Real Life Minimalists: Hannah

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 Hannah, who writes about why she adopted a minimalist lifestyle and the happiness it’s brought her.

Hannah writes:

Hannah

Hannah

When you search on google or YouTube “minimalism”, you’re bombarded with links to learn about the practices of 20-somethings who have adopted the lifestyle as the NBD. I fit into every stereotype of the 2017 minimalist: young, vegan, and (obsessively?) environmentally and financially conscious. The one way I believe my story sticks out is how I arrived at changing my lifestyle.

This spring, while I was working to overcome some mental health struggles, I started watching documentaries on Netflix. Bored one day, I watched the Minimalism movie that most of us have probably seen at some point. I didn’t put too much thought into it; I thought it was a cool idea, but I doubted that it was ever any information that I’d incorporate into my own life. Then one day I was enjoying a weekend from college in my and my aunt’s home (I must point out that she’s been on her minimalism journey before it became the latest fad). I took a look around and noticed how peaceful I always felt in that space. Every item, unless a decorative wall decoration or a vase of flowers here and there, had a function or purpose. Our home was clean and bright; there were no distractions, no excess of things to look after and focus our attention on.

I returned to my apartment at the end of the weekend and immediately noticed how loud my room felt. I opened my closet and saw clothing I rarely wore, old stuffed animals from before I learned to read, and gadgets I hadn’t used in months or years. I started wondering: maybe if I reduced the distractions, could I gain better focus consciously and subconsciously on improving my health and state of mind?

The next weekend, my aunt helped me to go through, painstakingly!, every item in my closet, my drawers, and my kitchen cabinets. We donated or sold at least 5 trash bags worth of stuff over the next few months. I cleaned up my diet, deciding to re-commit to veganism in an effort to simplify my diet, a choice that felt natural now that I was also cleaning up other areas of my life. I deleted 20 apps off my phone that I never used or I realized were unnecessary for me (the Starbucks app, anyone?).

While possibly cliché, I have never felt better or more at peace. The only way I can describe the change is that I feel my home, diet, and general life are simply less noisy. Everything in my bedrooms (both at home and in my college apartment) have purpose, make me smile, and involve no stress. There’s no clothing bombarding my wardrobe that makes me think “well, in 5 pounds gained or 10 pounds lost, this will fit perfectly!” Since my first big clean out, I’ve never had an issue trying to find anything; nothing is “hiding” anymore: my tank top is always on my second clothing divider, my lightweight jacket is in my duffel bag of winter clothes, and my phone charger is always in the left side of my family’s antique chest.

At first glance, you could easily argue that this seems a little obsessive, who knows exactly where everything they own is at all times? However, when you eliminate unnecessary, ill-fitting, or non-joy-sparking items from your life, it’s incredible how easy it is to keep track of everything. One really awesome thing that may also come out of this journey is the beginnings of understanding what you actually like. For instance, I used to have a makeup bag full of different products. A contour kit, eyeshadow palettes, more lipsticks than I could keep track of, and a bunch of half-used eyeliner. I never really enjoyed makeup that much, wore it only occasionally, and found it to always be more of a hassle than anything else. What changed after I went through my belongings? I discovered how much I love just the classic eyeliner and mascara combination! It’s become a fun part of my morning and when I’m feeling fancy, I put on one of the four lipsticks I have.

Nothing distracts me anymore from what I actually enjoy. I take less time to get ready in the morning because I only have clothing I love. I don’t agonize over the “good” vs. “bad” food choices because I only eat foods I want to put in my body and feel good about. I have never been happier.

{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: Upasna aka Comeback 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.

Today, Upasna aka Comeback Minimalist tells us her story. She’s at the beginning of her minimalist journey, but already experiencing the freedom of living with less. Visit her blog to learn more.

Upasna writes:

Upasna

Upasna

I had a tough time managing my stuff in the past so I decided to explore more about Minimalism. 2016 was a bit harsh on me with limited money to spend. This is how having less money helped me learned that I can live well with less stuff.

