Confession: I’m a closeted minimalist.
Before we moved to the UK my fervor for downsizing our possessions was mostly known to friends because this blog was linked to my personal Facebook account. The topic of my big purge would only really come up in person because a friend had read something here and wanted to know more. I was otherwise pretty closed mouthed about it.
Why? Because when we decided to change our lifestyle, reduce our possessions and buy less I didn’t want that choice to define us or alienate us from friends and family. Buying, consuming, owning, spending and being in debt are touchy subjects. And our choice is just our choice, not a reflection on the choices others make. It works for us. We love it. It’s been the catalyst for a lot of positive change in our lives. But I know many happy people with lots of things and big homes.
Since we moved, and I deleted my personal Facebook account, there hasn’t been much talk outside of my husband and I about living with less stuff. I’ve met lots of new friends here but the subject of stuff has rarely come up. If it has, mostly around the work behind making an international move, I will mention that we drastically reduced our possessions before the move which made it a lot easier. My blog has come up but I’ve been quite quiet about the subject. I think my description has been that I do some freelance writing and have a blog about simple living for families.
I’m in the closet. I don’t like conflict or making anyone feel uncomfortable with their choices. And while I love writing here, discussing the merits of simple living in the comments section, and getting rid of stuff, the biggest factor minimalism has in my day is just my ability to live well, have time and focus on family, myself and health. It’s a lifestyle for me, something akin to being a vegetarian, a fervent runner or finding a scheduling system that helps you get things done.
A few new friends have stumbled upon this blog and were curious enough to ask questions. Most of them were surprised. I guess when I am out at the park or at a play date there isn’t a lot to suggest that my entire wardrobe fits in a medium suitcase or that I own just four hard copy books. We’ve had people over but they have mostly been Chris’s young single colleagues stopping in for a beer. They probably didn’t notice Henry’s relatively small corner of toys or that our tiny kitchen has surprisingly bare counters.
If friends do want to know more about minimalism I am happy to discuss the ideas and concepts and share what it’s given us. But it’s a challenging subject to talk about without having people reflect on their own level of stuff, or debt, or how big their house is. And I am very careful to caution that this has been a process for us, that it has taken the better part of a year and the deadline of an international move to pare down as far as we have. I’m also quick to say it’s not for everyone. That if your are content and healthy and happy in your current scenario why rock the boat?
I am also quite certain of this: people change when they want to change, not when anyone tells them to. I hope I am an example to my friends and family that you can live well with less than ten pairs of shoes. I hope that if any of them need support on getting rid of stuff or going on a financial diet they will turn to me for support. But I also hope that they know they can talk to me about emotional shopping sprees or big credit card bills and I will always lend a sympathetic non-judgmental ear.
What about you? Are you wearing your minimalist t-shirt and telling everyone you know about the benefits of living with less? Or are you quietly chipping away on the basement storage room without telling anyone?
PS. You really can buy that t-shirt here.
I bought Simple Mom’s One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler the day it was released. As a longtime fan I was excited for her first e-book, loved the price ($5) and was looking for some non-minimalist projects and ideas for simple living. Happy to report the book has been well worth the money and time to read. It was fun to go through the list and see that we have already completed a lot of the paring down projects (who doesn’t love checking things off a list that you have already done?). The projects I will be using are mostly based on creating routines around the home. Simple Mom’s un-fussy perspective on the good life made easy is one of my favorites. Big recommend on this book if you are looking for guidance on projects around the home for paring down and creating, or sticking to, routines.
The other week I asked for feedback on what you would like to see more of here. Among the great comments (and so many compliments – thank you!) was a request for ideas on re-purposing what you have in the home for new needs. I’ll be sharing more on this topic in the future but just ran across this new book, reuse refresh repurpose, from The Frugal Girl about that very subject. This e-book is focused on clothing and while I haven’t read it myself (yet) I have read some glowing reviews. There are projects in here for the not-so-crafty (like me!) and several that you don’t need a sewing machine for. If you want to upcycle clothing in your home this book will show you how.