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Welcome to the 5th 20 Questions Minimalist Style! I am falling in love with this series, and I hope you are as well! So far, we have had some pretty diverse participants! Today is no exception with Sophie sharing her story!
We’ve discovered all the different ways of how people have found minimalism, learned how it has affected their life, and maybe obtained some ideas of how we can implement something into our own lives.
Today, our fabulous participant is from Canada, and Sophie also speaks French [which you would almost guess since she is from Canada, but most Canadians I know speak English]! I love how we are starting to see how minimalism is working in countries outside of the United States, because it is a global epidemic that is taking hold everywhere we turn!
When I first read the answers Sophie provided, I was taken back by her idea of living. I am not used to how she is currently transitioning, because usually with children, it is the opposite.
To see what I am talking about, you will have to dive into the questions! [By the way, I think it’s wonderful!]
20 Questions Minimalist Style: Sophie
1. Tell me about yourself. Who are you? What do you do?
My name is Sophie. I am 42 years old. I live with my husband and our 2 daughters (7-9 years old) in a small french-canadian town. We currently live in a bungalow with a large yard, which we just sold in order to relocate to the south shore of Quebec City.
We rented a 2 bedroom apartment into which we will move at the end of June. In the meantime, we are getting rid of a large portion of our possessions, while I finish my last school year here as a teacher.
I definitely hope my professional life will take a new turn, too.
2. What are you passionate about?
I would say writing is what makes me happiest. I am so happy I’m finding my voice again, after a long silent period. Also, I love traveling and I am passionate about humans in general.
3. What was your life like before you became a minimalist?
I have to say I gave a lot of thought to the term « minimalist » and my endorsement of it. I don’t know if I can call myself as such… just happen to be on a journey where it all makes sense.
To answer the question anyway, before we sold the house, I had been unhappy with my life for a few years, but felt that we were stuck in a house we had invested so much work and money into. The thought of moving anywhere else felt like an almost impossible task. I kept repeating to myself: “What will we do with ALL THIS?”
4. Sophie, how did you discover minimalism?
A year ago, I was in a bookstore and a book caught my attention, titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up : The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising, by Marie Kondo.
The French title translated to : « The surprising power of Tidying up : Decluttering your house to lighten up your life ».
I was drawn to it! I bought the book, went home and read it cover to cover the same day. The next day, all my clothes were on the living room floor and I started getting rid of so much!
Eventually, I got stuck in the process (when it came to getting rid of papers) and it is just recently that I actually discovered the concept of minimalism through numerous inspiring blogs.
I am very passionate about it and can’t wait to make more changes in my life.
5. Did you start shifting your life towards a minimalist lifestyle immediately, or was there hesitation?
No hesitation. The only thing slowing me down is the enormous task. Recently, I wrote a post (in French) called « How to fit a whole big house into a small 2 bedroom apartment ». Going through all the stuff, selling it and donating it is a lot of work!!
6. How did you begin the transition to a minimalist lifestyle?
I am right in the middle of it. The turning point was selling the house. We just couldn’t take all of what we owned to the new apartment.
We are going from a 3,000 square foot house, plus a garage, a shed and a 32,000 square foot yard to a 900 square foot apartment.
7. What does being a minimalist mean to you, Sophie?
It is letting go of material things in order to make choices based on being instead of owning.
It really is a detachment process for me. My goal is to live more cheaply, in a clutter-free house, with a clutter-free mind. My goal is to be more free, and I think minimalism is a great way to help me achieve it.
8. Where are you currently with your minimalist journey?
We still own
3 2 sofas!!! [Sophie updated me just the other day, informing me that she has sold her biggest sofa!!] A lot of our belongings are for sale right now and the clock is ticking.
I am also in a very positive space mentally, as I am excited to see how we are all going to react in a smaller space. There is one thing I heard on a podcast from The Minimalists and that really got me excited: We are moving from an excess culture to an access culture.
For example, where we are moving, there is a tiny backyard, nothing to get excited about compared to the beautiful yard we have here.
But just a few steps away, there is a gorgeous public park on the shore of the majestic Saint-Lawrence river, with stunning views over Quebec City. And also, we will be able to walk within minutes to the public library, it’s so awesome!
We got rid of our television recently and are thinking of not reconnecting the internet in the new place.
9. Where do you hope to be in the next 6 months with your journey?
Moved into the apartment, which is a lot cheaper to maintain. Just to give you an example, the annual tax bill on our house is worth 3 months rent for the apartment.
The utility bill drop should represent another 3 months of rent. Not counting the interest we pay on the mortgage, house insurance and countless renovations.
This cheaper way of living will make me free to change career path. Also, accepting to live in a smaller space gives us the opportunity to live in an urban setting, which resembles me more than where we currently are.
