Sometimes it endures because it’s true.

5 Minimalist Blogs I follow (1)Less is More is such a cliché. As clichés go, it’s been around for years.  One hundred and sixty of them, in fact. Robert Browning first said it in a poem in 1855.  (Browning was always such a trendsetter!)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used it in the 1960’s to define minimalist design in architecture. It’s been used countless times since to describe everything from design to dinner.

There are quite a few blogs on minimalism. One of my favourites and perhaps most well-known is The Minimalists. “Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers.” Heady stuff. Four million (million?!) readers are interested in simplifying their lives. Minimalism, according to Joshua and Ryan, According to The Minimalists, “minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important, so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”

Here are five blogs on simplified living that I’m following right now.

Blonde on a Budget
Cait Flanders was 29 when she realized she was $28,000 in debt with not a lot to show for it. Her award winning blog (Plutus award winner 2014 for Best Canadian Personal Finance Blog) chronicles not only what she did to retire her debt in two years (which included a full year of buying nothing) but also how she reduced her belongings by 70%. Not only is Cait witty and wise beyond her years, she’s Canadian. This woman’s my hero!

Joshua Becker is married with two kids and lives in Arizona. About six years ago he had an epiphany while cleaning out the garage. I usually just get frustrated and snarly when I clean out my garage. Where did all this stuff come from and how can I rearrange it to make it look a little less… stuffed?! Joshua and his wife took a different tack and in May 2008 his blog Becoming Minimalist was born. There is a wealth of information, philosophical discussion and very practical advice. Joshua has written four very popular books that are all worth checking out (of the library!) and reading.

To round out the New World theme, the third blog is by Antipodean Brooke McAlary. (Antipodean = someone from Australia or New Zealand. There. The one thing you needed to learn today. You’re welcome.) Brooke lives in Australia with her hubs and two kids. Her blog Slow your Home is her story of consciously shifting the way she and her family lives after experiencing some pretty big smackdowns. “So I need to slow down. I need to simplify. I need to re-evaluate our priorities. I need to have less and be more,” Brooke said. “I need to look at our home and all it entails – family, relationships, health, house, garden, kitchen – and slow it all down. Leave space for life to happen.”

The fourth isn’t really a blog. It’s a vlog on YouTube called The Daily Connoisseur. Jennifer L. Scott is a charmingly elegant woman who came to minimalism after spending six months living with a family in Paris while going to school. I would describe Jennifer’s approach as the minimalism of quality. She is less “buy your clothes at the thrift shop” and more “buy the highest quality you can afford and treat it well”. One of her more popular themes is her 10-item wardrobe (although that’s a bit misleading since she doesn’t count inner wear, workout wear, outerwear, evening wear or cleaning-out-the-basement wear). She is also the author of three books based on her time with her Parisian host, Madame Chic.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with Mike Burns. Take one look at his blog The Other Side of Complexity and you’ll see right away why this guy makes me smile. His posts on what minimalism is and isn’t and why minimalism doesn’t mean that you have to throw out everything you love really dovetails with my own philosophy.

Do you believe that Less is More? Will you share your favourite blogs on minimalism, aggressive debt-busting or simpler living? Thanks in advance!

Photo Credit: n.white1 via Compfight cc


My Deconstructed Book Collection

Only Keep Books That Bring You JoyWhen I was about 10 I was cast as Alice in Alice in Bookland, a school play designed with a maximum number of characters with a minimum number of lines. (No one looks forward to the school play unless their child has a speaking part. Bums in seats, people!)

I kicked off the first scene by sighing heavily, throwing a frown at a stack of books set on the table in front of me  and proclaiming loudly, “Books, books, books! All there is to do is read books!” This was followed by a big yawn. I put my head down on the desk and promptly pretended to fall asleep. This early childhood conditioning explains why I can’t read in bed for more than fifteen minutes without nodding off.

The rest of the play was a parade of well-known characters dancing their way through my dreams. All except for Charlie, of course.  He wasn’t the most graceful guy in the class and whoever thought he’d do well in a Mickey Mouse costume with Mickey Mouse shoes just wasn’t thinking.

In spite of my opening line, I loved books before, during and forever after that play. When I go to my happy place it’s just as often a vision of a cozy room with a fireplace, a comfy chair and floor to ceiling bookshelves as it is the requisite tropical beach scene.  In my house-before-the-last I actually had a long wall of bookshelves surrounding a fireplace. It was one of the few spots in the house I ever considered “done” and I took great joy in displaying all those books, even the ones I had never read or would never read again. I thought that wall said a lot. Look at me! I read Important Books by Important Authors, I have first editions and signed copies. Yes, I am intellectual and  interesting and you should think well of me!

In my next house I had a smaller bookshelf but among the books I loved and re-read there were books I kept because I liked what I thought they said about me. Yes, I read Tolstoy! Yes, I read Dante! Yes, I read …. okay, well, I have their books. I’ll get around to reading them …. eventually.

In this house there is no such bookcase. Somehow it just hasn’t been as important to me to show off what I read (or even what I plan to read …. eventually). When I realized that in all those years of owning Important Books by Important Authors, no one had ever commented on it. No one had ever perused my bookshelves and then given me an approving look for my obvious intellect and literary good taste.

When we packed up our last house before moving into our current home I dropped off three boxes of books at my local second hand bookstore and another two at the library.  I felt lighter. (Actually, I felt a little sore because those boxes were heavy.) I have a store credit at the bookstore and I feel good knowing that sale of the books at the library helped them buy new ones that I might want to check out some day.

I don’t keep many books anymore but I still have two or three boxes of books in the basement to go through. Each one that stays will have to really tug at my heart strings to warrant a place on my minimalist bookshelves. I don’t need physical evidence of my literary snobbery or my wide range of eclectic interests and I don’t need to look for outside approval as much as I used to.

My books, just like my car or my clothes or my kids, aren’t reflections of me.  I may enjoy them (books), have fun with them (clothes) or adore them (my kids). But you probably won’t think differently of me if you know that I once read War and Peace, have every book in the Outlander series or used to collect signed political memoirs.

In a few years, when we are living in on the road or in a much smaller house, there will be no room for literary hangers-on. The books that will earn precious space on my minimalist bookshelves will be important to me not because I want you to know I read them but because they are useful, are on my current reading list or have meaning to me and are irreplaceable.

The rest I’ll find at the library, shelved somewhere in the same building as Alice in Wonderland.

What about you? Why do you keep the books you do? Do you keep books that you will only read once or have never read at all? Would shrinking the size of your book collection lighten your load?


Photo Credit: Ned James via Compfight cc