I had it all. Almost.
I mean, the big house in the posh neighbourhood I left a few years ago along with the unhappy relationship but aside from that, I had a pretty good job. I had a nice apartment. I had a great SUV that I loved, I had enough jewelry to open up my own store. Coats and purses, and shoes and boots.
I had lots, I had everything. So you’re probably wondering why I turned to living a minimalist life then.
The materialistic life was a colourful one. It was beautiful. Nice things to show off. Super SUV to get around the town in to get back and forth to a job that I hated to buy things I didn’t need to put in my nice apartment that was too expensive for its own good.
Only to realize at the end of the month, I had more bills than I had money. Damn, messed up again. Was I ever gonna get the budget thing figured out?
The journey to becoming a minimalist
I’m gonna be honest here. I never even really knew what a minimalist was. I literally thought it was someone who just sold everything and lived like a hermit in a wood cabin.
I know, so naive.
But I was about to find out what living a minimalist life was really all about.
Right after I left my abusive relationship, my soul searching journey began. My life was a mess and I knew I desperately needed to make some changes. Not just practically but spiritually as well.
In the spring of 2015 I did something I have always wanted to do. I went on a 3 week volunteer mission trip to a poor little town in Costa Rica. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I was scared and excited (but mostly scared!). I’m not sure if I needed to see how really poor people lived or if I just needed step out of my comfort zone.
But off I went.
What transpired over the next 3 weeks shocked and surprised me.
I found a town where everyone smiled, no matter what. A town where people really were just happy to have a roof over their head, a shoddy one at that time but at least it existed, some food on the table and family to love them and laugh with at the dinner table.
I saw happy people and smiley faces without jewelry and cars and fancy homes. This was foreign to me. How can this be?
After three weeks in and I got it. I finally got it. I finally understood how living a plain simple life was an absolutely beautiful thing.
Minimalism vs materialism
I’ll be honest. I’ve never witnessed such a level of poverty before. I mean, I’ve seen homeless people in my home town and even volunteered at the shelter feeding them. But to see so much poverty all in one place shocked me. What surprised me even more was that people seemed genuinely happy without ‘stuff’.
It was then I realized that stuff means nothing. How big your house is means nothing. How much jewelry you have or how nice your car is means nothing. Happiness doesn’t come from all the things you have. It’s a feeling inside.
All my life, I had no idea. I lived in a world where you bought things to show off your things and to validate yourself. The more things you had and the bigger and nicer your things were, well the more successful or rich you were.
My journey to becoming a minimalist
Upon returning back to Sudbury from Costa Rica it was clear to me what I had to do. It was time to get rid of all my sh*t, ALL of it, and head back down to Central America. I wanted to be happy like all these people were. I wanted that sweet simple easy life. The simple life where everyone was just happy to be alive. Smiling, loving and simple.
I totally understood it now.
The task of getting rid of my stuff was long and tedious but so liberating. I got rid of pictures and books and furniture and jewelry and clothes and, oh man, you name it, it went.
I was on a mission to become a minimalist and live a happy life like all these people. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t want things or stuff anymore. I wanted to go live amongst these amazing happy people.
Where was I going this time?
And how was I going to pull it off? I knew right then and there, the next place I went to, wasn’t going to be for 3 weeks. I was gonna be there for the long haul. I knew it and felt it in my heart of hearts.
It was time to go. I didn’t know where or when or how, but I knew it was going to happen.
And it did. I called out to the universe and the universe answered back in colour. The universe found a home for me and I was more than willing and raring to head there. As fast as I could.
Living a minimalist life brought me true joy
After I got rid of my stuff I rented a small room in a house owned by a lovely Christian lady. It was the weirdest feeling ever. I had nothing but hope, excitement, determination and freedom. Freedom from all the things that tied me down.
What surprised me the most was that I didn’t miss any of it. I didn’t miss the jewelry or leather coats or the wall hangings or anything. I didn’t miss the nice apartment or the TV, stereo and all the other gadgets I had.
Didn’t miss a thing.
I just felt so free.
Continuing on my journey of minimalism.
In October of 2015 I was off on my next adventure. Destination? Panajachel Guatemala. A country I knew nothing about. I bought a one way ticket, packed two suitcases of what was left of my stuff including clothes I would need, pictures of my son and a few other things that meant a great deal to me.
Guatemala was definitely more poor than Costa Rica was so I knew I was going to be in for another surprise but this time I was so ready for it. Again, I was scared and excited. And again, more scared than excited.
What I was really looking forward to was a life of simplicity, ease, freedom and joy. A life not chained to possessions and ridiculous debt to pay off said possessions.
Is a minimalist life for everyone?
I’m not saying you have to sell all your stuff and move to a third world country (but it sure is an eye opener). What I did was bold and ballsy. Not for the faint of heart.
So is a living a minimalist life for everyone? I believe yes, it can be. Maybe not to the extreme that I created but certainly it is attainable by all. If you want it that is.
You can start small. You don’t have to get rid of all your stuff like I did. Maybe just start getting rid of the stuff that means nothing and weighs you down.
You could hold a yard sale and get rid of this stuff OR you can donate it to shelters or other organizations that will accept gently used items.
Joshua Becker is the king and guru of living a minimalist life. You might enjoy this video from him. If you are thinking about becoming a minimalist, I suggest you subscribe to his channel to learn more.
(This is an affiliate link-my disclosure is here) You might also really enjoy this book “Minimalism Room by Room: A customized plan to declutter your home and live a simplified life”
Here are a few tips to start living a minimalist life:
- start small
- set aside some time to carefully go through your things
- use the check and chuck method
- release attachment to your things
- minimize your space
- don’t buy any more stuff you don’t need
- remind yourself how much freer you will feel
Remember your stuff doesn’t validate you or make you happy. Things (our stuff) are band-aids we put on our unhappiness wounds because they cause temporary happiness and seal the wound. You could spend your entire life buying happiness band-aids or you can heal yourself from your wounds and get rid of the things (and people) that weigh you down.
The choice is yours.
Also keep in mind once you start selling your things or downsizing your living space how much money you will save!! Woot!! That in itself is amazing. You could go on mission trips too then!! Or just go on trips, period. Go live life. Go do things.
Go be free!!!
Peace and Love