Real Life Minimalists: Lara

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, Lara shares with us the contentment she’s found in letting go of consumerism. Please visit her blog to learn more about how she’s simplifying her life.

Lara writes:

Lara

The Nordstrom sale was an epic, annual event in my childhood. My mother and I would wait expectantly outside the massive department store at 7 am to wait for the doors to open. It really was fun, but after the initial high of wardrobe acquisition wore off, I was still smack in the middle of an adolescence hurt by divorce and emotional pain. I genuinely understand now that was the way my mom tried to make things happier in our house. She felt better after investing in new outfit that made her feel special, why shouldn’t it do the same for her daughter? I love her for doing what she could to ease the pain swirling for both of us, yet to this day shopping makes me feel a bit melancholy. It reminds me of the gaping hole that was never filled despite the shiny, new shoes taking up real estate in my overstuffed closet.

At 43, I’m a mom to clothes-obsessed teens and wife to a wonderful man who loves his toys. I am starting the rather inconvenient process of simplifying. As in Goodwill-bound stacks of bags in the garage & a ruthless paring down of our scheduled activities simplifying. I’m going about it quietly, of course, because I believe this process is not something you can will on someone else. I have had some victories with leading by example. Those bags in the garage? They’re mostly filled with clothes my girls’ were willing to part with. We’ve even pared down the extracurriculars to a sane, manageable number.

As I let go of consumerism (feels so great!), I am finding immense contentment in many things. The relationships with my kids, my career as a teacher, the adoption of a clean diet & running program, dates with my husband, family trips, and meaningful friendships with women I adore. These are all things that have become the fabric of my life and it’s really quite exciting. Sometimes I yearn to take back the years I spent pursuing the wrong things. If I could do it again, I would travel like crazy with minimal baggage and the kids in tow. I do believe that showing your offspring the world is one of the best things you can do for their own pursuit of happiness.

I am clear on the fact that this process will take time, but one of the most wonderful things about simplifying is that it begins where you are. It’s your own journey unique to the life you’ve created so far. It also is an on-going process that changes with each stage of life. I actually feel cleansed and physically lighter with each step I take down the Less is More road. I’m hoping that retirement will find us in a smaller space (with big windows!) and that I will be able to show my girls (and possibly their children one day) that a happy life is defined by who you decide to share your life with, what you decide to do for a living, and how much you give to others.

I’m chronicling our simplifying journey on my blog http://theExtraOrdinarySimpleLife.com. I’d love to hear what others are doing in their own quest.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists Update: Francesca of Tasmanian Minimalist

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, we have an update from Francesca of Tasmanian Minimalist, whose original feature appeared in July 2011. She tells us how she strayed from the minimalist path, but has returned with renewed vigor and determination.

Francesca writes:

It’s been two years since I had my minimalist life under control. Where my house was only inhabited by useful, practical and well loved items. My debt was almost cleared, my wasteful spending a thing of the past. Miss Minimalist honored me as a ‘minimalist of the week’ and national newspapers, and international magazines had done a feature on my downsizing.

I was queen of my own decluttered life.

For a while anyway.

I can not pinpoint the moment things began to change, but I do know it involved small parcels of cheap jewellery ordered from eBay arriving in my mail box. I had begun shopping again.

Many more parcels began to arrive. The post master of our village PO lifted his eyebrows in wonder, and my credit card started to wilt. I spoke to a chum at work, he too raised his eyebrows at my spending, lifting them higher and higher as my spending spiralled horribly.

Where was Tasmanian Minimalist? Some had even called me their role model.

My credit cards and bank balance began to cry out and I realized in all my years of attempting to downshift my behaviour I was back at square one. Had I learned anything?

Well perhaps I had, because second time round I am more armed and hopefully slightly more dangerous with my ardor towards debt repayment and minimizing my possessions.

Possessions never made me happy, but I still could not stop buying. I finally realize that everything I see on TV, magazines, shop windows, bill boards is all about separating me from my money. It’s never about making my life better.

To that end, I have just stopped spending on anything other than food and debt repayment. It’s now a game and I am the winner.

Thank you for reading, please visit and follow me at http://tasmanianminimalist.blogspot.com or my clothes reduction blog at http://closetblitz.blogspot.com.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Bheng

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, I’m pleased to feature Bheng, who writes from the Philippines. Her story provides wonderful inspiration for those trying to declutter craft and hobby supplies! Please visit her blog to learn more.

Bheng writes:

Bheng

I am a crafty person, I live and breathe crafts. I prefer to make my own things rather than buy them.

I dreamed of owning a craft shop, one where I can sell crafty tools and teach them as well. While waiting for the right time to put up that venture, I thought I can start completing the contents of that craft shop. As a result, I have collected 4 years worth of crafty stash: 150 or so crochet hooks, 50 pairs of knitting needles, about 15 kilos of yarns, and 10 boxes of crochet thread, one 4-layer bookshelf full of knitting and crochet books, and magazines from all over the world and a lot of other tools that I thought “I would need someday!”.

All of these fit an entire room in our apartment. You can say that after 4 years, this right time never came. As a result, I don’t have much savings, because most of my money went to all these items that I bought.

After I gave birth to my first child, I went through post partum depression. As a result I lost interest with all the things I own. I also had some financial issues then, and while thinking of ways to resolve this I realized that I really have to let them go.

My browsing for ideas around the web brought me to your website. I read about minimalism and I just know, right then and there, that this is the answer.

You are right when you say that sometimes, we buy things because of the promise that they hold. You are also right when you say, that sometimes, we buy things because we feed our imaginary career. When I read about these in your website, I had goosebumps. I felt as if this website is written for me. It’s like your teachings has awakened me.

I sorted out my crafty collection. I opened up an online store in Facebook, so I can sell them to crafters in the Philippines. All the yarns and crochet hooks got sold out in a matter of months. This destashing is still ongoing, and I hope at the end of this year, I will be able to liquidate these items, and bring down this crafting into just a small hobby.

I started this activity last August and I have made a very huge dent in this pile of crafty things already. Not only did I reclaim more space, I also have some substantial cashback. It also allowed me to pursue my real career in life. Limiting the craft in my life has allowed me to also focus my time with my family, and my baby.

I am gradually applying minimalism to other aspects in my life. This is really liberating!

I also write about my journey to crafty minimalism in my craft blog:  http://www.handmadebybheng.blogspot.com/.

{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.}