While welcoming the new year, I set Minimalism as my motto to live by. I wanted to get rid of the excessive consumerism we all are gripped in.

As I was exploring more on Minimalism, I realized it’s not only about a capsule wardrobe or living out of a backpack but a lot more than this. I started jotting down the areas where Minimalism could help me simplify my life.

My research on the topic made me write my first E-book “A-Z of Minimalism”.

I wanted to explore Minimalism but the path was not clear. So, I decided to chart down the areas where I want to apply Minimalism and how to attain it. This is when this book took birth. With this I must say, I am not perfect nor I have experienced everything that comes with a Minimalist Lifestyle. I am just a beginner.

Not only stuff but I want to look into relationships with a fresh perspective and give them the meaning. I live in a joint family which makes things difficult but I am going slow.

Moreover, being a mother to a toddler poses some restrictions but I am keen to help my kid learn this life of freedom and away from excessive consumerism. I can say that a Minimalist lifestyle is possible with kids.

I once quit my MNC job to live with my family and now when I look through the eyes of a Minimalist, I mark it as the best decision of my life. I am glad that I found this simple way of living while I am yet to enter my 30s.

{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: Priscilla

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 delighted to feature Priscilla. I just love how her story—and the Real Life Minimalists series in general—defies minimalist stereotypes, and shows how we can tailor the philosophy to suit our individual lifestyles. Visit her blog to read more of her thoughts.

Priscilla writes:

I am not a stereotypical minimalist as portrayed in the media: I’m not young. Nor am I into austere décor, black and neutral clothing, veganism, or posting YouTube videos. But all of these areas, meaning age, décor, clothing, food, and social media, have allowed me to define my own minimalistic lifestyle. And isn’t that what minimalism is about—each person defining what is important or useful to his or her own self and letting go of the rest?

Let me explain. I am an older woman, old enough to remember the art movement with simple paintings of bold color and spartan sculptures of bare metal that first earned the “minimalist” title. Now, as a lifestyle, minimalism has allowed me to push away the aggressive advertising and consumerism of my Baby Boomer generation and to live a simple, sometimes even spartan, life.

As to décor, the walls in my home relate back to those old minimalism artists like Truitt and Klein . . . not much there in terms of complexity and pattern. And yet even those artists used plenty of bold color. Yes, white walls allow natural light to bounce around, making white an excellent choice, but I enjoy the loud silence of strong color.

As far as clothing goes, before the advertising onslaught descended, my contemporaries and I grew up rotating through a small handful of outfits. This is ingrained and normal to me. When I chased after the Joneses in the 1980s, it felt unsettling and wasteful and financially just downright stupid. I am truly HAPPIER with a minimalist wardrobe. Where the stereotypical minimalist and I depart is in color choices. Like my décor, I enjoy strong colors–a shocking turquoise teeshirt or a cobalt blue pair of walking shorts. I am learning, however, to shop more wisely. When researching sustainably and ethically produced clothing, I found that my candy-colored clothes aren’t always the best choice for the planet. I suspect my next pair of walking shorts will be made of natural colored fibers from organically grown plants.

Speaking of plants, I don’t eat a plant based diet. I am a meat eater. The younger generation has challenged me to think of where and how my food is produced—something we never talked about or even THOUGHT about in the 70s when I was forming my cooking habits. Nowadays, I look for grass fed beef, free range chickens, and green packaging like reusable glass milk bottles. If I’m going to eat beef, I better consider the WHOLE animal. So I eat sausage (incorporating the less popular parts of the animal), and my “dress up” shoes are a nice pair of leather cowboy boots. I have family members and friends who are vegan or vegetarian, and I’ve come to understand their point of view; it’s just not for me.

The broad choice of social media pursuits is not for me, either. I don’t “get” Instagram. I don’t have a Twitter account. Facebook downright scares me, and I have neither the voice nor the desire to make YouTube videos. However, the old lady (that would be me) started her first ever blog this year, minimalistgranny.com, with the goal of reaching out and helping others find their own frugal and creative road to minimalism. Even though I’m a newbie blogger, I feel like I’m a 20th Century minimalist who has finally arrived in the 21st Century.

