How it Started
Epiphany – any moment of great or sudden revelation; a sudden intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some, simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
For me this moment was back in October 2010 – the date is etched larger than life in my memory. I read an article titled 'The Cult of Less' written by Ben Machell for the Saturday Times magazine. It referred to the boom in minimalism amongst 'Generation Zero' and the growing number of (mostly) American blogs dedicated to this subject. I began to devour minimalist blogs from that moment. I found reading about the extreme lifestyle of some of these minimalist practitioners fascinating, inspiring and curiously glamorous and I immediately wanted to learn how to begin this process myself.
The underlying philosophy of anti-consumerism and freedom from owning 'stuff' rang true. My feelings of being enslaved to earning money in order to acquire, upgrade and manage a house and its possessions had gradually built up in recent years. I felt trapped by the status and security of the life we had built up around ourselves and dreamt of a different, less pressurised slower pace of life but thought that achieving this was impossible. I know now that I was frightened of change and of going against the expected norms of society and our friends and family.
Gradually I began to re-evaluate my relationship to possessions. I read the 'Joy of less' by Francine Jay and 'The Power of Less' by Leo Babauta like many new to minimalism I began slowly, starting first with physical clutter. Each time I decluttered an area I felt lighter and motivated to tackle the next problem area. Then life changes intervened: reduced working hours for my husband, stress induced illness for myself and the declining health of my parents. The need to downsize our possessions, lifestyle and commitments was now a necessity and not just a pipe dream. After much deliberation we chose to sell our house and reduce my work commitments. This was not an easy step for us as one of our main concerns was unsettling our children's lives. There were many unanswered questions: Would we sell our house in a depressed market? Would we find a smaller house that we liked? Could we cope with the upheaval? Yet we knew radical action was needed.
Major decluttering ensued. Fast forward two years and we have got rid of shed loads of stuff (two in fact), downsized to a smaller house with a smaller mortgage and I have been working part-time since September 2011. I am by no means a radical minimalist as I am far from being debt free and have no idea of how many possessions I own but I have a more minimalist mindset and am becoming mindful of possessions, money, time and relationships.
I may now own less, earn less and have a less expensive house and lifestyle but I am beginning to achieve freedom from possessions and I have gained more time for myself and to give to others. Minimalism has given me so much and I have learnt that even small reductions in debt, possessions and commitments can have such a positive impact on your life.
Just a little less is an attempt to track my minimalist journey here in the UK and also an attempt to help others to simplify their lives, just as I was inspired by those first blog posts I read.