Someone once asked The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, what a minimalist wears everyday. Their answer: his or her favorite clothes.
As an apparel company, we are keenly aware of our impact in adding a new product to the stream of commerce. Above all, we strive to add value to your lives, to have our merino gear become the favorite pajamas and blankets in your little one’s wardrobe, and to provide beautiful simplicity and functionality for everyday adventures.
As parents of five-year-old twins, we are drawn to the minimalist ethos of surrounding yourself with the people and things you love, while stripping away life’s excesses.
Minimalism is a new movement based upon old principles. World religions, from Christianity to Buddhism, preach living a life centered on the essential items necessary to nourish your heart, your soul, and your mind.
Our literature is also full of kindred spirits pursing minimalism. Henry David Thoreau, writing in a small wooden cabin in a quiet forest, called for a “simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.” He cautioned against living “too fast” and warned that our lives “are frittered away by detail.” His rallying cry rings as true today as it did over 150 years ago: “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”
With the New Year upon us, we are committing ourselves to living deeply and sucking out all the marrow of life (to paraphrase Thoreau). This commitment necessarily requires us to strip away the excess and shine a spotlight on that which truly enriches ourselves, our family and friends, and our community.
And so, here are a few of our action items to live more simply in 2018:
Enjoy dinner by candlelight during the winter. For the Christmas season, Sarah and our kids hand-rolled beeswax candles, decorated with wax hearts, and gave them as presents to family and friends — sharing the gift of warm light. We also kept plenty of candles for ourselves too :)
When we pause as a family to enjoy a dinner by candlelight, we remove the bright overhead light. Our eyes adjust to the warmth of candles, and our attention narrows to the food on the table and the loved ones gathered around. We are reminded of the joy of good food and good company. (As a parenting tip, it also makes the bedtime routine much easier! Without lightbulbs extending the day, our kids become sleepy and ready for bed much sooner.).
Complete the 30-day challenge. We are currently on day 16 of the 30-day minimalist challenge. The setup is simple: on day 1, part with 1 item; on day 2, part with 2 items; and, by day 30, part with 30 items. If we complete all 30 days, collectively Sarah and I will have donated, recycled, and, when necessary, trashed almost 1,000 items from our home.
Surprisingly, the challenge has been fairly easy thus far, and neither of us has made a difficult choice when parting with an item — which goes to show just how much stuff we randomly and mindlessly accumulate over time. From overstuffed kitchen drawers to long-unworn clothing buried deep in closets, our homes are full of things we don't need or want.
That free mug from a business conference five years ago? Gone. That mysterious pile of cords from some aging technology of uncertain origins? Gone. That shirt that I haven’t worn for years? Gone.
In the end, we hope to be surrounded by things that we love. Or, as Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic Act of Tidying Up, would say: let us surround ourselves with those things that spark joy.
Organize office closets. As work-from-home business owners, we want our home offices to have a sense of “hygge,” a Danish concept meaning warmth and coziness. Unfortunately, our cluttered and disorganized closets and desks too often evoke a sense of overwhelm. In 2018, we’ll be cracking open filing cabinets and rummaging through our drawers with an eye to simplifying and digitizing.
Buy in bulk & organize pantry. Packaging — it fills our pantry. A box of steel cut oats, a box of raisins, a box of cereal, a package of mixed nuts, and so on and so forth. So many packages.
At Chasing Windmills, we try to minimize packaging. It’s why we use 100% recycled and recyclable polymailers (courtesy of our friends at EcoEnclose). It’s why we wrap our swaddles, blankets, and long johns in a beautifully simple ribbon. And it’s why we offset our carbon footprint every year (courtesy of our friends at TerraPass). It’s our small way of trying to minimize our footprint.
An opportunity also exists in our own pantry. By committing to buying bulk whenever possible, our organized pantry will be full of food instead of packaging. It’s a small step but we believe it’s worth taking.
Share the message of simplicity with our kids. Our children’s Waldorf preschool teacher is offering a parental education class this year on simplicity parenting (inspired by Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting). We hope to use this opportunity to connect with other like-minded parents - community always manages to help us stay strong on our course of pursuing a simpler life when there is so much around us that distracts.
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If you were to walk into our home today, you would not say, “this family lives a very minimalist and spartan lifestyle.” Instead, you would see toys and craft projects in the family room, dolls and stuffed animals in our children’s rooms, paper-filled home offices, and so on. However, being a minimalist doesn’t mean living a life of deprivation.
Rather, minimalism is all about living a life of joy. It’s about surrounding yourself and your family with that which creates “hygge” and contentment. It’s about loving to use the things you own, instead of loving to buy the things you want. It’s a subtle distinction, but to us, it’s an important one.
We are by no means the perfect messengers for this movement, but we find comfort and meaning in this journey. We strive for the life we love. And to us, that’s an ideal worth chasing this year.