Real Life Minimalists: Terry

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, we hear from Terry. She shares with us her minimalist dream, and what she’s doing to make it a reality.

Terry writes:


I have tiny tears in my eyes as I jump from The Minimalists to Zen Habits to Miss Minimalist and back. For so many years now (at least 30) I’ve had a recurring dream– I live in a small travel trailer which I love and share with my canine companion. I have few possessions and I love the freedom. I pursue only activities I LOVE, including some of the ones I do now for a paycheck. My dream wardrobe is a simple uniform–I remember dreaming the WORD, probably suggested by my husband’s active-duty Air Force status. Freedom, joy, experience are my lifestyle.

And then I wake up to clutter, debt, responsibility, and restriction which constrain the life I chose while thinking I had no choice. Six months ago I embraced minimalism as the path to staging the home I shared with my mother in order to sell it and move us to a small senior-living apartment complex.  I first embraced proactive “right-sizing” after we both became widows. Going from 2500 square feet to almost 800 continues to be a challenge because we still have a small rented storage space for the stuff we haven’t yet unpacked. Then I forgot my purpose and started accumulating stuff again. New place; new clothes for new body (released 45 pounds), new yarns, new fabric (knit, crochet, quilt). I’ve paid off all debt with house sale and made a retirement savings plan, but also went a little crazy having extra cash and bought more stuff.

Stick a fork in me; I’m done. I’m dreaming freedom into being with my commitment to simplicity. The virtual travel trailer has no wheels (I may have aged out of actual camping), but I’m creating a simpler lifestyle skein by skein and expensive shirt by impractical shoe. Thank you for the inspiration you deliver so generously and authentically.

{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.}

15 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Terry

  • Maria

    I’m sorry for both your losses! But I’m very inspired by your effort to make a better life for yourself. Good for you, and thank you for the inspiration! :)And we all fall off the wagon sometimes, no shame in that.

  • Diane

    I too am sorry for both your losses – what a tragedy. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so honest. We all fall back sometimes but what makes us different from those who haven’t embraced minimalism is that once we realize it, then acknowledge it, we try even try harder. Keep up the effort — it is well worth it!

  • I love you! (Stick a fork in me, I’m done). You have such a wonderful, positive outlook. Through unimaginable loss and grief, you ave built a life not only for yourself but also your mother. Living with less sure increases the value of the important things. Bless you!

  • Cindy

    Loved your story. You are a great writer. Isn’t it funny what we discover about ourselves when we peel away all the excess stuff?

  • Hi Terry,

    I love your dream and more importantly, I love how you are taking steps to make some version of the dream reality. Like the other commenters here, I want to acknowledge your loss. The fact that you can move to a simpler lifestyle after such great loss is a real testament to your spirit. Letting go of “things” under that scenario makes it exponentially more difficult.

    While I don’t have personal experience with this (and dread the day that I do), my partner lost his wife and so I’ve experienced it more closely than I’d like.

    Like every behavior we try to change in our lives, it usually is the two steps forward and one step back dance. Don’t be hard on yourself when you find old behaviors creeping in, instead congratulate yourself for catching that you’re doing it and making corrections to your course. Take care…

  • Maria

    …What a lady! Terry for president! :)

  • Kristine

    So sorry for your losses, Terry, but happy that you have been able to find personal growth and perseverance through it all. What a beautiful sentiment you have written.

  • Hey Terry,
    Sorry for your losses. You can never out age camping. I had the same dream of a mobile lifestyle, and have been living it now for 4 years. Good luck on your dreams!

  • Lilly

    You’re getting closer to your dream Terry . Congratulations!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s ok to cut yourself some slack – we all occasionally fall off the wagon now and then; and sometimes we adjust our goals to fit our circumstances, but mostly we stay focused on what we need to live. Good luck!

  • We also share the travellers dream (without camping), and are definitely changing our lives so we can head towards that goal.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was lovely to hear :-)

  • Tina

    Sorry for your loss. Glad you have kept your goals in mind through everything.

  • Tina

    I keep looking for things to get rid of. I cleaned old plastic bottles out of my daughter’s car, then got rid of some empty plastic medicine bottles I was saving. I try not to keep more than a month’s supply of anything around my house. Making a trip to Goodwill again tomorrow.

  • Tina

    Every week I have given away a bag or two to Goodwill. Now I am starting to see some results. Drawers are emptier, my closet has lots of room and there isn’t a 10 year supply of hobby stuff around here any more. I can’t remember the last time I bought yarn or beads or paper. I just need a few buttons to repair my Mom’s sweater and that’s it.

  • We took another big bag of clothes to Goodwill today. I recycled another bag of cans, bottles and papers. Taught a class in paper making at the park district yesterday and discussed all the uses for rags, including making rugs. I have been buying either bamboo or 100 0/0 recycled toilet paper.

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>