Real Life Minimalists: Missne

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, Missne shares the inspirational story of how she pared down her stuff, and sees her move into a smaller place as “progress” (love it!). If you’d like to connect with her, you can find her on Twitter.

Missne writes:

Missne

Missne

I decided many years ago that having a TV wasn’t important to me. I’m a gamer, I’m a nerd – if I want to watch something, it’ll be on the computer. Ad-free. On my own time. And If I don’t have a TV, why do I need a couch? I only have a dog, and he’s happy without a couch. He’d be happy without a clock, too, but I’m not there yet.

The term minimalism came into my life through random browsing, searching for inspiration, feeling restless and frustrated with my life. I instantly fell in love with the foundation: Does it add value? No? Get rid of it.

I grabbed a trash bag and went over my desk. Filled the trash bag, grabbed another one, went for the next area. Filled three, grabbed a big plastic bag instead. By the time I had excitedly minimized away five trash bags and three big black bags, I stopped and looked around me, hoping to be impressed with my results – and realized that a) I couldn’t really remember a lot of what I put in the bags at all, and b) my place was still not the spotless, white and chrome perfection I had seen in the inspirational pictures.

Huh. How is that possible? The pile of bags I just filled took up a third of my living room! Where was all the space I had envisioned? Where was the peace and calm? Where was my gosh darn white leather couch with the casual-not-so-casual artsy blanket draped over the edge like in the pictures?

When I last moved house, I decided to go all out. Be callous with your items. If you don’t feel anything about ‘em, ditch ‘em. If you don’t like ‘em, ditch ‘em. If they’re broken, ugly, far into a cupboard, or in a drawer – ditch ‘em. We ended up making two trips to the recycling station, but just one to my new apartment.

“So how big is your new place?” Smaller than the one I left. People get taken aback: why would you move into a smaller place? Can’t you afford progress? This is progress to me. So much better. Closer to work, next to a park, emptier. Cleaner. Calmer.

I have everything I need. If I didn’t, I would have noticed by now. Getting rid of the items I didn’t use also meant noticing the items that still fill a purpose.

I have a beautiful silicone funnel that is designed to look like a lily, which happens to be my favorite flower. Now, I’m sure a lot of people would simply think: why? But I know why. It’s because I need a funnel often enough to own one, and I want one that makes me happy, that adds value to my life beyond simply doing a chore for me.

To me, that is minimalism.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Christa

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 happy to feature Christa from South Africa, who explains how a housing transition made her fall in love with small space living.

Christa writes:

My Minimalist AHA-Moment

The idea of small space living has always appealed to me. I remember as a singleton buying books on the subject, feverishly doing research on campervan living and imagining a life by the sea – something along the lines of the Joshua Kadison song ”A little trailer by the sea – you the cat and me”.

Then marriage and life rolled along and with it came the trapping of stuff. Loads and loads of stuff. Doubles and triples of things you never even knew you needed when two lives become one.

Fast forward the milestone birthday of my husband. The Big 50. We decided to celebrate this passage of life with a cruise to the Mediterranean. With this coincided the sale of our house and in our minds we boxed up everything, kept clothes and living essentials aside for a summer cruise holiday and a summer work wardrobe, and promptly moved in with my parents while waiting for the house transfer to go through and for the house renovations to be completed.

Needless to say, six months down the line we are still living with my parents, in a 3x3m room while dealing with all the trials and tribulations of an illegal squatter who refuses to move out of our house, and the pleasures of renovating the cottage and office in the meantime.

The light at the end of the tunnel is fast approaching as the renovations are heading for completion, but the best we took from this experience is how little we actually need to live on. It has since turned winter and we had to pick up a winter jacket and jersey or two from storage (I am sadly still looking for my boots), but guess what? We are absolutely fine and are coping with the suitcase full of clothes and shoes we originally packed for the summer vacation and few days of work.

I can’t wait to move into the new house and tackle the endless boxes of clothing and shoes. I can’t wait to follow the KonMari method of holding the piece of clothing up and asking myself if I truly love it and if it will add joy to my life. We have downsized and have moved into the one bedroom cottage on the property in the meantime, but with all the little luxuries you can wish for: a real fireplace, an alley of a backyard filled with hours of sunlight. Big Eucalyptus trees grace the front entrance and our big daybed has already found its place underneath. The TV hasn’t been hooked up yet, but spending time with the Great Dane, Border Collie and Maltese Poodle more than makes up for the mindless energy spent on flipping between channels with still nothing much to watch.

