From Excessism to Minimalism: Futile or Freeing?


Recently, my 12 year old has been bitten by the “I want everything” bug. She’s beginning to come of age and with that comes all the friendships that revolve around comparing possessions. I know I did it too and I was either jealous or the object of jealousy depending on the topic. If I received two pair of the name brand jeans of the day (which were Jordache by the way), my friends would seethe with jealousy. Then, a friend would get the latest long jean jacket (really dating myself here lol) and I would violently hurl the Ten Commandments off the cliff and covet my neighbors things.

My parents did indulge me yes, but not to the point of extreme excess. I grew up in a modest home, with a blue collar father who worked at the telephone company and a mother who stayed at home and kept house. That however did not stop me from wanting everything my friends had and every item I saw on TV.

Recently, I have started to realize my dream of moving to the UK. I’m not moving tomorrow, but it’s more in my nearer future plans than it’s ever been. I have been in love with the UK since I was a young girl and the desire to live there has only intensified with time. In fact, I’m making my first journey there in 2017 and I can’t wait. I always joke that I will be like Maria at the beginning of The Sound of Music when I arrive in Europe for the first time.


However, growing up in America is, as I have learned over the years, FAR from sharing the same standards of living found in the UK. Many people in the UK (I’m not talking about castle owners and Dukes now) live in moderately sized homes that are smaller than the normal house you would find in America. Sure, there are many different sized homes everywhere, from the garishly huge monstrosities that are beyond excessive, to the new Tiny Home trend.


This house above is extremely attractive. The landscaping is impeccable, the design of the home reminiscent of a Tudor style home that exploded in every direction. I’m sure if I existed in a family of 20 that we could all live there quite comfortably. However, for the most part, a great deal of people could never afford the mortgage on such a place, let alone the utilities, upkeep etc. This is the “Land of Opportunity” however, so people are free to live as they see fit and can afford.


Then, there is the tiny house thing. I don’t watch TV, but I have heard and seen blurbs here and there that there is a show about them. I think they are great for people who can function within the confines of its walls and thrive. Their dedication to reducing their footprint in the world is…admirable at best. Not for me. I want to be somewhere in-between the extremes and the truth is, I don’t know how to start.


I know when people think of a minimalist home, some may imagine the scene above. Obviously not something I would be comfortable with, but for some, the far end of the extreme is what they seek. What I want to do is PURGE all the unnecessary things that I don’t need. Do I need 4 spatulas and 10 cereal bowls? Do I really need the linen closet packed to the gills with dozens of bath and hand towels? What makes me (us) think that we need so MUCH of everything in order to be happy?

I wonder why we feel the need to hold on to things that we will never utilize again, never play with or never sit down to look at. Sure, I have the two giant bins of items I collected from my kid’s childhood. All the silly pictures they drew, the crafts they made in school, the special cards. They mattered and it still matters that I received them, but why do I SAVE them? What is it about the moment an item drops into the trash can or recycling bin that makes us feel so guilty, literally making us feel we must hold on to these items? I don’t personally understand it, but I’m guilty of it.

If I truly want to make a go of things and leave this home behind sometime in the near future, I’m going to have to change my mind about all the things I keep. That blanket I keep “just in case”, the extra rags in the laundry room “just in case”. I don’t want to be a just in case or someday kind of person. I want to live with less so I can do more.


I have a feeling that this downsizing example is exactly what I’m looking for. A space to live that is efficient and just enough for our needs. Yes, there is much more to everything I’m planning than just a bunch of pictures, wishes, hopes and dreams, but I think if I truly put my mind to it, I can make my dream come true. I just need to let a few things go.

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