How to Get Your Minimalist Groove On

by Tammy Strobel on June 29, 2010

Editors note: This is a guest post from Katie Tallo of Momentum Gathering.

I don’t consider myself a minimalist. I own way more than 50 things. I drive a car. I have a swimming pool. I don’t grow my own vegetables. So what am I doing hanging out with Tammy?

Simply put, she knows her shit. I’ve learned a lot from this Rowdy Kitten. She’s opened my eyes to the fact that I can’t ignore certain moral imperatives any longer. I can either plead ignorance, feign innocence, cuddle up to indifference, or I can evolve. I choose to evolve.

I’m ready to step up and step outside my comfort zone. I’m ready to stop whining and start caring more. I’m ready to stop making excuses, stop passing the buck, and stop consuming whatever the f#*k I want, like a spoiled child. I’m ready to start taking responsibility and start participating in my world actively, consciously, and immediately.

That’s right. I am a minimalist-in-the-making. I may not have it all figured out and maybe I never will, but I know that it starts with simplicity. I blog about momentum and the more I sift through its meaning, the more I realize that momentum is all about embracing simplicity. In fact, I’ve discovered that momentum thrives on simple actions. But, how does a minimalist-in-the-making begin?

How do I get my minimalist groove on?

Here are 10 things I already do and can build upon:

  1. Drive a compact car.
  2. Walk daily down to the local, organic market to buy my groceries.
  3. Don’t eat meat, milk or eggs and very little cheese.
  4. Use my green, blue and black bins to recycle.
  5. Use salt in my pool.
  6. Spend weekends in the backyard instead of cottage commuting.
  7. Don’t take planes very often.
  8. Use vinegar to clean.
  9. Avoid malls, especially at Christmas.
  10. Work mostly from home.

Here are 10 things I intend to do to continue my evolution:

  1. Start thinking abundance. Minimalism doesn’t have to be about giving up, lack, losing out, pulling back, or slowing down. There is velocity, power and abundance in lightening your load. You stop tripping over things and you create space for what really matters.
  2. Ease into it. I will pare down in a slow, organized way. Starting with looking at what I don’t need and finding simple ways to move these things out of my life.
  3. Do it my way. There’s loads of advice about how to minimize, downsize, de-clutter and simplify your life, but I have to come up with a way that suits my pace, my needs, my energy level, my inner knowing and my family. It can’t be forced or fake.
  4. Love it. I’m going to embrace my newbie minimalist spirit in large and small ways. I’m going to congratulate myself every time I choose to walk, choose to not buy something or choose to keep things simple. I’m going to make sure this is a fun evolution for everyone around me and for my spirit.
  5. Shake things up. Yes, I am going to shake things up, piss a few people off, offend, discuss, debate and get engaged because it’s worth it. Someone will always be offended by difference. So be it. I will do what is right for me and I won’t worry about who is shaken or threatened.
  6. Learn and explore. I’m going to be open to new ideas and explore the growing movement that is minimalism. I’m going to learn from the Tammy’s of the world, take in what they know and incorporate into my life what resonates most.
  7. Leave my wants on the shelf. I’m going to weigh out each and every purchase or moment of consumption as either a need or want, and then I’m going to actually do something about what I feel in my heart, instead of just buying it anyway.
  8. Live by example. I’m not going to preach and be a raving born-again minimalist. I’m just going to quietly (unless asked or I feel like doing #5) make changes in my life. I can do that simply and profoundly, and it’s nobody’s business.
  9. Keep it simple. There won’t be to-do lists and deadlines. Just ideas put into action on a daily basis and a commitment to be more mindful of my footprint, my impact and my choices.
  10. Believe in life and love. Embrace what my father-in-law calls “those weirdo hippie environmentalists” who choose to care about their planet and humanity, who voice their opinions, and who get out on their bikes and make waves that spread across their communities and their world.

Hopefully, soon I will be able to call myself a minimalist. It took me years to call myself an artist or even a writer, so it might take years for this new label. But, it really doesn’t matter because it is just a label. It is in the doing that I will truly get my minimalist groove on.

How do you get your minimalist groove on? If you don’t, how do you think you could begin?

Katie Tallo is a writer, director, motivator, runner, vegetarian and mother who writes a blog called Momentum Gathering that encourages simple, positive action for joyful life change.

