Real Life Minimalists: Freda

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, Freda tells us about living the simple life as a painter in Scotland. Be sure to visit her blog to read more, and see her lovely artwork and photos.

Freda writes:

Freda’s garden gate

I am an artist trying to live a more simple life (but not too simple!)

I think it is possible to live simply and also be design conscious, love beautiful and sophisticated things and still be ethical and environmentally responsible. What I’m saying is that I’m not a brown rice and sandals and back to the land minimalist, though I admire those who are. And I’m not a count the number of things I own type either, yet I have cut down and am still cutting down…. Neither am I set on the frugal path though I believe thrift is in my DNA.

So what kind of minimalist am I?

Well I try to live simply in order to have more time and energy to Simply Live, mindfully. I live in a modest wooden house by a sea loch in Scotland. I now have fewer, better things which I love and which last. I spend a lot of time choosing then keep things for a long, long time. I know what I like – modern classics – and am willing to wait, for years if necessary, for the right thing to come along. I don’t mind too much if things get a bit worn, but I have just replaced my 20 year old white cotton curtains with the moth holes in them! So with a house furnished with beautiful, though not necessarily expensive things which look good and function well and are easy to look after I can concentrate on living my life to the full with time for family, friends, travel and work I love. (I am a painter.)

I began my blog Live Simply Simply Live in order to think through aspects of my life which I could simplify – how I eat, work, play and spend my money, and I found that writing short posts under each topic helped me to think more clearly, and make changes at a realistic pace. I’ve been writing the daily blog and simplifying my life for four years now and I love it. Researching other blogs on the topics of minimalism (thank you Miss Minimalist) and simple living and getting insightful and encouraging comments from readers had been wonderfully enriching in the things that matter – communication and connection and sharing.

Simply joyous.

{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.}

I Want

My daughter Plumblossom is nearly 2.5 years old now, and has had almost no exposure to advertising or marketing. We don’t have a television, we stay out of the mall, and most of her little friends aren’t verbal enough to inquire why she doesn’t have the latest Disney princess paraphernalia.

Grocery shopping with her is a breeze—she’ll ask for a star fruit or a bell pepper or an avocado, but never balloons, toys, or candy. I can even make a run into Target, that mecca of toddler tantrums, without her requesting a single thing (instead, she informed me that “there’s too much stuff in here.” LOL—that’s my girl.)

Although she’s been verbally capable of it for a while, she’s never asked me for a consumer item—until yesterday. We were reading a book about colors, and she pointed to the Lego Duplos in one of the pictures—“Mommy, what are those blocks called?” “Those are Legos, sweetie.” I went to turn the page, but she stopped me: “I want some Legos.”

Well, color me surprised. I wasn’t sure how to respond. The only thing I could think to say was “Why?” She looked at me blankly. “What are you going to do with them?” I pressed. She considered it for a moment, then said with a big smile, “Build towers!”

Pretty good answer, I thought. And one could conceivably argue that for a toddler, Duplos are not just a want, but a need; they certainly contribute to the development of fine motor skills and an understanding of spatial relationships. And yes, they’re fun.

I told her “Ok, we’ll talk to Daddy about it”—mainly because I wanted to stall, and see if it was just a short-lived whim. But sure enough, come dinnertime, those bright little bricks were still on her mind. Furthermore, she was smart enough to try a more charming approach: “Daddy, I would like some Legos, please.”

Suffice it to say, daddies can’t resist sweet requests from their little girls, or the excuse to play with Legos again—so Plumblossom’s wish will be fulfilled. But her entree into the world of “I want” got me thinking about the “I wants” in our own (adult) lives. How carefully do we consider our desires and the reasons behind them? If we stopped for a moment—instead of rushing to fulfill them—we’d likely avoid the bulk of our clutter.

