Living Minimally

living minimally

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in New Jersey for 10 days.  It’s been an adjustment to life, weather and just getting back into my regular routine.

I didn’t have to stay 6 weeks in Montgomery.  I did have to go down, but I could have driven back solo while my husband finished his course.  I could have driven down, did what I needed and drove back to New Jersey (driving close to 4000 miles in 6 weeks). Instead, I chose to drive down once, stay there during the quiet weeks and drive home together.  That way, we could drive one car, stay together and it would be more enjoyable that way.

When we moved to Alabama, I packed everything I would need in two suitcases.  We weren’t sure the exact time frame, but you can live out of a suitcase for 2 months.

To be completely honest, I was nervous to go down there.  As I mentioned, I left my job for 6 weeks.  I didn’t know anyone in Alabama.  While I had things to do, it definitely was not as much as living back in New Jersey.

But I wanted a risk, new adventure, and challenge.  I told myself: if I had lived in the middle of nowhere, Texas, I could make it Alabama.  Thinking out loud and truth be told, despite the constant tornados, I liked Alabama.

Living in Alabama taught me a lot how to live minimally.  I learned I have far too much clutter here in New Jersey.

Essentially, I lived out of a suitcase in a two room hotel for 6 weeks.  In the hotel, we had a kitchenette but no oven.  It wasn’t bad, and we were able to eat healthy and make do without it.

So how did we go from too much stuff to a suitcase full? 

Lucky for my husband, he has two work uniforms.  Then he needed about 2 regular clothing outfits. Since he was running and training for his marathon, he brought more shoes than I did. Realistically, he could have probably lived out of a backpack…As an over packer myself, I could not.


Do you really need 5 pairs of black leggings? Sure, the material might be slightly different or the pattern but is it necessary?  I brought exactly 10 outfits that could be paired differently.  Different tops and different pants.  I brought three pairs of leggings and did laundry every few days.  I grew to love that clothing enough that I won’t be wearing any of it for a few weeks now that I’m home.

When I got home, I had even forgotten I owned certain leggings.  At that point, I realized I had too much stuff.

We Learned New Simple and Basic Recipes:

We didn’t have an oven.  So we were forced to cook the majority of foods from a pan or the microwave.  For example, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is by roasting them.  Roasted beets are delicious!  Instead of forgoing beets at all, we decided to try something new and boil them.  It worked out just as well and honestly it’s something I’ll do back in NJ too.

So while living in a 2 room hotel for a while wasn’t ideal, it did teach me a lot.

When I got home, it took me about a week, but I downsized and donated a lot.  What were some questions I asked myself:

  • Race Tshirts: Does the shirt have meaning to me?  Did I PR? Do I like the shirt, if it wasn’t my favorite, it was donated.
  • When was the last time I wore an item?  If it wasn’t in the last full calendar year, it was donated.
  • Do I have multiple of the same thing?  Base layers are great, but do you need 4 pairs of nearly identical black leggings?  I couldn’t even remember all of the similar styles I had.
  • Running Shoes: As someone who works in running retail, I had over 20 pairs of shoes.  I’m actively running in 3 pairs right now! I kept one model of each brand, and donated 13 pairs.  It feels like a fresh hair cut.

I’m happy to be back and I don’t regret staying down in Alabama for the full six weeks.  I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me.

Questions for you:
How do you figure out what to keep or donate?
What are some tips you have to live with less clutter?


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  1. I really need to go through my box of old race shirts and send them to a new home. I keep putting it off but the box in my closet is gathering dust so obviously I haven’t been wearing any of them. I’ve also put myself on a running shoe no-buy until I work through the many, many pairs I already own.

  2. One of the reasons I like moving is because we really deep clean the house! I try to pick projects every so often to de-clutter our lives. I’ll clean out a closet or under a sink or go through the pantry or fridge. I try to stay on top of it by doing something big every so often so that when we do finally move again, we don’t have years of clutter! I go through clothes and shoes all the time, but end up hanging onto things I shouldn’t have. So I try to do my closet twice a year and always end up getting rid of stuff I’ve had forever! I’m actually about to go through my tank tops soon, I think. I realize I’ve been hanging onto styles of shirts that I will just never wear again, even though I used to live in them. I wish we had a smaller space since I feel like the more house you have, the more stuff you hang onto!

  3. I’ve moved every 2 to 4 years since college, so I have been “purging” each time I’ve moved – but in all honestly, I still own way too much stuff!!

  4. When we last moved we lived in a hotel for just over a month out of two suitcases too! It was not all that bad. You really do realize that you often wear the same things. Have you seen the documentary Minimalism on Netflix or heard of Project 333? Amazing stuff and a real eye opener. We are in the process of moving again later this year and I’ve already started downsizing. It’s so liberating!

    1. I haven’t seen that documentary but I’ve heard it’s really good. I’m definitely going to check into it. Thank you for the recommendations.

  5. I’ve kept every T-shirt from every race that I’ve run since 1998. I never wear most of them. It’s like a collection of mint stamps, except the T-shirts aren’t worth anything. My house is big and it’s cluttered, but as long as I can find what I’m looking for in a few minutes, then I don’t care. My son can clean it up when I’m gone. I won’t care what he does with the T-shirts; I’ll be dead.

  6. I keep a donation box or basket that I gradually put stuff in as I realize I don’t like it or need it (or buy something that replaces it) and try to drop off my donations 4x a year.

  7. I love this post since I’m really into Minimalism. Have you read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up?” by Marie Kondo? It really is life changing. I weeded out my possessions 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. For example, I went from owning around 700 books to now only having <100 that I often go back to. Now, I live pretty minimally – except for my clothes and my ginormous nail polish collection. But everything I own now–including these items — "sparks joy" as Kondo suggests, so I feel good about what I have in toe…

    EXCEPT, your post really makes me realize I need to go through my 3 drawers of running clothes and weed out. I have an entire drawer filled with just race shirts, about 2 of which I wear. So thank you.

    Enjoy this great weather. Like being back in Alabama, right?

  8. I need to go through my race shirts and donate a bunch. 25% would be a victory!
    I’m not a horder, but I find it difficult to get rid of things. I always seem to need something soon after I’ve moved it on.
    But it is time to make another effort.

  9. I try to clean out my closet every few months or so. If I can’t remember the last time I wore a piece of clothing, chances are I don’t need it or even like it for that matter. To be fair, I find it more challenging to get rid of athletic/running attire because I go through so much on a weekly basis, and I like to have options, ha.

  10. Truth: I was living out of two suitcases my whole 2.5 years in Philly. It grew to a third suitcase but clothes wise I am minimal. Now “stuff” wise like old school papers, toys, dolls, that was harder. I let go of some when I moved from my parents house in 2014 but I still had quite a bit that my parents boxed up and brought me and I realized after 2 years of not opening the boxes, I could probably let more go. It was a process and I sold more last year when I packed up to travel for months. I still think when I return though I will get rid of more. Since living out of a backpack for the last 2 months hasnt been horrible but I do know that the wear and tear of my clothes means I will likely be getting rid of half the clothes I brought with me upon my return to the states.

  11. I am such a hoarder but we are hoping to move soon so I have been trying to de-clutter. My wardrobe is a taxk, I have dresses that I dont even fit into anymore. WHY?

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