Minimalism, Pets, and Finding Freedom

You Guys!

Mom is giving away all our stuff! Please help. I need my stuff.


Mrs. Peabody

Just kidding. Mrs. Peabody didn’t say that because I don’t know of any cat that “needs” stuff. Sure, we have some really cute toys here: reindeer from Christmas, a little lobster that Louie doesn’t play with much anymore, a blanket made by my grandma to keep Mrs. P warm when she was a baby. How many of these emotions placed upon these items, though, are the cats’? And how many are just mine?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the things I have in my life. I look around at my house and, though it’s tidy, I sometimes feel weighed down by the number of objects that are in it. Every object requires care, even if I don’t really care about it. I add water to my piano humidifier system (five minutes), I dust the shelves but have to move fifteen knick knacks first and then put them back (fours minutes), I need to vacuum but have to move the screen that’s on the carpet to shield the twenty cat toys on the rug (45 seconds). The more I started realizing that items are not just passive things that sit around, but that they require monetary investment followed by time, upkeep, and energy, the more I wanted to pare down. I want to keep only the items that are worth my time.

This minimalism concept has been growing in my thoughts for awhile. Recently, I was offered a job in Los Angeles. A dream job, really, but for several reasons, I turned it down. One of those reasons was that I had no idea how I would fit me, six animals, and all my stuff into a small enough place that I could actually afford. And right then, the seed of “why” was planted. Shortly after I made that decision, I watched a documentary called “The Minimalists,” about two friends who gave up their high-paying jobs, put all their things in boxes, and kept what they needed. Going forward, they brought into their lives only what had value, whether that be a necessary tool for their craft (a laptop) or more time with their loved ones. Searching further, I found their website and read more about their journey and ideas. I recommend spending some time there, if you have it.

In their account, they decided to pack up everything they owned and only keep what they used in ten days. I will admit that I’m not going to go that far, but I am looking at everything and asking “why?” Why am I keeping this? Why do I need this? I’m also wondering “Can this benefit someone else?” and “Can this do more good elsewhere?”

Louie taking advantage of the donation box.

So, I started small. I found a pair of earrings I never wear, given to me as a gift by a student over a decade ago. I gave them to a current student who recently had her ears pierced and the smile on her face was absolutely worth it. Then I tackled the five boxes of books in my attic. I used to have a room full of shelves. I called it my library and I dreamt of the day I would have that again. But now, it doesn’t suit my lifestyle. I opened the boxes and pulled out just the books I loved, ones I have read more than once and may read again. I kept those. The others went into the neighborhood library box on my street, some will be sold, and many I will donate. I find that it’s easier to donate when you have a good cause. Since my cause is almost always animal-related, I’ve decided to donate to the Humane Indiana Resale shop. Everything they sell benefits their rescue work for homeless pets. Suddenly, giving away that rarely used panini press doesn’t seem so painful.

Thus far, I have thrown out one full trash bag and one full recycling bin, given away roughly fifty other items, and have two full boxes ready to donate. Clearly, I will NOT be giving away my animals, but I CAN give myself permission to give away a few of their unnecessary items.  Giving feels good. It’s lightening my burden and making me nicer to people. I already see some of the benefits and I’m not even halfway finished with part one.

With Love,


P.S. As I was writing this, I heard the sounds of Pinkle opening the pet toy drawer behind the couch.  She crawled in, and out of all the thirty or so toys in that drawer, she found the one little wooly ball that she loves best, and she brought it to me to play. And that is the one we will keep.







  • If you’re worried about having too much cat stuff, you’d love my cat. I haven’t found a single cat toy that he’ll care about, other than the laser pointer. And cardboard boxes. But everything else? “Meh”, he says. And hey, if he’s fine with it, I’m fine with not having cat toys all over the place. He seems content with chasing shadows on the wall and imaginary bugs.

  • I commend you Alana for learning this earlier in life than we did. As we downsized and furniture that once held what we thought were beloved knick knacks, we had no place to show off those items. So, we kept only what gives us true pleasure to see and all else has been given to younger friends. I have cleaned out my jewelry chest as well, giving even very valuable items to a much loved younger friend. We have no children so seeing someone smile when I give them something I know I haven’t used, worn in years, but which they adore, well that is worth letting it go

  • I tried to do that when we started to pack for the move but I wasn’t in the right head space to get far. I’ve tried doing it now that we are here, and it is a little easier to not put things out than it was to take them from their space and get rid of them. But I still have so much more I should do.. Slowly, over time, it will be done.. but I’m a horder by nature so it isn’t easy (and it doesn’t help that far too many times I have been able to pull just the right thing out and use it)

  • Well I’ve only lived with my humans a year but I’ve noticed that my Mom goes through fits of “weeding out” the stuff around here. The problem is she’s pretty good at collecting more. I don’t mind if it’s for ME but why collect all this other stuff – it’s just in MY way?! Good for you though – sounds like you’ve figured out how to not “need” a lot of stuff.

    Hugs, Teddy (and Mom Pam too)

  • Well, my human’s problem is she actually LOVES a lot of the stuff she has! Weirdly enough, she had no problem getting rid of most of the stuff her parents left behind after they were gone.

  • I commend you on all you have gotten rid of. I keep trying to downsize, but I never get that far.

  • Mum saw that show on Netflix and liked it too.
    She is amazed at the amount of stuff she has acquired in the 12 years she has lived in this place.
    Regifting and donating make reducing all the surplus stuff much easier to take.
    She just needs to stick with it 😉
    Glad Pinkle found a toy to keep 😉 heehee
    Purrs Georgia,Julie and JJ

  • Every year at this time, the mom has these same thoughts and starts going through stuff and throwing out or gives away what isn’t needed anymore. We just hope she doesn’t touch our tissue paper.

  • Mom has given away about two dozen of my toys to two boycats who don’t have as many things as I do.. that I wasn’t playing with hardly at all. That left me about that many to play with. By the way, I have a wooly ball too that I like to play with. I select a lot from my basket and put them everywhere in the house. Mom has gotten rid of some of her things and needs to do far far more.

  • guyz…kleenin iz good, doe natin iz even better…when de food servizz gurl mooved from point A ta point Z, her only brought what wood fit inta her car…. anda small box truck…..and rather large cat carrier 🙂 ♥♥♥ 984 pawz up !!

  • Mom is envious, Alana, but when you share your space with another human, items that she might think of as unnecessary, our dad may consider a prize possession and vice versa, of course. Mom loves giving gifts and giving stuff away, but if she gives away anything of ours without replacing it with something better, we will bite her! XOCK, angel Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, angel Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo, Cooper Murphy and Sawyer

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