am I a minimalist

OMG! Am I A Minimalist?

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I have never really thought about my life in terms of material possessions. In the last 3 months that I’ve been blogging, I’ve been exposed to a fascinating sub-speciality of the personal finance community; minimalism. As I read more about it and, more importantly as I look around my life, I have to wonder “OMG! Am I a minimalist?”

I’d love to be able to open this article by providing a solid, workable definition of minimalism. Yet, from the little that I know, minimalism is as unique as the infinite perspectives on personal finance.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and propose that minimalism is as unique as the person living it. From the inexperienced viewpoint (my current viewpoint), there seems to be various categories of minimalism; the “simple living” folks, the “sparse possessions” folks, the “saved time is saved money” crowd. There are de-clutter advice books and simply living manifestos lining the shelves of self-help sections. And exceptional blogs on the subject. However, at the end of the day,  I have no idea what makes a person a minimalist.

However, I’m beginning to suspect that I am one.

Here are a few things that make me question my minimalist tendencies.

Am I A Minimalist?

am i a minimalist

“Simple” Books

My possession of these books is really kind of a big deal. Well, my retention of these books is a big deal. You see, I’ve lived at 8 different residences over 3 states in the last 5 years. In moving around that much, you naturally let go of many possessions (read, “most possessions.”) Bulky heavy books are some of the first things to go.

Yet, sitting among my college Invertebrate Zoology textbook and my books about tree houses, is Janet Fuhr’s  The Simple Living Guide and also Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. (Huh. Now that I write this, it occurs to me the “how to live in a treehouse” books could also be a clue to my suspected minimalism.)

Both of these “simple” books are a great inspiration to me. I often just flip though the pages randomly, seeing if the Universe has any new messages for me.

Time Commitments

My daughter and I joined another mom and her two daughters at the beach this past Saturday. The other mom texted the invitation and, since we had no plans, we packed our bags and met them on a whim. The operative word here being “had no plans.” The mom and I sat for hours chatting about this and that. We came upon the topic of some of the other moms we knew and how stressed and overextended they seemed. And not just the parents but the kids, too. I made an innocent observation. “I think so many parents try to do too much.” Her honest response was that she believed herself guilty of exactly that.

Don’t get me wrong. My child participates in three extracurricular activities during the school year. Her summer is chock full of beach and science camps, vacations with friends and family. I work full-time, work diligently on a burgeoning blog, and even try to date.

However, I know both myself and my child well enough to know that it is better for us to remain largely “unscheduled.” We have “lazy mornings” often and “cuddle boat” evenings full of doing not much more than watching TV or playing cards.

This works for us and I’m happy to be able to be spontaneous and crafted a day’s activities around our current mood.

am I a minimalist

Empty Drawers

I have a strange little secret fetish.

I love empty drawers. Pristine, empty drawers with nothing in them.

I have one empty drawer in my kitchen and two in my office desk. Why? Well, hell if I know!

I suspect it somehow symbolizes to me that my life still has room for more. An empty drawer speaks of potential and promise and wonder. As in “I wonder what will eventually live in here?” I’m fairly protective of these empty drawers and have been known to place items in them only to remove the stuff shortly thereafter.

For me, an empty drawer is somehow a comfort.

Wardrobe

As I mentioned, I’ve never been a clothes horse. In fact, I might be one of those ladies that are often scoffed at behind closed doors…”is she wearing that outfit AGAIN?” As an example, I recently dug up an old photo of myself and realized I was wearing the same shirt as in the photo….8 years ago!

On the rare occasion that I do purchase a new outfit or two, I generally pull something from my closet to donate in trade.

And let’s not even talk about shoes. My poor shoes. Let’s just say they certainly do more than their fair share.

am I a minimalist

Sorting and Organizing

Here’s another weird secret. I love throwing stuff out.

I carved out 30 minutes yesterday to dump out drawers and grilled my kid “Does this fit? Will you wear it?” Today, two bags for donation sit by my doorway. Unmatched socks thrown away. (Ain’t nobody got time for that!)

I relish cleaning out files and letting go of the administrivia of my past life. It’s a freeing feeling. I even get excited to take out the recycling and trash. I have always had a thing for organization, too.

My cherished postcard collection is any librarian’s wet dream. Nicely stored into vintage wooden boxes and organized by topic with index cards. (Oh, Jesus. That makes me seem like SUCH a freaking dork. Oh well.)

Please understand, not everything of mine is perfectly organized and neat as a pin. I do have junk drawers full of random crap and suitcases full of old photos and memorabilia. But, all in all, everything has a place.

Itsy

I once saw a bumper sticker that read “Cool Prius! – Said no one ever.” Screw them! What do they know!?!

My Prius, affectionately named Itsy, is awesome. Not only can she get me and my daughter anywhere we want to go, she fits into my extremely narrow parking garage, tiny parking spaces, and she gets at least 50 miles/gallon. She’s little and amazing and I’m grateful to her everyday. She’s the only car I’ve ever had that I take pride in cleaning and keeping well maintained.

