Real Life Minimalists: Cecily

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

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

Cecily writes:

Photo by Cecily

Photo by Cecily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Life Minimalists: Kate

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

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

Kate writes:

Kate

Kate

Hi, I’m Kate!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Life Minimalists: Jessica

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

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

Jessica writes:

Jessica

Jessica

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please visit my website to learn more about me: www.poweruplifecoaching.com.

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

Real Life Minimalists: Haley

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

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

Haley writes:

Haley and her family

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

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

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

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

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

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

To follow along on our adventure, visit www.hobsonhomestead.com.

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

Real Life Minimalists: Bethany

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

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

Bethany writes:

Bethany

Bethany

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Life Minimalists: Sarah

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

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

Sarah writes:

Sarah

Sarah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Life Minimalists Update: Layla

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

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

Layla writes:

Hello again,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real Life Minimalists: Evans

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 such an inspirational story from Evans! She explains beautifully how minimalism doesn’t mean living a certain way (like out of a backpack, or in a tiny house). Rather, it’s a mindset that helps us live intentionally in whatever situation we find ourselves. Visit her blog to read more of her experiences.

Evans writes:

Evans

Evans

From the outside looking in you would never guess that in my heart I’m a minimalist. You would never guess that minimalism is part of my daily philosophy, part of my way of being. When I was a new mother 25 years ago I realized that keeping things simple was the way I could keep the house clean, have time for my babies, have time for me and let me stay home with my children. Back in the 90’s there were some resources, Don Aslett, The Tightwad Gazette, Elaine St. James. Minimalism blogs didn’t invent the world of simple but definitely accelerated the movement.

I kept our lives simple living close to schools, choosing only a few outside activities, simple wardrobes, edited toys. I had lots of time to read and walk and help my daughters pursue their passion. Then came the big move. Three years ago we had a week’s notice to move to a family home. My husband and his brother’s business where on the property and my mother-in-law needed care. There was no choice but to move to a very large home filled with 60 year of stuff collected by people traumatized by the Depression and poverty in their past. Now I was traumatized by having to deal with so much.

I turned more intently to minimalism to help me survive a house that hadn’t been purged or updated since 1968. It was minimalism that helped me be ruthless in removing the truly useless and uncover the beautiful things to be enjoyed rather than neglected. I gave away as much as a could to charity and friends and found the relatives that would cherish the heirlooms and made a vow never to do this to my children.

I got it almost all done when fate had me do it again two years later. My parents large house had to be downsized and moved in ten days. I purged and packed what my mother needed for her small apartment and then set up a family flea market so my mother’s beautiful things became cherished by her family.

For the third time I now have the basement cleaned out, the closets functioning, the kitchen tidy. I will never get to downsize to the little cottage of my dreams but I do live a scaled down minimalist life in the context of a seemingly non minimalist world. My clothes take up a small fraction of the walk-in closest so the rest of the space is a cozy home office. Many of the rooms are closed off and only need an occasion cleaning but are ready for large family and friend gatherings which bring us all so much joy. Our daily lives are in a few rooms that are clutter free and easy to manage.

I don’t know how I would have managed without minimalism as my guide. I combined three houses into one in two years and lived to tell the story, made the important and beautiful shine and moved the family family forward into the future with the best of the past.

Minimalism helped me survived intense materialism by keeping me focused on the essentials and reminded me I wasn’t alone in my quest. The landscaping is simplified so my husband can easily mow the now park-like yard and uses the time as meditation. I have the housework down to a couple of hours a week and don’t need any help. One daughter has very limited dishes and has conquered her messy kitchen. My other daughter has a micro apartment so she can walk to work. Minimalism has changed us all so we can honor the past and still live the life we like.

Two years ago my youngest daughter and I packed a change of clothes and walked across Spain on the Camino. Five weeks of life as a modern pilgrim with only the essentials, we will never be the same. Pilgrims carry only the things that serve their journey. My home serves my journey everyday, it is be a place of refuge for myself and others. Minimalism has helped heal the past of the trauma of lack and have transformed it into an abundant 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: Cindy

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 Cindy. I love how she shows that minimalism isn’t something that happens instantaneously, but a continual process of refinement—as she says, “like peeling an onion, one layer at a time.”

Cindy writes:

I have been minimizing different aspects of my life since 1999 – I was 34 yrs. old. My journey began with a speeding ticket. I remember the moment. I was aggravated with my job, the 45-minute commute to this job for which I didn’t particularly care, and I was given a well-deserved speeding ticket that I couldn’t afford to pay. I wanted to change jobs, but my prayer that day in the car was, “God, I can’t even afford to get a different job because I can’t afford a salary cut!” I remember God saying to me in words that were almost audible, “I sent my Son to set you free and right now you are not free.” It was a startling response; I knew the verse in Galatians that said, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Driving home, I thought of a few ways I could start saving money; the first to go was ordering pizza on Friday nights to “reward” myself. In fact, no more rewards. My reward would be my freedom!

