Rethinking the Dream Chronicles is a series that highlights people living the life they desire rather than the life that society deems normal. Today we welcome Megyn, a regular contributor to the comments section here. She is living life according to her own terms and embraces ideas of minimalism and environmentalism. Welcome Megyn.
I wish I could write this story like so many before me. Their great epiphanies driving them to reevaluate their value system to its core. But that’s not even close to my story. For some reason, I was born different. Contrary, most would call me. From the youngest age I can remember, I questioned everything I was told to do. This generally started with the hour of bedtime or what was for dinner. As I grew, it developed into pushing away new technology and becoming a vegetarian and taking a strong stance against war. This all occurred before the age of twelve. My brain appeared to skip a lot of the fun of childhood and dove immediately into adult themes such as the purpose behind everything. I was a child evaluator of the human objective.
It’s easy to see then that minimalism and a fight against our consumer culture was a natural direction for my life. I have many middle school and high school papers to prove it. But with the growth of most humans, comes change. And for me that meant slightly changing my ideals for a few years in order to become a competitive female in the market for a male mate. Granted, I just called that looking for a hot boyfriend, but I definitely knew that my drive to temporary consumer insanity was all for the love of boys. During this time, I focused too much time, money, and energy on appearances. There was the makeup and the clothes and the deceptive undergarments. It was a must at that point in my life. And of course, shopping for one thing often leads to another. It felt like my morals were shedding while my belongings increased en masse.
After I got married at the ripe ol’ age of nineteen, I got a piece of my brain back. I still desired to be desired. However, my drive to compete decreased. Thankfully during those consumer-driven years, my frugal values stuck around so I never incurred debt, but that didn’t mean my closet wasn’t full. I spent the following two years post marriage dwindling our belongings down. At the time, The Husband welcomed it as it fit his then religious values. For me, it just felt like I was shedding my facade.
Of course as things resumed back to my normal of minimalistic, a child came into the picture. And as any parent will tell you, with children comes stuff. Since I was an unexpected parent, I had no clue what a child truly needed. We ended up getting all of the essentials the magazines and baby blogs suggested. Like I had done when seeking a boyfriend, I wanted to be competitive in the mommy world. I wanted my child to be the best he could be. As I got caught up in trying to be the “right” kind of mother, I negated to realize that my child was really lacking what he needed — a lot more love, time, and understanding. And I was sorely lacking a lot of what I needed — mental stimulation. I dug deep and reconvened the path towards minimalism. While friends were getting their kids new toys, I was shedding a mass amount of ours. Family members often commented on how deprived my child was. What I felt in my core was right, those closest to me were telling me I was doing it all wrong.
Thankfully, I don’t take too much stock in what others think about my decisions. As years past and another child entered the picture, we finally got our act together and moved a thousand miles from family. We are now free to live with as little as we want with much less judgment placed on our decisions. We’ve also benefitted by moving from a very materialistic location to one that focuses much more on people and community over stuff. We finally feel free.
So, you want to know the nitty-gritty, like how much do we own? Do we own or rent? What about cars? Just HOW do you have less? Let’s make this fast. We currently rent, but are considering buying in our new location. We are in the process of selling our house back home. If we “upgrade” to a larger space, that means no more than 1600 sq. ft. To us, that’s a huge amount of space for our family four (well, eight if you count non-humans). In terms of cars, we have two because that’s what works for us and our schedules. If public transportation became a good option, we’d change our car situation. As for items, our house is sparse. I only know this because everyone tells us so. I can’t stand dusting, so we don’t own decorations. I only put real artwork (a.k.a. no posters or prints) on the walls, which means there’s a lot of stuff by our boys. Neither my husband nor I own a smartphone (gasp!). All of my linens and non-hung up clothes fit in a four drawer dresser. We have empty spaces in our small kitchen. Does that give you a better picture? To me, minimalism is far less about what exactly you own, but more about using what you have efficiently and effectively.
If I don’t focus on stuff, then what’s important to me? Oh well, lots of things. I’m very into environmentalism, which is a great friend of minimalism. Frugality is also a part of my backbone as it too is about using resources thoughtfully. Then there’s my strong focus on my family and the community and world at large. Since it’s been stated how my brain likes to focus on deep issues, I appreciate the amount of time I can devote to those endeavors over superficial time-wasters. And since The Husband’s income is mostly enough, I have been afforded the ability to create my own business as a professional organizer. It allows me to use my inherent skills, Psychology degree, and love of organization to the masses…and all on my schedule.
Although my story is anti-climactic, I am appreciative for the many chances I am given daily to rethink my dream.
Want to know more?
I occasionally write here about path to eco-warriordom: Austin Eco Mama (http://austinecomama.blogspot.com/)
I work here: Unstuffed. (http://unstuffedservices.com/)
And you can read my musings on stuff and work updates here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Unstuffed/177578972417909