Simplicity in Action: Kelvin

Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.

Kelvin

In some ways my simplicity journey is more like a re-birth. I was born in the Caribbean island of Grenada and also lived in Venezuela. Life was simple in both contexts. Our family didn’t have much except for the basics; but I was happy for the most part.

In 1997, I migrated to the United States and suddenly I was exposed to more choices. Everything was bigger, better, modern, and easily accessible. I was in the land of opportunities and the American Dream was within my reach.

But soon, SallieMae found me and I had acquired thousands of dollars of student loans. Eventually, there were also credit cards, a mortgage, a car note or two, and monthly bills. It didn’t seem that long ago since I had come to America with only 2 suitcases filled with all my possessions.

My wife and I reflected on this reality after moving across country to Denver in a 27-feet moving truck full of stuff back in 2013. We knew life was going in the wrong direction for us, so we thought a relocation was the answer. The stress of life had also been affecting my health and took a toll on the unity of our family. I wanted a simple lifestyle but I didn’t know where to begin.

While unloading the moving truck, a black garbage bag of CDs busted and scattered all over the pavement. The guy helping us, after apologizing for the accident, commented, “Dude, have you guys ever thought about going digital and not carry all these CDs around?”

It was a well-meaning and innocent statement. But I felt embarrassed because we had so much junk. Over the next few days, my wife and I decided to take a hard look at our possessions. I went online and my research introduced me to ZenHabits, Becoming Minimalist and Be More With Less. This sparked my simplicity journey and my life progressively began to change in many ways.

What I changed about my life

I got rid of stuff. This was the most obvious place to begin. I was tired of the clutter and having to spend my Saturdays re-organizing the basement. We threw away, donated and sold as much as we could initially. Then we committed to getting rid of at least 2 boxes of anything, every week for the next 11 months.

When we relocated to Denver, we didn’t have plans for more children. But a few months later we found out that not only were we pregnant, but that we were having twins. In hindsight, I feel our commitment to de-cluttering helped create space for the 2 precious lives we’ve now welcomed in our space. Now a family of six, we are even more dedicated to keeping things simple in our home.

I disconnected from social media. I was always connected to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially for my previous jobs. I was addicted, constantly checking status updates.

So I deleted (not just deactivated) all my accounts for 8 months. It was weird not being able to communicate or “be in the know.” But as the voices were silenced and the distractions reduced something happened. I found my own voice and began to appreciate my physical relationships even more.

I let go of toxic relationships. I’m a pretty outgoing person. However, certain relationships were harmful in my life. They consumed my time, emotions, and were the cause of unnecessary drama and anxiety in our home.

I began the process by deleting contacts from my cell phone and email accounts. I threw away pictures and gifts that carried emotional baggage. I wrote letters that were never mailed and then dissolved those friendships as discretely and simply as I could. Letting go is never easy, but it was imperative for me.

I started caring for my health. I got outside and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I walked to work when possible. I started jogging again. I even got into the habit of taking nature pictures. It was refreshing!

I also learned about the many health issues that can be prevented with proper diet and became more intentional about food consumption. Today, our family is all on board with mono-mealing and eating as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible.

We can all make life less complicated. It’s something I’m still working on. I’m learning to avoid the unnecessary comparisons we tend to make between others and ourselves. I’m well on my way to living debt free; and I’ve learned to be grateful for the simple things that life brings.

The most important lesson learned, however, is appreciating the people in my life. My marriage and relationship with my children are stronger. It is true – relationships are our most valuable possession, not things.

Read more from Kelvin at Going Uncomplicated and say hi on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Diane Rhoden says

    Wow! So this is a new journey for you and your family. What were the habits that helped you to save up and pay off your debt?

    • says

      Well Diane, there were several things and we are thing working on it.

      We first wrote down our debts on paper, said no to credit cards, and then started paying them off – smallest to largest, as recommended by Dave Ramsey. Our simple lifestyle also helps because it reduces the urge to consume unnecessary stuff. We are also learning to be grateful for what we already have and for our relationships – our most valuable possession.

  2. Kathryn says

    “SallieMae found me…” No kidding. The bane of all students!

    Great post, happy to be a small part of your journey. And, that I get to learn from you and Camilla–you’ve helped me to simplify!!

  3. Kay says

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kelvin. The baby part of the story was the same in my case as well.. After trying for a child for 2.5 yrs, I conceived within 2 months of letting go of some negative people in my life. And I strongly believe that some nice positive space was created for the baby’s in our life for her to come and join us.

    • says

      That’s an amazing story Kay. Congrats!! I do believe it’s important to create a positive atmosphere in our home and daily living. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Kath says

    I really took to heart what you wrote… and was very inspired by your life… I too want to simplify my life… Thank you for writing such a wonderful story of your life… we can all learn from this…

    • says

      You are welcome Kath. It’s all a process. I’m still simplifying after a year. So take baby steps and you’ll get there. Check out Courtney’s “10 Tiny Tasks to Declutter Your Home” a few days ago.

