This is the second post in a new series called Stories of Simple + Intentional Living. I’ll be interviewing people from all walks of life with one thing in common—their desire to live simple and intentional lives! Check back on the first Sunday of every month for new interviews.
This month I’m chatting with Charlotte Sapwell. I met Charlotte on Facebook and I was immediately drawn to her—as a single mum with two young boys, she was facing homelessness until she turned her life around by building her own tiny home. Now she’s an advocate working to empower other single mums. Here is her story in her own words.
Hey, my name’s Charlotte. I’m the Mum of two wonderful boys and I want to share a bit of my story. In 2014 I gave birth to my second son and five weeks later my husband left. I was shocked, confused, vulnerable and depressed. Over the next few years, I would spend time focusing on self-love and finding myself again. Then in 2016, I found myself financially struggling and was on the brink of homelessness. I was lucky enough to have an adopted grandfather teach me to build a tiny house in my parents’ backyard by MYSELF. At first, I felt like I had taken a million steps back and saw the return of depression and anxiety. As time and the building went on I found a strength, physically and emotionally. I’m now in the happiest (tiniest) place I’ve been in a long time!
Your life changed when you became a single mum to two young boys and—as a stay-at-home mum—you were facing homelessness. Can you tell us a bit more about this period in your life and how you felt?
It was one of the scariest, most depressing times of my life, I felt like a complete failure. Financial struggles can be super embarrassing and having to admit it was so hard, I’m not one to ask for help. I always thought I had to do it alone, I’m a mother they’re supposed to keep a roof over heads, food on the table etc. Instead, there I was feeling like the WORST mother on the planet because my financial situation changed out of the blue and I wasn’t prepared.
Your grandfather came up with an interesting solution to your housing problem–he suggested you transform the old office in your parent’s yard into a tiny 3 x 6 metre home. You didn’t have any DIY skills at the time, so what did you think when he suggested this? And how did you feel about the prospect of living in such a tiny home?
I thought he was crazy, I failed year 9 woodwork and my spice rack was so bad the teacher ended up completing it for me! The size of the house didn’t really bother me the thing that most affected me was going down to a double bed ha.
Tell us a bit about the building process. How much did you do yourself? And how did you know what to do?
I gave everything I go- plumbing, tiling, framing, roofing, electrical you name it I have it a go. I had no idea what I was doing but Rob being a master craftsman knew everything.
Your finished home looks amazing and I’m sure you’re quite confident with tools now, but did you struggle with self-doubt or motivation during the build? (I know I would have with such a big project ahead of me!) If so, how did you deal with it and find the courage to keep going?
I struggled with depression, feeling like a failure/ bad parent was really hard for me but the whole time I knew I couldn’t give up because I have two little boys that were watching their Mum do everything within her power to give them a new home. Some days I wanted to quit, some days I’d just sit and cry but then as the build started to come together I started to be proud of myself, the boys were proud of me and not once did they think I couldn’t do it. Having a reason to keep going and having people believe in me, that’s how I kept going.
What is it like living in a tiny home with two small children? Do you enjoy it? What are the challenges?
I LOVE it, summer is great because you can be outside a lot and living in such a small space you can feel a bit on top of each other. But I’m never too far away if the boys need anything during the night, cleaning takes zero time at all and it’s mine.
It represents how I made my way from rock bottom to feeling extremely empowered and proud!
What have you learned from living in tiny home? Is there any advice you could share with my readers about living in a small space? I’m sure they’d love to hear some minimalist tips!
You don’t need stuff- don’t hold onto things you don’t need or haven’t used in a while. Have organisation, everything is boxed away and in groups so if I need something I know exactly where to find it.
So far we’ve talked a lot about your tiny home experience but from what I’ve read on your social media, this is just the beginning. You’re creating a series called “My Tribe, is Our Tribe”—can you tell us a bit more about it and what it means to you?
This is something I’m super excited about, it’s a new series that talks to single mums and women who I believe are an inspiration. A lot of women don’t understand that they are an inspiration and don’t have to build a house to be inspiring- it might be brushing their hair, a co-parenting success, running a business, taking kids grocery shopping. I believe in every single person and it’s really easy to feel alone, like you’re doing a terrible job, that no one feels the way you feel so through the web series I aim to create a place that shows you aren’t alone via positivity, reliability, honesty and inspiration.
