Real Life Minimalists: Ally

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, Ally shares her minimalist journey with us—from childhood to present, as she prepares to get married. I love how she limits her personal possessions to a suitcase, as I do the same!

Ally writes:


I have thought of writing a guest post on here for years but never got up the courage to do it until now, so if it’s a bit lengthy of a post bear with me please. :)

I grew up an only child in a large home. My parents kept it very neatly organized and while they have/had a lot of items, because of the organization and cleanliness, it never really felt “cluttered”. Being an only child I was spoiled and had an entire room devoted to toys in the home. As a child I didn’t have the awareness that this wasn’t “the norm”, however, when I was barely a teenager we had a sudden move overseas and I was fortunate enough to see a lot of the world and how it was quite different from my life I had in the states. I will be forever grateful to that experience as it changed my life profoundly. My parents did an inventory when they moved and I remember finding it interesting to make note of all your possessions.

Minimalism came into my life slowly at first then with rapid progress. In college for a semester I lived at home and at the dorms (switched back and forth) and I remember questioning why I had essentially two bedrooms and obviously whatever I thought was most important I kept with me in whatever bedroom I was staying in at the time. I slowly started to pare things down at that point but it wasn’t until after a bad relationship and going to grad school that the life changing Miss Minimalist website fell into my lap. Grad school will forever be a fond memory for me for that and I remember that night so well! Living in a small apartment (approx studio size) lounging around with my laptop I came across her site and WAS HOOKED. I mean I decluttered and donated like you wouldn’t believe, to the point that all of my personal items were in a backpack (I know that is not for everyone but to this day that was one of the best experiences ever for me personally and felt so freeing), also my furniture was rented with the complex so that made that easy as well since I didn’t “own it”. During that time, I remember feeling my blessings strongly and being so grateful for what many take for granted daily, such as a clean shower, food, water–grateful for the “basics” and necessities in life that many in other countries are not as fortunate to have, stripping away my belongings gave me the gift of realization.

When my grandma passed away, who was one of the most important people in my life, and we had to clean out her apartment, again minimalism came into my mind. I admit sentimental items are definitely the hardest to deal with though, as I struggled with what to keep of hers. I knew what was most important to her so that was easy but it was an eye opener to see her lifelong possessions and know she couldn’t take them with her and to decide if I wanted anything else of hers. That became one of my main drives in minimalism, which is why I prefer free time and relationships with loved ones opposed to “stuff” you can’t take with you, along with my religious upbringing which tends to refer to giving to others as frequently as you can, which also plays a significant role for me.

Fast forward approx 7 years and this minimalist is still going strong. ;) I strive to keep all my personal possessions in a carry on suitcase if possible, sometimes it can vary to a standard one, and declutter regularly. I declutter personal possessions, to kitchen items, digital decluttering (although I struggle downsizing pictures of my kitty, but who can ever get enough of those hehe), toiletries and makeup, you name it, I declutter! I will be married soon and while my fiance is not a minimalist at all, he definitely will declutter with some kind persuading and makes big progress. I don’t think he gets the incredibly wonderful “freeing” feeling I get donating items but at least is willing to declutter and I’m hopeful in the years to come he will make even more progress. One of my biggest goals is to instill my legacy of minimalism with my future kids and that the number one thing they will know mom for is donating items they no longer need to someone less fortunate than themselves. When my fiance and I get married we will be moving to a larger home to accommodate an eventual future family and more furchildren and even though we will have more space (which I will like as our one bedroom is a bit cramped), I intend to keep items that we need and love and not fill it with extra stuff because of more space (shudders at the thought hehe). I am like Miss Minimalist in that I love big, open, airy, white rooms, similar to hotels in some aspects!

