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A Minimalist Life: A Minimalist Universe

Updated on February 1, 2011

The Mindset and Home of a Minimalist

According to; a minimalist is described as " being or providing a bare minimum of what is necessary." And so it began, even for myself, some years ago: I had decided to become a minimalist. Did I wake up one solemn morning and decide to impress my inner skills with something different? Of course not. Instead, I woke up aggravated, as I usually had done. After plundering through clothes splattered upon my floor, I exited my room only to trip over a wire that was necessary for my internet connection. Resuming my posture and inhaling deep breaths so as not to burst out in an unkindly display of profanities, I began to make entrance into my kitchen, only to find myself stumbling over a pair of shoes I hadn't seen my daughter wear in six months. You can go ahead and insert your profanities here for me, as they clearly reverberated my freshly painted kitchen walls that particular morning.

I once again drew my shoulders up and stood tall, pressing down my pajamas adorned with tiny little monkey faces. As I inhaled a deep breath once again, I hoped that my expletives didn't wake the children. As I continued to smooth out my pajamas, giving forth the stance that I was bothered yet able to overcome my circumstances; my mind was screaming something completely different, and that was: I felt like a monkey on display living in a clown cage full of other messy little monkeys. I was caged, inhibited, and not free. Most of all, I was completely stressed out, way beyond the tolerance of any one human being. I thought to myself through silenced lips, "This is not me, this is not what I wanted to become ."

Did I suddenly burden myself with a host of obsessions that I needed to make see fit that day? No. The hard pressed truth is that I was a high strung mother raising three children in a pretty decent sized house that was completely filled with junk, trash, items that could be trash, and items that had no place in my life. I didn't stumble upon my hatred for my home; it always existed. I wasn't living a lifestyle *I wanted*. I was living a lifestyle placed upon my feet in my child rearing years that had grown its own entity; and that entity had left me angry more often times than not.

After I scurried my children off to school that day ( and I do mean scurry as nothing was ever easily found), I walked back into my freshly emptied home and wailed like a two year old with separation anxiety. Except, I wasn't sobbing for the company of my children; I was really sobbing for the person I was, of whom which I had lost years ago.

I kicked my way through several different pairs of shoes, being careful of the very wires that threatened to end my existence only an hour earlier. I parted course for the kitchen, making way to the kitchen table cluttered with knick knacks my mother had given me- which were being used as a center piece. I slumped into my creaky kitchen table chair and realized I had three different sets of chairs: One was completely wooden, two were green and two were white. In one brisk sweep of the hand, I sent the array of knick knacks to the floor. If there was anything in life I despised: it was knick knacks. But oh, that wasn't my main problem.

That day, the inner me spoke out and said "no more". Growing up, I had devised a system in my bedroom whereby nothing came in that didn't belong. My closet overflowed with absolutely nothing; as clothing I used regularly was all that hung. My nightstand consisted of only a drinking glass for water and only books I had not read. My walls were adorned with just a few posters of my favorite hair bands of the day. I had only four pairs of shoes: running shoes, dress shoes, everyday shoes, and winter boots. I spent most of my days relaxing in my room, drawing in the cleanliness and organization of the space. I was stress free, young, and I liked it. My mother often warned me that there were traits I would soon lose as an adult, and she was correct.

But on this dreary day, as the morning sun poked through the passing storm clouds, my tongue did not still itself of thoughts. As I scooped up the broken knick knacks given to me by my mother, my voice boomed with vengeance through my empty home: "I am a minimalist! Living like this is not who I am! "

The Home of a Minimalist

Soon after my brief interlude with an almost insanity driven vendetta, I began clearing my home of clutter, content on taking the place down to bare walls if need be. In order to "put away" whom I really was over the years, I had collected quite an array of boxes overflowing with things that made no sense in my home. Believe me when I tell you that the very thought of these boxes often times kept me awake. What was in them? Why were they here? Were they necessary for my existence? My ultimate goal was to declutter my home, organize my life, and hopefully live as stress free as possible. While I must admit that my home is still a work in progress, I must also admit that going back to my roots and unveiling whom I really am as a person was exhilarating and freeing. As I went through those boxes one by one, it was no surprise that almost ninety nine percent of the items I had stored ended up in the trash. Taxed by motherhood, college, and a career, I had found a way to silence my inner self by keeping things "out of sight, out of mind", at least so I thought.

