalized with names or initials. The mission of the company is to empower and support women by giving them the opportunity to run their own business.

Thirty-One was founded in 2003 by Cindy Monroe in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The company is based out of Columbus, Ohio today and has been recognized as one of Columbus’ most giving organizations. In the past four years, Thirty-One has donated more than $100 million to nonprofits that share their mission. Last summer, they donated $10,000 to a local women’s nonprofit during their national conference.

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I like that Thirty-One has a variety of unique products, I mostly browsed purses and handbags and they have everything from cute little wallets and tiny purses to gigantic purses that could double as my overnight bag on my next trip!

The aspect I like most about Thirty-One, though, is Thirty-One Gives. Thirty-One Gives partners with non-profit organizations that focus on building confidence in women and girls and strengthening families. This year, Thirty-One Gives will donate approximately 5% of their net total sales in product and cash to support organizations they work with. Some of the organizations they have worked with include Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Girl Talk, World Vision, Girls on the Run and the Salvation Army of Central Ohio. In 2013, Thirty-One Gives established the Cindy Monroe Values & Vision Endowed Scholarship to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Thirty-One Gifts. Each year one girl in the Chattanooga area of Tennessee, where Cindy Monroe is from, is chosen to win a $12,400 scholarship to support her college career.

Thank you Thirty-One Gifts!

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ohio-120x120Thirty-One Gifts

Address: 3425 Morse Crossing, Columbus, Ohio 43219

Phone Number: 1-866-GIFTS31

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube

Thank you to Thirty-One Gifts, a Columbus-based company, for sponsoring this post.