The visual artists I know personally tend to be obsessive collectors, with studios and homes filled with supplies, found objects and inspiration. I don’t consider myself an artist, but I do like to make pretty things, arrange dried flowers, and sketch. Keeping in check the amount of supplies I have around the house is an ongoing battle for me. Whether we are minimalists or not, we all have objects, stuff, things, paraphernalia, gadgets and gizmos that accumulate. They may be very practical items, they may be sentimental items, or somewhere in between.
What I have found interesting in much of the writing about de-cluttering and minimalism is that people struggle most when it comes to parting with sentimental items such as souvenirs, diaries, and family gifts. While I do understand this perspective, what I have found I struggle with most is parting with practical items, like the four extra bath towels, the second muffin tin and the wall clock, that I definitely don’t need, but know are very useful items. I suppose this is when my environmental consciousness really kicks in, because each time I am ready to part with an item, I need to know that it is going to someone who will use it well. I can’t simply de-clutter my house by putting things in the waste bin. Finding the time to donate items to the best places, like bicycle parts to Bicycles for Humanity, running shoes to the Soles4Souls or the Running Room, kitchen tools through the Freecycle network can be a challenge, when all I want to do is say goodbye to my stuff and hello to clear space. It takes patience and time to do it right. And so, I am constantly reminding myself of this, when it would be really easy for me to put things in the trash or donate them to a generic charity bin that may not be able to make good use of the items. All this to say, I think that the environmental impacts of de-cluttering need a bit more air time and consideration, and so I was very pleased when Kellie (interviewed below) mentioned this to me in her interview.
Kellie is a minimalist, mother of four, artist and book lover. I was excited to talk with Kellie and hear how she lives minimally because, well, four kids, art and books usually make for a very cluttered existence! Kellie shares how having less stuff allowed her to have a more open mind, free of mental clutter. She also talks about how her boys are thriving having less stuff and more experiences. I hope you enjoy the read.
Let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What are you passionate about? How do you like to spend your time?
I am a Texas transplant to Vancouver, British Columbia [Canada]. I’m passionate about children, the creative mind, and inspiring others. I spend my time reading LOTS of books to my children and students and getting outside to explore nature with my four boys because Vancouver is a beautiful place to explore.
You are an artist, what inspires your work?
Children are the biggest inspiration for almost anything I create. They have a raw, uninhibited imagination. I like to create things that will inspire imaginative play or thoughts. I also keep in mind the lasting effects, how it impacts the environment. The state of the world has everything to do with what we teach our children now. Having less, but something with good quality. Everything I make has a person in mind, and I put so much passion into it, that it must be something so beautiful and worthwhile that I would keep if for myself.
How many children do you have and what are they like?
I have 4 little boys and they are so different. My oldest is the introvert, passionate, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He gave a TEDTalk in November. My second son is very gentle and cheerful, you can always find him skipping or singing. My 5 year old is a cuddle bug and 3 year old has quite a Batman obsession. My house is full of noise and energy but also a large amount of curiosity and we are all relentless about reading.
Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?
I have many, I love a good quote but this one always fits me:
“You have more to do than be weighed down by ‘pretty’ or ‘beautiful.’ You are a fiery heart and a wicked brain. Do not let your soul be defined by its shell.” ~Michelle K.
I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you?
Living in Vancouver as a family of 6, minimalism is a way of life. If you want a tidy house with a big family, you need fewer items. Minimalism, to me, means owning fewer things.
Why do you identify as a minimalist? In what ways are you a minimalist?
We have always purged and kept our house full of fewer things for space reasons, but it started to make a big difference in the way we felt. We felt better, happier with fewer items. I have always been passionate about caring for the environment and fewer, better things makes less of an impact on the world. I am always hoping the world will be a better place for my children.
What is your story? How did you get started on a minimalist path? What drew you to minimalism or what motivated you to become a minimalist?
We have always purged and donated our things, but our biggest change came when we had to stage our home for putting it on the market. We became minimal very quickly, and we all actually enjoyed it better. The kids even talked about how clean their room felt and how they liked the feeling of it. We found ourselves outdoors more, it’s hard to explain it, but that’s how it impacted us. We always loved camping and going outdoors but we began exploring more spaces and our lives were focused much more on experiences.
Are there people you look to as minimalist role models?
I really enjoy Alison from 600sqftandababy. I love her hashtag #fewerthings. I have learned so much, like recycling your running shoes at Running Room. I love reading your journey and all the interviews you have. I think everyone has a different journey and we can all learn from each others experiences.
Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?
I read The Life Changing Art Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I enjoyed it but it didn’t talk a lot about recycling, which is also an important issue to me.
In what ways/areas do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals/values? What is your weakness?
My weakness is children’s picture books. I am very choosy about the books I actually buy for my home, they must have exquisite illustrations and I prefer they have teachable moments. That being said, they can add up because there are lots of wonderful books. It’s my struggle.
Does your household abide by minimalism or is this more a focus for yourself?
We all abide by minimalism. We store our kids toys away and they alternate them in and out every now and then. It’s like getting a new toy but it’s actually ones they have already had and forgotten about. We have only kept the ones that have a lasting life either by quality or by fad. If they won’t love it in a week, it can’t stay.
Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?
My husband likes clothes, but I can see the impact in his choices now.
Have you had any positive or constructive experiences with friends or family related to minimalism?
It has had a positive influence. When I started to minimize my art supplies, I realized I had more than I needed. I was able to find great homes for what I didn’t need. I decided to only make something for someone specific or for the shops that sell my items by their request. I want to make special things, that someone can treasure and that will have a lasting impact. I started making wood dolls for people that inspired me. At first people thought that it was strange. I think because most people that give you something want something in return. For me, it was a way of creating something unique and beautiful for someone that sends beauty out into the world. It’s been a fun and interesting art process.
In what ways has minimalism improved your life?
Having fewer things leaves your mind open to less clutter in life. You focus more on the essentials, which for us is health, family and experiences.
What have been some unexpected experiences you’ve had with minimalism?
I didn’t not expect my children to flow with it so well, they enjoy less clutter, that was surprising to me.
What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?
Start now, for some it’s one big purge and others it takes longer to let go.
Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?
I have some big dreams, focused around children and literacy. The current project I have just finished, is a line of cards for kids that promote creativity and handwriting , called Lisky and Lulu, and I will continue to share my love of books over @thekaleidoscopeca.
Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:
- Bloglovin: to subscribe to my blog feed
- Instagram: @hippieindisguise
- Pinterest: Hippie in Disguise
- Twitter: @hippieindisguis
- VSCO: HIPPIEINDISGUISE “Wanderlust and Minimalist Fun”
- Facebook: Hippie in Disguise
- *New* Private Facebook Discussion Group: Slow, Eco, Minimal Living just ask to join, we love to welcome new people