This simple experience with a toddler (who’s at the very start of her consumer—or I hope, minsumer—life) can give us some good tips for dealing with our own “I wants”:

1. Ask “Why?” Whether it’s a new pair of shoes or a bigger house, can you come up with a good reason for acquiring such an item? Something better than “because it’s there,” “because it’s pretty,” or “because so-and-so has one?”

2. Is it a need? Will it contribute positively to your life, or your development as a person? (Will it help you “build towers?”)

3. Impose a waiting period. Give it a day, a week, or a month (depending on the significance of the purchase), and see if you still want it. This strategy is immensely helpful in curbing impulse purchases, as you’ll likely forget about 99 percent of those shiny new whatsits if you don’t act immediately.

As a first-time parent, I still don’t know if I’m doing the right thing by indulging my daughter’s request. I feel like I should wait until a special occasion, but her birthday and Christmas are 7 months away. I also don’t want to save it as a “reward” for something, because I hate to tie good behavior to material items. My inclination is to give it to her without fanfare, simply because she had a good reason to ask for it.

I have to admit, I miss the days when Plumblossom was perfectly content with what she had—before she realized there’s other stuff out there to want. I’d love to hear from more experienced parents—how did/do you keep from sliding down that slippery slope of kiddie consumerism? And for those without little ones, how do you keep your own “I wants” at bay?

I look forward to your comments and advice!

(And yes, before anyone asks, she really does speak that well–sometimes I think I’m talking to a 12-year-old, not a 2-year-old. She started talking at a very early age, and was using (short) sentences at 18 months old. Today she was on the phone with her grandfather, who’s coming to a barbecue at our house this weekend. As they were hanging up, she told him, “See you Saturday. Bring the wine.” :) )

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Sara Richards

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 introduce you to Sara Richards. I can’t help but smile at the joy and enthusiasm she brings to her decluttering!

Sara writes:

Sara

Sara

Converting to Simplicity

Yesterday, after another fruitless weekend of attempting to declutter my tiny house, I was wailing on Facebook about how frustrating it is to try and get rid of stuff. A friend recommended your book and I downloaded a sample on my Kindle (having already taken THAT step to try and cut out on the number of books threaten to swallow me whole).

I was expecting yet another book on boxing and labeling, but to my surprise, no! A book about the psychology of why we clutter in the first place. By chapter 3 I was hooked and bought the book. And read it all the way through.

To say that I am inspired is to say the least!

As a single mum I have used “stuff” to show the world “look I am coping, I can give my son everything he wants.” The result? A Wendy house full of stuff we never use. Cupboards overflowing with things never worn.

I have 43 scarves, ladies. 43. And I live in Africa. Where the coldest it gets is 10 degrees in winter. For about 3 weeks. I do not need these things!

This got me looking around the house. I particularly liked the exercise of walking in to my house and looking at it through a strangers eyes. My reaction was one of “ugh. What a depressing space.”

So I have boxes now – ready and labelled “Donate It” and “Recycle It” and I am being ruthless. And the stuff I am keeping is going to be modularised to the last degree.

My bedroom – which is currently a dumping ground for everything I try and hide when visitors come over, is about to get reclaimed. I am even getting rid of the 4 decorative pillows.

The dining room suite (which was my great aunts) is a hulk of horrid brownness, is going off to get a makeover so I can love something beautiful. (Despite the inner voice crying “What will Auntie Lil think?!?”)

All the books that I have read and won’t be reading again are off to the second hand bookshop.

The rest of the stuff – all the duplicate kitchen things, clothes, shoes, knickknacks, craft supplies and such  – is off to my friend’s charity – an organisation that helps refugees.

I cannot wait to have SPACE!!!!

Because I have realised that it’s not the stuff that makes me happy (In fact right now it is making me very Unhappy).

I would far rather have a clean and cleared home filled with friends and laughter than surfaces covered with unnecessary stuff. That I have to clean. Alone.

I am looking forward to live a pared down, simple life.

But I cannot guarantee I will stop buying plants for the garden.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: KandK

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 KandK. They tell us how simplifying their work inspired them to create an open, airy, uncluttered home.