I’ve been so lucky to hear a few stories already and wow. I can’t wait to share!
Finally, I’m sure there are a lot of women in a similar situation to yours and they’re not sure what to do next or how they’re going to get through it. Is there any advice you could share to help them?
It gets better, no matter how tough things get never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.
Final thoughts from Charlotte:
I spend my days being inspired and aiming to support single mums alike. Single mums are something special and don’t hear often enough they’re doing a great job. You don’t have to build a house to inspire- you can take the kids grocery shopping, you can brush your hair, sometimes just getting out of bed is inspirational in its self. Remember YOU are something special.
This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time but I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t been sure how to approach it—so I’ve finally decided to just tackle it head-on.
As simple living has become mainstream (or at least more popular), there are some myths/misunderstandings that are becoming prevalent. I don’t think anyone in the simple living community is being intentionally misleading or saying anything that’s untrue but without a doubt, many of us (yes—myself included) are contributing to the confusion.
Whether we’re actually selling any real products or not, most of us are “selling” simple living as a solution to many of life’s problems—and while I truly believe it can be life-changing, it’s also important to understand there are limits and that filling a few trash bags with stuff won’t magically change your life overnight.
So with that in mind, I hope this post will offer a balanced view of not just the wonders but also the limitations of simple living.
1. OWNING LESS WON’T MAGICALLY SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS
A few weeks ago, there was a discussion in the Simply + Fiercely Facebook group about an article in the New York Times that explores some of the challenges people face when trying to apply the principles of minimalism to their daily lives.
“Minimalism sure does suck you in,” she said. “Life looks easier. It seems like your skin will be dewier and your hair shinier — a happier, healthier version of yourself.”
It’s tongue in cheek but I understand the point. When I first started to experiment with minimalism and simple living, this is how I felt too. I really wanted to believe that getting rid of my stuff was going to magically solve all my problems.
Of course, deep down we already know this isn’t true, but I think it’s worth addressing because we want to believe it—or at least I did! After all, it was such a neat and tidy solution to my complicated problems.
Unfortunately, the hard truth I learned is you don’t declutter your problems the same way you declutter your old sweatshirts or high school yearbooks.
Owning less does feel good and it can spark real, meaningful change but it doesn’t automatically happen as your things go out the door. You have to be open and willing to take what you learn about “stuff” and apply it to other areas of your life. Decluttering taught me to think about my values and to make more intentional decisions about the things I owned, so when I was faced with big decisions (like ending a long-term relationship) I knew how to think mindfully about what I wanted in my life.
Simple living empowered me but I still had to do the hard work.
The other gift of owning less is having more resources (such as time, energy and money) to tackle your problems head-on but again, there’s work to be done. I was in debt before I started decluttering and I was still in debt afterwards—but becoming comfortable with owning less made additional funds available for extra payments (since I wasn’t shopping every weekend like I used to do!). Owning less also created more time in my schedule—the little things like less cleaning and less time spent deciding what to wear add up—so I was also able to pick up extra hours at work.
I became debt free eventually but there was definitely nothing “magical” about the process!
So in summary, owning less can definitely help you with your problems but only if you’re willing to take the next step. There is a lot of learning, experimenting and growing involved and it’s anything but simple!
2. SIMPLE LIVING DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NEVER STRESSED OR BUSY
Trust me—I wish simple living really did banish stress and busyness from life, but unfortunately, it’s just not the case.
You can declutter, unsubscribe and say “no” all day every day but it doesn’t matter how much you simplify—the hard truth is you’ll still occasionally have busy, stressful days where you’d rather hide in bed than face the world. There will always be dishes to wash, taxes to file, children to feed and hearts to mend; it’s an unavoidable part of the human experience and simple living doesn’t shield you from it.
Only dead people never get stressed, never get broken hearts, never experience the disappointment that comes with failure. Tough emotions are part of our contract with life. You don’t get to have a meaningful career or raise a family or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.
What simple living does mean is that busy and stressed is not my default mode.