I may still be a virgin at the minimalist mind set, but as many things in life it takes one step at a time. Sometimes it takes a total shake up of not being able to live in your own home for six months to integrate into a new system of doing and believing.

I don’t recommend the same route we followed – it’s nerve wrecking on the best of days – but be on the lookout for your AHA moment. It may be hidden under the seven pairs of jeans.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Darcy

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, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Darcy. She tells us how living with her stuff in storage for a few years inspired her to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. It’s given her more time to pursue activities she loves, like building her book blog.

Darcy writes:

Darcy

If you saw our book collection, you probably wouldn’t apply the term “minimalist” to my husband and I. Between us we have eight bookcases full of books. We’re both teachers and our books are our treasures, but despite our stacks of books, we consider ourselves minimalists. One thing I have learned since beginning this journey is that being a minimalist is not a competition to see who owns less. Minimalism should and will look different for everyone.

My journey toward minimalism began a little over a year ago. While I’ve never liked clutter and I’ve always loved to be organized, it took six moves in six years and my husband and I placing almost all our belongings in storage for two years for us to realize what a burden our excessive possessions had become.

Almost seven years ago my husband and I met as first-year Ph.D. students. We quickly realized the job market wouldn’t make continuing in our programs worthwhile and thus began a series of moves, adjunct teaching jobs and dead end opportunities which culminated in us moving in with my parents while my husband went back to school to get a teaching credential. During these two years I lived out of my suitcase and my husband out of his duffel bag, our daughter was born and shared our tiny room, her extensive wardrobe was put in the dresser, and everything else was in boxes in my parents’ spare bedroom and in the storage facility we had to rent. I mourned our loss of space and independence and lived for the moment when we could get back on our feet.

We were blessed in that my husband found a job quickly after he graduated. As we prepared to move our things out of storage and into our apartment last year, I decided to organize our storage unit. Our previous move had been a hasty one and I liked the idea of getting to our new place and having everything in order. What began as organization turned into an eye-opening journey as I sorted through boxes and pulled out things I had forgotten we owned – Why did I have four sets of mixing bowls? Five whisks? Two crock pots and shoes I hadn’t worn for years? What was I doing with a drying rack we never used and clothes that would obviously never fit again? It is amazing what perspective two years away from your stuff can give you. During this time I happened upon the Minimalists TEDX talk and Miss Minimalist’s blog, which resulted in further reading of minimalist websites and blogs. Feeling inspired and motivated, we took carload after carload of items to our local donation center. Each trip left us feeling lighter, energized, and more in control of our life. In the end, having to move in with my parents for two years became a great blessing in our lives for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that my husband and I learned how good it feels to live with less.

I am still developing my identity as a minimalist. I don’t like the sterility, starkness, and modernity of a lot of minimalist décor. I love color, art, and home decorating. No white walls for me, please. Keeping my craft items to a minimum isn’t always easy. I struggle to donate my daughter’s toys and to communicate to well-meaning relatives and friends that we don’t want or need many things for ourselves, or our daughter. I am grateful there are websites and blogs of like-minded people where I can learn strategies to deal with these issues.

There has been a surprising amount of side benefits to this lifestyle. Minimalism has helped my husband and I focus on paying off our student loans. We don’t use credit cards anymore and we’re paying off our car a year early. It has given me time to start building my book blog: The Crumbly Scone. Most surprising to me though is that I’ve begun thinking about ways to live a zero waste lifestyle. Something I can honestly say I never really cared about.

Yesterday I watched Lauren Singer’s TEDX talk, “Why I Live a Zero Waste Life” and I loved the words she ended with: “I want to be remembered for the things I did while I was on this planet, and not for the trash I left behind.” This sentiment, I think, is at the root of what we’re all striving for as minimalists.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Daisy

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 a wonderful story from Daisy. She’s been battling a hoarding tendency since childhood, until a natural disaster gave her a new perspective on her possessions. Visit her blog to follow her minimalist journey.

Daisy writes:

Yes, that photo’s a glimpse of my place before I became a minimalist.

So how’d it get that bad?

You could say I was born with it.

I grew up in a family that was full of love but low on funds. My parents built a business from 6 am to 3 am six or seven days a week while my grandma babysat me.

Bits and pieces of those days are still clear to me: when we couldn’t afford to buy food sometimes, when I wore Mom’s old things to school, and even the time the counselor pulled me aside to see if everything was fine at home. The teachers said it just wasn’t normal for a seven-year-old to turn down parent-child trips and collect her own report cards every semester.

