So many of us daydream of bigger houses, having lots of nice things, making more money—we’d be so much happier if we just had more, more…give us more!
I dream of having less; I scan the tiny house listings and dream of a 300 square foot private cottage on a piece of untouched land.
I dream of not having utility bills, not having a huge house to clean, not having a ton of clutter and meaningless stuff to organize. I dream of a simple garden, stepping out into the quiet and picking my food.
No more horrendous flourescent lit grocery stores with carts bumping me, price checks, label reading and parking space stalking.
Having a cozy, intimate, safe haven with my partner and my pets. My pitbull would run free, all over the land, sniffing things, digging for hours, laying in the sun, exploring, having off leash adventures. She’d always find her way home because home is with me, wherever I am, because we have a lifetime together that has created that bond and no electric fence or runner leash can replicate that.
Slowly, over the past three years, I have made huge life changes, downsizing my lifestyle considerably.
I used to work 50 hours a week as a high-end stylist with more money than any irresponsible 27-year-old should ever have; I thought I had finally made it; this is success, this is happiness.
I spent thousands of dollars picking up bar and restaurant tabs, partying with people who probably weren’t my true friends, treated clothing and jewelry as if they were disposable and accumulated a plethera of pointless, obscure, over-priced, trendy garbage.
I must have this $100 American Apparel dress in all three colors; I must have this $80 coffee table book from Urban Outfitters on photography, of Spoons. My wardrobe will almost be complete, my living room will be one more step towards perfection.
I always needed more though; I need more infinity scarves, hoop earrings, coffee cups with ridiculous sayings, books on pretentious topics I would never read.
When would my collection of stuff that would make me happy be complete?
I ran out of space; I went from a studio apartment to renting a four bedroom, two bathroom house, in one of the up-and-coming parts of the city. I had an office, a room for my clothing, a dining room for entertaining, a guest bedroom and a guest bathroom.
No, I didn’t: I had a house full of clutter and meaningless shit.
Rooms I couldn’t organize, space I couldn’t keep clean because I was working all of the time. Items my dog shredded and scattered all over the house because she was frustrated and anxious—I didn’t have the time and energy she needed from me. Rooms just became storage closets, places for more piles. I was embarrassed to have people over; I stopped going into a couple of the rooms because they became too overwhelming to deal with.
I went to work one day and couldn’t feel the right side of my body; my hands and feet swelled. Six years of standing 10 hours a day, six days a week, with my arms elevated like a haircutting machine, had finally caught up with me.
At the age of 30, I literally had no wrist joints left and my tendons decided they were done—they’d had enough. It was time to retire. But how could I, when I had all of this stuff I needed to pay for, this lifestyle I was accustomed to?
The world felt like it stopped.
I pulled up my bootstraps and rolled with the punches; I gave up my house and moved in with my boyfriend. I went down to three days a week at work and started training to become a yoga instructor. I cut my yearly salary in half.
I spent weeks going through the house, room by room, filling up the curb with garbage, items unusable due to being shoved into my basement for improper storage, covered in mold, broken, water damaged. Filling up my jeep with items for goodwill. Bags of clothing with tags still on it, books upon books I never read.
I cried and I cried; I felt like part of me was dying. I thought about the money I wasted.
I felt guilt, shame, regret.
Over the next couple of months, as I started to settle into my life and new routine, a very beautiful thing happened. My yogic mind began to let go of that life and I felt free; I felt a huge relief.
One bookshelf with just my favorite books, that I truly value and care for. One closet ,with my very favorite thriftstore finds that I will wear forever and ever and never go out of style that I take pride in cleaning and hanging and preserving.
I still have enough money to put some into savings, my bills are paid on time; I have less money and less stuff…but I have more. I have more free time, to spend with my animals, to read, to write, to do yoga.
There is an obvious trend in the simplicity of minimalist living; people are becoming more mindful, more environmentally conscious.
There’s a reason for that. We are onto something here. In a world where we are told we need more, want more, should have more, I’m going for less. The answer is just that simple. Less is actually more.
Angela Melissa Diaz is a self-proclaimed ecofashionista and thrift store/vintage clothing junkie with Pittsburgh as her stomping ground. She’s writing for the ecofashion and wellness sections of elephant as well as bringing her social butterfly skills to the social media team. If you cannot get in touch with her via any forms of technology, she’s teaching, or on her yoga mat flowing through vinyasas at 90 plus degrees. She’s studying for her certification in health and wellness counseling and hopes to save the world from bad food choices and stagnant lifestyles while reminding everyone to breathe and laugh as much as possible. You can reach her at [email protected] or find her on Facebook.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise