Real Life Minimalists: Greta

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, Greta tells us the steps she’s taking to simplify her life, reduce waste, consume more mindfully, and create a calm and serene space for her family.

Greta writes:

Greta

Greta

My minimalism journey started about two years ago after reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. I couldn’t even finish the book, I had to do something right then! I started researching fair trade clothing and food, and realized if we were going to be able to afford these things, I’d need to stop wasting money on stuff I’d purge in a year or two. I started thinking about which clothes made me look the best in photos {settled on pastel pink and blue, white lacy things, and navy}; so I made a pact with myself not to buy anything outside those colors and to buy as much as I could made in ethical ways {fair trade, sustainable, well made} and purged things in the wrong colors.

Then I learned how pollution is disproportionately affecting poorer countries and we’re running out of landfill space here, and shipping our trash to those same countries. I found several zero waste blogs, and started eliminating some of the disposable clutter: I buy as much as I can from bulk containers and take the jars that the food will be stored in to the store with me. We now use handkerchiefs and don’t have ugly boxes of kleenex in every room.

Finally, we’re packing up our 850 sq ft one bedroom apartment for a move to a slightly larger place, but smaller rooms and less storage as we’re gaining an extra bedroom for the baby. When we first moved in to this apartment, there were little rabbit trails through mounds of boxes-each of our things, wedding gifts, stuff I was saving for the someday house. I’ve been purging ever since, but this move has motivated me to pitch even more. We both want our new place to be a calm and serene space, good for Daniel to study in and safe for the baby.

I’m guessing we’ve sold or donated about half our possessions in the past year. Some big: my bike, a chair, a {music} keyboard, a desk with lots of storage, the file cabinet, an extra car. And mounds of little things: specialty baking pans, extras of kitchen utensils, books {lots of books!}, most of our CDs.

{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: Jennifer

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 such a lovely story from Jennifer, who tells us how living with less has transformed her life and brought her joy. Do visit her blog to read more about her experiences and adventures.

Jennifer writes:

Jennifer

Jennifer

If we’d met five years ago, ‘minimalist’ would be the very last word you’d have used to describe me. At the time, I owned 100+ pairs of shoes and a ginormous wardrobe (my walk in closet was almost bigger than my current apartment!). I spent almost all my free time shopping, thinking about shopping, or organising my stuff.

The idea that less might equal more had definitely never entered my mind.

Then one day, while randomly browsing the internet, I came across a few minimalist blogs (including this one!). I clicked and clicked and clicked – I was absolutely fascinated by the stories I was reading.

When I was younger, I spent several years travelling around the world, free as could be, with few possessions to weigh me down. It was a magical time, but I never considered that this freedom could be carried into my ‘normal’ life – until I was introduced to minimalism.

I started to imagine what my life might look like without so much stuff.

I could choose to work part time or to do more meaningful work; I could have more money and time for experiences I enjoyed, or I could travel more and spend time with family overseas.

It all sounded wonderful, so I set about to make some real changes in my life.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. My first dozen or so attempts at decluttering were complete failures. I was still too emotionally attached to my stuff and – in retrospect – I needed to deal with some bigger issues first.

I was unhappy in my relationship and career, I was struggling with self acceptance, and I had no clear direction or purpose in my life. Shopping and owning a lot of things was my way of self-medicating and avoiding facing the truth.

It was a long journey, but over the course of several years, I ended my relationship, made several big moves, and asked myself some hard questions about my values, my priorities and the type of person I wanted to be.

Finally, I was able to see minimalism in a new light. I stopped thinking of it as a restrictive lifestyle; instead, I could see it was a tool to help me to live the life I wanted most.

Since then, my life has completely changed.

I paid off considerable debt and stopped living paycheque to paycheque. I sold my full to the brim two bedroom house and I now live comfortably in a small studio, and all my possessions easily fit into my small hatchback. I’ve started a new relationship, with someone whose values match mine, and we’ve travelled around the world together. I quit working full-time and I started a passion project.