KandK write:

K.

K.

My husband and I drifted into minimalism, starting around the time we simplified our work. In the late ’90s we went from being owners of a small business with a staff, a payroll, and rented office space to being independent contractors working in cozy home offices. We didn’t make as much money as we once had, but our work didn’t cost as much either. We had done away with most of our fixed costs along with the daily hassles and stress of management. The biggest issue on our daily commute was somebody forgetting his coffee and turning around on the stairs. We saved more money by cutting back to one car, and we began to walk or cycle to run errands.

But home became more crowded when we added our offices and a large amount of computing equipment. We got organized, made good use of shelves and floor space in closets and built rows of wide shelves in the basement, then filled all these spaces high and tight with what can best be described as “stuff.” It seemed that everything our family had brought into the house over twenty-odd years was still there. We used some of it some of the time, but mostly it was squirrelled away on a shelf or in a closet.

Now, my husband (K) is a wonderful man, and I love him, but he’s clumsy: two left feet. Unlike me, he’s uncomfortable without a lot of space around him, and although I found our situation cozy he had difficulty in what he experienced as cramped quarters. This was the impetus for the next change, which started slowly and picked up in earnest when our teenagers grew up and moved on. Over the course of some years we made room by freeing the house of an astonishing amount of that stuff. Not being garage sale people, we looked for places to donate. Furniture and clothing ended up at our local Goodwill. Surplus building materials and tools made their way to The Habitat for Humanity. Through Freecycle we found new homes for old electronics, textbooks and computer programming manuals, surplus garden tools, and even a stack of previously trodden patio stones. We donated books to our local public library and excess office paper and art supplies to the neighbourhood school.

It wasn’t easy to give these things away, but we learned to manage and negotiate emotional attachments, and though we (more often I) couldn’t bring ourselves (myself) to dispose of everything, we ended up with a small stack of boxes that fit unobtrusively and neatly in the basement. The benefits were many and easy to identify. The house became easier to clean, and the very atmosphere felt lighter. We didn’t hesitate to open closet doors for fear of what we’d find stashed inside. And, most importantly, my sweetie found he had room to move about without tripping or knocking something over.

By the time we’d taken most of the stress out of work and eased our “stuff burden”, we found we had time and head space for the next step. We embarked on a campaign of simplifying the house itself. We resolved to rid ourselves of cubbyholes in which clutter could breed unnoticed. We took doors off closets and turned them into open shelving which we keep only lightly populated. We turned a narrow, gloomy front hall into a bright, sunny space wide and clear enough that K can turn around (see photo). We gutted our galley-style kitchen and rebuilt it in a streamlined Scandinavian style (did I hear someone say Ikea?) with a pantry unit at one end, no upper cupboards, and a hand-picked piece of postmodern art mounted above the sink.

Our story isn’t over. Hobbies beget clutter, and my stash of fabric and knitting supplies threatens to swell on a weekly basis. K has built new shelves in the garage, and the last time I looked there wasn’t much free space there. But even if we backslide a bit I believe we’ll be able to keep it under control because we’ve developed a mindset that must be common to the people on this site. It’s best described by the words of a visitor to our bare-bones kitchen. When his wife, looking thoughtfully at the bare wall, asked if it would be possible to put back the upper cupboards, he said in a soft and wistful voice, “Sure you could, but I like it like this.”

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Aimee

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, Aimee explores the relationship between minimalism and money—namely, how much of it you’ll save when not filling your house with stuff! Surf on over to her blog to read more.