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1 Victoria Vargas June 29, 2010

Kate,

Hurray for a fantastic article – for standing up and saying “this is where I am now and this is the path I’m choosing from here.” It’s easy for many folks to be intimidated due to the difference between where they are on the path and where the minimalist and simple living bloggers are. I too am not nearly as far along as Tammy, Everett Bogue, and some of the others – but I’m on the path there. What they provide for me is inspiration – and a general direction for my goals. I love how you a clearly state that your approach will be unique – not one size fits all nor does every simple or minimalist living strategy make sense for everyone. Loved the article and look forward to hearing how you’re progressing. Cheers!

2 Karen P-V June 29, 2010

Victoria, you speak my mind–thank you. Allso, I am grateful to Katie who put it into words

3 Katie June 29, 2010

Thanks for your enthusiastic response to my dip into minimalism, Victoria. So glad to hear you, too, are on your own path. Look forward to hearing about your progress as well. All the best, Katie

4 Courtney Carver June 29, 2010

“I’m ready to start taking responsibility and start participating in my world actively, consciously, and immediately.”
Katie – that’s what it’s all about, being accountable. Most of us know the truth, but it is so much easier to eat meat, drive carelessly, and buy what we want when we want, until it isn’t.

Once you jump off the consumerism bandwagon, you realize how hard you were working to keep up! Once again, you’ve inspired me. I love your straight forward, act now, approach!

5 Katie June 29, 2010

Great point, Courtney. It is easier to do what we want, until it isn’t. I see we are both on a minimalist path today. I’m on my way over to http://www.step1minimalist.com to check out your “18 Ways You Might be a Minimalist” post. I’m happy to have inspired you with this post today. All the best.

6 John Lemire June 29, 2010

Love it! I have been drawn to do the same thing as of late. Especially number 5! With the oil spill going on I think it is a perfect time to start cutting back of fossil fuel usage. I have been debating selling my car and downsizing to a scooter or some such thing. It makes so much sense! A car is so expensive and in most cases quite unnecessary! Especially for myself! Thanks for the post, keep up the good work!

7 Katie June 29, 2010

Hey John, What inspired #5 is how my vegetarianism offends some people. So be it. It’s right for me, for my health and peace of mind, and I’m willing to defend that. I’m glad to hear you too are drawn to minimizing. When something just makes sense, it’s hard to ignore no matter what messages society sends us about consuming. Thanks for your comment.

8 Vincent Grunder Wang June 29, 2010

On living a good life, I believe there is not measurer. Comparative sentences like “He lives more simply than you, he has a better life” are absurd. Regardless of early or late, we are all on road of learning continuously.

I admire Katie’s courage of releasing own course. On the road, I am optimistic about that being a minimalist is the best way to care for Earth and humanity.

Sincerely present the best wish and encouragement!

9 Katie June 29, 2010

Vincent, you are so right. As with any path, it’s never too late to learn and take a new route. Minimalism is just one path to caring for this planet. Best wishes to you on your path too.

10 Sara Rauch June 29, 2010

Great post!
I was just thinking and writing about this today. Minimalist evolution indeed.

sara

11 Katie June 29, 2010

Sara, I think it’s worth writing about. Hope you share when you’re done. Thank you for your comment.

12 Kathleen D Parker June 29, 2010

Dear kate,
Loved this!!!!! As we evolve and embrace an alternate reality that is the new us, we must be allowed to do it our way! Thanks for the smile!!!

13 Katie June 29, 2010

Kathleen, I’m glad you loved it and smiled. Very Frank Sinatra of us all…”I did it my way!”. And yet it works.

14 Logan June 29, 2010

Great empowering post Kate, :)

I’m curious to hear more about your rationale in your list. :) You mentioned a vegetarian diet as one aspect of simplifying your life. How does eating less animal products contribute to a minimalist lifestyle? Tammy and I often go back and forth on this topic. :)

I would think eating a small amount of animal protein would be far simpler than trying to nutritionally balance your dietary needs (e.g. Essential amino acids, B-vitamins, etc.). In many ways animals concentrate these nutrients for us and eliminate the need for “supplements” (though most of us eat too much of this animal concentrated diet). I searched your blog via google but I couldn’t find an article on the topic. Thanks a bunch Kate! Best of luck on your new journey. :)

Cheers,
Logan.

