Tag Archives: minimalism

The Minimalism Journey


This would be the appropriate time to say, “all good things must come to an end.” However, the end of this monthly column does not signify the end of my journey with minimalism, and it doesn’t have to mean the end of yours.

The basics of minimalism are simple. You don’t need a book to tell you that having less stuff means less clutter. We all know the feeling of metaphorical and physical weight being lifted from our shoulders when we drop off a bag of clothes at a thrift store. Living with less means that you can focus on things that really matter. It gives you more time for family and pursuing your passions. No matter where you are financially, it gives you permission to live your best life.

This column is ending, but I hope the following things stick with you:

Decreasing the items in your wardrobe will give you more time to get ready, workout, or prepare a healthy breakfast every morning. Ultimately, it will give you more time with your family and eliminate mountains of dirty clothes in your closet and throughout your home.

Keep surfaces bare and sinks empty. Deal with clutter as it happens. This includes washing and putting dishes away after each meal, filing or recycling mail as it enters your home, and finding a place for purchases the moment they enter your door. Giving these items a home on your coffee table, counter, or dining room table may be the most short term convenient option, but you will regret it in the long run.

And, speaking of purchases, decluttering your home is only the first step. As we celebrate the holiday season, remember that in order to stick to your new minimalist goals, everything that enters your home must replace something that already exists. By making this rule, you become a more conscious consumer. You will also likely become even more appreciative of the gifts you receive because they will always have a purpose instead of finding a home at the back of your closet.

Minimalism is also about taking back your schedule and making time for things that matter. It makes you aware of the amount of time you spend on social media, watching television, and clocking in to work. When you stop spending so much on decorations and sale items that will be meaningless by January, your finances will thank you—and you may be able to adjust your work habits accordingly.

Finally, make minimalism a family goal. Instead of forcing it, however, lead the way with your own habits. Show your family that, by decluttering and being a conscious consumer, you are happier. You have more money to put towards experiences instead of electronics or toys. Show them your awareness of how detrimental consumer distractions can be has increased your potential for joy because you can appreciate what you already own.

We spend so much of this life in pursuit of happiness. The question I want to leave you with is, what if it has been right under our noses all along?

Exploring Minimalism

In July, I read an article in the New York Times titled, “The Class Politics of Decluttering.” In it, the writer argues that decluttering is only for the well-off middle class. She concludes by saying that minimalism is often a form of social shaming, encouraging those below the poverty level to do with less when they simply cannot.

In response to this argument (one I hear frequently), I would like to start an open dialogue on the topic of minimalism.

First, it is important to emphasize that I have never had the intention of socially shaming anyone through my musings. Secondly, I firmly believe that parts of minimalism—from decluttering to being a more mindful consumer—can benefit anyone, regardless of your financial circumstances.

In the New York Times article, the writer states, “For people who are not so well off, the idea of having even less is not really an option.”

With these words, I am instantly sent back decades to my first grade year and the bags of clothes I received from cousins for school. They were so obviously second to me that a group of my young peers took me aside during a lunch period to tell me that I would not be popular unless I wore better clothes. I think, “I know what social shaming is, and minimalism in and of itself does not fall in that category.”

Instead, I would argue that the same Black Friday ads the writer defends in this piece socially shame those facing financial difficulties into rushing to a big box store at 3 a.m. for “deals” on televisions (where they will undoubtedly see more shows and advertisements telling viewers if they work just a little bit longer over the holiday season, they can afford another trinket promising happiness).

In that spirit, I’m going to share a secret with you that isn’t really a secret at all.

The people in charge of these large corporations don’t care if you had to work five hours to afford a new dress at their department store. They don’t care about how many dresses you already own. They only care about selling you a temporary retail high. And, if you can’t afford full price, just pull out your credit card or wait until it hits the sales rack where, if you’re lucky, you can still purchase it at 30% off.

Telling yourself that such purchases provide lasting comfort is believing a lie you’ve been socially shamed to try until it works.

Except surrounding ourselves with objects isn’t working to distract us from the fact that we never really have enough resources to obtain the magic number of items to achieve lasting joy.

Case in point? The writer of this article says that she and her daughter were forced to downsize and move into an apartment that did not have space for “car loads of clothes, school papers, books, movies, and art work.” She describes these items as “things that I grew up with that brought me back to a time of living a care free life.”

