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 have a lovely story from Matea. She’s now enjoying a simple, quiet life with her family, and tells us the changes she made to get there.
I was first introduced to voluntary simplicity at twenty-one years old when I was a Jesuit Volunteer in northern Montana. But I arrived that fall in Montana with a suitcase, and left with a TON of junk, so the whole simple living thing clearly didn’t sink in. That was seven years ago. It took a few more years until I finally yearned for a simpler way of life on my own.
Until recently, my husband and I were living in San Francisco. Something about the frenetic chaos of that city made me yearn for a quiet simplicity. I spent a lot of my time in San Francisco thinking about nature, missing nature, and wondering why I didn’t just live in a place like rural Montana forever and ever. Eventually, I started simplifying, and in turn, began to enjoy the present a little more.
Here are some ways I pursued simplicity and minimalist living.
I stopped consuming so much. I worked in a bustling hair salon in Union Square, but at the same time gave up shopping for any clothes (including accessories, shoes, and underwear) for six months. That’s a serious feat for a hairdresser. And you know what? No one noticed or cared that I was wearing the same things over and over again.
I purged. I not only cut back on shopping, I got rid of an obscene amount of stuff. I pared down my clothing so that it fits into one large suitcase (not including sweaters or coats). I got rid of books, tchotchkes, papers and more.
I simplified my free time. Back in the day, I had so many acquaintances and casual friendships. It was exhausting, unfulfilling, and always ended up making me feel sort of lonely. In San Francisco, I spent time with people I really cared about. I didn’t have a lot of friends in San Francisco, and I spent a lot of time alone or with my husband, but that allowed me time to learn about myself.
I cultivated some hobbies. When I stopped consuming, I had more time to pursue some enriching extracurriculars. I baked pies. And I knit. And it was nice.
What did I learn when pursuing minimalism? I learned that I am most authentically me without the stuff. I am happy living a quiet life. I am content being home (in Portland, OR) with my husband and our son. I like cooking dinner for my family, and I like cleaning (so much more enjoyable without the STUFF!). This new pace of my life allows me to pursue a deeper relationship with God, and I am excited about that. It took me almost thirty years to get here – to a place unfettered by endless distraction – but I am so happy to have found a simpler way of life.