Instead, I can recognise that there are seasons in my life. Sometimes I’m doing work that’s important to me and I’m willing to make sacrifices to get it done—but I’ve learned how to be mindful of “busy”. I’m not afraid to press pause regularly or to audit how I spent my time, money and energy to make sure I’m investing in what’s most important to me. Simple living has taught me to step off the treadmill when I need to.
If you want to read a great example of this in action, check out this blog post by Cait Flanders. She talks about being busy after the release of her new book and how she was able to recognise when it was time for a change of pace.
3. THERE IS NEVER A FINISH LINE WITH SIMPLE LIVING
Finally, I often hear people talk about simplifying their lives as if there’s a finish line to cross—an imaginary point in time where simplicity is achieved—but the hard truth is you’ll never be “done” simplifying your life.
Simple living is not a task you can check off of your to-do list. Instead, it’s a way of living where the things we own and do represent our values and priorities. Because we’ll always be presented with new opportunities (and new demands to go with them) there will always be decisions to be made about what does or doesn’t belong in our lives.
The more you practice, the easier it gets to make these decisions but they never go away. And realistically? You’ll make some wrong decisions too. I’ve had a capsule wardrobe since 2013 but I still review it at least once a year—and I almost always realise a few things I shouldn’t own have snuck into my closet. Same goes with my schedule; despite my best efforts, there are still times I realise I’ve said “yes” to something I should have said “no” to.
The other thing to consider is that our values and priorities can shift with time and you may need to rethink what matters most to you. The decisions you made a few years ago may no longer feel right and you’ll have to start all over again.
This isn’t to say that your life won’t get simpler with time! It’s just a reminder that a simple, intentional life is a way of life and not a destination. It’s rarely easy but almost always worth it.
Your thoughts? Have you come across any misconceptions about simple living or have you found your own hard truths? Or do you disagree with mine? As always, I invite friendly conversation in the comments! x
PS: I wrote a free, 18-page guide and workbook called Mindful Decluttering to help you finally clear the clutter for good. If you’d like a copy, don’t forget to subscribe below! Here’s what people have to say about it:
“I loved the connection you made with mindful decluttering – others talk about becoming more mindful as part of a minimalist journey, but the fact you’ve made it part of the framework of the process itself sets it apart. It’s brilliant – excited to see this coming into the minimalist landscape. You have a fresh, supportive and enquiring voice.” —Christina J, 38, St Albans UK
This post is the first in a new series called Stories of Simple + Intentional Living. I’ll be interviewing people from all walks of life with one thing in common—their desire to live simple and intentional lives! Check back on the first Sunday of every month for new interviews.
This month, I’m chatting with Sarah Hartley, the creator of Holl & Lane magazine. What really inspires me about Sarah is the way she combined her dream of creating a magazine with her vision of empowering women through untold stories. I think it’s a beautiful example of intentional living and I’m so excited to share her story with you today!
Sarah Hartley is the creator, designer, editor and publisher of Holl & Lane Magazine, a quarterly magazine designed to show real stories from real women in the hopes of showing them they’re not alone. She is also a wife, a mom to two boys, and works full-time at an architecture firm.
Tell me the story of Holl & Lane—why did you decide to start a magazine? What was your vision?
When I was pregnant with my first son, I had a really hard time – I wasn’t glowing, I was sick all nine months, and in general, didn’t enjoy the experience. During that time I wrote on my personal blog about my experience and started receiving such amazing feedback from readers telling me how thankful they were that I was being honest about it.
Normally in media, we just see the women who love being pregnant. But there are so many of us that struggle. As I received the comments and emails, I started to realize that there wasn’t a magazine out there talking about the things that we struggle with in an honest way. I had always dreamed of having a magazine and so the two ideas came together to form Holl & Lane.
From Jen: I’ll admit I struggled a lot during pregnancy and I definitely felt the pressure to put on a smile and hide my feelings! It was so brave of you to talk about it!
My vision has always been to tell the stories that often go untold – the ones that we feel we have to hide from the rest of the world. I believe that when you open up and share these stories, you allow other women to stand up and say “me, too” and that’s powerful.
Has this vision changed over the years? And if so, how?
