Real Life Minimalists Update: Gigi

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 an update from previous Real Life Minimalist Gigi. We last heard from her in January, when she was decluttering and planning her next travels. Visit her blog to read more about her adventures.

Gigi writes:

In early 2012, I sold, gave away, or trashed almost everything I owned. I gave up my lease on a little house in urban Denver. And I took off around the world with my business and my little dog, leaving just 8 boxes behind in a friend’s basement.

After four months on the road, I fell in love with my new nomadic lifestyle and returned to the US to sell my car and reduce my eight boxes to one box and one bag.

Both purges felt exciting and freeing. Both taught me lessons about who I was and how I wanted to live.

But it still took another year before I learned the most important lesson of all: how to approach life from a minimalist perspective.

You see, even though I’d taken an extremely minimalistic road when it came to my possessions, my mind and life were still incredibly cluttered.

Not only was I running a small content strategy and copywriting business, but I was also running my blog and writing travel and inspirational pieces for several on- and offline publications. And then there was the book I’d published in summer 2012. And still I was mulling over more things I could do: travel coaching, life coaching, writing workshops, location independent workshops, two more books, growth ideas for the blog…

As you might have guessed, it was way too much. And sometimes I had trouble switching off, quieting my mind, and simply enjoying the travel-filled life I was leading.

Finally, this September, I took a much-needed break. I told my clients I’d be off the grid. I stopped taking projects. And I lived (mostly) out of a tent in the Swiss Alps.

During that month, the only workish thing I did was write a few blog posts.

Instead, I hiked up into the mountains, standing at lookout points so breathtaking that I couldn’t help but cry. I sat in the pub with new friends, laughing. I found time to quiet my mind and listen to what my heart had to say.

And by the end of the month, I knew that it was time for a real change. Not just a month-long vacation, but a minimalism of the mind.

Instead of running what was essentially two businesses, I decided to focus on one. Travel and inspirational writing was my passion, so I ditched my content strategy and copywriting business to focus on my blog, a few articles a month, and the books that were insisting I write them.

There was an immediate lightness. A giant, internal sigh of relief. And I realized, a week or two into October, while sitting on my balcony here in Switzerland, overlooking the most charming town I’d ever been to, that I felt utterly relaxed. Refreshed. Creative. And unpressured.

My attention wasn’t divided, but was balanced. I’d spent two or three days that week hiking. The other days, I wrote.

It’s just the beginning of this beautiful shift, but I’m committed to making it a permanent thing. Because the world doesn’t need more anxious, stressed, work-till-you-drop entrepreneurs. It needs people who live fully, who love their lives, and who focus on doing the thing they were meant to do.

{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.}

Related posts:

  1. Real Life Minimalists: Deb
  2. Real Life Minimalists: Fox
  3. Real Life Minimalists

32 comments to Real Life Minimalists Update: Gigi

  • Gail

    What happened to your little dog ?

  • Gail

    After reading some of your blog, I’m happy to know he is still travelling with you.

  • Congrats on your new found nomadic freedom!

  • Gigi, I feel like you wrote this post just for me. I’ve always had more ideas floating around in my head than I could ever make come to life. While I love ideas, they can be so distracting because the minute a new one flies in, I’m distracted jotting down notes, checking the internet to see if someone else is already doing it, etc.

    That pulls me away from what I should be doing, which is to focus on my business and get it monetized. I’ve been at it (idea to today) for around 18 months and have made < $15! Maybe part of my problem is that I "work" at it every day and get personal stuff done along the way. Maybe I should do what you are doing–write on certain days and then be completely "off" on the remaining days.

    Thank you for the inspiration :)


    • Oh, I’m so glad it was so timely!

      I don’t know if it works for anyone else, but I’ve found that if I can focus large chunks of time (read: whole days) on one topic/thing, I get so much more done. Even my writing days, I’m trying to segment: one day I’ll tackle business, marketing, and entrepreneurship articles and another day I’ll try to cluster a bunch of interview pieces together. I’ve only been doing it for a little while, but it’s helping me immensely.

  • Jane

    Just the inspiration I needed! Thank you and best wishes

  • Meena

    “Finally, this September, I took a much-needed break. I told my clients I’d be off the grid. I stopped taking projects.” Lucky for you that you can just drop clients like that! I run my own business (one woman-band – me!) and, if I took a break like this, they’d go elsewhere, as good as a service I provide!

    • Hi Meena,

      I was a one-woman band, too, and I definitely worried about losing clients. Since I decided to focus on my travel writing instead of my client business, I can’t speak to whether or not I really would have lost clients, but I will say that I planned ahead with my clients, doing extra work the month before my vacation, and when I came back there were at least four of them still wanting to work together. I obviously don’t know what your business is, but you never know…perhaps you could take a long break someday as well. :)

  • Gigi, your nomadic life sounds just lovely. With my son and dog, I would be happy to travel and dwell simply. You were wise to recognize that clarity of mind is important. One’s surroundings do help us focus on the non-material things that clutter our lives. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

  • Mary

    I had never thought about devoting an entire day to just do one thing. I think I’ll try it soon! Thanks!

  • Jeannine

    GigI, I can relate to your enlightened feeling. We too shed a lot of stuff while traveling full time. So much more time to focus on things we just take for granted. For instance we are much more in tune with the weather. So happy that you found your path. I just have one question, what does one do for health insurance? Do you purchase some on your own? I know that here in the US it can be quite expensive and heaven forbid if you become ill or injured, it can have quite a financial impact.

    • Hi Jeannine!

      For the first year or so, I was on travel insurance through World Nomads. Once I realized that I wasn’t coming back to the US anytime soon, though, I started looking for a more permanent solution. I ended up purchasing worldwide insurance, which covers me anywhere in the world and simply requires that I spend at least 6 months of the year outside the US. The insurance was, delightfully, way more affordable than my old US plan (less than $1,000 for the whole year for a worldwide plan with a reasonable deductible).

      The insurance is really meant for expats, but it works very well for the full-time nomad as well.

      • Jeannine

        GigI thank you so much for the information. I never knew such insurance existed. My husband and I are going to visit another country soon for a possible home base and travel around from there and experience more of the world’s wonders. Be well and be safe!

  • Here’s the link to the one I chose: I went through an insurance broker, who walked me through the options and details, but I think you can also apply directly.

    • Jeannine

      Thanks for the link GigI. I will investigate. I was reading some of your blog and I adore your little furry friend. She’d be with me every step of the way also!

  • Ali

    Gigi, I’m so glad you took that month long break in Switzerland to clear your head and figure out what’s really important so you could focus your energy there. Sounds like a really wonderful plan to cut out the things that were cluttering your mind. I have full confidence you will succeed on your new path!

  • Fawn

    I think that you are in a very sweet spot, and I hope to read more about your life as you learn new things.

    I agree that minimalism of the material can lead to a simplifying of thought and that clarity of thought and emotion are worthy endeavors.

    I have a house full of teenagers, so my minimalism looks different than yours, yet that clarity of thought and emotion is available in any circumstance, if we allow it.


  • Gigi, I always love reading about your adventures. Hopefully our family, too, will be living nomadically in the not-so-far future. ;-)

  • ann

    i’m in switzerland .. which charming town were u overlooking so i can go there and tank up on some stressless :)

  • Lizzy W

    What a totally divine and sublime account! One can but imagine how lush must be the view of that picturesque village in wonderfully tranquil and serene Switzerland! Oh, pinch me, I am jealous! It sounds like perfections! *sighs*

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