Eventually, hard work and faith in God paid off and we had more than enough to live on. I’m proud of how my family worked hard to provide for us, but that time of lack meant we had learned to hoard everything just in case.

Everything: worn socks I’d had since kindergarten, newspapers from before I was born, free pens that didn’t work, broken paintbrushes… You name it, we probably had it.

In senior year, I started reading books on simplicity and they helped me see my hoarding for what it was. But every time I started decluttering, I couldn’t bear to throw anything out.

So I organized. I bought magazine racks, drawers, and huge plastic bins, and stored everything out of sight. But they eventually overflowed with more stuff and I gave up. All through college, homework was done on the floor since it was the only space I could spread my books on.

During that time, I also began traveling more. I learned to love how I could pack a month’s clothes into a carry-on bag. I felt so free with my little bag when I was away, and so bogged down when I got home to piles of stuff. I promised myself I’d figure out my hoarding problem, but it just felt too hard.

Then I woke up in the middle of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake three years ago. I huddled under a blanket and prayed God would make it stop while the house fell apart.

My family survived without injury but buildings had collapsed and others we knew were worse off.

During the quake, a gift I’d always hated almost killed my dog. Finding out about that left me with lots of feelings: gratefulness my dog had escaped getting hurt, sadness at the thought of what could have happened, but also anger. Anger at the stuff that had made it more dangerous for those I loved in that intense time.

That anger pushed me to take minimalism seriously.

I wanted to keep only the things I’d cared about while I was under that quilt waiting out the disaster. So I gave more than half my things away: 40-ish boxes of perfectly good things I’d rarely used. I also threw out ruined stuff I couldn’t have parted from before.

Why was I able to change that time when I’d kept failing at it years back? Because I’d been looking at minimalism all wrong.

Those other times, I wanted to become a minimalist to have less stuff. But adopting minimalism to be minimal isn’t what all this is about.

Instead, minimalism is a path we can walk towards what we want. In my case, the path would lead to making room for what mattered to me. Aiming to have less stuff wasn’t motivating enough, but building a meaningful life was a dream worth pushing forward for.

Since then, it’s a work in progress. I started writing about killing my hoarding habit on my blog, made friends with other minimalists who’ve encouraged me, and let my feelings of freedom push me to keep going.

Now I’m a real life minimalist, as Francine would say. Simplifying my life has helped me feel less stressed and more “me”.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Greta

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, Greta tells us the steps she’s taking to simplify her life, reduce waste, consume more mindfully, and create a calm and serene space for her family.

Greta writes:

Greta

Greta

My minimalism journey started about two years ago after reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. I couldn’t even finish the book, I had to do something right then! I started researching fair trade clothing and food, and realized if we were going to be able to afford these things, I’d need to stop wasting money on stuff I’d purge in a year or two. I started thinking about which clothes made me look the best in photos {settled on pastel pink and blue, white lacy things, and navy}; so I made a pact with myself not to buy anything outside those colors and to buy as much as I could made in ethical ways {fair trade, sustainable, well made} and purged things in the wrong colors.

Then I learned how pollution is disproportionately affecting poorer countries and we’re running out of landfill space here, and shipping our trash to those same countries. I found several zero waste blogs, and started eliminating some of the disposable clutter: I buy as much as I can from bulk containers and take the jars that the food will be stored in to the store with me. We now use handkerchiefs and don’t have ugly boxes of kleenex in every room.

Finally, we’re packing up our 850 sq ft one bedroom apartment for a move to a slightly larger place, but smaller rooms and less storage as we’re gaining an extra bedroom for the baby. When we first moved in to this apartment, there were little rabbit trails through mounds of boxes-each of our things, wedding gifts, stuff I was saving for the someday house. I’ve been purging ever since, but this move has motivated me to pitch even more. We both want our new place to be a calm and serene space, good for Daniel to study in and safe for the baby.

I’m guessing we’ve sold or donated about half our possessions in the past year. Some big: my bike, a chair, a {music} keyboard, a desk with lots of storage, the file cabinet, an extra car. And mounds of little things: specialty baking pans, extras of kitchen utensils, books {lots of books!}, most of our CDs.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Jennifer

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 such a lovely story from Jennifer, who tells us how living with less has transformed her life and brought her joy. Do visit her blog to read more about her experiences and adventures.

