charley, a fellow blogger, recently shared his journey of becoming minimalist with us through our share your story page. if you enjoy reading charley’s story, you can catch more of his thoughts on minimalism at you, simplified.
For most of my adult life I was always enamored with the concept of minimalism. I fantasized about being able to pack my life away into the back of my Jeep Wrangler and just hitting the open road.
I never did. I just got older, more entrenched in the american dream, and slowly, yet surely accumulated hundreds of books, over a thousand CD’s, closets full of clothing and little room to walk around anything.
I turned 36 early in 2009 and it was around that time that my wife and I learned that we’d be giving birth to triplets later in the year, our first children.
We had a difficult pregnancy. Precisely at the half way mark, my wife was abruptly carted into the hospital because she was already having contractions and dilating. She just thought the babies were kicking a lot and had ignored it for a few days, no fault to her. We’d never been pregnant before.
She spent the next six plus weeks in the hospital and I spent my time working during the day, then living out of a messenger bag in the hospital overnight with my wife, sleeping in a one-person pull out chair.
At first I was miserable in that pull out “bed,” living out of a bag, but after two weeks I really got to enjoy it. I realized I didn’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. In a strange way, I was living my minimalist dream. With few distractions in the hospital we played games, talked a lot, I did a lot of writing, a lot of questioning and evaluating my life as my wife rested.
We had our babies at 27 weeks gestation, they just wouldn’t stay put any longer. My son Owen and my daughter Bella were born under two pounds. My other son Noah was just over two pounds.
For the next five months we spent our free time in the hospital’s Neo-natal ICU as the triplets nearly died multiple times, had many surgeries, and many ups and downs.
They grew little by little and hit the milestones. We nursed them under the tutelage of the great staff at the hospital.
We learned that stuff wasn’t important, family was, and all of our stuff sat home unused for months.
Our children came home late in 2009, healthy (not without their challenges) and we are so very thankful for this miracle.
As a result of these experiences, I’ve taken the last six weeks to evaluate all of my stuff and parse out the unessential so that I could concentrate more on the essential.
I learned that my family was the most important thing. I also learned that I loved the process of writing and sharing and decided that my corporate job in Finance was not my passion. No, my passion is to write and teach and so I’ve started a plan to transition out of the corporate world and into projects that make me happy and inspire me.
I started a blog for the babies, then another about simplicity, wrote an eBook, started another book, and set some very challenging goals for 2010.
I’ve decided to join the 100 Thing Challenge and share my experiences with people on my blog, yousimplified.net. I’ve also issued “no spend” challenges on my previous clutter categories: clothing, books, and music CD’s for 2010.
I’ve digitized a few hundred songs I like and donated the CD’s. I chose not to digitize whole CD’s because much of the music on an album is filler and digital clutter is hardly better than physical clutter.
My book shelf is down to the 10 books I plan to read in 2010 (and a few Kindle books that I read on my IPOD Touch), plus leather bound copies of Tao Te Ching, Thoreau’s Walden and Coelho’s The Alchemist that I couldn’t bear to part with.
I decluttered my wardrobe and sent 36 dress shirts to the Salvation Army, leaving behind six of basic colors that can match any of three pairs of dress pants I own. I went from seven pairs of jeans to two and untold dozens of t-shirts that I had from entering 5k races over the years went out the door. Getting dressed is no longer confusing.
Yes, some stuff is still boxed up in the garage, awaiting a year’s time when I will be in a better place to let it all go.
I feel pleased when I look around my home. There is abundance in the simplicity that I’ve created.
Yes, baby swings and toys and play pens have taken up some of the space (no, we don’t have three of everything), but I do not consider these clutter as it brings me joy when I watch my children sleeping or playing.
I wonder whether I would still be mired in clutter-hell were it not for the life changing experience of having such delicate children born to us?
I’ll likely not ever be able to jump in my Jeep with all my gear and hit the open road…I have too many important reasons not to now. But I know that if my house were ever on fire, I’d care about none of it except for getting my wife, children, and pets out safely. We’d have each other and there isn’t much more that we’d need.
we’re all cheering for you charley. may your children stay healthy. and may you and your wife remain energized for parenting triplets.
we are always looking for stories to share with our growing number of readers. we enjoy reading all stories whether you are just testing out minimalism, just starting out on the journey, or helping others figure it out. we find encouragement in all places. consider sharing your story today.