Itsy is petite, lovely, and hard-working.

am I a minimalist

Clear Furniture

I’m not sure this counts as minimalism but when it came time to furnish my new 891 square-foot apartment, I purchased a clear acrylic dining set and bar stools. Aesthetically, it prevents the space from looking to cluttered and “heavy.” See-through furniture MIGHT be a clue to my minimalist tendencies or it might just remind me of Wonder Woman riding in her invisible jet. Either way, long live feminism, modernism….and IKEA.

My Writing Style

As a professional marketing writer in today’s nano-second-attention-span society, I’m constantly striving to create maximum impact with minimum words. My mantra at work is “Less is More.” This succinct writing style has contributed to my continued success as a writer.

Interesting to note: this succinct tendency isn’t always reflected here in my blog posts. I attribute that to the fact that many of these posts are stream of conscious-type exercises, a way to sort out my thoughts and feelings. Oh, and since blogging is supposed to be my “fun” project, I generally don’t over-edit these bad boys.

Summary

Let’s add it all up. Small apartment, minimal possessions, tiny car, simple living philosophy.

“OMG! I AM A MINIMALIST!”

And with any other self-realization or self-diagnosed “-ist”, I’m not sure how to feel about my minimalist lifestyle or what the hell to do about it (if there is something to be done.)

I mean, is there a special handshake or secret code word to join the minimalist movement? Is there a flag? (Huh. Probably not.) Should I sign up for a tiny house mailing list or get a Container Store credit card?  Is one box of Christmas ornaments enough, too little, too much? Is it embarrassing to store left-over rice in a reused frosting container? Is it unacceptable to take the spoons home with you after a visit to Yogurtland? But most importantly, is it time to give up those Jordache jeans and leg warmers? Yikes!

I don’t know what it means to self-identify with being a minimalist but I’m pretty sure the clues around here are pretty telling.

I do know, the minimalist peeps seem like a cool crowd. (Shout out to my first official minimalist BFF, Britt at Tiny Ambitions.)

So, if they can embrace a same-shirt-wearing, postcard-collecting, two-wine-glass-owning, simple-living Lady, I’ll gladly fly the transparent flag of minimalism…you know, on my non-lazy days.

(PS – Just kidding about the Jordache/leg warmer thing. That would be weird.)

How about you? Ready to step out of the perfectly organized minimalist closet? Willing to defy capitalism and hoist the banner “Less is More? 

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11 comments

  1. Sounds pretty minimalist to me. The key is for the entire thing to be organic. You often write about the time that you and your kid get to spend together. If you weren’t an “organic minimalist”, then that family time probably wouldn’t exist like it does now.

    It’s not supposed to be a “less is more” philosophy, it’s more about “what do I need to be successful in all of my endeavors”. As an example, pf folks typically automate finances. Why? So they can spend their free time being free! As interesting as pf is, no one wants to spend all of their time messing with it.

    The travelers only have what they can pack into an RV. The digital nomads have their lap top and barely enough personal possessions to survive. The common denominator is that these happy people keep only what they need to be happy. They aren’t tied down by accumulated garbage.

    Just do you. The you that makes you happy and successful.

    1. Thanks! This is really good insight. Thanks for such a poignant and eloquent response. And, hey, now I know I’m an “organic minimalist.” Sounds pretty tree-hugging hippie to me! (I’m totally good with that.)

  2. Unmatched socks?! I only wear unmatched socks!! Alas, poor socks, your unmatched-ness would have found a home with me. 😛

    I minimal-ized my room two years ago. I got rid of most of all my old stuff by donating it, though my stuffy collection and assortment of TV boxsets still graces the shelves. I’m definitely leaning towards the more minimalist trends, though my frugal sense of hoarding things and not throwing away things that’ll eventually become useful keeps me from identifying fully as one. More of a frugal-minimalist hybrid, but I’m a-okay with that. You’re always gonna need more post-its, right?!

    1. Ha! Yes, I didn’t mention the stock of $1 hand soaps under the sink! I hear ya, sister. I have, however, given up on all the “crafts” I was eventually going to get around to. I mean, really! I’m I ever going to finish that latchhook Tiger pillow? No. Probably not. (I’m so not joking. I have a half-finished latchhook in my cupboard right now. Poor half-faced tiger.) Being a Minafrugalist is cool, Raggedly. Work it, girl.

  3. Yes to all of this! I’m not sure I fall under the minimalist title of things (I have no empty drawers afterall ;D), but I definitely believe in simple living. I’ve been wanting to read “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” to see if that aligns with my way of living. I especially relate to what you have to say about time. <3

    1. Thanks, Melanie. I appreciate your comment. I do try to conserve my time for quality experiences. Time is fleeting. Don’t waste it on BS.

  4. I love to hear that there is someone else out there who likes to throw things out. I purge multiple times a year and each and every time I feel slightly liberated. I don’t plan on moving anytime soon, but it feels good to know that I don’t have to pack boxes with things I barely use anyway. Great post!

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