Real Life Minimalists: Miss Mini

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, Miss Mini tells us about her decluttering goals, and the progress she’s made so far. Please visit her blog to read more about her journey.

Miss Mini writes:

I have spent most of my life surrounded by things I love. In spite of having things around me, I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder or a messy person. I could probably say that I had more than what I needed, but not excessively. I live in a small room at home. Where I come from, it’s normal to live with your parents. I am in my forties and still single (and have no plans of changing that status). I’ve always had a lot of clothes, but I make sure they don’t overflow from the closet, and regularly give old clothing to charity. I love paper products and have all sorts of nice stationery, envelopes, note cards, note pads, etc. I also love music and own hundreds of CDs. If I hadn’t given away any of the CDs I owned ever, I would probably have around two thousand.

I have always been the type to keep my room neat and tidy. At times it would be filled with stuff, but I’d eventually get down to decluttering. However, I don’t think I have ever come close to having a “minimalist look”.

Over the past few months, I’ve again gotten the desire to have a somewhat minimalist look to my room. I have been rather obsessed with major decluttering and started searching the internet for inspiration. This was when I cam across various blogs about minimalism. Although I have heard of the term before, I never knew that it was a lifestyle, at least to some, wherein one was required to own a certain number of items. I don’t think I could ever become minimalist in the strictest sense of the word. I would however, want to become what I’d like to call a customized semi-minimalist.

I have decided to pare down my belongings to essentials and the things that I enjoy. I do not wish to have all my worldly possessions fit into a suitcase. But my goal is to have no things on the floor, except for the furniture that belongs on it. Everyday, I try to muster up enough courage to get rid of things that I couldn’t bear to throw out just the day before. I am having difficulty getting rid of paper products, though. It seems like such a waste to be throwing out a piece of usable paper, mainly because of environment concerns, and for just not wanting to be wasteful. I am all for giving away things to people who could use them, but how do you give away tiny scraps of paper that can still be used for jotting down reminders and stuff? As much as I’d like to just dump them in the trash (I have on occasion), I feel that it’s wasteful. So I’m still stuck with a lot of paper. But I haven’t bought any in years, which is good. I’ve also been sending out cards and letters to my friends just to finally get rid of all of it.

So I’m giving myself until December 2012 to finally straighten up this room I live in. I’m doing great progress. I just gave away 5 bags full of stuff to charity, and threw away most of my photos after digitizing them. I need more inspiration and everyday, I continue to check out blogs and sites that will help me reach my goal. Wish me luck!

{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.}

50 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Miss Mini

  • Great story. The link to the blog doesn’t appear to work :( I will look again later and see if its back up and running

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Samantha! Sorry about that. I put down the blog for a while. It’s up again, though. But I haven’t blogged since September. Thanks for your comment. :)

  • Jimbalaya

    Good luck with your minimalist journey Miss Mini!

  • Thanks for your story – I do think it is ongoing. All but the strictest of us acquire stuff and it takes a real self discipline to keep the piles down and moving out of the door! I had my stuff down pretty well, but now I have got married and have to get used to living not only with another person but with his things as well! He is not too bad but has way more stuff than I do and a disinclination to get rid of things, although he has his moments.

    Something you could do with all your bits of paper: cut them up into approximately the same size and just staple them into mini notebooks. Tear off the page when you have transferred the item into your address book or computer, or read the book or whatever it happens to be. Keep one in your bag, or on your desk, or by the phone or wherever is most convenient.

  • “I never knew that it was a lifestyle, at least to some, wherein one was required to own a certain number of items.”

    To most, minimalism is not about owning a certain number of items. Several writers and bloggers have popularized that as a publicity and participation stunt to get readers to play along, participate, and comment. ( Nice idea ). To most of us minimalism or simplicity is a choice which reflects our values. To some it reflects a value of relationships and activities over material possesions, to some it reflects a value of precision. Mimimalism can be whatever you make it.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

    • Dan, I like how you put this. I am working towards simplifying my life but realized early on that I was not going to be one of those folks who put numbers on how many I could have of a particular item. That felt too legalistic to me, but I am changing my relationship with possessions, getting rid of the excess and that feels right!

