This post was written from the context of describing my video on YouTube.
Most minimalists that I see on Youtube are:
Under 40 and have no children
Have very young children.
Most haven’t lived long enough to accumulate much, and for many, my guess is that budget is dictating their lifestyle (or at least originally way). I could be wrong; it wasn’t the case with me in the 80’s so, who knows.
As a 53-year-old who has raised two children and babysits a grandchild 50% of the week, who has accumulated years of family heirlooms, gifts, impulse purchases, and garage sale “finds”, I’ve accumulated quite a bit over the years. We live in a home that is about 2000 square feet, so not huge but not super tiny. The problem with having space, is you tend to want to fill it.
My husband brought up that George Carlin had a great skit that we buy boxes and fill the boxes and move the boxes to more space, etc. So true!
A little more about me: I have three businesses that I run and have been self-employed since I was 20. So, my “minimalism” is taking into account 30 years of habits (which did not always serve me well, now I realize), stuff and learned lifestyle from parents/family of origin.
This is JUST a start. I stopped counting at 500 clothing items.
That’s over 450 items, donated. For me, this is HUGE!
In the process, I also cleared some boxes and storage that were emotionally charged for me.
I’m tackling my bedroom next, then perhaps the kitchen. Would you be interested in seeing it?
I have CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) which is not a “hearing” problem at all. It means I process sounds differently and can have struggles in louder spaces that most people might enjoy, such as concerts and noisy restaurants or parties. In fact, for me, any conversation runs the risk of sounding LIKE I am in a noisy environment like my brain is taking in too many stimuli.. which leads me to…
Autism Spectrum. I am very low end (ie, “mild” if you will). You might notice that about 1/3 of those with Autism, cover their ears, do not like loud noises, hum in response to too much noise pollution, or feel otherwise distressed with sound or, other stimuli. When I see too much color or “stimuli” if it is not something I am purposefully focused on, I run the risk of having mild (because I am lower spectrum) discomfort.
Oddly, sometimes being in a city, like outdoors in NYC where there’s a buzz of life in the background, can be very soothing.
This discomfort like any discomfort may take the form of anxiety, actually feeling physical pain, or overwhelm where I simply behave “sloppy” temporarily.
For much of my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work with high-functioning, bright and sensitive individuals that would be considered “gifted”.
So, as you can see, for someone on the spectrum, even mild, a minimalist lifestyle will feel calming and increase resilience for those times were “life happens”.
This overwhelm also means my closet 80% of the time might be tidy but 20% of the time, depending upon external influences, I might react internally with prioritizing my surroundings and my closet is often the last priority.
This isn’t unusual, As a psychotherapist, I know that through the years my “neuro-normal” clients and also my friends and family, “let things go” and prioritize in times of stress.
Having a minimalist life is something I naturally had in my early 20’s when I left home and before boyfriends and marriage – ie, living alone. It wasn’t because I was “broke” as many people say that young minimalists are simply broke. I didn’t want for anything growing up and while young,
I worked a full-job and started a successful business. Barring rent, my expenditures such as a car, insurance, phone, and electricity were all paid for by my parents. SO- my “natural” minimalism in that era was out of my true nature… I had a sparse lifestyle in every way – from decor to clothing.
One areas that is phenomenal for me is the partnership and support of my husband on this minimalist journey. While neuro “normal”, he is quirky, fun and crazy intelligent, and he also happens to love bulky furniture, “decor” and a cozy focus – pretty much the opposite of me. He is on board with bringing this to a happy compromise and I’m excited for this opportunity.
So, here’s the start of my neurodiverse minimalist journey.
Michele Paiva is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Recovery Coach and Certified Finance Educator, with 30 years experience in helping others to see their true value, and the truth under their trauma, to love themselves and springboard into a full, rich life. Rewrite your money story and take control of your financial and emotional health.