As a first year teacher, my life is unnecessary complicated. Lately I’ve felt like I hardly have time to do my dishes and my laundry, let alone anything that’s important to me. This is especially frustrating because I want to cut down on unnecessary commitments and stuff in my life so I can focus on what I truly value: travel, relationships, piano, poetry, reading, and yoga. These things have been falling to the wayside lately, and I’m not sure how much longer I can allow that. I hope that this blog will help me maintain focus on the things that matter as I learn to streamline and/or eliminate the other commitments in my life.
First, a little bit of background. I have been pushing myself to live a minimalist life for several years now. I began researching voluntary simplicity in the fall of 2007, but my interest stems from attending Quaker meeting with my best friend in middle school. I bought in whole-heartedly to the simplicity mindset that they advocated, although I kind of lost touch with that in high school as my hormones kicked into high gear. I remained a dedicated environmentalist, though. I was a vegetarian for twelve years, and I’ve been an advocate of thrift stores, bicycles, and buses since college.
In the spring of 2008, I read Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, which inspired me to set an intention of reducing my spending. Although I had never been one to buy lots of unnecessary stuff, and I had pared down my possessions significantly at that point in my life (I was getting ready to put everything in storage and head off to Thailand for an indeterminate amount of time), it was at that point that I began to realize how quickly little things start to add up, and how much money I truly could save by cutting back on seemingly small expenses. There was one scene in the book that really stood out to me. Judith goes to visit a man who’s been living frugally off the grid for years. He does things like save slivers of soap. She said that, at one point, he was explaining one of his frugal living techniques (possibly saving and reusing slivers of soap) to her and he said, “You can save tens of dollars a year by doing this!” Since then, it’s been a goal of mine to reduce my consumption to the point where I am aware of saving tens of dollars a year on something.
I read The Non-Consumer Advocate, Frugal Girl, Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar, Miss Minimalist, Far Beyond the Stars, Becoming Minimalist, Rowdy Kittens, Ridiculously Extraordinary, and The Art of Nonconformity. I respect all of these bloggers, but I believe I can offer a slightly different perspective. I’m currently living in a second floor apartment in a city with poor public transportation, struggling as a first year teacher, and trying to preserve a relationship with someone who lives three hours away. I have no laundry facilities or dishwasher. Many of the ideas I’ve encountered through my reading and research don’t quite work for me in this stage of my life. As a result, I’ve made some modifications and come up with some ideas of my own. Maybe you’ll find some value in something I have to say.
I don’t know how my path will unfold over the next year. Part of me wants to sell my junk and train to become a yoga teacher. Whatever the next stage is, I aim to approach it mindfully. The journey begins now.