Becoming a Minimalist

Less is More

Letting Go of Accomplishments

In our morning manager’s meeting the other day we had to go around the room and tell of our greatest accomplishments. I pondered and then stammered briefly about being able to let go of what people think of me. At first the question raised some insecurity in me. Had I accomplished enough by the age of 50? By whose standards? People mentioned their degrees, job titles, and owning homes. All I could think was how little any of that mattered to me. Goals are great and getting an education or a dream job is always a positive thing of course but I found myself looking beyond all of that. I remembered when my mother died. She was a great woman that was loved by many in her community as well as her family. She had a bookshelf full of self help books though, that showed her insecurities. How could such a beautiful soul think that she was lacking?
I was never one that needed to be important. I have a management job that I stumbled into and I like the work but there are days that I would rather be a worker bee and fade into the crowd. The only accomplishment that I really look for is peace. It sounds corny but it’s true. It was only when I started letting go of things that I thought identified me that I found that peace. Now I wear simple  clothing, own less things, and have fewer friends. It sounds boring to some but I like it. I find drama or involvement in other people’s business intolerable so I’ve evolved into a quieter soul. Letting go doesn’t mean that I’ve become lazy. I just make choices that matter to me.

Letting Go of “Just in Case”

What if I give something away and I need it later?
What if I regret getting rid of something sentimental?
I’ll keep it just in case.

We are trapped by “just in case”.

We hesitate giving away clothing we don’t wear “just in case” we might.
We buy more food than we need “just in case” we run out.
We are guilty of buying all sorts of things “just in case” we entertain.
We buy big houses to store all of this stuff “just in case” we need to impress someone.

Being prepared is vital to coping with our society that is so full of activities, career strategies, and fashion that we can hardly breathe. Our measure of a man is how big his house is and how many great things he can fit inside of it. We stopped living within our means 50 years ago or so. Common sense gave way to convenience, status, and ambition. We would hate to get caught in any situation lacking.

How do we go against that?

Making Life More Simple This Week

This is what we did this week to simplify life.

* I gave up the idea of makeup and hair color
I can’t stand the stress of buying and organizing it all while trying to be minimal and spiritual. It just didn’t fit me anymore.

* Along the lines of a simpler life I finally buried my last set of contacts and ordered a really cool light pair of glasses that are timeless. No more contact solution, no more expensive lenses, no more trying to outrun aging eyes. I feel better already.

* It was time to buy shampoo and conditioner but I decided to just use baking soda and rinse with vinegar instead. Since I use olive oil for moisturizer I just run my hands through my hair after my shower and the little bit of oil left on my hands is the perfect amount to keep my hair in place and condition it. Using this regimen makes my hair unbelievably shiny. Not having to buy any more products is great!

*We discussed making our own bread and cereals. I have the bread ingredients in bulk already in the pantry. Today I bought a 25# bag of 5 grain blend. Granola has just become better. Well try it.

*We made a standard meal plan:
Mondays:Vegan casserole
Tuesdays: Vegan “meat” / fresh veggies
Wednesday: Soup/ bread/salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Vegan pizzas at home/ salad
Saturday: Try a new thing
Sunday: Vegan burgers/ Fries
Lunches are Leftovers, pbj, or vegan cheese sandwiches. The idea is a little bit of processed and lots of veggies and healthy fruit smoothies in the evening.

* I grocery shop the 1st and 15th.
The aim for budget is around $100/week and shop twice a month instead of every two weeks. It’s working.

*We are making a concentrated effort to buy more bulk products. Less packaging means less waste. This week I bought cocoa powder, flax seed, turmeric, garbanzo beans, corn starch, TVP, soy nuts, peanuts, raisins,onion soup mix, and sugar free wafers. luckily the local market has a nice bulk section. I even picked up a #25 bag of 5 grain blend for granola making. I reuse the plastic bags the next trip. I like the fact that I can get just the amount I want.

Living with someone that doesn’t buy into the whole of becoming a minimalist is challenging but he’s coming around to my way of thinking. What speaks to him is the saving money and homemade food. He travels so much for work that he looks forward to coming home to authentic. I never thought he would be a man that would actually participate fully in a plant-based eating lifestyle but as he sees himself getting healthier he likes it even better. We’ve come a long way in the last five years as we simplify and enjoy the peace that comes with that.

