I’m writing this for all of the women who think that minimalism is only for men, only for the single guys who travel through life without baggage or attachment. This is for the women searching for inspiration and ready for change. It’s for the women who …
- think it’s too late to change
- are afraid of what their friends and family will think
- are overwhelmed with busyness
- feel guilty for wanting something different
- are scared to let go
The practical tips of decluttering and minimalism are helpful, but it’s connecting with a story from someone who is most like you that encourages change.
This is not in any way meant to discount the awesome men minimalists out there. I love you too. This is simply a reminder that women can be minimalists too.
Last year, or maybe 2 years ago, I received an email that opened with, “Dear Leo …” The email was in response to an article that Leo Babauta wrote about simplicity and the holidays. I don’t remember the exact words, but the email was from a woman scolding Leo.
She said that simplicity was easy for Leo because he had a wife that was taking care of everything. She told him that wives and moms were busy making holiday meals, decorating the house, and taking care of their families. She summed up the email by letting Leo (and me) know that simplifying everything was easy for men, but impossible for women.
I can’t remember if I responded or just forwarded the email to Leo, but if I could respond now, and reach some of the women out there who are looking for examples of women thriving because of minimalism this is what I’d say:
Dear Beautiful Women,
I am just like you. I thought simplicity was for other people living lives that are less complicated than mine.
I am a wife and mother, and minimalism changed my life. I waited until I was in my late 30s to start simplifying. I was working full-time in advertising sales. I was deep in debt, and had been since I was 18. I was taking care of my family, pets, and a big house full of stuff. I was overwhelmed with every responsibility that a woman could have. I was also newly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, so on top of the usual stuff, I was sick and tired and scared.
I started by changing my diet and eliminating meat. Then I took a good look at all of the other things that were causing stress to my body and my life and set out to eliminate them. It took several years, but with the help of my family, I got rid of the clutter, the debt, the shopping, the commitments, and eventually my job and house.
Each change fueled the next. It wasn’t what my friends and co-workers were doing, or even most of my family, but I was feeling lighter every day. It wasn’t easy, or fun every day, and there were times when I was really scared to make these big changes.
I didn’t get rid of everything all at once, but the more that I let go of, the more space I made for myself to figure out what really mattered. From physical items, to activities, to relationships, I gained great clarity on what I wanted in my life and what I didn’t. And with that, the courage to say no to the excess. I stopped trying to prove my worth by what I owned, or spent, or even accomplished. I felt happier, and my health improved dramatically.
Minimalism didn’t ask me to neglect my family or responsibilities, but it did invite me to consider what I really needed to be happy, to raise my daughter, and to nurture my marriage.
There are great men living lives inspired by minimalism, and there are great women too. These are women living full lives with big responsibilities who have discovered a better way to live and take care of themselves and the people they love.
A few of them write about how simplicity and minimalism have improved their lives. Let them build you up.
Tammy and her husband built a tiny house together. She knows that there isn’t a one-size fits all approach to living simply. After spending five years working with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, she learned how important it is to talk about options, rather than telling people what to do or what to think.
She writes here: Rowdy Kittens
Brooke has learned a lot about what it takes to start simplifying and find happiness in the every day. She lives in Australia with her two children and husband.
She writes here: Slow Your Home.
Tsh is traveling around the world with her three children and husband. She believes that a passport truly is a portal for the world’s greatest textbook—the actual planet and all her inhabitants.
She writes here: The Art of Simple.
Natalie used to work too much, and suffered from anxiety and depression. Minimalism helped her focus on her health and relationships, travel more, and live in the moment.
She writes here: Sincere Spaces.
Francine believes that minimalism isn’t about emptiness for the sake of emptiness — but rather making room to move freely, think clearly, and open ourselves to the beauty and wonder of life.
She writes here: Miss Minimalist.
Rachel took the plunge in September of 2010 and donated, sold and recycled five car loads worth of house wares, electronics, clothing and furniture. Months later her husband was offered an overseas job opportunity. They sold all of their furniture and donated another car load of belongings before moving.
She writes here: The Minimalist Mom.
Katy is a library patron, leftovers technician, Goodwill enthusiast, utility bill scholar, labor and delivery nurse, laundry hanger-upper, mother and citizen.
She writes here: The Non-Consumer Advocate.
Be and her family live the Zero Waste lifestyle. As a result, their lives have completely changed, for the better. They feel happier, and lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff.
She writes here: Zero Waste Home.
There are many more women who are minimalists and simple living advocates, writing about it or not. Be inspired by their stories and then create your own story that will inspire others. There is room for change in your life, and minimalism can help.
P.S. If I can ever be helpful, please let me know.