{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: Claire

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 update from Claire, who was originally featured in January 2016. I love hearing how my Real Life Minimalists have progressed on their journeys! Stop by Claire’s blog if you’d like to connect with her or read more.

Claire writes:

Claire

Claire

I wrote a post for Miss Minimalist about 18 months ago, and I wanted to send a quick update. I recently went on my honeymoon and took carry-on luggage only – hooray! It felt like a milestone for me – this is one of my aims in life. My husband and I felt so free coming off the plane with just a backpack and heading straight out of the airport :)

I thought I’d share some of the top tips I’ve learnt over the past few years about minimalism:

– When I come back from a vacation, I note down what I didn’t use on the trip. (Chances are, you wear the clothes you love and the rest end up at the bottom of the suitcase!) Next time you go away, try not taking those items. I bet you don’t miss them!

– We have a “donate” box in our apartment, where we put things we’re not sure we want to turn out or not. If we haven’t missed it after 6 months, we donate it. (Obviously we don’t do this for seasonal stuff.) This works for us because it’s not final – we can always take something out the box if we’re not sure, but it keeps everything in one place as well.

Take a picture of something if you love or want the memory, but not the item. That way you still have the memory, but you don’t have a closet full of things you have good associations with but never use.

– I didn’t get my husband involved at the start or force anything on him; I just started living my life a certain way. He quickly followed suit when he saw my tiny closet and tidy cupboards! It’s a personal journey so I don’t believe it’s something you can push on other people (however you can certainly demonstrate the benefits, haha).

– And one that is sometimes hard to deal with: most of our possessions are linked to something deeper. For example, I realized that I kept books because I wanted them to say something about me: (“Look how well read I am! Look at my Russian novels!) :) It takes courage, but sometimes looking at your life and beliefs can help answer questions about your possessions. My friends know me and who I am – so why do I need to show off what I’ve read?!

The main thing I appreciate so much from my minimalist journey is how freeing it is. Putting things in our donate box feels so good! I would recommend it to everyone :)

I hope these tips help other people and remember – minimalism is such a personal thing. Do whatever feels right for you :)

And good luck on your minimalist journey!

{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: Bibi

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 so happy to feature Bibi. When I read her words, I feel like she is truly a kindred spirit in minimalism.

Bibi writes:

I’m Bibi.

Being minimalist for me means to be free of burden and trouble.

I think that I had it always in me this desire to be free of stuff. Already at a young age I was purging my bedroom and giving many things away, which made my mother crazy. And when I got my weekly pocket money, the same day I gave it away for sweets, saying that this money was a burden for me.

When we went on holiday, the first day I gave all my money away to feel free, but then some days later, when I saw some toys or souvenirs I loved, I was begging my mother to help me out with some money. Good that by now in my fifties I don’t do this again and love to have some savings in the bank account.

My husband and I had to move one year ago in a very small flat (43m2) and had to give much furniture away. Living in such a small place and not wanting to suffocate because of stuff, I continued to purge more and more.

A few months before our unknown move we bought a big couch in u-form. Now in our living room we have only the big couch and the TV on a small desk and one green plant.

My husband is not a minimalist at all, but I’m very grateful that he allowed me to reduce a lot of things. Only his holy TV and microwave and café machine are the things he needs to have around him.

We have steady guests and my husband loves it that they admire how relaxing our flat is because it is not stuffed with a lot of decorations and nothing on the wall. Even without a dining table, nobody had to starve when visiting us. Many enjoy to sit comfortably on the couch while eating. When we want to eat, we open a folding table, and voilà.

I love to read about minimalism, non-attachment and to put it into practice. All my personal belongings, like clothes, shoes, hygienic stuff, make-up, jewelry (1 pair of earrings and wedding ring) are fitting in one 19 inch luggage. I love to know that if for any reason I would have to leave quickly I just need to fill my small luggage and bye.

