Real Life Minimalists: Frangipani Bloomfields

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, Frangipani Bloomfields celebrates her simple lifestyle with us—rightly noting that we don’t have to count possessions to call ourselves minimalists. Read more of her story on her blog.

Frangipani Bloomfields writes:

It has only recently dawned upon me that I am a minimalist. I have been reading Miss Minimalist for quite some time now and while I have thoroughly enjoyed the posts by other real life minimalists I have always thought I stood just outside the box. How could I be fully aware of the minimalist movement and not realize I was in it?

You see I have no intentions of limiting my wardrobe to 33 items, limiting the total of my possessions to 100 or only owning one of everything. I had thought that not having these goals meant minimalism wasn’t quite the right fit, but I have since realised we can still be a minimalist without these limitations.

A minimalist is someone who wants to live the simple life. They want to intentionally fill their time, mind and space with that of value and remove that which distracts from that goal. Minimalism is a mindset not a number!

So I am here to tell you –

-If you intentionally keep a collection of 100 smurfs and they bring value to your life, you can still be a minimalist!

-If you intentionally keep a box of maternity clothes in the cupboard because you know the child in your arms won’t be your last, you can still be a minimalist!

-If you have 60 glasses because the ability to entertain often is important to you, then you can still be a minimalist!

Perhaps I am stating the obvious but that has been a huge revelation to me!

My largest step towards living the simple life was recently when I became a stay-at-home mum with the intention to homeschool in the future. The extra time I have gained has afforded me the ability to start questioning the things that I do and the stuff that I own, because of this I have started taking some other small steps towards intentional living.

My journey has led me to question what we put in our bodies and the role that work plays in our lives. I am also following Francine’s The Joy of One series with my own series The Luxury of Less where I am documenting my own belongings to ensure I am being intentional about the stuff that is allowed to accumulate in my home. I have not counted my belongings before so this will certainly be a learning journey. Where Francine had one coat I had four, but I’m ok with that because each of them are of value to me.

Please come and join me on my journey into intentional living over at:

http://frangipani.bloomfields.net.au/family/category/minimalism/

but I’ll give you a fair warning – I am not the perfect minimalist – I’m not even sure what that would mean even just for me but I am on the journey, towards minimalism, towards intentional living, towards the simple life.

{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: Wild Poppy

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 Wild Poppy, who was featured in this series a year ago. She explains how a recent experience hosting some friends gave her new insight into her minimalist lifestyle.

Wild Poppy writes:

Photo by WildPoppy

Photo by Wild Poppy

How can one lone egg radiate such a sense of accomplishment?

I enjoy my minimalist aspirations. I’m sure we all do. This, however, has an impact on how others view us. Take, for example, a recent enlightening encounter.

I had a couple of friends come to stay for a few days. Prior to their arrival they told me they would take care of their own meals, simply using my home as a base, somewhere to crash.

This suited them, and me, perfectly.

They weren’t restricted by my schedule and routine, and I didn’t have to be at home preparing and cooking meals. They could go to the theatre, visit museums, browse the many department stores in Oxford Street or Kensington or simply enjoy afternoon tea in a plush London hotel. All without the constant inconvenience of having to head back outside the North Circular for lunchtimes and evening meals.

They got on with their holiday and I carried on with my life.

This simple arrangement worked well.

Due to the fact that I was not expected to provide meals, but rather was pretty enthusiastically requested not to, I did not stockpile groceries and baking ingredients before their arrival. My pantry, fridge and freezer remained true to their usual minimalist state. There was no necessity to add to their contents.

This being said… do you ever suddenly see something through the eyes of someone else?

I say ‘suddenly’, as that was precisely how it happened.

My guests settled in happily and planned their five activity-filled days in this great bustling city of ours. True to tourist tradition, they were up and away early each morning, returning late, tired and happy every night.

I saw little of them, they saw little of me. The perfect guests.

Then it struck. Like an electric shock. Sudden, instant and with intense clarity.

I opened the door of my fridge and there, amidst the bare, vacant shelving, sat a lone egg. One humble little protein snack in its beige oval shell.

Until this point I hadn’t fully perceived how others see us. But there, in the vast clean white space of an empty fridge, sat a stark reminder that my minimalist pursuit is so far removed from the life of even some of our closest friends.