Soon thereafter I heard Dave Ramsey speak and I read several books on finances. Though my journey started with my finances, it didn’t stop there. I went through my belongings and removed items I didn’t love or need. William Morris’s comment, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” was my mantra. I read Claire Cloninger’s A Place Called Simplicity, Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance, as well as Elaine St. James’ Simplify Your Life. These were amazing words to read for a girl who was brought up with, “Bigger is better,” “Buy as much house as the bank will allow,” and family members who collected EVERYTHING! My family thought I was crazy when I stopped collecting Christmas ornaments, Precious Moments figurines, dolls, and home decorations. Even more concerning to them was my saying “no” to going places with them because I wanted to do something different, something I wanted to do. I went hiking in the woods instead of shopping at a mall. I went camping instead of the annual home tour with my sisters. Saying “no” was difficult when I was expected to go along as I always had.

Two years later, I read a scripture passage from Isaiah and I again heard from God; He told me to not sign my next year’s contract; confirmation of this came in several ways. My obedience required that I trust God to take care of my next job. I had to wait four months to get that job. At the end of July, two weeks before school started, I was hired to teach at a school within a 20 minute drive of my home.

It wasn’t until a few years later, that I wondered why all this happened. I realized that I bought things and said “yes” because I was lonely and I wanted to “fit in” with my family and friends. I had to get comfortable with being myself and find a new set of friends. I was clearing my calendar too; I was making room for things about which I was enthusiastic. Afterall, the word enthusiasm means, “God within us.”

The show, Clean Sweep, with Peter Walsh inspired me and I read all of his books. I learned that as we clear out and make room, we’re really making room for something else. I didn’t have to wonder long – I met my future husband, Jeff. By the time we married two years later, I had paid off all of my debt. I had paid over $40,000 of debt and I had cleaned out enough space in my house so that he could move in. After the wedding, we sold his house and had a garage sale for all our unneeded/unwanted items. When he moved in, all of our clothes fit in our master bedroom closet! Two years later, we cleaned out the garage enough so that both cars were parked in the garage. This was a major breakthrough! In 5 more years we were totally debt-free when we paid off our home. I cannot express the relief and joy I felt; there are no words.

We have decided to live in our 1200 sq. ft. home instead of buying a larger home. Neither of us want to spend time maintaining a big yard or a large home. We’d rather travel, enjoy time spent with family and friends, or just relax at home.

My journey of minimalism has been similar to others’ experiences of “peeling an onion, one layer at a time.” Though I never counted the items I released, I wish I had. Our home still has too many items for my taste, but I am continually assessing.

For example, my body is healthier. I was able to heal my thyroid after I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism; I found a solution that worked well for me. My life is easier because I don’t have to wake up to take medicine every day for the rest of my life.

Also, this past year, I emptied a 4-drawer filing cabinet; I digitized or recycled all of its contents. I released over 30 cookbooks and digitized all of our loose paper recipes. I am currently digitizing 50 years of photographs.

Christmas is much simpler now; instead of decorating every room in the house, a wreath adorns the door and a tree decorates the den. Instead of a busy calendar during the holidays, we actually have several quiet weekends.

I’ve experienced Project 333 and was successful with it. I no longer count my clothes, but I have very few. When I do purchase clothing, they are quality, classic items that I will enjoy wearing.

My life is much simpler now; I am happier and I am free because of simplicity!

{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: Muntaha

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, Muntaha reminds us of what it’s like to be at the start of our minimalist journey—full of awareness and intention to live a simpler life, and figuring out how to make it happen. I think we can all relate to being a little less minimalist than we want to be, so let’s give her our support and encouragement as she joins us on this path!

Muntaha writes:

Muntaha

Muntaha

I’m an aspiring minimalist. I read all the articles, blogs and books out there but when it comes to action, I have very little to show for it. A few years ago I thought I did well when I gained some momentum and parted ways with many of my excess belongings, but it’s been a struggle ever since.

In my head, I am a frontier woman willing to live out of a backpack and travel at a moment’s notice. In real life, I am a suburbanite wife and mother, with a very large home, an SUV, and a 9 to 5 corporate job. I have no complaints about my “American Dream” life but I am not an ideal minimalist…or any kind of minimalist for that matter.

I have always been very organized and tidy, categorizing my belongings into bags, boxes, cabinets and cupboards. I learned how to be accountable for my possessions at a young age. Today, I try my best to limit my intake of stuff as much as possible. I actually don’t buy much; I absolutely love gifts of experience and love to travel. I just happen to own a lot of things (pre-minimalist thinking era) that I still use regularly. Do I get points for being able to list everything I own even though it’s a lot?

The things I do are commendable to a typical consumer no doubt, but my eyes are in the skies and I have a lot of climbing to do to be on that minimalist cloud I want to float along on through life. I guess you can say that all I did was organize or “declutter” my life for lack of a better word.

But you know what? It’s the intention that counts, and one day, I’ll fly…with only a backpack on my back and no possessions to my name. Your words of wisdom, support and inspiration are welcome.

{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.}