Real Life Minimalists: Jennifer from Maryland

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.

Today, Jennifer from Maryland tells us how she’s created more space, time, and peace in her life. Check out her blog to learn more.

Jennifer writes:



My journey with minimalism began a few years ago. I didn’t intend to become a minimalist. I was a wife, a mom, and a teacher who was tired of being overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.

I had a very full life. But I was going through the motions, feeling like a hamster on a wheel, and barely keeping up with my family, work, and relationships. I never seemed to have enough time to get it all done, and when I did have time to relax, I struggled to be present and enjoy the moment. On the outside, I had it all. But on the inside, I was discontent and restless.

I believed that if I could just organize my home – once and for all! – I would feel happier. In my quest for organizational strategies, tips, and tools, I read every book about organization and decluttering I could find. And then I read The Joy of Less and learned about the concept of minimalism.

I was intrigued, and began reading everything I could about minimalism. I read about people who own less than 100 items, live in small houses, and travel all over the world. And while I didn’t really want to do any of those things (ok, maybe travel the world!), it was more than that. They all expressed a deep level of contentment and a liberating sense of freedom.

Around the same time, an illness forced me to evaluate my priorities. The effects of stress, too much stuff, and a packed schedule were taking a toll on my health. I knew I had to make some changes.

I started to create a different kind of life. A life where I decided how to spend my time. A life in which I was present for the people I love, with physical and mental space to think and create.

Instead of organizing my stuff, I got rid of much of it. I simplified my schedule, created a morning routine, designed a capsule wardrobe to reduce the amount of clothes in my closet, and made healthier food choices.

I am learning to love the idea of less (less stuff, less busy-ness, fewer obligations) in exchange for more. More peace, more time, more space, more freedom.

I feel like a new person – the person I was meant to be. I’m still working on it, but I’m shaping my life into a version of minimalism that’s just right for me.

I write about my minimalist journey on my blog, A Life Designed. If you are working towards a simple life too, please visit me there. I’d love to hear about what you’re doing and share ideas!

{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.}

19 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Jennifer from Maryland

  • Amanda

    Hello Jennifer, I too am a mum and a wife and a teacher. I’ve been on my minimalist journey for a while and although I have downsized my things at home, I am struggling with my school life. It seems I am busier than ever and have quite a few resources. They are well organised and all useful. I have eliminated lot of outdated things. I just seem to be working all the time and I can’t get my work/life balance happening. I am working on finding less busyness and more freedom. I look forward to reading your blog to try to find some ideas! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi Amanda. As a teacher myself, I totally understand the work/life balance dilemma. It is so hard. We teachers work long hours, which makes it difficult to find that elusive balance. I hope you find some of the ideas on my site useful. Keep going on your journey!

  • Hi Jennifer, I can totally relate to your article and I’m looking forward to following your blog, too! It’s nice to connect and “meet” another blogger with the same interests :-) For me, being more intentional with my time has to be one of the best rewards of living a more minimalist lifestyle…the benefits are huge and it has lowered my stress levels considerably.

    • Rachel, I have subscribed to your blog and am loving the articles you post about minimalism! Thank you for sharing your quest about intentional living. It’s great to hear that your stress level has changed – one of the many benefits of having less to manage and take care of. Thanks for your comment!

  • Bre

    thanks for inspiring me every day:) You’re amazing! Keep it up!

  • Jennifer, it sounds like you discovered minimalism at a critical time in your life. I hope you are fully recovered from your illness. I like the way you described your minimalist journey as a life you are “creating” and “shaping” because it’s exciting to think life doesn’t just happen to us; we have all these choices we get to make.

    • Hi Priscilla. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I realized that life IS a result of choices. Of course, things happen that may set us back or challenge us. But we have control about how we respond to them. It’s empowering to think that we can each create a life that feels just right. I’m excited about that! Thanks for commenting!

  • Sara

    Thank you for your story, Jennifer. Sounds like you found out about minimalism at the right moment in your life!

    I’ll check out your blog, good luck on your journey to your version of minimalism!

  • Dawn

    Good for you Jen!! I too have traveled that journey somewhat a couple years ago and it is extremely freeing.. downsizing from a house to a 1 bedroom apt…Peace

    • Thanks, Dawn. Since you have downsized, you have first-hand knowledge about how to do it successfully! I would love to hear more about how you accomplished that, and most importantly, hear about the benefits you have seen after doing so. That’s impressive!

  • I come from a family of hoarders. Ranging from pack rat to truly ill. I have always given away and not bought much. Since discovering minimalism I have given away more and faster. My husband has been wearing shirts with holes and stains. When I notice, I tell him to give them away or I will use them for rags. We have our weekly bag for Goodwill full. I just gave away 2 books yesterday.

    • Tina, thanks for sharing your experience and your story. You mentioned that keeping possessions to a reasonable level takes consistent effort. Once decluttering is done, it’s important to maintain it with some type of system. I like the one-in, two-out rule. If I buy something to bring home, I part with two items that have outgrown their use. That way, I know I’m not increasing the amount of stuff in my home. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tina

    I took a stack of books and magazines to the library. Then I got rid of 2 bags of recycling. Then I took a big bag to Goodwill. I got some new house plants, so I am giving away 10 or maybe 12 plants soon. I have dishes leaving. I have more odds and ends to sell. I am trying to get rid of as much as I can.

    • That’s amazing, Tina! Many people don’t realize that many public libraries take donations of books and magazines. It’s a great way to pass on materials that you have already read. What motivates you to part with some of your items? I’d love to hear more if you’d like to email me!

  • Barbara

    Great post! I’m going to be moving soon, and even though it’s just to the apartment below me, thinking about making all those trips up and down the stairs to move stuff has been a great motivator for me to get rid of my clutter. Well, that and the fact that I am so very tired of constantly dusting knick-knacks! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • You’re so right, Barbara. Moving can be a great motivator to get rid of excess. Less to move, less work, less to unpack. Good luck with your upcoming move. I hope you love your new place!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>