The fear and anxiety I developed around relocating led me to adopt an almost religious practice of minimalism. A lot of my issues (yeah…I should probably work on those) stem from just the sheer amount of moving we have done. A part of this is due to the industry my husband is in, and part of it is just due to the way he is wired. Not only does he believe that fortune favors the bold, but he also acts on it. Truth is you can’t expect things to change if you stay in the same place so go west young man (or woman) and make it happen. We live and breathe this in our family, and when it isn’t so downright frustrating, it is incredibly rewarding. Minimalism is how I preserve my sanity, and it’s proven to have the most impact on my money, my time and control over my life.
Minimalism wasn’t a hard thing for me to embrace but I can see how it can be for most people which is why I just can’t in good conscience criticize others on their choices regarding stuff and connections to things. It’s actually pretty hard, and sometimes it’s weird. I have never been a “stuff” person, but I wasn’t exactly a minimalist either. I was somewhere in the middle because sure I like nice things, I like new things but clutter and excess stress me out to the point where I can physically feel it, so I kept our amount of stuff in check then I had a baby, and there was so much freaking stuff I felt like my life exploded. THEN…after that I had to figure out how we were going to move clear across the country from a 3000 square foot suburban home to a (maybe) 1000 square foot city apartment. Stuff had to go. Make that 2000 square feet worth of stuff and thus started my hands on, down and dirty journey towards minimalism. When I had the idea of moving into an Airstream, I had to go from 1000 square feet to roughly 200. Throughout this process, I learned that if given a choice how easy it can be for stuff and cluttered lifestyles both physically and emotionally to hold us back.
There are obvious benefits of minimalism. The ones on the surface that happen quickly and you can see immediately. You know, step one, the catalyst to change, the purging, downsizing, and organizing. Once you get through that, there are the not so obvious which leave a deeper impression by changing our thinking, actions and overall approach to life. This is where minimalism actually takes root in our lives and turns into a productive and satisfying lifestyle.
There is a lot out there on minimalism. People are trying to sell it through design or as self-improvement and self-care. For me, it is definitely more of a lifestyle choice which helps keep me mobile, flexible, organized and sane at the same time. So let’s get right to it. You’ve got the obvious points of less stuff equals more time, more money and more flexibility but these points extend into a practice which can genuinely impact our quality of life in a positive way.
Money. I just have to get this one off my chest first because we actually get a lot of comments about it and I feel 100% unqualified to even talk about it. I chose the tiny RV/minimalist life here for emotional reasons, and the monetary savings have just been icing on the cake, but through this journey, I have met people where the financial gain was life-changing. Bringing someone onto my blog who has gone through this is a major goal of mine in order to really bring solid value to this topic. We live in Houston which is the 4th largest city in the US, and while not outrageous like NY or San Francisco it isn’t cheap. When people find out we live in an RV park right off the inner loop of Houston they almost always exclaim “you must be saving so much money!” which is true (and yeah freaking awesome) but when I tell you that I have met people where the savings have changed their life, believe it. Less space, less stuff, fewer bills Y’all. I’ve met people and families with goals to buy a home, start a business, retire, live debt-free or travel the country and the low expenses of this lifestyle meant they could do it. If you have a big goal and you know it is going to take some cash I cannot recommend this lifestyle enough. Hell, call me up, I’ll coach you through it. I believe in your dreams and the power of this lifestyle that much. The stuff, the costs, the bills are not worth sacrificing your dreams for.
Time. I talk about time a lot, don’t I? Yeah, well it’s pretty important. You can’t make anything happen without the time to get it done. I have a past as being a bit of a workaholic (oh boy…can we get into this another time? Cool. Thanks.) and it took a legit, full-blown, first world problems type of meltdown for me to figure that out so listen to me, if it’s not about money for you then make it about time. You can make more money, you can’t make more time, but you can find more time, and less stuff equals you guessed it friends, more time! As I eliminated stuff, baggage, and space, I eliminated things that were taking up my time and didn’t exactly represent a genuinely productive and satisfying life that aligned with my goals. It was about using my time on a deeper level to not just take care of and organize my life but build a better life and as I replaced stuff with experiences the only place I had to go was up. As time frees up around your minimalist lifestyle it doesn’t just force you to find better uses for it, it actually trains you to because you’ve adjusted your values. It’s a paradigm shift. Minimalism is more than just sparse design, organization or perfect closets it is a practical application which not only gives us more time but gives us the opportunity to effectively use it as we see fit for our overall life goals.
Control. You are the gatekeeper of what comes in and out of your life. A minimalist not only understands this but practices this. I started practicing minimalism in my closet. You might be thinking “ok how does this fit, who cares about clothes” but hear me out. I travel a lot, always have and when I pack I don’t mess around. I can pack for a trip in carry-on at a moment’s notice, and I needed to be able to do that or I was just stressed every time we were traveling which is a lot. To not look like a hobo, my stuff has to match, last and have multiple uses. It’s about quality over quantity. Waiting, saving and taking time to make the right purchases. I take a hard stance on less is more and no cheap sh**. Give me a capsule wardrobe any day of the week. My wardrobe became not just a closet full of clothes but a carefully curated collection that served my unique lifestyle, and I was proud of that not for the labels or the style but for the thinking it represented. I wanted a life that was carefully curated and ready for anything. Again, no cheap sh** was a value that started with my closet, moved into my habits and into my life. I learned that I do in fact have control over what comes in and by starting small, with my closet, I effectively trained my mind towards a less is more approach which brought more things, experiences and people of quality into my life. In with the old, out with the new but make sure the new is worth securing a place in your life and aligns with what you truly want.
With all that said, yeah, I went a little extreme by moving into an Airstream trailer, and I don’t believe that minimalism only exists in these tiny lifestyles, spaces, and extremes. It was a choice I made after still feeling painfully unsettled in a new city, but it was one that came with major benefits and sacrifices, and I learned a lot. I think the best part is growing past those initial sacrifices of space, things, stuff and etc. and finding that with their absence I gained more and it no longer feels like a sacrifice. So, if you are going through a major purge, move, or life change or just giving minimalism a try, stay strong because those sacrifices kind of rip open this gaping hole which feels uncomfortable at first but actually gives you the control and authority to fill with it what you want, what you design and what you truly value.