  5. Terri says

    Brilliant! Deeply appreciate your inspiring message. It arrives at a meaningful and perfect moment in my life. I’m on a solo journey to de-crap my life and LOSE the identities associated with it. I fall into some slumps as we probably all do when we are tossing stuff out. They don’t last long as I am very committed to changing the way I live. Reading posts like this is like a tow truck pulling me out of the slump allowing me to get back on track again. It takes community. I just subscribed to your blog. Thank you much-ly.

    • says

      I’m glad it helped Terri. You are not alone. As you said, “It takes community.” Continue to follow blogs like Courtney’s and you’ll find the support and encouragement you need. YOU can do this!! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ann says

    Kelvin,
    Thank you for sharing. Congrats to you & your wife on the birth of your twins!
    I think ending toxic relationships is the hardest thing to do. But, it’s the best thing to do to make room in your life for other experiences. It has focused my energies on those who are most important in my life.
    Good luck in your journey.
    Ann

    • says

      The twins are doing well. They are 4 months. Yes, toxic relationships are not easy to dissolved. It take time, intentionality, and sometimes some tears. I’m glad you are focusing your energies on those who really matters. Thanks for sharing Ann.

  7. says

    I was recently visiting my parents. I’m living 500 miles away to attend graduate school, but when I go visit, I am tasked with cleaning my room, where most of my stuff still resides. I share an apartment (although not a room, thank goodness) with four other people and storage is limited which is why I don’t have all my belongings. Even if I pared down, there wouldn’t be room. That being said, I find it easier and easier to part with items each time. Today, in Target with a dear friend shopping for a wedding gift for another friend of hers, I looked at all the storage items and kitchen gear. I probably picked up a dozen items, putting them all back with the exception of two dish towels. I want new dishes and fun storage items for food and utensils and things, but there is no room. I live with people I don’t really know and I don’t want to risk items I cherish getting broken. But it taught me a lesson: I probably don’t really need it. So, thank you for this. You’ve inspired me to do some cleaning.

    • says

      Brianna, I’m glad it helped. The lesson learned is something we all discover in our simplicity journey – most of our possessions are excess, we don’t really need them. This has been my experience living in America.

  8. says

    I love how your story shows it is possible to get back to your roots. Your commitment is inspiring Kelvin, as is your writing.

    Best wishes on the journey, to you and your family.

    • says

      Yes, its possible. The biggest changes have taken place in my mind and choosing to embrace the simple lifestyle. Connecting with like minded bloggers have also inspired me. Thanks for sharing Liz and best wishes to you as well.

  9. says

    I most appreciated the part about deleting contacts from your phone and that sort of thing. I really need to do that. I’m pretty good with physical stuff, but I find myself a little weighed down with digital clutter!

    • says

      Wish we could just “box” the toxic relationships and drop them off at the local donation store. Dealing with people is tough but not impossible. Looks like you are on your way. Thanks for sharing Traci.

  10. Valerie says

    Great insights, really enjoyed how you evolved to see what needed to be done, and got on track. Great job! Congrats on the twins… :)

  11. says

    Thata post was well worth the wait. I think the relationship piece is so important. If you are anything like me, toxic relationships can have a profound affect on how you feel day-to-day. Spending time or energy on people who don’t build you up or help you grow can be really detrimental to peace of mind.

    I am also curious – what is mono-mealing? :)

    • says

      Thank you Sasha. As you said, toxic relationships can detrimental to our health. Once I let go, I experienced freedom. There is less stress, anxiety, and drama in my life.

      Mono-mealing is eating one thing for that particular meal. You don’t have to go all day with it. For example, one night we all devoured 2 cantaloupes. Another time, for lunch, we just ate several pineapples. It’s good to mono-meal with fruits, where you can get hydrated as well as full all at the same time. It also makes digestion simpler as your body only has to break down one thing.

  12. Nicole says

    Excellent piece Kelvin. Blessings on your journey to becoming debt free. I made my final debt payment a couple weeks ago it feels amazing to know longer be enslaved to “the man” :)

    • says

      Congrats to you Nicole on becoming debt free! I’m sure it took lots of sacrifice and hard work. I’m working on mine and can’t wait to share my debt free story as well. #freedom

    • says

      Kristi, I used several methods. Some I just ended. Others ended by themselves once I established certain boundaries in the relationships. And last, I was direct and communicated my intentions.

      I think every relationship must be handled differently. Like, I don’t recommend face to face if abuse was involved. As stated in the post, letting go is not an easy but it’s possible.

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