Jennifer writes:

Jennifer

Jennifer

If we’d met five years ago, ‘minimalist’ would be the very last word you’d have used to describe me. At the time, I owned 100+ pairs of shoes and a ginormous wardrobe (my walk in closet was almost bigger than my current apartment!). I spent almost all my free time shopping, thinking about shopping, or organising my stuff.

The idea that less might equal more had definitely never entered my mind.

Then one day, while randomly browsing the internet, I came across a few minimalist blogs (including this one!). I clicked and clicked and clicked – I was absolutely fascinated by the stories I was reading.

When I was younger, I spent several years travelling around the world, free as could be, with few possessions to weigh me down. It was a magical time, but I never considered that this freedom could be carried into my ‘normal’ life – until I was introduced to minimalism.

I started to imagine what my life might look like without so much stuff.

I could choose to work part time or to do more meaningful work; I could have more money and time for experiences I enjoyed, or I could travel more and spend time with family overseas.

It all sounded wonderful, so I set about to make some real changes in my life.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. My first dozen or so attempts at decluttering were complete failures. I was still too emotionally attached to my stuff and – in retrospect – I needed to deal with some bigger issues first.

I was unhappy in my relationship and career, I was struggling with self acceptance, and I had no clear direction or purpose in my life. Shopping and owning a lot of things was my way of self-medicating and avoiding facing the truth.

It was a long journey, but over the course of several years, I ended my relationship, made several big moves, and asked myself some hard questions about my values, my priorities and the type of person I wanted to be.

Finally, I was able to see minimalism in a new light. I stopped thinking of it as a restrictive lifestyle; instead, I could see it was a tool to help me to live the life I wanted most.

Since then, my life has completely changed.

I paid off considerable debt and stopped living paycheque to paycheque. I sold my full to the brim two bedroom house and I now live comfortably in a small studio, and all my possessions easily fit into my small hatchback. I’ve started a new relationship, with someone whose values match mine, and we’ve travelled around the world together. I quit working full-time and I started a passion project.

I’ve gone from feeling trapped and hopeless to head over heels in love with life. This doesn’t mean things are perfect, but it does mean that most days I wake up with gratitude and hope in my heart.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists Update: Rhiannon

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 happy to share an update from Rhiannon, who was originally featured as a Real Life Minimalist two years ago. Her story is a wonderful example of how minimalism can ebb and flow in our lives, and help us find balance when we need it.

Rhiannon writes:

It has been so inspirational to read so many people’s updates on their journeys in minimalism. I wish I had a smoother story to tell, but the last years have been busy and full. And my husband and I have had rounds of retail therapy, decluttering, and reminding each other of the life style we want. It feels like a constant balancing act of keeping a clutter free life and still taking care of all the people in my home.

The last time I wrote, I had one son. Now I have two boys to keep me busy. I did save all of my first son’s baby clothes and accessories, which I have been slowly clearing out as my youngest son outgrows things. It is a small victory against accumulation, but I will count it as a win.

Both of my boys are wild and crazy delights. Like most young kids, they get wrapped up in wanting what ever cool thing they see in the store, and I give in. My husband and I have given in to their requests or openly bribed them with toys. (You do whatever it takes when it comes to potty training.) I did notice very quickly that both boys get overloaded with extra clutter. In a room full of toys, they can’t find anything to play with because they are so overwhelmed. I do try to keep their toys paired down and thoughtfully edited. I do try to keep their toys battery free and educational/active play items. Even still, I often feel swamped in crayons, sticker charts, duplo creations, and their sweet little drawings. I do keep their craft cupboard free of clutter, but I find that I have relocated most of it to my closet (hoarder gene.) I am so deeply attached to every page they have scribbled on that I have a huge pile of their drawings in the middle of my closet. If anybody has any tips of how to downsize those, please let me know.

Last summer, we lost my Grandma. She was a witty, warm, kind lady and I miss her a lot. One of the difficult things since her passing is that I am frequently getting phone calls to see if I want any of her things. Packages of my grandma’s things will show up randomly too. I have accepted a few items, and my Grandpa thoughtfully picked out a beautiful pair of her earrings for me that I wear often. It has been hard to explain to my Grandpa, who is grieving the loss of his wife of 60 years, that as much, I love Grandma, I just don’t need all of her things to remember her by. He feels that me saying that I have what I am happy with to remember Grandma is like saying I don’t care.