I’ve gone from feeling trapped and hopeless to head over heels in love with life. This doesn’t mean things are perfect, but it does mean that most days I wake up with gratitude and hope in my heart.

{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: Rhiannon

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 share an update from Rhiannon, who was originally featured as a Real Life Minimalist two years ago. Her story is a wonderful example of how minimalism can ebb and flow in our lives, and help us find balance when we need it.

Rhiannon writes:

It has been so inspirational to read so many people’s updates on their journeys in minimalism. I wish I had a smoother story to tell, but the last years have been busy and full. And my husband and I have had rounds of retail therapy, decluttering, and reminding each other of the life style we want. It feels like a constant balancing act of keeping a clutter free life and still taking care of all the people in my home.

The last time I wrote, I had one son. Now I have two boys to keep me busy. I did save all of my first son’s baby clothes and accessories, which I have been slowly clearing out as my youngest son outgrows things. It is a small victory against accumulation, but I will count it as a win.

Both of my boys are wild and crazy delights. Like most young kids, they get wrapped up in wanting what ever cool thing they see in the store, and I give in. My husband and I have given in to their requests or openly bribed them with toys. (You do whatever it takes when it comes to potty training.) I did notice very quickly that both boys get overloaded with extra clutter. In a room full of toys, they can’t find anything to play with because they are so overwhelmed. I do try to keep their toys paired down and thoughtfully edited. I do try to keep their toys battery free and educational/active play items. Even still, I often feel swamped in crayons, sticker charts, duplo creations, and their sweet little drawings. I do keep their craft cupboard free of clutter, but I find that I have relocated most of it to my closet (hoarder gene.) I am so deeply attached to every page they have scribbled on that I have a huge pile of their drawings in the middle of my closet. If anybody has any tips of how to downsize those, please let me know.

Last summer, we lost my Grandma. She was a witty, warm, kind lady and I miss her a lot. One of the difficult things since her passing is that I am frequently getting phone calls to see if I want any of her things. Packages of my grandma’s things will show up randomly too. I have accepted a few items, and my Grandpa thoughtfully picked out a beautiful pair of her earrings for me that I wear often. It has been hard to explain to my Grandpa, who is grieving the loss of his wife of 60 years, that as much, I love Grandma, I just don’t need all of her things to remember her by. He feels that me saying that I have what I am happy with to remember Grandma is like saying I don’t care.

A recent bit of news has helped us refocus to a less cluttered life. Our oldest son has ASD. It wasn’t welcomed news, it wasn’t much of a shock. In looking at what he will need moving forward, it is clear that we need to get our home to be a physically/visually calm orderly place at all times in order to help him process things around him more easily. We have to have very scheduled days now to give him the order and predictability that he needs. To accomplish that, we have had to do more to streamline our routines, meal plan days in advance, decrease the clutter and clean up time in the whole house, and declutter our schedules to be more available and present with him.

Moving forward, I am hoping to find a bit more balance in minimalism and consumerist practices. If not for me, then for my boys, who are really most important to me.

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

Real Life Minimalists: Courtney

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 Courtney. She tells us how a near-tragedy inspired her to pursue a more minimalist and mindful path. Read more of her story on her blog.

Courtney writes:

Courtney

Courtney

Unfortunately, wisdom is earned through pain. It took an almost divorce and a car accident for me to really pull the plug on our old life. But the pain was brewing for years.

In late 2012 we had just about everything that you are supposed to want in your early 30s. We had successful careers, an abundance of so-called friends and modest wealth to show for it. But things didn’t add up for me internally. I had trouble being honest with myself about my dissatisfaction with what I had built. My business kept me up at night with worries, my “friends” didn’t feel like support but companions, and my marriage began to resemble the same dysfunctional marriage that I grew up with, distant and desperate.

In early 2013, I pulled the plugs on my companions and started working on building the skills that lead to fulfilling and enriching relationships. I started defining my values and only putting my time told nurturing my values and removing any distractions. I became a minimalist with my time and worked on mindfulness. This was the foundation of my minimalist lifestyle.

