Real Life Minimalists: Lorilee

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.

I think you’ll find this week’s story from Lorilee very inspirational. She tells us how minimalist living has brought her family a new sense of freedom and joy—and I just love the beautiful family photo she’s shared with us! Check out her blog to learn more about her journey.

Lorilee writes:

I love simple and minimalist living! It has been a process for us since the beginning of the year slowly getting rid of stuff. In the process we also got rid of our house (we rented it out instead of selling it) and well over half of what we had in it. I feel free!

I just finished “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay which spoke what I couldn’t put into words myself. I recommend the book to anyone flirting with the idea and needing it spelled out and broken down.

Minimalism isn’t about denying or loosing, it is about freedom, space and time.

What drove us to cutting back and minimizing?
I was getting very tired and stressed out. I was frustrated that I wasn’t the mother, wife or any of the other hats I was trying to wear, that I wanted to be. I was exhausted and discouraged. Stress was really starting to affect my health. Minimizing for me was a way of trying to get my life, what really mattered of it, back.
Also, our true passion is traveling and vacationing with our family, but our stuff was keeping us financially and maintenance wise from doing as much as we wanted.

What we did?
I have never been a pack rat. I didn’t have any of the kids clothes or toys (except a few sentimental items) that the kids had grown out of. I did garage sales and goodwill trips regularly. What we had was a fully furnished 2000 sq ft house and it was more than I could keep up with inside and outside.

Starting in January we went through the house from top to bottom pulling everything possible out and sorting it in the basement. We got rid of everything we didn’t love or use. Several garage sales and trips to goodwill later we had an empty house. I thought it would be harder for us, especially the kids, to see it all go but it wasn’t at all. It was great! Every trip or sale felt more freeing and made us feel lighter. The cats were the hardest to part with, but they didn’t fit in with the life we were trying to create.

Where are we now?
We moved into town, within walking distance of tons of stuff. We have a 2 bedroom apartment that is small enough to clean and has no exterior maintenance. We keep going through and getting rid of stuff.

A bunch of last winter we spent traveling with my husband’s work and staying in hotels. That is my dream to get to with my house. A nicely decorated, inviting and simple hotel/apartment. There is a reason people love to go on vacation… they need to get away… from all the junk, material and time wise. There is no reason why I can’t live in a ‘vacation mindset’ having a clean simple place to live and control over my schedule.

With our move cutting expenses and money from selling lots of stuff we took an amazing 5 week road trip with our kids up into Canada and all down the west coast. We haven’t regretted our move once! Hopefully, with our living costs cut back we can take many more of these family vacations before the kids grow up and move out. Not to mention I feel much better mentally and physically. Simple and minimalist living has given the freedom to have a life.

I have tried to blog through our experience at as well as all my attempts of simplifying parenting and home schooling. We are well on our way of creating the life we want to have and I am so excited.

Lorilee and her family at Mount Rushmore

{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.}

180 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Lorilee

  • Viktoria

    I just read through all the comments that were posted since this morning. The main issue, as I said before, is I didn’t like Lorilee’s language: instead of saying that she found new homes for the cats, it’s written that she “got rid” of them, which sounds so callous to us animal lovers.

    Lorilee, thanks for clearing up the situation with your comment.

  • Krisi

    My cat and I have been together for almost 20 years and she was around one year old when I got her. I got her b/c my neighbor in college left her and moved away. Guess having a cat didn’t fit in her lifestyle. My cat is currently in the beginning stages of renal failure and I truly would give her a kidney if it could be done, human to cat. I was heartbroken for the cats when I first read this, and still do not agree with the author. I went on here tonight to be inspired and find myself so sad for these cats. That being said, at least she found a home or homes for them and didn’t leave them on the street. But I still don’t understand how animals are so disposable to so many people. I know they are not human, but they are brought into our families and trust us to care for them, and while my cat is almost 21, most animals do not live that long, and as one person commented on here you will not be an animal owner forever because they will not live forever. I don’t understand the comment of how they can’t live in a smaller space, but I do agree that cats don’t travel well. I just hope in the future she will not get an animal of any kind. And I pray that the cats are doing well.

  • Lorna

    My puppies mean the world to me, but I still respect Lorilee’s right to post about her minimalist journey. The harsh comments many have directed toward her are one reason I’ll probably never submit my own Minimalist Monday story.

  • Henny

    I’m glad Lorilee clarified the situation with her cats really well. The cats would not have been happy, as she explained, and she considered their well-being by finding them good homes. I love animals and agree that taking on pets is a huge responsibility, but I think she did the right thing.

    Lorilee, you sound so happy with all the changes, and how exciting that you can travel and do things that you have always wanted to do. Well done!

  • george

    Wow this has to be one of the most asinine, utterly useless and moronic batch of whining I have in a long time. Seriously, lets start with a couple of questions for those of you with a cat fetish. Have any of you ever eaten any meat, ever…? I had a cow for a pet when I was little, I know other people who have had them as pets as well. Ever use glue or have a bowl of jello, horses are people too? What about the spider in your shower, you better not kill it, they sell those in pet stores and they live forever. You could relocate it to the back yard, but that’s like moving across state lines for us, think of the trauma that would cause the poor thing, and it is so cold and lonely out there. Who could do such a thing to a “companion animal”? Ever set a mouse trap? Those can be pets too, and don’t you dare move out of their natural environment, they were born and raised in your house, it’s a “lifetime commitment.