Aimee writes:

Aimee

All that money – G O N E

The concept of minimalism came so easy to me and at a young age. I loved to declutter, clean and organize. I don’t know where the interest came from, but I just loved having everything in its place, neat and orderly. I’ve always preferred to ‘travel lightly’ as they say. It was a piece of cake to declutter the contents of my kitchen, bathrooms, closets, office, etc. I could easily identify the items I no longer used or needed. Decluttering was never a struggle for me. I now realize it’s because I always knew I could just replace the things I was discarding or buy cool, new stuff. Not because I am rich, but because I had a wallet full of credit cards. I always found so much to be donated. It felt great to unload things I no longer wanted, but I realized that I was never done decluttering. It’s because I never stopped bringing more stuff into my home. Then I thought about how much money I spent on all that stuff. Ouch. As someone who prides themselves on not being wasteful, it suddenly hit me how much of my hard earned money (at a job I don’t like) I wasted over the years of purging and then reaccumulating. I thought about what it would be like to have that much money in the bank, where it really belonged. Ouch again.

It had taken several years to get rid of all the debt. Getting rid of the clutter was fast and easy, but that was when it really drove home the importance of carefully considering ALL future purchases. It felt so great to pay off the last of the credit cards, student loans and car loans. I thought I was home free. In a way, I was, paying off debt is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself, financially speaking. Everyone talks about the ‘high’ they feel when they buy something new, I was the same way. It was during our last yard sale when I saw my belongings being sold for a fraction of what I had paid for them when the light bulb finally came on. Never again do I want to sacrifice my financial freedom to have a new TV or piece of furniture. Possessions have never improved my life in anyway, at any time.

I’ve vowed to take more time deciding on potential purchases. The rush felt when buying something is often followed by the let down when you realize how much money you just parted with, or when you realize that your shiny new purchase isn’t really going to do anything to make your life better. Now my shopping excursions are few and far between. First I consider whether or not I really need the item I’m thinking about buying. Next, I try to think about what the item costs in terms of how many hours I have to work to pay for it. What an eye opener that is! Are you willing to sacrifice a week’s pay on new designer items or a fancy cell phone? I’m not – not anymore. It took a long time to learn this lesson, but it was well worth the wait.

Follow me on my journey to a more meaningful life through simplicity at LiveSimpleNow.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 subscribing to my RSS feed.}

100 Possessions: Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500

 

When I was a carefree, world-traveling digital nomad, with no permanent address or mailbox, it was fairly easy to be paperless. I had few commitments, and little contact with people or organizations who found it necessary to bestow piles of printed matter upon me.

Now that I’m a homeowner with a child, being paper-free has become more of a challenge. In the past two years, paperwork has been flying at me in all directions: from mortgage statements, to home improvement invoices, to medical records, to school info, to utility bills that aren’t available electronically (I like to keep the latter to track water and energy use).

For the most part, I need the information, not the actual paper upon which it’s delivered. My minimalist filing system served me well in the past—I’d accumulate a year’s worth of bills, statements, etc., and scan what I needed at the end. I was also pretty diligent about scanning miscellaneous papers as they arrived. But with a two-year-old at the center of my attention, that’s not happening anymore; I just don’t have the time to scan individual documents with my slow-as-molasses flatbed scanner. My file box was beginning to bulge, and I realized that in order to keep up, I’d have to optimize the process—in other words, scan many more pages in the minimal time allotted.

I finally took the plunge and invested in a sheet-fed scanner, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. Regular readers know that I don’t do product reviews on my blog—I only mention items that I’ve purchased myself, and that have enhanced my minimalist lifestyle. So rest assured that Fujitsu has not provided me with any product or compensation—I shelled out 425 of my own hard-earned clams for this. (I have, however, used an Amazon affiliate link above; meaning that if you decide to buy one, a few dollars will go to support this blog and minimalist community.)

So, disclosures out of the way, how do I love thee, my little Fujitsu? Let me count the ways. You’re small: 11 x 6 inches, folding down to the size of a shoebox. You’re fast: 25 pages per minute according to the manufacturer, and I have no reason to doubt it. You never jam: your space-age roller and sensor thingy means I can feed you a healthy stack of paperwork without ever having to pry you open and extract a wrinkled mess. And finally, your software works beautifully with my Mac (which is more than I can say for my old flatbed).