A recent bit of news has helped us refocus to a less cluttered life. Our oldest son has ASD. It wasn’t welcomed news, it wasn’t much of a shock. In looking at what he will need moving forward, it is clear that we need to get our home to be a physically/visually calm orderly place at all times in order to help him process things around him more easily. We have to have very scheduled days now to give him the order and predictability that he needs. To accomplish that, we have had to do more to streamline our routines, meal plan days in advance, decrease the clutter and clean up time in the whole house, and declutter our schedules to be more available and present with him.

Moving forward, I am hoping to find a bit more balance in minimalism and consumerist practices. If not for me, then for my boys, who are really most important to me.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Courtney

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 pleased to feature Courtney. She tells us how a near-tragedy inspired her to pursue a more minimalist and mindful path. Read more of her story on her blog.

Courtney writes:

Courtney

Courtney

Unfortunately, wisdom is earned through pain. It took an almost divorce and a car accident for me to really pull the plug on our old life. But the pain was brewing for years.

In late 2012 we had just about everything that you are supposed to want in your early 30s. We had successful careers, an abundance of so-called friends and modest wealth to show for it. But things didn’t add up for me internally. I had trouble being honest with myself about my dissatisfaction with what I had built. My business kept me up at night with worries, my “friends” didn’t feel like support but companions, and my marriage began to resemble the same dysfunctional marriage that I grew up with, distant and desperate.

In early 2013, I pulled the plugs on my companions and started working on building the skills that lead to fulfilling and enriching relationships. I started defining my values and only putting my time told nurturing my values and removing any distractions. I became a minimalist with my time and worked on mindfulness. This was the foundation of my minimalist lifestyle.

When I got pregnant in late 2013, I remember my first book on parenting was “The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year.” I took a lot of her advice at heart, but some of her recommendations seemed too extreme for me then. But for some reason, against the author’s advice we moved from a 937 square foot home to a 1900 square foot home with a big yard and pool because we thought we needed more space for the baby and family visits from out of town.

In the summer of 2015, I experienced the worst moment of fear for a mother. I was sitting in the backseat with my 11-month-old son on our way to the airport to return home from a family trip in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The driver lost control of the car and for about ten long seconds the car shifted from the cliff’s edge of the road to hitting the side of the mountain instead. In those 10 seconds, I knew that there was a real possibility that at least one of us would lose our life or be permanently disabled. Luckily we didn’t go over that cliff, and we all survived with just a minor, but annoying back injury.

What if I had gone over that cliff? Would I have felt that I lived a true and authentic life? The answer was “no”, unfortunately. My marriage was still in trouble, and I felt at a loss for change. By late 2015, I wrote my husband a letter saying that our relationship had to change for the sake of our child. I needed our son to grow up in a home where his parents were an example of the love and kindness that I wanted him to give to the world. In late 2015, I learned the missing link to minimalism: boundaries.

Since then, we have become fierce editors of our lives. And we are doing it together. Our son has become the most affectionate kid in his class, and he loves to make mom and dad kiss by pushing our faces together.

We have since left our 1900 square foot home and downsized to a yardless 1000 square foot apartment. Our wardrobe follows the Un-fancy.com capsule wardrobe method, our kitchen only holds the essentials and even our waste has been scrutinized for simplicity now that we are adopting the Zero Waste lifestyle.

Living with less has been a byproduct of minimalism, it is not the objective. When you live mindfully, you are aware of how tiny decisions you make day to day either add or take away from this gift I call “life.” When you say “yes” to one thing, you are saying “no” to 10 other things. Or conversely for minimalists, when you say “no” to 10 things you get in return time for your relationships, health, and social causes.

If you enjoyed my words, please visit s​implyrichly.com ​or follow me on T​witter.​

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Camille

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, Camille shares her story of loss, letting go, and healing with the help of minimalism. Please visit her blog to connect with her and read more.

Camille writes:

Looking back, there have always been indications that I was a minimalist. As an active kiddo, I used to make my barbies live in a tent and allow my friends to use the barbie house. In college, being an avid lover of the outdoors, I had a few big backpacking trips with a dear friend and I was always enamored that we could carry everything we needed on our backs. I loved to plan and organize my stuff and we would really pair it down to just the essential things we needed because we did not want the extra weight. Funny how that is a perfect metaphor for minimalism today!

My father was an army officer so growing up we moved many a time. Subsequently, I too met and married a military man which lead me to move to Hawaii. My time in Hawaii was the best and worst in my life. The best because that was where I was introduced to the sport of Triathlon and the worst because that was where I lost my husband. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan where he lost his life in a helicopter accident supporting our country’s military efforts. The shock and devastation was more than my mind could handle and I became pretty depressed. I vowed to move forward, however, and eventually fell in love again. I was lucky and thankful to not be alone for very long. Of course he was military too so I eventually moved again to be with him.