What’s Missing?

I test myself every once in awhile to see if I’m missing anything. Rolling through the deals on EBay this what I find:

* Watches
I don’t wear one ever. My phone tells me what time it is and even reminds me what to do next. I’m not even tempted by the cheap or expensive watch.

* Purses and Bags
From cheap copies to designer Purses and bags, there is one for everyone but me. I followed Anna Wintour and decided not to carry one in general. I keep 3. One red pocket book from 1960 something, one small dome Coach for that rare evening company dinner, and one “back bag” by Swiss Gear that just won’t wear out. My best friend makes custom leather bags. They don’t even make me stray. Don’t need another. Don’t really need what I’ve got.

* Shoes
I have five pair. Work, casual, black flats for dress, garden, and hiking. Having five almost gives me hives because I think it’s too many but common sense makes me keep them. No more than 5.

*Jewelry and Scarves
I wear my fake pearl stud earrings with everything. It sets me apart. That’s it. No need to buy the latest fashion. I can’t stand anything close to my neck so scarves, necklaces, and turtlenecks are easily passed by.

* Makeup and skin care products
I gave it all up. Now I drink more water, use lemon juice at night and a dab of olive oil for day. I wear a hat in the sun, skin brush before a shower and spray body with vinegar and water solution daily then moisturize with olive oil. If I need a scrub I use baking soda and oil or water.I used to wear it all and buy it all. Now I can’t stand worrying about buying it or organizing it at home. Doing without is peaceful.

*Electronic Gadgets
I do love my smart phone but I don’t always have to have the latest one. My laptop is about five years old now and still works for writing if I don’t want to use my phone. The evolution of phones has helped me so much in becoming a minimalist. I use it to read books, schedule activities, balance my bank account, write, and get free education. There is nothing else I need and I can take it anywhere with me. This has allowed us to go paperless at home.

* Fashion
I adopted a uniform. This has been one of the most pleasing things I have done to become a minimalist. After trying to figure out how to reduce the number of clothes I wear I finally stumbled upon the concept of a uniform, wearing the same thing every day. Steve jobs did it. He wore the same shirt and jeans style for years. So for me, I have a rule of three: 3 black traveler’s tank tops, 3 black cardigans, 3 black dress pants for work, 3 pairs jeans. People hardly notice and when they do it just sets me apart from the crowd. It has made me examine my personality more and reflect on it. Buying clothes isn’t tempting to me anymore. I just replace clothes when I need to.

After cruising through the deals at Ebay and finding that I didn’t really need anything, I thought about minimizing digitally and considered what wasn’t in line with my minimalist life. Online shopping is unnecessary at this point. I have an Amazon account but I only use it now to replace clothing or kitchen items. I used to use Subscribe and Save but I have no need for it now. I can buy things in bulk locally and use less packaging which falls in line with our move towards less waste at our house. I also don’t really like the way online businesses track my purchases. I would rather buy locally and keep marketing out of my life as much as possible. So, I’m deleting any shopping app from my phone including Ebay, Amazon, Walmart, and Costco. We are debating not renewing our Costco Warehouse membership this next spring because of the amount of packaging that their products have and paying an annual fee to save money just doesn’t seem right to me. Shopping online is too easy. It take a considerable effort and thought to make a trip to the grocery store, put something in my basket, and walk out the door. It’s certainly more effort than clicking an order button.

What’s missing? I don’t feel that I’m missing anything. We have what we need along with a lot of peaceful space. Closets aren’t crammed with unknowns, cupboards aren’t crowded, drawers aren’t cluttered. If anything, becoming a minimalist has made me a bit obsessive about having too much. I keep a watchful eye on the amount of things in our home and am a bit extreme in my thinking. What matters is that I don’t impose it on others and I don’t preach it to others. It works for me and that’s what matters.


Basic Minimalism: Only 3 Cleaning Products for You and Your House

Baking soda uses for basic minimalism:

*Mild abrasive for cleaning sinks, pots, pans, baking dishes, and ceramic stove tops.
*Use in combination with vinegar to clean toilet bowls. Watch it bubble and clean.
*One cup cornstarch, 2-4 tablespoons baking soda, 2 cups water for shampoo.
*Combine a small amount in palm of hand and drip in enough water to make a paste. Use for facial scrub.

