It all started long ago, crammed into tiny spaces bursting with odds and ends. So much stuff that organization became impossible no matter what the system. I became obsessed with the idea of tiny houses and minimalism. Purging what I could. While also remaining addicted to online shopping and vintage furniture finds that filled my rooms with interesting pieces like a white 8-track player from Montgomery Ward, or a TV console from the 60s that I planned to one day turn into a fish tank.
Saddled with credit card debt from our extravagant lifestyle of music, food and fun. My husband and I left our cottage in Bel Air built right into the mountain. Perfect for hallucinogenics and hiking with our dog. Moving into a studio apartment in Mar Vista that was attached to the back of a garage. At less than 300 square feet it had a nice patio and decent sized shared yard with the main house.
We shoveled most of our things into a storage unit. And embarked on our first step of tiny living. One that would be challenged by a lifetime of habits and ways of thinking that made it hard to part with anything ranging from true necessity to just in case. Each item holding an emotion or logic that cluttered every corner no matter how neatly tucked away.
A few years later, we decided to move to Ecuador. Donated or sold everything. And packed up a handful of suitcases with just the essentials. And I’ll say, I don’t miss a thing. Even in the early days, which saw me go without critical items. An oven. Heat. A clothes dryer. It was rough. Especially while potty training through rainy season. But I persisted. If only to prove to myself that I could do it. Live simply. Live without.
Custom-made furniture we bought that looked nothing like the photos and was uncomfortable to boot. Something I would have easily replaced without a second thought. They each found their homes in different rooms and configurations. The stubborn in me refusing to cave to my materialistic ways.
Being creative with what I had first. Agonizing over everything as I struggled to figure out this new me that no longer wanted to be the kind of person who thoughtlessly made frivolous purchases with the tap of a button.
Two years later, I’ve found balance.
Purging many times since those first suitcases hit the pavement. Thinking long and hard about every item that came through the door. And acquiescing just a bit on conveniences like a dishwasher. My house is now my haven. Easy to maintain and keep clean, even with a toddler. Everything has it’s place and I can call it to mind in an instant. A carefully curated selection of things that define me and truly make me happy. A purposeful existence I didn’t expect as a result of this journey, but that has become a running theme in our lives.
What truly is important to me and why.
With a house finally in order and a lifestyle that can only be described as balanced and fulfilling. In part due to the focus and thought that has gone into so many aspects of how we choose to operate. I would say that minimalizing has been a significant catalyst for as many changes inside as out. It’s the prioritization of the things that matter. The careful analysis that goes into deciding what that means. And the execution time and time again to create something meaningful. A process that becomes ingrained not just in the things around you. But in how you manage your relationships. Your time. Your hobbies. The things you need to get done.
But mostly, understanding myself and my family on such a level that what we value is at the forefront of our existence. And passing that down to our son, who also operates inadvertently under this system of material simplicity. A bin of blocks. One filled with outside sports equipment. And another of costumes. Stuffed animals. Musical instruments. Art supplies. Puzzles. And a small shelf of nine squares filled with odds and ends. The only exception to excess being books. It’s a little bit Montessori. A little bit Waldorf.
Because to me, minimalism looks a little different than what I always thought it would be.
It meant a bigger, not smaller house. One where we could spread out what little we had ensuring more than enough space to create a feeling of calm and clean. It meant a super expensive and extremely comfortable bed. A perfectly pared down wardrobe and selection of shoes. Sparse, but comfortable furnishings with plenty of places to lounge. All natural, multi-functional household and hygiene products that reduce waste and are eco-friendly. A huge yard for the dogs. And floors that you can wipe away dirt from easily. Windows with a view. And much loved pieces of artwork that tell stories of where we’ve been.
It’s been a long road.
But one that leaves me grateful for the time to explore this part of myself in such a deep way.
Turning what we have into everything we’ve ever wanted, with so much less than what was ever imagined.