Jessica’s Story

I think it’s surprising how many positive e-mails I receive that begin like this, “You probably hear this a lot, but I just wanted to say thank you…” I always reply with the exact same response, “I haven’t received so many that I don’t appreciate yours…” And I truly mean it.

Jessica Hall looked up my e-mail address and sent me this heart-warming and inspirational story. It was so good I asked if I could share it with you. She said, “Yes.” So, here it is:

I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I really enjoy your blog. I would have never been interested in the world of minimalism had I not seen your blog. It’s unreal how it has changed our lives and way of thinking.

We started a purge of our home 6 months ago, the first time we did it, we were not really good, it was hard to let go of things and we really made no impact. However as we dug deeper into your blog and other blogs, we began having conversations about the life we want to live, about what is truly important to us, how we want to raise our daughter and so on….then we went back at it.

We were amazed at how much easier it was to unload things and boy, did we get rid of tons… and we are not even pack rats, we are usually clean and organized. We spent months doing this, it was such a long process and stressful at times, but only because of the mess we created in our home. We were tired of maintaining things, it was taking away from our time together, I didn’t want my down time to be spent doing laundry or cleaning, I wanted to hang with my husband and daughter…or go out and so on.

We went through our clothes, books, dvds, paperwork, photos, everything. We got rid of extra dishes and silverware. We also took this opportunity to turn our home into a green home as much as possible. We even got rid of our microwave, we needed the counter space and really nothing good comes of the microwave except heating up food, which we can do on the stove. We got rid of all our laundry baskets but 1, the rule is, when it’s full we do laundry right away, less laundry builds up….we got rid of one of our computers, we tried to get rid of cable, but due to needing Internet and the phone the deal made sense to keep it. But we did get rid of the DVR (which was a big move). We also decided to no longer buy crap items just because they are inexpensive, we wait and save a bit more and buy an item that is of better quality – it gets old tossing Ikea furniture because it craps out on you in a few years. Our bedroom is now down to our bed and a dresser, we took out the TV and other items. It’s so nice to wake up to such an open and clean room. We got rid of the amount of towels we had as well as sheets. You name it we did it (sorry I am rambling)….

I could go on and on, I hope this made sense. We tell our friends our story and they often look at us like we are crazy. But then they see how the change has made our life less stressful and more balanced and they ask us what they should do….

Thanks for doing what you do and sharing your story! It has made a difference for me and my family!!

Peace~ Jessica

If you ask me, you can never receive that e-mail too many times…

***

I did want to take a personal moment just to thank each of you for being a reader of Becoming Minimalist. This week, we passed 7,000 subscribers! That reality continues to amaze me given the fact that this blog was started late on a Saturday night as just a means to keep my extended family updated on our minimalist journey. I never dreamt it would be read by others or become what it is today. Thanks for making the ride so enjoyable.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Wonderful story that was shared with you!
    You guys do influence others, and in such a positive way. We too are very glad to have found this site. We have a lot of work to do, but given how we approach other parts of our lives, we feel that taking more of a minimalist approach is not only in order, and healthy – but it aligns with how we want to live.
    Thanks,
    SPF

  2. says

    Damn Joshua, doesn’t it make what you do worth it, to have the ability to touch peoples lives to their core.

    I know your writing has an effect on me- so keep doing what your doin’ I love it!

    Much respect,

    Eric

    • says

      Yeah, it’s interesting. At first, the writing was worth it just to keep my extended informed. Then, it was worth it just to keep a record of our journey. But these days, yeah, the opportunity to inspire is what makes it worth it.

  3. says

    Hey Joshua,

    Thanks for sharing these real life experiences. As someone who has only just discovered the concepts of minimalism, and who has family who are unsure of the concept, it’s good to see how people get started and the impact it has!

    Mike

    • says

      Different styles of writing seem to speak to different people in different ways. Reading stories of others has always been motivational to me and one of the reasons we continue to post them (though less frequently than we used to).

  4. says

    So glad whenever you post a story like this because it continues to encourage me! We are just starting out on our minimalistic journey…and we have 3 small sons so it has been quite the adventure even just starting! BUT like this woman pointed out we know by “losing” our stuff we are gaining so much more: more time, less stress….in fact tonight during a black out caused by a storm I thought of something you could add to your “benefits list” “No walking into crap on the floor when the power goes out”. We’ve slowly been purging and not that there’s not an occasional lego on the floor or an army men, the floor space has been decluttered so much I didn’t have to worry about walking into stuff that didn’t have a place lying around. :)

  5. says

    My desire to minimize stems from my dream to relocate to a warmer climate where I can spend more time outdoors (preferable the beach) instead of inside looking at (or cleaning) all my stuff (like I am now because it’s 16 degrees out). Hubby and I don’t want to move all this stuff so we’ve been letting go of things for about 3 years now. We are at the final layer where the choice to keep it or not gets much harder. There are no basements where we want to go and it took a while for hubby to get on board, but now he is unstoppable and the basement is getting bigger every week. He says the last thing to go will be his tools. Our 16 year old is having the hardest time parting with anything. Out of 100 beanie babies, she let go of about 7 and we just had to buy another bookcase for her books. We have 3 more years until she graduates high school and that’s when we plan on moving, so there’s time.

