Real Life Minimalists: Celeste

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.

This week, Celeste tells us how her packrat family, the financial crisis, and a number of moves inspired her minimalist lifestyle.

Celeste writes:


I made the decision to go minimalist about a year ago, but in hindsight it was something I always wanted without knowing it. When I was younger I always dreamed of living in a hotel, I found them so relaxing and efficient and stress free. I now realize that was because they aren’t cluttered with STUFF!

My family are packrats, they are incapable of getting rid of things or recycling them. The mess drove me so crazy that when I was 15 I actually got my own bathroom and set up a tea kettle in my room and basically barricaded myself off from the rest of the house! I did however have this one terrible habit of clothing/shoes/handbags/jewelry shopping. I did not manage to kick that until this year.

At 17 I moved out and due to several unfortunate incidents over the years both for myself and immediate family I ended up moving around a LOT. More then 5 times a year I would drag my stuff from place to place spanning Scotland, Germany, and Holland. Finally at 25 I got a stable job and apartment and got the opportunity to ‘make’ my home. There was only one problem, after years of moving, giving up stuff, losing things, or having to sell things to buy my next meal I had no desire to fill my new space with ‘things’ that I would build up an emotional attachment to. I had lost everything and it was liberating. I could streamline my goals and chase any opportunity that came my way. I had learned about the environmental impact of our consumer lives and didn’t want to be a part of it.

So I bought some functional, plain, but still stylish second hand furniture that I absolutely needed (bed, sofa, drawers for my clothing) but kept it really simple to maximize my space. I went through my wardrobe, decided what I wanted and for the rest made a huge donation to the charity shop. I got rid of the nik-naks, duplicates, and unused items in my house. I switched from paper book to eReader and love it! There days I get a buzz when I find one more thing I can do without!

The financial crisis hit me and my family VERY hard, I had no idea how to budget and had to learn very fast, but now thanks to minimalism I have figured out what I really want and pulled myself out of debt with no outside help. I feel less stress and free from ‘want’.

I still have my wish list but it is now filled with travel plans and experiences rather then ‘stuff’. It was the best decision I could have made and I don’t think I will ever look back!

{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.}

18 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Celeste

  • Mrs Brady Old Lady

    You are truly awesome. You rock,girl.

  • You are doing a great job. Its not easy coming from a family of pack rats, in my experience they do just think minimalusm is a baffling concept.
    You have made me realise I need to work on my wish list. I am not a travellor. So my wish list is simplier. Find love and write that book I have been meaning to write. You have inspired me to achieve those things on my wish list -so thank you

  • Oh, wow–do I get the packrat family reference. And I completely understand being so overwhelmed by it you can’t function. What does your family think of your minimalism? Have they changed at all?

  • Hey Celeste! Way to live your life to the beat of your own drum from such a young age! Hoarding runs on my Dad’s side of the family. Luckily, I didn’t inherit the gene – if it is even heredity. Like alcoholism, I think being a packrat can run in any family. People just seem to get too attracted to their stuff and can’t let go – they can only add. It’s sad to me. Keep fighting the power :)

  • Hey Celeste, Just wanted to say that I too was hit by the financial crisis. I was out of work for a couple of months, but I have to honestly say it was because I lived a minimalist lifestyle that it didn’t effect me as bad as it may have effected some. When you don’t have a lot of debt and bills situations like sickness and loss of work you are able to handle it better and if you do need help it doesn’t drain other people to help you out. Thank you for your story.

  • Thanks for reading, I am so glad I got to share my story :)

  • Noe

    I always enjoy reading Monday’s stories of “Real life Minimalists” .. so inspiring and touching, :) Less is truly more.

  • AussieGirl

    This was a very refreshing story.. I feel lighter just reading it. :)

    Thank you for sharing Celeste.

  • LOVED reading this! I especially like you said that you didn’t want to acquire things that you would then have an emotional attachment to. That is, for me, the true crux of minimizing, and it is awesome and inspiring that you have done it.

  • Thanks for sharing! It amazes me how minimalists came into this lifestyle in response to really unfortunate events. Good for you, for making lemons into lemonade!

  • Anna D.

    I’m glad you were able to weather the storm and come out better because of it:) Good Luck to you!

  • Juditka

    Celeste, your words made me cry, because I am going through a very similar situation. Your story is such a great encouragement for me, and also a relief. Maybe I will be able to make those step too, and establish a life that I would truly enjoy with less stuff, clear head, and much more freedom. Thanks for sharing it.

  • You are such an inspiration, Celeste!

  • Very interesting Celeste! Do you have a blog or somewhere we can read more?

  • Tina

    My mother asked me why I got rid of her 70 boxes of old magazines. I explained people look up information on their phones now. She wants to fill another apartment but we have her in a nursing home because of her falls. She can’t walk or take a shower or test for her blood sugar. We got rid of so many old papers, too.

  • Tina

    My friends have garages and basements full of stuff. A friend has fallen and broken bones in her stuff. There are serious problems with hoarding. Recently, a cousin was found dead in his hoarded up apartment. I try to get rid of 2 things for every one I bring in. I am still trying to live with less and the results are showing.

  • Tina

    My daughter has stuff in her car. I suggested she throw out a handful when ever she stops somewhere. my mother is filling up her space in the nursing home with newspapers and magazines and tea bags and papers. They’ve cleaned her out once already. I take a tote bag of stuff home whenever I visit. I don’t visit my daughter at her apt. It makes me nervous because it’s so cluttered.

  • Most of our furniture is second hand. We bought a few things at Ikea. I help people organize when they give money to charity. I have cleared out my Mom’s hoard several times and my brother’s closets so he could move. I also have done basements and garages. I think a lot of people buy way too much of all kinds of things. We own 5 bath towels. I pulled 2 out of the linen closet and put them farther away. I have a few extra sheets and blankets and a pillow for guests but they aren’t in the linen closet. People keep gallons of shampoo, conditioner, hand soap and lotion in their bath rooms, enough for years. And a six month supply of toilet paper. We live in a smaller space than any of our friends because I don’t need much stuff.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>