Vinegar uses for basic minimalism:

* 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water for cleaning glass and windows.
* 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water & a tbsp of liquid soap for an all-purpose cleaner.
* Use 1 part vinegar to 1 part water as a hair rinse instead of conditioner.
* 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water to spray on skin instead of lotion.

Olive Oil uses for basic minimalism:

*Use on skin for a moisturizer for face and body.
*Use on furniture instead of furniture polish.
*Polish stainless steel appliances and sinks with it.
*Season cast iron and stainless steel pans.
*Polish faucets and cupboards with it.

Do you use these three products for your basic minimalism cleaning routine at home?

What else do you use them for?

Using the Simple Basics to Get Into Shape

Simple straightforward approach to exercise:

Whatever pace suits you works. I started out in the worst shape possible, overweight, and unmotivated. 20-30 minutes at a pace that leaves you just breathless enough that you can’t actually carry a conversation steadily is ideal. Listen to your body. Increase the time and intensity a little bit each week. Do it every day, even on Sundays.

Body Weight Exercises
Leg lifts
Arm circles

Start with the basics and add variety and/or repetitions. I started with ten each and increased by one each day until I was doing 50. Then I added some variety. I keep it to no more than 20-30 minutes a day. Listen to music, watch TV or simply enjoy the quiet. Keep the attitude that you are doing something good for your body and leave the negativity behind. Simple.

Some people think this is boring. I find it makes more sense than spending money on a gym membership, yoga classes, or buying special equipment to hang my clothes on. I like the simplicity and the effectiveness of it. Maybe at some point I’ll throw in some Pilates or yoga or whatever is trendy but seriously there is nothing like just simple.

Falling in Love With What You Have

I watched my favorite cup as if it were in slow motion, falling down and cracking into a million pieces. I mourned a bit until I realized it’s just an empty cup.

Attachments are funny things. What started out as an old cup I picked up at the thrift store became a welcome site at the end of the day associated with tranquility and dependence on ritual. In the evolution of my ownership of an object never did I imagine that I would become so attached, but to what?
This was a stoneware cup that had no mate or saucer even. It wasn’t marred but it wasn’t exactly pretty by any standard. It was sturdy with great lines but elegance was not in it’s character. Often I would look at it and realize that it really had no place in my minimalist house, yet I couldn’t give it up until the day I had to choice but to let go as it became dust.
That night I searched online for an exact replacement for a while until I quietly admitted that it was silly to spend such money on a cup that I didn’t need. In my cupboard sat another cup, more plain, but with just as much purpose.

My new favorite cup was there all along silently waiting for the chance to serve and to be seen in all it’s real red glory. Now I use just one cup, washing it with reverence at the sink each time it’s used, knowing that minimalism isn’t about acquiring an exact replacement.

Minimalism is sometimes about falling in love with what you have…

Now I’m a Minimalist. Now What?

Last weekend I cleaned out and organized the last closet, gave the last of things for donation and recycled the last piece of paper cluttering the end table. Now what?

On my journey to becoming a minimalist in the last six years I have accidentally made a hobby of getting rid of things and organizing. Now as I look around there is really nothing to be done. I should be grateful. There’s a whole lot of space and it brings a state of peace and yet…

What now?

I’ve longed for this moment but I have to say that it’s a little strange. There’s nothing to clean out. I don’t have to worry about maintaining my lifestyle because we have simplified everything such as going paperless and buying only what we need. I no longer have the desire to buy more clothes, beauty products, or stuff in general. So, I am not worried about things getting cluttered again or having a moment of weakness.

Although it’s a great feeling to finally get there the habit of cleaning things still wants to be satisfied. I can no longer relate to capsule wardrobes because I have the rule of three and just one set of 33 things to wear. I have a spouse that is not a minimalist but he keeps his things neat and tidy so I don’t care. There is nothing to acquire, nothing that I need.

This is not a bad thing. It’s just a new feeling that I am strangely having to adapt to.

Avoiding Shopping Temptation for the Minimalist

Becoming a Minimalist has made me more aware of my spending obviously. We could spend our lives buying and then purging material things from our homes. How can we get to the point that we can stop that cycle? When we are bombarded with constant marketing how do we avoid the shopping temptation?