My vision hasn’t changed but the scale of what we talk about has. I haven’t experienced all of the things that the women who write for us have. But that is what makes it great. There are so many experiences talked about in our pages that it’s nearly guaranteed that when you pick up an issue, you’ll be able to relate to at least one of the stories inside.
I think a lot of people are afraid to follow their dreams because they’re worried about failing or overwhelmed by all the things they don’t know yet. What advice would you give to someone in this position?
It is absolutely terrifying to follow your dreams. But I’ve always thought it’s more terrifying to never go after them because you never know what could’ve happened. When I first started the magazine, I didn’t tell very many people because I was worried about failing in front of them.
But then I just had to realign what failure meant. Trying something is not failing, no matter if it doesn’t work out. You always learn and grow through the experience and that’s important. Also, Google will be your best friend for all those things you don’t know.
As a blogger, I often fall into the comparison trap, worrying if what I’m doing is good enough and questioning if I should be doing things a different way because it’s what everyone else is doing. Do you ever feel this too? And if so, what are your tips for staying true to yourself and your vision?
My biggest problem is comparing myself to others. I compare not only my personal skills but also the magazine to other magazines – even those that have been in business for years and years. It’s such a tough thing to get over, and I don’t know that I’ve truly gotten a handle on it yet.
But in general, when I start to compare myself to others and I get down on myself about where I or the magazine are, I go to my sunshine folder. It’s a folder where I keep amazing comments and emails that I’ve gotten from our readers that tell me how the magazine has changed them. Those are the things that get me back on MY path so that I keep doing what I need to be doing.
From Jen: I love the idea of a sunshine folder! I think it’s something a lot of people could benefit from, whether you’re in a creative industry or not.
Holl & Lane is all about sharing stories. What’s the most powerful story you’ve heard as an editor and how did it change you?
I don’t think there’s one story that I could point to and say that it’s changed me. Every single story that comes to me has changed me in some way because 1) these women are trusting me with something that has shaped who they are as a person, and 2) seeing what these women have gone through and come out on the other side of is humbling.
I will say, the hardest stories for me to edit and design the spread around are the ones that focus on the loss of a child. Being a mom, that is my greatest fear in life and I often have to walk away from the story several times throughout the process.
As a minimalist, I can’t help but ask this question—what do you want less and more of in your life this year?
We all want more time, right? But if I’m being realistic, I want less of putting myself on the back burner and more self-care. Materialistically, I want to acquire less “stuff”. I have always been the person that when I get bored, I shop. I don’t need or even want anything, and yet that satisfies my boredom for the moment. I’ve been shopping much, much less recently and it’s already feeling more freeing.
I was stalking the Holl & Lane Instagram and saw a great quote about making yourself a priority and taking time for yourself (so important for everyone but especially us new mamas!). So I’m curious, how do you to make yourself a priority with so many projects on the go?
As I mentioned previously, this is the one thing I’d like to change this year. I do a terrible job of making time for myself. The only thing I do consistently is at the end of every single day, I read. No matter if it’s for 5 minutes or an hour, I will read before I go to bed. It’s the only way to truly clear my head. But now that I’m able to start exercising again after the birth of my second baby, I’m trying to make that a priority as well. I don’t love to workout, but getting an hour to myself to either go for a walk and listen to a podcast, or go to a Zumba class does wonders for my psyche.
From Jen: I think your commitment to reading every night is fantastic! I’m always trying to encourage my readers to look for small things they can do every day to bring more joy into their lives and this is a perfect example.
I think one of the most powerful things we can do for ourselves is to write our own definitions of success, so tell me—what does success mean to you? And do you feel like you’re on the right track?
Success to me is knowing that I’ve somehow made a difference, even if it’s just to one person. I don’t need to be a millionaire, but I do need to know that what I’m doing is valuable. Based on the sunshine folder I keep handy, it definitely feels like I’m on the right track and I couldn’t be more proud of where Holl & Lane is going in the future.
To learn more about Holl & Lane, pick up the FREE mini issue showcasing reader favorite stories from all of the past issues. Visit hollandlanemag.com to sign up. You can also follow Holl & Lane on Facebook and Instagram.
During March, I’m proud to be partnering with Holl & Lane for the re-launch of 7 Simple Days.