    Speaking of lifetime commitments, how many of you are divorced? Separated? Last time I checked marriage was a lifetime commitment that is broken over 50% of the time. Do you confront the people that you know that are getting divorced, do you tell them what horrible people they are for committing such a horrible act and leaving someone they committed to that counts on them for emotional or financial support.

    So in summary, if you have never any form of meat ever, never killed a spider, mouse, or other innocent creature that counts on you for food and or shelter, (think fruit fly clinging to life with the nutrients from the bananas on your counter). You have always lectured and harassed everyone you know that has gotten a divorce, or been separated, or are yourself single or married for the first time. Then by all mean keep going on your moronic little campaign for apparent Saint-Bernard-hood….

    If not…… sit down, shut up and get back on the short bus you rode to work or school today, maybe lick a few less windows, the chemicals in the cleaners are bad for you, and they are affecting your logic and reason not to mention your IQ.

    Because if clicked through and read Lorilee’s blog you have would gather that she is not perfect and doesn’t claim to be. She downsized to spend more time with her children. If you read the comment from her above you would realize that she found good homes for the cats.

    • Brooke R.

      What a hypocritical comment. Criticizing those who are criticizing. Go you.

    • DawnW

      To answer your questions: I used to eat meat,not anymore.I don’t eat jello,the glue I use does not have animal ingredients.I would never use a traditional mouse trap,there are humane traps you can buy now.If a mouse set up shop in my home,I would use a humane trap to take it outside.That would not be a lifetime commitment because I didn’t invite it in and adopt it.Divorce is different b/c one’s ex-spouse is not dependent on them.I do not lecture or harrass people-I just had to say something when I read something that upset me,like you did.I am not a moron and I am not asinine,I do not lick windows and I do not use cleaners with chemicals,I use non-toxic,natural cleaners.I don’t know if you read my 2 previous comments,it sounds like you didn’t.I said there is an animal population problem,which is a legitimate concern.I wasn’t trying to be a jerk,I was just explaining,after her explanation,why her post upset me.

    • Charlotte

      Wow, how rude! Calm down, and be polite.

    • Gil

      George..You accuse others of being “moronic”, yet you took the same ugly, rude and know-it-all tone with others in your post.

      I don’t even remotely have cat “fetishes” as you ridiculously assume. I can also probably conclude that the others here who spoke up are simply people who love their creatures unconditionally. Did you actually expect us to stay silent on this matter? I suppose if no one is in line with your thoughts, they have no right to express their thoughts. Wrong.

      Note that the majority of those, me included voiced our opinions in a polite, but firm and civil manner, unlike yourself.

    • Angie Hall

      Well, said…I mean, well written, George. You hit some nails on the proverbial head.

    • mrs Brady Old Lady

      George! Superb!

  • alice schrader

    Lorilee’s explanation seemed very rational and made sense of her family’s situation with her cats, but I can’t get past her tone in the original post. It spoke volumes to me. Doesn’t make her a monster, just another person for whom companion animals aren’t a true part of the family. She just isn’t someone I care to know more about based on that fact alone.

  • Disappointed

    It boggles my mind that animal lovers can be so attacking. I’m all for exchange of discourse so long as it’s respectful, but the remarks towards Lorilee borders abusive. Give someone the benefit of the doubt, or ask for clarification then make an informed opinion on whether or not to attack someone’s character.

  • Disgusted

    Have enjoyed this blog for some time but never posted a comment before now. Thank you George for a voice of reason. I am saddened by the ‘cat lovers’ who are so disrespectful to a fellow human being, who made the best decision she could for herself and her family, and the cats. I would never post my minimalism journey here either to be judged by those of you who, without knowing someone or their situation, feel-holier-than-thou in condemning a stranger who chose differently than you would. Wow.

  • miss minimalist

    Oh, wow – I’m entertaining my visiting in-laws this week, and was unaware of the firestorm brewing here on my normally sedate blog. I just wanted to take a minute to weigh in with some comments:

    1. Living even a semi-nomadic lifestyle isn’t as easy as it sounds, and involves quite a number of sacrifices. I know the challenges of finding (and moving between) temporary lodging first hand; throw kids and pets into the mix and it increases exponentially. If pets are happier in a more permanent home (with ever-present owners), I think Lorilee did the responsible thing by finding them one.

    2. It appears that much of the uproar had to do with the wording in the original post. After two years of blogging, I’ve become sensitive to this in my own writing; however, please remember that most of my Real Life Minimalists aren’t regularly writing for a large audience. Furthermore, I limit these features to a certain number of words, and I think the real point of her story would have been lost had she spent half the post explaining the pet situation. That’s why I always refer my readers to the poster’s blog to learn more. Let’s not be quick to judge when we don’t know the full backstory behind a particular decision.

    3. Minimalist living sometimes comes down to making difficult choices and establishing priorities. When I reviewed Lorilee’s post, what stood out to me was the effort she’s put into creating a lifestyle of freedom and travel for her children. A pet owner may take offense at her re-homing her cats to do this; on the other hand, a mom may take offense had she denied her kids this opportunity on account of the cats. I think it’s important to realize that we all have different priorities, and to be respectful of them.

