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.}

Real Life Minimalists: CJ

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, CJ from the Philippines tells us how she’s embracing minimalism as she graduates college. What a wonderful way to embark on life as a young adult!

CJ writes:

CJ

CJ

I’m CJ Sasuman from Philippines, and I am a minimalist-in-training. The concept transpired to me just a few months ago. In the course of that time, I was in search for people who were also into paring things down to basic, keeping only the ones I need and actually use. The first one I clicked is a forum, the Female Network. It is the first Philippine website for women – lots of topics and discussions in different threads. As I encountered the word, reading all their opinions and experiences, I am completely struck and interested.

When I was a little girl, I love to collect adorable things. Dolls, little houses, toy kitchen wares, and so on. I dreamed of having my own palace-like room filled with cute dresses and pink things. Going forward to my early teenage years, my obsession with clothes, jewelries and accessories was horrible. When I was in my early college years, my attention was on books, notebooks, art materials, black and stylish clothing, and online shopping. Buying things I hardly ever touched, accumulating dusts in my room. I’m also a fan of souvenirs, mementos and just-in-case items. The goal is to keep in level with the Joneses, gigantic mansion, vacation houses, and cars with multiple jobs to suit that lifestyle.

All those years are gone. I am now a graduating college student and my mindset had entirely changed. Once I got rid of the unnecessary objects, I became addicted. Seems like there is more I can give, trash and donate. Keeping in control of the physical clutter is a continuous process and requires discipline and self-control. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists, Jessica Dang of Minimal Student and Francine Jay of Miss Minimalist proved that minimalism is not just about eliminating material things; but is also applicable in different aspects of life. As of today, I am honest to state that I haven’t yet fully succeeded in managing the emotional, mental and other clutters of life. Still, I am determined to make progress and never thought of looking back to my old habits.

Minimalism helped me to focus on what’s truly important. One of the best results is that I became more in control of the things that can ruin my day and being able to handle my emotion. I’ve never been this free and happy. It improved my calm personality realizing that everything in life happens for a reason. Passion, growth, experiences, relationships and contribution – intangible things I want to nurture. I want to travel and explore the world with just a backpack that fits all my few worldly possessions. I am living life to the fullest. I’m not forcing anybody to follow my path. I am grateful to share my outlook and perspective in life. I’m lucky to have the people who support me in this lifestyle. Minimalism has led me into a direction where I can truly speak my heart’s desires.

{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: Amnesty

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 Amnesty, who tells us how she and her husband radically downsized to a hotel room. (Having lived in hotels for extended periods myself, I totally relate to the freedom this affords!). Check out more of her writing (and her workshops) on her blog.

Amnesty writes:

I have always had the desire for mobility and travel. I feel that human beings have basic primal needs that can’t be met by fighting traffic, sitting in a cubicle, performing meaningless tasks and buying more stuff. So, I knew there had to be another way. So, I purged. Slowly at first, then drastically. Finally, my husband and I made our tiny home dreams a reality and we bought and live in a hotel room. It is about 350 SF, with a king size bed and a kitchenette. Fully furnished.

It is also in an urban area, so I don’t need a car. Our monthly expenses are ridiculously low, yet my life enjoyment and engagement is the highest it has ever been.

I love how Mary Oliver asked the question: What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

For me, shoes, cars, big houses and fancy job titles, just don’t cut it. I want to make a legacy. I want to make an impact. I want to help others. I want experiences, not stuff. I want to create without worrying about a large income. I want to experience nature and culture. I want to travel the world for months at a time and work and volunteer overseas.

I also realized, that most of what I want and makes me the happiest, except travel, is free or cheap. So, now I can refer to myself as FIRE’d up, wild and free.

This is how I want to live my one wild and precious 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: Annie

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

This week, we have a wonderful story from Annie. She tells us how she went from organizing her stuff to minimizing it, and became a more conscious consumer in the process. Read more about her experiences on her blog.