Car loads of clothes. School papers from the childhood of an adult raising children.

I’ve been under the weight of those objects when I was forced to downsize after a career change, and the anxiety caused by this burden alone was overwhelming.

I’m not advocating that the poverty-stricken do without. I can’t speak for other minimalists, but I don’t think that is their intention either. Instead, I hope for a world where we can find comfort outside of the big box stores. I long for a time when people cancel their cable subscriptions and fill the libraries again to read—not get lost in the internet. Most importantly, I need to believe that a place exists where people can spend more time enjoying the sites around them with the people they love instead of suffering from the crippling anxiety that accompanies starting over with car loads of clothes and papers tethering them so firmly to the past that they cannot breathe in the present.

Back to College Essentials

The end of August calls for many exciting things: the symbolic end of summer, last minute vacations and of course the infamous start of a new school year. For some, this is the start of a new college semester. College living isn’t always the most comfortable years of your life. It usually consists of small dorms/apartments and super-size boxes of Ramen noodles (they have helped me thrive in college). However, finding ways to make your college space useful and livable is the key to a great experience. Downsizing is difficult to do after living in a large space for a while. Finding products that help you minimize while still maximizing your living space is essential to campus living. Here are some products that can help you utilize your new lifestyle:


1450957343998GreekGirl Beauty Protein Powder (As featured in our August issue!)
It’s important to stay healthy at all stages of life, including college. However, its tough to maintain a good diet with pizza everyday around campus and dining halls with unhealthy choices. Protein powder can be the perfect solution because it offers all the nutrients you need in a meal. It also never goes bad and takes up very little space!

Storage Ottomans
Finding multiple uses for an item can make things much simpler. Storage is the number one concern when it comes to downsizing and it can be tricky trying to fit your life in a small space. A storage ottoman is a good resolution because it’s seating for a guest and a place to put books or shoes. Utilizing the purposes of things in different ways in your new home can make the place more practical.

Lap desk
It’s vital that you take full advantage of the space you have so putting useless furniture, like a desk, in the room isn’t a way to maximize the space. Instead of a desk that you will most likely rarely use, try a lap desk. You can sit on the floor or your bed and do work and store it out of sight when you’re done!

32305708_000_aDry shampoo from Farmaesthetics (As featured in our August issue!)
Dry shampoo is a go-to when it comes to busy college schedules. It absorbs the oils in your hair to make it as fresh as it was days ago. It also doesn’t strip your hair out like shampooing does if you wash your hair every day. Throw a can in your purse for a hair boost wherever you go!

Phone charging purse
Once again, finding products that have more than one purpose is a way to maximize your lifestyle. One product that I have found useful is a purse that can charge your phone. Never go a night out again and worry about your phone dying! These are also perfect for people that are on the go every day.

Written by Stacy Shrader

Making Small Spaces Spacious

If you’re struggling with feeling claustrophobic when you go home because you have too much stuff, or you live in a smaller house and you’re dying for more space but there’s no chance of moving any time soon, hang in there because we’re here to help! Sometimes we don’t realize how many unnecessary items we have collected over time until suddenly one day we look around and feel overwhelmed! Other times we just haven’t utilized the space that we do have in the right way. Here are some ideas on how to make those small spaces feel spacious!
Work with white!- First off, if you live in a small house and you’re thinking about painting your walls a dark color, put the paintbrush down! Work with lighter colors, these kinds of colors will open up your small areas more than you might think. Instead of slate black or navy, stick to bright whites, light grays, sand colors, or even a fun seafoam green!
Accent colors!- If you’re really set on a darker color in a room, use it as an accent instead. For instance, you could use a dark color for your lampshades, couch pillows, or throw blankets. These pops of color will add character and are a fun way to show off your style without making you and your guests feel like you’re living in a shoebox. Or, if you are just dying for a dark color on the wall, you can use that color on a single wall to create an accent wall! Doing this will help make the room seem deeper and will create a focal point. An accent wall is an opportunity to show off your style and personality because the options are limitless! You can use one solid color, horizontal stripes, or even polka dots! Horizontal stripes are a great idea because they will create the illusion that the room is wider than it actually is. Or, if that’s not quite your style, you can create an accent wall by placing multiple works of art on the same wall. This is neat because you can use photos, canvases, or paintings that are meaningful to you as a focal point of a room and a conversation starter!
living-room-421842_1920Embrace the light!- Another common problem in rooms that feel small is a lack of light. For goodness sake, open those curtains! If simply opening the curtains doesn’t give you enough light and the room still feels like it’s underground, grab a lamp! Another way to maximize light in a room is to add mirrors. A great place to add a mirror is the wall right across from the window. Doing so will directly reflect all of that wonderful sunshine that is coming in through that window and will make the room seem brighter. You can also add a fun or unique mirror to your accent wall to show off your style and brighten up the room at the same time! You might not even realize how dark your home is until you start adding light in order to create a more desirable atmosphere for you and your family.
Declutter!- We hope that these decorating ideas help your home to feel comfortable and inviting again, but none of these will help you if you continue to hold onto those items that you don’t use or need anymore. In order to decorate you have to declutter! No, you really don’t need six remotes and four blankets in every room. For the things you do need, look into fun and functional storage units to prevent your house from feeling cluttered and messy. For the things you don’t need or don’t use often, downsize, throw it away, or donate it!  (Check out our monthly minimalism column in Bella for decluttering ideas!)

