Real Life Minimalists: Priscilla

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 delighted to feature Priscilla. I just love how her story—and the Real Life Minimalists series in general—defies minimalist stereotypes, and shows how we can tailor the philosophy to suit our individual lifestyles. Visit her blog to read more of her thoughts.

Priscilla writes:

I am not a stereotypical minimalist as portrayed in the media: I’m not young. Nor am I into austere décor, black and neutral clothing, veganism, or posting YouTube videos. But all of these areas, meaning age, décor, clothing, food, and social media, have allowed me to define my own minimalistic lifestyle. And isn’t that what minimalism is about—each person defining what is important or useful to his or her own self and letting go of the rest?

Let me explain. I am an older woman, old enough to remember the art movement with simple paintings of bold color and spartan sculptures of bare metal that first earned the “minimalist” title. Now, as a lifestyle, minimalism has allowed me to push away the aggressive advertising and consumerism of my Baby Boomer generation and to live a simple, sometimes even spartan, life.

As to décor, the walls in my home relate back to those old minimalism artists like Truitt and Klein . . . not much there in terms of complexity and pattern. And yet even those artists used plenty of bold color. Yes, white walls allow natural light to bounce around, making white an excellent choice, but I enjoy the loud silence of strong color.

As far as clothing goes, before the advertising onslaught descended, my contemporaries and I grew up rotating through a small handful of outfits. This is ingrained and normal to me. When I chased after the Joneses in the 1980s, it felt unsettling and wasteful and financially just downright stupid. I am truly HAPPIER with a minimalist wardrobe. Where the stereotypical minimalist and I depart is in color choices. Like my décor, I enjoy strong colors–a shocking turquoise teeshirt or a cobalt blue pair of walking shorts. I am learning, however, to shop more wisely. When researching sustainably and ethically produced clothing, I found that my candy-colored clothes aren’t always the best choice for the planet. I suspect my next pair of walking shorts will be made of natural colored fibers from organically grown plants.

Speaking of plants, I don’t eat a plant based diet. I am a meat eater. The younger generation has challenged me to think of where and how my food is produced—something we never talked about or even THOUGHT about in the 70s when I was forming my cooking habits. Nowadays, I look for grass fed beef, free range chickens, and green packaging like reusable glass milk bottles. If I’m going to eat beef, I better consider the WHOLE animal. So I eat sausage (incorporating the less popular parts of the animal), and my “dress up” shoes are a nice pair of leather cowboy boots. I have family members and friends who are vegan or vegetarian, and I’ve come to understand their point of view; it’s just not for me.

The broad choice of social media pursuits is not for me, either. I don’t “get” Instagram. I don’t have a Twitter account. Facebook downright scares me, and I have neither the voice nor the desire to make YouTube videos. However, the old lady (that would be me) started her first ever blog this year,, with the goal of reaching out and helping others find their own frugal and creative road to minimalism. Even though I’m a newbie blogger, I feel like I’m a 20th Century minimalist who has finally arrived in the 21st Century.

{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.}

32 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Priscilla

  • Alix

    Such a fabulous post!

  • Alix

    Writing again to say that I just checked out your blog and it’s delightful, Priscilla!

  • Bette

    I love the Real Life Minimalists series! It’s so refreshing to see such a wide range of people embracing minimalism — and the twists each person puts on his or her approach to it.

    Thank you!

  • I visited your blog and found it wonderful. I will be following you. I really enjoy these peeks into the lives of other minimalist. You find like minded souls there.

  • My husband grew up eating beef for dinner every night. I grew up with beef maybe once or twice a week. We ate chicken and fish, and sometimes eggs for dinner. My husband always drank pop with his meals, at our house we drank water and seldom had pop. He is 70 and I am 67. When I was in college, I made some of my clothes, jewelry, and lived with very little. My husband said he never met anyone who could sew.

    • Tina, isn’t it odd how many people our age DON’T sew? What happened to those home ec classes we all had to take back in high school? I guess with fast fashion most of us lost interest. Sounds like you sew and are one of those people who did NOT lose interest. (Good for you!)

  • Elizabeth F

    Yay! Another minimalist in my age group! Thanks for sharing, and I will enjoy checking out your blog.

  • Terrell

    Very nicely articulated. Thanks. The “sustainability” part of minimalism is what speaks to me. Thanks,

    • Thank you for your kind words. I do try to make my words coherent when writing.

      I am learning more about sustainability and cringe at some of the thoughtless purchases–especially synthetic clothing–I’ve made over the decades. Hopefully I’m making wiser choices nowadays.

  • Britt

    Wow, I love the line “I enjoy the loud silence of strong color.” Beautiful!

  • Barbara

    Great post! I’ve been reading your blog this afternoon, love it! I’ve been de-cluttering for the past year or so and still not done. I seem to get bogged down, but have slowly started back on it again. Your blog is inspiring me to pick up the pace!