7 Simple Days is a Simple + Intentional Living mini course that will:
bring you clarity and a better understanding of your vision and values
help you understand what simple living really means to you
define your priorities so you can focus on the things that matter most
inspire you to take small, practical steps towards a life you love
empower and motivate you to write your own story
Sign up for 7 Simple Days during March and you’ll receive a free digital copy of the latest issue of Holl & Lane magazine. *Conditions Apply
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I believe in the power of intentional living, but it hasn’t always been that way.
In fact, for most of my life, you could say I lived with a complete lack of intention! I was always busy, always rushing from project to project, always adding more and more to my life—but never pausing to reflect and question my actions.
As a result, I wasted a lot of time running in circles, working hard but not actually working towards anything that mattered to me. It was stressful and to be honest, demoralising because I invested so much of myself but felt like I was getting nothing in return.
It wasn’t until I learned about intentional living that I realised asking questions and taking time for self-reflection wasn’t a waste of time—it was actually the most important thing I could do if I wanted to live a meaningful life.
If you’re ready to get off the treadmill and become a conscious creator of your own life, then here are 7 questions to inspire intentional living.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
This is a deceptively simple question! I think too often we assume we know the answer to this one, but when we really stop and think about it, our answers can surprise us.
When I started asking myself this question, I realised I had no idea why I was doing a lot of the things I did! The best answer I could come up with was often because “that’s what everyone else is doing” and it made me realise how much I had internalised other people’s expectations.
WHO AM I DOING THIS FOR?
I really wish I had asked this more often when I was younger—I would have saved myself a lot of wasted time, money and heartache!
Are you doing things because you want to or because you’re afraid of letting someone else down? It’s ok to do things for other people but make sure you’re conscious of who and why before you invest yourself.
IS THERE A SIMPLER WAY?
When I’m faced with a problem or a task, I’ve noticed my first instinct is to overthink things and make the situation way more complicated than it needs to be.
I’m not sure if this human nature or simply a bad habit I’ve picked up, but I’ve found that taking a moment to pause and look for a simpler solution has been life-changing.
Your time, energy and money are valuable, so the next time you’re about to exchange them for something (by making a purchase or adding another task to your to-do list) make sure it’s worth it. If you can’t quickly explain how something is adding value to your life, odds are it isn’t.
WHAT AM I GIVING UP?
This is something I talk about in my short course 7 Simple Days—everything has a tradeoff. Whenever you decide to do or buy something, make sure you ask yourself what you’re giving up to make it happen. Keep the big picture in mind and make sure you’re not giving up what you want most for short-term gains.
HOW DOES THIS MAKE ME FEEL?
I think a lot of people don’t ask themselves this question because it can feel selfish, but your feelings matter and they’re often clues you can use to help you make more intentional decisions.
If you’re doing something that makes you feel sad, anxious, or angry it’s important to ask yourself why. Are you doing something that goes against your core values? Or do you need more rest and support? Not all negative feelings are bad but they are always worth listening to.
The same rings true for your positive feelings; the more you understand what makes you feel happy and supported, the more you can intentionally create a life that you love.
AM I BEING HONEST WITH MYSELF?
Finally, check in and make sure you’re being honest with yourself, because if you’re not, none of your other answers really matter.
It’s not always easy to know for sure but—as cheesy as this seems—look to your heart for guidance. If something feels “off”, you might need to explore the above questions a bit further. Sometimes there’s more to the big picture than what first comes to mind.
THE NEXT STEP
If you enjoyed these questions, then I encourage to check out my short course 7 Simple Days (launching in early March—click here to register your interest and be the first to hear about special launch prizes and offers).
7 Simple Days is a simple and intentional living journey, where we explore questions just like these in more depth through seven days of journal prompts and mini challenges.
