Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
I discovered voluntary simplicity at the time in my life when I had the most space–and the most stuff. My husband and I were living in a two-bedroom apartment and my mother had just died, so my stepfather kept bringing over boxes of her possessions: canning jars, craft supplies, and decade-old toiletries. My huge apartment was brimming with stuff, mine and my mother’s, and it was time to do something about it.
With inspiration from Be More With Less and other blogs, I dug in and started getting rid of things, box by box. In the end I only kept two things from my mother: her car and her guitar.
Over the next two years my husband and I moved three times, first into my sister’s attic, then into a room in a shared house, and finally into a studio apartment. With each move we decreased our possessions until it was time to prepare for the biggest transition of all: full-time travel. I drew up a packing list, spent months selling, donating, and occasionally throwing away our last few extraneous possessions, and finally the day was upon us. We loaded up our car with our camping gear and backpacks, stored a few boxes with family members, and hit the road.
After a three-month road trip we moved to the final stage of minimizing: preparing to live out of our 46 liter backpacks. We left our camping gear and a few boxes at my sister’s house and squeezed everything we would carry with us for the next year or two into our backpacks. Amazingly, it fit! As I write this we’re about to finish up a month on Maui and head to Australia and New Zealand. We’ve never felt freer or lighter, and none of this would have been possible without a concentrated effort to live more simply.
Our travel goal was the best motivator to actually get rid of our things, but voluntary simplicity has affected other areas of our lives as well. When I realized how many things I held on to “just in case” I simplified my idea of myself. I decided to focus on one or two hobbies, rather than keep all of my art supplies, massage supplies, musical instruments, and sports equipment that were just taking up space.
Now I focus on writing, which requires no extra supplies. I have no gym, so I run and do bodyweight exercises. My music, movies, books, and photographs are all digitalized. My hairstyle and clothes have become more simple and versatile, and I require only one bath product. My relationship with my husband has become focused on making our dreams come true, and enjoying them together when they do!
No part of my life has been unaffected by my transition to simplicity. And while travel was a huge motivator to downsize, our decluttering and simplifying is also what made our long-term travels possible.
On the road we need less, enjoy more, and do it all on an extremely frugal budget. I am so grateful that I found minimalism and voluntary simplicity, put in the long hours required to transform my life, and can now enjoy the freedom I’ve always longed for. This path may begin with emptying out a box or a drawer, but where it can lead is limited only by your imagination!
Read more from Zoe on her blog, Born Naked.