There are a number of things that we can so on the road to minimalism that will help us break the cycle of possessing and purging. The idea is of course to get to the point where you only buy what you need.

Stop Watching Commercials
This has the added bonus of possibly helping you lose weight as well. Cartoons are filled with commercials aimed at kids to buy one needless thing after another. Series shows have commercials that influence us to buy everything from hamburgers to cosmetics, to the latest, greatest gadget.

Replace the Habit: Sign up for Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime and watch movies as well as complete seasons of your favorite shows without the commercials.

Stop Buying and Reading Magazines
Magazines are clutter traps anyway. Even buying the digital version blasts you with ads. I even stopped reading beauty blogs because they were convincing me I needed more than I really did. Companies spend millions every year researching what advertising works. They have reeling you in down to a science.
Replace the Habit: Get the Kindle app for instance and make a committment to only read free books. There are tons of new releases on a regular basis that are written by new authors on any subject for free. I recently made a goal to read the classics and was able to find everything I wanted to read for free.

Stop Using Shopping as Therapy
Shopping is not a replacement for therapy. If you’ve had a bad day, an argument with your S.O., or the job sucks, don’t think that buying a cart load of something will make you feel better.
Replace the Habit: Use exercise as an outlet. Everything from walking to joining a team is a much healthier way of getting rid of stress. Go talk to a professional if you need to. Get sunshine everyday, make a healthy meal, or pursue a hobby. Last but not least, examine your relationships and lifestyle. If something truly isn’t working, decide to put the effort into making it better or leave it behind.

The Mailing List
I found myself still tempted by the local thrift stores emails for 50% off days. Catalogues were still showing up at my house. Every website out there wants you to subscribe so that they can market to you. Some have great information that comes with it, some don’t.
Replace the habit:
A lot of clutter can be avoided all together by writing to companies to take you off the list. Don’t sign up for the newsletter if it’s heavy on ads, throw ad mail in the trash before you enter the house, and write or call companies that send catalogs and say “no thanks” to further mailings. If you are intent on saving money for the things you need then shop end of season for clothes or buy at the thrift store and buy specific things on your list.

Shopping should be functional and just business. Buy only when you need something not because it’s something to do, a hobby, or an emotional reaction. It sounds callous but succeeding at minimalism means changing buying habits as well as cleaning out. If you always do one without the other it’s just a frustration that never ends.

Minimal Kitchen

The last of the extras are going to donation today. The extra set of dishes that we never use, the million mugs that collected dust, and the casserole dishes that sit there silently empty are the last of it all. The pasta dish set may find it’s way into the car in the next few minutes along with those three extra plates.

My minimal kitchen makes me smile.

The basics:

Two cast iron deep dish frying pans
These have many uses as dutch ovens, casserole dishes, and boiling pasta etc.
You can flip the lids over to use as shallow frying pans or to bake in.

Two cast iron loaf pans
I bake lentil loaf, potato or zucchini casseroles and corn bread in these.
They are good for any small casserole or baked dish that fits. Perfect for serving two – four people.

The great thing about cast iron is that it never dies. They don’t break or chip, they don’t stain or wear out. Oil them, cure them in the oven once every so often and don’t soak them in water. That’s it. I’ll have them forever.


One set dishes
I buy Corelle so they don’t chip easily, they microwave, they do it all.
There are cereal bowls, side plates and regular dinner plates.
I gave the mugs away. There were too many.


One set flatware for eating and serving.


One set serving and cooking tools such as spoons, spatulas, and tongs.

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One Ninja Blender for smoothies and homemade sauces or dressings.

The Essential cloth kitchen:
One set pot holders
Four dish cloths
Four dish towels

In my pantry I keep plant-based staples:

Brown Rice
Peanut butter
Dried Cranberries
Flax Seeds
Chia seeds
Canned tomato sauce
Avocado oil

In my freezer:
Frozen Fruit
Stir fry blend vegetables
Frozen sweet potatoes
Veggie Burgers
Whole grain tortillas
Vegan waffles

In my refrigerator:
Soy milk
Grape tomatoes
Baby carrots
Veggie tray
Kale or spinach
Salad Dressings
Fresh fruit
Fresh veggies

Cleaning solutions:
Baking Soda
Dish washing soap

I keep about the same stock of food in my kitchen all the time. The only baking I do is the occasional cornbread mix or sugar free brownie mix which I buy only one at a time for an occasion. The variety of plant-based foods allows me to mix and create endless combinations. We obviously will never go hungry.