Conversely, it was also a reminder of the progress thus far accomplished on my quest for a more minimalist lifestyle.

We don’t live under the conditions our grandparents and great-grandparents survived, restricted by the ‘ration book’ of a wartime era, yet somehow we yearn for the sheer simplicity of that time.

And that yearning conveys an innate sense of striving, a striving for a contentment, not dependent on ‘things’, but on the sheer joy of being alive.

My encounter with the lone egg reminded me of this.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: Sandra

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, Sandra tells us how she pared down after the birth of her son, and found her true calling in her newfound space. Visit her blog for more inspiration.

Sandra writes:

Sandra

Sandra

Hello! My name is Sandra and I live in Spain with my partner and my five year old son. I have read all kind of stories in this Real Life Minimalists’ section so I know I am nothing out of the ordinary. I lived in a mess of stuff almost all my life, accumulating “useful crap” since my childhood until I left home at age 23. Then, I had to get rid of stuff: I couldn’t carry all my books with me neither all my clothes since I moved into what I called a “hole in the wall”, a tiny studio. I really didn’t miss anything and learned that I needed very little to live fully and passionately. But when I moved with my partner, things turned around. I wanted to create a home, which in my mind meant “stuff”: things that made me feel I was in a “proper home” and not a half-empty room. I linked “warmth” with “plenty of things”.

When our son came along, the mountain of things that surrounded us made me feel I was trapped into a volcano, surrounded by lava. I couldn’t see the floor, that’s how bad it was! I was overwhelmed. My previous interests and hobbies made no sense at all and I started seeing everything as a burden, instead of a possibility. My brain was clogged as a result of seeing my surroundings so full, and I couldn’t concentrate in anything, not even in spending fully present time with my family or learning, which is my favourite thing ever.

I started by clearing out the things I was just not happy with. Then I realised I didn’t care about many of my old hobbies. They didn’t make sense. My son put everything into perspective because my time to be messy and purposeless was much less. I realised time was precious and I didn’t want to waste it putting things back into place. I cleared my desk and found peace. I cleared my wardrobe of old memories. I went into “practical mode”. The desire for space got bigger and bigger and, just when I got this space I needed, I found my true passion: coaching, therapies and teaching inner wisdom. I couldn’t have found my passion in the chaos. I needed the chaos to be over so I could see that what my intuition told me was absolutely possible. Because without the burden of your excess, you can fly really high!

I write now about coaching and minimalism on my blog (www.presente-simple.com) in Spanish and recently started the same project in English (www.simplyinthepresent.com). Miss Minimalist, Leo Babauta and The Minimalists were my first inspirations on the Internet. People like me, who could see the potential of an intentional life which purpose is lost in the confusion of the materialism of our times. You guys really change my life and point of view and it’s just fair that I spread the word as well.

{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: Regina

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, Regina tells us how minimalism has shaped her daily life and routine since she was featured last year. (I love hearing about the progress our Real Life Minimalists have made!) Stop by her website to read more of her writing.

Regina writes:

Regina

Regina

So what is a minimalist life like? Is it any different from the life of one who is not? I guess the answer is yes and no. Being a minimalist does not exempt one from the ups and downs of daily life. What minimalism does is provide us with a set of beliefs, values and habits to facilitate more intentional living and make more conscious decisions- with the aim of making our lives happier, more fulfilling and even extraordinary, in one way or more.

Ever since I left my corporate job and started working on my own businesses, I have no longer had a routine that I abide to. What I have instead are rituals and habits to anchor my day and I leave the rest to be shaped by inspiration, priorities and serendipity.

I will use last Wednesday as an example.

Though I tend to be a night owl, I have experienced the benefits of waking up bright and early. It makes my day stretch out much longer and I feel as if my day has been more productive. I have learnt that sleep is important to the quality of my day and I make sure I get at least seven if not eight hours every night (gone are the days when I could easily survive on six or less hours!). So, if I want to get up early, I make it a point to go to bed earlier. I have long since given up going to bed at 11pm and expecting to wake up at 7am when my usual sleep hours are closer to 2am and 9am, as I am just setting myself up for failure. What I do now is create a habit of getting to bed 15 min earlier and waking up 15 minutes earlier. Do that for a few days and then get to bed 30 minutes earlier and wake up 30 minutes earlier and so on. It makes the transition more gradual and doable.

