Leaving Minimalism

The title Minimalist Mom isn’t that accurate for me. If you’ve read a few posts here you’ll know that I aim for less and what we can live comfortably with rather than a rigid goal of a handful of possessions.

I chose the name while in a burst of zeal for the idea of what Minimalism could give me. I was excited, hopeful and had grand dreams of sparsely furnished rooms and a wardrobe that could fit in a small carry-on suitcase. After many rounds of decluttering I’ve found that the things my family want in our home, the things we use, is often in flux. I’ve found that I’m not interested in counting our possessions or living a nomadic lifestyle. I am interested in the space, time and money having less can give me and my family.

I’m not really a minimalist. We have a television, my son has a push bike he has yet to master and I recently bought a blender and a crock pot.

While I’m not a true minimalist I’m still fascinated by the idea of fewer possessions and the many returns from living with less. That’s why I keep writing here. That’s why I deliberate a lot longer on purchases than I used to. That’s why I have just two pairs of jeans, why we don’t have a car and why I keep a pretty sparse pantry. I like what having less gives me.

Friends Saying Goodbye to Minimalism.

Recently two of my blogging friends have discussed why minimalism is no longer right for them.

Rayna, a contributing writer to Frugal Mama, wrote about shutting down her blog The Suburban Minimalist almost a year ago. Embracing the movement had been positive at first and then lead her to a place she wasn’t comfortable or happy with.

 I’d learned the hard way that although there’s much to be said for living with (much) less than the average American, there are also quite a few things to be said for creature comforts and man-made beauty. Fluffy towels and familiar mugs sweeten our daily rituals. A closet with enough flattering choices makes me feel feminine and confident on the days I’m just not. – Rayna St. Pierre

Her new blog, Bright Copper Kettles, explores simplicity, design and the small things that make her life wonderful. It’s a nice read and I recommend popping in particularly for her links round up. Rayna has a great eye for articles and design that will inspire you to find more beauty in your life without making you feel bad about your living room that is covered in children’s toys or that you have yet to replace the glass on a picture frame that broke three months ago (guilty).

Faith started writing at MinimalistMoms around the same time I started this blog. Later she moved to MinimalistatHome and has written several e-books on minimalism and families. Recently she decided to move her writing away from minimalism.

… it became harder and harder to write a “minimalist” blog after two years. I’ve grown tired of wondering if what I have to say is minimalist enough or even if I am minimalist enough.. – Faith Janes

Faith’s new home online for living with less is a digital magazine called Simplify that launches October 1st. You can sign up to receive the first edition here.

Still Sticking With The M Word

I’ll still be here writing about my own brand of minimalism, the challenges of living counter-culturally and if I really needed that crock pot or blender.

While the term minimalism sounds extreme I think there is a lot to glean from the movement for even non-radical folk like myself. I like the discussion here about how to live with less, the benefits of it and how to go about it happily in a world that doesn’t support slow and simple living.

Real Simple magazine always told me that it was ‘life made easier, every day’ but I found that when I read it, I hated my home and felt the pressure to buy a lot of baskets and label makers and organize instead of truly simplify. I used to flip through those glossy pages and tell myself that I’d have a show worthy home if I just tried harder and made bread from scratch and a jar of lemon curd for an Amalfi Coast inspired luncheon replete with Limoncello ordered direct from Sorrento, Italy.

Life wasn’t made easier. Life was harder and the expectations bigger in ways that just made me tired. I had zero of the 20 must-have classic wardrobe staples for a woman in her 30’s. My vintage mason jar collection was nonexistent.

I wasn’t inspired by the supposed ease of this everyday beautiful simplicity. I was overwhelmed.

There is room in my life for beauty and minimalism. I keep fresh flowers on our kitchen window sill, not the dining room table, because that is where I enjoy them most. When I’m washing dishes I see my vase, sometimes it’s just a water glass, filled with the cheap and cheerful white carnations I buy myself or roses, a gift from a friend, and it’s enough for me.

Because I have less I appreciate what I do have more.

I’ll still be here writing about minimalism and how we’re making it work for us. With our roses on the window sill, our blender and even my expensive ballet flats that fell apart.

Your Clutter Coach


Sometimes you need more help than a book or a blog can give you.

Sometimes you need a friend to remind you to donate those bags of unworn clothing that are sitting in your basement.

Sometimes you need someone to make a plan for you, motivate you and keep you accountable.

Sometimes you need a Clutter Coach.

I get a lot of emails asking for help. I always respond (even it takes me a while) with advice, suggestion and encouragement.

And I always wonder, did they carve out a weekend to clean out that attic? Are they in the throes of home purging and feeling beaten by the process? Did they pull out some boxes from under their bed, lose a few hours looking through old junk, and then decide it was all too much work?

For some time I’ve wanted to help beyond the posts on this blog. Something very personal for paring down and living smaller.