Here’s what people are saying about 7 Simple Days:
I’m on day four and already I feel a clarity in my life. My wife and I are doing 7 Simple Days together and we’ve found that it helps us get on the same page. It’s strengthening our marriage and making us happier. —Jenna W
I felt that something in my life was somehow “off,” but I didn’t know exactly what it was. Working through the questions really helped me pinpoint the areas of my life that need a bit of tweaking. 7 Simple Days is truly simple to follow and fun to work through! —Shelly B
Thank you so much for this. It was truly a simple 7 days that caused me to reflect and dive into what I value the most. I am so grateful that I was able to participate in this wonderful program you’ve created.— Abigail L
Do you think questions will help you live a more intentional life? Do you have any additional suggestions? Let me know in the comments! x
photo credit: rawpixel.com // Used with permission
When I started this blog, over two years ago, one of my first “blogger” friends was Catherine from the Blissful Mind. I fell instantly in love with her positive outlook and inspiring writing! If you’re looking to find more focus, balance, and fulfilment in your daily life then please check out her site—but first, I’m delighted to share this guest post she generously wrote for me. Enjoy!
A few years ago, I felt massively overwhelmed with life. Though nothing particularly overwhelming was going on, I felt like there was something weighing me down. The days seemed to merge into each other, and I was going through the motions of my daily routine without even noticing what I was doing.
As I searched endlessly on the internet for ways to make myself feel calmer, I came across the likes of Marie Kondo, Light by Coco, and Caroline Rector of un-fancy.com. All three of these ladies had something in common: they spoke of how minimalism and downsizing can greatly improve your life.
Though I was never the type of person to hold onto sentimental stuff, I had clothes in my closet that still had the tags on them because I told myself I might wear them ‘someday’. I had moved around a few times in the previous years and only realized how much stuff I owned when it came time to pack everything up.
Once I learned about minimalism, I was convinced that downsizing would be the answer to all of my problems. After all, maybe the clutter around me was weighing me down.
I immediately started to declutter everything. I pared down my belongings and embraced a capsule wardrobe. I dubbed 2015 “the year of less”, and I felt great about the way my stuff wasn’t overwhelming me anymore.
Of course, things didn’t stay that way forever. There was a part of me that thought, ‘I still feel overwhelmed.’
I was convinced that minimalism would make my life feel perfect because it was simple. Because I got rid of the stuff that didn’t bring me joy, I thought I’d instantly feel more joy.
The naivety of the situation was that I still had a lot of work to do on myself beyond the things I owned. Though my life looked calm and clutter-free on the outside, I was still overwhelmed and anxious on the inside. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many benefits to downsizing. But there’s also some inner work that needs to take place in order to appreciate what we have once we’ve simplified.
I’m not sure of the exact moment when I learned about the concept of mindfulness, but as soon as I did, it changed everything for me. Mindfulness means living in the current moment, without worrying about the future or the past. Once I understood this concept, I recognized that the overwhelm and worry in my life, the kind that couldn’t be eradicated by decluttering my stuff, was caused because I was living in the future.
Over the years that I’ve been living a more mindful lifestyle, life has felt a little simpler. Because I know we all dream of simpler and calmer lives, I’m sharing three ways that mindfulness has helped me live more simply on a deeper level.
MINDFULNESS HELPS ME IDENTIFY MY PRIORITIES
Mindfulness helps me to clearly see what’s important. Since getting started with mindfulness, my head space has become a lot clearer. Mindfulness has helped me to discern between actual problems and ones I don’t really need to worry about. I’ve better identified what’s important to me because I can think more clearly without getting distracted by outside noise. I’ve also become more mindful about what I let into my mental and physical space, and I’ve set clearer boundaries on what I’m willing to spend time and money on.
MINDFULNESS HELPS ME MAKING BETTER DECISIONS
I no longer feel so torn about whether I should do this or that. I’ve been able to tune into my intuition and know what feels right to me, rather than going back and forth on decisions like, ‘Should I buy this?’ or ‘Should I attend that party?’ I have a better sense of who I am and what I stand for, which means it’s simpler to make decisions.
MINDFULNESS HELPS ME FEEL MORE CONTENT WITH WHAT I ALREADY HAVE
Mindfulness has helped me to leave behind the idea that I need new things all the time. As someone who used to spend countless hours at the mall and online browsing, I know how exciting it can feel to buy new things. Of course new things are exciting, but I’ve become a lot more content with what I already have in my life. Because mindfulness encourages me to live in the current moment, I spend less time worrying about adding new things into my life and more time enjoying what I already have.