Along with minimalism I have developed a love for being eco friendly and “zero waste” which is a new concept to me! I find these three go hand in hand pretty well so I am enjoying exploring those further! My biggest challenge with minimalism has come with still being a consumer. I tend to sometimes purchase things and then donate them shortly after, this is a bad habit of mine, and while yes someone gets something nice in the end, I could’ve saved more money in the long haul, so budgeting with minimalism is still a work in progress for me. I also try to do the 30 day want rule and if I want the item in 30 days I will purchase it. Also, because I have a lot of medicines I constantly struggle with a way to organize those (especially for travel) because they take up a HUGE part of my carry on, actually the majority and really it’s hard to downsize medicine (especially asthma since they have big containers), any ideas on help with that in containing or organizing them would be lovely and appreciated. :)

Overall, minimalism has big one of the biggest positive impacts in my life and my friends and family are accepting/at least understand it more now (thankfully), and I would recommend everyone dabble in it to some extent to at least try something new. It is a wonderful stress reliever for me and makes me feel so much lighter and happier, among the many well known benefits minimalists have already stated here in the past. Good luck decluttering everyone, let’s try to leave the planet a little bit happier and lighter in the process and thank you Miss Minimalist for changing my life in one of the most profound ways! :)

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

Real Life Minimalists: Greg

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, Greg shares with us the fascinating story of his minimalist journey, and how it’s led him to a place of peace, freedom, and possibility.

Greg writes:



I am one of those lucky souls to whom minimalism came by accident. During the perfect storm of a backpacking adventure, a break-up, and a move, it came into my life before I even knew what it was.

My girlfriend and I had packed all our stuff in storage and I went backpacking around South America while she started a semester abroad in Belize. At the end of my trip I looped up to Belize for a visit, where she broke up with me.

I went home to Canada to deal with what we left behind. I was also completely, unbelievably broke. I couldn’t afford to pay the airport tax to leave Belize and I think it was only like $10 or something (thank God for the kind lady at the till).

Also, before I left I had decided to change my life path (again) and start journalism school, so I only had a few months to get organized and make some money to be able to afford going back to school.

Needless to say it was a patchy few months and everything that wasn’t essential was left by the wayside. I jumped from friend’s house to friend’s house, working crazy amounts of hours and sorting through a house sized storage compartment of stuff in the late evenings, constantly feeling on the brink of being overwhelmed.

And yes, I do consider that a lucky sequence of events that led me to minimalism.

Two years later with the money I had saved from not buying anything, out of pure fear of ever having to face a storage container full of stuff ever again, I went on another backpacking trip.

This time I carried literally half the stuff that I carried before, and to say my return was less chaotic would be an understatement. The trip was epic and established me as a lifelong travel addict and my reintegration into society upon return was seamless. This was when I realized the beauty and power in minimalism.

I went from being strenuously disorganized and lost to being secret agent-like in effortless efficiency.

I think my friends are still confused as to what happened to the discombobulated person who literally never had his keys, wallet and phone together at the same time.

The peace of mind that comes from not having to constantly want, collect, and care for things literally changed my life. Just writing this made me think back to what my mind used to be like, and have my heart rate go up.

It is hard now for me to imagine that there are still people out there who have never seen the end of their clean and get organised to-do list.

All that being said, I am definitely still on my journey to personal minimalism perfection. I had the realization the other day that by focusing too much on minimalism, in a way I am again focusing too much on stuff.

I have always been a seeker, and minimalism has been one of my greatest tools for figuratively uncovering a whole mindset that I was unaware of before, but for me minimalism isn’t the end.

I look at it as having cleaned up a bunch of stuff that was occupying a place that it shouldn’t have, and now I am looking for what to fill it up with. This to me is the fun part of the journey.

It is not just the acquiring of, but the freedom to search, for love, for wisdom, for beauty, and for God, unrestrained. It is like I have stepped out of the whirlwind of a life where I had no control and into a peaceful place where I can freely and willfully explore, and I am truly thankful for that gift.

I have recently quit my job and moved to Cambodia. I spend my days meditating, walking on the beach, working on my website that I built to help people find responsible businesses to shop from, and promoting the Conscious Consumer Movement.

{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: Craig

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 contribution from Craig, who explains how minimalism has transformed his life—helping him to become a healthier, happier, and more focused person. Please visit his blog to learn more.