15 Katie June 29, 2010

Hey Logan,
I’ve been thinking about a post on this very subject — good idea. I find it pretty easy to take EFA oil and B12 everyday, so I don’t need meat. I’m a runner and I get lots of protein from leafy greens, hemp powder, nuts, seeds, etc. Besides you rarely hear about people cramming into the ER with protein issues. What you do hear about is heart disease, diabetes, and cancer — meat related diseases. Anyway, in terms of minimalism, it is less about what is easy for me, than what the impact of the meat industry is on the planet. It is devastating, but the meat and dairy industries are so powerful we rarely hear about it and they’ve convinced us we’ll die without protein. There is a growing movement that’s been talking about this even before The China Study was written by T. Colin Campbell. Some of the best material is written by Michael Pollan. Alicia Silverstone sums it up well in her book, The Kind Diet, “people still don’t know that they can have the greatest impact on our precious Planet Earth by adopting a plant-based diet. With 20 billion heads of livestock walking the earth, we are spending precious natural resources on them instead of us and they in turn wreak havoc on the environment.” So from toxic sludge, water waste, food waste, transportation waste, to the destruction of rain forests, it just doesn’t make sense for a minimalist to contribute to eat meat, if we don’t really need meat to survive. There are many who disagree, but hey, that’s why I wrote #5, for healthy debate. Often it is just a habit we had since childhood and never questioned. Eating meat is also all tied up in our identity and our holidays so we struggle to let it go. Plus we just like what we like. I don’t miss meat and neither does my family. It was just a shift, a change in my habits to suit my values. I hope to do more of the same in other areas of my life. Make sense?

16 Logan June 29, 2010

Thanks Katie for such a sincere response! (Sorry I misspelled your name on the first comment!) Its always great to hear a thoughtful background to the decisions folks make. ;) I believe many folks make choices without fully appreciating their motivations, rationale, and consequences. With your very articulate response I can clearly see how vegetarianism is harmonious to the journey outlined above.

Beyond political statements I do believe animals, when holistically managed, can be a contributing part of our transition to a more sustainable planet. Permaculture is a great model for this ideal. Chickens, Cattle, sheep and goats (to just name a few) can eat many things that are inedible to us and in turn provide us with food, fiber, and nitrogen to fertilize. I agree with you that current animal agriculture industries have evolved into a unsustainable, profit-motivated corporate model but instead of boycotting the class of food entirely I personally choose to just boycott those companies, eat less animal products, and purchase what I do eat from local, holistically minded family farms that share many of the concerns that you mentioned above. Thanks for the great post and shaking things up! :) Cheers, Logan.

17 Jean Sarauer June 29, 2010

I’m a minimalist-in-the-making (love that term!) too. I’ve been on the path for a couple years now and though I still have a long ways to go, steady progress is being made.

Life really is more abundant for me now. All that “stuff” had to be pared down before the joyous and essential could fully emerge. I still have much clutter to clear in many life areas, however. Sometimes, just in my thoughts!

18 tami June 29, 2010

I’ve been thinking of myself as a “minimalist lite” – I’m on the cusp of making some changes, but I’ve been slowly evolving over the years. I also want to do it my way without it feeling forced or fake.

Thanks for the awesome post!

19 Benjamin Bankruptcy June 29, 2010

I’m going to garage my car and cycle everywhere for a month. I’ve been putting it off and off and off, finding excuses but it’s time to finanlly do it. Ultimately i’d like to get rid of my car entirely! I’m going to get Tammy’s book too I think it’ll help

20 Benjamin Bankruptcy June 29, 2010

I just bought the book!

21 Tammy June 29, 2010

Ben – that is so awesome.

And thanks for your support. If you have any questions, please contact me.

22 Katie June 29, 2010

@Jean, that’s so great that you made changes and found joy in paring down. Mind clutter can be the worst. I find when I’m organized on the outside, I’m organized on the inside. Thanks for commenting.

@Tami, I love that term ‘minimalist lite’. Evolving and doing it your own way makes total sense. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Best of luck with your on-going minimalist lite adventures. Cheers!

23 Tammy June 29, 2010

Katie – thank you for the fantastic post! You are such a rock star.

And thanks to all for leaving such thoughtful comments. :)

24 Katie June 30, 2010

Tammy, it’s been a blast to be a part of your world on Rowdy Kittens. I am an avid reader of your blog and huge fan of your zest for life. You, my dear, are the rock star, but I’ll be your back-up singer anytime.

25 Karen June 29, 2010

I too have discovered this minimalism approach to life and I am “on my way” so to speak. It’s going to take me some time as we have certain responsibilities for my husbands kids that require a car and a few other things. Baby steps are what I focus on and we will be moving towards that day when we can not be tied to some of those things. Great article!

26 Dan June 29, 2010

What a great article. I applaud your passion and your vigor! It makes me want to shout from the rooftops! You’ve put into writing many of the things i’ve been feeling in my own life!