Annie writes:

Annie

Annie

I’ve always been an avid organizer. Even in elementary school, I had the habit of regularly dumping out all the contents in my drawers to reorganize them. I also enjoyed organizing all the pots, pans and dishes in the play kitchen at daycare while I waited for my parents to pick me up.

After I started working full-time, I discovered the world of blogging and started following several organizing blogs. Those blogs ended up doing more harm than good as I started to buy stuff I didn’t need (or use) like decorating books and craft supplies. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon blogs like Miss Minimalist and Becoming Minimalist, that my minimalist journey began. Both of those blogs talks about how storage is not a solution, which helped me realize that being a minimalist would yield far greater benefits than being organized.

As therapeutic as organizing can be sometimes, what I really wanted was to free up more time, space and resources for spending time with family and friends, cooking, volunteering, journaling, reading and travelling. Since I’m one of those people who struggle with being productive in a cluttered environment, not having all my stuff in place or feeling like there’s something that needs to be cleaned or organized was always a mental roadblock that kept me from doing more of all those activities.

After dabbling in decluttering here and there for a few years, I decided to set a goal for myself last year – to finally reach my ideal state of minimalism before getting married (in November). By the time November rolled around, I thought I was in great shape until it was time to move. Having to lug all my stuff from my loft, down to the living room, down to the lobby and onto a U-Haul truck and then unloading every single item and lugging it up to my new apartment on the third floor was a rude awakening. I realized I had been fooled by the clean surfaces on my desk, nightstand and dresser. The contents inside were out of sight (and out of mind) until I had to physically move it all. I was disappointed in myself on moving day because it was a very stressful experience, which would’ve been less stressful if everything I moved was something I loved. But at least half of the items moved were items I didn’t find useful or beautiful, nor did they bring me joy.

Once I settled into my 480 square foot studio with my husband, I continued to declutter using the question, “would I want to move this to my next apartment?” as my guide. With that mentality, I’ve finally reached my minimalism goal.

A side benefit to minimalism is that instead of just focusing on quality over quantity, I now also take ethics into consideration. For makeup and skincare, I started purchasing products that are vegan and cruelty free. And for clothing, I try to buy secondhand and support companies that don’t contribute to the fast-fashion problem. I am so grateful that minimalism has made me a conscious consumer in more ways than I could have ever anticipated.

{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: Fawn

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

I’m always delighted to receive an update from Fawn, who was featured in September 2010 and January 2014. Over twenty years as a minimalist, and such an inspiration! I look forward to following her new adventures with her travel trailer on her blog.

Fawn writes:

My name is Fawn and I have been a minimalist for over twenty years. There are few life circumstances that are not improved by the practice of minimalism!

As a single mother, raising my four children was far less challenging by the clear focus on what we needed to spend our money on, and how we wanted to spend our time. Not having unnecessary stuff made it easier to clean the house, kept us out of the stores and allowed me to save money for college.

Now that my kids have all moved out of the house, being a minimalist is clearing the way for my next big adventure. I know how little I need to be really happy, and now I am creating a new home where I can take the adventure on the road.

I have purchased an antique travel trailer and am gutting it and fixing it up to be my permanent home. I am planning to reconfigure the trailer to be as energy efficient, beautiful, economical and green as I can make it. I plan on doing most of the work myself, but will need to rely on friends and professionals for a few of the steps.

I am blogging about my travel trailer renovation at smallhousebiglife.

I would love for you to follow along and offer advice on how to fix up my trailer.

{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: Jane

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, Jane from Australia shares her minimalist journey with us, as she embraces life as a new mom. Check out her blog to read more.

Jane writes:

Jane

Jane

Hello everybody! My name is Jane, from Sydney, Australia and I consider myself a minimalist-in-training.

I grew up in what appeared to look like a display home. My mother threw everything out, including things that meant a lot to me. It annoyed me and I still hold a grudge from when she got rid of my high school assignment on our family history.