If you’ve been struggling with overwhelm and wondering why life doesn’t feel quite as simple as you’d like it to be, consider making mindfulness part of your routine. Living in the moment is a lot easier said than done, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Catherine Beard is an intentional living blogger, mindset coach, and creator of The Blissful Mind, an online guide to help you find calm in your daily life. Follow her on Instagram for weekly mindfulness & self-care tips.
Do you find mindfulness and simple living go hand in hand? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! x
photo credit: Daria Shevtsova // Used with permission
I’m not worried, but I am curious about how my life will change – so when I received an email from Candace, a minimalist, mom and traveller – I was intrigued! I invited her to share her thoughts on simple living and motherhood and here is what she had to say. I hope you enjoy this beautiful essay as much as I did.
I am Candace. I am a traveler, a mom and a minimalist. I blog about life as a single parent of color at MySpoclife.com. Minimalism is what helps me to keep my life as a mom and a traveler focused on the right things. I feel that it helps me to achieve my dream life by keeping me aware of the important things. Let me explain.
Being a mother in the western world is not always easy. It should be. However, with the invention of social media and the prevalence of opinions, mothering just got more difficult. There is an impossible standard that is being held up to everyone, mothers included. It is displayed everywhere you look. The perfect way to bring a child into the world. The perfect nursery, the perfect preschool, clothes and gear. The best activities for your child, the types of things they should or should not eat. The list goes on and on.
When a mother chooses minimalism, this storm of opinions is hushed. Your life is simplified. You are suddenly able to hear what your heart says. You can focus on the most important things: your well-being and that of your family.
I have always been interested in making the world a better place and my life the best it can be. Something I have done always done is look up information about simple living, community gardening and budget travel. I find it enjoyable, and passed many hours of my free time exploring these topics. Then my daughter was born.
My daughter was an unexpected bundle of responsibility; born at the beginning of divorce proceedings with her father. Having already begun to live a simpler life, I didn’t want to clutter up my home with baby things. I wanted to move throughout life much the way that I had before her arrival. I wanted to show her what I loved about the world.
I opted not to use many things that moms are told are necessary for babies and small children. I could not see the benefit of having a stroller. Taking public transportation would be a hassle. Why carry a stroller up and down stairs, in and out of crowded buses? Often, parents hold the child and pushing the stroller anyway. I spent many years with her happily on my back.
I opted not to have lots of clothing, shoes and toys for the baby. She wasn’t going out much. She wasn’t going to play with these plastic toys. She couldn’t walk, so why have lots of shoes? As I made these decisions and more for our lives, I didn’t realize that I was already doing what minimalist do, choosing the important things and leaving the rest.
Then I discovered minimalism. My life changed for the better. Objects, habits and people that I hung on to in hopes for a different future, I was able to let it all go. As I let it go, our lives improved. We have peace in our home. We live the life that we decide to live. We are the captains of our ship and not society and its opinions.
Moms deserve to live their best life. They deserve their own personal time. Moms can live in a house where they are not stumbling over toys, where they don’t have mountains of laundry. Moms can choose to live how they want to live. When moms discover minimalism, it will change their lives. It gives you the power to say NO to hosting excessive birthday parties, NO to too many school activities and the list goes on. You can then say YES to the things you feel are important for your family.
For my daughter and I, minimalism has allowed us to say yes to travel. I am an adventurer and my daughter is curious. We have been to many countries together and are only just getting started. I am able to do what I love because I have said no to what was not important. As a mother, I find it important to give these values to my daughter. As she grows older, she will have the ability to hear what her heart says when society begins to try and place limits on her.
My minimalism may not look like your minimalism. In fact, you may be neither a mom or a woman. However, the basics of our minimalism should be the same. Choose people over things. Choose experiences over materialism. Listen to what your heart says matters to you. Leave all of the rest aside. If you don’t know what is important to you and you haven’t started finding out what is important; I encourage you to try. You have a world of wonder to discover and not much to lose but stuff you didn’t really want anyway.
I hope you enjoyed this inspiring piece about minimalism and motherhood as much as I did! If so please be sure to check out Candace’s blog for stories about how she travels the world as a single mother. And if you’re a mother, I’d love to hear how minimalism has impacted your life. Share your story in the comments! x
photo credit: Josh Willink // Used with permission