I can think back to a time when I found happiness and a sense of self-worth in my possessions. Growing up, things were tight at home with a single mum. Other people’s cast-off contributed to the majority of my wardrobe. We went without some of the essentials. Sometimes we ate because mum didn’t. These experiences impacted my relationship with stuff and money when I got older and could get myself nice, new things. I fell into the trap of collecting. I spent money I didn’t need to spend to impress people I didn’t particularly like.
But stuff can only satisfy you for so long. I began to yearn for a richer, deeper, way of living and the desire to stop accumulating things. I knew it was important to look into the root of my need to spend. With some soul-searching, I discovered the root laid in the childhood I had.
At 9 I was making popcorn and confectionary to sell at school to help lighten the load on mum. At 13 I got a job at a store and worked there all through high school. Every Saturday for 5 years I went to work. When school let out for extended holidays like Christmas, I went to work. I worked from the day after school closed, usually, Saturday, and would work to the to the Saturday before it reopened. I’ve been a hustler before the term was trendy!
My exposure to poverty and my early entrance into the workforce have helped me in life. I won’t trade my experiences and wisdom of my childhood for anything in the world. My upbringing prepared me for life in many ways. For one, my work ethic has helped me endure the rigors of the workplace where I have seen others struggle. And joining the workforce so young helped me to achieve things before most of my peers. It also helped my confidence as an entrepreneur. But I still fell into patterns of bad money management and poor purchasing choices. And I paid for those patterns and choices, heavily.
I eventually got to the place where I had to confront my relationship with stuff and money. Many things came up that made me uncomfortable. Sitting with the consequences of your choices is never an easy thing. But I sat in the discomfort, distilled the lessons, made meaning of my experiences and peace with past choices.
One thing that came through as I sat with myself was the need for more responsibility. I had to become a better steward of the resources I’m blessed with. Once I understood this, I dove into a different way of living. Now, I collect memories and experiences over stuff.
Seven years ago was the start of a new life. I started an inner and outer cleanse that still continues. I allowed a toxic marriage to unravel and end in divorce. I walked away from some clients, friends, and people I associated with. I closed off a business and started a new one that aligned with my core values. I sold and gave away 80% of the things I owned and then I put my house on the market. I lightened the material, emotional, and spiritual load. I then moved full-time into a little cottage I’d built years earlier as a getaway and writing space. I made it my full-time home, planted a garden and watched it and myself bloom. These days, I am a minimalist and bliss-chaser.
Living full-time in the cottage has been a life-changing experience. Designed as a space to relax, recharge, and realign, the aesthetic is clean, simple, and minimalist and I have kept it so. I always feel like I am on vacation, and this for some odd reason works for me. My home now inspires me and I’m not suffocated by a wall of things as I did in my old home. For one, having fewer things to clean and upkeep has freed me to delve into my creativity. I started taking my writing and creative projects seriously. I started a new business built around work I love doing. I also developed a deeper relationship with myself. Moving into my tiny, 320 sq. ft home helped me find a way back to me and the things that matter.
What would your life look like if you lightened the load? How would you change, grow? If you want to embrace minimalism, go for it. But keep in mind that it is not just about dumping stuff and sparse-looking Scandinavian spaces. It is about choosing to fill your life with the things, relationships, work, and experiences that inspire gratitude and joy. Still want to become a minimalist? Good. Read blogs on minimalism. Speak to minimalists. Visit YouTube and look at videos on minimalism. YouTuber Lavandaire has great videos on the topic. Pick Up Limes has a useful 30-day guide to minimalism you can download. When I read ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up’, it has helped me to clean up my closet and library and challenged to simplify even further. I looked at every article and item I owned and decided what to keep or get rid of based on the level of joy it created for me.
If you’re interested in minimalism, don’t be afraid to explore it. It may change the way you live and the way you view the things you own and their role and place in your life.
I’ve written a book on minimalism and it will be out in September. It’s going to be self-published, so I am excited about adding to the conversation on minimalism. I’ll share more about it in the future.