Blog, Minimalism

Reflecting on Minimalism

My head is quite full at the moment. Full of questions about global warming, about eating or not eating meat, about the magic of nature, about the relentlessness of time. My mind wonders about symmetry and music, my feet feel soft sand and icy water, my skin takes in the caress of a breeze, the warmth of golden sunlight.
My pastimes are animals, music, writing, reading. Driving quickly and walking slowly. Singing loudly, feeling deeply. My job is rewarding. My job is part time. My life is rewarding. My life is full time.

Before I became a Minimalist, my head was also full. Full of targets and late nights. Full of 4am starts and 16 hour shifts. Full of work, full of work, full of work. I wondered about whether I could survive on 4 hours sleep a night. I wondered how many things I’d have to sell to make the shareholders happy, the shareholders who were never happy. My feet felt blistered in uncomfortable shoes, my skin felt dry and cried out for daylight.
My pastimes were sleeping, working, shopping. Spending more and enjoying less. Crying quietly, feeling nothing. My job was all consuming. My job was my life. My life was non-existent. My life was a shell.

People wonder what being Minimalist will do for them. Some wonder about the emptiness – the echo of a room, the sameness of a life devoid of shopping. Others wonder about the lifestyle. Just what does a Minimalist do with all that spare time? Wander through empty rooms, gazing at neutral walls?

As I’ve evolved and changed over the years, I’ve dipped in and out of the Minimalist bubble. I was strict at the beginning, and it’s what I needed at the time. A big clear-out of physical clutter, and the inevitable soul-searching that went along with it. Truth be told, I don’t think I’d be the same person today if I hadn’t made those first few steps, tentatively, after falling, engrossed, into Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less. All the interests and passions I have now, all the things I’ve discovered about myself on the way… that first chink of space to begin to discover was what was left after that first big declutter all those years ago.

I began to question why I found solace in buying expensive things, why I needed that designer bag to validate myself. Why net-a-porter became my one stop shop. Why I’d drop a good few hundred pounds on a skirt I’d wear once. Why bigger and faster and shinier was always better…and was always just out of reach.

Questioning led to some deep answers, and of course to more questions. As I became more cynical about society, consumerism and the spending cycle, I took a year off spending to give myself time to breathe. Things were coming to the surface and I ended that year walking out of my shiny job, stressed, and in hindsight mentally frail, but I had one thing I’d never had before. Space to think.

And it’s been an up-and -down ride ever since, but I know myself way better than I ever did before. Now the go-to reaction of consuming-as-a-crutch was removed, I had time to start to analyse myself. Think about where I was going in the world. I had time to question the ‘normal’ trajectory of work/money/family/car. I had time to question myself. I worked through counselling, self-employment, a few false starts and a few good decisions. Slowly things began to fall into place. And everything started from that one little decision to get rid of the excess ‘stuff’ in my house.

And now? Reflecting on Minimalism and my journey, I’m what I’d think of as a relaxed Minimalist. Through learning to know myself and settling back into the things I love, I give myself space to buy things. I left behind my hangups on spirituality, allowing myself to be amazed by nature. Not that into Gods and the like, but I do love a good tree. I love a sparkly eyeshadow palette, and am filling up the hole left by emptying my bookshelves, by, well, re-filling my bookshelves. I have reasons for purchases. I rarely buy new.

Minimalism has given me my ‘why’ back. It’s taken away the perceived reality of society and helped me create my own. I’m still building and I’m sure I’ll never stop. And it’s been the best damn journey I’ve ever been on.



4 thoughts on “Reflecting on Minimalism

  1. A relaxed minimalist – love it! That’s me now too, mostly intentional purchases, with a few spontaneous extravagances every now and again…they’re mostly books or stationery. Or the occasional Marvel DVD, but they’re not planned in advance, so they satisfy my spontaneity 🙂 and they’re inexpensive! We’ve actually moved to a smaller house with less land (yay! 857sqm to 350smq!) but it is so much better set up for simple living. The garden is lovely, with a purpose built vegetable planter, there is enough grass for the pets and the trampoline (not that anyone’s been using it lately. Wettest winter in years!) We’re right on the street so there is a great sense of community, the rooms are smaller so we physically can’t have a lot of stuff. If I hadn’t stumbled across Miss Minimalist’s book back in 2011, we wouldn’t be living here. And we say at least once a day ‘I love this house’. Minimalism for the win!

  2. Really loved this post. Really inspiring and also hope for those of us still paying off a our old consumerist lifestyles! I think a lot of people think minimalism is empty white rooms, and everyone’s minimalism tells a different story doesn’t it? Thanks for a great post , Jo

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