A book wasn’t the answer. There are already some great books out there like Family-Sized Minimalism and Clutter Bootcamp for inspiration and how-to. A book can’t hold your hand, give you a kick in the butt or suggest another method for dealing with all that mail.

I want to do those things.

I want to see closets go from jam packed to roomy.

I want to help people get more sleep.

I want to find solutions for the mud room clutter that can be so hard to reign in.

So I’ve started something new.

Your Clutter Coach

This is for people that:

  • can’t make the time to declutter even after reading a lot of books and blogs on the subject
  • get sidetracked by old photos and trinkets every time they attempt to clean out the guest room
  • have pared down their stuff but it crept back quickly
  • need motivation and accountability to clear clutter for good

Your Clutter Coach is a personalized decluttering program. It’s tailored to your lifestyle, your needs and your schedule. It’s me kicking your butt and you kicking ass.

You can read more about the services here.

If you’re interested in the program I am currently giving away one free Four Week Clutter Coaching Program at Parenting with Crappy Pictures (if you haven’t visited this site before it is hilarious). The giveaway is open until Tuesday May 8th at 8pm PST. Head on over to read the details and enter.

PS. This will be the only time I mention Your Clutter Coach in a big post like this.

spark finding and a request for feedback


a donate/sell/get rid of pile from almost a year ago - all gone!

Paring down and living with less is hard work. If it was easy everyone would have tidy closets and clutter free shelves. But it’s not. Especially in the beginning. In the beginning the road ahead looks long and hard.

You need a spark to make big changes in your life. You need a extra motivation. Something beyond what you have most days.

Six weeks ago I signed on for Faith’s Minimize Your Butt Fitness Challenge. I had big goals: drop 5 pounds, lose some inches off my waist and get back into a consistent exercise program. Oh, and I wanted to cut out eating chocolate during the week.

I didn’t meet those goals. In fact, I only lasted the first two weeks with the no week day chocolate. My sister came for a visit, I lost some motivation and then we went on a short vacation and I pretty much threw myself off the wagon. I also didn’t meet my exercise goal of running 3 times a week and doing 3 body weight workouts a week for the entire 6 week challenge. My waist measurement is the same and the 2 pounds I lost the first week is back on.

I could look at it as a big failure. But I don’t. Signing up, writing down my goals and updating my progress here gave me a spark of motivation. Despite some setbacks that spark is still there. And because of that spark I can say that I:

  • ran more in those six weeks than I did in the previous six weeks
  • got up to running 12 km – the longest run I have done since the fall of last year
  • I went two weeks without chocolate during the week – something I hadn’t done in a few months

So, while I didn’t meet my goals I did make some changes. And I found a spark.

I’ve decided to join a gym and figured out a plan so I can lift weights there 2-3 times a week while Chris is on parent patrol. A half marathon isn’t in my future but I will continue to run 2-3 times a week. I’m also reading more about the effects of sugar and trying to cut it out of my diet. In the last three days I have had my coffee with just milk and, while it’s a small change, it’s a start.

Go after the spark. Don’t think ahead to every room and closet and drawer and how much crap is stuffed into them. It will send you to the couch. Or worse, out shopping.

Instead, do that one drawer in the kitchen that irritates you every time you open it. The one with all the rubber bands, unsorted mail, coins, take-out menus and pens that don’t work.

Just do that drawer today. Every time you open that drawer and feel how easily it rolls open, how nice it looks with just two working pens and a pad of paper for notes in it, every time you see that you’re fueling a spark. It may be another two weeks until you can tackle the front hall closet or finally donate that bag of outgrown clothing, but the spark is there.

Results are great but staying motivated for the long haul is invaluable.

On that note, I would love to hear more about how I can help people get started with reducing their stuff. I’ve seen a few friends get excited about minimalism and then quickly give up. Initial excitement fades and that sale at H&M beckons. It’s hard to keep going with all the paring down and at the same time change your consuming habits.

What would you like to see more of here? How can I help you? I’ve created a short survey HERE but feel free to let me know in the comments as well.


Minimize Yo Butt: Week 2


Portland Marathon 2007: couldn't pass up the freebee towels.


I’m participating in Faith’s Minimize Yo Butt 6 week Fitness Challenge. I’ll be updating my weekly progress here and you can read about my goals here. If you’d like to join in head on over to Faith’s Facebook page and join in.

Yeah for feeling like a runner again! I missed runner me. Not marathoner me as seen above, but the runner that used to get out three times a week, whatever the weather, for whatever the distance, because it felt good.

On Monday I ran loops on the Prom, a 3km stretch of nicely paved boardwalk right on the ocean. Henry was snoozing in the stroller and I had a new playlist on my iPod shuffle. The sun was shining and there was a strong, but manageable, ocean breeze coming at me. I felt good. My legs have kicked into memory mode and running more than 5km doesn’t bring on the burning feeling it did just a few weeks ago.