When I got pregnant in late 2013, I remember my first book on parenting was “The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year.” I took a lot of her advice at heart, but some of her recommendations seemed too extreme for me then. But for some reason, against the author’s advice we moved from a 937 square foot home to a 1900 square foot home with a big yard and pool because we thought we needed more space for the baby and family visits from out of town.

In the summer of 2015, I experienced the worst moment of fear for a mother. I was sitting in the backseat with my 11-month-old son on our way to the airport to return home from a family trip in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The driver lost control of the car and for about ten long seconds the car shifted from the cliff’s edge of the road to hitting the side of the mountain instead. In those 10 seconds, I knew that there was a real possibility that at least one of us would lose our life or be permanently disabled. Luckily we didn’t go over that cliff, and we all survived with just a minor, but annoying back injury.

What if I had gone over that cliff? Would I have felt that I lived a true and authentic life? The answer was “no”, unfortunately. My marriage was still in trouble, and I felt at a loss for change. By late 2015, I wrote my husband a letter saying that our relationship had to change for the sake of our child. I needed our son to grow up in a home where his parents were an example of the love and kindness that I wanted him to give to the world. In late 2015, I learned the missing link to minimalism: boundaries.

Since then, we have become fierce editors of our lives. And we are doing it together. Our son has become the most affectionate kid in his class, and he loves to make mom and dad kiss by pushing our faces together.

We have since left our 1900 square foot home and downsized to a yardless 1000 square foot apartment. Our wardrobe follows the Un-fancy.com capsule wardrobe method, our kitchen only holds the essentials and even our waste has been scrutinized for simplicity now that we are adopting the Zero Waste lifestyle.

Living with less has been a byproduct of minimalism, it is not the objective. When you live mindfully, you are aware of how tiny decisions you make day to day either add or take away from this gift I call “life.” When you say “yes” to one thing, you are saying “no” to 10 other things. Or conversely for minimalists, when you say “no” to 10 things you get in return time for your relationships, health, and social causes.

If you enjoyed my words, please visit s​implyrichly.com ​or follow me on T​witter.​

{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: Camille

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, Camille shares her story of loss, letting go, and healing with the help of minimalism. Please visit her blog to connect with her and read more.

Camille writes:

Looking back, there have always been indications that I was a minimalist. As an active kiddo, I used to make my barbies live in a tent and allow my friends to use the barbie house. In college, being an avid lover of the outdoors, I had a few big backpacking trips with a dear friend and I was always enamored that we could carry everything we needed on our backs. I loved to plan and organize my stuff and we would really pair it down to just the essential things we needed because we did not want the extra weight. Funny how that is a perfect metaphor for minimalism today!

My father was an army officer so growing up we moved many a time. Subsequently, I too met and married a military man which lead me to move to Hawaii. My time in Hawaii was the best and worst in my life. The best because that was where I was introduced to the sport of Triathlon and the worst because that was where I lost my husband. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan where he lost his life in a helicopter accident supporting our country’s military efforts. The shock and devastation was more than my mind could handle and I became pretty depressed. I vowed to move forward, however, and eventually fell in love again. I was lucky and thankful to not be alone for very long. Of course he was military too so I eventually moved again to be with him.

Most people know that after your loved one dies in the military you are also given quite a few benefits, financially. With these benefits I was able to pay off our debts and really move forward in life. I was so very grateful for that but it also allowed me to have more spending money and boy did I spend! Looking back, I think it was to fill that deep hole in my heart. Although I had a new love and a new life, something was still missing. I was still sad and no amount of new shoes, new triathlon gear, new housing items, etc. could fill that. Death works in strange ways.

Moving from Hawaii and buying a house with my new significant other was a big step and I became quickly overwhelmed with how to fill it. I have never been good at decorating and looking at all they stuff people had in their homes and where the best places to get it, locate it, etc. was completely exhausting. One day I decided to clean out our closet full of exercise and triathlon equipment (yes, we have a closet for this). This one action created a snowball effect leading to organizing, decluttering, and ultimately minimalism. I found an article on Pinterest that knocked my socks off! It was about living more simply and with less stuff. At that point, I devoured anything about minimalism that I could get my hands on. I was relieved that it was okay to not want this life I thought I had to live. I felt like my soul was literally being fed. This concept was what really felt like home and no other actual home can even compare to give me that feeling.

