Real Life Minimalists: Regina

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, Regina explains how an object with an inspiring quote led her down the path to minimalism. Please visit her blog to read more about her journey.

Regina writes:

Photo by Regina

I was walking down Columbia Road (London’s Flower Market) one Sunday about two years ago when I caught sight of a wooden board hanging in shop that stopped me in my tracks. It was a reclaimed wooden board printed with William Morris’ quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” It spoke to me so intimately and resonated with me so strongly that I knew it must have connected with something deep within me. I decided I must have that board and it became mine…after a couple of rounds of bargaining and a fair amount of money had changed hands.

I brought it home and parked it against a wall (there was no wall space left to hang it) and looked at it every so often. I know quite a bit about the self help topics such as the law of attraction and positive thinking and visualization and so on and they have helped me tremendously. I guess when you start looking within yourself for growth, you become more attuned to what aligns with your inner self and what feels right in terms of life direction. I knew next to nothing about simple living or voluntary simplicity then (it’s how you have to live when you don’t have enough money?) or minimalism ( stark white furniture in home decor?). I was working in the corporate world and earning a good corporate salary and spending money and accumulating possessions accordingly. But deep down I was mostly unhappy and unfulfilled and that reclaimed wooden board was my harbinger of change.

Two years have gone by and Morris’ words have spurred me to look at the stuff I have and to de-clutter; it has led me to read and learn about simplicity and minimalism from people like Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Francine Jay of Miss Minimalist and The Minimalists. Since then, I have done a few rounds of simplifying my life and de-cluttering my possessions. After each clear-out, I would feel so much happier, lighter and say ‘This is it!’. A few months later I would look at my flat and think ‘I still have too much stuff!’ and I realized that simplicity and minimalism is a process, a journey and not a destination. The destination changes as one changes.

Autumn heralds the shedding of the old year and for repose before nature starts its cycle once more. I am in the process of another ‘simplify and de-clutter’ exercise (This is the big one I always tell myself). I thought writing a blog ( would be a good platform to share my journey and motivate myself and others on a similar quest to live happier, simpler, freer and more fulfilling lives.

{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.}

23 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Regina

  • Lena

    I love the irony in that your minimalism started with something that you felt compelled to buy.

    • Ironic, yes. But I think I am finding that it is commonplace for minimalist journeys to begin due to the items that we purchase. Maybe you feel compelled to minimize because you have too much stuff in your house, or maybe you have too much debt due to the stuff in your house, or too little control. Whatever it is, I think the journey always begins due to something you purchased whenever it was.

  • heather

    My favorite quote..and I love the reclaimed wood. :)

  • I love that quote and try to live by the same words of wisdom. My husband will still ask on occasion, “Can I use this towel?bowl? etc.” And I always say “Of course! There is nothing in this home that can not be used.” He obviously sees the beauty in the objects around us as well, but I think for at least my husband and I, we grew up in homes with decorative towels, bowls, pillows, and candles. The towels were for special occasions and only to look at, the bowls were for decoration only, the pillows had to be moved before one could go to sleep, and the candles were never lit. What is the point of acquiring something if we can not use it? We certainly can’t save it forever, but I think some people have the idea that they can save the special moment something was given to them or acquired by saving the object itself, when in fact this is a major fallacy.


  • I like your idea of our minimalist journey changing… you’re quite right because I had no idea where I was going when I started out on this path. Great to hear the voice of another UK minimalist. Good luck with your journey.

  • I love that quote too! Whenever I buy something new, I think about whether it fits into either of those categories (preferably both). It also helped me in my decluttering process. If I decided to keep a trinket, it had to be displayed and not locked away like buried treasure. Thanks for sharing your story Regina!

  • Jean

    What I have found over these many years is that I see where I want to be (the destination) and then along the way I see what does not fit in and removed it without any analysis or thought. It just did not belong anymore. I used to agonize about getting rid of things but it just did not fit anymore. I have done that with food, etc. I just stopped eating cheese when I realized I did not like the way it made me feel. I have lost weight without even trying – just by going along on my journey. Kind of an easy way to do it for me.