    That’s all for now – time to get back to my family. As you know, I welcome different opinions, but do request the discourse here to remain polite, civil, and open-minded. :)

    • Sarah

      I feel the wording on Lorilee’s story described her stance very clearly.

      How can you or anyone be sure the cats have now found a permanent and good home? There are already thousands of other people doing the same and deciding animals aren’t for them, for the moment at least, which is disturbing in itself making animals and pets equal goods…

      I’m now wondering about you, Francine, and your values as well. I agree that life choices can be difficult, but to openly support getting rid of animals in the name of minimalism is, I admit, very politically diplomatic of you. Yet it changes the way I now view a blog and a writer I’ve long admired. And it feels bad.

      • libby

        Sarah, Lorilee made a post on the first comments page (about 3/4 of the way down) clarifying that she found her cats good homes. I am willing to take that statement on faith. I am nonetheless disturbed and disappointed that she feels discarding pets is an acceptable lifestyle choice.

        Francine, I know the point of Real Life Minimalists is to give readers the opportunity to share their journeys in their own words, but perhaps you could provide some editorial advice on the rare occasions your guest writers make problematic statements? Had Lorilee had the opportunity to choose her words more carefully before the post went live, the controversy might have been minimized.

  • DawnW

    Again,I didn’t mean to be a jerk.But the way she worded it,like her cats didn’t matter,upset me.She didn’t explain the situation in the post,and after reading her explanation later,I better understood.It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth,because of the animal overpopulation problem I mentioned before,but I am glad she found good homes for them.Now I’m done,and I hope people understand what I’m saying.

  • Kurkela

    Dave Bruno, The 100 Thing Challenge, pages 58 to 59

    (…) I have observed this impulse to escape in other practitioners of the simple life, too. There is a tendency among those of us who advocate for simplicity to resist settlement. We want to buck cultural trends and conformity to the system. We want to go where we want, when we want, and how we want. (…) Living a life of simplicity does not end in a life of detachment; it does not mean we have to run away. It’s just the opposite. (…) All of us are in some manner torn between caring and not caring, staying and going. I belong where I am. (…) Maturity is not so much about going places as it is about making places. So bloom where you are planted. Make the soil you have been stuck a more beautiful place.

    There is the answer somewhere, don’t you think?

    • Charlotte


      I really like your post. I’ve been thinking along these lines more and more recently. The more I read about minimalism, the more it seems that so many people’s approach is to junk all their stuff and to seek as many new and varied experiences as they can. To me it looks like replacing the fetish of posessions with the fetish of experiences. That isn’t about being content in the moment, or content with what you have. Or with finding the joy and beauty in everything, however small. It’s not anti-cosumerist – you’re just consuming flights and hotels and activities and services and everything else instead of what you did before. You’re still constantly seeking the new and exciting. Wanting, seeking, consuming. I’m not saying this is bad at all, I just don’t see how it’s minimalism.

      Not being able to be content in one place is no different to not being content with a few things. That’s why minimalism is so extremely hard, I think.

      • Kurkela


        yes, I have been thinking about this too. I think one of the reasons people suddenly leave everything and everybody, and go to other countries, is a hidden need for a change of something. However, this is never the way to change something or to solve the problem, because you can leave behind what you like, but you can never leave behind yourself, and so you take your problem = your mind along again, and it never ends. And when it finally does, it turns around that you really are happy where you are right now, and there is no need to run. There are so many fairytales in so many countries about people who leave their home to find happiness somewhere out there, and then it turns out that the happiness was at their home all along. However, this journey is an inherent part of their change. Wasn’t it Socrates (I might be mistaken) who said “I live wherever I am”?

  • Bonglecat

    I say stop giving her a hard time about deciding on a change of lifestyle after getting the cats, that happens!! Most of us here are changing or have changed our lifestyle, that’s why we are here. Okay, it may not be the most convenient moment but that’s what life it like.

    I have 4 cats who I love dearly and my first 2 we given to me by a lady who was changing her lifestyle, divorce and new relationship. If she hadn’t reassessed her life I wouldn’t have had my cats. So long as they go to a loving happy home then what’s the problem. Stuff happens, deal with it.

  • Karen (Scotland)

    Hmm, I read the original post yesterday and didn’t have time to make a comment so came back today – I suspected there would be lots to say about the cats.

    I have two cats – they’re 12 and I’ve had them since they were kittens – love them to bits. I also have four kids, they’re 1,4,5,6. Had them since they were foetuses – love them to bits.

    Two points:
    One, my husband and I took the decision NOT to take pet insurance for them and to limit ourselves on what we would be willing to spend on vets bills. Our policy is that you take on a pet, commit to give it as many GOOD years as you can – get it neutered, give it the necessary jabs and an annual check to keep it healthy as possible, feed it what you should.
    BUT, you don’t go into debt for vets’ bills. Ever. Keep it real. Cats are a luxury – many in the world can’t afford to feed their children, let alone feed a living cuddly toy. A human should never compromise their financial stability for the sake of a pet.

    Two, our health and well-being comes before the cats. None of our kids have been allergic to the cats BUT, if they had been, the cats would have been gone in a flash. If either of the cats had shown mean tendencies to the babies/kids, they would have been gone in a flash.

