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Why I Became a Minimalist: My Story of Life with Less

Why I Became a Minimalist: My Story of Life with Less

Growing up I loved stuff. All kinds of stuff. I even had a box in my childhood room full of junk mail I collected from the post office recycling bin! I always had collections and special things I was saving. In the last few years, I have completely changed directions. Now I find too much stuff stresses me out and makes me feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Over this time I’ve discovered there are many benefits to a simpler, more minimalist life. But before I realized all the benefits a more minimalist lifestyle could offer, two specific events in my life shifted my mindset about stuff and ultimately motivated me to declutter. This is why I became a minimalist, my story of life with less.

Why I Became a Minimalist: People Matter More than Things

The first event was when we lost our first child, Aiden, in 2010. Losing Aiden changed everything about my life, and one of those changes was my mindset about stuff. I realized that the things we own are just things. It’s just stuff. What really matters in life are the people we share it with. I became less attached to my possessions and knew I wanted to fill my life with people I love, not things I own.

Why I Became a Minimalist: Toddler Tornado

The biggest catalyst to start me on the path to minimalism was definitely when my daughter, Emily, was a toddler. Kids, especially toddlers, have a special way of getting into EVERYTHING! I’ve always been an organized person, so even though I had a lot of stuff it was (usually) neat and organized. But when my daughter started getting into my massive amounts of neatly organized stuff, things changed! I got so sick of cleaning up and putting away the same things. Finally, I had enough, something had to change. Without even realizing it at the time, I started down the path of becoming a minimalist.

A Bottle of Lotion Turned me into A Minimalist

I clearly remember the day I started my journey towards becoming a minimalist. It was early one morning in April 2013. Emily had just turned two. She was usually good about occupying herself with a few toys or books in my bedroom while I quickly showered and got ready for the day. She was becoming more curious though and was often getting into the drawers and cupboards in my bedroom and bathroom. I was often frustrated when I got out of the shower to find the whole cabinet under the sink emptied and her digging her little fingers into my eyeshadow, or unrolling a roll of toilet paper.

On this particular day, she got into the cupboard filled with all my various lotions. It still baffles me why I had so many partially used bottles of different lotions and creams. Even if I didn’t like a certain one I never seemed to throw it away because I thought I might “need” it one day, or didn’t want to be wasteful. So I would shove it to the back of the cupboard and it would stay there never being used.

When I got out of the shower on this day, I found Emily standing by the chest at the foot of my bed with an entire bottle of runny, glittery lotion poured all over the chest, herself, her pajamas, and the carpet!! In case you’ve never had the experience, cleaning lotion out of carpet is not fun or easy!

Why I Became a Minimalist - My Story of Life with Less
Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

The Beginning of My Minimalist Journey

Right then and there I decided enough was enough! I was so sick of cleaning up the same messes and the same stuff that I didn’t even need. I got a big garbage bag and started filling it with everything and anything I could see that I didn’t use or love.

It felt so freeing to get rid of stuff I didn’t use or love. I had been feeling obligated to keep so much because I didn’t want to “waste” the money I had spent on it or because it was a gift. The money was already gone, it was time to let it go. If it was a gift, it had already served its purpose. The gift giver showed their love with the gift and I appreciated it, but if I wasn’t using or loving it, it was time to let it go. I gave myself permission to get rid of anything I didn’t use or love because picking it up after Emily unloaded it was taking up way too much of my time.

I worked through the whole house removing anything I didn’t use or love and paring down anything we had too much of. That was my first round of decluttering. I felt like I got rid of so much, but in reality, I had only just scratched the surface. A couple of months later I had cleared out so much stuff from our house that we had a garage sale. We made a little money and got rid of a lot of stuff. We donated everything that was left after the garage sale, and I thought that my work was done.

Minimalism: It’s a Journey, not a Destination

As time went on, I realized there was still stuff in the house I didn’t use or love. So I began to do another round of decluttering. I’ve done several more rounds of decluttering since then. With each round, I found more that I was willing to let go of and get rid of. We donated many boxes and bags of stuff to the second-hand store, and I began to realize just how much stuff we had.

Last year we moved to a new house, and I felt like we didn’t have too much stuff….until I had to box it all up and we moved it to our new house. How did we still have so much stuff!!

So I have continued to purge and declutter. Maybe one day my house will finally feel “done” and all I’ll need to do is maintain that level of stuff. Or maybe it will always be an ongoing project. But I feel good where I’m at on this minimalist journey. I know that getting rid of the excess stuff in our house makes our lives so much easier, so I am going to continue on this path.

Are you working to declutter or minimize your life? I would love to hear what motivated you to begin decluttering. Leave a comment and let me know!

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Wes

Saturday 31st of August 2019

I’ve only just come to the realisation that I have to much stuff. I’m thinking why does one person need all this stuff. A lot of my stuff is equipment like tractors earthmoving farming engineering power tools and lots of timber steel etc etc etc. I’ve done little at this stage to reduce the clutter but my mind set has changed.

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 2nd of September 2019

That's great, Wes! Shifting your mindset is probably the most important part of making any lasting change, including decluttering. It sounds like you're off to a great start! Thanks for reading :)

Angie

Friday 7th of December 2018

Hey girl! I just happened across your blog as I was preparing to write about living with less on my blog and thought it was so funny where you said, you felt like it was finished after the first round but then you made several more rounds of decluttering in the process. I can SO relate! Oh my word! LOL I won't write my whole experience here because I need to go write it there, but I just wanted to say thanks so much for sharing this and for putting your heart out there to make it even more relatable.

