embracing more with less

I've mentioned a few times before that the concept of minimalism is such an appealing thing to Ryan and myself. Perhaps it's because I blog in a lifestyle community, or perhaps it's simply because society is so inundated with things lately, but I've been feeling almost smothered lately. With our upcoming move to Washington, it's become so apparent just how much stuff we have. We don't have a huge house, but we have so many things. And here's the thing, I can tell you how most of these items in our house came about.

The random assortment of toys is, of course, for the boys, but so many of them were the result of stress. I like buying things. I'm not going to lie. I read Rachel Cruz's book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, and she mentioned that she's a spender, as well. I don't have a problem spending money. I enjoy it. In the throes of postpartum depression with Spencer, buying baby things was my go-to. I'd buy clothes, baby toys, books - anything to distract me from the issue at hand. Here's the thing though...none of it helped. None of those purchases made me happier.

I look at our house sometimes, and I have a hard time looking at it through my own eyes. So much of what we see in the lifestyle blogging community is Instagram-perfect. We have the perfect white-on-white kitchens. There are flawless living rooms with not a speck of clutter in sight. There are the walk-in closets hung perfectly in order by color and sleeve length - just because. There's nothing wrong with that.

What is wrong, however, is looking at my home through the lens of another and comparing what we have to theirs.

We have a beautiful home. We have two great incomes, a comfortable lifestyle, a debt that's quickly disappearing, and we're happy. One of the biggest realizations that Ryan and I had this past weekend is how little all these material things matter to us. They don't offer happiness. My boys aren't going to remember their childhood and say "oh, remember that coloring book?" No. They're going to remember the memories. They're going to remember the zebras they saw while swimming out on the porch in Zebula. They're going to remember the pillow forts they played in when it was too cold to go outside. They'll remember the ice cream dates on sticky summer nights.

Those are the things that matter. Only, they're moments - not things.

Ryan and I have such big goals for the future, and I have so much that I want to teach my boys and show them about the world. I want them to know how big the world is out there. I want them to understand that having the biggest house on the block won't make them the happy. I want to show them that the best moments in life are shared together. It's about spontaneity and imperfection.

I don't have the most perfect photos, but I have the most perfect memories, and that's what matters.

Ryan has ten years (give or take) left on his military contract, and then we're set to be nomads. We have a dream of embracing a tinier lifestyle - one on the go. A life that shows my boys how big, how vast, and how beautiful the life can be when you ditch the excess. How, exactly, that will pan out is yet to be set in stone, but we have so many dreams that are bigger than a great house and fancy car.

Minimalism is more than a trend. Truly. It's about finding more in less. Less belongings, more freedom. Less debt, more living. Less flawless, far more beautiful. I know that I have a long way to go with this, but I wanted to share something that was so freeing and so liberating, little though it was. I've been collecting (read: hoarding) toys for the boys. I found a Lego table at a yard sale while Ryan was deployed, and I bought it. The boys rarely used it though, and if they did, it was just to climb on it. I kept saying that one day, maybe they'll use it.

This weekend, as Ryan and I were talking, I felt prompted to get rid of it. It's a silly little thing, but I posted it on an online marketplace for just $10 - and an hour later, it was gone. Remember that rush I said I get from purchasing? I felt it while getting rid of something, too, and I think that speaks volumes. While, yes, I want my boys to have everything, I don't want them to have all the things.

I want them to have the world.


  1. Experiences are what matter the most!!! Not material things.

  2. I love your writing sweet girl! ( I also love that picture of those naked buns...not in a weird way, in a mama way😉) You'd get along well with my husband. He was getting rid of things in the garage and selling them on a local site. Once they were gone, he was walking around trying to find more stuff to sell. I better not sit still too long or he'll take my pic, post it and out the door I'll be. LOL...not really....who would make his dinner😉(You know I'm being a total smarty pants...I think you get me well enough to know that) Anyway, way to go and YES, they won't remember the stuff, but they will remember the MOMENTS. XOXO

  3. So much truth to this post!! We have definitely been brainwashed into thinking we need this, we need that, etc. I've definitely made a conscious decision to spend my money on experiences lately rather then things. I'm moving house to a smaller house this weekend and will use this time to downsize even more!

  4. "We have a beautiful home. We have two great incomes, a comfortable lifestyle, a debt that's quickly disappearing, and we're happy" <-- Amen friend. I just read this post twice in 10 min. Thanks for sharing!

  5. YAY for minimalism! I have an entire corner of our spare room full of stuff to sell at the Thrift Shop (some of it is seasonal, hence the pile). I played the 30 day minimalism game last summer and I miss absolutely nothing that I sold, hell, I can't remember what half of it is. But I sure do remember how much fun Bolt and I had exploring the trails up here last summer, and how much I loved Ottawa! I love that so many people are embracing minimalism and I really do hope it continues to catch on and be a positive force in this world.

  6. I SO agree with you. I enjoy shopping also and i too have used it to deal with depression and to fill a void of loneliness while my husband was deployed every time( It doesn't help that Fort Drum has some very nice thrift stores with really inexpensive items lol). I currently volunteer at a thrift store ( while i'm awaiting employment) and i see SO many nice and new things here on base that have been donated and I see so many people make a bee line with a cart to quickly put things in their cart that they like, and it makes me wonder "why so many things"? " What are we trying to fill"? Is it a void, loneliness etc? I'm still trying to figure it out too and I've decided that it's time for me to downsize and get rid of things and to live a simpler life as well. All of these things cause me debt and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Unfortunately, it's hard to get out of the cycle once you'e gotten into it. Any suggestions on how to break the cycle and keep it that way? lol

  7. YES! I have been struggling with this as well. I want to live more simply and not be so caught up in consumerism but then I KEEP BUYING MORE AND MORE STUFF.

  8. Ohhh, I love the sound of your future nomad plans.

    Your approach is so perfect, especially in the materialistic world we live in!

  9. Melissa, this is such a beautiful post! I have been struggling with these same things lately. I am not a minimalist and I am definitely a spender. And I have begun to see my kids lose appreciation for all things. And that needs to stop. So I have been trying to undo that damage and show them that life is not a mere collection of things, but an amazing collection of memories and experiences. So we have been doing more in the community..for example, I took them to a local blood drive this week just to show them ways that people can be generous. And for their birthday, I have invited all of their friends to join us at the North Country Heart Walk to support our friends instead of an actual birthday party. Because they need to learn now the importance of helping and supporting others and what great things can happen in this world when we show kindness and love.