Slow Living Project: Nurture Photo Selections

Well, it’s officially a cliche here, but yes, another month of the Slow Living Project has gone by, and another set of inspiring images has been collected — this time under the theme ‘Nurture’ using the hashtag #slowliving_nurture.

This past month, Melanie and I wanted to focus our slow living on nurturing, whether it’s nurturing ourselves or others, or nurturing a love, passion or interest. We asked: How do you take time to slow down and nurture health, creativity, connection and all of life’s important things? Thank you for sharing your moments of beauty, nurturing, and connection. We were very inspired, and, as usual I had a very hard time choosing a small selection to share with you, so please visit the hashtag to enjoy all that was contributed this month.

There are always many beautiful photos in the galleries, but I’m always particularly drawn to ones that have really explored the theme, and often this comes by way of the caption. Personally, I was inspired by those of you sharing images of nurturing children’s love for adventure, travel, exploration and nature, but nurtured in an open-ended way, nothing forced, nothing  rushed, allowing children to guide themselves. I also loved, and have a fondness for, nurturing family and sibling bonds. And, of course, there’s the very basic nurturing of life, that we don’t always pay enough attention to. With these thoughts in mind here are some of my favourites.

Nurturing a love for nature and adventure, collecting memories, treasures and wishes

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Photo by @slooower

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Photo by @mytinytribe

Nurturing life

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Photo by @ambertia

Nurturing souls, bonds and creativity

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Photo by @lilimuguette

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Photo by @keishua_

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Photo by @lightlovers

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Photo by @devine_tribe

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Photo by @celinabailey

Melanie’s selections can be found over on her blog www.geoffreyandgrace.com.

Congratulations to those who were selected for the blog, and thank you very much to everyone who added their special moments to the hashtag gallery. No matter how many entries we see in the gallery each month we are overwhelmed and inspired by how you explore the theme, both through photography and your words.

As with all our monthly themes —#slowliving_explore, #slowliving_create, #slowliving_raise, #slowliving_gather,#slowliving_renew, #slowliving_love and so on — there’s no reason to stop using the hashtag on your images, you never know who or what it might inspire in someone else. I noticed the other day that #slowliving_create is close to 4000 photos under the hashtag. Let’s keep the slow living momentum going! Slowly, though 😉

As a reminder, in December we started using the hashtag #slowliving_ for all our images in the project. Feel free to use it yourself, especially for any photos you love but don’t feel quite fit the theme of the month.

The theme for June is ‘reflect’ using the hashtag #slowliving_reflect. Building on our month focused on nurturing, and moreover our many months of focusing on slow living, we wanted to take some time to reflect on our journeys. We would love to learn from your reflections on slow living and how you take time to reflect on life. All reflections big and small are welcome. Use the hashtag #slowliving_reflect on your Instagram photos to be part of the gallery.

And…please feel free to join in even if you have never participated before.

As usual, Melanie and I will curate a collection of our favourites at the end of the month to share on Instagram, our blogs, and on our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’. And by the way, our Pinterest board is a great place to get a quick glance at all the selections to date and to get a good dose of visual inspiration.

You can see previous month’s themes and selections on my blog for: ‘explore’ here,‘create’ here and here, ‘bloom and harvest’ here and here, ‘raise’ here, ‘gather’ here, ‘renew’ here, ‘love’ here

Thank you to everyone who shares photos and inspires us to live slowly, wholeheartedly, with gratitude. Best wishes for a beautiful and reflective month! xo, Danielle

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You might also like my post:

Dreaming with Little Creative Factory

Interview with a Minimalist: Celia (zero waste city dweller)

The Stop and Start of Minimalism

Born Wild: An Interview with Inspiring Mother Morgan Brechler

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Dried Flowers

1o Ways to Live a Greener, More Sustainable Lifestyle

Want to find me in other places?

Slow Living Photo Selections: Bloom and Harvest, Take 2

Another month of the Slow Living Project, and another set of inspiring images has been collected — this time under the hashtag #slowliving_bloomandharvest. This past month, Melanie and I wanted to focus our slow living on the season’s changes: the harvest in the northern hemisphere and the blooms of spring in the southern hemisphere. Thank you for sharing your moments of beauty, contemplation, stillness, and connection. We were very inspired, and had a hard time choosing a small selection to share with you, so please visit the hashtag to enjoy all that was offered this month.

In April we revisited a favourite theme ‘Bloom and Harvest’. This time around the seasons have switched, with it being spring in northern hemisphere and fall in the southern hemisphere. Like the first time around, we loved how you captured the colour and beauty of these seasons. Personally, I was quite inspired by the images that cleverly combined blooms and harvest: reflecting on the dying bloom, harvesting flowers to create blooms in a new context, capturing the bloom of the harvest, and thinking about bloom in a broader sense: the blooming child and the blooming mind. I always have a special fondness for images that include children, that is, I am inspired, comforted and given hope to see children raised from a slow approach and children learning about the wild natural world. With this in mind here are some of my favourites.

Beautiful blooms

Blooming bellies, babies, families and minds

Blooms harvested

Cultivating children’s creative, helping hands

Melanie’s selections can be found over on her blog www.geoffreyandgrace.com.

Congratulations to those who were selected for the blog, and thank you very much to everyone who has added their special moments to the hashtag gallery. With over 1600 entries to the gallery we were overwhelmed by the participation this month. As with all our monthly themes — #slowliving_explore, #slowliving_create, #slowliving_raise, #slowliving_gather, #slowliving_renew, #slowliving_love and so on — there’s no reason to stop using the hashtag on your images, you never know who or what it might inspire in someone else. Let’s keep the slow living momentum going! In December we started using the hashtag #slowliving_ for all our images in the project. Feel free to use it yourself, especially for any photos you love but don’t feel quite fit the theme of the month.

As mentioned on my Instagram account earlier this month, the theme for May is ‘nurture’ using the hashtag #slowliving_nurture. Melanie and I want to see and be inspired by how you nurture yourselves and others, how you take time to slow down and nurture health, creativity, connection and all the important things in life. Use the hashtag #slowliving_nurture on your Instagram photos to be part of the gallery. Please feel free to join in even if you have never participated before. As usual, Melanie and I will curate a collection of our favourites at the end of the month to share on Instagram, our blogs, and on our Pinterest board ‘Slow Living Moments’. And by the way, our Pinterest board is a great place to get a quick glance at all the selections to date and to get a good dose of visual inspiration.