In the past few years, I have also lost a pregnancy, a sister, and a beloved dog. My amount of loss is pretty significant but working towards a more minimalist life has actually helped me focus more on what is important and what can be let go of. As I give away and declutter, I am actually also letting go of the loss, hurt and anger. Who knew that becoming a minimalist could also be so healing? Who knew that letting go would mean letting (love) in? I only began my minimalist journey 8 months ago and it is an ongoing continuous process. My goal now is to continue this journey and motivate others to design a healthier more minimalist lifestyle.

Share my journey or work with me: minimalisthealthcoach.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 Update: Apple

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 so happy to receive this update from Apple, who was originally featured in June 2011. I love how her family has continued to refine their minimalist lifestyle, rejecting busyness and embracing ways to live waste-free.

Apple writes:

Apple’s zero waste shopping kit

Since my last feature on missminimalist, I have been opening up to, and braving the quietness of an even more uncomplicated and mindful life. Both myself and my husband completed our studies, changed careers. We both have professions which give us joy and meaning. My husband either walks into work or avails of our city’s public bicycle rental scheme. I work part-time, when the children are in school, only a 15 minute drive from home. Our growing children take a few minutes walk to school. We still live in the “small house with red door” (just over 1000sq ft), close to the city centre, the sea, in a neighbourhood full of old trees, parks, a playground, river, excellent schools, cafès, restaurants, shops and a wonderful organic market. It would be nice to have a bigger house, but we are not prepared to move and give up on our area, or to get a larger mortgage.

Life is simple and slow. Our calendar isn’t full. We have time for our family, to volunteer and to chill. Our boys have  organized afternoon activities only a couple of afternoons a week, and on Saturday mornings. It feels good to prioritize, and stick to what is important for us. It is exhilarating not to envy the constantly buzzing, busy families.

Since we sold, gave away and recycled our clutter, we have also been moving closer to waste free living. Similarly to minimalism, I first needed to accept my zero-waste self before I could find comfort in openly living a zero-waste lifestyle. Initially, it was awkward when pleople made assumptions noticing my home-made toothpaste, beetroot lipgloss, or when I produced my glass container at the butchers. As with reducing our belongings and simplifying our lives, we are now minimizing our impact on Earth with our refusal of packaging and unnecessary chemicals.

We are not perfect minimalists. We are not perfectly zero-waste. However, we are happy and contented living our chosen lifestyle.

I see my old self in family members, friends, neighbours who are too afraid to be different and to seem less than perfect. They are trying to fit into the culture of “busy” and “popular”, shopping for easy-to-pick-up disposable items, buying the latest must-haves for the perfect body, hair, life, arranging a constant stream of activities for their children. As if time and silence was something to be ashamed of. Or, is time and silence something to be afraid of? Maybe when we remove the excess, slow down and look into ourselves, that is when we really see who we are without camouflage and distractions. Maybe it is imperfection and vulnerability what we are afraid of. Maybe we do have to wait until we are truly ready to simplify, declutter, be vulnerable and grow.

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

Real Life Minimalists: Marilyn

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, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Marilyn. I love how she was finally able to embrace the minimalism that called to her since childhood, and can now enjoy the “silence” of a simpler lifestyle.

Marilyn writes:

I’ve been dedicated to minimalism since I was 12 years old and heard Thoreau read aloud in my elementary school library. That was 1952. Since then I’ve read every book I’ve come across on simplicity, simple living, downsizing, frugality, etc. There weren’t many until recent years.

I also found myself drawn to reading about monks and hermits, even as a child. Thomas Merton is/was a profound inspiration since my earliest years. There weren’t many books available in those days about spirituality and religious paths, especially by lay people.

