Real Life Minimalists: Caitlin

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, Caitlin shares her story with us. A post-divorce move into a flat of her own inspired her to do some major decluttering; read more about her experience on her blog.

Caitlin writes:

I want to preface this by saying that I discovered the Miss Minimalist blog about two weeks ago and have purged about half my stuff (and read the entire archive) since then. Plus, I moved into my first flat all on my own.

I started a blog,, that I’ve been using to chronicle my “adventure to less,” as I call it. From clothes to craft supplies to kitchen wares to household items, I am cutting the excess and learning to live with just enough. I’m not finished yet but I have made a great start!

My mother has a ton of stuff in her house. And, great mother she is, she has a lot of her kids’ stuff in her house. My brother moved to Miami, FL a year ago, taking only what he could fit in his car and leaving the rest behind in mom-storage. My sister is a college junior and has most of her stuff in mom-storage as well. I moved in with my mom while I was getting divorced and looking for a job in January and lived with her for six months – with most of my stuff in her basement with everyone else’s stuff! On top of three kids’ worth of stuff, there’s her stuff and my step-dad’s stuff (plus his garage, FULL OF STUFF).

After moving everything, one box at a time, by myself, out of my ex-husband’s apartment, and into my mom’s basement, something clicked when I started reading this blog and I just couldn’t bear the thought of trying to get all my stuff up a flight of stairs, one box at a time, by myself. No way! It had to go. I didn’t even need most of it, I just accumulated it and it never left.

I started with my clothes, books, and crafting supplies, and once I started I found it was really easy to get rid of things. It was liberating. It was empowering. I didn’t need this stuff, and it wasn’t making me happy, and I had no reason to burden myself with it up a flight of stairs and try to make it fit in my 500-square foot flat with two closets. Nope.

Other things were more difficult to get rid of… especially gifts from people, relics from my childhood, and anything my mother insisted I “needed.” (I refused to take an iron and ironing board I had used only three times in the past six years – mom was not pleased!) It was hard to throw away birthday cards I found from when I was eight, including a couple of cards from my now-deceased grandmother, but I have amazing memories of her and I don’t need a card to remember how great she was and how much she loved us all.

Non-attachment is something I am striving for. My ultimate goal is to have everything I own fit in my car. It took me four car trips and one truck trip to move into my current place. By the time I leave in a year, maybe I can make my goal happen!

Follow my journey at

{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.}

14 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Caitlin

  • Asha

    Caitlin, it really is a freedom that one must experience. I am so happy for you that you found the courage to let go. I also had and have the most trouble letting go of sentimental items. Now I take a photograph of them before they leave my life. I shall visit your blog. Be blessed in your new life.

  • Hi Caitlin! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m currently “in between” places myself. I’m also trying to reduce my belongings so that when I need to move again, I can do it on my own. Not that we shouldn’t rely on other people every now and again for help…but I move a lot! Better to know I can handle it on my own terms so I can be free as a bird with my flights of fancy! :)

  • Jennifer L.

    Caitlin, Great story! You are so fortunate and wise to get this understanding of “stuff” at such a (I’m assuming) young age. Now you can live the rest of your life focusing on what really matters and not waste years and years and tons of money on things. Good thoughts and prayers for your future and I’ll be keeping up with your blog.

  • Sky

    I checked out your blog. Good luck with your minimalism journey, sounds like you are doing great!

  • Karen

    I love Asha’s idea of taking a photograph of those sentimental 3-dimensional objects that are hard to part with!

    I want to point out to people deciding to dump old cards, letters, photographs, ticket stubs, and any other flat mementos, that scanning them and keeping them as a color PDF or digital photograph is a nice in-between option. You get to keep your memories without them taking up any physical space. (Assuming, of course, they’re not taking up mental space that you really would rather they not.)

    I have a flatbed scanner I use weekly for business purposes (I keep NO paper) and have also used it to scan all the cards, notes, and letters I’d kept around since high school, so I could chuck those. If you ask around, you may be able to borrow one from a friend, and make a project of it.

  • tammy

    wow! caitlin!
    your energy and passion for this new minimalist life come straight through your writing.
    i also checked out your blog (never figured out how to leave a comment though after a post. my non-tekkie skills probably. lol)
    you will not be disappointed in coming over to the minimalist side of life. it’s the sunny side!
    full of fresh air and light and happy times…
    not loaded down and dark with stuff and stuff and stuff. even the word stuff is rather suffocating!
    tammy j

  • Thanks everyone for your comments :) I got so many new visitors to my site today, it was wonderful and really affirming. People have so many great ideas! I’m happy to be part of this crazy little thing called minimalism!

  • Mindy G

    Congrats to you! What a free-ing experience and it sounds like you are on a more fulfilling path in your life.
    It often seems that in the midst of difficult and challenging times in our lives, we find out new things about ourselves that enriches and empowers us!! Do you agree?!?

    All the best to you!!

  • Mrs Brady Old Lady

    Just checked out your blog Caitlin – it’s very good!

  • Mindy — I totally agree :) Getting rid of the stuff is helping me figure out more about myself in general and it’s wonderful.

    Mrs. Brady — thank you!

  • Tina

    Another one I must have missed. I am trying to eliminate things I don’t use. When we put my mom in a nursing home, I kept about 100 of her favorite books, the ones she’d had in plastic so they didn’t get moldy. Whenever I visit, I bring a few and take home whatever she’s done with. I’ve also picked up new copies of some of the ones I had to toss. I know this is a temporary situation, like the newspapers and magazines I bring for her. At some future time, I will not have all my Mom’s favorite romances here in my home, but for now, this is a good place to keep them.

  • Tina

    I got 5 big boxes of my Mom’s papers down to one tote bag. Next, I am going to try to get her papers down even further to one envelope. She used to sleep in a corner of a king sized bed and the whole top was covered in papers. She had boxes and boxes of papers everywhere. I am trying to keep her from hoarding in a nursing home. Periodically, they have been cleaning out her drawers and shelves and getting rid of the things she won’t let me take out to be recycled.

  • Tina

    Every week for at least a year, we have been donating a big bag or two to Goodwill. Clothing, shoes, kitchen items, bedding, etc. We have some empty drawers for company in our guest room. We have some empty shelves in the closets and there is still more to get rid of. We buy very little and use things up. I gave away paints, canvas, fabric, paper and a cabinet of other art supplies to the park district and public library for after school programs. I gave away sets of dishes to a museum for a fund raiser. There is still more to get rid of. It will go, a few bags at a time. Friends of ours want to move but can’t because they have huge garages full of stuff.

  • Tina

    We continue to see huge homes full of stuff everywhere we go. People must shop all the time. In our building there are daily deliveries from home shopping channels, Amazon and various stores.

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