    In the last six years, I’ve felt GUILTY about keeping our cats. They went from having the run of the house to basically living on top of the fridge/freezer – their choice. Safer up there with four kids under five running around. Maybe they would have been happier with a retired couple who could give them cuddles all day and all evening?

    I don’t know. All I know is that I gave them a home, do my best by them, will take care of them as long as I can afford it (but won’t spend more on their health than I do on my own or the kids’ – and that’s low – we live in Britain).

    And this comment is already WAY too long…

    But, final note – some of the comments have been beyond harsh. Lorilee did what was best for her family. I respect that 100%. The original post made me think “Hmm, that won’t go down well” but I think the tone some people have used has been the most disturbing aspect of this post, particularly after Francine’s last post on drama!
    Lorilee wasn’t callous – her life has changed and her priorities have changed – she can’t offer the cats what she used to offer them. She does NOT have to adapt her life around pets. It is a romantic view to think we have a commitment to pets for life. Keep it real. Finances, health, disability, relocation, lack of time, lack of affection – there are many, many valid reasons for “getting rid” of a pet.

    Karen (Scotland)

    • Maja (Germany)

      Sorry, but cats are no luxury, they are creatures.
      They are not stuff like a car you get rid of if you do not want to spend money on it any more.
      My opinion.

    • libby

      Cats aren’t toys, Karen. I am an advocate of euthanasia as an option for cats and people with debilitating conditions, but calling a living creature a toy is deeply troublesome.

      • Bonglecat

        I agree with Karen, unless your dog or cat is a working animal, sheep dog or employed to keep vermin down, then what are they? We pet them, we play with them, we watch them for amusement, surely the very definition of toy “an object which is used by an adult for pleasure rather than for serious use”.

        Now don’t freak out on me, I have 4 cats that I love dearly I would never get rid of them, we put their needs first when deciding to move house,and I would kill anyone who tried to harm them. But the very reason I have them around is for my pleasure, so that I can enjoy their company.

    • Charlotte

      Taking out pet insurance is exactly what you should do to avoid getting into debt to pay vets bills!! If you’re not prepared to pay either, how to you propose to keep your cats healthy? What are you going to to see when they get sick, and sicker…and sicker…? Pay for them to be put down when it gets too bad rather than pay for the treatment at the beginning? If You just got insurance, you wouldn’t have that problem!!!

      So irresponsible – tantamount to animal cruelty. If you can’t/won’t look after them properly, don’t have them.

  • Loulou

    “A living cuddly toy”? Really, Karen?!
    “It is a romantic view to think we have a commitment to pets for life. Keep it real. Finances, health, disability, relocation, lack of time, lack of affection – there are many, many valid reasons for “getting rid” of a pet.”
    No, it’s not romantic, it’s responsible. As the posters here have made clear with their many examples, there are very few valid reasons for getting rid of an animal: destitution; ill health. Have I missed any?

  • george

    I just want to clarify that I was attempting to point out the absurdity of the absolutist animal theology being campaigned for here. It is equally ridiculous to attack someone for finding a home for an animal that is not working for their family as it is for me to suggest that spiders and mice have a place in our homes and we should harass those around us unfortunate enough to go through a divorce. I decided to take a very harsh tone with my comment because of the rude and nasty tone of all the comments from the members of the cat cult.

    Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you need to be cruel and judgmental.

    • Charlotte

      I wasn’t aware of anyone taking a rude and nasty tone before you. Critical, yes, but not rude and nasty.

    • Brooke R.

      George, you need to learn how to disagree/criticize one’s argument without resorting to ad hominem.

  • Nicole

    Hi Lorilee,
    I don’t know you, you don’t know me, I have a cat and I am not a cat expert. Not interested in talking about cats. But I love minimalism and enjoyed your post. I also have two children who love travelling – I totally agree with the wonderful feeling of freedom and lack of stress a minimal living space can grant you. All the best.

    • Bonglecat

      Nicole, well done for getting this back to minimalism and away from cats.

      Lorilee, thank you for posting your experience and I wish you well with your journey both physical (if you do go travelling) and spiritual.

  • Julia

    People are endlessly cruel to animals, and each other. It is way, way more offensive to encounter it on a blog that is about thoughtfulness than on say, the evening news. And it’s not exactly fair to offend much of the audience, and then insist on respectful dialog; the insistence that both Lorilee and Francine place on the ‘children’ over pets is the justification by which humanity has wiped out many species, and is one reason kill shelters do such a steady business. This simplistic, binary thinking – either/or, superior/inferior – is the same casual thoughtlessness that perpetrates all sorts of cruelties, and that definitely offends me. Lorilee may not be a professional writer, but you are, Francine, and this is a major editorial bungle. Your angry commenters aren’t random Internet trolls, they’re heartbroken regular readers.

    • Charlotte

      Hear, hear!

    • Ashley

      Great comment Julia.

    • Mayfair

      Thank you, Julia. I couldn’t have said it better myself:)

    • jennifer

      Thankyou Julia, well said.

    • Cynthia

      Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
      Genesis 1:25-27. There is a superiority/inferiority eschelon. Cats are beneath humans.
      Everyone understand?

      • Kurkela


        “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
        Matthew 25:40

        Guess this one you choose to disregard.

      • Loulou


        The Bible was written by Man. Understand?