My parents were married during the depression so they always saved everything in our small apartment. I don’t remember not feeling frustrated by the crowded rooms, packed closets, and clutter on every surface. The little converted back porch that served as my bedroom I kept as neat and spare as a monk’s cell.

When I married, there were gifts from 3 bridal showers, a wedding, and, eventually, 3 baby showers. Internally, I reacted with dismay at the clutter that descended on me each time. Then came the kids’ stuff! Thrilled as I was with the babies themselves–there was even more ‘accoutrement’ to be housed and dealt with.

My new mother in law gave me all kinds of stuff she herself no longer wanted but which was ‘too good to give away’, like a piano bench cover she had made by cutting circles in 3 sizes from old felt hats, stitching them by hand one on top of each other, 3 at a time, then lined up in long rows–I’m as horrified as I write this as I was when she gave it to me.

This was a rural area and I was told that the givers expected to see their gifts in evidence when visiting our home. So I felt even more frustration at being unable to dispose of items when I wished to.

When my marriage ended, I left the contents of a 12-room farmhouse behind (and the remaining wedding presents!), taking only my clothes, books, and records. Returning to the university to finish my degree, I finally had control over my life for the first time.

Now all that’s long past. I did end up emptying my mother’s house at the end of her life, as I’d dreaded. There were bugs in the fabric scraps she had saved for making quilts someday. The shoes she had only worn to my wedding 30+ years earlier were still in their box. The kitchen cupboard held 14 sauce pans (for only 4 burners, I’d kept reminding her!).

I still clean out closets, cupboards, etc., and donate stuff to the thrift stores on a regular basis. Even my file cabinets get cleaned out periodically, as more information is available online.

Miss Minimalist’s blog helped me refine the process even more in the past few years. I’ve long had white walls, which are now mostly also bare. As an experiment, I took down all the art, etc., on my walls, and discovered the silence available to me without all the distractions and the ‘stories’ that had unknowingly unfolded each time I had glanced at them. I prefer a quiet house that doesn’t trigger a cascade of memories. I prefer the silence.

I donated Miss Minimalist’s book to the library of the Quaker meeting where I’m a member. Simple living is a basic tenet of Quakerism. We sit in silence on Sunday mornings, waiting, and listening, together.

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

Real Life Minimalists Update: Belle

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 share an update from Belle. She tells us how her life has changed since her feature in 2014, and how she’s striving to maintain a clutter-free home with a growing family.

Belle writes:

Last time I shared my story, in January 2014, I had started on my minimalist journey only a few months prior. I talked about my experience of moving, being a newlywed, and my love for thrift shopping. I’m now a few years into living a [mostly] minimalist lifestyle, and while my husband and I now have one child and another on the way, we still live in the same 1 bedroom apartment we’ve lived in since we got married. Though we’re looking to buy a house eventually, I enjoy the challenge of making our tiny living space work with a growing family. The limited space forces me to be ruthless when purging, and intentional with what we bring into our home.

I’ve had setbacks from time to time, particularly in the last few months. Unfortunately I’ve fallen back on thrifting as a way to relax when I’m overwhelmed, and though I usually stick to only buying things we need (maternity clothes for me, clothes for my little ones, etc), there are some bargains I can’t pass up and later regret purchasing. I give myself a small budget each month – and only pay cash at thrift stores – and that makes it easier to resist the temptation of a “good deal.” I also focus on quality over quantity, particularly with my daughter’s things. It’s so easy to let toys and baby clothes get out of hand but now that I’ve been a mom for over a year I’m learning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to ‘baby stuff.’ I like my daughter to wear simple, comfortable clothes and play with simple, creative toys. She regularly plays with her Duplo legos and little people and animal figurines, so I keep those in two easy access bins for her, along with some board books. After reorganizing her toys dozens of times, I finally found a system that makes play and cleanup easier for us all.

