Am I a minimalist?
Yes, I would say that I almost certainly am.
I truly believe that taking control of our possessions and reducing our need for the constant consumption of goods and services leads to a gentler, more productive and vibrant life.
If you want to know how minimalism can help you find your focus, streamline your life, be happier, enjoy the moment and do all the things you always said you’d do but haven’t gotten around to yet, this is where you’ll find out.
I share everything I’ve discovered, plus insights into how we live, on this blog.
How I Got Here
My path to minimalism has been slow and steady – so much so, that I am sometimes startled by how differently we now do things compared to other people.
I realised that living with less – much less – was something I was drawn to and influenced by, back in early 2003. I was travelling in Sydney at the time and I had a moment, a realisation, that having less could mean a simpler, less complicated way of life.
When I got home a couple of months later, I joined eBay and started selling.
I started out the way most people do. I sold some things, and I went through boxes and boxes of hoarded items, very slowly. I meticulously questioned everything. I didn’t get anywhere fast.
I read books about decluttering and living simply, but although I felt so excited about the concept when I read about it, I was so confused about how to get it to work in reality.
Between then and now, a lot has happened. I moved abroad – and then back again, carved out a career in software engineering, bought a house, got married and had two children: all of these events inevitably brought a lot of stuff with them.
Sometimes it has seemed that as fast as I could declutter, new things forced their way in. I really struggled to fight against the excess and surplus that seemed so normal, so integral to family life.
It was a source of constant unease: why was it that we all seemed to need so many things?
But eventually, with persistence, and by trying and failing and trying again, I found a way forward.
Nine years after my initial interest in minimalism (and following many major life events), I had broken out of the cycle of stuff, stuff and more stuff – for good.
In 2012 I started reducing even further. And that’s when the true gains began. Better focus, more time to work on my own personal projects, less time spent on the more mundane tasks of running a house and family of four.
It has been over the last two years that the real beauty of minimalism has come into my life. It has not only changed the way I think about material goods, but also allowed me to get to know myself in a way I have never been able to do before, either because of other people’s expectations, or my own inability to face who I am and what I am really like.
Today, I do not keep things I cannot find the time to use. My children don’t have hundreds of toys. Our house is super-easy to tidy and everything has an accessible home.
I have discovered that having less is as much about what goes on in your head, as what goes on in your house.
Taking the excess away helps the real you shine through.
On the surface I am pretty unremarkable. Housewife and mum of two. Yup.
But (as with all if us), there is more.
Minimalism has been like a mental talisman for me, a guiding light on my journey.
- I’ve completely changed career four times.
- I have almost died. Twice.
- I have had two blood transfusions (thank you, to my donors, whoever you are).
- I am a programmer: I’ve spent 13 years in the depths of some amazing and highly sophisticated computer systems, and I can talk to the software inside your fridge.
- I have done two bungy jumps, seen baby tiger cubs in the wild, and come face to face with a lion fish.
- I have witnessed attempted suicide, addiction and psychosis.
- I have hacked into my boss’s computer, at midnight in an empty office, to defend my own and my colleagues’ privacy.
- I have saved somebody’s life.
- I have stood at the edge of Kings Canyon, slept under the stars in Africa and gazed at the Taj Mahal in awe.
- I have travelled extensively, lived in three countries, and visited twenty four.
Life is majestic, and volatile, and wonderful.
And we do not need a lot of stuff to live it.
So yes, I am a minimalist.
I am small on stuff and big on life.