Why live simply? Why minimalism? Why would anyone want to live this way? My short answer: JOY. This way of life isn’t for everyone. Not everyone would enjoy living this way. But for me, it a dream come true.
A Simple Dream
When I was little, I dreamed of living in a little white shack of a house with the love of my life. I was probably no more than 6 when I had this romanticized vision of my future. But that was all I wanted; a little house to shelter us from storms and to live in love.
As I grew up, the world started to break down my vision for my future. I still longed to find the love of my life, my soul mate. But now, I was also thinking about creating a career that was impressive and having money for nice things. I let go of my simple dream so I could try to show the world I was something special.
My Soul Mate
While I was trying to make the world take notice of me, my soul was breaking. My resolve to see myself as special started to break. I found myself in a world that didn’t think much of me. Luckily, somehow, my soul mate found me during this time.
When I wasn’t looking, a man who I thought wouldn’t give me a second glance, never looked away. While the rest of the world kept moving past me, he stood still and wanted to get to know me. I didn’t know I was looking at my soul mate when I met this man, but here he was - tall and handsome, sweet and thoughtful. And as he opened his car door for me, on our way to our first date, I realized he was the real thing.
Two years later, we were engaged and I was immersed into the insane world of the bridal industry. This world tells us we deserve to have the perfect day.
My favorite movie wedding scene is from Three Men and a Little Lady. Peter finally declares his love for Sylvia. They exchange simple vows, kiss, and walk out of the church happy and in love.
It wasn’t about the dress, the ring, the flowers, or the party afterward. It was just about love; choosing each other and walking into your new future together. That’s all I wanted, all I needed to have a perfect day But once again, the world confused me.
We had the big ceremony and party. It was beautiful and a wonderful day, but I would have been just as happy to say I do in a simple fashion. And most likely, had I rejected the world’s desire for more, our wedding would have been more pure with more joy and less stress.
While I was chasing a successful career as a personal trainer, I found myself on the phone with a mentor. She finally said - You can’t be a stay-at-home mom and work full time.
I was so upset over this. In my simple dream, I was home raising my littles, but in my updated worldly vision, I had to have a successful career if I wanted to be anything special and impressive. I wanted to reject this comment - I needed to be able to do both.
While I had my amazing husband, we were busy building our careers. We spent our days, nights, and some weekends working. When I wasn’t working I was preoccupied with shopping. I needed cute clothes and nice furniture. I needed to look successful to the rest of the world.
About two years after getting married, we had a baby girl. Twenty months after that, we were blessed with twin girls. One of our twin girls needed immediate surgery and spent the next month in the NICU recovering and the first six months of her life with a feeding tube in her abdomen. Life was crazy and I was so overwhelmed that I found myself in the midst of postpartum depression.
Before my twin pregnancy, I was consumed with everything the world told me was important - the right house, the nice furniture, the cute clothes, and the nice car. I found myself spending time every week at Target buying things that filled the void of my lost simple dream.
Now with 3 little ones under the age of two, none of that seemed important. I was exhausted and entered survival mode. I couldn’t see joy. I only saw stress. I relied on medication to give me strength to not pull the covers over my head every morning.
One year later, life got a little easier, but I still wasn’t enjoying life the way my heart desired. My husband and I weren’t happy. We were worn down by the keeping up we needed to do around the house, the hours of work endured to make more money (just to turn around and spend it), and feeling like we never had enough time together.
I had officially forgotten about my simple dream - a little shack and love. I was exhausted. I needed a change, a change that would allow me room to breath and bring me back to my dream.
When my kids were ages 3 and 2, my depression at a high & my marriage at a low, I got a glimpse of hope. I was introduced to minimalism. It was all about decluttering and living with less. It was about living with only the things that bring meaning and joy to your life.
As I started decluttering, I felt healing begin. I had been consumed with consumerism, with keeping up with the world, with trying to feel worthy by showing the world what I could buy. I let it all go.
Then something amazing happened. I remembered my dream, my simple dream. My little shack of a house and the love of my life. My dream of living in joy and not stuff. My dream of spending time with my husband and kids - laughing, playing, walking, exploring, dancing. My spark started coming back. My smile started coming back. My husband and I fell deeper in love.
My minimalist journey has been going on for about two years now. I have sold and given away rooms full of furniture, toys, kitchen gear, the list goes on. We are a family of 5 with one car and one television.
My husband shares my dream of living tiny and having more time for each other and our kids. We are working together towards financial freedom and hopefully moving into a smaller home sooner than later.
My joy doesn’t come from owning a large home, a fancy car, or a full walk-in closet of designer clothes. I feel joy when I play a game of UNO with my husband, when we take our kids hiking out in nature, when I watch my husband and girls build a snowman, and when my girls enjoy playing with each other in the fort we built in their room.
Living simply has allowed me to let go of the world’s vision of success and remember my own vision. Living simply has allowed me to find joy. My six year old self would be happy to see that I haven’t forgotten what’s important - love.