Minimalism, for us, is a way of life, yet one that we are constantly practicing because as you know, practice makes perfect. It didn’t happen automatically.
Let’s Catch Up!
In 2008, we purchased our first home and we spent the next 8 years filling it with things that were pretty and shiny and would impress people when they visited- at least that is what we thought. We didn’t want anything, that is for sure. If we wanted something, we bought it. The more new and trendy items for our home, the better. We do not have human children, so I even made one of our guest rooms into my giant closet and made my (Shannon) smaller closet in my master, my tiny office. Ger had his own “man room” with all of his music, books, guitar, and anything else that he wanted. Yep, that’s right. That is how our priorities aligned, at that time.
Then, something happened. Owning our own business, that operated with staff providing 24-hour services, we were extremely busy, pulled into a thousand different directions. All of a sudden, we began to realize, all of the “stuff”, meant nothing. Not only did the stress from our business take its toll on our mental and physical health, but in this decision-making time, we lost two of our furbabies, grandparents, and with another one of our furbabies aging, we began taking inventory of what mattered in our lives. The value audit no longer included all of our stuff- our material things. It was difficult to fathom why that stuff ever had any meaning. Having our minds constantly cluttered with business, we began feeling like we needed to have minimal, clutter-free space- a sanctuary where we could only reflect on what mattered.
The Process Began
We were on a mission to declutter our home and our lives. We sold many items that we forgot we had, then the things we didn’t need, and we realized that we were beginning to enjoy the process. Yes, it’s true. Purging “stuff” actually gave us a thrill, and our eyes began widening to our environment, people, and experiences we could have, by not having so much stuff. We began caring more about the items we had, valuing the quality of quantity, and paying more attention to our carbon footprint. We became enthralled with searching for information. We read books, watched documentaries, listened to podcasts, followed blogs, and anything related to minimizing, living tiny, clutter-free, or simplicity. We absorbed it all, like sponges. Our obsession for things, turned into an obsession to enjoy the hell out of life and what our lives had to offer, and what we offered each other.
We found the minimalist lifestyle as we began researching the Tiny House movement (another movement we relate to). The entire minimalist approach speaks to us and we both got on board right away. It spoke to our souls as we began to seek out a simpler, less hectic home life- basically, a sanctuary. It seems that with Tiny Living, comes mindfulness, conservation, and sustainability. We began looking at our carbon footprint and attempting to reduce what we put into the world, again, all of the stuff that we as humans, call necessities. The bottom of this page has a few resources which we found to be helpful through our lifestyle transition.
I (Shannon) went from having a guest bedroom turned into my closet, to now utilizing Courtney Carver’s Project 333 approach and only have clothes I will actually wear, and items that “bring me joy”- a favorite saying by one of The Minimalists: Joshua Fields Milburn.
The Adventure That Changed Everything
The biggest decision, one which was the catalyst to things really changing, was made on a sporadic adventure, a short weekend getaway. We were sitting in the surf at Bear Island (check it out, by the way. It’s a hidden gem on the NC coast), dreading going back home into the chaos that awaited us, wishing for just one more day. The waves were crashing on us, and we were flopping around like seals on the dock in San Francisco, laughing, and one of us said (and I cannot remember who), “why don’t we just sell the house, go tiny, and have adventures like this a lot more?” That statement changed our lives. We came home, called our fantastic real estate agent, Jennifer Smith, and our plan began to set sail and became a reality. Our home sold in 24 hours, to an all-cash buyer, for more than asking. It was as if it was all meant to be.
Fast forward to today- the Arner Adventures continue!
How We Stay Focused
Living a minimalist lifestyle is now, just that, our lifestyle, however, stuff can creep back into our homes, and our lives, right under our noses. For several years, in January, to stay focused on making sure that our stuff doesn’t rule our lives, we would play The Minimalism Game. You can learn more about that here. This year, 2022, we put what we have learned into a 30-day Declutter Challenge- a free download, offering to others. We use it as a way to declutter the things that accumulate in our home and to declutter a negative mindset.