I’m still tentative about signing up for half marathon in October. It’s looking a bit more complicated for us with travel both the weekend before and after and my mom arriving the following day. I still plan to get ready for it though. For the next 4 weeks I will add 1 km each week to my long run. By September 1st I will be at 14km and have 6 weeks to get up to 18 or 19km before running the half, which is 21 km.

If I have found runner me I am still searching for Crossfit/Body Weight workout me. That’s why I took a stab at a video this week. Did it in my living room on Sunday. Confession: um, it wasn’t that bad. Kind of cheesy but I liked having someone else lead the workout. It was more cardio, less strength, than I would like but hey, I got a workout in.



  1. Monday: 6 x 9 min run/1 min walk
  2. Wednesday: 4 x 9 min run/1 min walk
  3. Friday: 10 km *took 73 minutes but I spent the first 20 minutes running through a windy neighborhood looking for For Rent signs. As always, I was pushing 26 pounds of toddler in the stroller as well.

Body Weight Workouts:

  1. Saturday: 150 squats with Henry on my back in the carrier
  2. Sunday: Jillian Michael Shred video


Um, yeah, I gotta reign it in on the weekend. An afternoon ice cream as we walk on the Prom is fine but adding profiteroles for dessert on the same day is getting me no where!

Read a great post over at Minting Nickels (which is both funny and inspiring – go take a read) about How to Successfully Not Diet. Made me realize a) my problems in the weight fluctuating are are not that unique and b) I need to examine my weak areas.


Scale says: 0 lost this week, still -2 overall.

Feeling: feeling my fitness come back and it’s exciting. I’ll need to focus on my nutrition more if I’m going to lose weight but right now I am putting my will power towards the exercise.

How was your week? Better yet, how has the summer treated you? Is summer your time for relaxing in the shade and forgetting about exercise programs or are you naturally more active with the better weather?

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook (I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.



Minimize Yo Butt: Week 1


That's me, middle of the boat in black visor, back in 2003 at the World Champs.

I’m participating in Faith’s Minimize Yo Butt 6 week Fitness Challenge. I’ll be updating my weekly progress here and you can read about my goals here. If you’d like to join in head on over to Faith’s Facebook page and join in.

I’m never going to be in the best shape of my life again.

Sometimes that’s a bit depressing.

Other times it’s liberating.

I’ll never do 18 workouts in a week again. Now I have all those hours to go out and live.

In my post-athlete reality I’ve struggled to reconcile hours for fitness and hours for the rest of my life. Before having a baby I went through bouts of marathon training and spent four hours on a Saturday morning running and then three days recovering. Sometimes I enjoyed it. Other times it was a slog.

Now that I don’t have as much leisure time I’m less inclined to give away child-free hours for long workouts. Finding Crossfit and enjoying shorter more intense workouts has been an eye opener. I don’t have to spend 13 hours a week sweating to feel in shape.

It’s been a long road of trying different classes, sports and varying hours and intensity of workouts. What I recently realized: your fitness routine will always change.

It has to. You have to be adaptable to age, injury, life upheaval and whatever else crosses your path. Recognize when you’re bored of a workout, class or activity or when it’s not working with your schedule. And change. Find something new, workout at a different time or get a workout partner involved. A change can be as good as a rest.

Week 1

Monday was a banner day. No chocolate and Henry and I pulled off a 60 minute run in the afternoon. Well, I did the running and pushing of the jogging stroller. Henry had a nap. Tuesday I woke up and felt a bit strange. My balance was off and I felt unwell. I did a lot of walking that day and put in my 150 squats while watching Henry and two of his friends (started a sitting swap – it’s going great!). That night I had intense vertigo while lying down. The room kept spinning while I was trying to nod off. I awoke the next morning and it was even worse. I spent all of Wednesday in my pajamas. No run. No exercise. Not a lot of eating.

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches. It was frustrating to be excited and motivated and then get sick. I’m still not feeling great but managed to get a few workouts in later in the week.



  1. Monday: 6 x 9 minute run/1 minute walk
  2. Friday: 4 x 9 minute run/1 minute walk

Body Weight Workouts:

  1. Tuesday: 150 air squats
  2. Sunday: 100 jumping squats, 30 from toes full push-ups, 50 v-sit sit ups


Giving myself a B this week. No sweets during the week and I otherwise did okay on my nutrition. Still working on portion control and have been eating off a side plate instead of a huge dinner plate to help with that.

Yes, I indulged on the weekend. Chocolate! I also had a fantastic dessert when we were out with friends for dinner. Eaton mess with rhubarb. Really good.


Scale says: – 2 lbs

Feeling: no huge difference. Yet. Jeans still a bit snug at the waist. But, I haven’t drastically cut calories or started working out at huge volumes. I was expecting slow change over the 6 weeks so, no surprise, it’s slow.

Anyone joining in on the Fitness Challenge? How was week 1 for you?

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook (I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.



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