You can see previous month’s themes and selections ‘explore’ here,‘create’ here and here, ‘bloom and harvest’ here, ‘raise’ here, ‘gather’ here, ‘renew’ here, ‘love’ here.

Thank you to everyone who shares photos and inspires us to live slowly, wholeheartedly, with gratitude. Best wishes for a beautiful and nurturing month! xo, Danielle

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You might also like my post:

Top Post: Interview with a Minimalist: Claudia

Born Wild: An Interview with Inspiring Mother Morgan Brechler

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Dried Flowers

Interview with Creative Mother: Kate from A Playful Day

1o Ways to Live a Greener, More Sustainable Lifestyle

Want to find me in other places?

2015: My first year of blogging

Time flies when you’re blogging. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for almost a year now. I rarely feel as though time passes quickly with my children. A year ago in their life, seems like ages, definitely not the blink of an eye. Thank goodness for that! But blogging for a year? It seems like just yesterday I started, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of all the things I want to share.

 I started my blog because I wanted a space where I could ramble on at greater length than an Instagram caption allows. I wanted to share more photos than is polite on Instagram or Facebook, a space that captured more of what my children were doing, how they were developing, and what they loved. I also wanted to build an archive of all the people that inspired me, and that I hoped would inspire my readers. I hoped optimistically to create a blog space that felt like a hub of inspiration, by connecting inspiring women with people looking for inspiration, by connecting conscious consumers with great small, sustainable businesses, and by sharing pieces of my own life, which is fairly ordinary, but shows how the simple things in life are truly the best things.

Those of you who’ve been around a while know that I’m passionate about the natural world: spending time in it, creating from it, sustaining it, cultivating our bonds with it. Really, everything I share in some way stems back to this, explicitly or implicitly. Whether it’s a project or adventure with the children, the way in which I review products, or the people I select to interview. Some of my favourite posts about things we did were: our botanical advent, making a mother nature leaf dress, making (garbage free) cashew milk, urban adventures, strawberry picking, drawing a day project, making a flower crown.

I started off my first series of interviews sharing the words and wisdom of Inspiring Mothers, women who live creatively, consciously and connected with nature. Thank you Ashley, Carina, Bree, Tiff, Danielle, Jo, Jessica, Nelly, Josie, Sara, Kristin, Dana and Hannah. I have more of these interviews lined up for 2016 so stay tuned!

A little later I introduced a second series with Creative Mothers, these are interviews with creative and entrepreneurial mothers who inspired me to pursue my creative interests and who I thought could inspire readers to pursue their dreams of independent, creative work. Thank you Kaity, Lauren, Sophia, Alana, Erin, Peta, Heather, Rebecca, Amanda, Heidi and Kimberley for sharing your stories and experience so others can be inspired. I’m excited to introduce you to a few more creative mothers in 2016.

Then my series on minimalists followed. Most of the people I interviewed would add a qualifier, like “aspiring” or “novice”, because something, it seems, about minimalism makes it seem as though we aren’t ‘enough’ of one (even though it’s all about less…). Hmm. (More on that in another post, where I’ll look back on these interviews to glean the common and uncommon points from them.) The minimalists I interviewed focused minimalism in many different ways: in the kitchen, in a zero-garbage home, in maximizing a small space, in making career decisions, in raising their children, and more. I wanted to enlarge the concept of minimalism beyond the simple understanding that it is about the number of things in your home. It can be, but there’s so much more to this concept of less.

The Interview with a Minimalist series has become my most popular one. And I look forward to adding to it in 2016. Thank you Alison, Carina, Kellie, Kylah, Brian, Amanda, Tiffany, Katrien, and the Devine Family for sharing your story. If you would like to share your experience with minimalism, good or bad, I would love to hear from you. Please email me!

In August I teamed up with Melanie of Geoffrey and Grace, and I’m thankful for what this connection and our Slow Living Project developed into. The project has had a profound, positive effect on me. Similar to minimalism, people live a slow lifestyle differently, focusing on different aspects of their day and how a slow, mindful approach can be brought to bear, so that the moment can be enjoyed more wholeheartedly. Seeing all the beautiful moments shared on Instagram, has been a huge inspiration to me to apply a slow approach to habits and activities that hadn’t occurred to me. Thank you for sharing! And if you haven’t shared yet, please join in anytime. In January we are focusing on the word ‘renew’.

Finally, it seems odd, on a blog that focuses on sustainability and minimalism to talk about stuff. While I think we should be mindful of what we acquire and minimize as much as possible, we all need shoes and clothes, and other goods to sustain us. The realist in me knows that if I tell everyone to buy from thrift shops, this will fall on many deaf ears. If the choice is thrift or a prior default store (such as Target/Gap/Joe Fresh), many will choose the latter. Sometimes Target is cheaper, sometimes it’s cheaper and nicer. I get it. But if there is a third choice that might steer people away from big box shops toward buying from small, sustainable companies that make beautiful goods and clothing, then I feel compelled to share that. I know some people will never be comfortable with thrift. I know some of you would rather spend more money on one nice fall sweater than buy three fleece hoodies at Old Navy. I know that some of you would shop sustainably if you just knew where to go. So, I made a choice to help spread the word about excellent companies making things in sustainable ways to encourage people to purchase from them when they need something. Not to encourage conspicuous, trend driven consumption, but knowing that we do need good quality things to make our life work.

On that note, I wanted to thank all the lovely small shops and brands who sent us their beautiful sustainable goods or who supported our blog and family in 2015 in other ways, sharing our posts, referring friends, and sponsoring our work. You can find most of them by searching “label love” “shop love” on this site. If you are interested in sponsoring us in 2016 please email me.

If you’ve made it this far through my post, first: thank you, second: please consider subscribing to my blog, by email or Bloglovin (see side bar or below), third: thank you, again!

A big thank you to my readers, you make this space feel like a community and encourage me to keep sharing. Thank you to my children and partner for inspiring me every single day to enjoy the little things: small, slow, less is best.

Looking forward to 2016 and what next year’s recap will look like, most likely quite different than this one!

xo, Danielle

ps – If you are curious, as I was, my Top Posts last year were:

My favourite posts, aside from interviews, were:

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Want to find me in other places?

Empowering Motherhood: Inspiring Mother Tiff

It’s been a while since I’ve shared an inspiring mother. Tiff is a stay at home mother, yoga instructor and birth doula. I started following her because I loved how she incorporated yoga into her everyday life with a toddler. I’ve personally struggled with getting more than a few sun salutations done while my children are around. Sen loves yoga, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all partner yoga or him leading the practice. Somedays I just want to flow through 20 salutations without interruption.

