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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Greg

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, Greg shares with us the fascinating story of his minimalist journey, and how it’s led him to a place of peace, freedom, and possibility.

Greg writes:

Greg

Greg

I am one of those lucky souls to whom minimalism came by accident. During the perfect storm of a backpacking adventure, a break-up, and a move, it came into my life before I even knew what it was.

My girlfriend and I had packed all our stuff in storage and I went backpacking around South America while she started a semester abroad in Belize. At the end of my trip I looped up to Belize for a visit, where she broke up with me.

I went home to Canada to deal with what we left behind. I was also completely, unbelievably broke. I couldn’t afford to pay the airport tax to leave Belize and I think it was only like $10 or something (thank God for the kind lady at the till).

Also, before I left I had decided to change my life path (again) and start journalism school, so I only had a few months to get organized and make some money to be able to afford going back to school.

Needless to say it was a patchy few months and everything that wasn’t essential was left by the wayside. I jumped from friend’s house to friend’s house, working crazy amounts of hours and sorting through a house sized storage compartment of stuff in the late evenings, constantly feeling on the brink of being overwhelmed.

And yes, I do consider that a lucky sequence of events that led me to minimalism.

Two years later with the money I had saved from not buying anything, out of pure fear of ever having to face a storage container full of stuff ever again, I went on another backpacking trip.

This time I carried literally half the stuff that I carried before, and to say my return was less chaotic would be an understatement. The trip was epic and established me as a lifelong travel addict and my reintegration into society upon return was seamless. This was when I realized the beauty and power in minimalism.

I went from being strenuously disorganized and lost to being secret agent-like in effortless efficiency.

I think my friends are still confused as to what happened to the discombobulated person who literally never had his keys, wallet and phone together at the same time.

The peace of mind that comes from not having to constantly want, collect, and care for things literally changed my life. Just writing this made me think back to what my mind used to be like, and have my heart rate go up.

It is hard now for me to imagine that there are still people out there who have never seen the end of their clean and get organised to-do list.

All that being said, I am definitely still on my journey to personal minimalism perfection. I had the realization the other day that by focusing too much on minimalism, in a way I am again focusing too much on stuff.

I have always been a seeker, and minimalism has been one of my greatest tools for figuratively uncovering a whole mindset that I was unaware of before, but for me minimalism isn’t the end.

I look at it as having cleaned up a bunch of stuff that was occupying a place that it shouldn’t have, and now I am looking for what to fill it up with. This to me is the fun part of the journey.

It is not just the acquiring of, but the freedom to search, for love, for wisdom, for beauty, and for God, unrestrained. It is like I have stepped out of the whirlwind of a life where I had no control and into a peaceful place where I can freely and willfully explore, and I am truly thankful for that gift.

I have recently quit my job and moved to Cambodia. I spend my days meditating, walking on the beach, working on my website that I built to help people find responsible businesses to shop from, and promoting the Conscious Consumer Movement.

{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: Craig

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 Craig, who explains how minimalism has transformed his life—helping him to become a healthier, happier, and more focused person. Please visit his blog to learn more.

Craig writes:

Craig

Craig

The 21st century is an exciting and daunting time to live.

We have the technology to live simpler lives than the past few decades ago.

Yet that’s not the world we live in today.

Instead, we work long hours and have little time for anything meaningful. Everyday, we are bombarded by distractions and advertisements that grab us by the throat and demand our attention. Not surprisingly, people have become increasingly disharmonic.

In my early to mid twenties, I endured constant fatigue, anxiety and depression as I gave most of my time to a dead-end job and reaped very few rewards in return. Through my emotional turmoil, I found junk food, sugar, tv and video game addictions to be an easy method of coping. As a result I gained weight which brought about a feeling of shame that later began to effect my relationship.

I had actually stumbled across the concept of Minimalism years before recently. But at the time, I was still living with parents and didn’t have much experience in life outside of college so I had no idea how I could apply it to my life.

Then five year later, I stumbled upon a talk by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists. Ryan told a story about how he and Josh had climbed the ranks of the corporate ladder and earned six figure incomes only to have it cause them more misery than they had hoped for. He then explained how Minimalism could reduce clutter, stress, dept, anxiety, discontentment and give you more time, health, freedom, happiness and meaning.

After watching the talk, I spent several days researching Minimalism. I subscribed to just about every blog I could find. I wanted to know what practical steps I could take to live more freely and more meaningfully.

I began by reducing distractions so that I’d have more focus and more time. I digitised my bills so that I could manage them online without the stress of dealing with hundreds of papers. I traded in video games, CDs, DVDs, books and other possessions which no longer added value to my life. I stopped wasting my money on junk food that made me feel like crap and replaced it with healthier foods that really give me energy. I learned how to listen and empathise with others so that I could create more meaning in my relationships.

But the habits that required the most effort to let go of were my tv and gaming addictions. Neither of these are evil, but if today were my last day to live, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be sat down in front of a glowing screen running away to a make-believe world instead of doing what’s important to me with my limited time in this world.

Letting go of excessive television and gaming allowed me to spend more time reading, learning and and growing.

People will always tell you how you should live and sometimes they will do so good intentions.

They’ll tell you that you should work hard to earn a high income, that you should dedicate most of your life to paying off a house, that you should have “luxuries” such as a car or TV subscription, that you should devote whatever time you have left after work to raising kids even if it’s not the lifestyle you desire.

I’m not saying that any of these things are bad. You may get really excited about buying a house or raising kids and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy.

But just because these ideals are ubiquitous, doesn’t necessarily mean that you must pursue them.

Most of the ideals people suggested I live by never resonated with me yet they still tried their hardest to convince me that I should pursue them thinking they’ll make me happy.

The things I’m passionate about are Simplicity, Art and Technology.

People may tell us that living with less is stupid.

Yes, I agree that Minimalism is counterintuitive but never stupid.

When you’ve seen people who have no time, tons of dept, poor health and crippled relationships all stemming from the mindless chaos of modern consumerist culture, I could never blame you for seeking a better philosophy.

Not everybody will agree with your lifestyle, but I encourage you to stand firm in your beliefs that less truly is more.

If you enjoyed my words, please visit technologyforminimalists.com or follow me on Twitter.

{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: 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.}