Real Life Minimalists: Kevin

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, Kevin shares his take on minimalism, from his perspective as a philosopher and father. Visit his blog to read more of his thoughts.

Kevin writes:

Kevin

Kevin

I think I’ve always been a minimalist at heart but have recently become much more mindful about it. When I lived alone in my own condominium it was quite easy to be a minimalist. Although I am a bookworm, I had only a few bookshelves so that limited my collection of books. I enjoyed the open space of my living room without a coffee table and the clean surfaces of my kitchen table and counter tops. As a musician and composer I am a big fan of the minimalist music of Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

Now I am married, have a daughter, and live in a house. My life is full in so many positive ways but also fuller in some non-minimalist ways! As an unschooling dad I realize the importance of “strewing” but needless to say this conflicts with a minimalist approach to living. My definition of “just right” has had to change but that’s quite natural.

To solve the practical problem of clutter we have devised a system in our family that seems to work pretty well. We have a designated “playroom” where chaos is allowed to run a little freer than in other parts of the house. We also have “zones” in the living room/dining room area where we can accommodate projects. So, for us these active or ongoing projects (crafts, etc.) don’t get defined as clutter. They don’t entail clutter that never gets put away but rather an active process of creation. Of course, when a new project comes along or it’s time for a meal we do clear off the relevant spaces.

In addition to these accommodations, there are certain rooms in the house where clutter is not allowed at all. These rooms are used (as opposed to formal living rooms which never get used) but we just don’t let clutter hang around at all.

Fatherhood provides me an excellent opportunity to teach some important minimalist lessons. Among these is a lesson I also teach as a philosophy professor: the difference between wants and needs.

I think the confusion between these two categories drives a lot of the consumerism that prevents people from seeing the benefits of minimalism. Given a strong natural impulse towards acquisitiveness, it’s important to begin teaching the benefits of living with less at an early age. As parents, freeing our children from the grip of constantly chasing their wants is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

As a philosopher I think of my work as “clearing the clutter” from our thinking. Much of what I do i my classes is to help students clarify their thinking on such important issues as ethics, morality, knowledge, and reality. Making distinctions like the one between wants and needs is an important part of this clutter clearing.

Making the connection between our values and our stuff is important and provides a good philosophical foundation for striving to live in a minimalist way.

I write about the philosophical work of clarifying as well other topics of education and unschooling on my blog titled “Think” which is located at http://kevinjbrowne.weebly.com/blog1.html.

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

Winner of the 10-Item Wardrobe Huffington Post Book Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who commented on my latest Huffington Post piece, Minimalist Style: The 10-Item Capsule Wardrobe!

As promised, I’ve used the random number generator at Random.org to select a winner in my book giveaway. The lucky reader is StaffordVA, who wrote:

Thanks for another great article! I also use black as my base color along with mainly dark purple as an accent color. I like not having many items of clothing – it makes laundry, storage, and choosing what to wear very easy. My rules are the clothing has to be machine washable, look good on me, be comfortable, and not require ironing. I always enjoy your inspiring articles – thanks again!

Thanks again to everyone who participated–I loved taking our discussion into mainstream media (and perhaps introducing a new person or two to the wonderful world of minimalism).

I’ll still be on sabbatical for a bit, but hope to be back with you soon!

The Huffington Post 10-Item Wardrobe Book Giveaway

Hi everyone—I’ve missed you!

{For all who’ve emailed with concern, everything is well. I’m just trying to keep up with a toddler who started walking at 9 months, and doesn’t sit still for a minute. It doesn’t leave much time for writing (or anything else, for that matter)…but oh, words cannot express how much more beautiful, and joyful, and enchanting this little one has made my life.}

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve published my 10-Item Wardrobe piece over at The Huffington Post:

Minimalist Style: The 10-Item Capsule Wardrobe

When I originally wrote it (two years ago), I was living in England and traveling to European cities once or twice a month. I was meeting with reporters and TV producers, and hanging out in the pubs and restaurants of London. My capsule wardrobe suited this lifestyle perfectly—it could be dressed up and down as needed, and thrown in my carry-on for a last-minute flight.

Although my new life as a work-at-home mom isn’t nearly as glamorous, I’m happy to report that my 10-item wardrobe is just as relevant—these key pieces are now my “leaving the house” clothes. I quickly realized they wouldn’t hold up to playing with Plumblossom or helping her learn table skills (my goodness, the mess!). So in an attempt to preserve them, I’ve employed my yoga pants, maternity pants (I just fold over the stretchy band) and two Icebreaker shirts as my stay-at-home workhorses. Why the maternity pants? Because of all the items in my wardrobe, they’re the ones I’d most like to destroy. :)

I know we’ve discussed this topic on my blog, but I hope you’ll drop by The Huffington Post and add your thoughts. Non-minimalist readers will likely think I’m off my rocker…but perhaps your input will convince them that the concept isn’t entirely crazy!