    • Bonglecat

      Sorry Julia but I’m still missing the point that Lorilee is actually cruel. Did I miss something or did she torture the cats before finding them new and loving homes?

  • dianon

    i too found this post upsetting-in fact i wasn’t able to read it in its entirety at first. despite your follow up explanation, sorry, it just seems so selfish and heartless. this does not reflect the spirit of minimalism to me and as you can see many others.

  • Lisa


    All I have to say is AMEN and GOD BLESS!!!

  • Judy

    Let me get this straight.
    There is no way some cat lovers can be appeased…other than the return of said cats to said owner’s home.

    There is no way to return to minimalist discussion.

    There can be no respect for different opinions other than ones being espoused

    Francine is now a hard hearted unfeeling author of her own blog..

    I’m thinking that we need to get back to the real discussion…not do you love your pet beyond description (which I confess I also do) Give these writers a break and remember why we are here. Maybe a cat blog would be nice for you to share your feelings. I understand why they are strong but I also know that this is not what we are about..

  • Charlotte

    I have a question for all those who (with a slight air of smugness and superiority) are saying that it is not for anyone else to judge Lorilee’s actions. What would our society become if everyone stood back while others behaved cruelly, harmfully, wrongly, irresponsibly? We police each other. The disapproval of those around you is a powerful incentive to do the right thing. Chaos and anarchy is the alternative. It’s not a virtue to stand back and refuse to express an opinion, rather than saying ‘I believe this is wrong and shouldn’t happen’.

    And if it’s a question of making an ‘informed judgement’, I dont think we need any more information. The circumstances which made her no longer able to keep her cats were entirely chosen and voluntary, for her own pleasure with no heed of her responsibilities. Any more detail is irrelevant. She found a home for them, sure, but that’s not the sole point as many others have explained already in different ways.

    • Bonglecat

      Yes Charlotte we should speak up when someone is actually cruel or physically harmful, but wrong surely that is a matter of opinion? What you seem to be advocating here is that if someone thinks differently to you they are wrong. In Korea they eat dogs, in France horses, in Iceland fish cooked in ammonia (yes, that means urine), I wouldn’t eat any of those things but I can’t tell those people that they are wrong for doing it. People are different, if you really want everyone to think like you then we are losing free will, Thought Police anyone?? I suggest you read George Orwells 1984.

      • Charlotte

        I’m not in any way arrogant enough to suggest that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. What I believe – and what I said – is that
        societies choose a generally accepted set of beliefs regarding right and wrong, and society as a whole enforces these by expressing disapproval of divergences from accepted behaviour. We all believe cruetly is wrong, and I personally believe her actions were cruel. If you don’t, we will agree to disagree. However that was not my point – my point was that there are many people on here who haven’t said ‘I actively think what she did is fine’, they’ve witheld judgment, and prided themselves on being morally superior for this. It’s this refusal to judge that I was questioning the virtue of.

        And what makes you take the patronising attitude that I haven’t read 1984? I have, and if you also have, I think you’d do yourself a favour by not falling into the cliched trap of saying ‘1984!!’ and ‘THOUGHT POLICE!!’ in response to anything other than extreme moral relativism. Frankly it’s an insult the millions of people who live under oppressive regimes to start comparing any attitudes you don’t agree with to an extreme dystopian vision. (Also, free will isn’t really about what another person can want to stop someone else being able to do – it’s a little more abstract and complex that that!)

  • Bonglecat

    I’ve just re-read Lorilee’s post and she DID NOT say “get rid of” in respect of the cats she said “The cats were the hardest to part with”. That comment indicates to me that this was not a light decision, she did not throw them out with the trash, she found them new homes.

    As you can probably tell by my Internet name I’m a cat lover, but I understand things happen, things change. Some people out there are interpreting her actions as cold, callous and selfish. But before you pronounced judgement on your perceived notion of other peoples motives you need to walk a mile in their shoes.

  • When I was 9 I desperately wanted a cat. I got one and I took care for her. 10 years later, at 19, I left for university. I didn’t take the cat with me. She still lives at my mom’s house. Yes, it was a different case: the cat stayed with a person she knew and at the house she lived in for most of her life. I couldn’t have kept her reasonably in a small student’s room. However, I was the person that was most attached to the cat and the cat was most attached to me. Of course it was hell disturbing for her that I moved out. She was mad at me for quite a while – I am not visiting my cat often, as I live far away now, I see her about once or twice a year. However, it would have been at least equally disturbing for the cat to move out with me – away from her house, her garden and the other persons she knew. Well, now, I’m 27 and the cat is still living and quite well at that. A cat is no rabbit. A cat can reach an age of well beyond 20 years.
    It’s a pity that you can’t ask pets about which way they would prefer you to handle them.
    Life changes and I am very happy that I did move out, that I did go to university and that I travelled overseas, even though I abandoned a cat.
    Of course the cat liked it better when there were 4 people and a dog at her house – now it’s only her and my full-time working mom. But I bet, my mom liked the full house better as well. However, we children moved on, the dog died of old age – things just change over time.
    Of course, life changes are hard and hardest, when you hurt someone – or some animal. Still, sometimes they are necessary. And I don’t feel able to judge by a mere post on the internet, whether a change was necessary for a person or not.
    There are no such things like life-time commitments in life.
    You make decisions and you are responsible for what you decided. But you may realize after a while that you are not capable to live up to that responsibility. And as long as you didn’t decide in a heart-beat and didn’t light-heartedly change your opinion, I think that it is perfectly okay to come to the conclusion that a decision you made years ago is wrong for you and that you try to change your life style to find more contentment. It is perfectly okay to be egoist – as long as you’re not egocentric.
    You’re allowed to break up and divorce if you’re in a bad relationship. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to break up a bad relationship with your cats?