I’m not one to splurge on gadgets, especially pricey ones. In fact, I have an aversion to expensive items in general, and rarely spend $425 on anything (I’d much rather have Nothing to Steal). But after six months of ownership, I’m pretty much in scanner love. I whipped through my backlog of paperwork in a few hours, and am now once again on my way to being as paperless as possible. Woo-hoo!

Bottom line: if you have more time than money, such a scanner is probably not necessary. But if you have more money than time, it could prove a worthy investment. (For the record, I tried to find a used one, to no avail–but now that it’s been out awhile, you may have better luck.)

So now I’m feeling ambitious, and looking for ways to leverage my new scanning superpowers. I have about a dozen books I’ve been carting around, from move to move, because they’re either out-of-print or hard to replace, and unavailable in electronic form. I would love, love, love to disassemble them, feed them through my scanner, and turn them into ebooks (my sincere apologies to all the booklovers who are cringing right now, but even as a writer I have no attachment to the printed page—see Why I Love Ebooks, Part 1 and Part 2).

The big question being: is it legal?

My impression is that it would fall under Fair Use: by destroying the hardcopy to make an electronic one, I’d essentially be trading one format for another (ie., I’d still end up with one copy, which is what I paid for). It would be solely for personal use, so there shouldn’t be any economic impact on the copyright holder (particularly if an electronic version isn’t even available).

Furthermore, in my internet research on the topic, I came across a company called 1DollarScan that offers this very service. I would imagine they’ve done their due diligence on the legal aspects; if publishers took issue with such scanning, they’d have been hit with a lawsuit by now.

Still, I’d like to be sure. Are there any lawyers who can weigh in on the legality of bookscanning for personal use? Inquiring minimalist minds want to know…

And on the broader topic, is anyone else striving to be paperless? Please share your strategies, triumphs, and tribulations in the Comments!

(This post is part of my “100 Possessions” series, in which I explain why each item I own deserves a place in my minimalist life.)

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

Real Life Minimalists: Bryan

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 Bryan. I love how his minimalist journey began in an airport—while whittling down his luggage to meet the baggage requirements! Read more of his thoughts on his blog.

Bryan writes:

On an unforgettable bike ride around Paris!

On an unforgettable bike ride around Paris!

Having MORE through LESS

I developed my passion for being a minimalist about two years ago when a close friend of mine and I decided to go on a three-week European sightseeing adventure. As a result, I decided to cash in my Los Angeles studio apartment (which I didn’t really like that much anyway) and all of my belongings as I knew this was going to be a costly trip. It was mostly because of my need to let go of what seemingly wasn’t working in my life and have a fresh start after my return from Europe.

To kick off my trip, I first stopped to say hello to my parents in Ohio and then took a train to New York City where I met up with my friend. We hopped a plane and headed for London, with a layover in Iceland. After a week in London, we took a train to Paris for a weekend then to Amsterdam, followed by a last-minute flight to Rome for another week to round out the trip. For having never been out of the country (other than to Canada or Mexico), it was the trip of a lifetime for this American boy.

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, thinking back, it wasn’t until we boarded that plane out of Amsterdam that I truly became a minimalist. We both were carrying about 30lbs exceeding the weight limit in our luggage and were forced to throw it away as we had no one locally that could keep some of it for us. We had only 10 minutes to choose what 30lbs we were going to throw away before the bags had to be loaded onto the plane. Books, pillows, blankets, shoes, clothes…they were all getting thrown into the airport trashcans. At the time it was overwhelming and both of us were extremely upset. They wouldn’t even allow us to pay more for exceeding the limit. It had exceeded the passenger requirements for the small plane from Amsterdam to Rome.

Fast-forward two years later… I look back on that trip and, even though I gave up pretty much all but 50lbs of my material possessions before and during that trip, it was very much one of my all-time favorite experiences of my life. As I move into my thirties next year, I have a fresh perspective on what is important to me in my life. It is all about the experiences and the people I love in my life. Following my passion. I find you can actually have MORE personal joy and fulfillment in life by owning LESS material possessions. It really frees you up to be able to pick up and do the things your soul is calling you to do.