I don’t count the furniture as my stuff because if we would do according to what I love, we would live with much less, almost nothing, like monks or nuns. My happiness is in my deep relationship with God and with people, not in material possessions.

I love to have nice discussions, hugs, experiences. Having only few things gives me a lot of free time for amazing moments with beloved ones and meditation and bible studies.

I would like to purge more, but there is nothing remaining. I only have the things I need and love.

But I found a new area to declutter. I want to minimalize my eating habits. Before I drank a lot of coke, café, hot chocolate, and was eating every day cheese, meat, sweets. I was spending many hours cooking.

Now I started to simplify a lot my eating habits for the benefit of my health and wallet. When I am at home I don’t eat or drink any of the things above. I still have to cook for my husband and several times for our guests, but I’m choosing meals that are more simple but tasty and therefore need less time of preparation.

As for me, I’m very satisfied with fruits, veggies, rice, potatoes. And instead of café or coke I love to drink water and herbal tea. And eating this way made me enjoy the more what friends are cooking when we are invited.

I love it not to feel any attraction to material stuff. I love it to feel so free and to have so much time to spend on people and things I love to do. And I love to know that I have finally some savings and not like before living paycheck to paycheck.

I’m bubbling when I talk about minimalism because it has changed my life so much for the  better.

{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: Ashley

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 a wonderful story from Ashley, who tells us how she discovered and embraced her inner minimalist.

Ashley writes:

I suppose I discovered that I had been something of a minimalist all along one day at the Apple Store. Grimacing as I note that my phone automatically capitalizes the store name, imbuing an element of respect that I do not emulate, I reflect back on the day that I had wanted to “check into that whole phone upgrading thing.”

My boyfriend and I drove the forty minutes to a mall big enough to support an Apple Store. In our locality, distance is often measured in time, due to the reality of nothing besides the Dollar General being in close proximity to our town.

(Side note: I had to manually capitalize Dollar General. Perhaps another subconscious reminder that the wealthy program us to recognize their concepts of respect and status?)

We walked into the melee, he more confidently than I, observing the unsatiated hordes pawing at tethered devices and ogling watches through the clear glass display cases. A young man tapped our names into a device to wait for attention, a second noted our concerns, and (much later) a third came to offer assistance.

He inquired as to our phone services as though judging us in accordance with an unseen ranking chart, asked about features that sparked interest, all the while noting that we both were somewhat taken aback and lagging in response times. On the Apple clock, it seems as though a moment of thought cannot be afforded the customer.

After the first wave of an overwhelming desire to flee subsided, I animated instantaneously. No, I am not on social media. No, I do not intend to start. No, I don’t download the apps for every store I visit in the hopes of easing my shopping experience.

If it could give a Star Wars type hologram voicemail I’d be interested, however. The gentleman was not amused.

Within five minutes, he had an estimate of which device would best suit our needs. They were approximately 1000.00 and 800.00, respectively.

I asked the question that had been already cast aside twice. “How am I billed? If I am not upgrading through my carrier, what happens?”

He happily jumped to his most eagerly anticipated part of his spiel; that is, he proudly discussed the company’s liaison with a third party bank that offers lines of credit to their customers. “Where is it? I want to go to there.”

“Miss,” he patronizingly sighed with a slight glance upward as though begging for patience, “it isn’t a brick and mortar bank, per se. You can’t simply walk in, as you stated. It’s just the wave of the future.”

“Would this go on my credit report?”

The gentleman stopped, mouth slightly agape, stammering that he had not had that question before. Four microphone relays later, the answer is yes.

I walked out. My boyfriend, who up to that point wasn’t especially eager to upgrade simply because he is “cheap,” asked me what happened.

I will not go into debt for a phone. I will not jeopardize the future of my credit report over a device that is outdated almost as quickly as it lands in my hands. And, God willing, I will manage my affairs well enough that I won’t have to worry about my credit report at all.