    • Yes, exactly. My husband and I refer to that kind of minimalism in slightly less flattering terms, as an “Internet stunt.” (But, hey if it works for some people, more power to them…). It’s more about the spirit and ideas behind simplifying, rather than the “rules” or minimalist aestetic.

  • Lisa

    I clicked on the link to the blog and it said, “blog has been removed”. Is there a different link?

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Lisa! Sorry about that. I did take it down for a while but it’s back up now. However, I haven’t posted a new entry since September as I have been quite busy. I will try to update it as soon as I can. Thanks for your comment. :)

  • Paper recycles beautifully. Don’t throw it away and feel guilty. Recycle all the bits and scraps so they can be made into new paper/cardboard and used again. Now quick, hop up and put it in the recycling bin.

    • Emsi

      In many countries in the world there is no recycling programme, or at least not one first world countries would recognise. Ask around if other people would like the paper, perhaps schools? I think that things should always be reused before being recycled.

    • Miss Mini

      That is a great idea. However, as Emsi noted, not all countries have recycling programs. Although we do have some, I don’t believe they are fully developed. However, I could look into it and see how well they are into the recycling program. Thanks for the tip!

  • Hi miss mini! It’s December 2012! Did you meet your goal? I find that decluttering is a never-ending process. Stuff is always trying to come into our lives! Good luck!

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Sandra! I believe I’m halfway there. But no, I haven’t met my goal as far as having no things on the floor is concerned. However, December isn’t over yet! LOL! Yes, decluttering is never-ending, but I’m quite proud of the discipline I have adopted by keeping as few things around as possible. My area is much neater, although once in a while, a few things pop up. But I manage to put some of them away or give them away. I must admit that I have, for the meantime, put on hold the disposal process, if you will, so things are slowly creeping to the surface. I must start working on it again. It’s great that my story was published as it gives me renewed inspiration to do more purging.

  • Ahsha

    Hello Miss Mini. I love that you live with your parents and wish that custom was more prevalent here in America. I also will never have all my belongings fit into a suitcase. Our home is wide open and uncluttered yet we have the things we love. My son’s photographs adorn the walls or my original photographs are up.
    A tip about the paper problem….paper composts very well. If possible start a compost bin or donate the paper to someone who does compost. Many blessings on you and may your journey to less be filled with joy.

    • Miss Mini

      Thanks so much for the idea, Ahsha. I will keep that in mind. And yes, it is wonderful to be able to stay close to my parents. Although I have, in my younger years, dreamed of living away, I have come to appreciate being able to be with them as we all grow old. Thank you very much for the comment. It is wonderful to hear that you have an uncluttered home and yet are surrounded by things that you love. I have a very small space and manage to keep it uncluttered as well, and for that, I’m quite proud of myself. Haha. I love photography as well and it’s so nice that your son’s and your photographs are on your walls as I believe that is the greatest compliment a photographer can get. May you and your family be blessed as well. Thank you for the kind words.

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Miss Mini! It’s just about making progress, step by step!

  • Miss Mini, your thoughts sound very similar to mine. As long as I love the item and/or I use it regularly, I feel it’s ok to stay. Getting rid of things just to brag about how little I own really does not support the true minimalist ideology and I think Francine would agree.

  • Decluttering is a slow and continuous progress I hope you are doing well with yours now that we have reached December 2012. Like others have said I could not get the link to work either.

    • Miss Mini

      Hi. I feel that I have accomplished quite a lot in the few weeks I spent purging. I don’t think I’ve ever given away that much stuff in my entire life, and I feel I still have more to give. I’m much happier now with fewer things, and I don’t even miss them. I don’t even recall what those things were. Goes to show how much unnecessary stuff I had been keeping all these years. I have not reached my goals yet, but I think I’m well on my way there. I took down the blog for a few weeks, but I’ve put it back up. I haven’t updated it yet though. Thanks!