    • Kurkela

      When you divorce, you leave behind somebody who can take care of him/herself. Pets need someone to take care of themselves and they cannot survive alone. Did I answer your question?

      • Well those cats weren’t left on the streets all alone, right? They have someone to feed them and take care of them. Of course they are emotionally hurt. But that’s it. They are still alive and living a nice pet life as they did before. They have not been killed, deep fried and eaten.

    • Karen (Scotland)

      Um, I think you just managed to say what I meant (and instead I rabbitted on about our cats…)
      Do our best but accept change is sometimes necessary. That sums up what I meant.
      Karen (Scotland)

  • Felicity

    I thought we were going to try and have less drama in our lives? X

  • Karen (Scotland)

    I think the most interesting thing to come from this post is the strength of the feeling on where the “line” is. For many commentors today, it is obviously when you let go of a pet to simplify your own life.

    But, when does minimalism cross over into selfishness?

    I haven’t enjoyed the aggression in the comments today but, like one of the commentors said WAY above, it is interesting to look at the “darker” side of minimalism.

    The judgement from friends because I don’t have a TV for my kids to watch. My mum’s panic that I don’t sterilise all surfaces in my house (I keep cleaning materials down to vinegar and baking soda mostly). Other mums at the nursery judging me because I only own about four outfits.

    On a more serious note, the extra responsibility landlords take on that tenants can avoid. The responsibility the “boss” takes on. He could keep his life simple and go home with less money but the buck has to stop with SOMEONE. SOMEONE has to manage the hospital, maintain the buildings, ship the supplies…

    Extreme examples like Everett Brogue are (only my opinion, admittedly) obvious examples of minimalism taken a bit far. But when does minimalism cross over to just being plain selfish?

    Way too late in the comment thread to get the discussion going now but it’s definitely something I’d love to see Miss Minimalist address. You’ve had your in-laws to visit – did they resent you not having a guest bed for them after they travelled so far? (Seriously, I’m kidding there. :-))

    Karen (Scotland)

    • I’d like to read about that, too.

    • libby

      I feel that abandoning dependents, or failing to meet their needs, is the line on when minimalism crosses over into selfishness. If your children, are loved, fed, clothed, housed, and have opportunities for fun and social and creative development, you’re meeting their needs. One could argue that watching television actually detracts from those needs.

      If your choices cause harm to others, then I think they are fair game for criticism. Using natural cleaning supplies results in less toxic residue in your home — not harmful. Wearing four outfits (so long as they are cleaned when needed) — not harmful. Choosing to minimize your cookware to a pot, a pan, and a baking sheet — not harmful. If you never clean your home and choose throw out all your dishes in favor of a steady diet of fast food, then you are causing harm to your children and should be corrected, or at least not be held up as an example of a thoughtful and well-balanced parent.

    • Bonglecat

      Well said Karen.

    • libby

      On the issue of hospitality, I think that we have a responsibility to see that guests we ask into our home experience a quality of life more or less commensurate with our own. Our space and possessions are extremely limited, but we invite people over to talk, eat, and watch movies with us in line with our capacity to accommodate them. We unfortunately can’t offer a place to sleep unless people are willing and able to sleep on the floor, so we don’t invite overnight guests (unless someone asks “hey, can I crash on your [really tiny] couch?”). Our friends are aware of what we can offer before they come to visit.

      I suppose that is another important element of minimalist entertaining — ensuring that your guests know what you can offer so they can check that their needs will be met. If you’ve chosen to live without something that someone might need, perhaps they should know that before accepting your invitation in case other arrangements must be made. When living on an upper floor with no elevator, I offered to meet my mobility-impaired friend at her apartment. When living in South Korea, I had to turn down multiple dinner invitations because there were no chairs available. (I cannot sit on the floor without causing myself lingering injury.) Coworkers and good friends were happy to choose a different restaurant (or, in one memorable instance, eat at an outdoor table, the only location with benches, under a little tiny roof, even after a freak downpour swept in. Hospitality at its finest!). I have cats, so I check that my guests aren’t allergic. Little things that can make a huge difference to a few people.

  • What an intense discussion! Lorilee’s casual comment about the cats and then calling the criticizers “funny” rubbed me mighty wrong, but there’s been enough said about it already. I too would like to hear more about other people’s take on the “dark side” of minimalism. I perceive most of it on the blogs owned by young, healthy, educated, single minimalists, or minimalists with preschool kids (not teenagers). Lots of vague “just get off your ass and stop being a zombie” rhetoric. But what if one has a family, including pets, and cannot just move or leave a job on a whim? Does keeping a corporate job to pay the bills, or keeping a house in the suburbs to keep the family comfortable makes one a pathetic coward? Or is it an act of love and reason?

