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Books That Inspire a Simple Life
I have been reading a few books lately on, not really simplicity I guess, but about STUFF and THINGS and what we own. I know, I’m a little late to the party but I just read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker. The premise? She chose 7 areas of excess in her life and tried to cut back.
Jen Hatmaker’s book was…interesting. I enjoyed reading it. One thing I was really struck by was what different lives we live to start with. Let’s just say Jen has a lot more excess than we do. I suppose having more disposable income is a big difference. More money often means more stuff, more meals out, more spending.
Let me clarify: I have plenty of excess in my life. Plenty of stuff. More than enough stuff.
Why Minimalism Matters to Me
I’m a minimalist at heart. Chuck likes to say, “If it were up to you, we wouldn’t even have furniture! We’d just have a couple of pillows to sit on.” My response? “Just think of how easy it would be to clean!”
Clutter, too much stuff, makes me feel anxious and claustrophobic. When I was a teen I used to dream of living with all of my possessions in my (imaginary) VW van. The only problem with my fantasy was, what about my books and music?! Everything else I could part with, but those? Thanks to Apple and Amazon, that little problem is solved.
Our recent wildfire has had me thinking about possessions. Back when my children were young and Laura Ingalls was my hero, I used to read her books and marvel at their lack of possessions. When Ma told Laura and Mary to clean up their toys, they literally had their dolls (and Laura’s doll was a corncob) to pick up. On long winter days, Ma would sometimes let them make patterns with her thimble in the ice on the windows. Ma had her Shepherdess figurine that was always displayed on a shelf. Contrast that against today’s toy collections and decorations?
Challenging Ourselves to Live With Less
As soon as I finished Hatmaker’s book, I picked up The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno. In his book, Bruno decides to pare down his personal belongings to no more than 100 items. He chronicles his year-long journey and his fluctuation of possessions. I was also struck by my differences with Bruno. For one thing, I don’t shop for fun, ever. I shop when I need to buy something. That isn’t to say I don’t pick up items that aren’t on my list or that I don’t need, but I would never, ever go shopping just for fun. I go to the mall 2-3 times per year to buy the boys jeans at Old Navy.
I enjoyed both these books along with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
A Simple Life When Your Family Isn’t On Board
I am a minimalist sharing a house with 11 people who are not minimalists. But that’s okay. I just introduced the concept of capsule wardrobes to Kalina and Jubilee. They are working on color schemes and collections right now. Last time I bought Apollo new clothes I made sure every top matched every bottom. His is very opinionated about his clothing, and this ensures he always looks “put together” when we leave the house.
And me? I’ve come up with a very basic simplicity motto:
I want to have a simple life so I can focus on the things I love.
As I go through our house, tidying and decluttering, I am making sure the things I keep are in line with these goals.
Have you read any of these books? What’s your take on simplicity or minimalism?
Best. Post. Ever. 😉
I’m a “minimalist at heart” living with non-minimalists! We should hang out and dream about almost-empty closets and one towel per person. 😉 I’m currently paring down my boys’ wardrobes and planning how to be more specific buying clothes in the future so they have capsule wardrobes. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe, but I have less clothes than my hubby so that’s saying something!
I have 1/4 of the clothes Chuck has. Now, he needs designated work clothes, but he is a sentimental keeper and I’m not. I was planning to take a photo of the clothes I bought Apollo and blog about it, but life intervened 🙂 Maybe I will dig them out and post about it still. It has made life so much easier!
And I’d love to hang out and dream. Over coffee, of course.
Back in May I had to pack up a bunch of my stuff in my apartment so it was clear for my subletter who is living in my apartment in DC while I am in Boston for the summer. The amount of random crap I own was so overwhelming that I had to just shove everything in trash bags and pile it in the closet because I didn’t have time to sort through and get rid of stuff. I am eagerly looking forward to getting back and going through it all to do a big purge. I am a purger at heart and don’t keep much of anything for sentimental reasons however stuff just has a way of piling up. Hopefully when I get home I can donate a ton of clothes and throw away lots of the random stuff that has accumulated. Can’t wait to have a clean, organized, and de-cluttered apartment in time for school to start.
Yes, the vast majority of our stuff is here because I am a minimalist when it comes to everything…except having children, it seems.
I dream of less and that the less is more functional etc. For instance my family wants me to buy/make more clothing. It makes me uncomfortable. I like having few planned choices. I have almost stopped buying books but have a true weekness with wool. I have way too much craft junk.
I loved reading Jen Hatmaker’s book and felt really convicted by it. Since we a family of five, soon to be six, living in a (relatively) small 1300 sqft house, I do my best to keep our possessions at a minimum, including the kids’ toys. If it hasn’t been played with in six months, it goes out the door. My weakness is in saving things for the next one- we have a closet full of things we’re saving to use for the next baby and I already dream about the space we’ll have once our fourth (and last) grows out of the baby tub, bouncy chair, etc…
With books, I´m not a minimalist.. But with everything else. We life in a small apartment and the husband is a collector so I have to save space. I buy (nearly) only clothes when I need it and most of it from fleemarkets, ebay etc. Our kitchen has a few good machines which we use very often, the ones we don´t need or not to often, will be given away.
I have an iron rule for stuff (machines, clothes…): If I don´t use them during a season, I´ll pack it in boxes. If I don´t open the box within the next season, the stuff is gone. We donate most of it.
She also only had 3 kids when she wrote 7 so the ratio of income vs cost for necessities is only SLIGHTLY from yours, ha-ha. I seriously loved that book and did the wardrobe challenge while I was pregnant with my first (so far only). Then I got rid of almost every single pre-baby item of clothing I owned. Automatic easy way to start a capsule wardrobe after he arrived. 2 years later I have finally lost my baby weight so it’s past time for me to get new clothes that actually FIT. I love buyingna few quality items that are flattering, will hold up and have been ethically manufactured. Fewer choices makes my brain so much less overwhelmed.
I, too, am a minimalist (except when it comes to children). 🙂 My husband says the same thing about me and furniture. I would rather have blank floor space for playing than sofas and chairs for the rare occasion that everyone is in 1 room. Lots of us don’t mind sitting on the floor anyway! 🙂
Sounds like we’d have a great time hanging out!
I loved the book 7 and was very challenged by it. As a single woman in my 40s (missionary so not a large income but still, no kids or hubby to spend money on) I was pretty similar to her in a lot of ways. I enacted several of the categories, but not all in a row. It was very eye-opening for me. I am NOT a minimalist nor particularly want to be one but I would like to live with less in general. Have fun exploring this topic!
Yes, it was an interesting read. I think what I was struck by more than anything though, was how different our lives are from each other. I am now reading Interrupted and feel even more the separation between us. We are currently working hard to pay off debt and our contribution to world hunger, the poor, has been adopting 5 children who would not have had homes otherwise. And we are still in the thick of raising two of them. I know she adopted two children, but for us, in our financial situation, that is literally all we can do. Raising (now) ten kids one one income, and debt from medical issues is stretching us as far as we can go.
There is great artwork throughout this site and a lovely theme. Thank you very much for your posts. Great article!
Love the simplifying journey and helping others get closer to their goals! I tell them all the time- people are more important than things!!!
Have you read The Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster? It’s the first book I ever read on simplicity/minimalism and the one that I come back to the most frequently.
I have not. Thank you for suggesting it!