Real Life Minimalists: Apple

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

Today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Apple. In their quest for simplicity, she and her husband have made some big changes in their lives. Read her story, and I think you’ll be inspired!

Apple writes:

I am a born minimalist. As a child I loved tidying my room, my favourite activity was packing my backpack for holidays and then living out of my bag. I remember feeling overwhelmed after receiving more than one present for Christmas or the frustration of having to keep unused clothes, superfluous room decorations, bulky pieces of
furniture in my room.

Yet, even until my early thirties I, as well as my minimalist husband, held on to boxes of ‘sentimental treasures’, including comfortable but unfulfilling jobs. (No way I wanted to part from or my 90′s miniskirt and DocMartens, or the job in a multi with great benefits!) In our otherwise minimalist home the weight of these ‘sentimental treasures’ were suffocating. Every day I looked at the boxes (hidden in our wardrobes), I felt uneasy and confused. Every day we went into work we felt confined and unmotivated. During this time we also owed apartments to rent and a second car which was necessary for my husband’s hated career. Life was confusing and we needed space, clarity and simplicity.

After our second child was born, my husband and I made some life-changing decisions:

* We decided to move. We moved to a small house in a neighbourhood we love.
* We got rid of our old-time treasures and only kept a few pieces that we love and display. (eg. my husband’s Lord of the Rings thingie)
* We sold our rental properties. (apart from one…market downturn, could only sell at a huge loss)
* We sold our second car.
* We gave up our jobs and embarked on going back to university to study for careers which won’t just pay for our physiological needs but contribute to self-actualization. (after Maslow’s hierarcy of needs).

We are happy that our finances are simplified, our careers are on track, and feel that we have got rid of the elephant in the room (or, in our case, the elephant in the wardrobe). Do you also have other than tangible clutter to ‘minimalise’? Are you finances, career waiting to be simplified?

Apple's home

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

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38 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Apple

  • zuc

    floor and dining table clear of any clutter. books add splashes of colour.inspiring room

  • Lolly

    I love that you took the leap and went back to education to pursue your dreams. I was wondering what you and your husband are studying now? Your house is lovely and spacious!
    I definitely have more junk waiting to disappear out of my life! I did a major clean out in the beginning of the year but there’s still so much more to go. I also have boxes of sentimental worthless things that need sorting out!

    • Apple

      Thank you Lolly. Going back to uni and taking up low-level jobs for the time was/is a big step for sure.
      We’re ying our best to balance life with the children, part-time work and demanding professional training. Good luck with your decluttering. When you are ready to get rid of sentiment stuff, you’ll enjoy it!

  • Lindsey

    I love that you still have books.

    I’m minimalising in a big way, but my book collection is proving problematic. I’ve just held on to the ones I adore and couldn’t bear to part with – which is still a lot.

    Good luck with your studies and thank you for an inspirational story!

    • Apple

      We love books! I love sitting down with a book and a cup of tea, to feel the weight of the book, to turn the pages, to breath in the scent of the paper. I somehow cannot see myself staring at a cold computer screen and read Wuthering Heights. :)

  • Apple…
    your story is really inspiring. Especially that you have started studying again. I wanted to finish my final Japanese exam since last so many years but could really never found the time to study. But I guess I should make time for it. Good thing in my case is; I don’t have to leave job for that.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Apple

      Praktisha – there’s the old saying that once something is important, you will find time for it. When you feel that finishing your Japanese exams are one of your top priorities, I’m sure you will find the time to do it. All the best!

  • KellieC

    After sorting through boxes and endless junk in a recently deceased relative, I will no longer save anything. I have been parting with items for quite some time now but I never want someone to go though my home once I die and say ‘why did they keep this’ or ‘what were they thinking to save that’. I am done. We are just atoms in the universe and we are all on the road to death so why save for tomorrow when this could be your last day? Use it now. Don’t buy anything to save or display. Use what you have as you really don’t need anything new. If you can’t move it in one small compact car – you don’t need it! I say give it all away and live for today. It just may be your last.