Craig writes:



The 21st century is an exciting and daunting time to live.

We have the technology to live simpler lives than the past few decades ago.

Yet that’s not the world we live in today.

Instead, we work long hours and have little time for anything meaningful. Everyday, we are bombarded by distractions and advertisements that grab us by the throat and demand our attention. Not surprisingly, people have become increasingly disharmonic.

In my early to mid twenties, I endured constant fatigue, anxiety and depression as I gave most of my time to a dead-end job and reaped very few rewards in return. Through my emotional turmoil, I found junk food, sugar, tv and video game addictions to be an easy method of coping. As a result I gained weight which brought about a feeling of shame that later began to effect my relationship.

I had actually stumbled across the concept of Minimalism years before recently. But at the time, I was still living with parents and didn’t have much experience in life outside of college so I had no idea how I could apply it to my life.

Then five year later, I stumbled upon a talk by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists. Ryan told a story about how he and Josh had climbed the ranks of the corporate ladder and earned six figure incomes only to have it cause them more misery than they had hoped for. He then explained how Minimalism could reduce clutter, stress, dept, anxiety, discontentment and give you more time, health, freedom, happiness and meaning.

After watching the talk, I spent several days researching Minimalism. I subscribed to just about every blog I could find. I wanted to know what practical steps I could take to live more freely and more meaningfully.

I began by reducing distractions so that I’d have more focus and more time. I digitised my bills so that I could manage them online without the stress of dealing with hundreds of papers. I traded in video games, CDs, DVDs, books and other possessions which no longer added value to my life. I stopped wasting my money on junk food that made me feel like crap and replaced it with healthier foods that really give me energy. I learned how to listen and empathise with others so that I could create more meaning in my relationships.

But the habits that required the most effort to let go of were my tv and gaming addictions. Neither of these are evil, but if today were my last day to live, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be sat down in front of a glowing screen running away to a make-believe world instead of doing what’s important to me with my limited time in this world.

Letting go of excessive television and gaming allowed me to spend more time reading, learning and and growing.

People will always tell you how you should live and sometimes they will do so good intentions.

They’ll tell you that you should work hard to earn a high income, that you should dedicate most of your life to paying off a house, that you should have “luxuries” such as a car or TV subscription, that you should devote whatever time you have left after work to raising kids even if it’s not the lifestyle you desire.

I’m not saying that any of these things are bad. You may get really excited about buying a house or raising kids and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy.

But just because these ideals are ubiquitous, doesn’t necessarily mean that you must pursue them.

Most of the ideals people suggested I live by never resonated with me yet they still tried their hardest to convince me that I should pursue them thinking they’ll make me happy.

The things I’m passionate about are Simplicity, Art and Technology.

People may tell us that living with less is stupid.

Yes, I agree that Minimalism is counterintuitive but never stupid.

When you’ve seen people who have no time, tons of dept, poor health and crippled relationships all stemming from the mindless chaos of modern consumerist culture, I could never blame you for seeking a better philosophy.

Not everybody will agree with your lifestyle, but I encourage you to stand firm in your beliefs that less truly is more.

If you enjoyed my words, please visit or follow me on Twitter.

{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: Cecily

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 have an inspirational story from Cecily, who tells us how minimalism has given her the time, focus, and ability to pursue her dream of being a writer.

Cecily writes:

Photo by Cecily

Photo by Cecily

Being a minimalist isn’t something new to me. It’s a habit, a part of my every day.  I think about it little more than I think about eating well, or keeping the house clean, or putting clothes through the wash.

Do I find pleasure in it? Sometimes. Sometimes I open my wardrobe to find only the things I’ve made and love and feel a flush of happiness. I like living in a tidy house. I like the fact that I can clean it quickly and easily.

More than that, though, I like the other things that this lifestyle opens up to me. Time to stand still and think slowly, despite a busy family life and a part time job. Time to grow a patch full of vegetables each year, and to keep hens. The chance to stop and take note of the colour of the clouds as they scud across the ever changing sky. To listen, really listen, to what my children are saying. To learn new skills.