27 Leah McClellan June 29, 2010

Wow! What a great post! Love the attitude! Yeah I’m no minimalist with exclamation points! Love it!
LOL

This is awesome. Thanks so much for sharing. I don’t call myself a minimalist either but I’ve been tuning in to all the discussion, and I’m sure it helped me to FINALLY have the yard sale I’ve needed to have–more important, to take to Goodwill the stuff that people didn’t buy and not even care. Helped me rip up all sorts of stuff that’s been holding me back. All a matter of time.

Some things I’ve been doing for a long time, like avoiding malls (god help us). Using vinegar (when you’ve lost a dog to cancer yeah, you wonder about that Lysol craop you used on your kitchen floor). Definitely recycle–have been religious for as long as I can remember and as long as I had access (can hardly remember a time when I didn’t, living in an urban area).

Other stuff, I’m lazy. I drive too much (hard not to around here but I could def. walk more) and some other things. But like you say, ease into it. I don’t need a label–and frankly I wish I had a pool again because it’s very relaxing to me–but whatever. It’s a great goal.

great job!!! Glad I saw your post on FB :) Have to check this place out a bit now. Thanks.

28 Aileen June 29, 2010

Katie, this is simply fabulous. I am not yet a minimalist, and I find it a bit overwhelming to ‘get there.’ I am aware that I’ d like to me more minimal and I do take strides (walk when I can over driving. recycle, reuse, reduce) but I do have a long way to go. This post is inspiring for me as I tend to be rather embarrassed that I can’t figure out how to be minimal yet.

29 Andy June 30, 2010

How do I get my minimalist groove on? Decluttering. Ever since I started to get rid of all the items I don’t need, I’ve become addicted to the feeling of freedom you get, after you got rid of yet another item.

There’s always something to get rid of. If there isn’t, you have reached master level. But this is still far away for me. But I become more minimalist with every item I get rid of. I simplify my computer files and e-mail in the same way.

And if I need more inspiration, I look at youtube movies about japanese houses and tokyo apartments or at those tumbleweed houses. Or I look at my car and realize I’m still not ready (I’m trying to have as little stuff as possible, so it fits in my small car).
And of I go again, trying to find another way to simplify or another item to get rid of, while getting a little bit closer to mastering simplicity.

Greetings,
Andy

30 Katie June 30, 2010

@Karen, it is great that you are aware. So many people aren’t even considering taking baby steps. It’s all about more and bigger and stuff. Way to go. Do what you can do, when you can do it.

@Dan, was that you I heard shouting from the rooftops last night? Well done. Keep on hollering.

@Leah, tuning into the discussion is the greatest way to start. Sounds like you’re making more moves than you realize towards minimalism. Tammy’s blog is one of the best places to tune into the discussion so stick around, subscribe and keep coming back. She’s great.

@Aileen, I’m glad you shared your feelings of embarrassment. I think that’s why I wrote this post. To encourage minimalists-in-the-making to be okay with where they are, not ashamed, and to begin with building their awareness. Everyone starts somewhere. If this post (and this wonderful blog) gets you thinking about your own start, that’s wonderful.

@Andy, sounds like you are a real student of minimalism and freedom is your reward. You’ve given me yet another reason to keep forging ahead on the path towards simplicity. Thanks.

31 Manal June 30, 2010

Thanks Katie for this inspiring post. I don’t like to label myself but if I were I would say I’m another minimalist in the making (minimalist lite). Drive occasionally, work from home, shop locally and avoid unnecessary spending.

I have been consciously moving towards simplicity. The simpler my life, the less cluttered my space, the more I’m aware of my environment and life, and the most I’m at peace with it.

I agree with your statement that simplicity is in the heart of momentum. I add that simplicity is at the heart of meaningful living.

Love your writing and your message. It is a manifesto for all of us minimalists in the making :)

32 Katie June 30, 2010

Manal, great insight. It is interesting how minimalism can begin with awareness, but also lead us into awareness, peace and a more meaningful life. Love your writing on http://www.onewithnow.com too. Thanks for the support.

33 Andrew June 30, 2010

Katie,

You’re speaking directly to me here. I appreciate many things about this post, but especially the reminders that minimalism is a journey, not an endpoint, and that I don’t need to continually be frustrated that I can’t do everything all at once. Which is what my personality really wants to do.

But I am going to go ride my bike now–it’s a non-90 degree night in North Carolina, and I’m definitely going to take advantage of it.

Thanks for the good word.

34 Katie June 30, 2010

Very cool, Andrew. I’m the same way. I put pressure on myself to get there now. It is a personality thing, but what tames it for me is the reminder, as you said, that it’s a journey. Have a great bike ride. Thanks for commenting.

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