Real Life Minimalists: Shelley

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, Shelley tells us that she’s naturally drawn to minimalism, and is now trying to (gently) introduce her family to the lifestyle. Visit her blog to read more about her experiences.

Shelley writes:



I’ve always had minimal tendencies and have had some challenges throughout my life to stay true to this nature. One thing I loved to do when I was young was clean out my room. I remember gathering my favorite things into several drawers of a dresser and getting rid of the rest.

I wasn’t deprived of anything as a child and always had plenty of toys and clothes, but was just good at letting go of things. The space that was empty after cleaning out made me happier than the space that wasn’t.

I remember showing off my sparse closet to a friend. “Where’s your stuff?” was about all she said, along with a look of condolence. After that, I figured I was kind of weird in that respect, so I was thrilled to discover what a minimalist was later in life and that the lifestyle is very rewarding.

My renewed interest in minimalism developed out of necessity as me, my husband, and our two growing children lived in our small starter house for 15 years without a garage or attic. I had to get creative to combat clutter and keep our stuff straight.

I read all sorts of books and magazine articles on how to stay organized, but my efforts never seemed to be enough and I felt like all my time was spent in stuff management for me and my family. After reading “The Joy of Less,” I decided that living with less stuff really was the clear solution to our problem, not some clever organizing system.

Even after moving to a larger house with plenty of storage space, I strive to be minimal because I know that stuff takes time as well as space to maintain. I’m on a mission to find ways to make this lifestyle more attainable without having to step too far out of my family’s comfort zone because they’re not always on board with the lifestyle.

Earlier this year, I started a blog,, as a place to share my ideas and discoveries as I ease myself and family into the simple life. I’m grateful for inspiration and support from the growing number of people who are making minimalism a new and appealing way to live.

{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.}

14 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Shelley

  • Kathie

    To be good at letting go of things is a wonderful skill!!

    Stuff management–yes, I did that for far to long too, until I found Joy of Less like you did. : )

  • Jen

    Stuff does take time to look after. As I get older I appreciate that fact more and more. And yet, it is so hard to resist buying something that is pretty/a bargain/unique/etc. I often fall victim to the siren call of getting something new (or at least new to me. I love thrift shops). But then, often as not, I end up with buyer’s remorse, and have to figure out how to get rid of the item(s). Oh, what a vicious cycle stuff can create, and what power stuff can have over us!

    • Hi Jen, you’re right about stuff creating a vicious cycle and that it’s important to consider how to get rid of items once you’re tired of them. That thought alone is a great deterrent to buying stuff! Thanks for reading!

  • Aline

    Shelley – It’s great that you approach it with your family gently. In my experience, that’s key. I grew up with a parent who was driven by tidiness and a particular way of approaching minimalism and sometimes threw out important things without realizing it, such as critical identity documentation. It wasn’t intentional at all — but it wasn’t mindful either. It backfired in some ways too.

  • Wanita

    Wow Shelley I just stumbled onto your blog & like you as a child I loved to clean my room, & had minimal items in it & felt very good after a clean out, I too use to think I was weird, now as a married woman in her mid 40’s with one son, I am still minimalist in my home, this does make it very difficult in our family sometimes as there have been a lot of arguments over the years because of my throwing out of things (important items etc..) I have got a little better but I am sure I have OCD as I love to clean as well, I feel so good when everything in my home & office where I work is organised & cleaned, i know if I going shopping & buy a clothing item I then come home & have to throw an item out of my wardrobe as I hate having too many clothes. It’s good to know there are others like me as well.

  • Tina

    I love to clean out closets and drawers. I recently cleaned out my brother’s linen closet. I think having too much stuff is a burden. I think if some of us have much less, then more of us can have a little more. When I see TV shows where some women have 90 pairs of shoes, I can’t imagine what those women are thinking.

    • Aline

      Agreed that stuff can be a burden when it’s not used or needed. However, I’m not sure how if some of us have much less, more of us can have a little more works in practice. At the moment, a lot of stuff that is donated goes to landfill. Places like Goodwill and Value Village have huge operations selling excess to recycling companies that operate on a profit basis. Another example would be with food — a lot of food that goes unsold in supermarkets is thrown out. That’s the harsh truth. Some of it is donated to shelters and so on, but the redistribution of perishables and non-perishables is far from the point of operating in a way such that everyone who is in need has a little more of what they need most. It’s a huge challenge.

    • Hi Tina, thanks for reading! Owning that many shoes is definitely a burden I’m happy not to have as well!

  • Tina

    I feel if the women with 90 pairs of shoes had 40 there would be more shoes to go around. If the people with 4 closets full of clothes had one or two closets there would be more space and more clothing for everyone. Resources are finite. People should think about using their share wisely and leaving enough for other people and their children.

  • Tina

    I was talking to 2 of my friends. They like to stock up. I said I buy 4 rolls of toilet paper and one package of paper napkins and we use rags instead of paper towels. They were saying they had mountains of paper goods. My mom always had that and it seemed silly to me then, too.

  • Tina

    A friend said she had so much shampoo, she would have to throw some out because it had spoiled. She said her stockpile of shampoo was about 10 years old. It just seems silly to stock up so much that you end up throwing the stuff out.

  • Tina

    My brother is moving. He asked if he should send me a box of soap, hand lotion, shampoo, etc. I told him to donate it to the homeless or a women’s shelter near him. I just filled a bag with toothbrushes and razors for the homeless and I don’t stock up.

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