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When Tiff started sharing her second pregnancy on Instagram I was totally inspired by how she shared, in a very humble way, the beauty of pregnancy and how deeply empowering it can be to carry and birth a baby. I never expected the birth of my own children to be transformational or empowering but they were; however, I never figured out a good way to share my story. Tiff shares in an natural, inspiring, yet humble, everyday way. She doesn’t present herself as superhuman. She puts forth a vision of birth and mothering that is both aspirational and very attainable by reminding herself and women of what we’ve always been capable of. Thank you, Tiff, for sharing, you’ve no doubt inspired many women to trust in themselves, not only to birth and mother a baby, but to trust themselves, period.

What part of the world do you live in?

Southern California

How many children do you have and how would you describe them?  

Two daughters – Nora Jane (3 yrs) my bright, wild, spirited one, & Violet Lu (born Oct 28) sweet, cuddly little darling.

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What are your core family values?

Love Yourself. Love others. Have patience. Notice the beauty in each moment. Be grateful for all of life’s abundance. Take every life experience as an opportunity for learning and growth.

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How do you spend most of your days?

Our little family is happiest when we are playing in the waves, so we spend most of our days at the beach; soaking up the sunshine and salty air. I really feel connected with the water and swimming in the ocean has always felt like a spiritual experience for me. My girls were both born in water, so I think it’s safe to say they feel the same.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Get out into nature, explore new places.

What are you passionate about? 

I am passionate about yoga- practice & philosophy. When training to become an instructor (while pregnant with my first daughter), the natural lifestyle really resonated with me which is why I chose to have a natural home water birth with my daughters. After having my first beautiful birth experience, I became inspired to share what I felt so deeply to be true: pregnancy is a sacred and beautiful privilege, and birth can be a wonderful and enjoyable experience as our bodies are made for it!

What inspires you?

I am inspired by others who follow their passions and have the courage to share their gifts with the world.

Did your dreams change once you had a child?

Absolutely. Giving birth changed me and empowered me to embrace motherhood in a way I hadn’t ever imagined for myself. I became very passionate about the birth process and our body’s natural, innate abilities and felt called to help empower other women and mothers in their own pregnancy and birth journeys.

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Photo by @tophography_

What are your dreams for motherhood?

I want my girls to know just how much they are loved and to teach them to truly love and accept their authentic selves, as well as others. And that life can be anything they wish to make it.

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Thank you so much, Tiff! Friends and readers: you can follow Tiff on Instagram @namastetiff and watch the most beautiful, empowering birth video ever here (outside USA) or here (USA).

You might also like my post:

Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica May 2016

Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation for Children

Thoughtful Guide to Gifts for Children

minimalist tea hippie in disguise

Interview with a Minimalist: Katrien

Continuing on in my Buy Nothing Day programming, I have a second interview with a minimalist, Katrien.

Check out my first post of the day to read a bit more about Buy Nothing Day — a day of protest against consumerism.

Minimalism isn’t just or only about having and buying less stuff, as I’ve tried to explore through this series of interviews. It is more about applying the notion of ‘less is more’ to one’s life, or aspects of it.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist

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Katrien is a Waldorf-inspired homeschooling mother to twin toddlers, she’s passionate for all things natural and handmade. She’s Belgian by birth, a traveler by nature, and living in Italy for the sake of love. I only recently started following Katrien on Instagram, probably at some point last summer or spring. I was drawn to her images of her gorgeous mountain top life and the beautiful simplicity of it. When she mentioned her interest in minimalism to me one day, I jumped at the chance to interview her for the blog. And I am so glad I did. Katrien shares insightful and inspiring stories and ideas that will interest parents raising young children, but also professionals looking for more meaning in their life and adults pining for a simpler existence.

Katrien, let’s start with you. Who are you? What’s your background?

Before I met my husband I was working my dream job as a freelance writer and researcher for a Belgium Museum. I was a workaholic (with secret dreams of finding a house on a quiet hill somewhere). I loved the high of being at the very end (or very beginning) of a project. That rush of work. The late hours, and sleepless nights, the apotheoses of a grand opening… And in between these exhausting projects I usually threw some stuff into my backpack and traveled the world to find a place where I could rest and heal the damage I had previously done to my health and my spirit… But then I met this boy from Italy. He was a traveler just like me, and when we met he was taking a break from being on the road, and working on his parents organic farm. They had sheep and horses, and made their own beer, and suddenly that secret dreams of a house on a hill came flooding into my daily life. One year later I started working part-time, and two years later I resigned from my job to move to Italy. It was about then that I realized that it is possible to have a meaningful life without the roller coaster of highs and lows. And so I chose to live with less. Less work, a lower income, but more time for life itself.

How many children do you have and what are they like?

We have two three year old identical twin boys. They were born two minutes apart, and although they are very similar in some respects, they are complete opposites in others, complementing each other perfectly. E. (who is the older twin) is a real ‘Big Brother’. Strong, independent, extrovert. He loves to help and get his hands dirty… His ‘younger brother’ A. is more sensitive, more of a thinker, a dreamer. (I often feel like his feet never really touch the ground.) He takes his time to get to know people before opening up to them, but makes really deep connections when he does. But no matter how many differences there might be between them, they have the strongest, most amazing bond I’ve ever seen between two persons. Being an actual, physical, part of each other, much of what goes on between the two of them can remain unsaid. They simply understand. Sure, they also know exactly how to get to each other as well, and we do get quite a bit of fighting at times, but in the end they always seek out each other’s company.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist Nieva knitwear

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

Our children come to us with a deep destiny that needs to be honored…A little grace is needed…for them to develop into the people they’re meant to be, especially in a world that is constantly bombarding them (and us) with the distractions of so many things, so much information, speed and urgency. These stresses distract from the focus or ‘task’ of childhood: an emerging, developing sense of self.” (Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne)

We live in a society that wants us to ‘need’, to desire, to crave. Marketing strategies speak to us of more, and more and more. But reading this book we realized that our children were craving the exact opposite. They needed less. And as we started making some changes in our parenting style, we discovered the same was true for us.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist Twins

You say you’ve only just begun to pursue minimalism, what is your story?

Five years after moving to Italy, my dream of living in a house on a hill came true. A friend told us about this amazing house that was going on sale, and even before I had seen it, I just knew this was the one. A traditional stone house, perched on a hill, and surrounded by nothing but miles and miles of forest. The price was exactly what we could afford, and it looked like she didn’t need much work, and so we made the jump and started packing to move to a different region, and a whole new life.