Just as this lifestyle takes choice away, it presents us with more. I may not need to choose which pair of boots to wear, but I do need to decide how to spend my days. Sometimes those choices force us to face up to ourselves, and ask what we really want. Like so many people, I wanted to write, but between one thing and another I rarely did.

In September I realised that there was nothing in my way. Either I wanted to write or I didn’t, and either choice was fine. I took away the pressures of finding a publisher and making money. That wasn’t what it was about. It was just about putting words on a page, one after another.

So I started the semi-fictional diary of Cecily Graham, living in 1930s Britain ( I publish twice a week, and have done so since September. It’s made me more consistent and more productive. I am becoming more observant, and more grateful for the day to day. Most of all, though, it’s made me a writer at last.

Minimalism fits so well with the thirties: I love the frugality, creativity and resourcefulness of both. It was a time when old things were mended and thrift was a virtue. When the world moved at a slower pace, but we could enjoy the pleasures of modernity.

I believe that we can still do that now, if we make the right choices. Minimalism is one of them. An important one, to me. It has freed me up for so many other good things. And for that I am truly grateful.

{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: Kate

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 feature Kate, who tells us how she and her family completely overhauled their lives in pursuit of their minimalist dream. So inspiring! And do check out her website, Cohesive Home—while you’re there, you can enter her giveaway to win the new hardcover edition of The Joy of Less!

Kate writes:



Hi, I’m Kate!

My minimalist journey began, like many others, with the birth of my first daughter. It was the typical problem—newborn baby, too much stuff, too many commitments, our hectic jobs, and little quality time together. The breaking point came when she was nine months old, and we needed to move cross-country for my husband’s job. We realized that we couldn’t continue at this pace—both with the physical clutter and overwhelming schedule.

My husband Kirk and I are newly into our 30s and realized that we had allowed our lives to be shaped by others’ ideas of what adulthood and parenthood should look like. You know, the nice house, private preschool for our oldest daughter, and plenty of debt and responsibility to go with it. In May 2014, I read about a family that traveled the country in an Airstream, visiting National Parks and creating these unforgettable memories. Despite the fact that I had never been camping in my life, I suddenly craved that freedom. My husband thought I was crazy initially, but that dream became the catalyst for a complete overhaul of our lives.

Although we had occasionally decluttered in the past, we became ruthless in the pursuit of a new life. Suddenly we had purpose and a vision; minimalism was the key to reaching our goals. We dusted off old dreams and quit any activities or responsibilities that didn’t add value to our lives or support our vision for our family’s future. Kirk began playing and writing music again, and I began writing my first children’s chapter book, both longtime dreams of ours. We then sold or gave away about 90% of our possessions, including our first house, and then packed all of the remaining belongings for our family of four into a 6’x12’ U-Haul trailer. In June 2015 we moved cross-country to pursue our new life.

Our daughters, who are 5 and 2 now, were thrilled to move to a small beachfront community by Lake Michigan and live by family again after years of city life. We bought a travel trailer and spent our first year after the move living partially with family and traveling. Although it was tough at times to be without a permanent home, living that simply for the past 9 months has allowed us to truly identify our family’s next direction.

We just bought our new (to us) home, a 675 square foot, 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom 1940s cottage in walking distance to the town farmers’ market, an amazing library, and a number of family owned restaurants and shops. We can bike to the beach and my daughters’ favorite playground is literally a stone’s throw from our new front porch. Buying such a tiny home means we’re now financially able to travel and pursue our personal interests as well as spend time with family—all things that never happened when we were living the “American Dream.” We’re excited for this next stage of our minimalist journey as we create a simple family home and seek new adventures. You can follow our house remodeling progress and travels on Instagram @thestreamlinedlife, and I would love to connect with other minimalists!