My morning rituals are key to the quality and success of my day. I do 5 minutes of intentions for my life and the day, followed by 10 minutes of exercises. After my shower, I have a small breakfast. I am quite serious about good quality coffee. Making a mindful exercise out of my morning coffee ritual helps me to make better coffee and appreciate my drink even more. I try to be aware of every step of the process, from filling the kettle, scooping the coffee into the filter, to taking the first sip, to truly appreciating the aroma and depth of taste.

I do my quiet time over coffee – about 15 minutes of meditation and affirmations in silence. This is followed by about half an hour of writing notes, checking my emails, investments, sorting out a couple of admin items and checking out a few key websites. I no longer have a routine, but these are my morning rituals that help me to anchor my days. The rest of the day is shaped by the projects I am working on and what I am inspired to do and where I want to be.

As I was working on my latest book ‘A Minimalist Life’, I spent the next two hours writing. I am tempted every now and again to check my emails, surf the web and check out Facebook. Sometimes I manage to focus on the writing, but quite a few times I yield to my temptations. It takes me some time after that to get back into the groove of writing. I am trying out the Pomodoro technique – an app that times you so that you work for 25 minutes and then have a break for 5 minutes. So far, the trial has worked out quite well. It helps me to focus on writing and then I can look forward to my 5-minute break and make a drink or surf the net without guilt. Then it is back to another 25 minutes of work. I am still working on my habit of focusing.

I then head into town to check out the venue for the next London Minimalists Meet up. We need a bigger venue for the next event, when we’ll be expecting an acclaimed author and speaker on the ‘Slow Movement.’ Since I began my minimalism journey a few years ago, I have benefited so much from this new way of living. Heading up the Minimalists Group was my way of giving back; it also serves as an excellent platform to meet fellow aspiring and practising minimalists with similar desires to live well with less.

When I am in central London, I make an effort to visit two of my favourite places: Foyles Bookshop and The National Gallery. By now it is no secret that I love books, and I am like a bee to honey when it comes to beautiful bookshops. I still buy books as they give me much joy and inspiration; but with more deliberation and moderation. Unlike in the past, when I usually walked out of a bookshop with a few books; I tend to buy one book, if I can find the right one, and then finish it before buying the next one. This helps me to focus and appreciate the book I am reading much better. I guess one can have too much of a good thing, even with books!

Today, my purchase was not a book but ‘Kinfolk’ – a beautifully crafted lifestyle magazine that focuses on simplifying lives, cultivating community and spending time with loved ones. Aptly, the new issue’s theme was on Essentialism and the celebration of who and what we value most. I am doing what gives me bliss: poring over the magazine over a cup of coffee and some light lunch at the bookshop cafe.

I always make it a point to visit the National Gallery for at least half an hour whenever I am in the area. Gone are the days when I would walk past painting after painting, in gallery after gallery; so wanting to take in all the beauty, but let down by my exhaustion with the overload of imagery and the walking. Instead, I tend to focus on my favourite painters and paintings during my visits. Today, I head straight for the Canaletto room where his paintings of Venice are unmatchable in their detail and clarity. I take my time looking and appreciating each piece of work in the Canaletto room. I guess one can never tire of exquisite craftsmanship.

Back home, I have decided to cook a simple meal of spaghetti with tuna and anchovies, helped along by Dave Brubeck’s jazzy notes in the background. For me, it is jazz in summer and classical music in winter. The whole process of preparing a meal – chopping, stirring and cooking – is both meditative and therapeutic and I take my time. I always believe that food tastes much better when there is love and inspiration involved in its preparation. There is nowhere I need to be and as I have no TV, there is no TV schedule to keep. Dinner time is when my partner and I catch up on our day and spend some quality time together. The day draws to a close and I read until sleep beckons.

It was a nice day. I have done some productive work and the visit to the bookshop and gallery provided much joy and inspiration. It was not too eventful, but there was enough to make it interesting. Most importantly, it was mostly intentional and I felt it was well-lived.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: 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.

This week, I’m happy to feature Claire, who just radiates the joy of minimalism! Be sure to visit her blog to read more of her writing.