So I think I am going to be much happier!
10. How has minimalism changed your life?
Discovering minimalism through blogs is giving me hope that there is something else out there. It is showing me that I am not just weird or just on the verge of breaking down by wanting to get rid of (almost) everything. I feel like I am not alone!
11. What things have you changed in your life since becoming a minimalist? Examples: becoming a vegetarian, less waste, using no plastic, etc.
There’s been nothing like that happening. In fact, by moving, we are going to leave behind a big vegetable garden which provided food in the summer.
But as good as it seems, it also meant having a storage room to put all the canned vegetables we couldn’t all eat at harvest.
Some people see minimalism as consuming less, and having a garden sure is a way to do it, but at the same time, it requires a lot of time, energy and space to make it happen. I found it overwhelming to deal with 40 suddenly ripe cucumbers!!!
In our new place, I will have a basil plant and a tomato plant in a pot and will enjoy to see it grow! For the rest, I will walk to the farmer’s market!
12. Sophie, what is the biggest obstacle you have faced? How are/did you overcoming/overcome it?
The biggest obstacles are my kids and my husband. My husband is into minimalism too, but we have different visions of it 😉 and I just can’t get rid of HIS stuff when I am ready!
So I feel like I am getting a little pushy sometimes! As for my kids, I don’t want to put minimalism between us, and steal away from them everything that they are attached to. I mostly mean toys.
They used to have over 80 stuffed animals. Those things just seemed to appear all the time! Then my youngest got allergic and we got rid of 70 of them. But soon enough, more stuffed animals made their way into the house. I think the count must be around 30 now.
I think no matter how much I try to get rid of toys, kids will find things to bring into the house: rocks, special containers picked up at the restaurant, etc. And even if they had nothing but some papers and pen, they would get the scissors, cut a sheet into 1000 pieces and leave it behind, on the living room floor!
I have to learn to be relaxed, too!
13. Explain your current wardrobe. Are you following a specific capsule wardrobe project? If, not what guidelines do you use [if any]? What color palette would we see? How many items do you have in your wardrobe?
I was thinking of doing the 333 project but realized I don’t own or wear a lot of clothes anyway. The few clothes that I don’t wear I keep because I might need them in my next job if it requires a more formal dress code.
To tell you the truth, I often wear the same clothes 2 days in a row! I teach in different schools during the week, so no one knows what I was wearing the day before!!! (now everyone will know).
I love good quality clothes and I have always preferred quality over quantity.
14. Who is/are your favorite Minimalist Blogger(s)?
I love Joshua Becker’s blog: Becoming Minimalist
He has children and is full of good advice on how to make things better for you and your kids.
15. What is/are your favorite book(s) on Minimalism?
I have only read a few, and I would have to say The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. I read it twice and still learning! What I love about it is that she really teaches you to stop feeling guilty.
For example, when getting rid of sentimental objects, pictures, gifts you received but don’t use or like, clothes you feel guilty for never wearing after spending a fortune on, etc.
Since reading it, I loaded my car several times with guilt-laden possessions and took them away to donate. Great feeling.
16. What is your favorite part of your day?
This last year, I was lucky to have a couple of mornings a week where I did not work while the kids were at school, which meant I could take that time to blog, go for a walk and just be quiet.
17. What is the last thing you let go of?
I just put my wedding dress up for sale! It is obvious I won’t wear it anymore (I did wear it a few times after the wedding to play « princess » with my daughters, but they have grown too old for it!)
Getting rid of the television 10 days ago was a big thing, too. I liked watching tv, but was really annoyed by the constant noise it created in the house.
The same day, we also took all the sugary things out of the pantry, put them in a box and put it out of sight in a closet. We found our kids have been a lot more relaxed since we made those simple changes.
It is pretty amazing. I will certainly be writing an article about it soon.
18. What is one thing you wish you could let go of, but haven’t yet?
My car is one thing. I wish we could manage with owning only one car, which has been impossible living in the country and teaching in 4 different towns.
I currently drive an average of 400 km per week (250 miles) just to go to work! One of my dreams is to be able to walk to work again.
19. What is the number one benefit you have received due to becoming a minimalist?
Letting go of our house, and accepting to let go of most of our possessions means moving to a place where I hope to have more professional options. I feel free again.
20. Sophie, if you could give advice to someone who wants to start their minimalist journey, what would you say?
I would say don’t be afraid. Life is about experiences and people. Stuff is just stuff. It’s all replaceable.
Try it, get rid of some things you thought you were attached to… You will be surprised! And have a good journey!
I love hearing about Sophie and her journey through minimalism. Do you have any questions or comments for Sophie? Please leave them below in the comments!
Be sure to check out the entire 20 Questions Minimalist Style series!