For years, I've been reading about minimalism. In my head, I call it "The Cult of Minimalism," because there seems to be an almost-religious fervor to it sometimes. And something about reading about it has always both appealed to and irritated me. I'm alternately fascinated and turned off. (For those who haven't felt inundated by minimalism, I'm talking about books like Living the Simple Life and The Simple Living Guide and blogs like The Everyday Minimalist). I get the idea, and I don't disagree with the general premise that we have become huge over-consumers and it takes a toll on everything from our wallets to our psyches to the planet. However, it seems that no minimalist philosopher is satisfied with preaching minimalism for just those reasons--it has to go farther. We have to believe that minimalism will make us HAPPIER.
And that's where it falls apart for me. I don't think minimalism would make me happier. My attempts at, which have all been abysmal failures, haven't made me feel much of anything other than frustrated. Not only have I not reached enlightenment, I never even get to self-congratulations. Minimalism, for me, has simply been something at which to try and fail.
Yesterday, I read a minimalist blog post over at Young House Love, which, as a home renovation/decor/design blog, I don't think of as a place where I'm going to find a ton of simple living advice. The Young House Love family, as it turns out, are minimalists when it comes to grooming/personal care and cleaning supplies. The blog post listed the small handful of each type of products they have and use.
I am the polar opposite. I'm not much of a minimalist about anything, but when it comes to grooming/personal care stuff, I'm whatever the minimalist opposite is (suggestions include maximalist and maxinista). I'm a collector. I'm, I'll cop to it, a hoarder. And, upon first reading, the post at YHL made me feel gluttonous, spoiled, and like a big freaking slob (OK, so the slob part is actually true, but I won't digress).
Then I started thinking about it, and you know what? There is nothing wrong with NOT being a minimalist. I hoard beauty products because I love them. They're a hobby. If they weren't important to me, it would be easy not to collect them. Other people collect other things, which are important to them. And yes, some people place little or no value on "stuff" at all, and have only what they truly need, and that's admirable. But of all of the admirable lifestyles and qualities towards which I want to work, it's honestly not that high on the list. I'm OK being a "stuff" person.
So, in the spirit of fun and because, after I got over my butthurt, I found peering into John & Sherry's shower and makeup bag just as appealing as I always find that kind of voyeuristic blog posting, I thought I'd show you some of the least minimalist areas of my house. As I looked around for what to include in this post, it occurred to me that I'm not the only non-minimalist who lives there--Mark likes to collect things that are important to him, as well. We're opposite, in some way--I have an easy time throwing things away, and a hard time not bringing things in, while Mark hates to throw things out but rarely brings in anything new--but we end up in much the same place.
First, a couple of Mark's non-minimalist cabinets:
This is a cabinet filled almost completely with tea and tea-paraphernalia. Dude LOVES his tea. I can't make any excuse for the complete lack of organization--I took these pictures on the fly on a typical Wednesday night, no staging, so this is reality. There are, by my count, five teapots in that cabinet, as well as four cup and saucer sets, two alternate tea-making devices, and at least two French presses (though we actually own five, and that's more me than it is Mark). There are also no fewer than 50 varieties of loose and bagged tea, some of which have been with us for at least ten years and can't possibly still be any good. It's a battle I refuse to fight. If tea is his thing, let the man have his tea.
This is our spice cabinet. At least it's a bit better organized than the tea zone! I'd say this cabinet is pretty well Mark's pride-and-joy. The picture doesn't make it clear, but that bottom shelf? Holds, at last count, 17 varieties of salt. With the exception of the small selection of vinegars and honeys at the right side of the middle shelf, everything else is dried spices. Does he use them all? I'd say 75% of them are in pretty regular rotation.
This terribly lit picture is our bar. OK, to be honest, it's one of our two bars--we also have a standing wine bar, which is just as crowded. I'd say Mark and I are equally responsible for this collection--we both really love barware. Nothing in this picture (besides the actual liquor!) was purchased new--it's all either been gifted (the awesome art deco champagne glasses, the highball glasses, most of the shot glasses), handed down (the silver-rimmed cordial glasses, as well as several items you can't see in this photo), or thrifted (just about everything else). Turns out bar ware is really, really easy to thrift. So much so that I've pretty much put myself on a time-out from buying it lately, since there is no place left to put it. However, I love having it, I think it's a neat collection, and some of it (pint glasses, wine glasses, champagne glasses, high ball and low ball glasses) gets used a lot. Some of it (ice bucket, margarita glasses, martini glasses, shot glasses, swizzle sticks) never gets used, but I still like having it around.
