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!
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!
Tuesday 5th of April 2022
What a great post. I started decluttering 16 years ago. While cleaning the attic I realized that I was moving stuf from one side to the other to clean the floor. I started and almost everything was gone. We moved to a new build house and I started in the kitchen. We owned Crockery and cutlery for Christmas for the garden for teatime etc. I decided buy one beautiful crockery and use it everyday and always. We bought a large one for 12 persons. Including flowerpots etc. We didn’t invite more guests than 4 for dinner as we got older. Than we moved again and we sold it for a very very good price. Now we own just what we need for 6 to 8 persons. During this years I also decluttered clothes, furniture etc.etc. Now I am on the last and final part, my library. From more than 12 large Billy’s full of books, to only 3 with space on the shelves. I feel very light. And as you said already it is a proces a life style to grow in your mind wich you can feel in the body: very light living. What’s left is what we love.
Simple Lionheart Life
Friday 8th of April 2022
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It sounds like you've done amazing. And most of all, I love how happy you are with it and how much lighter you feel. That's so wonderful! Thank you for reading and sharing your experience. It was so fun to read!
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 :)
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 :)
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!
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!