My partner’s upbringing was a bit different. Some people (us minimalists) would describe his parents as hoarders. When we moved in together my stuff slowly accumulated. I became a teacher too and had it in my head that I had to keep every resource possible.

All my stuff came with us when we moved into my partner’s grandmother’s house after her death. Her parents inherited the house and her belongings. Before she died, shopping was a major hobby of hers. The house was full of clothing, handbags, shoes etc., a lot of which was never worn. She also didn’t throw out much. When tidying up the laundry cupboard I found seven bottles of window cleaner alone.

Some of her stuff was given to people but most of her stuff remained. Her parents were reluctant to let anything go. We boxed most of it up and stored it in the garage and basement. We lived with the rest of it and used her furniture.

I found it relieving when I discovered minimalism. It was exactly what my life needed at the time. I was a stressed out mess. I started decluttering my own things. My clothes, my books, my teaching stuff. I then focused on the grandmother’s belongings. The problem was they didn’t belong to me. “You can’t get rid of anything without asking Mum”, my partner told me. I asked my mother in law a few times to come and have a look but it was never a priority. I got rid of the things that were obviously junk. Some of her possessions that were originally in good condition were stored so badly they turned into junk. I donated other stuff that I knew wouldn’t be missed, like old blankets. The rest continued to sit there. It frustrated me.

After three years in that house we moved into a small apartment. We didn’t take much with us. Another family member moved into the house after us. All the things we left behind are still there in the garage and in the basement.

I have recently had a baby and moved into a three bedroom house, our home. We didn’t buy extra things for our home apart from what Bub needed. When I do need to get something I look for it second hand. I am determined not to let my stuff build up. Sometimes I slip up and have to get back on track. It’s slightly more challenging with a baby but I do not want to burden Bub and any future grandchildren of mine by having to deal with excess. (I don’t want to be extreme like my own mother though, I will cherish the things that are important to Bub and my family.)

Apart from less things, I also have less stress. Minimalism has given me more time and freedom. It has allowed us to live off a single income. We don’t spend as much time cleaning the house as I once did. I even found time to start a blog. It is mostly my experience of becoming a mother but some posts relate to minimalism and simple living. If you can relate to my story please check it out. Thanks for reading!

{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: Minimal Rose

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 bring you this update from Minimal Rose, who was originally featured three years ago. I think it’s a wonderful example of the happiness that the pursuit of simplicity can bring.

Minimal Rose writes:

Here I am, living in an exquisite and historic Pacific Northwest coastal town. While I’m not quite living in the ocean front cottage I had envisioned, I’m very content. These past few years I have had the honor of living in the garden apartment of a delightful older couples’ home. We trade off caring for each others’ cats as needed and looking out for one-another. What a blessing it has been in safe cozy home and neighborhood at an affordable rate in a very pricey rental market. And what a comfort it is to know this kind couple is nearby and ready with kindness at a moments notice.

While I do have my choice of big box stores nearby, I am blessed to live in a town that has maintained their small businesses. In fact, due to our growing popularity, we’ve managed to have many new home-grown shops arrive. We have a shoe repair shop, a butcher shop, a small co-op, many decadent restaurants and pubs, and many varieties of second hand, antique, and trendy/luxurious new options. Not only that, we have a thriving community of intellectuals and artists, and of course regular festivals and activities to celebrate.

I have found myself continuing to work on streamlining my life (as this is very much a forever project). I read and loved Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. However have found that I’m still working on all categories simultaneously. I’ve been very committed to Dave Ramsey’s approach to financial management and eagerly watch myself get closer to financial freedom.

Simplicity has lifted weights from my shoulders. My landlady and her spouse, who had reconnected later in life, have 20 kids between the two of them! We have discussed how different an equation that is today in this modern age. My thought is how much our expectations have changed from the mid 20th century to the early 21st. Though there is much culture shifting recently, we have tended to want our own rooms/space, our own vehicles, and to create our own image through stuff (especially technology). Not only that, we want a lot of it! All of it! It reminds me of something I heard and embraced the year after I wrote my first post for Miss Minimalist. There was a story that lead up to the phrase “I wish you enough”. I had been going along wishing loved ones “everything”. But “everything” is never enough. To have “enough” is everything.