  • Barbara, thanks for the kind words, and good luck on your decluttering tasks. It always feels SO GOOD when you reclaim the peace and breathability of a each particular area of the home.

  • Heather

    YEAH!!! Someone I can relate to as far as age and not being the typical “minimalist”. I KNEW there were more out there like me!!! WOOT WOOT!! I like your blog too. :)

  • Heather, so many people have told me online and in person that they are atypical minimalists because they’re older. I’m starting to think there are a lot of us but that maybe we aren’t as vocal as the younger generation for whatever reason. And thanks for the compliment on my blog.:-)

    • Heather

      I think this is so true Priscilla!! I always wanted to start a blog but not sure anyone over 35 would be interested. I think we bring value and a different point of view to minimalism. I was just thinking, we never here of long term or older minimalists. Maybe they don’t have social media because they are out there living life. :)

  • Linda

    Checked out your blog today & subscribed. Love your writing style. Look forward to hearing more from you.

  • Thank you Linda. I’ll try hard not to let you down.

  • Beni

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautifully written profile article. Thanks, Priscilla! I do have a question, though. What’s your concern with using synthetics? I know that many respected outdoorwear manufacturers such as REI, Prana, and Columbia use synthetics to construct great sun-blocking and breathable garments.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the profile, Beni, thanks!

      I love the functionality of synthetic garments. I exercise in a moisture-wicking teeshirt and shorts, and I’m not sure how I’d cope without them. It’s the life cycle of the fabric I worry about. It doesn’t decompose, and in our area at least it can’t be recycled. When washed, little microfibers end up in the waste water. In comparison, when my 100 percent cotton tee has worn out, I can simply compost it.

  • NYCReader

    nice. The one thing that’s interesting to me, though, is the way some people, particularly older people, often frame not being involved with one variety or another of social media, while remaining very much engaged online to the same degree time-wise, as some sort of minimalist virtue (which is why I’m assuming it was included in this roundup, even though it was deflected a bit with the “just not for me” caveat.) That choice has nothing to do with minimalism. Now, I can understand why someone might be unfamiliar with and unwilling to engage with means of communication which weren’t around during their formative years – methods which require a bit of adjustment and learning on their part. Fair enough. But there’s nothing minimalist about picking and choosing methods of communication based on whether you “get” them, any more than saying box TVs are inherently more minimalist than flat screens, or having a conversation with someone by phone is more minimalist than speaking to them via FaceTime.

    It’s one thing to prune your digital consumption by staying off the web entirely, or by consciously limiting digital exposure to a certain number of minutes daily – a bit isolating, since that is how most people communicate these days, but a valid choice, and certainly a minimalist one. But saying the main limit involves spending the same amount of time online, but using that time to embrace digital avenues one happens to prefer while avoiding the ones one doesn’t care for, isn’t minimalist…it’s just aversion to change masquerading as a virtue.

    • Mike

      I disagree with the notion that carefully choosing your avenues of communication on the web is not minimalist. There are countless sites and apps now that offer ways to communicate, and they’re all clamoring for you to open accounts with them. If one is comfortable with (for example) Facebook and blogging, but not with Twitter or Flicker, and you choose not to create accounts on those service (or you delete those accounts), how is that not minimalist? I personally choose only Facebook and don’t even have accounts on other services. I use only those services which enrich my life. I consider that to be rather minimalist.

    • Thank you for commenting, NYCReader. “Aversion to change”–in all honesty, that could be true. On the other hand, spending my time engaged in a limited number of social media is quite fulfilling. If I get restless or otherwise dissatisfied, I figure I can add branch out then, but I will be careful to weigh the added complexity vs the benefit.

    • Val

      I disagree with your assessment, NYC. Some people see certain social platforms as being a waste of time, while other platforms are not. Which is what minimalism is all about – picking what you want to spend your time focusing on, and not getting sucked into things simply because others are doing it.

  • Love your post and your blog, Priscilla! I have subscribed to it via Feedly. I especially love your colour scheme – I’m a minimalist who loves colour, too! I’m obsessed with blush pink and sage green at the moment, with splashes of bright yellow in between. I know it sounds odd, but it works for me! :-)

    • Thanks for the kind words, Neens. I don’t think your colour combination sounds odd at all. We minimalists simply listen to whatever colour speaks to us and respond. Sometimes the boldest colours scream, “Pick me! I will energize you!” Sometimes the practical colours whisper, “I’m off-white. I will sit in the room unnoticed while the people in the room become the real focus.” Since no two minimalists are alike, I wouldn’t expect any two colour schemes to be alike.

  • FionaJ

    “Loud silence of strong colour”. Wow, that speaks volumes!

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