My Journey Towards Living with Less

Minimalism is the process of living with the things you love or they have a purpose.

A coupled of years ago I watched Minimalism on Netflix and was immediately hooked on the idea of living with less and spending my money more intentionally. I’ve made huge changes in my life and home since then.

I’ve done three rounds of 30-day challenges where on day one you get rid of one thing, day two you remove two items and so on up to 30. It’s a real challenge as it makes you think about what’s important. Also, I only did my own belongings, or general household items, this did not involve my husband’s or kids’ belongings. This has been my project, not theirs.

The results have been substantial when it comes to stress relief. You don’t even realize how often “stuff” is stressful until you get rid of it. I used to go on and on about this particular kitchen drawer that I reorganized during one of my 30-day rounds. I mean, who would have thought you’d have a favourite flipper, spatula, serving spoon? But it’s true… you do. When I reduced down to the utensils I actually liked to use, it turned out I never used my ‘back-ups.’ You know, the flimsy dollar store flipper, the split wooden spoons. So, out they went and have never been missed or replaced. Naturally, I was left with a very clean and organized drawer with no more digging around or utensils getting jammed behind the upper lip and blocking the drawer from opening… I know you know what I’m talking about!

I took on the clothing challenge of reducing clothing, accessories, purses, shoes to 33 items. Fortunately, I’m not a huge accessory or shoe person, and use my purse to death, so my focus could remain on the clothing. Only keeping the items I loved and actually wore (and actually fit right now!) Everything else went. I managed to get to 40 items and was happy with that result. I have since bought some clothing and need to do this again.

By the way, when I say “went,” of course, I mean donated! Everything was donated, not trashed.

I was fortunate and grateful to have some friends join me for each time I did a 30-day round. We created a community and posted daily. This helped huge in keeping accountable to our commitment and made the process fun. Plus, we got to know each other better. No judgements allowed on what someone else considered “no longer needed.” (There were even some trades!)

Living minimally is not easy. Simple, but not easy. And I don’t live with people who are as committed to this idea as I am. 😊 So, I must be considerate, non-judgemental, and respectful of their wishes as we all live in the same house… oh, how I would LOVE to get into my husband’s side of the garage… but anyway…

BOOKS! Let’s talk about books. At one point in the Minimalism documentary, there’s a clarifying moment where they talk about people getting upset by the idea of giving away their treasured books. But that’s where there seems to be a disconnect. Minimalism is NOT tiny house living. It’s not living with barebone basics. Unless, you want to live in a tiny house with barebone basics, then for you that’s what minimalism is. However, for the rest of us, minimalism is about living with what you love and has purpose. As Mary Kondo famously puts it, does this item “spark joy?” If yes, then keep it. So, if you treasure every book you have, and need your books like a comforter in the dead of winter, keep your books. I thought I was that person. I buy books faster then I read them. So, during my first 30-day challenge, I decided to re-evaluate my books (and DVDs.) Books I’d read but will never read again, books I read that I didn’t like, books I read that I loved, books I bought with intention, but would likely never read. I found myself easily pulling books off my shelf and boxing them up to donate. I didn’t count, but I’d say 50% of my books and DVDs went out the door. This is where something significant happened. A load fell off my shoulders, a stress weight dissipated. I no longer had the guilt of looking at all those unread books that I’d never read, books I didn’t like. I didn’t even know I felt guilty about that, until I didn’t feel the guilt anymore. This was a moment of realizing I could trust in the process.

As I cleaned out my house, room by room, closet by closet, cupboard by cupboard, basement storage box by basement storage box, filing cabinets, knickknacks and ornaments, artwork, clothing, cluttered corners, the stress just fell away. Clean-the-house-day was literally being left to just cleaning and very little decluttering was needed. As spaces opened, the house felt bigger. And let me say this… we didn’t have a ton of clutter around, we didn’t have the almost-hoarders house by any means, we weren’t collectors of large objects, we didn’t have a “stuff” problem. Not really. I already regularly purged our stuff each time we moved houses or did spring cleaning. So, this minimalism concept wasn’t new to me, but what was new was the extent of it. The keeping stuff “just in case.” Keeping the wish list clothing, “someday I’ll fit into this.” Keeping stuff that may be useful, but I just don’t like it so don’t use it.

And does it happen that I get rid of something and two weeks later wonder where that item is because I need it? Sure! We, fortunately, laugh the very odd time where it’s like well, we had that last week, but, umm… it’s gone now. And then we buy it again. So, you know, you purge and learn. It happens. Something you didn’t even know you had in storage for five years, you get rid of and then two weeks later you need it (true story!). The thing is, you didn’t even know you had it, so you would have bought it anyway. With minimalism, you know what you have, you know where it is, and everything is used with intention.

So, if you’re looking for some inspiration, I encourage you to watch Minimalism on Netflix. There is a second documentary as well called Minimalism: Less is Now. Also, worth watching.

I intend to do another 30-day challenge soon. So, if this post is speaking your language, you find accountability helpful, and want some gentle encouragement, follow my newsletter for notifications of this upcoming FREE event. (Free Savoury Lemonade recipe with sign-up,click below.)

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