    • Apple

      This is certainly an eye-opener, Kellie. Thank you.

    • Mrs Brady Old Lady

      Brilliant!

    • Mayfair

      You said this so eloquently:) It is very direct, which some of us need to help get us going again on the road to minimalism. I liked what you said about using things up today, and not saving them up for some future use. My mom used to always save her “best” perfume for special occasions. Not me—I say, use the good stuff every day. Today IS a special occasion–its Monday:) I convinced my mom of that & now she lives for today, freely wearing her fancy perfume whenever she feels like it. Its very liberating to live in the present tense!

  • I am a born minimalist myself. I like your story. Your space is minimalist indeed, although please do not interpret this as disrespectful, but you have an awful lot of books for a minimalist. Just an observation.

  • Apple, your story is very inspiring! I have been going through a similar transformation, getting rid of lots and lots of clutter in my closet, with my commitments, on my computer and in my mind. That includes finally letting go of some past-due sentimental stuff. I am minimizing my life because it feels good, and also in order to cut back on my working hours to go back to school to study something I am really fascinated about. One significant difference is that my husband is not on board with my minimalist tendencies, and that just plain sucks.

  • Apple

    Victoria – I’m glad to see other born minimalists. Absolutely no offence taken. I’m glad to tell you about the books, and why I think being a minimalist is not necessarily about having no books at all.

    Even as a born minimalist, I always loved books. (see earlier note) We have hundreds of books (more than the picture shows), but they are all the ones we know we will re-read, no duplicates/mutiplates of the same kind (eg. no three travel books on Italy or on how to raise kids). We have our books neatly packed on the white shelves on the two sides of our fireplace.

    I read somewhere, that we should only keep what we use and what we find beautiful. Even though we are minimalists with tiny wardrobes, a few toys and an empty fridge before shopping day, we like to read and keep books and more importantly, we find our bookshelves beatuiful to look at! :)

    • Karen T.

      Hi Apple! I love my books too, though I have recently pared them down to the ones I love and will re-read. I think the real difference as I’ve been pursuing minimalism more ardently is that I use the library more, and don’t buy the “bestseller” type of books I will only read once. I used to do that all the time, and those are the books I’ve been getting rid of. (I too am a born minimalist, but I haven’t always lived with minimalists, so I’ve been a bit influenced. No more!) I still have dozens of books, but they’re all beautiful keepers.

  • Kyndra

    Thank you, Apple! This is the perfect inspiration for today, and my husband and I embark on the same track!

    • Apple

      Best of luck with everything you do. It’ll be all worth it in the end, and if things do not work out, at least you cannot regret NOT trying.

  • Heather

    yay, a minimalist with books! I adore books! It really is about focusing on what’s important to you, and paring back on the unimportant things! In life, in possessions, in finances.

  • I’m with Heather… I love books! But there is something to keeping books that serve a purpose (either because you refer to it often or it makes you happy)… it’s all about getting rid of the unnecessary and keeping what improves your quality of life. Beautiful home!

  • Apple, I was not implying to not have any books at all. I was just surprised by how many there are, but as they are all being used and well-cherished that puts a different spin on it. I’m just not comfortable with a lot of books. I keep very special ones, maybe about 25 total. I certainly wouldn’t want someone commenting on my bead collection or my love of Hello Kitty trinkets, so I know what it means to have more of certain items than other minimalists would have. I think a lot of minimalists tend to have one or two types of objects that they love so much that they keep more of it than what would be considered minimalistic. I’m glad you took it in the spirit I intended it.

  • Apple

    You are right, Victoria. Minimalistm is not about masochistically getting rid of everything you own. Equally, when a persondoes not let clutter overwhelm his life he is not simply doing it for the outside world to title him as “minimalist”.

  • Linda Sand

    I used to have seven tall bookcases full of books. Now I have an eReader. But, we have ten pillows for two people. I love pillows. I love reading, too, but was glad to discover I didn’t need to own the books anymore.

