Happy Birthday Live Big and Small!
It’s the first anniversary of Live Big and Small so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences of this past year with you. When I started my minimalism journey about two years ago I had my eye on the prize. I wanted to be a minimalist! At the time, to me, minimalism meant getting rid of most of our belongings and moving into a tiny place. My husband Smiley was not keen on that idea per se, however he did get into getting rid of our stuff pretty quickly. He was a rock star at starting an eBay business and clearing out our cluttered shed, garage and outside areas as well as doing at least three passes through each room, getting rid of anything he thought he would not use. As we started unloading truckloads of stuff and our home was becoming less and less cluttered I got more and more into it. Getting rid of stuff was as addictive to me as shopping ever was! I had a new zest for life and I really believe that I was the last person anyone would have ever pegged as a minimalist in the making!
The more progress we made, the more progress I wanted to make. I started to become frustrated because things were not moving fast enough for me. Because I decided to quit my good paying sales job and take a lower paying but more meaningful job, it was important to Smiley that we tried to sell as much as we could to help with the missing income. He also had a good point that it was an opportunity to learn how to do an online business in hopes that we could find a mobile source of income. He was right about both of these things, so I worked hard to maintain patience throughout our minimizing process. Meanwhile, I was working on my blog with the hopes of making it into a business and relentlessly working on myself to create a new lifestyle that meant less attention on material things and more attention on simple joys. The problem was that I could not be satisfied with how far we had come. Instead of celebrating how much space we had in our cupboards I would sigh and think to myself, “I will never be a minimalist”.
Suddenly life happened to us. We were served with a No Fault eviction notice! We were renting a wonderful house that we loved for the past five years and did not want to move until we had scaled down enough to be able to fit into a small place and decided whether we wanted to buy or continue to rent. We also wanted to have the time to choose a neighborhood that was right for us with either nature nearby or the benefits of “city” life. Still obsessed with being a minimalist, I tried to see the bright side and suggested that we look for a small apartment or little house. I also thought this was a great opportunity to find a place with lower rent. That would put us right in line with “needing less money” which was my newest and biggest belief. We had to consider Bongo, our aging Jack Russell Terrier, and the fact that we still had tons of things we were trying to sell. We could not settle on a new home within the six weeks that they gave us, so we desperately put most of our belongings in storage and moved into a furnished beach cottage. With the options being (A) living in a hotel or (B) being homeless, I was very proud of finding such an adorable temporary place to live (and did I mention the part that it was on the beach?). I learned so much living in that beach cottage. I learned that 500 square feet was not enough for us at the time. I also learned that having a tiny kitchen cramped our style as we both have hobbies that revolve around the kitchen. I learned that Bongo really appreciates having her own private fenced in yard. I also learned that I loved living on the beach and being surrounded by all of that beautiful nature every day! I enjoyed not having to do so much cleaning and not having any projects to do, living with a minimal wardrobe and not much space for a lot of food choices. There were far less chores and more time to enjoy life. I called it my “Salt Life” and I even got one of those stickers for my car (I know, it’s a brand name, but I really like the saying!). During this beach-loving time there was always something over our heads. This was only temporary and we still needed to find a permanent home for ourselves. The cottage was only available until December 22nd so that gave us about four months to test out Small living and find a new home that we would hopefully have Big love for.
We looked at many beach cottages that were so charming but did not have a yard for Bongo, or had too many stairs for her, or had no room for us to have all of the stuff that we still owned and were still trying to unload from our lives. We considered all sorts of things like keeping a storage unit (yuck!), buying a storage shed or building a fence at a rental for Bongo. None of these things were going to work and we ended up, at the last minute (whew!), finding a place to call home. The home was a two-bedroom house with a garage and a pool with a serene and beautiful back yard. The neighborhood was quirky, gorgeous and right near the water. This was not a large house but it was almost as big as our old house. This was not the home my minimalist-self wanted. But when I walked inside my heart sang. Smiley and I looked at each other, held hands and smiled. We could feel it in our hearts. This was our new home.
I went back and forth between having feelings of joy, excitement and relief (we really had no place to go!), and feelings of defeat, disappointment, hypocrisy, guilt and shame. I was no kind of minimalist! I felt so torn up that I did not even feel like writing for my blog anymore. I felt like an outright fraud. I really wanted to take that life impediment and magically, through my wondrous talents, turn it into a gift. Then I wanted to turn that gift into a story that would end happily ever after. A minimalist tale that would inspire thousands! The story ends with Pippy, Smiley and Bongo living in a tiny beach shack with nothing but love keeping them happy. I wanted to tell the story of how I took an eviction notice and turned it into a dream come true. I was trying to live my life so that I could tell a good story. These desires to become this master minimalist were not coming from my heart. I had a timeline. I wanted my story to be perfect. I wanted to be the one who was able to go down to 100 items or to be able to live off of “no money“. I was trying to make life happen for us without considering my marriage, my lifestyle or reality.
I had made the decision to move into the “Harmony House” and my only choice was to make the best of it. This was not hard considering we had moved into the prettiest house ever in a magical forest-like neighborhood. We started unpacking and we put more and more into the “get rid of” pile in the garage. We hung our favorite things on the walls. We put in the furniture that we had but we left out several pieces. We filled up our garage with everything that we did not want in the house for now. Our house started looking like home (we still need curtains) and I did not stop writing blogs. I was so happy in our new home and having so much fun exploring the new neighborhood that I did not feel like a fraud anymore! I gave it a lot of thought and realized that being a minimalist is not a badge of honor. There is no clear description of what it actually means and I would rather be happy than call myself a minimalist. I also realized that I could do both.
What I have learned this year while trying to become a minimalist
- To be able to wait without doing anything and not be bored
- To live with a wardrobe of 50 pieces (including shoes!)
- To slow down and enjoy simple tasks (even housework!)
- To practice more patience
- To say no to things I don’t want to do
- To shop So. Much. Less.
- To travel with less
- To need less money
- I do not need a membership card to be a minimalist
- That being a minimalist is so much more than just getting rid of stuff
- It’s not the size of your house, it’s the size of your heart that matters
- To stop being so hard on myself and enjoy the process
- That minimalism is not a means to an end. Minimalism is just the beginning!
- That surrounding myself with things, people and activities that I love is all I need
- That the more I let go of, the more room there is in my heart for what really matters
“Love people, use things.” ~ Joshua Fields Millburn
Where I will go?
We are all on our own journey. Trying to push us (and all of our crap) into a tiny space when we were just not ready was not realistic, not fair to my husband or to my dog. Some people can do it really quickly and have awesome stories to inspire others. They are the ones who continue to inspire me! Pushing hard to be a minimalist is not going to be my way to a meaningful life anymore. Instead of feeling bad about how far I have to go I have decided that I am already there! I do not dream of being a minimalist anymore. I dream to be a person who lives for people and experiences instead of material belongings. I strive to think hard before I spend my money because I know how much power there is in money. I will continue to see where this journey takes me and to keep my eye on the prize. The prize is a life full of meaning and love. And knowing that I have been a minimalist the whole time is icing on the cake.
You have read: “My Big and Small One Year Minimalist Message” here first on Live Big and Small. I appreciate your continued support as we go through this journey of simplicity and love together. I value your comments and questions. You can also sign up to receive my posts via email. Cheers to a great Big and Small year!