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Getting Back on Track

I have a confession.

In 2015, somewhere between the trappings of convenient fast food and a juicer that was painstakingly complicated to clean, I found myself growing more comfortable with visiting my oldest and most faithful friend: the drive-thru.
I am not a huge sweets person, nor do I drink soft drinks. I thought I was safe by choosing chicken and the smaller order of fries (after all, a girl should indulge every now and then). At first, the only real difference I noticed was that my jeans were getting a little tighter. Gradually, however, I began to notice an increased sluggishness. I did my best to tackle it with more caffeine and ignore the old familiar side effects of a diet high in fats, preservatives, and other chemicals.
I’m not proud of it, but with a jam-packed schedule, it was just easier. And it would have continued, but two things saved me:

  1. root-617409_1920The official “push” was that I brought in the New Year with a cold.
    For me, juicing ginger is a healthy and inexpensive way to combat “the sniffles.” I don’t always have time to visit the doctor, and I’m not a huge fan of antibiotics when they aren’t necessary. So, I bought another juicer that is easier to clean and use. I’ve been juicing ginger, apples, carrots, cucumbers, and pears for two weeks now. In addition to eating better,  juicing and taking vitamins has helped me make sure my body has the nutrients it needs. Not only is my cold gone, but I’ve dropped a few inches from my waistline. I also have more energy.
  2. Now that I feel better, sticking to juicing isn’t always appealing. You may have noticed our new minimalism section in the January issue. As I explore the concept of minimalism, I am noticing that the discipline it requires is positively influencing other aspects of my life. Ultimately, eating healthy is a lifestyle change to which you must fully commit in order to benefit from and enjoy. I only bring good things that inspire joy into my home. There is no reason that I shouldn’t treat my body the same way.

I know there will be days when fast food creeps back into my life, but my goal is to make sure that it never becomes a habit again. This way of life is far more rewarding, and I wouldn’t trade the extra energy I have at the end of the day for anything I can get from the drive-thru window–even a small order of fries!


Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Pick up our January issue for more reasons to love minimalism, easy ways to eat healthy, and tips for staying active in cold weather! 

Back to the Basics

At various points during the day, I check Facebook and my email like many of you— my feed flooded with products and programs promising happiness and fulfillment, for a price. The thing is— whether your happiness is temporarily increased by clothes, electronics, or fast food— the high is soon over. It is followed by the heavy burden of guilt over purchasing something you didn’t actually need or the feeling of pure exhaustion after a grease-covered meal.

If you want to take control over subtle influences in your daily routine (and live life just a little lighter) consider the following options:

  1. Live below your means.

    Coupon queens everywhere are about to really hate me, but understand that I do mean well. Stocking up on items you will definitely use with coupons is a fantastic idea— as long as you really do use them. Otherwise you end up with a large amount of food you have to throw out because it expired, and the money you thought you saved becomes money you could have put towards existing debt or a vacation.

    Do some research on minimalism and see what parts of it you can apply to your own life. Minimalism gives less power to the objects that surround us— but it doesn’t take away the meaning of the important things in our lives. Instead, it allows us to consciously choose what is important and why without being bogged down by meaningless objects that hurt our health, relationships, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Visit www.theminimalists.com to see if you can benefit from any of their suggestions and tailor them to fit your needs!

