In no particular order, here are a few answers to a handful of questions that tend to come my way.
Why did you decide to make the transition to a minimalist lifestyle?
When Sawyer and I moved into Sunrise Spot together, it was quite obvious that I had too much stuff. For an apartment with a footprint of less than 500 square feet, we simply couldn’t accommodate it all, especially with two rambunctious kittens running around. We felt suffocated by our possessions, and that feeling should never be something you experience in your own home. The transition was far overdue, but we decided to thoughtfully simplify our belongings in order to live a slower, more meaningful and less impactful life.
But you have to have things that mean something special to you, don’t you?
Sure, I have pieces of furniture and possessions – for example, our coffee table that’s in our common space, or the handmade bowls we keep in our kitchen cabinet – that mean something to me. Those examples are important to me because they recall a moment or snippet of time within my relationship with Sawyer. But are they so important that I would run into a burning building for them? No. In fact, the only thing I’d save from a fire would be our kittens. Life is the only indispensable thing in my little apartment, and the only thing I would risk everything for to save. Everything else, coffee table and lovely handcrafted flatware included, is replaceable.
If I wanted to simplify my own life, what advice would you give me to start out?
Don’t take anything too seriously! Ownership is finite – possessions are replaceable. I’d remind you of my favorite inspirational quote from William Morris: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. Save your pennies for what you find truly lovely, hardworking and responsibly crafted.
What’s been the most challenging part about becoming a minimalist?
This question has required some serious reflection time! Most people would assume it was getting rid of the stuff – the clutter – that I’d held onto for so long (decades for some of that stuff!). That wasn’t the case with me. I think that the most difficult part of growing into a simplified lifestyle was more or less taking the time to act upon my inspiration. Similar to everyone else, I have a busy schedule with not much wiggle room in between to be fussy about if I should donate the decorative salt and pepper shakers or save them as a gift for a friend during a special occasion or holiday. I certainly never thought I’d have enough time to the make home cooked meals five nights a week that I’ve always aspired to create after 8-12 hour work days. Forcing myself to adopt my slower, more simplified lifestyle – not just a simplified interior decoration or a minimized wardrobe – when the world around me is always seeming to spin at top speed was, for me, the most difficult part of assuming my new lifestyle.
You’ve been working seven days a week for quite a while now. How do you keep your sanity with such a busy schedule and trying to maintain a lifestyle that obviously needs daily maintenance?
Just like wanting to achieve any goal, practice and perseverance has been important attributes when it comes to manifesting my own technique of honing a slow and simplified life in all areas of my life, not just for appearances. I know that it seems impractical to walk six and a half city blocks back home after work because I forgot my reusable shopping bag, only to go those 6 and a half blocks back into town to go to the grocery store, but adopting a simplified lifestyle is not a 9-5 job that you can pick up at the beginning of the day and drop at the end with the promise that you’ll be back in the morning. That one plastic bag that I could have gotten at the store had I not walked home first would end up in a landfill in our beautiful state – creating more waste that our earth does not need – polluting not just our state, but our air, our soil, our rain, our lakes and oceans and becoming detrimental to the lives of other animals we share this planet with. I’d like to believe my sanity was never at jeopardy, as I have always been working toward something I whole-heartedly believe in. After a couple of shaky days – maybe a full week – I had modified my routine to fit a slower, more sustainable, and overall more simplified lifestyle. There are aspects I still need to work on, no doubt, but for the most part, my life is just like everyone else’s; busy, but tailored just for me.
What have you found to be most rewarding about becoming a minimalist?
There are so many aspects of my life that I’ve changed during this process that it’s almost impossible to decide on just one that I’ve found to be more rewarding than any other. However, I do find that those special moments before work when I’m curled up with a good book, a cup of tea, morning sunshine pouring in through my common area window, and two purring kittens at my feet on the sofa that is incredibly dear to me. Also, enjoying meals slowly, or perhaps I could even say traditionally – at the dinner table, without distractions, sometimes even with a candle or two – instead of eaten hastily in front of the television has been a great way for Sawyer and I to reconnect after a day apart. So, in summation, I’d say that I’ve reaped the rewards of a slower, more thoughtful lifestyle simply by taking the time to deliberately enjoy the quiet moments I experience. It has helped me shape a new outlook on my life and at the world as a whole, and for that I am eternally grateful.