  • Great name Miss Mini and I love your term “semi-minimalist” which is where a lot of us sit on the minimalist spectrum. Good luck with your goal :)

  • Anna


    Here in Holland our local community is collecting once’s a fortnight all ‘old paper’. If the community is too small it will be done by the church or e.g. The gym or football club. They receive per kg a certain amount which will be spent to the club and the paper will be recycled. Don’t you have this system?

    Regards, Anna

  • Susan

    Thanks for your story Miss Mini. Paper is hard one for me too, sometimes I feel like I am drowning in it. But as one commenter said I am “changing my relationship to things” and I imagine this will eventually help me as it already has with clothes, books and household items. I am slowly teaching myself to go digital.

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Anna. No, unfortunately, we don’t have that. Such a pity though because that is a very good idea.

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Susan. That is so good for you. I do need to find some place or someone who would have better use for my paper scraps. I think that I am able to part with these paper products, but just have no place/person to give them to. I don’t want to dump them in the trash because it feels wasteful. I am happy for you, though! Good luck with your digitalization!

  • Emsi

    Thanks for posting your story, would be interested to hear how it has turned out.

  • Thank you for sharing your story – good luck with your decluttering!

    Have you thought of listing all of your unwanted paper products as one big lot on Ebay? I’m sure there are plenty of crafters/scrapbookers/card makers that would be interested.

    Julia x

    • Miss Mini

      Thanks for your suggestion. I did, but I find the process of becoming a seller too tedious. I find I need to provide too much information, which I would rather not. But thank you for the idea. :)

  • Aloha! I loved reading your story which has some similarities to mine. I am at the beginning of my formal “semi-minimalist” journey but partway through in a way as I started to simplify a bit before I really sat down and thought about it.

    I’m not an extreme type ever as I don’t feel I can personally sustain those kind of changes or very strict rules. I do often wonder if the internet has made these types of campaigns or missions more popular.

    I’m working on my “stuff” area by area. I’m also journaling how I feel, why I want to simplify and why I accumulate certain things along the way. My journaling is private but I do share from time to time my “projects” on my blog (not a minimalist blog, more of a home/design/creative).

    Btw, in Hawaii it is quite common to live with your extended family. Real estate is so expensive here and it is our culture to take care of our parents as well. I lived away for 25+ years (I’m 44 now) but returned to Maui after my divorce and live in an add-on suite to my parents’ home. I could afford to live elsewhere but it is intentional to be close to them. They don’t need me now but when they do, I’ll be there. I’m basically in one room but it’s like an in-law suite so I have my own kitchen and living space but less than 800 sq ft.

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Tania! it’s nice to know your story as well. How is your journey coming along? It’s also great that you keep a journal. it would be interesting to read it later on and see how you’ve progressed. How wonderful that you stay with your parents. I feel the same way about being there for them when they need me. Good luck with your way to semi-minimalism! I hope you let us know how it’s going. :)

  • Hi Miss Mini, I love your idea about not having anything but the furniture on the floor. I’ve always had a similar idea, I think a room looks more finished and streamlined when things aren’t piled on the floor that don’t belong there! All the best with your decluttering journey – and I’m glad you’ve defined minimalism for YOUR life as we each have different ideas about what is important to us. This changes at different stages of life too.

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Kim. I have yet to achieve my goal of not having anything on the floor. It is quite a challenge, as every time I have managed to clear the floor a bit, things slowly creep their way into my space (some of these pop up beyond my control). Thank you for your well wishes. It is interesting that you pointed out that one’s ideas of what is important changes at different stages in one’s life. I remember how I used to value certain things when I was younger and can’t see why I found it so important to hold on to them.

  • Henny

    Hi Mini, I really enjoyed your story. Great to hear you are making progress – stick with it!
    I think it is really lovely that you live with your parents. I’m curious to know what country you are from, but I could not see a link for your blog – did I miss it?

    • Miss Mini

      Hi Henny. Thank you for your words. I live in the Philippines. The link to the blog is in the introduction above the piece I wrote. Thank you.

  • I love the idea of putting stories like these alongside stories of people who dropped everything to live out of a bag. Good on you! I was so thrilled when I donated 3 of 5 large U-Haul boxes in my storage locker. Isn’t it a great feeling to get rid of things you realize are just complicating your life?

