The Back Story

At the ripe young age of 20 I got married and along with my husband, bought our first home. It was a 1950’s bungalow with about 1400 sqft of living space as well as a brand new basement. We didn’t have a garage however we had a shed and a massive yard with ample grass, trees and flower beds. While this may sound lovely, keep in mind my husband and I were both moving out of our parent’s homes into this massive space and responsibility. While we faced the challenge of home ownership with astonishing bravery, fully renovating it in the 2 years we lived there, we were soon overwhelmed by the amount of stuff mushrooming out of every closet and storage space as a result of our new life. Having 3 bedrooms as well as a full basement, this meant we soon had a lot of stuff! What stuff? Wedding presents, off loaded furniture from well-meaning relatives as well as many new things purchased because we had space to fill; a sunroom that needed a couch and patio set, a living room that needed a TV. and entertainment unit, an office that needed a desk and futon, curtains in every room, the list goes on. The problem with this seemingly realization of the American dream is that we began to get very stressed out. We didn’t have enough money to buy all the things we “needed” and so the debt load grew and time shrunk.  As renovations, yard work and shopping consumed our time we didn’t spend much time doing fun things, travelling or hanging out with friends. We had bought the home with the preconceived notion that a large, beautiful home was a good thing. The problem was, being only two people, brought up in a consumer driven world, we didn’t realize the costs buying into that lifestyle would bring.

Now, this house was in a small town just outside of a city. As work and school commitments slowly drew us to city life and the commute became a drain, we decided to up and move to the city. Most of our family still residing in the small town we hailed from, we decided to move to a suburb that was a half-way point between work and school, and our old life outside the city. We had learned that yard work was a bit much for our stage of life so we bought a brand new, 1300 sqft plus garage townhouse with all the bells and whistles (but with no basement). While the move to the city was a good one and downsizing ourselves out of a yard and basment storage area was a first step, we quickly realized that living in the suburbs still forced us to rely on a vehicle to get almost everywhere and we still had physically too much square footage to fully embody. Having a passion for design and with creativity needing an outlet, we proceeded to make the place our own, incurring more costs, using up more time and while there was nothing wrong with these projects, we realized that the place was still too big to clean, maintain and still leaving us with little time and money left over for the things we had been saying for years we wanted to do.

We finally decided to sell the place and move to a more central location, closer to downtown, work and school. We wanted to try living in a space that was truly all we needed with the intent that it would open up life for spending time, money and energy on other, more life giving pursuits. So we did. We bought a 500sqft condo in an old, retrofitted building at an affordable price in a great location. We pledged that we would only do the bare minimum to “make it our own” and instead focus on cultivating a new, simpler lifestyle. While it has only been a short while, the rewards of changing our lifestyle, downsizing and opening up life have been numerous! We now have concrete plans for travel with the funds to do so, time to spend doing things we love; enjoying the outdoors, exploring the city, reading, writing and spending time with family and friends instead of spending the large majority of that time cleaning the house, buying stuff for the house, maintaining a yard and watching TV. Instead we live by a gorgeous park maintained by the city and numerous amenities and entertainment options within easy walking distance.

I want readers to understand that I choose to live in a small space and not be driven by the pursuit of things. It is not that I couldn’t afford to live differently, but as I will explain in subsequent posts, living in just the space you need allows room for living a larger, more meaningful life and I love discovering creative ways to do so!  And, while I do not want to make claims to having it figured out, I do want to share my experience of how a married, 20 something person who loves fashion and design can live a minimalist lifestyle not consumed by Hollywood, TV., magazines and the myth of the American dream.

I believe there are physical, mental, spiritual, historical, financial, environmental and social sides to this story.  I aim to explore all these themes through this blog in hopes of encouraging those who also don’t want to just live to consume but instead consume to live.

– Julene

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”  ― Noam Chomsky

“Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”  ―  Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” – Jesus