To thank you for your patience during my sabbatical, I’d like to do another book giveaway…

Anyone who leaves a Comment on my Huffington Post piece will have a chance to win an autographed copy (or Kindle version) of my book, The Joy of Less.

To enter the giveaway:

1. View my Huffington Post blog post.

2. Create a Huffington Post account (if you don’t already have one). You’ll find the “Create Account” link at the upper right corner of the page.

3. Scroll to the bottom of my Huffington Post blog post, and leave a Comment in the Comments box.

4. Email me at ag8@missminimalist.com to let me know your Huffington Post username (so I know which Comment is yours), and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

I’ll keep the giveaway open until Friday, February 8 at 5pm EST. As always, I’ll use the random number generator at Random.org to choose the winner.

I hope you’ll also consider spreading the word, and sharing the 10-Item Wardrobe via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or email. Even if it’s a little extreme, we can all use a little inspiration to clean out our closets.

Big hugs and lots of love to all of you this Valentine’s season—as I write, Plumblossom is blowing you kisses and thanking you for hanging in there with her mama!

(Note: To avoid confusion, and keep wardrobe comments on The Huffington Post page, I’ve closed Comments on this giveaway post. But if you just want to say hi (and I’d love to hear from you), please drop me a note over on my Semi-Sabbatical post!)

Semi-Sabbatical

I just wanted to let you all know that I’ll be taking a semi-sabbatical for the next few months. Don’t worry, I’m not having another baby; just taking some time to enjoy this one, and visit with friends and family. :)

What I’ll be doing: Continue reading Semi-Sabbatical

Winner of The Huffington Post Holiday Book Giveaway

I loved hearing your feedback on my latest Huffington Post piece, Have a No-Stress, No-Shopping Holiday.

The winner of the giveaway (chosen via the random number generator at Random.org) is iplaywithstring, who left the following Comment:

It has never been the THINGS that make the holiday special for me, but the people and memories. The right gift (something truly needful or truly unique for that person) can be magic, but just giving something, especially something costly, to give a gift has always fallen flat for me. Among my favorite holiday memories is a sledding party with all of our friends, followed by hot chocolate and a taffy pull back at home.

One universal among my family and friends is the love of decorating for the holidays. For the past few years, my holiday “gift” to these folks has been a hand-made ornament – crocheted snowflakes, miniature knit sweaters, snowmen, this year is a little knit stocking with a treat tucked inside (a candy or mini-sparkle nailpolish, or USB drive, depending on the recipient). One friend tells me that she looks forward to adding to her “collection” of my ornaments each year! LOL! A little something that adds to the joy of the holiday, without adding clutter to their lives. Especially to those dear ones who are far, far away, this is a small way I can share joy and goodwill with them, without being able to see them in person.

What a wonderful way to share the festive spirit with loved ones!

I really appreciate all your participation and support, and hope that some of you will use the “One Less Gift” certificate this year. Looking forward to a lovely, less-is-more holiday season. :)

The Huffington Post Holiday Book Giveaway

With the holidays just around the corner, I’ve decided to take our message of merry minimalism to the masses. Some of you may remember my “One Less Gift” Certificate from last year—well this year, I’ve published it over at The Huffington Post, with the hope that more people may find a graceful way to opt out of gift exchanges:

Have a No-Stress, No-Shopping Holiday

I’d love for you to chime in over at the HuffPo, and let the world know that Christmas and consumerism don’t have to go hand in hand. To gift or not to gift is always a controversial topic, and it’s fascinating to hear everyone’s take on the topic.

In the spirit of the upcoming season, I’m holding a holiday book giveaway in conjunction with the post:

Anyone who leaves a Comment on my Huffington Post piece will have a chance to win an autographed copy (or Kindle version) of my book, The Joy of Less.

To enter the giveaway:

1. View my Huffington Post blog post.

2. Create a Huffington Post account (if you don’t already have one). You’ll find the “Create Account” link at the upper right corner of the page.

3. Scroll to the bottom of my Huffington Post blog post, and leave a Comment in the Comments box.

4. Email me at ag8@missminimalist.com to let me know your Huffington Post username (so I know which Comment is yours), and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

I hope you’ll also consider spreading the word, and sharing the “One Less Gift” Certificate via Twitter, Facebook, or email. Advertisers are relentless this time of year, and I’d love to counter their marketing assault with a little consumer disobedience. :)

I’ll keep the giveaway open until Friday, November 16 at 5pm EST. As always, I’ll use the random number generator at Random.org to choose the winner.