Up to that moment, he had known that I was inclined to donate things regularly and shop very little. He often laughed that he would be the next thing carted off to a charitable cause. It was this day that we both realized that this structure of belief, my worldview, ran far deeper than a few garbage bags of clothing. I had been the person who had failed to upgrade the television I was given in 1991 until 2013, both because she had become part of the family and because I was out adventuring too much to watch it regularly anyway. I had been the person who could give generously and regularly and find ways to not just make do, but make the best of it.

Recently, at the request of a close associate, we went to look at a large house. It would be a quick sell and we would stand to gain instant equity from the transaction. I went along, with an open mind, but within the first few moments he was thanking the seller for their time. I had just whispered to ask why there were two kitchen sinks. Honest question–I grew up humbly and had never seen this.

“I didn’t realize until I saw you standing in the middle of that ridiculously giant kitchen that we are both minimalists now. Let’s just stick with what we need.”

I never thought minimalism would have a contagious effect, but it has found us both certain that we can downsize our belongings to fit in the house he already owns, save a great deal, and embrace a future wherein we chase our dreams rather than dodging those bills.

{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: Xandra

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 just adore this contribution from Xandra, a self-described “writer, expat, productivity fiend, and bookworm living in Edinburgh, Scotland.” She tells us how minimalism helps her follow her passions and dreams.

Xandra writes:

Xandra

Xandra

As I teenager I believed I ‘could never be a minimalist,’ because I liked books too much, and I adored my massive collection of clothes. My high school schedule was like Hermione’s in Prisoner of Azkaban: I took 10 classes instead of the required 5 and maximum 6, except with no Time Turner. My one treat to myself every morning amidst the chaos was to spend longer than necessary in that closet, challenging myself to piece together an outfit from the treasure trove of clothing I had amassed over the years.

The reason for such academic madness was that I desperately dreamed of going to Oxford, to study in the place that inspired my favourite fictional worlds. When I was accepted, the reality of moving across the ocean struck me: I would have to pack my possessions into a suitcase. I would need to rethink that collection of clothes. It took something as huge and important as this – my biggest, most certain dream of my life – to inspire my change in lifestyle. There’s nothing like moving across the ocean three times a year to remind me of the physical weight of my possessions.

I could sacrifice a few ill-fitting items of clothing. And actually, I decided that I wouldn’t see it as a sacrifice, but as embracing Minimalism, that practice I so admired in others from afar. I kept my styling passion alive, but instead of “what can I make out of too much?” I now ask “what can I make out of less”? I didn’t see a lot of colourful minimalists online, so I started my own website.

As I wrote my book about minimalism, I struggled with the meaning amongst the decluttering tips I wove together. I asked myself, what is the point? The answer I arrived at was that we cut the clutter in our lives – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to make room for what we truly love and who we truly are. I call this “being my own heroine”, and I write about this at HeroineTraining.com.

I no longer have to move thrice a year, and people often ask if I’m “still a minimalist”. I find this a strange question, mainly because it means something different to everyone (as this series illustrates!). To me that question translates as “do you still believe in giving prominence to what is most important to you?” The answer is of course yes. I don’t count my possessions, but I am excruciatingly picky about letting new objects into my life. I own some unessential yet delightful things, like John the ceramic whale water jug. I don’t own a smartphone, but I do have special camera equipment (often used to film videos about minimalism, ironically!). I used to want to be surrounded by as many books as possible, but now I prefer a small curated collection — and that doesn’t mean I love books any less.

Without minimalism, sure, I could still do what I’m passionate about. But with it, I can more easily identify and live the life I desire.

{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: Ann B

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, Ann B tells us what she loves about being a minimalist, and how it helps her make time for her family and community.

Ann B writes:

Ann B

Ann B

I discovered minimalism in 2012 when Miss Minimalist was mentioned on The Simple Dollar blog. I happily read through all her archives and decluttering really appealed to me. I liked to keep a clean house, but was overwhelmed with cleaning, “organizing” old high school things and photographs, working full time as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, and supporting my husband as he went through Law School (and also worked full time).

