Real Life Minimalists: M. C. Starbuck

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 we hear from M. C. Starbuck, a former packrat whose decluttering transformed her life. Read more about her experience on her blog.

M. C. Starbuck writes:

M. C. Starbuck

M. C. Starbuck

As a packrat for so long, I thought getting rid of stuff would only lead to regret and frustration.

I’m so glad to finally see that I was wrong!

I began getting rid of clutter at the end of 2014, so I’m finally starting to see some of the long-term benefits.

Of course I saw an impact on my day-to-day life immediately. I felt lighter and empowered to make other positive life-changes.

As I got rid of possessions, I learned more about myself and my fears. I had to overcome many doubts. I had read about other people experiencing this, but it’s so different living through it yourself.

My favorite thing about having gotten rid of clutter is that once I decided I was open to the possibility of getting married, I ended up meeting an amazing guy who is very tidy and organized.

He’s in the military, so I’m thankful that the messiness of my past won’t affect our future in a negative way. Instead we can both encourage each other in owning less.

It’s such an important aspect of our lives that I’m really not sure how it would’ve worked out for us if I hadn’t already begun my journey of becoming clutter-free. I would’ve been so embarrassed and taken years to get to a point that he could tolerate the amount of my possessions. But I’m so grateful we’ve been able to decide to get married with no major issues like that holding us back.

I used to have quite a different view of clutter. I saw it as a necessity for an enjoyable life. I love colors and creativity, and my hobbies and collections can create a messy life. Plus, I can always find an excuse for not cleaning since I’d rather focus on people and relationships than the state of my home or car. Now I see how all of that can go hand in hand.

But the only reason I had decided to start giving stuff away is because I wanted a tiny house, and now I’m not even going to live in one! But I get to reap the benefits for the rest of my life.

I started reading so much about tiny houses in my pursuit of building one, I even attended three tiny house workshops. And the message I kept hearing along with that was how freeing it is to own less stuff. The tiny house community always gave simple, practical advice along with their stories. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.

As a free spirit who loves having fun at anything I do, I didn’t expect to stick with it for very long. I figured the excitement would wear off, and I’d get bored with it. But instead I’ve found ways to make decluttering fun for me.

I’ve been sharing my story from the beginning at, where you can download (for free!) the beginning of my upcoming book, Packrat to Clutterfree.

{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.}

11 comments to Real Life Minimalists: M. C. Starbuck

  • Loved reading your journey towards downsizing. I too wish to make decluttering a fun exercise.

  • Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, M.C.! I know what you mean when you say people and relationships can go hand-in-hand with a decluttered lifestyle. I find it easier to have friends over when I’m not worried about them tripping over anything or having to move something out of the way to sit down!

  • Hey MC!

    Thanks for sharing your story! I think a lot of people struggle to downsize when their partner isn’t on board, how to move past this issue is something I am asked about all the time by clients and readers. So it’s AWESOME that you’re aligned on ‘clutter free’ values and won’t face any issues there! Wishing you all the very best for your (clutter free!) future together :)


  • Kathie

    Glad you took the minimalist journey. Thanks for sharing!

  • How lovely that decluttering has opened up your life to other possibilities and a new relationship :-) It’s so interesting to see where people’s decluttering and downsizing takes them, often it seems to open doors and start journeys that we wouldn’t begin otherwise x

  • Tina

    Decluttering frees up so much space and time. It is a wonderful exercise.

  • M.C.
    I took the opportunity to read several months’ worth of entries on your blog this morning. :) I share many things in common with you: a love of the tiny house concept (tho’ no intention of doing it), a love of crafts and arts (I have a designated “floor space” for all those objects, and keep them contained there), and the usual minimalist goal of enjoying a simple lifestyle. Your counsel/tips on decluttering and various other topics are great!! I just read the Kon-Mari book about 3 weeks ago, so recognized her approach/ language on your posts. I’m a part-time professional home organizer, so I see firsthand the difficulties inherent in the decluttering/ minimizing process even though it comes rather naturally to me.

    Your “afraid of swimming pools” post particularly interested me, bless your heart. My husband and I are facilitators for pre-marriage/ marriage enrichment classes, and you are SO right about the GLORIOUSLY wonderful possibilities of married life, intimidating as the idea may have been beforehand. If I may (with a deeply heartfelt congratulations to you both and desire to see you enjoy ALL that marriage can be!), we always highly recommend a book that had a tremendous impact on our own marriage (to date, 34 years–wonderful, mixed with some pain–like all peoples’ lives): Intimate Allies, by Dan Allender & Tremper Longman–powerful book with a profound Biblical view of marriage; it’s a highly thoughtful, somewhat scholarly book, case studies of 5 different couples & their relationship styles. Another awesome tool is the Prepare/Enrich online assessment you can do with the help of another “certified” couple.*couples*couples.html I realize I’m taking quite a liberty with this reply, your not having asked for my opinion on anything, let alone something so personal as your upcoming marriage, but I hope you catch that it comes from a happy, genuine desire for you to enjoy the best in life.

  • Tina

    I declutter all the time. I do people’s closets for a donation to charity. We get gift cards and have a hard time finding anything we need. I am aiming for zero waste, except we can’t recycle used cat litter. Non recyclable bottle and jar caps go in my plants for drainage. Soda straws become beads for kids jewelry. Tiny pieces of fabric, Mylar, and plastic become part of collages or greeting cards. I just passed on 17 year old slacks. Old stained shirts are worn under sweatshirts. Greeting cards are passed on to nursing home residents for art projects. Magazines and catalogs come from friends or the library and get passed on some more. Electrical and electronic items go to the e- recycling. Someone commented today that I can find a use for almost anything.

  • Ah, the military way does it every time! Both my husband and son are Marine’s. Being “squared away” is a habit now and one I am thankful I am along for the ride. Blogging requires so many organizational skills! Looking at your book site now-Laurel

  • Tina

    My cousin lost all his family photos because his brother hoarded up the family home and everything was ruined. I found some pictures of him as a child and even some letters he’d written while going through my Mom’s stuff. I am going to visit my sister and she already asked me to sort through a pile of stuff she has. She did tell me to keep my hands off her piles of newspapers and magazines.

  • Tina

    I am going through an elderly, disabled friend’s house. Her son and I are trying to encourage her to move somewhere smaller with no steps. Mounds and mounds of papers and linens. Her son did the heavy stuff. To her, everything has value.

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