Happy Holidays and bring.it.on 2011

I’ll be taking next week off of blogging and spending time ‘unplugged’ so to speak. Along with shuttering my laptop away, I am considering giving my iPhone to Chris and asking him to hide it from me. It feels so good to disconnect but I often find it difficult to get the ball rolling on it. I’ll do a bit of reading on the subject and post on it in 2011. I have a feeling I am not alone…

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gold medals won’t make you happy

Have you heard about post-Olympic depression in athletes? It’s very real. Even in the gold medal winners.

I get this. I had my own brush with sporting excellence in 2003 when I won a bronze medal at the World Rowing Championships in the Women’s 8+ event. We qualified Canada for the Olympics with that performance and, along with my teammates, I was on television and in some newspapers. I should say half of my face was on the television because when they did the close up shot of all of us holding our medals my good friend deeked her head in front of mine. Complete accident but she still apologizes whenever we meet up.

After the post-race reveling I had some time to reflect on my achievement. In the two weeks we had off of training to visit family and take a breather, I realized I had placed my happiness on achieving a goal. Now the goal was achieved and I was no happier. In fact, I was feeling quite sad and empty.

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As featured on: Miss Minimalist

MissMinimalist has me up as a featured minimalist family today- thanks, Francine!

For new readers visiting from Miss Minimalist, I have a few top posts that will give you more background on our journey below. If you’re intrigued/inspired by our financial success I’ll have more detailed accounts of our debt reduction plan on this blog in the New Year. In the meantime, Unautomate Your Finances by Adam Baker is a great minimalist finance read that I recommend. I’ve now read it three times to keep me on track.

First day of the rest of my life: the beginning of our journey.

Goodbye wardrobe, goodbye: getting rid of 80% of my wardrobe including my wedding dress.

Car-free: we’ve been car-free since November and loving it!

Minimalism for the masses: this post caused quite a stir in the minimalist world. It gives a background on my belief that everyone can benefit from downsizing their stuff no matter the scale.

CBC Radio Early Edition: I was recently featured on a radio show about my family’s de-cluttering. You can listen to the eight minute piece here under the December 7th headline.

Also, if you would like to win a copy of Miss Minimalist’s book The Joy of Less you can enter by leaving a comment on this previous post.

Hope to see you again,

Rachel aka the minimalist mom

Inspired By: We Kept Striving. And We Kept Buying.

We had some friends over last week and the M word came up. They are open minded folk so it was easy to talk about but I found myself stumbling when answering the question: why?

Why did we donate or sell half of our things? Ultimately it boils down to creating more time and space in our lives. I feel like minimalism has given me a secret remote control and I can actually slow time down. Instead of feeling my days rush by me I am actively enjoying them. But I’m still struggling to easily define to people how less stuff = more time.

This post from the Suburban Minimalist a) made me a bit choked up and b) succinctly described how one family went minimalist to add a new baby to their family.

The path involved both saving money for adoption fees and creating time – R.S. needed to take a year off work once their son arrived from Korea.

“We kept striving. And we kept buying.”

R.S. and her family were stuck on the modern treadmill of work hard, buy more, work harder, buy even more. How did they get off the treadmill? They had a goal. They were determined to meet that goal. They came around to the concept that less stuff would give them more. In this case the more was a child.

“… it got really heady, because I was making room for another family member: our second son, my parents’ third grandchild, my in-laws’ eighth, our oldest’s baby brother.

I wanted to make physical room for this new child. I wanted to make space in our lives so that we could focus on our children – child in plural! – and the miracle of family, however it comes to you, wherever you find it.”

I read this post and it motivated me. We can be debt-free. We can work less. We have chances every day to work towards these goals.

One of the comments on the Suburban Minimalist’s post was:

I love reading about how people pull off the formerly impossible to make a dream come true.

What’s your dream? What do you think is impossible?

Minimalist Secrets: How to Have Everything

When was the last time you borrowed a cup of sugar?

This used to be quite common place. Ready to make a cake but find out you’re short an ingredient so you dash next door and ask a neighbor.

Maybe pre-packaged cake mixes are the norm now. Maybe we just don’t have time to bake because of over scheduled lives. Maybe we don’t know our neighbors.

Kitchen and dining items are my Kryptonite: I love little appetizer dishes and creme brulee ramekins and big white salad bowls. The truth is I don’t use them often, maybe every couple of months, but I couldn’t part with them. So I have started to make it known that they are available for loan.

If you need a springform pan for a cheesecake let me know. I will gladly loan you mine. Need a few extra wine glasses for a dinner party? Drop me an email.

Start a Sharing Circle

Be the change. Start loaning out what you have kept in your closets, what you can’t bear to part with but don’t use often. It not only makes you feel good but it opens up a network of borrowing. Let your friends hold onto those items you may only need once a year.

There’s nothing new about borrowing and loaning. It’s how we used to do things before there was plentiful credit and cheap goods available. Here are some tips:

  • Find your fashion doppelganger: my sister and I wear the same shoe size and have a fluid back and forth of shoe borrowing. We also loan each other dresses as needed. Don’t buy a new dress for holiday parties – borrow!
  • Keep a list of what you have available for loan and what your friends have. Camping gear, ice skates and anything seasonal. A gentle call or email to friends about your weekend camping plans and tent requirements will usually bring forth loan offers. I’m taking the season off snowshoeing so if anyone wants to borrow mine let me know.
  • Be a fantastic borrower. Return items cleaned and in just as good condition as when you borrowed them. If you break or lose something borrowed always replace, repair or reimburse.

Borrowing and loaning is a great way to try new activities without committing dollars and space to new equipment. It’s also a great way to strengthen your community and circle of friends.

Anyone tried ReturnMyPants.com? It’s a way to track borrowing and lending. I’m thinking about starting an account.


Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to enter The Joy of Less Give Away. I will pick a random number and the commentor will receive a copy of Francine Jay’s (aka Miss Minimalist) top ten Amazon book The Joy of Less.

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