I’ve also drastically downsized my wardrobe. Instead of keeping clothes in tons of different sizes and styles, I limit myself (for the most part) to clothes that will fit me well into pregnancy and be comfortable postpartum and beyond. Again, I focus on quality over quantity so I’m very picky about the material of the clothes I buy, and I buy secondhand rather than at discount stores like I used to. My makeup collection is still very small and all fits in one little cosmetic bag, and I’ve gone from owning 20 nail polishes to just 3. I’ve pared my book collection down from 100 ‘favorites’ to about 60 (it’s a work in progress!) I get all my books from the library now, and only buy ones I deem worthy of rereading – like The Joy of Less and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, each of which I’ve read 3 times. I’m continually inspired by these authors and others who live a minimalist lifestyle.

Just recently I started decluttering with renewed vigor, and after a long spell of feeling frustrated and stressed by the state of my home, I now feel refreshed and excited to continue on with a minimalist lifestyle. Though adding another member to the family has made it more challenging to maintain a minimal and clutter-free home, I have made a lot of progress and I’m constantly surprising myself with how much further I can downsize when I thought I had ‘arrived.’ And in my opinion, no one has arrived. Even the most extreme minimalists will continue to find things they can live without. Though I’m not anywhere near where I’d like to be in regard to minimalism, I’m well on my way, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the journey!

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

Real Life Minimalists Update: Heather in Texas

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 excited to share an update from Heather in Texas, a veteran Real Life Minimalist! We heard from her in 2010, 2011, and most recently in 2013. Minimalism is an ongoing process, and it’s wonderful to see the role it continues to play in her life.

Heather writes:

I am very lucky to have been chosen to appear on Ms. Minimalist’s blog several times. This update is by far my favorite. About 18 months ago, I took a huge leap of faith and change directions in multiple areas of my life. Career wise–I left healthcare after 20 years and I am now pursuing my Masters in Education, so I can teach. I cleaned out my closet to literally 7-8 outfits, with a few other things I truly use on a daily/monthly basis. I added some simple dresses and shoes/jewelry and I can actually fit everything into one closet. I started decluttering and gave away anything I had not used in over 2 years, including Christmas items, décor, books, etc. I finally donated the sewing machine my husband bought me 10 years ago. I used it maybe a dozen times and it’s been sitting, in a closet, for years. Yes, I did it. It’s gone and I could not be happier. I am always grateful for everything I am given but again, times have changed and I can’t live with guilt in a closet. I call it right sizing my life.

Even as a teacher, I am very picky as to what I will purchase and truly need or use. I try to store 90% of what I need in my classroom and I do have a small bookshelf and storage drawers at home that are mostly school related, with some inspirational items/books on it, but far less than I had. That darn dollar section at Target has no hold on me anymore!!! :) I even organized all of my lesson plans into binders, with all the resources I need. It’s great to be prepared. I set aside a spot in my home to work. I have a lot of paperwork that comes with teaching and having a designated spot helps me accomplish my tasks quickly and efficiently.

As far as my home, I am still loving simple décor. I spent some money on getting all the walls painted. This has gone a long way in bringing personality and life to my home. I decorated with a few candles in clear glass holders and flowers here and there and a few select pictures on the walls. I have added curtains, because they are helping with the Texas heat we live in. I have seen a drop in my electric bill. We changed out a large couch to two loungers and a love seat and one large square coffee table and it’s perfect now. I repainted the dining room table and added a new chandelier in the kitchen and just these small changes have had a huge impact. I have added some new plantings outside, to the front of the house and now I feel like my home is a happy, welcoming, warm place to be. My inspiration came from visiting apartments in town. They have one called the Parisian and the colors and style are EXACTLY what I was looking for and I already had a lot of similar style in my house. So I copied it and I love the outcome!!! One last item on our to do list are wooden floors. That will be next year.

I guess my whole point is don’t be afraid of change, especially the big changes. I look back now and I am excited about how far I have come and who I am now. I am as close to the real me as I have been in years. I don’t miss anything I have gotten rid of nor do I feel guilty about spending a little money to get where I needed to be. And if you are afraid people are going to judge you and say something, let them go too. I have found the more me I become, the less time I have for people who don’t want the best for me. It certainly has been a good change for my soul.

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

Real Life Minimalists: Ally

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

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

Ally writes:

Ally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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