I’ve found that being a minimalist allows me to do the things that I most enjoy: cooking-from-scratch, entertaining with dinner parties, bringing meals to new moms and building community. I can easily invite friends over for tea or a meal because I know my house is decluttered and clean. The dining room is snug when we feed more than 10 people, but we make it work. People are just happy to be invited over and have home-cooked food (often with a fun theme). I don’t keep books or knick-knacks (“dust collectors”) as decorations but keep things that help me entertain (serving ware, fun bowls). I decorate with succulents in colorful ceramic bowls. I build community by coordinating parties for my neighborhood, and it takes time to plan, advertise on our neighborhood’s Facebook page, make sandwich board signs and buy supplies for ice cream sundaes or glow sticks for Halloween parades. Being a minimalist gives me time to focus on these things.

I’ve been unburdened by incorporating minimalism into raising our son. When I was pregnant, I started asking friends about what baby supplies they found helpful and was thrilled to find A Minimalist Guide to Baby Essentials on www.theminimalistmom.com. I was blessed to have three baby showers and even though I didn’t register for any of them, I received 36 onesies in the 3-6 month sizes. I returned all but eight (I have laundry machines in my house) and other gifts and used the store credit later for a high chair and top of the line breast pump. Minimalism made life easier during a time of big transition (zero kids to one). To this day my 3-year-old son has a relatively small wardrobe and just a few cars and books in his room. I believe and frequently tell him, “You sleep better in a tidy room.”

A recent diagnosis of hypothyroidism has me reading everything I can on hypothyroidism and fatigue recovery. Many books and blogs encourage patients to decrease stress. Due to minimalism, when I look around my house, I already see a sanctuary for my family with minimal clutter, the things we love and use and pleasing interior design. I’ve learned to have no guilt when I say “no” to activities that are not my passion or subtract from my focus of building community.

Shout out to my husband of 11 years, who once he found out about minimalism, said, “I just want to get rid of everything!” We didn’t know about minimalism when we got married but it’s cool that we both have personalities that enjoy its benefits. I don’t think I’ll ever not be a minimalist. Thanks.

{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: Vivi

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 introduce you to Vivi from Indonesia. A stay-at-home mom to two young children, she tells us the steps she’s taking towards living a more minimalist, intentional life. Read more of her thoughts on her blog.

Vivi writes:

Vivi

Vivi

First, let me wish everyone A Happy New Year… And a good luck for everyone this year.

During December till today (3 Jan 2017), I have done some decluttering, including 1 of my 4 shoes. My final goal is to be more intentional in life ahead. Decluttering, streamlining & minimalist lifestyle are in the same thread, and I think they’re one of the greatest, cheapest, and easiest way to achieve an intentional life.

The road to minimalism started when I moved to a new company in June 1998, right after a political succession & shift in my country. The new company I worked for was handling IKEA’s suppliers. I just knew there had been a global homeliving company like IKEA (yes, I know so little about the world…) who designed, outsourced, controlled the quality, and then distributed them around its store around the world, but not in Indonesia at that time. (Even now, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit IKEA in our capital city yet. But I always arrange my home IKEA like with local things around me hehe… ). There was one IKEA catalog in the company that I fell in love immediately, I checked it after lunch at lunch breaks.

Then I picked my sister college book about various history & the influence of philosophy & culture that manifested into architectural trend, “Citra Wastu” by Y. B. Mangunwijaya. The unit telling about true utility & plain functional architecture trend of German philosophy really caught me. I could relate this philosophy to IKEA style. From that moment I stopped collecting ethnic unique knick knacks. I gave most of them to my nieces & friends. I shifted my ideal style of ethnic tropical home to a simple tropical home with very minimum delicate details.

Then when the Internet was accessible, unintentionally I found blogs about minimalism. I then learn & follow a couple of minimalist bloggers & guru such as Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Francine Jay’s Miss Minimalist, then Rachel Jones of Nourishing Minimalism, and mother of four Allie Casazza. I think they’re all incredible source in their own standpoint & capacity on teaching minimalism, simplicity & intentional life, even though until at the moment I haven’t joined any of their paid course/bought their books yet.