When I look back on my life when I’m old, the moments I will remember the most are moments like the unforgettable European trip with my best friend. For moments like these I will have no regret. Life is too short not to do the things that your soul is calling you to do. I’ve even started a blog last summer called “livingmorethan.com” that is inspired by my experience of having MORE personal joy and fulfillment in life. It’s about living “more than” mediocre or settling for a life “less than” the one you deserve. Life is about living and if material “stuff” is holding you back, you are missing out on opportunities beyond your wildest imagination.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Em Phoenix

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 hear from Em Phoenix, who writes about the great joy that minimalism has brought to her life. Want to learn more? Em has a Czech blog, but posts on Twitter in English.

Em writes:

Em Phoenix

Even though most of us carry our inner minimalist inside for years, it seems like there’s always some trigger, a moment in your life when you fall down, facing the ground and feeling like that’s the end of it unless something happens – a miracle that will give you new purpose.

And then something does happen, you hear about minimalism as a philosophy for the first time and you find out that this is it. This has always been it, you just couldn’t see it under all that clutter and crap.

That’s what happened to me, too. My biggest life crisis came in 2010, quite funnily (now when I see it in the perspective) with the most cliché thing of all, a breakup. It obviously wasn’t just that, add years of stress before, uncertainty and failure after failure but this was the last straw and it broke me finally. Even though I was just 22, I couldn’t see any way out and didn’t believe that there could be anything in the world that would bring meaning back in my life, make me hope again, have actual fun (I‘d completely forgotten how to do that), let alone the ability to get back on my feet, regain my control and live a good life again. I became nihilist, there was nothing in the world to make me excited or hopeful.

And then I discovered the world of now and learned how to meditate. Just switching from thinking about the painful past or frightening future to now had a massive impact on my life, but adding meditation, I learned to observe my  thoughts and listen to my own guts. And that was my biggest restart moment ever. I suddenly felt incredibly awake, alive and ready for a change, I could sense better days ahead, the silhouette of something glorious and amazing shaping in front of me, I was so excited about what I learned and how I could immediately apply it to my life and change it a bit by bit. And all the things I’ve ever read about minimalism, simplicity, joy of living in the present, doing what you really want to do and being free from your material possessions – I’ve always liked to read it but now I could actually live it, it became possible and true.

So refreshed with the new positivity I started to purge my stuff, starting with any unfitting clothes that I hated but for some ridiculous whatif reasons I’ve kept it along with other clutter. Suddenly I could quite easily let go of the things I’ve been keeping forever, sometimes it was harder but I loved the challenge and with every single piece of junk that I purged or gave away, I felt more and more free and energized.

It’s been four years now and it has changed me in so many ways. I developed many little minimalistic habits that make my life simpler, whether it’s about organization, mindful shopping or dealing with spam in your mailbox. It’s the little things but they have the biggest impact. It helped me to sort out my priorities, cut off the crap, quit some lousy jobs, come up with a plan for next few years (I used to be the kind of person who never knew what to do next and was always waiting for something or someone) and move to England where I’ve badly wanted to go for years but never had the courage!

And here I am now, I finally do what I want to do and I feel inspired with loads of ideas of what to do next. I think of myself as an aspiring minimalist, always looking for more inspiration on what to do next. I keep on decluttering continuously and it actually became my hobby along with organising, general minimizing and coming up with more ideas on how to simplify. Above all, minimalism taught me to do stuff, not just talk about it, and that feels amazing. I now know how to be happy and I’m not afraid to follow the callings anymore.

I felt like I had nothing back in 2010, I’ve burned out and yet minimalism helped me to get reborn as a brand new person once again. I have a boyfriend now again, I can laugh honestly again and I work constantly on becoming a better person by fighting my ego, developing positive attitude and focusing on the important. It’s a brand new life now and I love it! :)

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: Kishore

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, Kishore from India tells us how he discovered minimalism, and the progress he’s made in decluttering. I love hearing from minimalists around the world!

