Real Life Minimalists: Brenda Woolner

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, I’m pleased to feature Brenda Woolner, who tells us about her minimalist lifestyle in Nova Scotia.

Brenda writes:

My name is Brenda Woolner and I live in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. I discovered this blog a few months ago and it is great to feel part of this online community.

I am 54 years young and have been living a minimalistic lifestyle for many years. I was raised with parents who lived a simple and frugal lifestyle. My son who is 22 and used to eschew my actions is now developing minimalistic tendencies of his own. And the cycle continues!

I followed my heart to Nova Scotia after living for 15 years in Nelson BC – a sweet little mountain town. Nelson is a lovely place to live but a challenging place to create a livelihood. It is here that I developed and honed the minimalistic actions that I use today in the city.

Some of the things that I do include:

*Eat locally and grow some of my own food
*Buy used whenever possible
*Support my mom and pop establishments rather then chains if I have to buy something new – it may cost a little bit more but it contributes to a broader sense of community which is important to me.
*Share my vehicle with others
*Ride my bike and walk as much as I can
*Constantly purge so I do not accumulate stuff that I do not use on a daily basis.

All the things that I do are very simple actions and they DO make a difference. In fact being frugal enabled me to save for a long wanted 4-month mid-life pilgrimage to Peru.

When I moved 6000 miles across the country I did not bring much furniture or personal effects with me. In fact I shared the moving truck with people who were also making the trek – saving all of us money.

My entire 750 square foot bungalow in the city is furnished with items from yard sales, thrift stores and kijiji that I found. My dream is to downsize even further to a “tiny house perched on the shores of the Atlantic ocean.”

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.

{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.}

22 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Brenda Woolner

  • Moving certainly helps with the downsizing. I’ve moved 3 times in 4 years and hopefully will one more time, soon. I have no desire to lug a bunch of stuff across the country with me.

    I hope you get your little house on the Atlantic coast.

    Dan Garner

  • Kurkela

    4 month mid-life pilgrimage to Peru – sounds like a dream. Good luck with your dream house near the ocean!

  • Helen

    Thanks Brenda, what a lovely story to share. I like the fact you showed the flip side to minimalism, living with less but happily trading that for your trip to Peru. And as for your dream tiny home near the ocean, well I can picture that in my mind and hear the waves rolling onto the beach. Well I can just about hear them …above the racket my 3 little ones are currently making that is! I’ll dream on….!

    Good luck with your endeavours and enjoyed reading, thanks

    Helen :)

  • Brenda, I enjoyed your thoughts, and looked at your website. I loved the pictures. I am a sucker for all things Pilgrimage! I am the same age as you, and I agree that conscious downsizing for the second half of life’s journey can lead to surprising and wonderful places. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love how simplicity has been carried down now for three generations! Thanks for sharing your story Brenda!

  • Thanks for your story, Brenda. After reading it I have the hope that my children could follow me in my simple life. Eating and buying locally is great idea that makes community stronger and Earth less pollute.
    I wish you happiness!

  • Sky

    Brenda, it sounds like you have your priorities right! Sharing a moving truck is brilliant.

  • Charlene

    Hi Brenda, we are probably very close neighbours! I also live in North End Dartmouth, NS… I found this blog a few weeks ago and have been eating it up! My journey started about 20 years ago and since then I’ve been trying to make decisions based on the question- “will this simplify my life or will this complicate my life?”… I’m constantly purging and trying to encourage my husband to do the same, however, our basement is still full of ‘ManStuff’. Thanks for sharing your story, nice to know you’re in the hood!

  • Angie Martin Hall

    Brenda, what a nice story. You sound so happy. I, too, am in my 50s, and I have gotten to the point where I just can’t take any more stuff! And my 16 year old, I am glad to say, is evolving into a minimalist (sort of like your son)! I am still working on the 10 year old, though!

    Enjoy your new life in your new home with your new minimalist lifestyle!

  • Such a wonderful story, I wish you a fabulous trip to Peru. Perhaps one of those cute houses from the popular “tiny house movement”, would be a perfect fit for your beach dream home.
    Buen Viaje:)

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Brenda. I hope you get your tiny house. I have always fancied living in a small beach hut-style beach house. Still looking ;o)

  • Brenda – I thoroughly enjoyed reading your guest post!

    I just celebrated my 55th birthday last week, and like you, have been a minimalist for a very long time. When people ask me what I want for my birthday, I say, “Oodles and oodles of nothing.” Basically, if it’s something that can’t be used up (a candle, a gift card to a movie theater or a restaurant, etc), then I’d rather take a pass.

    Because of our simple, debt-free lifestyle, we’re able to do a lot of traveling. When visit Nova Scotia, we stay at the Trout Point Lodge in East Kemptville (Yarmouth County).

  • Henny

    Fabulous and inspiring – I hope you get your tiny house some day…Peru sounds wonderful…

  • It’s amazing how much easier adventuring is with less stuff to deal with! Thanks for sharing, and your dream house on the ocean sounds heavenly…I hope you are able to make that a reality!

  • What a positive story Brenda! I see you have a photo from Newgrange on your site, if you visited Ireland I hope you enjoyed your time here. :)

  • RachelH

    Hi Brenda,
    Just want to chime in about Nelson! It is a charming, quaint town but I’d imagine it’d be hard to make a living there. We drive through on our way to Ainsworth Hot Springs.

    I’ve recently come to see the value of Mom & Pop shops as well. I’m only 25, a busy homemaker and mom, and have usually thought “cheaper is better” but am now trying to build up my community by shopping locally.

    Thanks for sharing! It IS nice to be part of an online minimalist community. Until I heard of minimalism, I always kind of thought I was a one-of-a-kind freak! :)

  • Tina

    When we moved from our 1400 sq. ft. house with an attic and basement to our 1600 sq. ft. condo with a small 4’x4′ storage room 12 years ago we gave away and threw out a lot. We give away a big bag to Sal Army or Goodwill every week. We are in our 60’s and now I am trying to get rid of 2 things for every one I bring in. I just found some jelly glasses I hadn’t seen in years for my grandsons to drink from, since I am in the high kitchen cupboards now.

  • Tina

    We continue to clear things out. I found more hobby materials and gave them away. My son moved out, emptied a lot of space and continues to clear more space when he stops over. I folded my dining room table as small as it goes, so there is more floor space and less of a landing space for clutter.

  • Tina

    I hope to continue to give away more things each week. I can see the difference a bag a week for a year has made. I can’t tell you what I’ve given away, but I can see the difference in the way the house looks. There are probably another 500 things that can go.

  • Tina

    A woman was talking about how many clothes she buys from catalogs and how hard they are to give away. Another friend told her to turn the hanger around when she wore something and whatever was left she should give away. Another friend who has very little money had closets and a garage full of clothes she never wears. I have asked her for years to give them away. Clothes, unless they are collectible, never go up in value.

  • Tina

    I was visiting my mom at the nursing home. She was on her favorite topic– all the clothes she had had over the years. She spent a great deal of time and effort on her dresses and many years ago, her various hats.

  • When we cleared out my Mom’s condo in Miami, we threw out more than 80 boxes of papers and 4 walk in closets full of stuff. She went to a nursing home because her last fall knocked her into a coma and she couldn’t dress herself or get herself out of a chair w/o help. She was in the nursing home and kept saving papers, broken junk, and spoiled food. A cousin, who was an even bigger hoarder, died in his storage locker a few years ago. I save 1 or 2 of things I will use and mostly give a lot of things away. I do not stock up on soap, toilet paper, napkins, shampoo or paper towels.

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