Last fall, I also co-founded a new Instagram community and podcast for intentional and minimalist families called @cohesive_home. Our podcast is on iTunes, and it covers everything from simplifying your home, to living a more adventurous life with your kids, to creating beautiful family rituals, and more. We absolutely love encouraging others on their minimalist journey, and we hope you join us. To find out more check out our website Cohesive Home.

{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: Jessica

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 hear from Jessica, who tells us how decluttering can lead to so many positive changes in life. Please visit her blog for more inspiration!

Jessica writes:



Hi, I’m Jessica. My favorite mantra is “less is more.” I am truly a minimalist at heart. If I don’t love it or it isn’t useful, then it doesn’t deserve to take up space in my home. Hello, Thrift Store. :)

I became a Life Coach to empower people and coach them to possibility and truth so they can create a life they love. Whether that is with their home, relationship, finances or goals. Clutter isn’t just physical stuff it’s also mental and emotional. The less “clutter” we have around us, the clearer and more deliberate we can be about living a life that supports who we were created to be. My passion is helping people gain the momentum to move forward and intentionally take action in their lives.

In 2006 I met my husband and started living the American dream; working more and spending more. When my daughter was born in 2011 I started to weigh the cost of owning so much stuff. A quote that struck me was, “money is replaceable, and time is lost forever.” I wanted to stay home with my daughter as children are little only so long. I wasn’t a reader at the time, but when I would get home from working as a nurse on the evening shift and I couldn’t sleep…I started to read. The first book I read was “The Joy of Less.” Thank you, Miss Minimalist! I then read everything I could get my hands on regarding simplifying, minimalism, downsizing, decluttering and owning less. As I read I acted. Each day I would go through drawers, closets and cupboards to decide what really mattered to me. If it didn’t serve a purpose or spark joy, I released it. With each trip to the thrift store, I felt lighter and had so much more energy and clarity.

When we clear away the clutter, we clear away limiting beliefs that keep us stuck year after year. I have seen the positive impact that clearing the clutter has had on so many areas of my life. Simplifying and downsizing doesn’t happen overnight. The great thing about that is when we do things slow and steady, they tend to last.

My husband and I started paying off one bill at a time and eventually sold my dream equestrian facility we had built. We became crystal clear with our goals to become financially free. Let’s just say material belongings and debt didn’t win. Yes, I loved my beautiful 20 acre farm, heated barn and indoor arena but I love my little farm so much more!

I’m not going to tell you I don’t like nice things, but I am a lot more conscious now about what I spend my money on and what I bring into my home. I don’t just buy things to buy. I will choose experiences over possessions any day. I’m so thankful for what my journey has taught me up to this point in my life, and I want to encourage you on your path. I highly recommend having a support system in place because people will question you on your new ideas and think you’re crazy. If you are new to this journey, it can be very discouraging and really set you back. I’m here to tell you to keep foraging ahead. Simplicity is about the path less traveled, and it might not always be easy, but it will be worth it. POWER UP!

Please visit my website to learn more about 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: Haley

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 excited to introduce you to Haley—she and her family have embraced minimalism to embark on a yearlong RV trip. I’m looking forward to following her adventures on her blog!

Haley writes:

Haley and her family

Nearly three years ago, with our second child on the way, my husband and I finally moved out of our small condo in Atlanta and into our 2,500-square-foot house in suburbia. It was just what I had always wanted–a great house with room to grow in a kid-friendly neighborhood. We welcomed our third child in this house, which allowed all three of my kids to have separate bedrooms and plenty of space to spread out.

Then in summer 2015, my husband mentioned a radical idea to me before bed one night. He said, “Let’s sell our house, buy an RV and go on a year-long cross-country road trip together.” I spent half that night stunned awake by this crazy idea, which was basically the opposite of the life we were living. But after a few days, I realized the greatness of this opportunity and concluded I didn’t need that misconstrued safety net of stuff or space. All I needed was my people.

