Minimalism: what does it bring to mind for you? Bare stark walls, a feeling of organisation and joy, a totally unattainable unicorn, pure terror? 4 years ago, I would have gone with option C) and D). Minimalism has been an interesting journey for me, to say the least. If you are new to following me (welcome) I’ll give you a quick run down. Our life has been flipped on it’s head: from living in a standard 4×2 house with 4 kids in Australia, moving into a bus/motorhome for 3 years to travel Australia, to now, graduating to international travel (Canada for now) with 2 suitcases or LESS each.
That’s right, let that sink in for a minute. I was one more knick knack from being reported to that hoarder’s show as their next feature, to having everything I own (on hand) fitting into a bus, and finally to 2 suitcases. I say “on hand”, because we do have a storage unit (BIG regret, $$ down the drain, another story there). It was a journey I wasn’t too keen to embark upon, in fact I was one of the most reluctant, unlikely minimalists you will ever see, as Karl will testify to. Can you hear his head rattling as he vigorously nods? Through the culling of 90% of my material possessions, I have found a treasure: freedom!
When we lived in a 4×2 house with all of the trimmings ( my goodness, THAT feels like a lifetime ago) I was a serial shopper. I would shop out of boredom for the little thrill it gave me. I would hand out money faster than you could say interest free Mastercard. Cushions, a quaint plate with the vegemite logo on it, yet another cute dress for one of the girls, my 21st pair of yoga pants when I didn’t really do yoga, and of course that special mango slicer that isn’t good for anything else except slicing mangos. Because, well, you know, mangos. Every grocery shop, a couple of non-grocery items would make their way into the trolley. Don’t even get me started on online purchases… I would have packages come to the door, and I couldn’t remember what I had purchased! It was like receiving my own birthday present surprise (that I bought for myself) every couple of days. I was a hopeless case.
We were financially comfortable, and I LOVED to spend. My sister used to joke, because every time we went shopping, I was guaranteed to spend twice as much as her. She obviously got my share of the thrifty genes. I loved the high of the purchase. The problem was, I didn’t need the stuff, I wasn’t using the stuff, and my house was beginning to burst at the seams like pants after a Christmas lunch. I bought this stuff as a means to feel excited and free, but it was actually holding me captive. Captive to cleaning, to organising (or attempting to), captive to exploding, open-at-your-own-risk cupboards and drawers at every turn. At the time of purchase I felt joy, but at home I felt overwhelmed by all that stuff. It cluttered my mind. It was hard to find a place where everything belonged. Add four kids into the mix, plus a very busy schedule, and home was not a sanctuary. It was a nightmare, and an embarrassment.
Whenever I would go to have a clean out, I was able to cull some of my stuff. I would proudly pat myself on the back and show Karl what I had done, waiting for my achievement badge. The truth is, I would have anxiety over so many of the things I tried to get rid of. I would think of how much it cost. That Tupperware cheese container, it was $50! I might need it one day, for all that CHEESE that we keep storing in ziplock bags. Maybe I might wear those jeans again, when I lose that 8kg that has crept on. I think my house gained sympathy weight with me. I just couldn’t seem to get down to the bare essentials. I would start to clean out, perfectionism would creep in and I would say things to myself like “what’s the use?”, “I won’t ever get it looking how I want it”, “it won’t stay looking like this” etc. And I would give up in despair. If this is familiar to you, you need to read on.
The truth is, minimalism was FORCED upon me. When Karl approached me about traveling in a bus around Australia, I thought he was joking. Especially the homeschooling bit. When he brought home our Big Betty, a double decker bus, I kinda realised he was serious. Ok, I may have realised before this, but that is truly when it sunk in. I was busy running a couple of businesses of my own, as was he. While I was in absolute denial about leaving MY HOME, he was deeply driven to get out of the life he felt captive to. He wasn’t nearly as emotionally attached to our possessions as I was. While I was out for the evening, or away for the weekend on business, I would come home to find another room packed away. I was so upset: I didn’t get to say goodbye to my house just as it was! But I think I just didn’t want to, and he knew if he didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. I wasn’t ready. Karl took a job I couldn’t handle, and smashed it out so fast my head was spinning. I had no idea what had found its’ demise in the skip bin, or a new home in the thrift shop, and honestly over time I didn’t want to know. I found it easier that way. He was empowering me by chucking out all the things I couldn’t bear to!
At the time, it felt like ripping off a bandaid and the skin was pretty sore for quite some time, but as we felt freedom of being on the road, I wasn’t thinking about ANY of the stuff I left behind! I felt so….. FREE!!! I also felt major regret. I had wasted so much money that could have done so much GOOD in the world. I could have made a real difference in helping those in poverty. It all felt so petty and silly, and I was more than a little ashamed. I am so glad that Karl took the bull by the horns and minimised our stuff. I have zero attachment to it now.
Even though we had so much less, we (code for Karl) culled yet again when we began our international travel. I had 1 suitcase of clothes, and I still haven’t worn everything I brought after being here for 5 weeks. Cleaning our little apartment is a breeze! The kids can help us clean up in a jiffy, and I’m not deathly embarrassed to have people drop by unannounced. We have more money for experiences, for helping those who live in poverty, more time out in the great outdoors instead of cleaning, and the kids are empowered to see how easy house keeping can actually be! I am so passionate and excited about this, I don’t know why I didn’t bite the bullet and do this sooner!
So, the point of my long and probably too wordy story: If you are feeling shaped, identified and trapped by your stuff, I have been there, friend. Imagine how you would feel to be FREE of that stuff? If there is hope for me, there is hope for you too. I’d love to help you navigate those waters through a Life Coaching series. Picture your life with more space in every way: more space to do good with your money both within your family and the ability to give generously to those in need, more space for inspiration in your life, more space for quality time with your kids. That’s just the start! I would be honoured to be your cheer leader, your accountability partner, and the person to celebrate with you when you find YOUR freedom! To find out more about life coaching with me, click here. It’s time to lose the chains and set yourself free! You’ve got this!!