    • Nicole

      Good point Lana B. I tend to think that the blogs out there are just the tip of the iceberg of the range of minimalist lifestyles being lived today. The blogs seem extreme to alot of people therefore they get noticed.

      We live in suburbia and try to live as minimally as possible. What that gives us is more money to spend on our awesome backyard. Right now we are creating a secret garden for our girls with a hammock, a swing chair, a big blackboard and a mud pie table with appropriate ‘accessories’. This is what minimalist tendencies have allowed to do – follow our passions. We love the outdoors, we hate cleaning, we hate clutter, we love stability. We aren’t moving house, selling the lot and travelling. We save and then we holiday and then we return to our small house and fabulous garden and catch up with our friends. It’s a great life, a simple life and not one that anyone would want to read about on a blog. But it feels minimalist because it’s not materialistic and it has allowed us to tap into our true needs and values.

      • Nicole, a secret garden sounds so lovely! I bet the girls love it.

        And you are right – quite often, its the extreme blogs that catch attention. I have also noticed that many extreme bloggers out there are in their late twenties-early thirties. Not to discount anyone’s opinion, but I know from experience that life doesn’t seem nearly as clean-cut in the forties as it does in the thirties.

    • jennifer

      You make a great point Lana.
      I have a husband a 15 year old teenager, a dog 2 chooks and a bird. Ive gotten rid of 70% of household crap.
      I feel lighter, my husband and I would love to take off and travel.
      BUT my Daughter still has 3 years of school left our dog is getting elderly as are the chooks and bird.
      We know we have to wait, and thats not such a hard thing to do, we have an enjoyable life we have a home enough food and clothing.
      When the time comes to be able to travel it will be all the sweeter because we will have fullfilled our responsiblities.

      • Thanks, Jennifer! I am in a similar situation. I would love to travel more, or better yet, sell the house and move to a small apartment in a “hip and happening” area of the city. But for now I choose to keep my house. My teenagers are done with school. We have two cats of our own who enjoy the garden and three strays who come to eat. That’s not the main reason why we keep the house, but its a serious consideration.

  • Jane

    I think there are three valid points brought up by the past commenters:

    1. Her giving her cats to another deprives that other person from saving a cat in a shelter. Eighty percent of animals that go into shelters never come out. -Dawn

    2. Minimalism should be about being content with where you are. Bloom where you’re planted. -Kurkela (quoting 100 thing challenge guy)

    3. People want exciting experiences. Be content in the moment. Not being content in one place is no different than not being content with a few things. -Charlotte

    There are far more important matters to spend extra money on than on traveling. And if traveling is your passion, why not volunteer or make a difference while you’re at? I’m not against time off at all, everyone needs it. But why can’t you find rest where you’re at? Simple pleasures like a slice of ice-cold, crisp fruit or a walk in the park to a beautiful sunset is for everyone, hurts no one.

    I don’t see how you can get down to simplicity when you’re always booking flights, saving for a extended travel, packing, trying to find a new place to eat/sleep on the road — nothing familiar. That is not how it was in the old days, and everyone was perfectly fine without the airplane. They respected the animals as well, even the ones they ate.

    Tammy Strobel (whom Francine relishes) is living in the smallest house I have ever seen, and she STILL decided to bring her cats with her. Cats are not humans, true, but they are not disposable either.

    To echo the last commenter, people are just plain selfish. They want their professional lifestyle without kids, or they want the minimalist life without pets, or they want their traveling experience without regard to the environment. Minimalism is good, but it should be more of an ends in contentment and responsibility not a means to live a self-indulgent lifestyle a la Colin Wright.

    • For me, minimalism is about content.
      BUT there is a “but”: the journey TO minimalism can be a struggle and can be hard. As well as many might find out that the decision to heap material possessions in their homes is no longer good for them, many might realize in that progress that even more important decisions in their past have turned out to be bad and unhealthy for them. That might be a job, that might be so-called friends and that might even be a husband or wife or other family members.
      My ultimate goal in minimalizing is NOT travelling, but I also do not intend to stay in the city I’m in at the moment. My goal is to persue a lifestyle that makes me happy and that lets me shine. And that is not exactly where I’m at. I have things to sort out before that and I have goals that I want to achieve.
      To me, minimalism is about that: to find out what is truly important to you and to try to get there by cutting off distractions.
      And if family is important to you, you may very well cut off travelling as it is but a distraction to you. You may live with your grandmother or care for your grandchildren. Minimalism is not about casting away those you truly love.
      But there are also people who have bad relationships to their parents, their grown-up children, their siblings or the rest of their family. And if you’re one of them and realize in the process of downsizing that they do you no good, even though they’re family, it can be best to not let them take over your life any longer.
      Same with the city or job you’re at: if you love it, if you feel well there and if you feel home, there is no need to change it. If it is a burden, if it makes you feel bad, you might need a change first.
      In the end, minimalism is about finding pleasure in waking every morning, in being content with your life. If you’re already there, that’s lucky, but if you’re not, you might need to change.

      And you’re really lucky, minimalist or not, if you can fulfill all your dreams and wishes or those of your loved ones without having to hurt anyone. It is hardly possible, as far as I’m concerned. I cannot even be nice enough to visit my grandmother for her birthday as my other granny’s birthday is at the same date (but they live 6 hours car drive from each other). Haha.