I’ve been helping my significant other simplify his own life (let’s just say 5 generations have imprinted the house that he is living in now), supporting my mother in her own letting go process (she has decided to clear out some clutter as she works toward healing emotionally and she hopes this will carry through to provide some healing to her physical health), and watching my sister move, rent, foster (and fill her life with “everything”). And of course, trying to remember in the process to take care of my own needs and well-being so that I can remain the kind, compassionate, and supportive woman I strive to be.

In the process of simplifying my life in the past year, I moved to a new job and work setting. I’m grateful to be working in an environment originally established and run by nuns. I take great joy hearing and seeing “simplicity”, “compassion”, and “excellence” take shape throughout the organization.

As Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home says “love people, use things”. I always feel happiest when living those values. Although, I think compassion and care should be present when using things as well. In true Kondo style, I like to imagine my “things” want to be as cared for as I wish to be.

{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: Dan

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, Dan tells us how he practices minimalism not just with regards to possessions, but in his daily life and work routines. (I’m all about efficiency myself, and love the idea of streamlining business matters!)

Dan writes:

So I’ve been a minimalist my entire life, I just wasn’t aware that minimalism was a “thing” until a couple of years back.

I had always strived to remove clutter, both of items and in my writing, work and personal life. The idea was that less things to think about, the less stress I would have and the more I could focus on the important things in my life.

As I write this I own 99 total items, I recently got to 101 (which is the most I have ever owned due to a trip to Las Vegas and buying clothing out there (hat and flip flops). But now that I am home I have thrown them away and committed them to the memory banks.

Minimalism works for me across every single area of my life, some examples:

  • I choose from 5 of my favourite meals for every meal, so 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners, this allows me to have a fairly simple and healthy eating routine, although I’m not too strict on this, I’m happy to go out for dinner and eat takeaways when the opportunity arises.
  • In my decision making, I don’t concern myself too much, I make a decision and then stick with it, no regretting decisions with me, I just make one and move on.
  • I don’t concern myself with small problems, I understand that I can’t control the world and people around me, so allow things to happen without worrying about them, did my favourite team lose a game? Oh well, maybe next week, is my girlfriend mad at me? I’m sure I haven’t done anything too wrong and she will forgive me etc etc I like this video from David Foster Wallace, it keeps things in perspective that you don’t know the situation of other people, so try to not judge them based on a single interaction https://youtu.be/pfw2Qf1VfJo.
  • I run my business in a manner that is extremely minimal, I offer a single service that is part of whole, by choice, this allows me to focus one one aspect that can be controlled. For this service I have developed systems and processes to remove myself as much as possible from the everyday running, this allows me to spend my time doing things that I enjoy while rarely working and still making a very good income. This is all a bit geeky but it works for my lifestyle.
  • I have a similar approach to my personal relationships, if I think about somebody then I make contact with them, either with a quick phone call or a text, facebook etc this means that the people that I care about the most (and therefore think about the most) get the most contact from me. This has allowed me to maintain some very long relationships with people who I can’t see regularly and have lost touch with our mutual friends.
  • Activities are the same, if I want to do something and it’s possible both financially and timewise then I go and do it, while inviting all of the people who I would enjoy it with to come along. This can come across as very spontaneous but really I just think, I want to do it, so I see if it’s possible and then do it. Things like a recent trip to Las Vegas for my 31st birthday, planned the day before.

All in all minimalism has helped my life in so many ways, it is hard to pin down a core concept that has had the biggest effect, but the part that I kinda like the most is the freedom that I have based on my financial situation, the amount of time I am required to “work”  and my ability to sustain long term relationships from a distance.

Oh and the fact that I can fit the majority of my possessions in a rucksack, means that if I decide to move to Nicaragua tomorrow i can do just that, in fact…..