  • I found with my last move, I told my friends I couldn’t pack up ahead of time. They said, “We’ll, just pack up the items you don’t use on a daily basis.” That’s when I realized, I had simplified to the point that what I have left are only things I find to be useful everyday. I literally packed the day of moving. It didn’t take long to pack this time, I used a smaller truck and everything was unpacked immediately because I needed the items immediately. That is one of the many reasons I’ve simplified the past two years- Bliss!!

    • Lena

      That’s impressive! I’d love to get to that point one day (and we’re talking about moving soon)
      A friend of mine was trying to tell me to get a storage unit and I was trying to explain to her that I’d rather take things to the dumpster (or Salvation Army) than pay to store them.

    • Mrs Brady Old Lady

      Ooh pea green with envy – I’ve been decluttering for YEARS but am nowhere near your level yet…. Will keep sloggin on…

  • Rachel

    Reggie-I love your new(ish)direction,it’s very inspiring in these times of easy access/availability(good)and excess(not so good).I’m off soon to work out how I can declutter a BIG pile with my limitations of energy,so any help/advice appreciated! Thanks anyway,and all the best for a clutter free and happy life!

  • It’s amazing how much stuff we have, even after the whole decluttering thing! It is a process, after al, one that it seems ou are doing great with! Love this post.

  • Aileen O'Donnell-Connolly

    I love this sentiment! I also believe is using beautiful things daily and never keeping anything ‘for best’. I once heard a TV presenter saying how her Granny had kept a string of pearls ‘for best’…and never actually ever got to wear them as she never considered a special enough event occasion came along for her to wear them before she died. Very sad. Wear it/use it; enjoy it/love it!

  • I love that quote! And what a nice piece of wood, you’ve reclaimed.

    I also really enjoyed your blog. I will be back, for sure!

    Bethany @ Journey To Ithaca (formerly Our So-Called Life)

  • Isn’t it great how the most (least?) serendipitous thing or moment can have such a drastic effect? I love your sign story. My moment was walking through a bookstore and my eyes landing on the book Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James. This was waaaay before anybody was blogging about anything. Just about the time Your Money or Your Life was getting popular again. I picked up St. James’ book and read half of it in the store (then bought it). I was forever changed. I immediately started purging my apartment and went through such a transformation. It was incredibly liberating, and still is.

  • Hi all,

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful experiences- very inspiring and encouraging!
    Yes, from my own personal experience, sometimes we need to replace/buy stuff in order to simplify our lives (eg a new quality sofa to last forever, a Kindle…). Strange but true!
    And yes, I’ve yet to get tired of/take for granted that sense of freedom and space from cleansing, simplifying and de-cluttering. Great feeling!

    All the best,

  • […] week we have an update from Regina, whose original feature appeared two years ago. She has some wonderful (and inspiring) news for us! If you’d like to […]

  • Tina

    Many years ago, I got one of the Tightwad Gazette books at a rummage sale. This waS in the 1980’s. The author was really on to something. We haven’t bought much new since then and I love your minsumer ideas. It saddens me that many people make strange choices but all I can do is try to get the message of living more simply across. My daughter-in-law gets most of the kids clothes at yard sales because they grow so quickly. I think it’s great.

  • Tina

    I love rummage sales and thrift shops. I bought 2 pairs of slacks this week, I found some tops to give away. I hadn’t bought slacks in maybe 5 years. I have some necklaces I am going to give away because I don’t remember the last time I wore them. They don’t take up much space but maybe some charity can make money on them.

  • Tina

    I think I bought a sweater this year. It was the only new item I purchased. I got some things from my son, and gave away bagfuls of things. I am trying to grow a small garden in the corner of my living room so when spring comes, I can take all the plants outside to summer on the balcony.

  • I have taught classes in living within your means. I explain to people that years ago, no one had as many possessions as we do now. I try to waste very little. My daughter spent a lot of money on a gift for me. I will keep 3 things she gave me and return 2 of them. I pass on plant cuttings, coupons, greeting cards, flower seeds, and anything else that comes my way that I can’t use. As I go through my books, I find more to pass on and give away.

  • Tina

    When my kids were young, they had very few toys. A few action figures, a few dolls, some toy cars, some Legos, some blocks and puzzles. No playsets. They used cardboard boxes. I was at my son’s house and my grandsons had made a medieval castle out of cardboard. And the best is, when they outgrow it, it can be recycled.

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