    • says

      I have noticed with my children that it does seem to come easier to some people than others. Value your next three years. And don’t let “stuff” come in between your relationship. It’s not worth it.

  6. coco says

    great story! we are also a family who started out pretty organized and are just letting more and more go layer by layer. also for me stopping the incoming was crucial. for years i shopped for fun then got rid of things because they bugged me. i was always giving stuff away and i realized i had really changed when my mom or sis would say recently “do you have a _____ i can have?” usually i would, but not anymore because i stopped buying!!!!!

  7. Heidi says

    I love her story. We are in a similar process and so happy with how our life is changing. I’m excited to bring up her kids without them being surrounded by stuff and the confusion that muddled our minds.

    Clothes is a big struggle for me but I can manage the holding on pattern now and be more practical.

    We want to homeschool and gear our kids towards the competition they will face in the “flat” world. Minimalism supports this so much!

    Heidi

  8. Christa says

    I love this story because it reminds me so much of my own process. We started “simplifying” 4 yrs ago, and now we are at the point of “minimizing” Sometimes it does take time to slowly shed the weight of stuff.
    Now I am trying to minimize my weight! haha You can’t be a fat minimalist.

  9. Joshua & Ryan | The Minimalists says

    Jessica,

    Congrats! Starting the journey is the harding part. We found that out at the beginning of our journey into minimalism. Thanks for allowing Joshua B. to share your story.

    Take care,

    Joshua & Ryan
    theminimalists.com

  10. says

    Thank you Joshua for sharing your journey to becoming a minimalist! I think it’s very reassuring, (especially as I have a family with small children) to find someone who has been there and done that, the example that it is achievable.
    We are also planning to move to a warmer climate in about two years and are trying to decide what if anything is really worth keeping. I’m still in the very early stages of committing to minimalism, I don’t think that my husband and I are entirely on the same page about it yet.

    • says

      Amy, We all weren’t on the same page either until our last trip to Florida this past summer. That was the trip where we fully committed to the fact that we really wanted to live there, even in 90 degree heat and humidity. Hubby was thinking outloud on the plane ride home about all the things he could start selling when we got back and he’s really been on a roll since then. Our teenage daughter wants to move too, but she still wants to hold on to her childhood and is not ready to let go of toys/books/dolls/videos/stuffy animals that have memories attached to them. We may have to put those things in storage. The decision to rid yourself of possessions that you have accumulated over many years is not easy, but once you start, you begin to see things more clearly and understand why it was a good decision. The most important thing to me was realizing that I don’t miss anything,
      so I must have not really needed it in the first place.

      • Katie says

        Lorraine, have your daughter scrapbook her possessions. She could take fun pics of the stuff toys having a tea party, her reading a favourite book etc. Then she could make a special book of these pages then donate her toys to a daycare centre or women’s shelter where the things would be appreciated and put to good use. Your daughter could also make a shadow box of her extra special stuffed toy and book, add a picture of her as a small child and she would always have this momento to hang in her home wherever she lives. If she does both of these things, she only has to carry two things with her instead of more and it would save you storage space.
        I’ve done this and yes it was slightly painful, emotionally but well worth it.

        • says

          Katie, Thanks. I happen to just love your idea, but I don’t think dear daughter is ready for this step just yet. Last week, I took her beanie babies off the shelf and had her go through every one and try and pick out some to say goodbye to. She picked them up, one by one, making this little sound each time. She’s an only child so these were her little friends growing up and she remembers each one’s name and the when she got them. Only about 7 were on the “give away” pile when she was done. I took the rest, put them in the dryer on fluff to get the dust off them, and brought them back to her room. I asked if I can pack some away and she said, “They don’t deserve to go in the basement yet.” So back on the shelf they went. We’re going through Barbies and Bratz dolls next which are already packed away in boxes, but maybe we can thin out the herd a little. BTW, my daughter will be 16 in 2 weeks. :)
          Thanks for the great advice. I love this blog!

  11. says

    I have only recently found your blog. It intrigues me on so many levels. When I look around my home and see so much stuff, I almost get panicky. I can’t stand it most of the time. I am slowly ridding my home of excess. I have changed my approach to shopping and am realigning my goals for my family. Today, in fact, we cleaned out 8 bags of clothes/toys/misc items from my 2 kids rooms. They were both so happy with the end result and loved the open space to play. My husband leaned over to me as we were ridding the rooms of stuff and said to me “All of our excess makes me sick.” We are one family in process of change. Thanks for Becoming Minimalist. Good stuff indeed.

