I cannot believe it is already Friday again! For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that means it is time for another round of 20 Questions Minimalist Style! I have been following Jennifer’s blog [ Simply + Fiercely ] since I started researching minimalism last year. I have been a closet follower, but a follower none the less! Jennifer is the first minimalist I have come across to truly inspire me. She loves to travel, pack light, and see the world! If you spend 5 minutes on her blog, I assure you inspiration will spark in your life as well. You can also check her out of Facebook!
[Jennifer does not know this, but I have a list of bloggers I follow, I would love to have participate in this series! She was one of my top bloggers on this list, so I could not be more excited to have her participate!]
I have also decided to change a few of the questions, so if you see a little comment or two about my questions, know it is in good humor! I wanted to add a little spice to this series, so get ready!
1. Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do? What are you passionate about?
Haha – such a big question to start with! 😉
Let’s see … I’m Jennifer and I blog at Simply + Fiercely, where I’m passionate about helping women take control and become conscious creators of lives they love. I believe that too many women (myself included) get swept up in the busyness of life (school, career, marriage, mortgages, etc) and they forget to ask themselves what really matters. I want to inspire women to ask these questions, make mindful decisions, and start loving their lives.
When I’m not blogging, you’ll usually find me traveling (or working to save for travel!) I’ve always had a strong case of wanderlust and I’ve traveled around the world several times. I grew up in the States, but I migrated to Australia ten years ago. I’m actually traveling at the moment (writing this from a cafe in Mexico!)
2. A common thought of a minimalist is that we are frugal. Is this the case for you? Please elaborate with either case.
Nope, definitely not! I think, as far as minimalists go, I’m probably quite a big spender. I eat out often, spend a lot on travel, and when I do shop I like to buy quality pieces.
Having said that, minimalism has completely changed my finances. I used to live paycheck to paycheck and as I mentioned, I had a lot of debt. Once I discovered minimalism I reduced my cost of living, paid off all my debt, and started saving a significant portion of my income.
3. What was your life like before you became a minimalist?
Overwhelming! I was a shopaholic and workaholic – the two fed off each other. Needless to say I was unhappy; I felt like the only two joys in my life were making money and then spending it.
4. How did you discover minimalism?
Mostly on blogs. I think I read an article about tiny homes and it sparked my curiosity.
5. Did you start shifting your life towards a minimalist lifestyle immediately, or was their hesitation?
I liked the idea right away but it took me several years to actually start applying it to my life. I’d experiment here and there with a little closet detox, but I never made much progress. But when I finally ‘became’ a minimalist, it all happened very quickly.
6. How did you begin the transition to a minimalist lifestyle?
Everything really kicked off when I decided to make a cross country move with my (now) ex partner. We didn’t have a lot of money so we decided that we would only bring what would fit in my car. I sold or donated at least 75% of my things in about 2 weeks. In retrospect it’s actually very strange; I struggled for years without much progress, but then did so much in such a short time! But I have an ‘all or nothing’ personality, which explains it a bit!
This was obviously a huge step, but I don’t think I really ‘became’ a minimalist after that. After the move, I still shopped too much and reacquired a lot of things – but fortunately at that stage I was limited a lot by space and budget, so it wasn’t too bad.
The real change happened in the 24 months after that. My relationship ended, I went overseas and I had a huge ‘what am I doing with my life’ moment! It was a tough period in my life – I was unemployed, living with my mum, and starting a new relationship – but with time I started to see that I had been given a clean slate. I realized I had the chance to rebuild my life however I wanted, and minimalism was a tool to help me do it.
7. What does being a minimalist mean to you?
I think being a minimalist is all about intentional living. It’s about deciding what you really want (in your life, in your home, in your closet) and then letting go of anything that doesn’t support your dreams.
8. Where are you currently with your minimalist journey?
I’ve done most of my decluttering and I’ve reached that stage where I don’t feel like I want many new things. I’m now starting to apply minimalism to other parts of my life – looking at my schedule, my relationships, my mindsets. This is definitely more challenging.
9. Where do you hope to be in the next 6 months with your journey?
Physically, I’m hoping to move into a camper van at the start of 2017 and road trip around Australia, so I’ll have to do a bit more downsizing to make it work.
But beyond that, I want to feel more balanced. It’s hard for me to put this into words, because I’m still figuring things out myself, but I’m searching for calm and purpose.