What do you have in your kitchen?

Minimizing Procrastination

I have been a champion procrastinator.

If they ever had a contest I would win a ribbon. Sadly, I’ve grown up and even though I knew it paralyzed me, I still allowed procrastination to effect my life. My only regret is that I didn’t take action, I didn’t do more about achieving my dreams, or doing a better job. Maybe I’ve finally learned my lesson.

I’ve minimized my possessions, let bad relationships go, and set the chaos in my life packing. Now I realize just how much procrastination has caused needless worry and work. I’ve laid awake at night worrying about things at work, become anxious about little things like cleaning, and occupied my mind endlessly trying to remember my “to do” list.

The epiphany came one early morning at work when it dawned on me that if I just did things right away, I would be more organized and I wouldn’t have to worry about everything that was on my plate. You would think that this was easy to see and so obvious. I was too busy worrying and trying to figure out how to be organized.

I took action.

I made the decision to do things. Now.
To make a plan seemed like too much fuss.
I needed to keep it simple.

Do everything now.

At home:

Keep kitchen counters completely clear.
Put things back away right away.
Do dishes and laundry as soon as there is a load.
Empty machines and put away clothes/dishes right away.
Basic cleaning has one room one day each week. Simple.
Morning and evening routines work.

At work:

Process paperwork right away.
Have appointed days for certain tasks and stick to the task as much as possible.
Mind your own business. Don’t get caught up in things that don’t concern you.
Call people back right away.
Say no when appropriate.
Minimize distractions.

I just started minimizing procrastination and it feels good to get things done. My mind is of course calmer.
It’s been a little tough at times sticking to it but I like the end result so I’ll keep going until it’s a habit.

The things that have helped along the way:

Wearing monochrome clothes

One Meal


Consistency Matters

Simple Morning Routine

Focus on One Thing

One of my goals is to write more and I found that I was going in too many directions so I sat down and decided to minimize in other areas.

* I gave the crafts away
No more half finished crochet to stare at when I opened the closet door.

*I stopped doing projects for my friends
I was doing a lot of work online for my friend with no compensation or direction. I politely told them I had a project of my own and I simply don’t have the time.

*I minimized social media.
Facebook etc is now only used to promote my work. No more scrolling through posts wasting time.

*Minimal friends
I have been careful not to get involved with  people at work or in our neighborhood. I am pleasant and of course talk to people but I avoid going to lunch or making plans after work. I’m a self declared introvert and they all laughingly accept that. I have little tolerance for drama so it works for me.

*I went to an all black wardrobe
It saves time, energy, and thought.

*I started using audible education
Now I  listen to free educational books and lectures on YouTube while I walk or clean house. It keeps me moving, there’s no expense, and I can multitask. Love it.

I streamlined my beauty routine by using the same steps morning and night. Oil cleanse, brush teeth, olive oil all over for skin and cuticles. In the morning I apply base, eyeliner, and mascara with lipstick for lips and blush.
At night I shower  for ten minutes after I walk. I apply nails once a week for ten minutes and never have to touch them up or think about them.

I still get to be creative. I socialize with other writers and readers. I still take care of myself and get to feel beautiful. There’s just no unnecessary tasks, frustration, or wasted time.

What would you minimize to make your dreams come true?

Oh That Sale

The local thrift store sends me emails when they have sales.

They often have 50% off sales and it’s tempting.

I contemplate it for a while.

I could save so much more.

How awesome it would be to be able to buy at rock bottom prices.


I know that if I go I will buy things that I don’t absolutely need just because I’m saving.
I’ll justify having more because I got a steal.

Planning my week, I tried to find a way to justify going to the sale.
The trouble is that I don’t need anything.

*I have all the clothes I need for now.

*The child doesn’t need anything

*The house could actually still lose a few things and it would be better.

* I write online instead of doing crafts so I don’t need that.