Let’s make this holiday not about giving each other presents, but enjoying each other’s presence. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

(Note: Comments are closed here on this giveaway post, because the Comments must be made on The Huffington Post page. Just want to avoid confusion!)

Winner of The Huffington Post Book Giveaway #4

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my latest Huffington Post piece, Is One Child Enough?

The winner of the giveaway (chosen via the random number generator at Random.org) is sdn667s, who wrote the following Comment:

Good for you! We have two kids and more to come, but we have friends with singletons and I love seeing couples build their family in the ways that fit best for them.

Congratulations to sdn667s, and thanks again to all who chimed in! You’re like an extended family to me, and I was really excited to share our decision with you. :)

The Huffington Post Book Giveaway #4: The Big Reveal

I’ve decided to publish this week’s post over at The Huffington Post:

Is One Child Enough?

It’s a follow-up to my May blog post in which I pondered a possible sibling for Plumblossom. Well, the decision has been made…so if you’re curious, surf on over to the HuffPo to see if she’ll be a big sister or a singleton.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and am holding another book giveaway in conjunction with the post.

Anyone who leaves a Comment on my Huffington Post piece will have a chance to win an autographed copy (or Kindle version) of my book, The Joy of Less.

To enter the giveaway:

1. View my Huffington Post blog post.

2. Create a Huffington Post account (if you don’t already have one). You’ll find the “Create Account” link at the upper right corner of the page.

3. Scroll to the bottom of my Huffington Post blog post, and leave a Comment in the Comments box.

4. Email me at ag8@missminimalist.com to let me know your Huffington Post username (so I know which Comment is yours), and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

Extra love and kisses to anyone who shares the article on Twitter, recommends it on Facebook, or emails it to a friend!

I’ll keep the giveaway open until Thursday, October 11 at 5pm EDT. As always, I’ll use the random number generator at Random.org to choose the winner.

I’m so grateful to everyone who commented on the original post—you gave me so much to consider!—and hope you’ll weigh in on the sequel. :)

(Note: Comments are closed here on this giveaway post, because the Comments must be made on The Huffington Post page. Just want to avoid confusion!)

Winner of The Huffington Post Book Giveaway #3

My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who commented on my latest Huffington Post piece!

It was great to hear that so many of you are already practicing these money-saving measures; they do seem to go hand-in-hand with a minimalist lifestyle. :)

The winner of the giveaway (chosen via the random number generator at Random.org) is littleblackdogs, who wrote the following Comment:

I was surprised that I have most of your ideas already in place. We thought about a storage unit, but decided to start getting rid of stuff, instead.

Congratulations to littleblackdogs, and thank you again to everyone who joined in!

The Huffington Post Book Giveaway #3

This week’s post is another giveaway! (I’m trying to do one each month, leading up to the holidays.)

As usual, it’s in conjunction with my latest piece for The Huffington Post:

10 Signs You’re Not as Rich as You Could Be

The Huffington Post typically puts my articles in the Money section, and this post reflects my beginnings as a personal finance writer; however, many aspects are quite relevant to a minimalist lifestyle (making one rich in time and space, as well as money).

We don’t often talk about finances here. However, I have to say that becoming a minimalist is the best thing I ever did for my bottom line. I’m curious if any of you have experienced the same: has your lighter lifestyle led to a fuller bank account?

Anyone who leaves a Comment on my Huffington Post piece will have a chance to win an autographed copy (or Kindle version) of either one of my books: The Joy of Less or Frugillionaire. (My last giveaway had about 40 entries, so the odds are fabulous!)

To enter the giveaway:

1. View my Huffington Post blog post.

2. Create a Huffington Post account (if you don’t already have one). You’ll find the “Create Account” link at the upper right corner of the page.

3. Scroll to the bottom of my Huffington Post blog post, and leave a Comment in the Comments box.

4. Email me at ag8@missminimalist.com to let me know your Huffington Post username (so I know which Comment is yours), and I’ll enter you in the drawing.

And of course, extra love and kisses to anyone who shares the article on Twitter, recommends it on Facebook, or emails it to a friend! :)

I know it may seem a bit inconvenient to create a Huffington Post account. However, I’m doing regular giveaways with my pieces—so rest assured, you’ll be able to use that username and password for more chances later!

I’ll keep the giveaway open until Friday, September 21 at 5pm EDT. As always, I’ll use the random number generator at Random.org to choose the winner.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on minimalism and money!

(Note: Comments are closed here on this giveaway post, because the Comments must be made on The Huffington Post page. Just want to avoid confusion!)