I don’t have a minimalism based blog, but minimalism is reflected through all of my work (you might even notice it in my writing), my business site http://raydigitalmarketing.com is very minimal in design and pages, and my marketing blog http://danray.me explains a lot of the processes I use in my business.

{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: Tamara

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 Tamara. She tells us how her goal to pay off her house inspired her to simplify her life in so many ways.

Tamara writes:

Tamara

Tamara

Hello, my name is Tamara and I started my “minimalist” movement 6 years ago with the idea to pay off my house before age 60. I started with reducing my expenses. This included vigilant reduction of household expenses including utilities, groceries, gas, etc. Air drying clothes, using a bucket to catch water during my shower to water plants, not wasting food etc.

I then had a garage sale and sold some items on line and realized a few months later that not only did I not remember what was sold, but I did not miss it. For every item I brought into the house I made a promise to get rid of an item. If I saw a new skirt on sale, I stopped and asked myself ”which one do you want to give away?” Frequently my answer was none, I liked and wore what I had in my closet, so I ended up not buying the new one.

Next I went through the kitchen and gave away or sold any item I had not used in the last 6 months. No mini muffin pan anymore, no problem, I just won’t make mini muffins for my next brunch but will make a coffee cake instead. I continued this practice throughout the house. I gave away several bags of seasonal decorations. I found one simple beautiful fall decoration on the table set the mood just as much as several dozen around the house.

Last but not least I had a large estate sale, sold 2/3 of my household “stuff”, the car and rented the house and took off to volunteer and travel for 6 months throughout Europe! I am having the best experience ever! Oh and did I mention that I did pay off my house! When I return after my travels I plan to move into a much smaller place with just the minimum of things needed for a great life.

More is less- I have a more exciting, fulfilled life with less stuff.

{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: Sacha

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 Sacha, who was first featured in July 2015. She tells us how some difficulties over the past year have actually changed her life for the better.

Sacha writes:

In July 2015 I wrote about the ways I tried to incorporate minimalism into my life, getting rid of stuff when I moved house and my personal Doomsday Prepping tendencies.

Quite a bit happened since then. Due to a reorganisation I lost my job. So… that personal doomsday I used to fear, turned out to be a reality it seemed. But…it wasn’t a Doomsday at all, I was ok! I saw it as an opportunity instead of a threat. New Year’s Day, Birth Day, Independence Day rolled into one instead of a Doomsday. All the people around me have been a very big influence in this process. How long are you going to be hanging on? How long are you willing to sell your mental and physical wellbeing for a job and the required travel time? Wouldn’t you have more time to enjoy life if you didn’t have 12+ hours of travelling each week? My goal was to find a new job close to home, max 30 minutes by bike. The commute was getting too complicated to be ‘stressless’ with the ever present danger of trains getting cancelled.

Now I have found a new job in my home town and I am enjoying my time off before I start my new job at a great company and pretty nice future colleagues. I have been sending loads of things to goodwill since most things were getting on my already frayed nerves. I have been getting rid of old striped wallpaper and replaced that with plain white walls. I have bought mason jars for my rice, sugar etc to replace half open packages. I have been rediscovering my artwork again. My bedroom is a white haven with my colourful collages lined up against one wall. I have started two Instagram accounts to minimize photo albums and maximize the fun I have looking at my photos regularly and venting my quirky view on the world around me (I have a personal one and I have one for my scarves).

I have been working in my garden a lot, started yoga and eating better and better after attending a Salutogenese workshop, giving workshops on how to make scarves, connecting with kindred spirits online and offline and I have three little ladies in the garden now (I kept one of the chicks that hatched last year) and I have been trying to go ‘zero waste’… well…. ‘less waste’ to be more accurate, I am trying to ‘brew’ my own kombucha. My happy hippy inner child has a happier outer adult now since the difficulties I faced over the last 12 months turned out to be a godsend in hindsight. I am finding out that I have built in rose tinted glasses.

{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.}