My turning point was a divorce after almost 20 years and it just flipped a switch in me. If you have a chance, come over and read my story. I would love to share it with you as well. Adventure For Life at adventureforlife.blog

I am digging your blog. You have great entries! Keep writing!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 10th of December 2018

Thank you, Angie! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. I definitely found the more I decluttered, the more I was willing and able to declutter. In fact, it's still true! I love challenging myself to see what else I am willing to let go of. The more I embrace living with less, the easier I find it to let go of more!

Thanks for sharing your blog, I will definitely check it out! Thanks for reading :)

Lisa

Monday 27th of August 2018

I am on ta similar journey to minimalism. I have never liked clutter but we ‘somehow’ ended up with too much stuff. We moved three years ago as as time and my health permits, I have been sorting organizing, donating and eliminating all things ever don’t use or love. August is dedicated to the storage room Which is as big as a bedroom filled top to bottom. A big job but I already feel so good about how much I have gotten rid of. I am sick of ‘stuff’ and you are so right, it’s the people and relationships in our life that matter! I really enjoyed your post!

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 27th of August 2018

Wow! Good for you Lisa, that's awesome that you're tackling your storage room. I'm sure you'll feel so happy when it's done and you've gotten rid of that huge weight off your shoulders! And knowing why you're decluttering and doing the work will help so much to keep you motivated! Thanks for reading and good luck as you continue to declutter!

Wytisha

Wednesday 13th of June 2018

Thank you for this wonderful post. I "stumbled" across it as I was laying in bed trying to decide which area of my house to focus my energy on today.

After reading your post, and all of the subsequent comments, I concluded that I did not stumble across your post. I was guided to it. Everything I read was so relateable and timely.

My take-away today was this is a PROCESS, a lifestyle and most importantly a journey. I read that over and over again in each comment. Prior to reading your post this morning I was allowing my "stuff" to continue to stress me out, even as I sought to rid my life of excess stress, simply by thinking I would be "done" in three weeks. Now I know better. Now I have given myself permission to set a new goal that after accomplishing x,y, and z over the next three weeks I will have made significant progress on my journey towards minimalism. In three weeks I will be going on a 7-day Mediterranean cruise with my best friend of 21 years. I had set an impossible goal of having my house decluttered, so that there would be less "stuff" for my husband and child to strew about the house while I am gone. My house has five levels and has sheltered two pack rats for 13 years - the newest and third resident pack-rat arrived 9 years ago. God love us. I have work to do, but now that I found this group I feel more empowered and am ready to get to it.

Thank you, and all who shared, for the motivation. Blessings to you all.

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 15th of June 2018

Yes! You're exactly right - it most definitely is a process. It took years to accumulate everything in our homes, so it only makes sense that it will take time, energy and patience as we declutter. And as our season of life changes, and as we become more comfortable living with less, the amount of stuff we feel comfortable keeping and letting go will also change. I hope you enjoy your cruise (it sounds wonderful!) and can enjoy the process and results of decluttering your home. Thank you for reading!

Carey

Saturday 24th of February 2018

Hi Melissa! I want to thank you again for your encouragement and suggestions. You suggested to see if I could get someone to help me. Update: Since all of my friends have important various deadlines of their own, I couldn't do that...but, without asking or hinting to him, my husband stepped in and helped. He simply said, "I can run things to Goodwill for you." I told him that some of the many bins of paper would need to go where I would pay for shredding. (telling myself I would not have the added burden to shred everything helped me feel I would see an end in sight) After dropping off the donations he began shredding as I sorted. I started to repeat a mistake I've made too many times...making a pile of "save" of too many papers and greeting cards. I stopped myself, remembering that if I hadn't looked at them in the last 6 months, I could not keep them as both you and Aiden ran through my mind. Aiden has to be your angel up there reaching out to so many of us in ways we probably can't imagine! Thank you to precious Aiden, too. I wish I could upload a photo...to me this is a miracle, but by Feb. 21st we emptied 29 large bins! I had to set aside 11 bins that are almost all photos and photo albums, of my family and from my family members in Heaven. We stacked the empty bins in our friends garage in case we ever move again. The bins will never again be used for storage. My husband shredded all of the paper, so I don't even have added cost for that! Your words helped me more than you will ever know. ❤️ Your advice to "keep at it and it will get done!" ran through my mind. We worked 5-6 hours at a time on it. ***You also gave me the permission to set tough decisions aside so I could go more quickly. I knew this was true, but before you wrote that to me, I would always tell myself that I shouldn't put anything aside because I would never get rid of all of it. Pieces of paper with notes, recipes torn out of magazines, those all had to go. Things like a special handprint of my daughter's at age 5 is saved. Not all, but the best photos, stay. For anyone out there trying to get a quick start with significant headway, take this sage advice from Melissa!*** My company will be here to stay with us in four days. I am hoping to eliminate 8 of the remaining bins before then. You do get a momentum going, and you do feel free as you see the excess leave. I've read many articles and books on how to declutter. You, Melissa, have been the voice that reached me. Your approach of achieving minimalism as being unique to each individual, and your inspirational words... are needed by many of us. Thank you from my heart for helping me to achieve this task faster than I ever dreamed possible! I will be checking here to read the many other success stories inspired by you. Wishing you and your family the best of everything in life, Carey

Simple Lionheart Life

Sunday 25th of February 2018

Wow, Carey! This is absolutely awesome! What amazing progress you made! Good for you. I bet you feel so proud of all you accomplished and relieved to have so much of the work done. I am so honoured and humbled that I was able to inspire and help you on this journey. Thank you for your kind words about my work and about Aiden. Reading your comment absolutely made my whole week <3 I am so proud of you! It really is amazing what you were able to accomplish. Thank you for keeping me updated and sharing your journey with me! Enjoy your company and wishing you all the best! ~ Melissa

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