Wardrobe as an Expression – Why I own Less

#ThrowbackThursday: It’s high school for me, early 2000’s, and my style is just……

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I had been home schooled until my freshman year and we lived in a mountain community called “The Rathole”……trust me, I wish I was joking.
Overall, I loved being home schooled, living in the mountains, and felt pretty independent and self-sure. Maybe not 100% self-confident, but I generally thought I was likeable.

Looking back at the pictures of myself, I sometimes shake my head and think,
“No wonder I had so few friends!”: I dressed like a weirdo!
Ballet skirts, high heels, vests and a striped pair of leggings, all worn together. I was eclectic, to put it nicely.
I also grew up in the 90’s, which really didn’t do me any favors

Have you ever experienced that moment? When you look back and you think “who let me out of the house looking like that? And why did I want to!?”

I think it’s a fairly typical thought, especially in this current society, where clothes are a sort of representation of who you are.
Are you wearing expensive brands? Then we think you have money.
Are the clothes ironed or well cared for? You must be clean.
Is it the latest fashion trends? You must be cool.
It all really boils down to money and position. What so many people are clambering up the ladder for, sacrificing their families and their lives for. Power. A place in this world. To be known.

But in God, aren’t we already known? Don’t we already have a place? The things we all strive so hard after are things we have already been given in Christ when He called us His own and gave us a place with Him. We no longer have to climb that ladder. When we can recognize our own brokenness, our judgementalism and cynicism etc, only then will we be able to recognize the wonder of what is being offered!
To the self-righteous judger, the Righteous Judge offers no condemnation.
To the prideful scorner, the Perfect One gives acceptance.
To the self-centered cynic, the Self-Less One gives encouragement.
To the greedy enslaver, the Generous Master gives freedom.

I see clothes now as a way to reflect who I am, not who I want to be:
I wear thrift finds or free clothes because I am free and want others to be free also*.
I wear feminine colors and shapes because I am confident in my gender and the image of God I bear as a woman .
I wear many of the same things every year because I am loved in Christ and don’t need to impress the people around me with the latest fashions or trends.
And so much more! If you know who you are, you can live in light of that, even in what you wear.

We all yearn to be wanted and accepted, and I believe that yearning comes from a deeper longing of community with God, only fulfilled in God. But often times we try to be accepted through our attire. I don’t believe it’s wrong to desire to look beautiful or attractive – God is beautiful and desirable and as creatures made in His image we, by nature, are beautiful and desirable! It’s learning to look past appearances to the person underneath that reveals the true wonder. Clothes are awesome, they are an amazing way to express your unique personality and character. And sometimes it seems like it’s constantly changing.
That’s ok!
Knowing who you are is a key element to knowing how to let go and live with less.
If you know who you are, you can be more confident in how you want to express yourself to those who can only know you by a glance. And that will give you the confidence to let go of everything you own that does not reflect or enhance who you are.

STEP ONE TO MINIMALIZING YOUR WARDROBE:
Begin to explore who you are on the inside.

Ideas for how to be more confident in who you are in order to express it through your wardrobe:

  • With a pen and paper, set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all the things you love most about yourself. Use the full 5 minutes.

  • Think about the styles(interior design, colors, clothes, eras) you are most drawn towards. Write down the top 5.

  • Go to your closet and pull out the top 10 things you wear/like and put a paper clip on the collar, then put them back. Next, have a close friend or family member do the same thing, asking them to “pick out the top ten things that they feel express who you are”. See if they match up to your picks. Talk with your friend about why they chose those pieces and what it is about the clothes that makes them “you”.

After doing all three things, look over everything you found out.
Do you like who you are? Does your wardrobe as a whole express you as a whole person?
Be confident in the things you like most about yourself, and capitalize on those. Pick a few things you want to strive after, but remember that you are already loved, known, cherished and complete. Walk in light of that towards your goals and LET GO of what you can’t control.

A Way To Start

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All the clothes I own (minus workout wear and seasonal)

Minimalism, or the “minimal” movement, started for me close to 6 years ago.