Most people know that after your loved one dies in the military you are also given quite a few benefits, financially. With these benefits I was able to pay off our debts and really move forward in life. I was so very grateful for that but it also allowed me to have more spending money and boy did I spend! Looking back, I think it was to fill that deep hole in my heart. Although I had a new love and a new life, something was still missing. I was still sad and no amount of new shoes, new triathlon gear, new housing items, etc. could fill that. Death works in strange ways.

Moving from Hawaii and buying a house with my new significant other was a big step and I became quickly overwhelmed with how to fill it. I have never been good at decorating and looking at all they stuff people had in their homes and where the best places to get it, locate it, etc. was completely exhausting. One day I decided to clean out our closet full of exercise and triathlon equipment (yes, we have a closet for this). This one action created a snowball effect leading to organizing, decluttering, and ultimately minimalism. I found an article on Pinterest that knocked my socks off! It was about living more simply and with less stuff. At that point, I devoured anything about minimalism that I could get my hands on. I was relieved that it was okay to not want this life I thought I had to live. I felt like my soul was literally being fed. This concept was what really felt like home and no other actual home can even compare to give me that feeling.

In the past few years, I have also lost a pregnancy, a sister, and a beloved dog. My amount of loss is pretty significant but working towards a more minimalist life has actually helped me focus more on what is important and what can be let go of. As I give away and declutter, I am actually also letting go of the loss, hurt and anger. Who knew that becoming a minimalist could also be so healing? Who knew that letting go would mean letting (love) in? I only began my minimalist journey 8 months ago and it is an ongoing continuous process. My goal now is to continue this journey and motivate others to design a healthier more minimalist lifestyle.

Share my journey or work with me: minimalisthealthcoach.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 joining my email list.}

Real Life Minimalists Update: Apple

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’m so happy to receive this update from Apple, who was originally featured in June 2011. I love how her family has continued to refine their minimalist lifestyle, rejecting busyness and embracing ways to live waste-free.

Apple writes:

Apple’s zero waste shopping kit

Since my last feature on missminimalist, I have been opening up to, and braving the quietness of an even more uncomplicated and mindful life. Both myself and my husband completed our studies, changed careers. We both have professions which give us joy and meaning. My husband either walks into work or avails of our city’s public bicycle rental scheme. I work part-time, when the children are in school, only a 15 minute drive from home. Our growing children take a few minutes walk to school. We still live in the “small house with red door” (just over 1000sq ft), close to the city centre, the sea, in a neighbourhood full of old trees, parks, a playground, river, excellent schools, cafès, restaurants, shops and a wonderful organic market. It would be nice to have a bigger house, but we are not prepared to move and give up on our area, or to get a larger mortgage.

Life is simple and slow. Our calendar isn’t full. We have time for our family, to volunteer and to chill. Our boys have  organized afternoon activities only a couple of afternoons a week, and on Saturday mornings. It feels good to prioritize, and stick to what is important for us. It is exhilarating not to envy the constantly buzzing, busy families.

Since we sold, gave away and recycled our clutter, we have also been moving closer to waste free living. Similarly to minimalism, I first needed to accept my zero-waste self before I could find comfort in openly living a zero-waste lifestyle. Initially, it was awkward when pleople made assumptions noticing my home-made toothpaste, beetroot lipgloss, or when I produced my glass container at the butchers. As with reducing our belongings and simplifying our lives, we are now minimizing our impact on Earth with our refusal of packaging and unnecessary chemicals.

We are not perfect minimalists. We are not perfectly zero-waste. However, we are happy and contented living our chosen lifestyle.

I see my old self in family members, friends, neighbours who are too afraid to be different and to seem less than perfect. They are trying to fit into the culture of “busy” and “popular”, shopping for easy-to-pick-up disposable items, buying the latest must-haves for the perfect body, hair, life, arranging a constant stream of activities for their children. As if time and silence was something to be ashamed of. Or, is time and silence something to be afraid of? Maybe when we remove the excess, slow down and look into ourselves, that is when we really see who we are without camouflage and distractions. Maybe it is imperfection and vulnerability what we are afraid of. Maybe we do have to wait until we are truly ready to simplify, declutter, be vulnerable and grow.

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