Minimalism Starts With the Word "No"
And the question we really need to be asking ourselves is, “What is more taking from us? What did it take from you today?”
Hoarding is in my blood. I’m not talking prime time television status; I don’t find solace in used candy wrappers. Nonetheless, that tick is there and I’m not sure it can be deleted. But, it can be reformed.
My mom, (love you) saved every drawing I ever brought home, toy I outgrew and newspaper thrown on our doorstep. I grew up with the phrase, “don’t throw it away, you might need it one day.” So, when I got married and started my own life, my old one came right along with me.
I grew up with the phrase, “don’t throw it away, you might need it one day.” So, when I got married and started my own life, my old one came right along with me.
I needed those newspapers because “there’s coupons in there!” I needed that vase, those shoes, that coin purse full of pennies. Why? Because one day in the not so distant future when some poor soul knocks on my door and asks me for a Kohl’s coupon, a dusty old vase, platform sandals circa 2004 and three cents from 1943, I’ll be their savior. And then, all the haters will get it. But, of course, that day never came and my life became, not full, but crowded.
Because one day in the not so distant future when some poor soul knocks on my door and asks me for a Kohl’s coupon, a dusty old vase, platform sandals circa 2004 and three cents from 1943, I’ll be their savior.
I heard people throw around the word, minimalism. I read about people’s journeys and how it completely changed their perspective on life. It was so interesting to read about the different circumstances that lead people to minimalism because everyone’s version is their own. When you incorporate this concept into one aspect of your life, it tends to spill over into other areas. I like to think minimalism has not only made me a better person for myself, but a better mother and creator. My family lives smaller, but we live better. My current house is less than half of my first, but I’m happier and more fulfilled than I ever was in 2,300 square feet.
My family lives smaller, but we live better. My current house is less than half of my first, but I’m happier and more fulfilled than I ever was in 2,300 square feet.
We’re all tired of hearing our society is obsessed with consumerism. However, it’s true, we love our “stuff” and ability to get ten of everything whenever we want. It’s a high and it’s exciting! My fellow bargain hunters out there, I know you get me. Cue your inner, “mwahahaha…” 80% off cackle. But, we fail to see that one of the reasons we “need” ten is because what your buying is cheap. It wears out faster. So instead of 10 cheap pairs of yoga pants, maybe its better to buy 3 high quality pair that will last.
At Little Scribbles, I, mostly, make custom invitations. I know, it’s just paper. Not everyone can afford custom. But, when a large company promises 25 prints at .90 cents each, I know there is no artistry, or craftsmanship. Not a lot of human quality control. To that company, you’re just an order number, there’s no human connection. And in a lot of ways, minimalism is about cultivating that human connection. Because if you’re not distracted by more, you’re more likely to look up, have a conversation and see what’s really out there. The sad truth is, your being played. Those buy 1, get 2 deals, they’re there to distract you. They’re there to hold you, because you can’t see the better options behind Bilbo the tap dancing ape.
Minimalism is about cultivating that human connection. Because if you’re not distracted by more, you’re more likely to look up, have a conversation and see what’s really out there.
Minimalism has given me a new level of focus. When I’m engaged with my daughter, I want to be there, in that moment. Being laser focused is difficult as a work at home mom, but it’s also necessary. If I’m picking up toys and talking to a customer at the same time, I’m going to do both jobs at a mediocre level. So, I prioritize and balance. It’s about deciding what’s more important in this moment, the mess on the floor or the customer. Sometimes the customer wins and sometimes it’s reversed. And because of that, the customer gets my full attention in that moment and in the next moment my daughter gets the same deep focus. I know I wouldn’t be the mother or creator I am today if I hadn’t changed my lifestyle.
When I look back at my older designs, I laugh. They’re not bad, but there is a messy, unfocused quality about them. I find that as I continue to lead this lifestyle I’m more and more attracted to blank space. For me, if a design doesn’t have room to breathe, I consider that a dead creation. It’s the same when I’m designing a greeting card or my living room or deciding what family trip we’re going to do on the weekend, I need to breathe. And if I’m creating a world that is too stuffed, I’ll start to hyperventilate emotionally and mentally.
It’s the same when I’m designing a greeting card or my living room or deciding what family trip we’re going to do on the weekend, I need to breathe.
To quote my mother’s favorite movie, “More isn’t always better…sometimes it’s just more.” And the question we really need to be asking ourselves is, “What is more taking from us? What did it take from you today?” Because anything that takes your peace or focus off what is really important to you… (Hint: it’s not your 85 throw pillows and that tube top from college your trying to squeeze back into) isn’t going to fill whatever cavernous void your trying to close. But, trying to live with purpose, meaning and focus will fill those cracks. And getting rid of the outside representation of a cluttered mind and spirit is a great start. I’m talking to you dusty knick-knacks that you haven’t cleaned since 2011.
The beauty of minimalism or whatever you want to call it, is anyone can do it. Anyone can tailor it to their lifestyle. As your life and needs change so should your version of minimalism. If you love books and they bring you great joy, keep all 99. But, maybe your 18 pairs jeans don’t bring you that same fulfillment. It’s not about what you keep or what you throw out. It’s about sitting down with yourself, diving deeper and figuring out what brings you peace and what is long overdue in mental and physical rent space. Minimalism isn’t about trying to fit into a fad or follow a bunch of rules, this isn’t Feng Shui. It’s about less stress, more experiences and living a higher quality of life. Minimalism is, simply, a journeyed, healing mindset that starts with the word, “No”.
M. J. is a children’s author, illustrator, and designer/owner of Little Scribbles Paper. She has published four children’s books and has a BFA in design from the University of Southern California. Her designs are bold, graphic and don’t take themselves too seriously. She lives on the central coast of California with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two chickens and three ducks. M. J. prefers pie to cake, takes her coffee tall & dark, likes long walks on the beach and cliches…obviously.
Do you have a story of self-discovery or change like M.J.'s? Want to share with the Blonde Wanderlust? You have a story, and it should be told.
Have you tried minimalism? Why or why not? Tell me about it in the comments!