Claire writes:

Claire

Claire

I think I always had a minimalist streak in me, but it took a while to come out, as I grew up in a family of buyers and hoarders!

I remember the first time I realized I was a minimalist: I moved to Canada from the UK, and I took one suitcase with me, plus my small purse. It felt so freeing! I felt kind of proud of the fact that everything I needed/wanted was in that one suitcase. I only took the clothes I absolutely loved; everything else stayed behind… I could always come back for it if I needed it. And you know what? I didn’t miss a single item! Plus only having the clothes I loved meant getting dressed in the morning was easy.

Once I’d settled in Canada, I started to accumulate things again (as can happen when you’re not paying attention). I remember looking round my apartment and thinking, “Argh, I have so much stuff!” In a panicked way – not in a good way. So I decided there and then to get rid of things that I didn’t need – to get back to being able to fit all my belongings in a suitcase.

So I donated things. I didn’t worry about selling things. I tried to, but it was hard work and to be honest, the money had already come out of my account… it’s gone! Better to spend the time doing something I enjoy, and pass the item on to somebody else who can use it (which people did for me when I first moved to Canada).

So now I don’t have much stuff. And I love it! My boyfriend has gotten involved as well. His closet was about four times the size of mine, so it made him think about how much stuff he really needs. I think it was a wake-up call for him! He’s good about donating something if we haven’t used it in a while. It frees us up… I feel like I’m in control of the things we own, rather than the other way round. A simple vase of flowers or a candle on a table looks so much nicer to me than a table of clutter.

The only problem is explaining this lifestyle choice to friends and family – some of whom show their love for us with objects/material possessions. But I’m so proud to be a minimalist – it feels right, and I feel a great connection with other people on the same path. Friends of mine spend a fortune on buying items for, or upgrading, their house, and never have the money to travel. I want to be the opposite!

I blog about and run workshops on positivity (www.positivityworkshops.com), and for me, minimalism and positivity go together hand in hand… being a minimalist increases my positivity, and positivity makes it easy to be 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 subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: Clara

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, Clara reminds us to deal with our clutter now, rather than making our heirs clean it up later. Simple living makes for a more serene life and legacy.

Clara writes:

Photo by Clara

Photo by Clara

Two years ago, a very close friend passed away. He had no family, so it fell to me to empty his house, garage and shed. It was a monumental task. This dear person loved life, loved people, and lived life fully. And he amassed almost 70 years of possessions, both related to his occupation and hobbies, and personally. He saved everything. Not old newspapers and garbage, but everything else. And almost everything was coated in dust. For example: piles of tax files going back to the 1970’s, obsolete audiovisual equipment, every photo, birthday and Christmas card ever received, travel mementoes, and clothes heaped in piles and stuffed in drawers. Knick-knacks and, ornaments from who-knows-where, every gift ever received, and way too much furniture. He liked to buy stuff, too, and if one was good, two was better. He could not part with anything. I remember years earlier asking him about a cardboard box with a dozen empty jam jars in it. He said he was planning to sort nails in them. The dusty box of jars looked 30 years old. The basement was packed with such items on shelves with narrow pathways between them. The garage could not hold a vehicle it was so filled with stuff. He built a shed and filled that, too.

It has taken two years to deal with the stuff. Initially it was easy to make decisions. Friends took things that were useful to them. Clothes went to thrift stores. Furniture mostly went to the dump, paper and metal to recycling. But it was difficult hauling heavy things up the steep stairs from the basement and down the steep stairs from the second floor of the house. And it was summertime, and very hot and humid. I am grateful for the hard work of the friends who pitched in to help me.

As much as I loved this wonderful man, he left an enormous mess to deal with, and I harbored resentment for quite a while. How dare he not deal with his stuff, and force others to have to do it! Working on forgiving him was part of the hard work of that summer. But I have come to realize it was an illness. It was too difficult for him to make decisions about getting rid of things. So he simply did not, and went on with his life. I remember he had certain responses that he would give whenever someone said, why don’t you get rid of this or that. Depending on what it was, he would say, it’s too valuable, I paid a lot for that thing, it is useful for my work, I have plans for it, that object has memories for me, it was from my Mom, etc. Always a reason to shut down any offers of help to clean up.