But as I started filling box after box, I felt I wanted to go with nothing. Leave it all behind, and start afresh with only the things that could fit into the car. Me, Francesco, the boys, and some of our most precious things. But of course we didn’t. Instead we packed up as much as we could fit into a rental van and stored everything in a room we were told was ”nice and dry”.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist

As soon as the worst of winter was over, Francesco started working on the house. We started off with the renovation of an old, partly ruined barn that was to become our kitchen and living area, and then the rest was going to need a mere ‘freshening up’. Much to our horror though, we soon discovered there was a lot more to do than we had anticipated. We ended up having to change most of the roofs of the house we had just bought. This came as a huge shock. Especially since that meant that the budget we had calculated to rebuild the house, and to live off for a year, was now insufficient. And so we needed to adapt. In the end we could only prepare a small portion of the house for us to live in, and even there, much work remains to be done. But we didn’t give up, and were happy when we were finally (sort of) ready to move in. It was then that we noticed that most of the things we had stored, had been damaged by water leakage. Books, furniture, clothes… Gone. Ruined. And no money to replace them. But to my surprise I wasn’t sad or angry about losing so many of the things I previously thought indispensable or precious. Instead I was relieved. A weight had been lifted. We owned less. And it felt great. And so the desire grew to get rid of more Things. Things that hàd survived the winter, but that somehow didn’t feel like they had a place in our lives anymore.

I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you? And, in what ways are you a minimalist?

Being fuelled by the fact that we live of a very tight budget, minimalism first of all means spending less money. We only buy the strictly necessary, and try to make, produce or grow as much as we can ourselves. We grow our own organic vegetables and potatoes in the garden, as well as most of the herbs and spices we use in the kitchen and for herbal remedies, and soap. Furthermore I spend every quiet moment I can get knitting or sewing clothes for me and the boys. That way being minimalists saves us money. But that’s not all. To us minimalism also means making ethically sound choices about the things we do need to buy. Spending less is one part, but we also feel very passionately about the environment, and about not harming others through the choices we make, and so whenever we do need to buy something, we prefer to buy organically produced, ethically made or second-hand. And lastly minimalism has brought us to be (very) selective about how we spend our time. We put family time before anything. Even if that means turning down social or professional engagements. We all need to work, and we can really use the money, but we do not want to take jobs that somehow compromise the way we have chosen to live our life as a family, or go out on social occasions for the sake of going out.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist potatoes

Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

I haven’t read any books, or visited many websites about minimalism, but the book Simplicity Parenting has had a big impact on our parenting style, and on our lives in general. Kim John Payne advocates a (Waldorf inspired) form of minimalism when it comes to the toys, activities and information we expose our children to. He suggests we strip their lives of the ‘unnecessary’ to allow them to come to themselves to realize their full potential, their destiny, their spirit.

We haven’t got a TV in the house, and live a very quiet and simple life, so cutting down on activities and information wasn’t much of an issue. (Except for that part about not talking about adult stuff in front of your children…) But where toys were concerned, we both felt there was room for improvement. Our boys never had much toys, but since we took out some of the toys we felt did not stimulate them to engage in meaningful and creative play, we’ve seen a change in ways we didn’t expect. Long stretches of uninterrupted independent play have now become quite common, and we noticed that they tend to pull out much less toys (only to dump them two minutes later) than they used to do. Toys that are being taken out are now actually played with. And so things started to shift… we started talking about what a similar change could do for us; as parents, as a couple, and as individuals. And suddenly this idea that it actually feels really nice to live with less had a name. It was called minimalism, and we firmly believed there were very good reasons for pursuing it, and to take it a step further than we had so far.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist twin boys

In what ways/areas do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals? What is your weakness?

Yarn. I know this might seem silly, but I love beautiful yarn, and if my budget would allow for it, I would probably buy insane amounts of it. Natural, hand spun, plant dyed… No chocolate or clothes, bags or shoes could measure up to that. But unfortunately there’s only so many hours in a day, and so I struggle to use up all the yarn I buy. Hence I tend to ‘stock’ it for later projects, but then of course, meanwhile, more beautiful yarn comes my way… Time to start emptying my knitting chest before buying any more I’d say.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist

Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

Not really. We expected it was going to be hard to eliminate some of the toys we had traveling around the house, but in the end it wasn’t. We started out by talking to the boys about ‘getting rid’ of all the things that were broken. After that, we took away some of the plastic toys we didn’t really like to begin with, and as a last step we reduced the amount of books they had in their room by putting together a seasonally inspired bookcase, and storing all the remaining books for later. In the end we were really surprised to find that our boys initially didn’t even notice some things had disappeared, and when they did, they were ok with the fact that we gave them away to charity, because we had enough anyway…

In what ways has minimalism improved your life?

This last year and a half things haven’t always been very easy. Going from having enough money to do whatever you want, whenever you want, to having none at all can be terribly daunting. And yet the most difficult times weren’t the ones when we struggled to buy the things we needed. The most difficult ones were the moments where I wànted something. Just for the sake of having it. A dress. A pair of girly shoes. A pizza night out. Something to give to the boys as a present… To not be able to hàve those things made me feel ‘poor’, and frustrated. But now I find those moments just don’t happen so very often anymore. I guess I’m just happy with what I do have now… even if paradoxically, that is much less than at those times when I felt I needed more. Sure, sometimes I do see a nice dress, or that Perfect Bag that would match every single thing in my closet, but then I remind myself I don’t really need it. (Especially when it comes to ‘fast fashion’ items.) And for some reason that feels great. To be able to say no. To have only what I need. To not spend ages in front of my wardrobe, trying to decide what might possibly look nice on me. (And to know that I won’t be bringing that dress or that Perfect Bag to the charity bin next time I feel like the contents of my closet are coming at me like an avalanche of resentment and guilt.)

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist twin boys

What have been some unexpected experiences you’ve had with minimalism?