    Donate items that you don’t use to people who really need them. The obvious choice is Goodwill, but you can also post free items on websites like www.freecycle.org. They have a specific section for Roanoke already, so it is as easy as going on their site, creating an account, and posting what you have to give away.

2. Take charge of your diet.

Organize your kitchen to encourage your family to spend more time cooking, cleaning, and eating healthy. Place items in drawers where they will be convenient to reach when you need them and get rid of extra dishes, cups, and utensils that no longer serve a purpose. When you have more space, your kitchen looks clean and welcoming after a long day of work or running errands. You may even look forward to getting there and spending time with your family rather than waiting in line at McDonalds to pick up dinner.

While we are talking about fast food, it is also important that you try to spend your food budget wisely. Make a list of things you need before you go grocery shopping and stick to that list. We have fallen into a habit in which we place very high value on convenience. Therefore, if it is on an end cap and on sale, we are far more likely to add $3 here and $5 there to our basket without thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, many of those products are not healthy and can include chemicals and preservatives that leave you hungry, tired, and even sick. Commit to the list— accounting for every meal during the week. You’ll save money AND feel better at the end of the day.

61VWkE9iEPL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Consider growing your own fruits and vegetables— it’s possible, even in the city! Look into making some of the staples in your pantry by yourself. With a little practice, you can make your own cheese for 1/3 of the store price and bake your own bread for about fifty cents per loaf. No matter how committed you are to the idea of sustainable living, Woman-Powered Farm by Audrey Levatino is a great book to add to your library. From teaching you the basics on raised garden beds and farm animals to operating farm machinery, it is perfect for the woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.

3. Reorganize your schedule

Completely banning electronics from your house is unreasonable, but cutting down on your TV time and opening a book is better for your brain. Get out of the house with your family, or on your own, and hike one of our area’s beautiful trails. See the world around you without a camera phone lens. Choose activities that will inspire you to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Very often, happiness is just outside of your comfort zone.

Make time for energy-saving activities like hanging clothes on a line or chopping wood for a wood stove this winter. Not only will you stay active, but you will save money on your electric bills. If these ideas are too extreme for you, ease yourself into it. Bike to work or carpool if you can, keep those lights turned off, and set the temperature in your house to a comfortable but reasonable number. Little changes now can make a huge difference over time.

Choose any of these suggestions and tweak them to apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you may find that it is easier to identify the subtle influences that challenge your happiness and follow your own path instead.

Declutter and Get Organized

hbx-closet-tips-charity-getty-deSpring is right around the corner! This weekend is the perfect time to reinvigorate your life. We really like the idea of becoming a minimalist, living simply with fewer possessions. You can enjoy your life more if you don’t have to deal with so many things in your life. Making changes in your life can be scary but also very good for your well-being. A good way to ease into becoming a minimalist is to begin the process of decluttering and spring cleaning.

A great tip for de-cluttering your wardrobe is to put your hangers on your rack backwards. Whenever you wear something and put it back on the hanger, turn it around the right way. Do this at the beginning of every season, and at the end of the season donate the clothes that are still turned around backwards.

When spring cleaning, we are often faced with the dilemma of what to get rid of and what to keep. Here are a few tips on getting rid of useless clutter:

Ask yourself if you are holding on to something just because there is a memory attached, like those ticket stubs to that one play you saw with your significant other. If so, get rid of it. If you have a strong emotional connection to it, take a picture of the object so you can always go back and look at it. You may have the urge to keep something because you “might put it in a scrapbook someday.” To save space, try to be content with just taking a picture of the object and putting the photograph in the scrapbook instead of the actual object.

If you really want to keep something, ask yourself if it is something that you can display in your house. Frame pictures or put them in photobooks. Dust off your shelves and place mementos on them.

Ask yourself if you’re holding on to something broken because you might fix it one day. If this is something that can easily be replaced, go ahead and trash it and get a new one. Unless you have serious plans about fixing something, don’t let broken junk take up space in your house.

Remember that the changes you make to declutter and become minimalist can be hard. That’s why you should take it slow at first. Don’t get in over your head. Minimalism has many benefits for improving your life. So, begin by doing your spring cleaning.


Written by Krista Knauer