What the experience has taught me:

I don’t ever want to leave such a legacy for my loved ones to deal with. That is not a memory I want them to have of me. And I love my family too much to want such an experience for them.

I don’t want to live surrounded by clutter. Or have the responsibility of excess clutter in any room, closet or drawer. Since this experience, I find the sight of clutter makes me anxious. No matter how large or small, I am learning that every item I possess must be categorized, sorted, organized, displayed, protected, cleaned, repaired, sold, etc. and take up space in my head. That’s a lot of responsibility!

What I am doing about it:

I have been downsizing my own possessions. I look at things more critically and objectively and ask myself: do I need it, do I love it, and can I let it go? Much has gone and I don’t miss a thing I have released. Things from the past kept for sentimental reasons, are not so important to me now. They just kept me rooted in the past, not in the present. A few things are kept, but most have a new life now. I am happy about that.

I am working toward creating a simple home and lifestyle that is peaceful and serene, with beautiful artwork on the walls and space to spread my arms out and dance. And I will have more time as well as space, because I will have less stuff to look after. It will be very freeing.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: Laura Beth

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 Laura Beth, who explains how having fewer possessions brought freedom and financial stability to her life. Read more of her story on her blog.

Laura Beth writes:

Laura Beth

Laura Beth

Five years ago, I was a discontented divorced empty-nester, suddenly alone for the first time in decades. My life had been turned upside down, my finances were in disarray, and I was completely alone. I knew that I needed to make a change but I didn’t know how.

I had spent most of my adult life caring for a family and trying to create the perfect home environment while balancing a career, so I was not completely familiar with the concept of personal choice. I had gotten good at making decisions that seemed best for the family, but I wasn’t very good at making decisions for me. As a parent you make so many decisions for the benefit of the family, you almost forget about individuality.

But here I was all alone. For the first time in years, I had a choice in the way I wanted to live.

So I started reading. I read books and blogs about simple living, about minimalism, and about freedom.

I had recently moved from a 3-bedroom suburban home to a small 2-bedroom condo, but I was still holding on to all of the furniture, household items and memorabilia of the past, not to mention all of the things my kids had left behind when they moved out. Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by the weight of my own belongings – treasured material possessions we had accumulated over 23 years — I knew that it was time to make a change.

And so I did.

Over the next several weeks, I sold, donated or discarded most of my furniture, home decor, clothing, cookware, books, and anything else I could find that wasn’t immediately useful or adding joy to my life.

It wasn’t until after I had gotten rid of more than half of my material possessions that I began to realize how much they had weighed me down. It was as if a heavy burden had been lifted off my shoulders. It was amazing how much lighter I felt! I had a sense of freedom I hadn’t known in years. And although I didn’t realize it then, it was the beginning of a healing journey and the path to a rich life. A rich life by owning less.

The intentional decision to live with fewer possessions led me to simplify other areas of my life and ultimately, to take control of my finances. Over the years, I’ve learned to be resourceful. And sometimes even frugal.

I appreciate the possessions that I have and when something is necessary, I buy it with cash. For years I have lived below my means and today I enjoy a debt-free life, with the exception of student loans. I’m far from wealthy, but my life is richer in every way.

Several years after making these changes in my life, I came across these words by the author and speaker, Joshua Becker:

“The simplest solution to almost every money problem is to “spend less.” In fact, it’s the first step in almost every financial program ever devised. Purposefully deciding to own fewer possessions is an important step in getting your financial house in order – and often times, it’s the only step you really need to take.”

Indeed, the decision to live with fewer material possessions was the catalyst for many positive changes, including getting my financial house in order.

Starting over and rebuilding my life has been a long and painful process. In fact, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But out of the struggle came opportunity. Opportunities for change, personal growth, and financial stability that have enriched my life in many powerful ways. It’s a decision I will never regret.

Since then, my kids have moved in and out a couple of times, and I have maintained a simple and comfortable lifestyle.

Today I blog at How To Get Rich Slowly about my minimalist journey, financial stability and what I’ve learned along the way. I encourage you to experience a rich life by owning less.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: Liddy

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, Liddy tells us how moving to a small village in France has inspired her family to pursue a simpler, more serene lifestyle.