And, because I'm being honest, I'll now move on to my "collections." Blessedly, Mark and I don't share a bathroom. This means that the master bathroom, which is "my" bathroom, is free to be completely overtaken by my stuff. Which it is.
These are the products currently living in my shower. I actually don't think it's too bad--it's certainly been worse--but compared to the three bottles in the YHL shower, it's a lot. They are:
-Lush Turkish Delight Shower Smoothie
-Veet Hair Removal Gel Cream
-Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care with Eucalyptus Shampoo
-Herbal Essences None of Your Frizziness Conditioner
-Australian Bush Botanics Body Scrub
-Lush It's Raining Men Shower Gel
-One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm
-Balea Sensitive Shave Gel
-Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser
-Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
-LaRoche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel
With the exception of the Veet, which I need to throw away, every one of these products gets used within a typical week. There's also a razor in there somewhere, but it ducked the photo.
This tray sits next to my sink and holds most of my non-shower daily use products. These include, in the cup:
-Tom's of Maine Sensitive Toothpaste
And outside the cup:
-Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting Wicked Fresh! Mouthwash
-Suki Concentrated Balancing Toner
-Arcona Tabula Rasa Pads
-Skin Perfection Seven Seas Mask
-Degree Ultra Clear Red Satin Deodorant
-tweezers (those should be in the cup)
-Origins Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream
-Bliss Lemon & Sage Body Butter
-Clairvoyant Beauty Depuffing Cucumber and Cranberry Eye Gel
-Korres Wild Rose 24-Hour Moisturizer
-Dr. Hauschka Rose Body Moisturizer
Again, almost all of this is used within any given week, much of it every day. The only exception I see is the Tabula Rasa pads, which are way too harsh for my skin and I should get rid of.
The windowsill holds yet another collection of currently-in-use products, though none of them are daily users. They are:
-almond oil (I put this in the bath when I have super dry skin)
-Flutterby Beauty Honey Bee Moisturizing Mist
-Haunt Batik Skin Glossing Oil
-another Haunt skin glossing oil (not sure which one)
-Aveda Smooth Infusion Style Prep Smoother
-Moroccan Oil Glimmer Shine Spray
-Macadamia Natural Oil Healing Oil Treatment
-Oscar Blandi Protein Mist for Restyling Hair
-Jonathan anti-frizz balm of some kind
-some other kind of hair oil
-Alterna Bamboo Style Boho Waves Tousled Texture Mist
This is stuff I don't use so often. I wash my hair twice a week, and I put some sort of oil in it afterwards (usually the Orofluido), but that's the only regular use these products get. I'll occasionally use the body oil sprays after a shower, and even more occasionally try to do something else with my hair that requires some other product, but most of this stuff is just sitting there, expiring.
That doesn't seem all THAT bad, right? Well, you've seen my makeup before, so there's that, too. And then there's the stuff that's not in use yet...
This is my sample product drawer. Yes, it's as big a drawer as it appears to be. I get a lot of curated subscription boxes, plus I buy a lot of things that come with free samples. When I get a sample of something, it goes into this drawer if I think I'll want to try it someday. If not, it goes into my swap/giveaway box. Then, when I'm traveling and need a small size of something, or when I want to try something new, I raid this drawer. Several of the daily/weekly use products you saw in the previous pictures started out living in this drawer.
This is my full-size product drawer. When I buy something full-sized I am not ready to use yet, or get something full-sized in a subscription box, it goes in here. This drawer also holds the extras of things I buy in multiples, like toothbrushes and deodorant. I try not to keep more than 2 or 3 of the same type of product open at once (for example, two shower scrubs or two moisturizers), so that I have variety on a day-to-day basis, but keep my counter/shower clutter down some. Things that are waiting for their turn live in this drawer.
There's also a top drawer, but it's pretty sparse--it just holds things I use often that aren't out, for whatever reason, like eye makeup remover, face wipes, face wax, etc. There is also a shelf of perfumes and toners (for some reason, I have a lot of toners) that I forgot to photograph. But this is most of it.
Yeah, like I said, not a minimalist. But I'm oddly un-attached to this stuff, in a way. If it all burned in a fire, for example, I wouldn't miss it. I'd probably just start re-collecting it. And I LOVE to give it away. For me, it's more about the draw of new items, of trying new things, and of having a lot of options, than it is about holding on to specific things. I think I'm a bit odd that way--maybe more of an accumulator than a hoarder?
There is something oddly freeing about taking pictures of your cluttered up stuff and trying to make sense of them, to explain them to someone else. I kinda recommend it.