Since last summer, I’ve embraced minimalism in preparation for our trip and become quite addicted to getting rid of all that extra stuff that we really don’t need. We’ve donated loads of toys, clothing and household items. We’ve trashed broken toys, worn out items and unneeded paper files. We’ve sold my husband’s business, his motorcycle and duplicate appliances. Our closets no longer hide all our accumulated stuff, but store frequently used functional items. And even though we will soon move out of our house, it’s finally feeling like a home that’s manageable, aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Once our house sells this spring, we will purchase an RV and hit the road for a year until it’s time for my oldest child to begin Kindergarten. This year on the road means we will live with less stuff in less space on less money. But less will give way to more when it yields adventure, family time, freedom and a daily life spent outdoors.

So, this is the year we focus on family. This is the year we parent as equals. This is the year we unschool for Pre-K. This is the year we explore the natural sights of this country, side by side. This is the year of crazy togetherness, where we rely on each other instead of the stuff that surrounds us.

Minimalism isn’t necessarily an easy or intuitive journey–at least not at first. Often, I have to remind myself that I don’t actually need something; I just want it. And because society says that I should have what I want, it’s been quite an internal battle refocusing my want desires into something less tangible with more longevity. This RV adventure is my newfound focus. It’s a chance for my family to reap the many rewards of minimalism and for my husband and I to set an actionable example for our kids.

To follow along on our adventure, visit

{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: Bethany

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, Bethany shares a touching story about a beloved relative, and the ultimate lesson he taught her about the important things in life. Surf on over to her blog to get to know her better.

Bethany writes:



In October 2015, I lost my wonderful, supportive Granda to Mesothelioma – cancer of the lung which is caused by asbestos, a material he had worked with as an engineering apprentice. It wasn’t until January 2015 when he developed a cough, that we discovered the devastating effect the asbestos had on his body. My Granda loved everything about vintage motorbikes and had refurbished several machines that were previously buckets of rust. He loved gardening and cultivated a vegetable patch that produced the most delicious selection of vegetables you could imagine. He was a rock in our family. If anyone had anything they needed fixed – a roof, a car, tools, jewellery – he could fix it in minutes. He was endlessly supportive of all of us, and let me know often how profoundly proud of me he was. He gradually lost his strength after the initial cough and in less than 10 months he passed away, in the home he had shared with my grandma for almost 50 years.

Immediately after he passed away, all we felt was grief. But after those first few weeks, my grandma started going through his many, many belongings. A few of these brought him profound amounts of joy, e.g. his motorbikes. Others, like ten multipacks of shirts (all unopened) my grandma had purchased for him, were clearly unused and unloved. I seized the opportunity to take one of his belongings for myself, a beautifully made woollen jumper a local clothing company had produced when he was a fisherman, in his twenties or thirties. I knew he loved it, because he had told me its story more than once and wore it often. Despite being five decades old and having been worn by my Granda hundreds of times, it’s still in pristine condition because it was well made and well looked after. He didn’t think to wear much of the clothes bought for him, because he had his favourites and would have rather just worn them. 

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about my amazing Granda. Despite the piles and piles of stuff he had, he did’t get more joy as he got more things. Indeed, only a few things brought him more joy than everything else. I related this to my own life. Why do I have so many things I don’t really care about? Why do I think I need these things? How have I become so brainwashed by my consumerist tendencies that I genuinely believe holding onto crap I don’t give a crap about will make me happy? 

These thoughts lead to a tremendous purge in the amount of ‘stuff’ I own. I latched onto the concept of capsule wardrobes – that is, having a smaller, but better curated wardrobe. This lead me to donate nine and selling two bags of new and old clothes – I know, I’m mortified at the amount too. I’ve now halved the amount of clothes I had. While reading about capsule wardrobes, I stumbled across the idea of minimalism. And oh, how things have changed since then. I’ve gotten rid of so many things by donating, selling and repurposing and the clear space in my wardrobe, cupboards and surfaces correlates directly to the clear space in my mind. I have more time to focus on the important things. I spend less time deciding what I need to do, buy, clean, wear and consume. My time is instead split between things I consider to be important: time with family, my boyfriend and my friends, time to look after my physical and mental health and also, time to discover what my passions are and how I can cultivate these passions. 