Liddy writes:

My Simple But Productive Life

We are an Australian/Belgian family recently relocated to a sleepy fishing village in France via Italy and England. We are living in a holiday house long term that is fully furnished and so all of our things are in permanent storage. I am a lawyer by profession but have returned to study as I can’t practise in France without converting my degree. We are raising a beautiful boy who has Autism and ADHD, profound vision impairment among other challenges and his little brother aged 6.

The very nature of this beautiful village, the (much slower) pace of life, the chance to start again, for me not to work fulltime, to revisit a past interest in Buddhism and the fact all of our earthly possessions are 1000km away made me rethink our entire lives. Here goes….

First, I worked out our challenges – getting enough sleep with the kids through the night. Getting up (rather than waking up) early only means the eldest child wakes up earlier too. Finding the time for things I really can only do when alone – most work, sleep, yoga, reading.

THEN… identified the things that are really important to me and how to fit them all in. I basically do nothing other than these things anymore and life is very peaceful (most of the time!).

Spending quality time with the boys

  1. Pick a time for each child that suits them the best to spend alone time with – eg for the eldest it is often early in the morning before his little brother has woken up, in the afternoon while little one is at school or in the evening after he is in bed.

Walking

  1. For pure exercise I walk around the skate park while the boys play – it helps keep me occupied, warm and I can still watch them but they also get a bit of independence and learn how to conduct themselves with children of other ages. Sometimes I take a morning walk perhaps instead of yoga somewhere pretty, just for the sake of walking.

Meditation

  1. Every activity you do can be an act of meditation but also break it into formal meditation a few times a day just for 5 -10 minutes and do a pre-sleep guided meditation.

Yoga

  1. Yoga for me is best done first thing after I’ve dropped the boys at school. I wear my yoga gear to school and come straight home and do it – no excuses. I can then clean the house in my sweaty gear before having a shower.

Reading

  1. Generally at bedtime before meditation and at lunchtime after all the plates cleared away.

Studying

  1. This needs to be a priority for me I can do some in the morning while kids are at school; the afternoon when only one child is at home; in the evenings when boys asleep and early in the morning from bed when they are still asleep.

 Clean House

  1. First thing after boys awake I wash my face etc and prepare for the day. Bring yoga gear, socks and runners up to the bedroom and dress immediately. Make all the beds, put on a load of washing. After breakfast clean the kitchen, benchtops etc, tidy the bedrooms. After teeth cleaned wipe down all the bathrooms. Vacuum every 2nd day and mop once a week. Fold washing immediately out of dryer/off line, iron something every day to keep on top of it, when have some downtime on Saturday/Sunday finish the basket for the coming week.

Healthy Meals

  1. Make lists of planned meals and go shopping (we walk to the shops as no car) just before school pick up times. Go to the markets Saturday mornings with a list. Remember to stock up for Saturday/Sunday/ Monday when everything is closed here. I have a list of our staple foods and stock up only on what we’ve used up.

Paperwork/emails/calls

  1. Check email in the morning, reply immediately if possible. Repeat in the afternoon, delete all from the day where necessary. Make a list of appointments/paperwork/calls the night before and attend to all at one time – best of all – keep them to a bare minimum. Re: appointments only agree to times that really do suit you without being demanding. If you’re not going to be able to make it then set it back to a time you really can make it. Write all appointments down in a place you can keep track of them. THIS IS IMPORTANT – only give your phone number to people you really want to call you – if possible direct everyone else to email where you can reply at your leisure or not at all. It is NOT necessary to be friends with, or on-tap for, everyone you meet – polite yes, friends, no.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: Candace

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 this wonderful contribution from Candace. She shares her perspective as a minimalist and single parent, and invites you to read more of her story on her blog.

Candace writes:

Candace

Candace

I suppose I have been a minimalist most of my life. I only discovered there was a term for a person like me within the last two years. When I was a young person, I remember my mother asking me what I was going to wear if I got rid of all of my clothes so often. My friends used to remark how I had fewer clothes than any of them, yet I always looked so nice. Even though I was younger than my closest acquaintance at the time, and made less money, I always had money to travel and do what I liked. I suppose some people are just born minimalists, and others discover it.

