Real Life Minimalists: Cheryl Magyar

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, I’m happy to feature Cheryl Magyar. Last year, her husband Roland introduced us to their minimalist lifestyle in Hungary; now Cheryl shares her side of the story. Be sure to visit their lovely blog, Handcraftedtravellers, to learn more!

Cheryl writes:

Cheryl

Cheryl

Thoughts become actions, simplicity becomes routine and once you remove yourself from a consumer mindset you will never go back.

In a suburb of Chicago I grew up in a small house which held a considerable amount of stuff. Everybody had their own personal belongings, we shared many things, but you know how it is with calendar holidays: from birthdays to merry days presents just add up. It accumulates till you feel trapped, then you give some away – and this cycle can go on forever, until you are the one to slow down the process, almost stopping it entirely.

Moving to Hungary at the age of twenty-seven was the catalyst for a major lifestyle change. My husband and I shipped twenty boxes full of books and kitchenware, two trunks bursting with clothes and some artwork we thought we couldn’t live without. We arrived long before our stuff, then ironically put it in storage for four months till the purchase of our homestead was complete.

We thought that we had made the international move with few items, but in retrospect it turned out to be too much, definitely more than we needed. People tried to give us clothes seeing that our wardrobes were “stagnant”, they tried to help occasionally with processed foods, only our hearts were not in an accepting mood.

In moving out of the cityscape not only had we inadvertently discovered the benefits of minimalism, knowing full well that what we owned was already enough, but living so close to nature our paradigm was rapidly shifting.

The relative quiet of the countryside is an inspiring place for observation and reflection. As I write this story a white wagtail (Mortacilla alba) is cleaning its feathers in the pinkish glow of the rising sun, presently joined by another. They will find lots to eat on our organic thirteen acres, then they may return to their nests, delicately woven with bits of plastic from neighboring lands and the trash of society.

And by that very measure, what some may perceive as cuteness or resourcefulness of the birds, brings a tear to my eye not only for the plight of creatures, but of man and the waste created by industry, the wants, the need to constantly fit in by buying more, the consumption that arises from boredom…

One can never be out of the consumer cycle completely. However, we can all live lighter, with deeper regard for the environment by not wanting more than we need, by choosing quality over quantity, supporting organic agriculture, purchasing locally grown, choosing handmade, wearing compostable fibers and by embracing the art of self-reliance.

A sustainable world is based on minimalist principles. For my part, that is where I live right now, always and onward into the future.

{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.}

8 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Cheryl Magyar

  • Brian

    Thanks for sharing this lovely update. The opening sentence, “Thoughts become actions, simplicity becomes routine and once you remove yourself from a consumer mindset you will never go back”, has to be one of the most inspirational and motivational descriptions of minimalism I have ever read! Love it!

    • I am so glad that you enjoyed the words from so far away. Really, once you put minimalism into practice, it gets easier and easier to say no to all those things you don’t really need in the first place. The rest is a piece of cake.

  • Cheryl, thank you for sharing these beautifully written words of inspiration. I particularly like “we can all live lighter, with deeper regard for the environment by not wanting more than we need, by choosing quality over quantity, supporting organic agriculture, purchasing locally grown, choosing handmade, wearing compostable fibers and by embracing the art of self-reliance.”

  • You are most welcome. We have discovered so much happiness in our lives by simplifying, that it would almost seem absurd not to share what we have found.

  • “A sustainable world is based on minimalist principles.”
    How true. Great insights throughout this article, Cheryl.

    • Industry and advertising have done wonderful jobs in making just about everything appealing, but when one really has the time to stop and think – are those products making me happy? If the answer is no, then one needs to search for another way of life. All the stuff in the world will just waste a lot of resources. People need love, true friendships, compassion, self-worth to live fulfilling lives.

  • Tina

    I am still giving away bags and piles of stuff every week. At some point in the future, I will run out of things to give away. Then I will have nothing to steal. I will be content with my life.

  • Tina

    I get art magazines free at the library. I look for projects to make with supplies I have. Old, faded construction paper will be layered into maps. Worn out fabric scraps and shredded cardboard become birds’ nests. Tiny scraps become mosaics. Wasting as little as possible and buying as little as possible.

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