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My Year of Not Shopping

Indio, California: Remember when I vowed to not buy clothing, shoes or purses for a year? Well, my year was up in November, and I can proclaim a decent victory. My habit had been to purchase a few new things, or update old things, right before we head south for the winter (Oregon has no sales tax!), so I was already set for clothing and shoes for 2018 on the road.

In the end, I only ended up buying one new bra (emergency!) and a wind jacket for our cruise to Alaska (I did not own one).

The real truth hit me upon returning to our house in Portland after being away nearly 8 months. The few items of clothing I had left in my closet during our absence were of no use/interest to me. Like the situation in Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, the items did not "spark joy" nor give me excitement at being reunited.

And you may or may not know/remember, but we really are thinking about selling our house. Downsizing. We have nearly finished our purge of every closet, drawer, cupboard and box. Our attic is empty. EMPTY. Nearly every photo has been scanned and shredded. Our goal is to have nothing in our house that we would not want to take with us to a smaller house or condo or teepee. And we have nearly reached our target.

In order to sell our house, we really needed to update the master bathroom. It was still indigo blue from the 1990's, and we had been threatening to remodel for years... but then we would take-off on another airplane or RV trip and fergetaboutit until we returned to the same old blue linoleum floor. One realtor suggested we remodel. Another suggested we leave it for the new owner. We were both a bit embarrassed at the state of our ugly bathroom, so decided to remodel.

Nothing structural, just new floor/shower tile and new countertops... and lights... and faucets... and well, there ya go - a whole new bathroom!

NOTE: Our contractor will be finished with the remodel in January.

Our closets are attached to the bathroom, so in order for the contractor to demolish the old and bring in the new - including new carpet/paint in the closets - we would need to completely move-out of our closets. This caused the most concentrated purge of my life (and I've moved around the world four times).

I ordered "clean out" kits from ThredUp, and shipped off two boxes of clothing and one box of handbags to sell. My clothing was pared-down to less than 3-feet of hanging space in my closet - concentrating on my favorite clothing colors: black, grey, beige and pink. Nearly every item is good for travel and does not necessarily require dry cleaning. Only my favorites.

Only clothing that sparked joy.

By the time we took our clothing to the RV for a winter away, I had nothing left in my closet at home. (NOTE: I do have a garment bag at home with my wedding dress and a few ball gowns. I will never wear any of these dresses again, so will probably sell (ThredUP) them when I return home.)

All my purging, charity-giving, and selling came down to this result: every item of my clothing is in the RV! I have 31-inches of hanging space and every inch is crammed so tight, nothing will ever require ironing - but it is all with me in Indio. Everything I own. I have four small drawers for my running clothes, undies, pjs, bather, etc., and room for my shoes, and handbags in the bus. This includes my every-day clothes, fancy dresses, Duck shirts, Washington NFL shirts, and golf clothes. I even brought the new wind jacket.

So what did I learn by not buying things for a year? It has changed my life. I had too many clothes, shoes and purses. I realized that just because I receive an email from one of my favorite shops proclaiming 40% OFF AND FREE SHIPPING, does not mean I need to order something. Now, no matter how stinkin' cute that dress is, if I don't need it, it will not be coming to my house or RV closet. And, as all full-time RVers know - if something new comes in, something old must go out. (This is fact in my case as not even a tank top could fit in my packed closet!)

My half of the closet (and I claim the four drawers under the window).

I would like to think I'm now a clothing minimalist, but realize even 31-inches of clothing is really really really a lot of clothing. While I'm not ready to quite go this minimal... if I can travel for a month with only a carry-on (7 outfits), and a tote (laptop, camera), to attend everything from track meets to fancy dinners, casual dinners, lectures, Great Wall climbing, museum-visiting, and sightseeing - less clothing is needed in my closet.

My goal now is to keep my clothing to this amount. Replacing only what is worn, and try to do with a little less if possible. That said: Lisa and Lenny gave me a handbag for my birthday in October, and DT gave me another last week for Hanukkah. My evil plan is not working!

Until my next update, I remain, your minimalizing correspondent.