    • Miss Mini

      It definitely is! Such a liberating feeling, isn’t it? I would love to be able to donate another 3 bags of unnecessary stuff. I must find time.

  • Janetta

    I love your story Miss Mini; I am curious, where do you live?

  • Kristen June

    Bring the scrap paper to a school, especially an elementary or preschool school. Kids can use it for arts and crafts. Schools are usually broke. The teachers will be grateful.

    You can also use the paper to line animal cages. If you don’t have any animals, give the paper to someone who does or to a pet shop.

    Use scraps of paper for packing material when moving instead of those plastic peanuts or bubble wrap. Wrap up cups and vases with it for storage.

    And one more idea for the very large piece of paper, for example newspaper. Use it for wrapping paper. My aunt always uses the comics because it’s colorful.

    • Miss Mini

      Thanks so much for your ideas, Kristen. That was quite helpful. My paper scraps are usually tiny bits from legal size papers/boards that I use. When I don’t use up the whole sheet, I keep the portions that I don’t use and use it for jotting down notes or reminders. It’s just that there isn’t a whole lot that I jot down so I end up with too many scraps. I also have a lot of note pads. But your idea to give them to schools is good and I just might be doing that. Thanks!

  • mwc

    hi miss mini, thank you for sharing your story! you and the others who are brave enough to share your story as helping to inspire me to follow in your foot steps. i don’t know if anyone mentioned, but a good idea for extra paper goods is donating it to either a teacher you know or to a school. my aunt is an elementary school teacher and she ends up providing a lot of extra materials for her classroom out of her own pocket as there is pretty much no budget for things like that. i know she is grateful for any donations and i’m pretty sure most teachers and schools would feel the same. :)

    • Miss Mini

      Thank you so much for your suggestion. I am glad that my story inspires you. I have also looked to others for inspiration in my own journey and it does help to hear from others to push me toward achieving my own goals. Good luck in your journey. :)

  • Ed

    Ive also re-entered the minimalist plan recently to a level beyond the past years. Compared to the culture I used to live in (bay area, california) I was already on the minimalist path and many people couldnt understand it. Back then it was all about novelty, new experiences and bragging about the latest trip, clothes, concerts…endless. It was ok during the younger single years and seen as normal there but even then I didnt come close to what most people were into at the time. Constant buying of more new stuff, new cars, the latest digital devices, McMansions in micro yards and debt, debt, more debt. I got a job offer in another state and moved on, getting a different perspective after being out of the Cali lifestyle a few years. Ive recently been dumping bags of junk accumulated over the years and finally decided to get rid of all the old family stuff as well. Still in the 1st stage of the new era but man, well on track for better serenity and rediscovering true interest and care for a few things rather than skimming over the surface of dozens. It is great to see the increasing number of people discovering similar things and participant in a cultural shift that will probably lead to better days for most if not all.

    • Miss Mini

      How wonderful for you. I believe most of us will fall into the traps of consumerism at one point in our lives. But what is important is that we realize that having more isn’t necessarily better than having less. What I find difficult is detaching from some of the things I own and often wish that I hadn’t purchased or accepted them so that I wouldn’t have the “problem” of getting rid of them. I admire the people who are able to give/throw away in spite of this.

  • Tina

    Even small scraps of gorgeous paper can be used for collage or for mock tesserae for mosaic look projects. Because I use scraps I turn Mylar snack bags inside out and wash them and cut them for tinsel or foil effect necklaces. I haven’t bought craft materials in years. Also you can use strips of paper to make beads. Less waste to the landfill.

  • Tina

    We use junk mail envelopes and letters to play word games like anagrams and “boggle”. I get little pads in the mail and take them to my mom at the nursing home. newspaper can also be torn up for paper mâché projects. Old postage stamps can be soaked off letters and used to play lots of games, like with alphabets or geography. Newspapers can also be used for dress patterns or kites.

  • A friend takes greeting cards to a nursing home where they use them for crafts. I give wallpaper scraps to the park district. Tissue paper is good gift wrap and the tiny notebooks are good to give to toddlers while waiting at the doctor’s office. I don’t remember ever buying gift wrap.

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