*The dog doesn’t even need anything.


Guess I’m not going.

Waking up to Minimalism

It’s been five years now since I woke up to minimalism.

For me it was an easy decision. I came close to death with an illness.
Suddenly material things had little meaning or priority.
I woke up one morning and felt the urge to get my things in order.
Getting rid of things couldn’t happen fast enough. I took
bags and boxes of everything to the local donation center.
I gave away furniture to the neighbors and posted items on
Freecycle every day until there was little left.
My poor husband probably thought I had lost my mind until
we sat down and talked about having less.
Now he recognizes the benefits.
Every once in a while I think I need more.
It doesn’t last very long.
As soon as I get back to center and remember
why I wanted to become a minimalist the
extra stuff disappears again and I feel the peace.
With the passing of time this happens less and I
simply enjoy having less.

Some can’t understand how I can do without.
Others wonder how I can be a minimalist while
living with someone that’s not.
It’s an individual journey but we can get ideas
and gather like individuals to discover the
common ground of a peaceful life.
We can determine our own level and rules
for our journey to becoming a minimalist.

There are some nice benefits:

I have more time to read, take care of my spirit, be with my child,
and enjoy meditation to free my mind.

With less stuff lying around we simply have more space. No more is there
an urge to fill it up. Space is calming.

The need for less means that we are seldom tempted to buy things we don’t really need.
Impulse buying is a thing of the past. We have a few nice things. Although I buy my clothes used at the thrift store I only keep what I need and am not tempted to buy more.

Less stress:
By spending less, having more space, and more time stress is much less. Becoming a minimalist
has made me more aware of self-induced stress and how to avoid it.

A New outlook:
At first my friends were bothered by my new lifestyle. They felt awkward with me. Then something wonderful happened. When they saw how much happier I was and realized that I didn’t have the chaotic life they had they began to admire my lifestyle. The questions came slowly and then many of them were implementing small steps towards minimalism that made their lives better. Although I had never preached my lifestyle to them on a soapbox, they heard the message loud and clear by seeing and hearing the example.

Authentic Friends
In becoming a minimalist I lost a few friends. It was nothing dramatic. We simply drifted away
from each other. For the most part, I decided to minimize drama in my life. I let go of the past and started fresh in a new town with a new job. Those friends that couldn’t have a meaningful
conversation with me, that talked only about how busy and chaotic life was, I gently let go.
Now authentic relationships are more important and I have enjoyed every simple moment.

Waking up to becoming a minimalist has made my life so much better. I want to spread the word to tell everyone how easy it is to simplify your life and be content. There is nothing like the reformed. My enthusiasm may get a little irritating. My humble apologies if that’s the case. Take the fragments of my posts that speak to you and don’t worry about the rest.

Thanks for reading.

Black is the New Minimalist

Clothes kind of annoy me.
I’d like to live a life that entails three t shirts and two pairs of jeans.
For now that’s simply not practical.
So I had to come up with plan B.
Anyone that has read my blog in the past knows that I am a bit
obsessive with clothes and beauty supplies. Sometimes I “cycle” back to
thinking I need more of both to get past my mid-life crisis.

Here’s the reality.
I do have to be conscious about looking somewhat professional
for my job. It doesn’t have to be fancy or high-powered.
I can’t get away with jeans and tees though either.
I’ve cycled myself right into wearing black.
No time is wasted in choosing what to wear.
I rotate my tops and mix with my cardigans according to the weather
and my mood. There is no way to mess it up really.
The bonus that goes with wearing black is that although it doesn’t
draw unnecessary attention, it does single one out especially since I am
older and doing it. No extremes here just quiet individuality.
Wearing only black also keeps things simple and keeps me from overspending.
You can only have so much black.

*3 Traveler’s Tanks
*3 Cardigans
*2 Camisoles
*2 Dress pants
*3 pairs blue jeans
*3 coats/jackets

Few people at work really seem to notice that I only have a handful of clothes. I like the simplicity of using all one color with the basics. I am not deprived. On the contrary, I have so much free time and less stress than ever before. I don’t need extra gear to exercise. I hike and walk in my jeans. Maybe someday I’ll stop the obsession. Until then black is the new minimalist.

**This post was updated 10/14/2015

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