At the time, as most people who are minimalists would say, I didn’t realize being minimal was what I was pursuing. I primarily was just tired of moving my stuff all over and I had no where I could store it long-term(thanks mom and dad! But really. Not like, sarcastically-passive-agressively-thanks).

When I lived on the Island in 2009, I lived for a short time “on campus” at the local Bible College I was attending.
“On Campus” basically meant the school had about 6 condo’s they bought that were used for all the students. I shared a two bedroom condo with four other girls and the occasional cockroach; space was limited!

We were responsible to keep the condo clean for a weekly inspection and I learned real quick that more stuff meant more cleaning, which meant more work, which meant less time for studying and playing. Mostly playing, though.

Slowly, week by week, I started to let go. Did I really need six different swim suits? What about five pairs of jeans? I wasn’t sure I had even worn one pair my whole time there! But still, the thought of “what if” still crept into my mind.
“What if someone comes to visit and they don’t have a swimsuit?!” – realistically, what are the odds they would fly all the way to Maui, forget a swim suit, happen to be my size and not have any money to buy their own?
Come on. That’s ridiculous.

Sure, not every situation is that obvious, but you don’t have to go through all your memorabilia and toss out pictures of great-granny Mary and your second cousin Irene that you love but never pull out of the closet to look at. In fact, you should not go through all that right away! That’s a sure-fire way to depress you and cause you to feel hopeless.

Start with the simple, small things.
Like your wardrobe.
Clothes are seriously a dime a dozen. Most likely every item of clothing you own can be replaced. If you get rid of most of your jeans thinking you never wear them and then you feel regret because it turns out you do wear them, you can buy more.
But most likely you will rid yourself of unworn, unwanted clothes and you will feel a sense of freedom.

Many people hold on to clothes because:
1. They think they are cute or stylish. Maybe it’s not their style, and sure they never pull it out to wear it, but its so dang cute!
-If it’s not you, toss it. Don’t think about it. Let it go.

2. “This doesn’t fit me yet….”
-Let it go! Style isn’t about portraying who you want to be, but who you are. You love the clothes you do wear for a reason. They tell your story. Let the other clothes go to someone else whose story it will tell. And if the time comes where you ARE that size, treat yourself by trading old for new, you obviously worked hard for it!

3.They do wear it, just occasionally.
-If you haven’t worn it in the past month, toss it. SERIOUSLY. You wear what you love. Everything else is just taking up mental space. You don’t need eight tank tops or five pairs of jeans. (with the exception of seasonal items. I am not tossing my shorts every fall.*)
4. They feel guilty for giving it away.
-Even if it was a gift or an heirloom, let it go. You are allowing yourself to be burdened and bogged down by someone elses feelings. If you don’t wear it, don’t let guilt keep your closet and mental space cluttered. BE FREE! Those clothes would be so much better off being used rather than collecting dust. Show love for the giver by allowing yourself not to be held captive by guilt; you will open up your mind and the relationship by giving yourself permission to be yourself without fear of letting others down.

I know that list was long but it is all so true – minimalism is about letting go of things so that you can better hold on to relationships and your own identity. We were not created to be owned by our things but to own them. Not to be dominated by creation but to have dominion over it. To love, cherish and treat with care the things around us,and in doing so we are doing those things for ourselves. So take that step today. Love, cherish and treat with care the things in your wardrobe. If you rarely wear them, let them go to those that will. Learn the art of letting go.

Stay tuned for a good “How-To” for owning less clothes

 

*I do put seasonal items in a seasonal box. More on that later 😉

Sunday Snippet: Toilet Paper Problems

Community Living, aka living in one house with multiple people/families, can be wonderful at times and miserable at others.
Take for example, this afternoon. My charming little Nugget(who is 1 1/2) decided he wanted to play with a roll of toilet paper.
Normally, I’d almost let the kid get away with murder in order to have a few minutes of uninterrupted toilet time, but this afternoon as I sat there playing on my phone, the guest roll of TP was not what I had in mind.

So. I really hope my roomies don’t mind pre-fluffed toilet paper.

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Part 2 – Island Fever

In keeping with my #ThrowbackThursday themed post, my latest thoughts have taken me back to the Island of Maui, Hawaii, where my “new life” began.

