rainy day stickman by sellallyourstuff.com

How Do People Become Minimalists?

As you know I don’t like to label myself as a “minimalist”, I let others give me that label. If I was going to label myself I’d go with President of Awesomeness…or King Awesomeness…or maybe just Mr. Awesomeness…Ruler of all things Awesome sounds good too. I digress. We didn’t just wake up one day and say “let’s become minimalists”. Like all those who also live a minimalist lifestyle, we too had a catalyst for our minimalist lifestyle.

The following is a guest post from Angela Horn of Mostly Mindful. Ang has been featured on TedX Cape Town, and alongside her partner, Sporty, they’ve learned to live a minimalist lifestyle and avoid debt, meat, and sometimes road rage! So, how do people become minimalists? Read on peeps…

Some Things You Shouldn’t Save for a Rainy Day

By Angela Gaye Horn

I’m staring into my mother’s cupboard and it’s the towels I notice first. Brand new, some of them still in their wrapping. They’ve been there for so many years the cellophane is yellow with age, disintegrating and covered in a film of dust.

We all have our weaknesses, Mom’s was hand towels. Every couple of weeks she’d come home with a new one. As a kid I was confused. “Why can’t we use them?” I’d ask her.

“I’m saving them for a special occasion.” she’d always reply.

That left me even more perplexed. We didn’t have special occasions in our house. My parents weren’t the most sociable of people.

The only guests we ever had over were Nana and Uncle John and clearly neither of them was special enough to warrant hauling out the new hand towels, because even when they came to visit we still had the old, worn ones hanging in the bathroom.

I’m thinking about this as I start packing Mom’s suitcase. I fill it with everything I think she’ll need: clothes, shoes, pajamas, toiletries. I place the towels on top and that’s when I come undone.

It’s no special occasion, but she’ll finally get to use them. The only problem is, she won’t know. She’s in a care facility for people with Alzheimer’s.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but that was the exact moment the minimalist seed was planted.

We’ve always loved moving. I’m not sure why that is, but for whatever reason we get itchy feet every six months to a year.

Before, when we still had all the usual suburban trappings, this caused a lot of angst (there’s a reason why moving is said to be more stressful than divorce).

It’s a process: find boxes, pack, arrange movers, hover nearby to make sure said movers don’t scratch anything, freak out when they do, start unpacking, recognise the magnitude of the task at hand and rush out to procure large quantities of alcohol and take-out. Repeat.

We were on the brink of moving again in July of 2008 when I had an epiphany slash mini meltdown. In my head, so nothing messy thank goodness. Just one clearly punctuated thought:

  1. Absolutely. Cannot. Go. Through. This. Again.

I love many things about Sporty, but one of my favourites is her willingness to try new things. We’d just bought new furniture when I presented my hair-brained scheme, but in spite of this all it took was the gentlest of nudges for her to be totally on-board.

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This bold move (which felt like anything but at the time), has resulted in us being happier and more fulfilled than we’ve ever been. It’s also led to me speaking at TEDx Cape Town, writing a blog, finding my passion, and becoming more mindful.

Most importantly, we’re now not only debt-free, but have solid investments and money in the bank for a rainy day. What’s interesting though, is since adopting this ‘less is more’ lifestyle we don’t seem have rainy days anymore.

I think it’s the stuff we insist on accumulating that complicates our lives and costs us money. The less you own, the more you have: more money, more time, and definitely more freedom.

Knowing my Mom never got to enjoy her hand towels does make me a little sad, but I’m so grateful to her for setting us off on what has proven to be the most amazing journey ever.

There you have it. People don’t wake up and become minimalists. We all have triggers, and we all seem to have relatives that hang on to stuff. Having lived in Panama and after traveling some more, I’ve taken on a similar outlook as Ang about stuff – but also being mindful.

You may think that these were “just towels”, but these towels are definitely symbolic for them in more ways than one. After all, if you don’t have rainy days, you don’t need extra towels to dry off.

Now go sell all your stuff and stop saving stuff for a rainy day!



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