Over the course of months, I did in fact bring my house down to bare walls. Their neutrally colored yet barren existence was a sight to feast the eyes upon. Drawers upon drawers of junk found their way to trash heaps somewhere unbeknown to me, and I was excited by that thought. Little by little, my home was becoming organized and clean; fundamentals of myself peering through the cracks. Ever so important was that the essentials of my home was all that stood the test of existence. If I didn't need it, if I didn't want it, if I couldn't use it- the items were trashed. No where in my thoughts did I stop to dwell on: "will I need this tomorrow or in six months, or in a year".

And I must say, that though I may have gritted teeth once or twice at a particular object or item, I never did find myself saying "wow, I wish I had kept that extra sandwich maker I threw out seven months ago!" Instead, I found myself giggling and chortling, "Sandwich maker? Please. I am my own sandwich maker!".

The home of a minimalist is just that: minimal. Further, it is organized, decluttered and relaxing. Everything has a place but not  every place has something in it. For me, this is a way of life- and something that I had tried to turn off to no avail.


What Minimalists Are and Are Not

Minimalists are not obsessive compulsive.  We don't check ten times to make sure our phone is properly working. We don't come back to the house five times to make sure the oven is off. We don't clean ten  hours a day as we don't need to. (Unless of course you were trying to put the minimalist in you away as I was).

We are barren, but not in soul. We have wants and desires, needs and goals. However, our wants and desires to live as minimally as we can still reflect our personalities: it is thus our lifestyle, and nothing more.

We are not prudes or tightwads. We enjoy quality over quantity. While you may have a collection of 100 knick knacks stashed neatly in a looming bookcase, we have one vase decorating our bookcase.

Our homes reflect our needs and occasionally our personality. You won't find much else here. 

We are not better than you, but we are not below you either. You may enjoy cleaning for four hours, shopping for one, and doing laundry in between. We rather enjoy cleaning for twenty minutes, shopping for one and doing laundry in between as well.


Is Technology Going Minimal? Yes, it is.

The great news for minimalists is that technology is going minimal as well. If there is an area of technology that has not been made minimal  in some way, I would have to say it will be. Really think about the products that technology has to offer. I can guarantee some of these items can be found in the home of a minimalist.

  • Wireless laptops and computers.
  • Items such as the Roomba. A nifty little device that sweeps the floor for you.
  • IPODs and Mp3 players. Instead of a stack of Cds as tall as your living room ceiling itself, you can now store and organize all of your music into one hand held device. Such a neat little minimalist dream.
  • The Kindle. Instead of a stack of books intricately placed beside those towering CD's, the kindle can store all of your books and reading materials into one small device.
  • Closet systems: A big leap forward has been made in closet organization- now making storing and being able to find items you need much more efficient.
  • Various technological devices for storing all of your movies in one place.
  • Two in one brooms and mops such as the Swiffer Wet Jet.
  • Even home exercise room ideas are trending minimalist.

The list of items now available to minimize one's life is oozing through the cracks of our economic foundation. Purchases from GPS units to applications for IPODs, to blu ray are taking over. Is it then that everyone secretely wishes to become a minimalist? No. But it could just be that the lifestyle of a minimalist is one that everyone wishes to incorporate into their lifestyle somewhere, even if not their actual home.

I do believe the trend of minimal technology will continue for quite some time. In the meantime, I know that as each new development in technology is made, I will be one super content minimalist.


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