I moved to Maui in 2009, following my high school graduation and the falling out of the bottom of my Christian religion. Luckily for me I have wonderful relatives who reside on that island and were kind enough to take me in and give me the fresh start I was looking for. Far from everything I had ever known or called “home”, I was free to look at life through new eyes.

Island eyes.

And what wonderful eyes those were to look through.
Anyone who has lived on Maui knows what I mean. And if you haven’t, I am sorry. It’s a culture unlike any you will ever know!

You’re never late. Never early.
Casual attire is your new best friend.
Kidnappings and robberies are rare – where would they go?
Everyone is family.
My Grandpa(who lives there) always says that if god lived anywhere, it would be Maui. Nature there begs you to answer the question of where it all came from, and why.

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Photo Cred: (aunt)Shannon Jarvis

After a slow, and fairly lonely and painful start on Maui, I started to see everything with those new “Island eyes”.
I started to see people as more important than possessions.
Protecting all creation as more precious than ease and comfort.
Myself as part of a larger story than just my own; ultimately I found myself in God’s story.

After a few weeks on the Island I felt like I needed to “piss or get off the pot” in relation to my religion.
I had grown up believing that Christianity was all there was in the way of truth. That of course my god was the real God. I had never questioned it, until the windows to my world were opened up a little bit and the culture of relative truth uprooted my shallow beliefs.

Don’t get me wrong, I was NOT sheltered. Sure, I was home schooled for the majority of my years, but we were not the awkward “Mean Girl” home schooled kids(though we did grow up around some!). I got out. And I also “knew” my religion fairly well. I went to Bible camp almost every year and had received an award certifying I had read through the whole bible and memorized over 800 verses from it. I had gone on several overseas missions trips and would have, hand over heart, pledged my allegiance to the Christian God.

The problem I faced at the ripe age of 18 was that all I “knew” never got past my head. It never wound its way to my heart.
I had never been faced with the choice to follow God’s heart or follow my own. My parents rules were structured largely around following God’s heart, even if my own heart wasn’t in it, and so obviously I followed “God’s heart”. Meaning I obeyed (mostly) the rules. Until I was old enough to choose.

And then I chose to follow my own heart.

That is when the bottom of my Christian religion fell out and all of my ugly came spilling over.
Oh. And it. was. ugly.

When I moved to Maui for my fresh start, I needed to be free of all the guilt I carried with me. Not guilt over all the things I had chosen. I wanted to be free of the guilt I felt to that god I had grown up with that made me feel bad for enjoying my life. If I was going to keep choosing to do what I wanted to do, I wanted to be guilt-free.

So I created a challenge. My own proverbial “fleece”.
I wanted to give God one chance to prove His existence.One.
If He didn’t prove Himself to me then, I felt I could be absolved of all guilt and live a life free to follow my own cravings and desires.* I promised one week to Him. I would fast from all food and pray continually (though I was still working at the time) for Him to ‘reveal Himself’, whatever that looked like.
I just needed to know He was more real than a Sunday school story. That He was real enough to meet me. And I felt that if He was real, than He could meet me.

And so my fleece was laid out. I fasted from food. I prayed. I read my bible, starting with the beginning, not really sure where I would read, just praying that as I was reading He would show me something. Anything.

And somehow, despite my total self-centered, self-righteous, self-worshiping heart, He met me. I can’t explain how, and whenever I try it sounds ridiculous.
Because it IS!
The One, True, Living GOD of all that is reached out to ME, even though my motives were corrupt and my heart full of rebellion. The God who created the miles of soft, warm sand I was reading on. Who made the tall, resilient palm trees that would sway with the wind but never break. Who made the wind!
And I’m not just saying this because I have been ‘taught’ to say this. I haven’t. But I believe it.

I saw with those “Island Eyes” the True God, and, in that moment, I promised myself to Him. As if I was marrying myself to God, I said that I was with Him no matter what. No matter what I would feel later, or what lies would creep into my mind and heart. I was with Him:
For better or for worse.
In sickness or in health.
For richer or for poorer, I was in. I wanted to choose His ways. Because I saw that in them I could find life.