When I started getting rid of things I felt were just ‘too much’, it was all about making space in rooms and cupboards. I strived to create a visually pleasant and calming living environment. I wanted to have a minimal home. But as we’ve come further in this journey, I have been amazed to see that minimalism has brought us so much more than that. I guess somewhere down the line the meaning of this transformation we are currently undergoing shifted from ‘having’ to ‘being’… it wasn’t so much about things anymore. It was about us. About who we could be. And how we could live.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

Start small. And start with things that you feel you aren’t going to miss. You don’t have to start by throwing away your baby’s first pair of shoes. (In fact, maybe that is one of the few things you might want to keep.) But as you start reflecting about all the things you surround yourself with, I’m sure you’ll find that a lot of things aren’t quite that important to you. Or better even. That you might be better off without some of them. Every object you own has a life, a story, a message. And not all of them are nice messages, so why not get rid of those things first? They are an easy place to start. Think of that ugly thing you got as a gift (but can barely stand to look at), those clothes you bought because someone told you you looked fabulous in them, but that always get taken off just before you leave the house. And then think of keepsakes that somehow remind you of painful experiences. (Yes… those letters from your ex-boyfriend for example (my case), or souvenirs from a holiday that was actually the Worst. Ever.) And then take a break. Just see how it feels.You’ll know what to do next.

Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?

Oh yes! Next year, we’re clearing out the basement and the store room. The basement is still full of things that belonged to the previous owner. Things like old windows and half rotten furniture, so that can go. Furthermore we have decided that everything that hasn’t been taken out of the boxes in the store room since we have moved into the house can either go to charity, or will be thrown away. If we haven’t ‘needed’ it the last 18 months, I guess we won’t really need it in the future either.

Katrien Growing Wild Things Interview with a Minimalist

Thank you, Katrien, for such a lucid interview, so much to think about! Readers you can find Katrien on Instagram @growingwildthings

Check out these other great interviews in this series:

Interview with a Minimalist: Kellie (artist, children’s book lover and mother of 4 boys living in a small space)

Interview with a Minimalist: The Devine Family (off the grid family with 4 children living in a tree house down under, completely garbage free)

Interview with a Minimalist: Amanda (mother of 2 girls with a third on the way, minimalism in the home to unleash her children’s creativity)

Interview with a Minimalist: Carina (artist living in the small space capital of Canada with her 2 children and partner, maximizing life through the great outdoors)

Interview with a Minimalist: Alison (mother of one, the small space living queen of Canada)

Interview with a Minimalist: Brian of Less Means More (travelling around the US with his partner and unschooling their boy)

Interview with a Minimalist: Kylah (organic farmer and vegan chef raising 2 girls off the grid with her partner)

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? They are monthly learning capsules for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off , you can read more about it here

Interview with a Minimalist: Tiffany

In honour of Black Friday, which I know (conversely) as Buy Nothing Day, I am posting two interviews about minimalism.

Buy Nothing Day started right here in Canada over 20 years ago. I had a fun and activist school teacher at the time, who introduced me to Buy Nothing Day at a ripe, young age (planting the seeds of minimalism!). I have observed the day of anti-consumerism ever since.

Buying less is the single most effective thing we can do to help protect our natural environment and the earth’s resources — because we are not creating demand for resources. And…having less and doing more is probably the most effective thing we can do to find greater happiness and contentment in our lives. I’d call that win-win.

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all photos by Tiffany Cecchini

The first interview I’m sharing today is with Tiffany, and while she doesn’t use the word ‘minimalism’, everything she says and lives resonates as minimalism to me. I’ve followed Tiffany on Instagram for a long time, probably two years, which is a life time in social media terms. After a series of life events, some of which she talks about below, she had an epiphany that shaped how she has lived everyday since. While my path to living with less has been different, I share a similar experience with Tiffany.

In late September 2015, while Matt and I were camping with the children in Gloucester, Massachusetts, I had this heavy feeling, but a happy heavy feeling. I never wanted to leave. It wasn’t because I was on “vacation” (I do call camping a vacation, but our style of camping isn’t exactly leisure or glamorous, so it’s only vacation in the sense that we are away from home). I had been on vacations before, even really nice ones, and never had the feeling that I wanted to stay forever, that I had found my perfect place and space in life. When our family camps we bring and do the bare minimum, very little gear and equipment, very simple food. And I love it. The barest form of simplicity (for us). There are no extras. We bring nothing we don’t use. There is no schedule to observe except the natural rhythms of  hunger and sleep. I feel complete peace. This simplicity feels like the greatest abundance. This ‘less’ is ‘more’.

I’ll let you read on to hear about Tiffany’s experience, but first a little more about her as way of introduction: Tiffany works as an x-ray tech and is a self-described plant hoarder. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two boys.

I hope you enjoy her perspective on life and the stuff that fills it. I know I do.

Tiffany, let’s start with a little bit about you. Who are you? What’s your background?

I’m a 35 year old girl! And by ‘girl’ I mean I have very few adult tendencies. I was one of four children growing up in an extremely small town outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We were surrounded by corn fields and cows and even though I wouldn’t change a thing about my childhood, I prefer the suburbs.

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What are you passionate about? How do you like to spend your time?

Absolutely passionate about my relationships. Not just my kids, but my husband and myself as well. I think that your relationship with your spouse is just as important as the one you have with your children. When I’m not spending time with them, I’m spending it by myself! I’m a bit of an introvert, so this is something I crave often. And when I get those moments of solitude I usually find myself taking pictures, gardening, or crafting of some sort.

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How many children do you have and what are they like?

I have two boys, Cooper and Elio. Cooper, my oldest, is my calm. The sweetest soul, that boy. He’s hypersensitive, introverted, and full of wonder. Elio is my wild. The dreamer, the charmer, and wanderer. He’s super affectionate and already has the wittiest sense of humor. It’s amazing. You love your children equally, yet for so many different reasons.

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Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

JUST. WING. IT

Seriously, it makes life way easier.

What is your story? What drew you to minimalism?

The term “minimalism” was never actually used. We kind of fell into it. Every year I take my boys camping and we pack for pure function. I finally realized why I couldn’t wait to go camping every year. It was for the simplicity of it. You pack what you need. And on those weekends when we were sleeping in a tent, hanging out outside all day, eating food off a fire I was completely relaxed and present with my boys. I love that. That’s what every mother wants and struggles with.

Watching their smiles and their little hands grace the rocks as they hunt for pebbles to skip on the lake. I wanted that every day, but it’s so hard to do at home with a million distractions and a million things to clean up. By the end of the week after our first trip this season I was overwhelmed by everything at home and struggling with dividing my time between everyone and everything. And that was it. I looked at my husband and said: “I want to camp at home”

I wanted just what we needed. And I knew if I erased a lot of the clutter, unused items, and toys I’d have less to think about and less to clean up after. And it’s so true. It really does work out that way. We have two small appliances, a toaster and a hand mixer. We now only have six plates, six bowls, and six cups. Even clearing out what was behind the closed doors helped clear my mind.

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I believe there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you? 