Kishore writes:

Kishore

Hi. I’m Kishore, from Chennai, India.

This journey into minimalism has been and is still a very exciting one. I’ll keep my story short and simple.

It struck me during my 20th birthday, that I didn’t need any of the presents I got. And most of the possessions I had were either too unused, or just kept for the sake of memories. That was when I realised that I had a lot of clutter in my life. It was everywhere. My digital life, social life, personal life, my goals, my clothes, my stuff, basically everything. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t know what to do. After a long time thinking, I decided to get rid of all the things I didn’t need.

It was and still is a tiring and sometimes painful process. Here in India, it is sometimes tough to convince your parents about something, especially about minimalism in this age of consumerism. I thought I was alone in the world. That was when google helped me. I found out about Francine here, also Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta and also ‘The Minimalists’ Joshua and Ryan. I felt relieved that I had some company somewhere in this world.

And thus started my journey. I purged my clothes first. Threw away anything and everything I didn’t wear quite often or never. Then came books. My god I had so many of them, especially PDFs. It took a while to get rid of most of the story books (I now have just the Harry Potter collection). And I also had to throw away a lot of academic books too. Of course throwing away doesn’t mean literally. Just donating or selling. Likewise I had to deal with the movies and music in my laptop and my smartphone. The more I pared down to what I needed, the more I realised I had so much useless stuff in my life.

Decluttering and simplifying is a gentle slow process, it can’t be done in a day or in a week. It takes its own time. The more you do it, the more you’ll learn about yourself, about what is necessary rather than simply having for the sake of having.

Right now, am living with two pairs of jeans, two pairs of pants, a couple of shirts and t-shirts, a clean laptop (I can ask my friends for the movies instead of keeping everything with me), a simple phone (ditched the smartphone, it only makes you dumb), a kindle, and a couple of more stuff. It’ll take some time to reduce my clutter at home (am in a hostel right now) but yes, it’ll happen eventually.

Am happy to know that there are like minded people around the world, though people around me think am crazy/stupid. Glad to be a part of a community.

Decluttering is simple. Keep what you need, delete the rest. Chip away all the unnecessary until you are left with only the essentials.

{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.}

Real Life Minimalists: S.

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 a wonderful contribution from S., whose post radiates the peace she’s found in paring down.

S. writes:

S.

I am a single mom who was tired and stressed and just didn’t seem to have the energy to keep up with everything that I thought was needed to keep things going. I struggled at stressful jobs so I could afford to pay the rent and provide 2 separate bedrooms for my son and I. I worried about work clothes, gaining weight, what makeup to wear, going to night school, just being able to keep food in the fridge, and gas to commute to work. It seemed like the more I acquired, the more there was to worry about. Then I read an article about a woman who works in Manhattan, where grooming for work was a two hour regimen every morning. As a sort of social experiment she went for a month and wore no makeup, the same comfortable outfit each day, and wrapped her hair in a scarf. She described how she never felt so free. No worrying about her heels or pantyhose. Just able to enjoy, observe and be totally present in the moment. This I thought is what I want.

So I am a minimizer in progress. I have paired down to a one bedroom apartment, my son gets the bedroom I sleep on the couch, which is perfectly comfortable. I have cleaned out my closet and so many of the things I was hanging on to. My wardrobe has been paired down to 2 pairs of leggings, 1 black and one gray, a pair of black flat shoes, 1 pair of black flip flops, one pair of jeans and one pair of shorts, a couple t shirts in neutral colors and I have never been happier. I have learned to love my face without makeup and do feel so much less self absorbed and more in the moment. I am still working at this but know I am on the right path. I have learned to try not to covet things, and believe as the Buddhist philosophy teaches, desire is the cause of suffering. Buddha truly was onto something here folks, when we let go of things, we open ourselves up to peace.

{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.}