But the real turning point was when our first baby was born 11 years after our marriage. I had become a stay at home mom at the time. Speaking of time, physical & mental energy, I was always almost exhausted & overwhelmed in a daily basis at the end of the days, even though I had a domestic helper every other day. My husband worked long hours, often traveled out of town for days, and arriving home already tired. Then the next 21 months the second baby came. Up to now, I could not imagine what and how I can do with the kids if I had not been into minimalism.

Now the kids this year will be 5 and 7, and I’m in my early forty. As a stay at home mom, I have more time & energy to do my things again these recent years. However, I don’t do any businesses from home. I just take an English course and try to regularly write my blog idlehomemaker.wordpress.com in my spare time. With the higher demand from today’s school toward younger kids, and as any other moms in every corner of the world, I have to put a balanced effort in everything for the wellbeing of all family members. By the way, I may not be a very business-like person nor a Type-A person and more looks like an agricultural one maybe. I still need to learn a lot about managing time, physical & mental energy as well as be a healthier person, and what I would like to reach in the future years. And my home is still far from a real minimalist home, though. I can’t do a Konmari approach with 2 young kids around and all the activities. But I’m very positive to be a more minimalist & intentional in life this year. If you would like to share any suggestions to me, I am very pleased & thankful.

Finally, I decluttered approximately 140 things in 2016, not an impressive number…mostly just-in-case things, some knick knacks, broken toys/things (actually can be repaired still, but I choose to give them up). And this early January, I have decluttered 30 things, mostly our overgrown kids’ clothings & my not-so-favourite-anymore from my wardrobe.

Cheers to all of you. Have a nice day…

{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: Dee

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 lovely contribution from Dee, who tells us about her sweet family and simple life in small town Minnesota. What an inspiration!

Dee writes:

Dee and her family

Dee and her family

Growing up I learned more and bigger is obviously better. If you like a top for example, you must buy every color. If it’s on sale there is even more compulsion to buy. And if it’s from a thrift store every item should be considered. All this in a subconscious attempt to feel good, more complete and safe.

I moved out of the house at 18 years old with way too much stuff. I got married 2 years later to my childhood sweetheart and 4 1/2 years later we had a bouncing baby girl. In a frenzy to prepare for our baby I never thought I could have, I bought all the thrifted clothes, blankets and trinkets I could find. According to most families it didn’t seem like much as we didn’t have the large baby gear. But her closet told a different story. It didn’t feel right. Once she arrived I realized I had justified too much garage sale, on sale, thrifted, and ‘must have this’ items. I realised at this point I could of gotten a handful of nice outfits and things for her when she actually needed them, if she needed them. I felt wasteful and silly.

This is when we started getting rid of most of the things in our home. It took 2 years to make our 1,200 square foot home hit its clicking point. Since then we’ve moved to a 650 square foot townhome to our wonderful 850 square foot home, with a big back yard. I’ve learned enough really is enough. I don’t have to live in a poverty mindset, hoarding belongings for the unforeseeable future.

One month after moving into our new home we brought our sweet son home. Having a simple home made this an easier transition for everyone. Their combined closet is more tidy than my daughter’s was alone at birth. I am no longer swimming in baby things.

Choosing to live small has allowed us to be debt free besides our home. It has also helped give me the desire of my heart of being a stay at home mom and hopefully homeschool our children. We are engaged in our vibrant community almost daily. We have 5 parks and a library within walking distance, a membership at the YMCA and are active members at our local church. We also have time for building relationships with family and friends.

Life is better with room to breathe and space to let life happen. Whether it be in your schedule or in your home. It is so much easier to never let things you don’t need into your life, then have to figure out what to do with them after the fact. Boundaries are healthy in every area of life and I like that minimalism enforces this.

Our life still gets crazy but we like to hit the ‘RESET’ button often. This means we put everything back in its place. I just started a brand new Instagram account @cozycolorfulminimalist. Please join me as I share about everyday life as a minimalist family in small town Minnesota. The best is yet to come!

{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.}