  • Gina

    Actually, I get rid of things so that my kitty will have more room to play. But then I prefer cats to people most of time anyway.

  • Deirdre

    Oh my, I’m late in the comment thread as well, but getting rid of cats because they don’t fit in with a life? I have been slowly trying to minimalise my life for the last few months, but reading this post has made me stop. Too far, too far.

    • Kate

      Why would you stop? This post/blog isn’t the end all – be all owners manual to minimalism. Simplify in the way that makes sense for your life. Just because it had to do with pets for one person doesn’t mean it applies to you. You can have 12 cats and be a minimalist if you really want.

      • Deirdre

        Kate, I’ve stopped because this post was the last straw for me, minimally speaking.

        I look at beloved books, treasured belongings of my parents that are gone so long now and lots of other items in my home that I don’t want to part with, and I’m not being very successful at minimising.

        Reading that someone got rid of cats because it didn’t fit in with her minimalist lifestyle was just too much. I’m dithering over sentimental items, they didn’t hesitate over living animals that they took on to mind, care for and love.

        It gave me goosebumps and made me realise I don’t want to be a minimalist. I can’t really explain any better why I’ve stopped after reading this post. That’s it really.

  • nora

    if I were forced to part with my pets,I would be very very sad. It would have to be because I could not afford to feed them, and not because they didn’t fit in with my new
    lifestyle. We must teach our kids not to give away pets when they are no longer convenient. Every animal deserves to be seen as a living creature with feelings.
    No one said pets were equal to children, so I don’t know why this woman would say that!

  • Millie

    The cats were the hardest to part with, but they didn’t fit in with the life we were trying to create.

    And their lives were surplus to requirements? Francine, you claim to be a Buddhist: how does this attitude square with the strictures on compassion and right action? If the author had chosen to rehome because of illness or straitened circumstances — because a good life couldn’t be provided — I would have understood the choice. But because a vacation was more important? No, that is a despicable, selfish choice and a hell of a thing to read on my second visit.

  • April

    I’m not sure why people are getting so worked up over the cats. I totally love animals… I have the sweetest dog and I’m a vegetarian for this purpose. That being said I feel that people are always more important than animals. So the ways that some of you are attacking Lorilee is disappointing. She did not harm her animals so whats the point in saying judgemental things towards this lady you don’t know.

  • ElizMcK

    I started reading the comments today and got through about ten of them before I stopped out of disappointment and sadness. I could not help but contrast these comments against the discussion on religion/belief. The later of which was a courteous and respectful civil discourse, (emphasis on civil). Unfortunately, this series of comments on poor Lorilee was not. It reminded me of another series of posts of a real live minimalist who decided that she wanted to be vegan and that vegetarianism fit her style of minimalism: another “Judgment Day” series of posts.

    I’m not certain why pets and food choices are such triggers for some of us, but it may be worth exploring.

    I feel that minimalism includes getting rid of the clutter or static in our minds that keep us from being open, caring and present to others, but that is just my view. Others are free to discard it, if it doesn’t fit. Minimalism means different things to different people and it is always interesting to read all of the different stories and viewpoints.

    As far as the cats go, I know it must have been very painful to part with family pets, especially when they are also pets of the children. We had neighbors who had to part with one of their dogs, (I won’t bore anyone with the reasons, but they were justified). The family who took the dog in were from their church and they got to know them well before giving the dogs to them. They cried for days afterward as well as after each time they visited her, (both the man and the woman). Essentially, unless you live with Lorilee or know her family well, you are simply making assumptions about her cats. End of story.

  • Kris

    Wow, I really don’t like this woman based on her posting. Animals are not to be “gotten rid of” when they “don’t fit” in your life. They are living creatures, similar to children who are not thrown out when they become inconvenient. What a terrible attitude – a reflection of our society’s larger views of animals.

    When one chooses to adopt or buy an animal, it’s a LIFETIME commitment. Or don’t get one. They depend on you for everything. My animals have been inconvenient at times – when a cat got old and sick and needed regular care, when one needed expensive dental work, when I wanted to travel for 4 months. Because I made a lifetime commitment to the animals, I worked around the problems. Pets need not limit your life – you just need to be responsible and find workable solutions. And don’t get a pet unless you can make a lifetime commitment.

    I’d hate to see minimalism get wrapped up with ditching animals. The two are not connected. And if they ever become connected in my mind, I’ll do my pets the courtesy of waiting until they die to make that adjustment to my life.

    While parts of life can be ditched when they get inconvenient – cars, houses, clothing – please don’t start lumping lives (human or animal) in with that lot.

  • Judy

    And while we are at it…let’s not say we don’t like someone because of his/her choice to give an animal another home.

  • Heathear

    Life changes. It’s sucks when you have to give up pets when you don’t want to but it has happened to me. Do I feel irresponsible because I had cats for 5 years and had to give them up? No. I spayed/neutured and had their shots up to date and loved them like my own kiddo. I worked tiredlessly for 3 months to find them the right home and also to prepare my son and myself for the separation. I don’t think she just flung them in the road and left them. Life is full of changes and we all have to make compromises sometimes that we cannot control.

  • Cynthia

    Francine is on vacation and her house is out of order. It’s like mom’s gone
    and the kids are fighting :P .We better hurry up and clean up before mom gets
    home. :)

  • Is Kittygate over? :)