10. On your blog, you share about your travels. Has becoming a minimalist changed anything about the way you travel?
Actually not really! I travel very light (carry on only) but I’ve done this for years – even when I was a horrible shopaholic. I suppose it’s easier to decide what to pack now though, since I have less to choose from!
11. What are some things you have been able to do now, you could not before becoming a minimalist?
Experiment with my life! Now that I have less stuff and less bills I feel free to take chances. I gave up the security of my full time job and now I travel or do short term contract work. I’ll be honest and admit I’m not sure how I’m going to make this work in the long term, but minimalism gives me to take the chance and just see what happens. This never would have been possible a few years ago.
12. What is the biggest obstacle you have faced? How are/did you overcoming/overcome it?
The toughest obstacle (related to minimalism) I’ve ever faced was downsizing my humongous closet! (I had actually converted our guest bedroom into a closet and it was overflowing…)
I think it was so tough for me because I’d been so obsessed with shopping and building my closet for years. Decluttering it meant facing all the money and time I had wasted over the years. It was actually really emotional for me.
I’ve actually written a post about the method that finally worked for me (A Simple Guide To A Simple Wardrobe); the traditional ‘dump your closet on your bed’ method didn’t work for me because I was too emotionally attached. I had to get almost scientific about what worked for me and what didn’t and work, and then used those guidelines to strictly declutter my closet.
13. Explain your current wardrobe. Are you following a specific capsule wardrobe project? If, not what guidelines do you use [if any]? What color palette would we see? How many items do you have in your wardrobe?
Because I’m currently traveling (with carry on luggage only) my wardrobe is very small; I call it the ‘fit everything in my tiny backpack’ project haha!
The contents have changed a lot since I left Australia 6 months ago (I had to buy a coat at one stage and I’ve let go or lost quite a few things) but at the moment I have 20 items in my pack. I do have quite a few accessories though – 5 pairs of shoes (including hiking boots) and 3 handbags!
My style is the same as what I wear at home, mostly neutrals (black, grey, denim, and stripes) with a few accent pieces. I used to experiment a lot with my wardrobe but now I just stick to what I love most.
At home, I have one suitcase full of clothes in storage. It will be really interesting to go through it when I get back and see how I feel about everything after being away so long! I’m sure I’ll be doing some downsizing (and writing a post about it!)
14. What is/are your favorite Minimalist Blogger(s)?
When I first discovered minimalism the blogs I read were Miss Minimalist, Zen Habits, and Rowdy Kittens. I still enjoy those, but I now read lifestyle blogs like Simplicity Relished or the Blissful Mind more often. (Both bloggers are minimalist, but they aren’t strictly about minimalism, like me!)
15. What is/are your favorite book(s) on Minimalism?
Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. It’s actually quite a broad manifesto about creating sustainable economies through increased community, so not specifically about minimalism, but the prevailing theme is “more does not equal happiness”. It helped me see that minimalism is about more than just decluttering; the choices I make as a consumer also affect the broader community.
(This question has actually inspired me to reread it again so thank you!) [You are most certainly welcome!]
16. What is your favorite part of your day?
Dusk or dawn, with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (as appropriate!) I love when the sun’s just coming or going and everything feels magical.
17. What is the last thing you let go of?
I accidentally left one of my favorite outfits at a campground a few months ago!
18. What is one thing you wish you could let go of, but haven’t yet?
Hmm… tough one. I have two small boxes at home of sentimental clutter (cards, newspaper clippings, old journals.) I’d like to get this down to one box. Oh – and a beautiful jewellery box my mum bought me in New Zealand. I never use it, but I’m too emotionally attached to let go.
19. What is the number one benefit you have received due to becoming a minimalist?
Definitely freedom! It’s a combo of not having stuff and not being in debt. It’s the best feeling in the world!
20. If you could give advice to someone who wants to start their minimalist journey, what would you say?
It’s all about mindset; don’t think about minimalism in terms of what you can’t have (a mindset that requires willpower). Instead, think about it as an intentional choice to have more of what really matters (more time, more money, more freedom.)
Want to know more about Jennifer’s story? Go read her blog post about how she became a minimalist!
If you have any questions or comments for Jennifer please leave them below for her!
Lastly, if you would like to participate in this series, please check out my Series Introduction Post to find out how!