After going through a divorce around the time of the birth of my daughter, I questioned what was really important in my life and the direction that I wanted our lives to go. I decided that I didn’t need a big place or lots of things for the two of us. We lived very efficiently in a small space. I carried her in a sling rather than owning a baby carriage, breastfed rather than having a million baby bottles and formula to cart around. We walked and took public transportation and we traveled. Of course, being a new mom, people wanted to give me more toys, clothes, and “necessary” baby items than I could possibly use. It was definitely more than what I wanted. I said “no thanks” to most things and blamed it on the lack of space in our living quarters. Actually, I just didn’t want that junk taking up space in my mind or in my life.

Once I discovered that I was a “minimalist” and there were other people like me, I felt validated and as if I was given permission to be even more selective about the things that I allowed into my life. I was able to see clearly how the things tied me down and the lack thereof gave me the ability to do what I felt was the most important to me. It was comforting to know that there were many others who felt just like me in the world, even if I didn’t know them personally.

As I continue to live out the life that I feel is the best for me, I have discovered that I have something to share with the world. I am a single mom of color who is also a minimalist. I haven’t found much in the way of information or lifestyle for a minimalist of my sort. Therefore, I have begun a blog, www.myspoclife.com, about the life my daughter and I lead and how minimalism helps us to live that life better. We hope to be an inspiration to other single parents who live or are aspiring to a life of minimalism. Single parents don’t need to sit around waiting for the children to grow up until they can have a great life of their own. Neither do single parents need to sit around waiting for “the right one” to sweep them off of their feet. We want you to know that life is full, abundant, and exhilarating once you clear away the excess and discover what is most important for you. Thank you.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Real Life Minimalists: Cindy Ann

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 Cindy Ann. When she and her husband became empty-nesters, they got rid of the nest—and are now enjoying the wonderful freedom of a minimalist lifestyle! Read more of her story on her blog.

Cindy Ann writes:

Cindy Ann

Cindy Ann

My husband and I are 59 and 56, respectively. We’ve been together 42 years. We have two grown children. We have IT jobs. He just got transferred to another city. We move in three weeks.

Picture a suburban house full of decades worth of stuff.

One of my co-workers asked if we had started packing yet.

There is nothing to pack.

I store my off-season clothes in my suitcase. We only have enough dishes for one day’s worth of meals. We have no books, DVDs or holiday decorations.

We no longer have that suburban house full of decades of accumulated stuff.

As soon as they could, our kids high-tailed it out of upstate NY headed for the West coast and we got left behind, staring across a huge, empty dining room table at each other. We had a three-bedroom home with a full walk-up attic, finished basement, screen porch and a one-car garage. There might have been some stuff laying around in all of it. Just a little bit of stuff.

Since our skill set was pretty mobile and we had a nice house to sell, we decided not to sit around waiting for them to come visit us. So, we commenced to empty the house. We started with the attic and basement. The garage was basically full of yard tools (snowblower, etc) that were going to stay with the house, so that only needed to be tidied up.

We did the easy stuff first. There was a yard sale or two. No price tags, just haggling. Nothing was allowed back in the house at the end of the day. We used Freecycle and brought bags to the Salvation Army. Once we emptied the storage areas, we started on the kids’ rooms. Some furniture found new homes with family members. We emptied their rooms, gave the walls a fresh coat of white paint and kept on going. We moved downstairs to the dining room and taped off a 7′ square section on the living room floor to be filled with boxes to move with us to a small apartment. More furniture left and more paint was applied.

By the time the house was ready to be put on the market, the upstairs, attic and basement were completely empty and the living room had a futon, rocking chair and a small stack of boxes. The dining room had a bed and a few boxes of clothes. The real estate agent didn’t like it that way, but it sold in two weeks. We were off!!

That was six years ago. Since then we have lived in cities in tiny downtown apartments and on our sailboat for a year and a half cruise up and down the US East coast and Bahamas. We’re in working mode now and excited to try out yet another new city. We keep one small car so we can enjoy weekends on the boat and weekdays in town. There’s no attic, no yard, no useless stuff and no worries. Our evenings are spent playing (we’re learning to rock climb) or volunteering, instead of caring for a house.

Life is wonderful!
And simple.
And open to possibilities.
And easy to move to the next city.

I am indebted to these authors—Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, Larry and Lin Pardey, Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, and Miss Minimalist, of course!—without whom I would still be sitting at that dining room table, waiting for my kids to visit me, staring out at an overgrown lawn.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}