It just means simplifying life. If you simplify your surroundings there’s more time to explore and really concentrate on your relationships with others. To love and to feel. To actually have the time to enjoy those little hobbies that you otherwise wouldn’t have time for. I don’t think it means your home has to be bare, my home is decorated. Even though I like the look of somewhat bare room, it’s just not me. We just don’t have anything ‘extra’. And now, when I’m at the store I really question my purchases.

In what areas do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals? What is your weakness?

Ah! My closet! I’m a girl. I still have a drawer full of jeans. To be fair, they make so many options for us. Skinny jeans, flare jeans, straight leg, dress jeans. It’s my biggest weakness, but also what I wear the most of. I have cut out a lot of other clothing though. I’ll be real, I don’t have time for dresses. I’ve kept a few for special occasions. I work full time so I’m mostly in scrubs and when I’m not I’m usually in some form of dirt with the boys so there’s no point in wearing nice clothes. I always fall back on the same pieces anyway, so it was kind of pointless for me to keep the others. I’m not as bad about shoes as most women, but I’ve always been the type to buy quality shoes that I know I’ll wear and will be timeless. And I kind of wear my Chuck Taylor’s with everything (even my wedding dress).

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I love that Tiffany doesn’t struggle with the number of plants in her life

Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

My husband is all for it and my oldest son actually seems to understand. when we went through toys to donate, he knew the toys he didn’t play with were going to another kid that didn’t have as much. He’s also my logical thinker and it just made sense to him.

In what ways has minimalism improved your life?

I can’t begin to tell you. As a full time working mother, the struggle (and guilt) is really there when you’re trying to divide yourself between everything. I’ve always been the mom to take time out in my day to at least do something little with them. But still, before this, my mind wasn’t there. And I always felt guilty for that. And not only am I able to have more time for them, I have more time for myself. And who doesn’t want that?

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

Just do it. You’ll be amazed at the difference in the quality of life your living. But, take it slow. You don’t have to do it all at once. We didn’t. We started one weekend and a few weeks later did more. In those few weeks you start looking more at what you can do without. And guys, you’ll be amazed at the amount of money you save. You really do start to question your purchases. Somewhere along the line, life became a contest to see who had better things. THINGS. I was buying things I didn’t NEED just to “keep up.” I don’t want to compete. I don’t even want to be in the race.

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What are your dreams for the next year?

I really don’t think that far ahead. I just take it day by day. Life is better that way. For me, anyway.

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Thank you very much Tiffany for sharing your story. Readers: You can find Tiffany on Instagram here

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? They are monthly learning capsules for children and families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activities, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code: HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off , you can read more about it here

 

Inspiring Mother Jo

Today I’m excited to share an interview with Jo, who writes the most delicious recipes over on her blog Nurturing Kitchen. I very rarely share recipes or post food photos here or on my Instagram account, not because I don’t love to prepare meals, but because my food photos are terrible (I blame my iPhone and the dingy yellow lighting in our home and not my lack of skill…ahem).

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Our food choices and what we eat are important. They speak to our values in terms of health, tradition and the environment. I have wanted to give food a bigger place on this blog, but my photography has been holding me back. However, in the interest of sharing healthy, plant-based recipes, I decided to approach Jo about contributing a recipe, since her food is delicious, healthy and beautiful. As we got to chatting over email, Jo shared bits and pieces of her parenting and her way of life and I loved everything I heard, I knew that I wanted to share more than just a recipe from this lovely inspiring mother, so I asked her a few more questions and pulled together this interview. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from Jo and her approach to nurturing her girls through nature and wholesome food.

As a side note: If anyone is interested in contributing a recipe to the blog, I would be happy to hear from you, please send me an email. My only stipulation is that the recipe is vegan and that you have one photo (or more) to go with it. And all the credit goes to you! Email me at hippieindisguise1@gmail.com

What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the south-east of England, on the outskirts of the lovely city of Norwich in our little patch of Eden surrounded by woods and meadows. We are just a short drive away from the city, but it feels like we are tucked away in the countryside where our home lies. I’m proud to say I have lived in this sleepy village my whole life, having travelled a lot I always enjoy coming ‘home’ to this place of ours.

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How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

I have two girls, Fern who is 2 and a half and Cerys who is 3 months. Fern is a nurturer through and through. She is always caring for things, from her ‘babies’ to bugs, flowers and nature treasures. She naturally holds, kisses and touches every living thing with such care and love. She likes to cook with me and loves her food! She’s always pretending to make something. ‘Pancakes mama?’ ‘Would you like tea?’. She loves being outdoors and getting her hands dirty too, always helping me in the garden and caring for her own patch of earth. Recently she has gotten more and more into drawing and painting. She is always creating and caring with her hands. She adores her little sister who is the most easy-going baby I’ve ever known. It is as if she has always been here with us, and she accepts all of the craziness of our busy household with the most charming of smiles.

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What are your core family values?

Giving gratitude is something I practice daily and it has helped me through some darker times in my life. Ending each day with an appreciation for the seemingly insignificant things which have brightened our day brings me an inner peace which I like to share with others and is a practice I personally value greatly. We value nature-time as our greatest gift and teacher as a family, so showing our appreciation to mother nature is something we do as often as possible, through our daily actions and adventures we take. I would say that our outdoor surroundings define a lot about ourselves, from the way we socialise, the way we get our food and the way we storytell. Having respect for nature is something we show daily through caring for our plants, visiting our neighbouring woods and rivers and giving gratitude to our food, the sun and the rain. Over all things, though, is to love. To do all things with great love and have enough love for yourself that you can spread it out into the world. Self love is something I wish to show my girls, in the hope that they grow up with confidence and acceptance of themselves just as they are.

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How do you spend most of your days?

We wake up naturally as a family. We are lucky in that both myself and my partner work for ourselves and don’t need to rush out of the door in the morning, so breakfast is always leisurely and eaten together. I like to get up early and practice some yoga before the others wake, if possible, then I make breakfast when Fern wakes up so she can help me make smoothies and porridge, or whip up some pancakes. After Geoff heads out to work, we usually head out into our garden to tend to the crops and take our play outside, from painting to den making or caring for our babies. We pick what crops we have ready to harvest to make up our lunch, which usually consists of a pot of cooked grains dressed with lots of fresh herbs and lemon, salad leaves, avocados and either eggs or cooked pulses. After lunch we often head out to see friends or go to our local library and park. After a hearty family supper when daddy is home I often catch up on cake commissions or simply relax with Geoff.  If Geoff is off work, then we will spend the whole day exploring new places, at the beach or the river, picnicking and camping out during the summer. We have just bought an old caravan to make traveling even more accessible to us as a family of four, so are planning lots of UK adventures before the end of this year.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Explore. And eat. So exploring new places and discovering new foods is our perfect day. Whenever we have the chance we will set off somewhere new, hike on an unbeaten path and lay out a picnic feast.We are drawn to beaches and Geoff loves to surf so we often head out in search of waves and I play with the girls in the sand while their daddy catches the waves. A day spent walking, foraging, picnicking and surfing would be perfect.

