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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What is minimalism?

Enjoying a walk outside late winter with son and husband is an affordable pleasure I treat myself too now
(Looks like there was a shorter post on that same subject not too long ago but it was very popular and  I was asked to go into more details... )

 I often get asked that question... what is minimalism really?  almost immediately followed by:  why do you do that?

To answer the first question...  What is minimalism?

When I ask what do they mean by that question, I often get to stuff like: but can you buy this? can you get that? can you go there? can you attend ____? can you do this? and obviously the answer to ALL those question is YES!!!!
Yes I can buy this! Yes I can get that! Yes I can go there! (or anywhere for that matter) Yes I can attend ______! and YES I can do this!!! NOthing is forbidding me to...

so people are even more confused...  the way I explain it is that minimalism is a CHOICE!  It doesn't have set rules...  it's an idea... a principle!  What is minimalist to me can be extreme to some....  and exaggeration to others!  Minimalism is not a competition and there are no winners and no losers.... it's a lifestyle!  And who says lifestyle mean an evolving process... that last for the course of your life or as long as you want to!

If people really want to obey rules, they can use the following guidelines to set up their own rules...  which may change in the process....  I have been a minimalist for about 5 years now...  and my "rules" change all the time...

The guidelines more likely have to do with the actual goal of being minimalist!  It has to do more with the goal then the way to get to it.... the way is your own!  Obviously the actual process is important and you need to walk it...  no one can come to your place clean out everything and then you can call yourself a minimalist after... 

Let me explain... as a minimalist, you try to have a simple life...  or actually a simpler life!  So you have to choose (and this is the key word) what is simple to you? What are your priorities?  What do you value more in your life?  This is the starting point... and try not to look at other minimalist that have been doing that for years for you may thing it is unattainable...  but it is not! And everybody have different priorities....  I know a guy that has a well paying job, and does nothing and spend no money or anything except for his small appartement and some food all year long because every year he takes a month or more to visit a new country... that is what he likes to do... so he saves all his money for THAT ONLY!!! it is a form of minimalism..  This is CHOICE... 

When I first started this process.... I wanted to live in a smaller place to spend less $ on my mortgage and less time on cleaning and more time with my husband and son...  quality time...

I soon realized that a smaller place with just as much stuff was just to cluttered and made cleaning even longer because I had to move everything around to clean... and I also started to choke as there was stuff everywhere... so I got rid of furniture we were not using so much.... and it all started there....  one thing followed by another...  of course at first I was holding on to stuff that I have now let go off 6 years later... of course it has bean a gradual process... and the funny thing is that it becomes kind of addictive!!!  As you get rid of stuff, you breather easier, you have a sense of calm and you look for it even more...  and at one point, you do not have to break your head over what to keep or what to toss... it's almost as if the "stuff" is telling you it's time to let go...
And of course at first you may feel an empty space and run to the store and fill it back..  that is normal!!!  Be forgiving to yourself!  Eventually this will go away too.... Trust me!!!  I am a recovering shopaholic....  and honestly when I have to spend $ on something now it's a big questioning before I do...

I can still buy stuff... and do activities... and go places... and attend event... and visit people...  but it has to be meaningful to ME!!!  So the key to becoming a minimalist is to identify your priorities what matters to you.. who matters to you...  and it's not always easy... and it can bring about painful realization... but it need to be done!!!  In due time...  start slow....  like I always say: SMALL STEPS!!!

What I realized in that process is that I my husband and son are the people that matters the most to me!!!  and I really have only ONE best friend...  Those 3 people come first in my life... 
I also realized that I do not like to have lots of furniture...  or expensive one for that matter...  I'd rather be outside walking of biking than home sitting on my couch... so I invest in comfy shoes and boots and a bicycle! I like to eat home because I feel better when I do... I am very strict with my diet and eating out is not easy... so I invested in good pots, pans and utensils... not too many of each, only what I really need but high quality! I also spend lots of $ on quality food because I chose too...  I also realized that my home is my home... I am not one to have people over... it stresses me out!  So I was able to declutter my dining dishes and utensils... I only kept what is required for 3 people of each of my favorite sets...  If ever I have a urge to invite people over, I will ask them to bring with them the dinnerware! I also realized that for most of my books, I will never go back to them... so I brought them to a library... I only kept the really meaningful ones... maybe 15...  including cookbooks!  I also realized that once that I had put my music on my iPhone there was no need to keep the actual CDs... I no longer use them!   Same for DVDs... I rarely watch the same movie over and over again... so I kept a couple just in case...  Movies I really like or that my son like to watch over and over again! I also got rif off most of my "decoration" items... lying around collecting dust...  and I really do not miss any of them! I also did not like owning a car... it was expensive and driving in Montreal is really stressful... so we got rid of the car! And last but not least....  I certainly did not need 3 wardrobes and 2 sets of chest drawers full of clothes!!!!  So now I am left with using 3 drawers out of the 4 of my ONLY chest drawers and all my clothes (all season combined - including jacket) can fit in a kid's size wardrobe... and they can still breathe!!!!

one of the few Christmas decoration I kept
The only decoration in my office at work

It took me 6 years to get to a level that I think is acceptable...  and so do my husband and son...  It surely did not happen over night...  and I evolved during the process... a lot!!!  I am not the same person....  it has allowed me to find who I am... what is important to me... 

Walkink, bicycling...  stopping at a park or at Starbucks and talk with my son and husband... and my best friend... And I can afford it as often as I want... because I made time for it.... and I have the $ because I do not spend it on things that would be useless to me.  I alos like to read a book...  and write... write and write some more... with some cooking in between all that!!! And juicing!!!

And this is my life now... it may seem boring for some... but not to me!!!  It is simple.... my agenda is not packed...  I come home cook dinner and can spend an hour outside with my son on most nights... weather permitting...  or just chatting...  because we do not sit in front of the TV all night and clean the house!!!  I only have 800sq ft to clean (after a few move I am now down to that size of appartment and it is perfect for us) and perhaps 20 pieces of furniture including chairs (8 of them including the rocking chair below...  3 at the dining table, one in each bedroom, one at the desk, one in the office to meditate)... that roughly takes me 5 minutes maintenance day in day out... and another 30 min on Sundays to clean all over! 

My favorite area where I sit to chat with my son at night while enjoying tea or a smoothie

So I guess this is my answer to: why do you do that? To have time to do what matters to ME!

Minimalism is about you!  Only you!  It's your way... your rules... the goal is to be happy, stress free and at peace with yourself!!!

love and peace,


  1. Another great post, Nathalie! I totally understand what you mean, because I feel the same way... However, most people don't get us...
    And being a vegetarian is ever harder! I became a vegetarian 2 months ago and I haven't been going out for dinner or lunch much, because most places don't have vegetarian options... so I save money in the process, and eat better!