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 love this story from Bethany. She tells us how her family pared down to spend their summer on a sailboat, and are now applying the same minimalist principles to their home life. Visit her blog to read more!
Sailing to Nirvana
Ever since we met a minimalist couple three years ago, my husband and I have been slowly trying to adapt that kind of a lifestyle. We got rid of our television and have not missed it. The microwave and toaster went next. Our house has long had less clutter than most.
Our lifestyle got a kick this past summer, though, when we lived aboard our 29-foot sailboat. My husband and I, along with our 4-year-old daughter, kept three outfits apiece. The v-berth became our daughter’s bedroom, and she only had the toys that would fit in that room (along with her bedding). We had 2 cast iron pans–a skillet and a saucepan, our french press and kettle, three dishes, three mugs, and three forks. We also managed to bring our cat along, without feeling cluttered!
Living on the boat, with so few possessions, we found that life became much easier. Housework took five minutes every morning. We had time to talk, to play, to pursue hobbies. With so much less going on in our lives, we were able to truly live in the moment. Our daughter, who has sensory processing disorder and a language delay, made tremendous strides during this time.
Our summer ended prematurely, when our boat ran aground and began taking on water. We made it safely to port, but we had to return home while it was repaired. Immediately, we felt as if we were drowning in stuff. I had no time for hobbies, as housework took over my time.
Frantically, one day, I began filling the car and made my first trip to Goodwill. My first of many. Gradually, we pared down to a few, prized possessions. I considered limiting us to 100 possessions each, but settled on 400-some total, for the three of us. It’s not the counting that is important, and we have no set number. It’s the fact that everything we own, we own for a purpose. There is more I would like to eliminate, but, for the most part, I am happy with where we are.
Our greatest accomplishment, as minimalists, is our kitchen. When our stove died, after 12 years, the saleswoman at Sears told us that we were lucky to get 7 years out of a modern stove. That was unacceptable. We searched Craigslist and found a 1930′s Magic Chef. It was beautiful, and it had no computer to fail. We bought a matching table and hung our two pans, our spatula, and our oven mitt on the wall. The finishing touch was the refrigerator, which we found at a pawn shop. It, too, was from the 1930′s. It tested out as being much more efficient than anything modern, and the freezer is inside the refrigerator. We plan to fill the freezer with ice this winter (we live in Michigan, so we can freeze the ice outside), and unplug it. It doesn’t hold a lot of food, but that is all right, with our lifestyle.
Our other great accomplishment is our daughter’s room. We bought our–too large–1100 square foot house, because we wanted a child and “kids need room.” How mistaken we were! Our little buddy follows us around, and really is content in very little space. Her room is her retreat, but she once had more toys than she could use. She would throw them all over and not really play with any of them. We’ve pared down, so that all of her toys fit easily into a small toy box. She had a train table, on which she sets things, and a doll house in the living room. We have a few toys for guided play, that stay in a closet in another room. She slept on a mattress on the floor for quite awhile (now she has a twin bed that she loves) and has five outfits. Our pal is much happier with this arrangement, as she actually plays with her toys now, often for hours.
Minimalism has taught to us to take our focus off of possessions, to stop multi-tasking, and to stop spending our energy on pursuits that are not important to us. We’ve re-examined our priorities, and we are definitely ready to spend all of next summer, living simply, on our boat.
Read more about our adventures on Moonraker (and in minimalism) at oursocalledlife.blog.com.