As featured in The Star (December 4th 2012): Meet Generation M.
My excerpt can be found here:
One Toronto minimalist blogs anonymously as Mochi & Macarons. The 28-year-old business consultant, who didn’t want her name used in this article, says minimalism is a commitment to living a mindful life. It is not a competition to see who can live with the least amount of money or things, she says.
She likes the idea that she can pack her life into her car. The consultant who admits to being a former “shopaholic” once had a commodious apartment and closets full of clothes. Now, because she travels constantly, she lives out of a suitcase and in hotels.
During the Christmas season she has a rule of thumb. “I don’t give gifts unless I see that they are of a practical nature.”
She believes it’s the compulsion to impress friends and family that contributes to holiday stress. “So rather than being a time of enjoyment, it ends up being a painful endeavor that you wish would end as soon as possible.”
“What I do ask for during the holiday season is to meet up with my friends and family, de-stress, talk over a cup of tea or dinner and to connect in-person in this very tech-oriented, disconnected society that we live in.”
“Happiness can’t be purchased in stores,” she says.
It has started to crop up in comments and emails (not just from the article above) about how people think it is impossible that I can dare call myself a minimalist, yet I clearly like to shop.
(I mean, Boxing Day Sales, HELLO?! I should just wait until December to buy everything I want.)
The simplest answer is:
Lifestyles are never black and white.
There are extremists at each end, but the majority of minimalists fall within the grey area.
I’m in that grey area.
I practice what I now call:
I only choose to be a minimalist what certain things that don’t matter to me (furniture, decoration, a huge home), and maximialist for things that give me the most pleasure (e-books, data hoarding, videos, clothes I love to wear).
Or, you can call me a ‘closetarian minimalist‘, if you prefer.
Many people think being a minimalist means all of the following:
– Being eco-friendly by shunning cars and going vegan
– Don’t like variety and will only wear neutral colours for life
– Really into yoga, homeopathic remedies, and all about their ‘chi’
– Doesn’t watch TV. EVER.
– Never buying anything
– Never using chemicals
– Lives with only 100 items (one of which includes a teacup)
– Shuns materialism and consumerism
– Thinks anyone who likes stuff is a mindless shopping zombie
– Being 100% frugal to the point where you reuse plastic bags & floss
– Only sleeps on people’s couches and doesn’t have a home
People who are minimalists CAN be all of the above, but you don’t have to do any of the following to be a minimalist.
WHERE I FIT IN THAT MOULD
The above, is a very black and white mould and kind of like a horrible prison.
There is no room for error and either you do all of those things or people turn their noses up at you because you’re not a true believer.
What a load of crap.
(It makes it all sound like a cult.)
For instance, I am trying to be eco-friendly because I personally believe it’s the right thing to do, but I am not militant about it.
I don’t have a car because I don’t need one, but I have no objections against buying or using them. Nor do I have objections against watching TV (have you seen how many TV shows I watch!?)
I don’t have a house because I haven’t settled down yet, but I’m not opposed to buying one if it made more sense than renting (it doesn’t at the moment, but it might someday).
I enjoy practicing yoga, but I don’t believe in the meditation and the philosophy behind yoga — I just enjoy stretching and feeling more limber as a result.
As for meat and animal-products, I love leather goods, and enjoy eating meat, but it simply isn’t healthy to eat meat everyday, although I do think killing animals like foxes just for their fur is cruel (we don’t even eat them!!).
What works for me, is eating mostly fruits, vegetables and being vegetarian, and eating meat once every other day or less. I don’t find it to be something I should consider a holy food war, and start tsking at people who eat meat every day.
Do what you want to do, call it what you want, and I’ll do the same.
WHAT MINIMALISM MEANS TO ME
To me, it’s a practical way to describe why I live the way I do so that people understand it in an easy way.
The overarching reason why I am a minimalist, is because I travel a lot for work.
I’m always in different cities for short periods of time, and I get really frustrated when I don’t have MY things with me.
I want to use my kitchen stuff, have access to my whole wardrobe and have my own things with me, but it isn’t practical to travel with a whole house in a trailer.
Therefore, I minimize what I own, so I can travel with everything I need/want in one car.
Other so-called ‘minimalist’ behaviour of mine includes sleeping on the floor.
I like sleeping on Japanese futons because it feels better, and you can buy them here at: J-Life International (USA-based line of Japanese products)*
*I will get a 5% commission referral if you buy from them, so thank you!
It’s also far more practical in that I just need a sleeping bag or two (or a futon), covered in a bed sheet on a floor to sleep.
No bed frame or mattress required, or worrying about rolling off the bed and bumping my head!
Oh…. and I can certainly afford a bed, so it isn’t like I’m purposefully trying to be cheap or immature because I’m afraid of buying a bed and growing up into being an adult (yes.. a true comment I once received in regards to my loving my Japanese futon parterre).
NO ONE HAS TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THEIR STUFF BECAUSE I SURE DON’T!
I don’t think it’s weird that people like and miss their stuff.
I like my stuff too!!
I just want to be sure that I have only what I want/need, and to not be excessive in my things where it holds no value for me (Really, who needs 5 hammers when one will do? Or a massive printer/fax/scanner monstrosity when I can have a slim portable scanner and print the odd page once in a blue moon at a printing store?).
What I find really insulting is when people jokingly or not, call me a “weirdo minimalist”.
It’s the way I chose to live my life, and it’s really none of their business because I’m not being a militant about it and trying to shove it down people’s throats.
If someone is curious about being a minimalist, then great! I’m happy to explain how I worked it into my life and what I find works for me and what doesn’t (all-natural products are not moisturizing enough for my eczema-riddled skin and my body hates it).
Otherwise, if it’s not your cup of tea, I understand completely.
I’m not about to judge someone who wants to have a whole room as their closet (it’s actually my secret dream if I ever end up owning a home, to have a whole room just for my clothes and things).
IN SUMMARY, I AM A “MINIMALIST” BECAUSE:
- Some of what I do, fits into the ‘minimalist’ stereotype*
- I travel and move too much to not find it practical
- I hate lugging stuff around I don’t use all the time..
- …but paradoxically, I want all my stuff with me!
- And last of all, simply because it works for me.
*I do yoga to have a more flexible body; I try to be eco-friendly when I can; I eat less meat to have a healthier diet; I sleep on the floor because I prefer it; I don’t own any furniture; I travel a lot and want all my stuff with me; I don’t care about ‘image’ and status; I don’t like clutter…..
And that’s the bottom line:
Less money spent means more money saved
More money saved means the longer you can live in financial peace and security
Financial peace and security comes from owning less
Less stuff owned means less to carry around, move or have to travel with
Less responsibility for your stuff also means less maintenance and more time
The more time you have, the more relaxed you will feel
The more relaxed you are, the less you will care about stuff
If you care less about stuff, it means you’ll care less about image
If you care less about image, you will care more about experiences and memories
If you care more about experiences and memories, you will be happier with less
If you are happier with less, you’ll never want or need for more
The less you want or need for more, the more you will feel free
I hope that’s cleared up a few misconceptions!