Friday, 30 August 2019

How much is too much?

Last month I moved again. After a 14-month-adventure in Berlin trying to establish my yoga teaching practice, working for a start-up and teaching online marketing in a graduate school, I decided to embark on yet another adventure: I moved to a little town in the South of Germany to follow my heart. And yet another packing and unpacking, bringing up the same question: why do I need all of this?

2m3 containing 20 boxes does not seem like a lot but half of them carry my hobby, which I actively practiced until 2017: a sewing machine, an overlocker, metres of fabric, kilograms of sewing patterns, enumerable pieces of haberdashery, you name it. Donation of four full bags of clothes (mostly hand-made) did not alleviate my feeling of heaviness. And since my current stop in this little German town is definitely not the last, the totality of my possessions makes me scared.

Traveling light-weight in 2017 made me confirm and experience the philosophy that owning things did not contribute to my well-being and happiness. Therefore the return to “real” life, after living for eight months with a 12-kg bag, was quite an experience. In Berlin I rented a tiny room and used only a limited amount of my belongings. And even when most of the boxes were stored in a cellar, just thinking about them made me anxious because in reality I did not need all that I owned. Why did I continue carrying them with me across the globe?

Separating from clothes that I did not wear was easier than I thought. It became water-clear to me that I sewed most of them without giving a thought about whether I needed or even liked them. Did I make them because I was a maker? Or because I saw a beautiful dress on Instagram? Or because I myself was a blogger and needed to write about something? All the reasons below and many more... But the question of practicality of each garment, their role in my life and wardrobe was rarely rarely on my agenda. I amassed, accumulated, kept so many garments without wearing them for years! Suddenly they took such a huge space both physical and emotional. How could I separate with something that I made with my hands? Never! And slowly, without even noticing, I became their slave.

At the time I was making things none of the questions above sounded wrong to me: I made things because I could and wanted to. But then I came to the point where I could not accept carrying with me all this load of unhappiness any longer.

Everything I said may sound like a cliché and in trend with all the minimalist and zero-waste movements but I am not a minimalist neither a zero-waste militant. I try to be consequent. I try to reduce my waste but I don’t want to live minimalist. What I want to is to lead a practical life, surrounded by objects that are of use and at the same time aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, things need to make me happy to own them, not the other way around.

Can I achieve this? I don’t know yet. Can you?


  1. I went throw this same thing. I made so many clothes that I never wore. I made them because I could and it brought me great satisfaction. It's who I was. It was hard to part with these items that were not serving a purpose in my life. Doing so opened my eyes. I don't need to sit alone in my sewing room making beautiful clothing. There was a life outside the sewing room. I am now truly living it.

    1. What I realised is that it is important to acknowledge who you are and respect this person. There is no right or wrong: you have to accept and respect yourself. But we also change and evolve, which is a natural state of things. And when we change it's also important to accept this "new", "evolved" person and continue moving forward.

  2. I have a very minimalist wardrobe, but could I live without my sewing machine...never! I love to sew, it is very soothing for me. I use it for mending and repairing, making new outfits, making gifts for others and quilting. As I get older, I make fewer clothes for myself, and more for my kids and grandkids. Some things are donated to worthy causes, such as quilts for fundraising and helping out others who do not sew. Think carefully before getting rid of all of it. Sometimes you can minimalize your hobby, but still do some of it.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom. Sewing for others is such a special way of showing love and care and something I would love to do more of. Thanks, Barb!