My Granda taught me so much while he was alive and I feel like his final lesson was teaching me how to live a better, more simplified life, only giving time and attention to the people and things I truly love.

{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: Sarah

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 so grateful to Sarah for sharing her story with us. She describes how life circumstances took her through a period of hoarding, and how she dug her way out to lightness and freedom.

Sarah writes:



My story is one of extremes. I grew up in a house filled to the brim with interesting things, books, teetering piles of items. My parents are artists and so saw beauty in some things most don’t and I can relate to that as an artist myself. I guess it set a precedent. What environment we create for our children leaves an almost indelible mark. This is something we all need to think about.

When I moved out I was asked to mind a pile of stuff for family that had gone overseas, and I did. I moved again and another person wanted stuff minded (probably because I was already minding other stuff) and I did. I became the stuff minder!

I majored in sculpture, practiced fine art and had my own collections, then I had children and the stuff that came with that added to the mountain.

My life took a turn and violence entered it. Emotional pain led to me becoming a hoarder. Literally. A real hoarder. Not the catch phrase overly used label of ‘hoarder’ we throw everywhere, a proper hoarder and I was horrified. Something had to change.

The stuff literally had become like an enormous psychological, physical, torturous burden. What started as a favour to family became a monument to submission. I realised that not making a decision about stuff meant that others would make those decisions for me. Other people’s inability to take responsibility for their stuff led to me being buried in it. I was burying myself alive with not only my objects but other peoples as well.

One day I just started digging through it. I started to donate to charity, to give things to others. Get rid of it. The more that left the lighter I felt, the more I felt free. I was suddenly in control and it felt amazing.

Now years later, so many purges later I live in a simple and beautiful environment that I have intentionally created. I have been able to save and see the life I want to live and have taken actions to live it. Dreams are now goals.

Allowing objects to infiltrate and control our lives can lead to letting other things deteriorate. Out dated irrelevant or destructive relationships, jobs we hate, debt, physical or emotional ill health. I cannot express enough how much an intentional existence changes not only how you live but who you are. We all get to create that and that is massively empowering.

{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: Layla

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 Layla, who was featured in this series two years ago. She’s been on her minimalist journey for quite some time now, and shares some wonderful advice she’s learned along the way.

Layla writes:

Hello again,

After discovering minimalism five years ago, I expected that once I got the distractions out of the way it would simply become clear to me what was important. This turned out to be a five-year long process, and I’m still becoming who I am. I’m currently planning to move across the country, and it’s nice that I don’t have a ton of things to bring with me.

Two years ago I wrote a Real Life Minimalist post at a time when I was feeling rather frustrated, and I hope by writing this follow-up post I can help someone else who may be feeling stuck.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the past five years that I’d like to share with you:

  • This seems like such a cliché, but therapists do ask the question “how does that make you feel?” They don’t judge you when at first your answer is bumbling and uncertain. Seeing a therapist was very helpful, I couldn’t tell you exactly how, but I definitely recommend it for anyone who feels stuck and doesn’t know how to change it.
  • Mindfulness, recognizing what is going on in the present moment and being able to sit with that is (a) not as easy as it sounds, but (b) powerful. So far, I often get distracted by thoughts but am always able to recognize and come back. One resource I’ve been listening to is, which I recommend.
  • You can’t prevent yourself from getting hurt, and to try to do so will probably give you a heart attack or something. Instead, you appreciate the joys in life and cope with the hurt, but realize just how temporary each moment is. Life has its ups and downs, they are only temporary, so feel them instead of trying to escape them.
  • Some of the most beautiful things take courage: making a decision about where to go next with your life then following through, or the sense of belonging that comes from opening up to someone you trust.

I hope this will help someone, even if it is only to feel less separate, knowing you are not alone in your human-ness.

Now I shall go back to preparing for my move out west, giving away books and mason jars, throwing out old underwear and socks, and donating clothes. When deciding to move, I was afraid about many things, but packing up all my stuff was not one of them – I guess that makes me a minimalist!

{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.}