    • Ariel

      Agreed. For some reason, if I loooooved a book I read, I would buy it to own my own copy! This year I am staring at them thinking: I only read them maybe once a year, why can’t I just check each one out at the library when I feel like reading it, rather than hauling it from house to house as I move? It’s ludicrous! Why do we feel we need to own them?!

      • Karen T.

        Except sometimes the library doesn’t have them any more (I mean the older books — new “bestseller” types seem to be readily available). Our library gets rid of books to make more room for computers. There’s always inter-library loan, but even there I’m sometimes unable to get what I want. And sometimes I want to read part of a book right now — to find a favorite passage or something. But that’s me — I realize not everyone thinks the same.

  • Gil

    I’m not a born minimalist, but one who has taken a long and difficult path to being one.

    I like your one statement about getting gifts..I definitely feel the same way. Me spending time with family and friends is the perfect gift now.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Great post! I love that you have made the diffcult choices to change your life and do what you love! And I love books, too, although I did decrease my collection when my children were all grown!
    Bernice
    Conquer 3 major clutter culprits

  • Percy

    But was this change only possible because of what went before it? The good jobs, buy to let properties – allowed you the financial freedom to follow your dreams, right?

  • Apple

    Yes and no, Percy. Yes, we do have some savings, and no, as at the moment we have an interest-only mortgage with negative equity. The flat we’re renting will be our pension. Going back to education while having to support a family is a HUGE task, no doubt. Not just timewise (my husband is often only home to shower and sleep), but financially as well. No holidays, no ad hoc eating out, no trips to the zoo etc. The fact that we’re pretty minimalist anyway help in not spending, only on the neccessary.

  • Lila

    Another vote for books! I only keep the ones I read over and over–does anyone else notice that books are magic? Mine are DIFFERENT every time I read them!

    • Ariel

      I love that! Either way I win out: it’s not as good as I remembered and I no longer need to hang on to it, or it’s better than I remember and I now have a new favourite book!

  • Rachel

    I love your story! I love your space; as much as I love books, I have drastically cut out almost all my books. It was hard for me but it’s worth it to me to not have this uneasiness about them. I’m ultraminimalist–my personal belongings could easily fit in my car! But I have a ton of baby and toddler books because my girls are just not at the age to be trusted with library books–and yet I want them to love reading!

  • Apple

    Lila, Ariel, Rachel – Thank you. I did not actually think the books will raise so much discussion, but I’m glad they did. It is interesting to see other people’s views on what is a collection and what is something you use, yet like it for the aesthethics as well.

  • Apple, congrats! As a fellow ‘Real Life Minimalist’, just want to say well done + way to go with pursuing a new career! All the best :)

  • Rita

    I feel relaxed when things are minimal. The problem is that I have useful things I keep. Not a huge amount but enough to cutter a room that I could use for other more things. We have had times that I would go out to the pole barn to retrieve an old lamp, cooking things, or skillet to use in the house when the currant one is broken. It saves so much money to be able to do this. I also would not have the money to buy new. It leaves me with a problem I don’t understand. Frustration. I want a clean simple look. I’ve spent many vacations cleaning out my parents house after passing, a barn, and rooms when I move. I know there is a better way. Can you help me?

  • Mayfair

    I had a true packrat friend years ago when I was a young college student. I was in my early 20s and she was in her mid-30s, married, with 3 kids. She had a huge house full of stuff, crammed to the rafters, plus a huge trailer home in her backyard that was actually stuffed full of junk. When I see the “Hoarders” show, it reminds me of her. I remember that she would often tell me how she was looking for an item & when she couldn’t find it, she’d go out and buy another one to replace the lost item…like that was easier than clearing out her hoard! Wow, I was really “negatively inspired” by her example, and I really enjoyed living in my tiny efficiency apartment. The living was sparse for me at the time, with hardly any furniture & I easily got rid of junk. I am reminded of that friend sometimes when I work toward streamlining and maintaining my own minimalism. Reading stories of other minimalists is inspiring and reminds me that I’m not the only one who is happy living with “enough.” Thanks, Apple:)

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