It was there, in those seven days, that my life changed. And if I really wanted to find a moment where my minimalistic, people-centered, nature-loving ideologies came into being, it would have to have been then.
I know the best parts of me come from Him.
And I truly believe the best parts of you do as well.

The biggest question you and I face every day is not paper or plastic. It isn’t deciding how many things that day we should get rid of to boost our minimalistic feelings, or whether to buy organic bananas or regular.
I don’t know the biggest question. I would be freaking genius if I did! But A “biggest question” we each face every day is whether or not, in each of those moments, we are seeing life through our “Island Eyes”. Through God’s eyes. If we can accurately see life around us, we can more accurately be life to those around us.

*disclaimer – I do not believe that if you seek God and do not find Him right away, that you are absolved of guilt.
No man, rebel that he is, can be absolved from the guilt of his rebellion without due punishment. There is no justice without due consequences. And God is just.
Jesus Christ offered up Himself to take your, and my, due punishment. The price for my, and your, rebellion is a life sentence. And life is in blood. When Christ, a non-rebel, gave all of His obedient blood, it was in exchange for all the rebels who would take it.
But you have to take it. Without it, you and I are self-centered, self-righteous, self-motivated rebels, desiring for the universe to serve us. And no one can serve two masters, we cannot serve God and self.

 

A Part of My Story

In honor of #ThrowbackThursday I thought I would make my first post a GIANT throwback to how it all started.
In my mothers womb.

Just kidding! That would be weird. Also, I have no idea what went on in there, thank God.

But I would like to give you a glimpse into how I came to be who I am and the people who helped me get here.

My parents were young when they started having kiddos. Around 17 and 19, if memory serves me right. I came along second, which would put my mom right around…..20?

I grew up eating a lot of “make-it-yourself” nights and being told that “the crust is the healthiest part of your bread.”
We ate white bread, ya’ll. There IS no healthy part!
Not that I minded, for the most part my dad worked really hard to provide what he could for a family of six. We were grateful for what we had(and by that I mean we complained all the time and wanted to eat cereal all the time). We never really questioned the integrity of what we were eating or the impact our lives were having on our environment.

So NO, I did not grow up with a healthy-food-non-GMO-use-paper-bags-not-plastic family. OR a minimalistic family. My mom ALWAYS tried to get us to get rid of our excess but we never would, because hey, you never know when you might need that pile of random strings! And for my dad, a lot of his good memories were connected to different items he had, so he felt like he should keep it all.

I was a hoarder. Hardcore. Like, I was the person who kept that half gone jawbreaker from church camp 6 years ago because……dude. I don’t even know why. Looking back its kind of grossing me out. But hey, it was my life!
“You just never know when you might need that” was my motto. And that one time I DID throw away a pile of strings, the next day my dad asked if anyone had some string he could use!!!!! From then on, I knew I needed to keep every scrap of ‘usable’ material. For the sake of the people I loved.

As I grew older and moved out on my own, I came to a full awareness of how much I owned. My parents are not the type of parents that want to be their kids’ storage unit forever, which at the time seemed super inconvenient and selfish of them. I mean, they housed me for 18 years, how could they not want to house my stuff for the next 18?!
I see now what a gift it really was to me and I feel pity for all the people who DO get away with storing their stuff at their parents.

You never realize the immensity of your useless possessions until you are responsible to take them with you wherever you go.

Over the past 6 years I have moved 12 times.

And that is what birthed my inner desires for healhty, minimalistic life. I know those desires were always there, I truly believe they are there in each person, but as with so many things in life you don’t realize what is hiding inside until some crucible draws it out of you.
If you have not already had that milestone moment, make this the start of that new chapter for you. My minimalist journey started off very slowly. At the time I didn’t even realize I was chasing it. But I was. And I believe you are as well. Look  back at where you came from and visualize where you want to be. Enjoy the change. Be proud of it!

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Top Left to Top Right: Uncle Ro, Dad, Mom. Bottom Left to Bottom Right: Older Sis, Pops, Cousin Lauren, Gramma Lupe, Younger Sis, Me!