Real Life Minimalists: Xandra

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.

I just adore this contribution from Xandra, a self-described “writer, expat, productivity fiend, and bookworm living in Edinburgh, Scotland.” She tells us how minimalism helps her follow her passions and dreams.

Xandra writes:



As I teenager I believed I ‘could never be a minimalist,’ because I liked books too much, and I adored my massive collection of clothes. My high school schedule was like Hermione’s in Prisoner of Azkaban: I took 10 classes instead of the required 5 and maximum 6, except with no Time Turner. My one treat to myself every morning amidst the chaos was to spend longer than necessary in that closet, challenging myself to piece together an outfit from the treasure trove of clothing I had amassed over the years.

The reason for such academic madness was that I desperately dreamed of going to Oxford, to study in the place that inspired my favourite fictional worlds. When I was accepted, the reality of moving across the ocean struck me: I would have to pack my possessions into a suitcase. I would need to rethink that collection of clothes. It took something as huge and important as this – my biggest, most certain dream of my life – to inspire my change in lifestyle. There’s nothing like moving across the ocean three times a year to remind me of the physical weight of my possessions.

I could sacrifice a few ill-fitting items of clothing. And actually, I decided that I wouldn’t see it as a sacrifice, but as embracing Minimalism, that practice I so admired in others from afar. I kept my styling passion alive, but instead of “what can I make out of too much?” I now ask “what can I make out of less”? I didn’t see a lot of colourful minimalists online, so I started my own website.

As I wrote my book about minimalism, I struggled with the meaning amongst the decluttering tips I wove together. I asked myself, what is the point? The answer I arrived at was that we cut the clutter in our lives – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to make room for what we truly love and who we truly are. I call this “being my own heroine”, and I write about this at

I no longer have to move thrice a year, and people often ask if I’m “still a minimalist”. I find this a strange question, mainly because it means something different to everyone (as this series illustrates!). To me that question translates as “do you still believe in giving prominence to what is most important to you?” The answer is of course yes. I don’t count my possessions, but I am excruciatingly picky about letting new objects into my life. I own some unessential yet delightful things, like John the ceramic whale water jug. I don’t own a smartphone, but I do have special camera equipment (often used to film videos about minimalism, ironically!). I used to want to be surrounded by as many books as possible, but now I prefer a small curated collection — and that doesn’t mean I love books any less.

Without minimalism, sure, I could still do what I’m passionate about. But with it, I can more easily identify and live the life I desire.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or joining my email list.}

13 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Xandra

  • Don’t worry. What matters is that you found it in your heart to try the minimalist route. It is liberating and you get to enjoy the most important things in life. You are in the right direction. Trust your instincts. I hope that we both get where we want to go.

  • Alix

    Awesome story! You’re right, Xandra, there aren’t a lot of colorful minimalists online. Glad you’re one, though. Enjoying your website as well!

  • Grace

    First, congratulations on making it to Oxford! Your picture is adorable. I love the whimsy of your outfit. Yes, you can be a minimalist and be creative and fun with your style. I look forward to following your blog. Best wishes.

  • Amanda

    great post. i follow you on instagram and i love all your beautiful book pics!

  • […] am most conscious of minimalism, and my desire to live light. This particular journey was marked by getting published on Miss Minimalist – years ago, I would scour Francine’s site for tips on how to be a minimalist, […]

  • Tina

    I have never cared about clothes. We live next to a huge public library in a system of several libraries, so I don’t need many books. What I was keeping was craft supplies. I just got rid of two big bags of fancy papers, paint brushes, crochet hooks and beads. I have more to pass on. I spend time doing crossword puzzles and coloring now.

  • Way to be colorful, Xandra! You show that being a minimalist doesn’t mean being beige. I also like the idea of Heroine Training. It reminds me of a line from the movie The Holiday:
    Arthur Abbott: Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend.
    Iris: You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life for God’s sake!

  • I just found a shirt and a sweat shirt no one wore all winter. Since they were hand me downs, I put them in the give away bag. My husband has far more clothing than I do. I keep giving things away when I get something new. I also have more to ask my daughter about.

  • Tina

    My husband wanted some new shirts. I said for each new one he had to give away a shirt. Then I gave away some house plants and 4 shirts. I still have more to give away. I am helping a friend empty her house so it can be demolished. She has a very full house. Last week, we filled her car, her recycling can and her garbage can. She buys things from home shopping channels.

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