  12. says

    my husband and I have been decluttering and minimizing everything in sight. It’s an ongoing process but after everything is said and done I see the open space in our lives and in our schedules and it’s been worth the effort.

  13. says

    I love reading other people’s minimalism stories — thanks for sharing these Joshua. It’s always inspiring to hear about what other people are doing to live more conscious lives.

  14. Tiffany says

    Good reader post! I love hearing other people’s stories. It’s amazing the impact and weight “stuff” can put on your lives. You don’t even realize it’s weighing you down until you get it out the door.

    My fiancee and I are in the opposite situation. We just bought our first house, and it’s fairly large…and empty. We like it that way. Whenever people come over they always comment on how we have no stuff, and only a few things on the walls. I just smile and nod, and think that they probably have to dust a million things this weekend, and all we have to do is vacuum our empty space :)

  15. says

    That story could be us! Although, we’re somewhere in the middle of that journey. It’s starting to get much easier than at the beginning. You know you’re on the right track when you ask a friend if she wants two of your kitchen knives. I did that and she looked at me like I was crazy! We recently gave away two boxes of books and what a relief it was! The crazy looks happened there too. But I love it. I am loving it. The emotional freedom I feel from letting go of the attachments to THINGS is incredible. It’s almost become a game for us. :-)

  16. says

    So glad I found this blog. I’ve been slowly, but surely minimalist-izing my life. It seems like each time I let go of stuff I have more room in my life for what’s truly important.

  17. says

    I have been simplifying and reducing stuff over 18 months now, and am finally starting to see the fruits of my labour. I made a simple Christmas pledge and I am able to achieve it this year – which I never thought would be possible – it shows how far, we as a family have come. I will be part of your ‘active’ readership going forward, as I have been shying away a little from the term ‘minimalism’ in particular ‘family minimalism’ – I really don’t think I will ever get there fully (not whilst I have the kids at home – I know you have done it and it is awe-inspiring) but I am now comfortable to ‘show my face’… I’m going to have a really good look through everything on your blog over the next few weeks/months – sounds dramatic but was a little scared before! Felt it was beyond reach I guess! Thanks for the inspiration (it was always there in the back of my mind that others were doing it and doing it well) – Jo

  18. says

    Joshua,
    First I want to thank you for the constant stream of inspiration. My husband and I have been through a very unique and difficult season that resulted in us embracing simplicity. I stumbled onto your site a few months ago in the midst of a lot of soul searching and personal upheaval and found much encouragement and motivation to keep at it (simplifying and all that it would lead to). Since then we’ve moved not just cross country but overseas, and as you can imagine, a more “minimized” life and its accompanying stuff made the move and getting our lives in order much easier. Thanks too for featuring other’s transparent experiences; it again motivates and encourages to no end. Families like yours, ours and Jessica’s each have their own distinct process that must be gone through, but we, much like Jessica, have been everything from ridiculed and questioned (as in our sanity ;) ) as well as ultimately emulated, so hearing about other’s “minimal journeys” is great. I think this is the first time I’ve posted here but just had to say thanks for great content this year and for the reminders of right priorities during this season. We already look forward to seeing where becoming minimalist heads in 2011; have a Peace filled Christmas and New Year!

  19. laurie says

    Just found this site through Ali Edwards. I am just beginning this journey of letting go of “stuff.” I’m more excited than scared. We recently moved and the number of boxes in the basement that we haven’t even needed to open is a telling sign of how much stuff we have and how much is just dead weight.

    My first step in this journey has been to stop buying. I could echo so many sentiments about how I purchase just to own (and I’m afraid I’ve taught my young son that habit, too). I’m determined to be a model for limited consumerism.

    My next step is removal. Box by box. Give, throw, sell. Stuff be gone. The only way to make it through that basement is one box at a time. It still looks overwhelming, but I give myself a pep talk regularly. I didn’t collect all that stuff overnight, it will take longer than one day to get rid of it.

    There is a slight possibility we may be moving out of country at the end of next summer. I definitely don’t want to store all this stuff and it’s not moving with us. I sense a really great deadline in my future.

    I’ll keep coming back for more inspiration. Thank you for writing about the journey.

  20. Barb says

    I used to be such a sentimentalist. I think it may have been because I lost my dear sister and then my mother when I was barely in my twenties. It seemed like the things were all I had left of them and throwing away the objects would make them seem even further away. Well, I’m thirty plus years further down the road of life now and have felt an urge to purge. My husband – who has probably never even heard the term “minimalist” – says he is proud of me. I don’t think I even want to go to the 100 things place, but I do feel freer now that I’m not clutching things so tightly. Your blog has been and encouragement to me. Thank you.

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