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What are you passionate about?

Being a conscious consumer and knowing where our food comes from is something I am so passionate about. We live in a society where we have so much choice yet spend less and less time in the kitchen and connecting with where our food comes from. I am all about shopping locally, eating in season and as much organic as possible, choosing small-scale producers over factory farmed goods when funds allow. To make this more feasible on a tight budget, we passionately grow as much of our food as possible, from fruit trees we’ve planted, cut-and-come-again greens, foraging and sprouting pulses on our windowsill. We also trade a lot of food with like-minded neighbours and it’s amazing how much you can receive for free by growing simple plants! I am passionate about sharing my love for plant-based foods for the planet and for our health with others, as I believe that eating less animal-based foods and more plant-based is the key for healing the planet and our bodies.

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What inspires you?

Cliche I know but nature truly inspires me everyday. It inspires me in the kitchen, in our play and in our daily rituals. As a plant-based foodie, I am always looking to what is abundant in nature around us to inspire our meals, like in the first days of spring when the wild-garlic first appears, I’m taking our morning walks down to the river, taking photos with the girls in the dewy woods and gathering leaves before making pesto and bread and soup when we get home. When we are out on family adventures I’m always on the look out for wild edibles. Cherry trees in summer, seaweeds at the beach, chestnuts in autumn and making rituals to induce warmth and nourishment in winter.

Nature inspires so much of what I do, but my biggest teacher has to be my children, They are my constant reminders to live in the moment, explore, examine everything and believe in magic. Living under the guidance of mother nature and my girls has brought me to the happiest and most content time of my life.

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Thank you, Jo, for sharing a piece of your life. Friends, readers, you can find Jo on Instagram @nurturingkitchen and on her fabulous website www.nurturingkitchen.co.uk  

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You might also enjoy these posts:

image   Making a Flower Crown

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset   Creative Mother Kaity Ferrell of Fareisle

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 3.42.21 PM   Interview with a Minimalist: Kylah of Seasonally Nourished

Summer Trip Part 2: A Day in NYC

We arrived in New York City around 6:30 pm on Sunday, after a 9 hour train ride that started in St. Albans, Vermont (photos of Part 1 are here). Tuckered out from our long day, we did a little walking around Times Square and then retired to the room we had rented on the border of Chinatown and Soho.

The next morning, with 10 hours until our bus ride to Philadelphia the kids woke up early, excited to explore the city.  We kept true to our modus operandi in Ottawa, walk out the door and see what the city has to offer. But first a peek out the window…image

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…finding greenery wherever we go, Soho had a number of beautiful ivy covered walls.

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…on our way to market for breakfast we stopped to play at Union Square Park, a nostalgic place for us, as the children played there three years ago when we visited.

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…outside Union Square park there is a fantastic farmers market where we grabbed fresh fruit for breakfast, and, of course, enjoyed the flowers and colours inspiration.

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…walking past the Flat Iron Building on our way to the flower district (is that’s what it’s called?)

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…plants in the alleys of the flower district, Ro found a fallen hibiscus and put it in her hair.

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…colour and texture inspiration sitting on the sidewalk.

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…headed back to our room to pick up our bags for our bus trip, walking back slowly via the High Line.

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…it was a hot day, popsicles for a late afternoon lunch. Ro had hibiscus and Sen had lemonade.

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…getting wet in this fun water feature on the High Line, the kids also played here three years ago when we visited. Ahhh, memories.

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…Sen trying to keep up with his summer list “Swim Every Day” commitment, laying down in a half inch of water. I’ll allow it!

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…off the High Line, walking through Soho and inspired by the texture and pattern of this grate.

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…quick stop in at Purl Soho, enjoying the colours, patterns, textures, and Ro in search of the perfect teal colour for her mood board for the dress she is designing with Mimolab.

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…Sen fascinated by the winder.

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…she found the perfect teal colour.

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…and now to grab our bags, rush over to the bus terminal, on our way to Philadephia. Stay tuned for Part 3.

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Clothing details: Sen’s honey bee organic underwear from Underables; Sen’s swim bottom from Gardner and the Gang; Sen’s striped romper from Little Heirloom; Ro’s top from American Apparel and skirt from Little Heirloom; we all wear Salt Water Sandals from Mini Mioche.

image   You might also like my post: Making a Flower Crown

image   You might also like my post: Slow Living Project

IMG_2156   You might also like my post: Interview with a Minimalist: Kellie

Swan by Kellie Diguanco Interview with a Minimalist

Interview with a Minimalist: Kellie

Kellie Diguanco artist Interview with a Minimalist Vancouver

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.

Interview with a Minimalist

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.

Interview with a Minimalist Nature Collection

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.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors

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.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors by Kellie Diguanco

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.

Interview with a Minimalist Children Playing Outdoors by Kellie Diguanco

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.

Frida Kahlo by Kellie Diguanco

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.

Interview with a Minimalist Kellie Diguanco 4 boys

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.

Interview with a Minimalist Kellie Diguanco

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.

Readers: You can also find Kellie on Instagram @kelliedigs and on her website The Kaleidoscope. She’s a busy woman!

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Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

 

Interview with a Minimalist: Alison Mazurek

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Minimalism.

I’ve been hearing that word more and more each day. I use it a fair bit too.

In paying more attention to the ways minimalism is used and to my own use of the term, it reinforced for me that there are many meanings and interpretations of the word. For me, minimalism is about reducing quantity and increasing quality, whether this applies to the things we own, the responsibilities we have, or the friends we keep. My minimalism is motivated by environmental concerns and interest in living a sustainable lifestyle, and by my affinity with simplicity — living a simple life, clear of mental and physical clutter. For others, minimalism is grounded more in, for example, design movements or the idea of living small. While minimalism might not be exactly one thing, I do think there are underlying ideas that connect its different iterations.

Wondering about what connects or if there is a common thread through the ways minimalism is lived, made me want to hear from others about what minimalism means to them and how it informs their lives. So (big surprise, I know), I decided to interview minimalists to explore the concept and to hear from others about the benefits and challenges of living a minimalist lifestyle.

