I have this mini interview series in Turkish, where I interviewed two of the well-known bloggers in the Turkish minimalist blogging community, Turk Isi Minimalizm and Basit ve Mutlu Yasam (hopefully I’ll translate them to English one day), but today I’m happy to have had a great interview with Sheila, the creator of Practigal Blog. I truly enjoyed reading about her story, I hope you do too! So here you are.
1. To begin with, how did you start your minimalism journey?
I began my journey to minimalism years ago before I really knew what minimalism was. I knew that if I wanted to live a life I actually loved, I needed to remove the things that were holding me back from that. At the time, I was stressed, overwhelmed, and tired all of the time. I slowly began decluttering my belongings around 7 years ago, as well as simplifying my schedule. Over time, the amount of things I wanted to have around me diminished. Decluttering turned out to be a repeated process and still is.
A couple of years ago, I discovered minimalism. Giving what I was already doing a name really just gave me a greater sense of purpose and resolve. It was amazing to read other minimalists’ stories and see how much it had benefited them. This was how I knew I was on the right track to living the life I truly wanted.
2. So you were already ahead of game. Moving on to my next question, how did being a parent affect your way of life?
Being a parent who was pursuing a more minimal life made it so that I needed to be flexible and understanding of others. I needed to be gentle in my approach. I decided that I would nurture minimalism in them the same way I would anything else…slowly over time. For me, that was about helping switch their mindset from “I need more” to “I want more”, and finally, to “I have more than enough.” Each of my children is different and has reacted uniquely to my conversations with them. I try, more than anything, to lead by example, and I’m seeing that they are coming around and seeing the value of a more minimal lifestyle.
3. What are your criteria when it comes to deciding on what to keep or declutter (like “The Minimalists” always say value, or Marie Kondo emphasizes what brings joy)?
My approach to decluttering is a combination of both considering an item’s value and personal worth. I pay close attention to my initial reaction when I look at something in my home. What emotion did it spark in me? The amount I am willing to part with has drastically increased overtime using this approach. It allowed me to declutter to the extent that I was ready! I didn’t force more on myself than I could handle. I try to take an honest look at my life currently, and only keep what I am actually loving and using now. If I forgot that I had it, it can go. If it’s always in my way, it can go. If it brings me stress, it can go.
3. What kind of changes did you experience after you started living more simply?
Since adopting a more simple lifestyle, I have experienced more calm and more joy! I went from stressed and frazzled all of the time to almost never. In general, I am calm because I don’t take on more than I can reasonably handle. Things I don’t love to do (like cooking and cleaning) aren’t taking over my life. I’ve kept these things as simple as possible so that I have more time and energy for the people and things I DO love. And because of this, I am able to be more present in the moment and truly enjoy my time.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that my mindset has completely changed with what I allow into my life. I am more intentional when I shop, and I actually feel the need to shop a lot less than before. And, I take the time to really think before adding something to my schedule or to-do list. I really consider the value that this activity will add or take away from our family. I think about the true cost of our things, as well as what I may sacrifice when I take on something new.
4. On a similar note, did you notice any other changes related to your habits such as eating, cooking or sleeping?
I’m generally more intentional with my time, so that includes self-care. I practice self-care much more regularly than before because it is part of each of my routines. I pay attention to what I am putting in my body like never before, and I prioritize eating well and moving more. In terms of sleep, I now consistently go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. This consistency has given me so much more energy during the day!
5. This sounds really lovely, and something I need to work on as well. And what about your family? Did you get encouragement from family and friends during the decluttering process? Did they become a part of it, or, if they didn’t, how did you choose to react?
I would say that I was definitely alone in my new mindset in the beginning. Most people around me didn’t understand because they generally had the mindset that you work in order to have more (and bigger) things and do more (and bigger) things. Slowly over time, my husband has joined in. He needed to see the value of it first. Once he saw the changes that were happening in our home and with my mood, he was on board completely.
6. What was the easiest and the most difficult item for you to toss at the beginning of your decluttering process? What category would you recommend for beginners?
The easiest item for me to part with in the beginning was items in the kitchen. I cook frequently, but I don’t love it, and I’m not that good at it. I didn’t need a bunch of fancy baking pans and gadgets. They just weren’t getting used. The hardest items for me to part with were gifts. I had so many gifts from our wedding that we still hadn’t used…4 years later. But they were nice things and I felt like I should start using them, so I would keep them. Eventually, these things were parted with as well. It just wasn’t worth it to store them for no real reason anymore.
For beginners, I would recommend a quick sweep of the entire house first. You will probably find items in every room that mean nothing to you or are causing you stress. Next, I would recommend with whatever area is causing you the most stress on a daily basis. Start with that room, and practice maintaining the decluttered room before moving on to the next.
7. That’s great advice actually, and opposite of what I usually read. I loved the part about a quick sweep of the entire house. It’s less challenging for most and doesn’t sound intimidating.
Speaking of decluttering, are there any objects that you feel you will never get rid of?
There are definitely pictures and keepsakes from my children that I will never get rid of. I don’t have the best memory for some reason, so I need a few things to jog my memory and help me remember old times. Here’s a picture that my my middle daughter drew years ago depicting her dream of opening an art store downtown someday. I don’t think I could ever give this one up, because she still has that same dream today!
There’s also this figurine that topped our wedding cake. I don’t think I’ll ever part with it as it’s become a part of our home decor.
8. Do you have any tips for our readers, or anything that makes you say “I wish I’d known this when I started decluttering”?
My biggest piece of advice is to remember that this is YOUR journey. Avoid the temptation to copy what others are doing or compare your progress to theirs. It’s super important that you are making decisions based on the life you are currently living and the life you want to live, so looking around won’t help with that! Only you can know what needs to go in order for you to live the life you’ve always dreamed of! And, only you know what will help you live a life you love. We are all wired differently and have different things that bring us joy and fulfillment.
9. Finally, a more personal question. You also write about being an introvert. Can you explain in a few sentences how you think minimalism can help introverts?
I believe that minimalism (to some extent) is for everyone! For introverts in particular, minimalism helps with their need to recharge, their ability to be productive, and their desire to make deeper connections with others. A decluttered home filled with only things well-loved serves as a sanctuary for the introvert to recharge after spending time with people. A life that’s uncluttered minimizes distractions so that an introvert can focus better and be their most productive selves. And finally, the choice to prioritize healthy relationships and minimize unhealthy ones allows the introvert to invest in their relationships in order to give them the time and attention they need to continue to grow.