Today, you will meet Alison, who lives in a 600 square foot space with her husband and son. In her interview Alison shares practical insights for living small and the benefits it has on quality of life. I hope you enjoy the read.

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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 Alison, a wife (4 years married, but almost 14 years together), I am a mother of one and work in design project management.  When my kid falls asleep I try to share how we live in our small space on my blog 600sqftandababy and @600sqftandababy. Most of all I love spending time with my two guys. I have a great love for design and beautiful spaces, good coffee, travel, wine and dinner with friends, which reads like every other short bio you have ever read! Apologies, but I truly do love wine, coffee and travel!

How many children do you have and what are they like?

I still consider myself a new mom, our son Theo is 22 months now so I probably have to stop saying that soon.  Not sure how I sum up my boy in a few sentences, but he is full of energy, loves to laugh, loves being outside on his run bike or running with a ball, and loves new experiences and people.  We are constantly laughing at the crazy things he says and does.  He is also a monkey with a stubborn streak who keeps us constantly on our toes.

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What is your blog about?

600sqftandababy is about our efforts to live in our small space in the city with our toddler.  We try to live with less “things,” be thoughtful with our purchases and get outside as much as possible, whether for a walk to a local park (coffee in hand) or travelling with our little one.

I think there are many ways to be a minimalist and many forms of minimalism. What does minimalism mean to you?

I don’t know if I would define myself as a minimalist as I don’t think we are perfect at it.  In a way it was a reaction to the outrageous real estate market here in Vancouver and despite the housing situation we wanted to stay in the city and keep our walkable lifestyle.  Minimalism for us was one big decision to live small and a million tiny choices everyday to make it possible.

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What drew you to minimalism or what motivated you to become a minimalist?  

I must confess that I am a shopper or at least I was.  My ideal day before Theo was spent wandering the shops and stopping for coffee and a great lunch.  Choosing to live in our small space forced minimalism on me but I have come to love it. When I go shopping now I have to think really hard about what I currently have in my house and if I REALLY need a new shirt or shoes and what am I willing to lose to make room for this new thing. Usually this thought process makes me so tired that I end up walking away from the item, ha!  And it turns out all the fun is in the doing, not the having.

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Are there schools of thought or people you look to as minimalist role models?

I really admire Scandinavian design, their spaces are so minimalist and beautiful.  They seem to have so little in their space, every item is carefully chosen and impossibly beautiful and minimalist. I wish our space looked like these ones!

Are there any books, websites or other resources that have inspired your minimalism?

Some websites and blogs I really like are A Merry Mishap, Nordic Days, and Trendenser. Life Edited has also been a huge inspiration for me. I am really drawn to the Nomad movement and Tiny Homes movement.  Whenever I feel overwhelmed by our small space I look up people who live in camper vans or on a boat or in container homes and I realize we have more than enough space. It’s all relative.

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I love this word ‘fewerthings’ that you use. Where did it come from and what is meant by it?  

Our friends and fellow small dwellers @maryandthejoel came up with it on trip to Tofino, when we packed 4 adults, a toddler, pack and play, stroller and 2 surfboards into a Honda Fit and shared a hotel room. (We consider ourselves certified small spacers at this point, so not much phases us.) We are always comparing stories and tips on how to make our spaces more functional and multipurpose.  We hoped that by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of what we need to give up, donate, sell or trash to keep living small it might encourage others to live with less. So, please use the hashtag and share your efforts to live with less and have #fewerthings. Looking through the #fewerthings posts can also be a great laugh or maybe you will learn a new or better way to recycle or reuse?

In what ways do you struggle with maintaining your minimalist goals? What is your weakness?

My natural inclination is to be buying clothes for myself and Theo all the time!  So I am constantly having an internal battle with myself over whether or not we can add another shirt or dress to our space (the answer is usually no).  But this does leave more money for my soy cappuccino habit…

Have there been any struggles with the other people you live with about living in a minimal way?

With my husband, Trevor, there is always a struggle of his stuff versus mine. It’s so much easier to tell you partner to live with less than to look at your own things.  I am forever frustrated by the amount of sporting equipment he buys and keeps, our small storage locker is full of it. And he doesn’t understand my need to buy pillows and rugs. Theo has no concept of #fewerthings or living with less but he does think our entire home is playroom… we are working on this.

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Have you had any positive, constructive or negative experiences with friends or family related to minimalism that you could share?  

I find we often get negative feedback about living small when it comes to our kid.  Often people will ask, “where does he play?” Or, “he doesn’t have a yard?” “He must not have many toys?” “Are they all wooden toys?” But these comments are usually from people who don’t see our everyday life. All the local parks are his backyard, every walk up the street is an adventure and he has plenty of toys. We know our choice is not conventional, but maybe it will become a new normal as priorities shift across North America.

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What have been some unexpected experiences you’ve had with pursuing minimalism?

I think the most unexpected thing has been that decisions that seemed so risky and overwhelming at the time, like losing our bedroom and losing our kitchen island have become such an easy transition and brought so much more to our life.  We gained our living space back in the evenings and we gained a table to sit down to meals together with family and friends. Also with buying and owning less things I have found the things we do own or buy we love more and can often afford better quality.

What advice can you offer to people interested in living a minimalist lifestyle?

I don’t want to tell someone how to live their life, as Amy Poehler says, “Good for her, not for me.” But I have found that living with less is a process and sometimes it takes time to wrap your head around it. It also takes time to let go of “things.”  I find asking myself these questions helps: Do I love this item and find it to be beautiful? Is it useful and how often have I used it in the past 6 months? Obviously you need to allow for seasons (especially in Canada!)

Do you have any goals for this year or the next few that you want to share?  

Our goal is just to take this one day at a time, that’s what got us to this point (I am a planner and a project manager for work, so I can promise you that living in the moment does not come naturally to me!).  Trevor and I check in with each other regularly, what is working, what’s not working and what we’re going to do about it.  We have a few ideas running around in our heads right now like travelling more and reconsidering our car for something more equipped for quick weekend getaways and camping.  Longterm we would like to attempt to stay in our small space when/if we have second child and all the logistics and creative planning that goes along with it.

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Please leave a comment to share your thoughts on minimalism and the names of other interesting minimalists or just to say ‘hello’!

Don’t forget to find Alison on Instagram @600sqftandababy or visit her awesome blog 600 sq feet and a baby.

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You might also like my post:

Confessions of a Minimalist

Celebrating Individuality – an Interview with Carina-Marie Nilsson

Minimalist Book World Tour

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places…