Minimal Me…

by Tania Ginoza on November 1, 2012 · 31 comments

Once upon a time, there was a girl (I use the term “girl” loosely) who enjoyed shopping and surrounded herself with many beautiful things.  She often forgot what she had and spent many hours managing her possessions.  She spent her time cleaning, organizing and maintaining the endless wardrobe, books and kitchen gadgets.  She often felt overwhelmed and guilty about all her things.  When she wasn’t taking care of her things, she was working very long hours and it was okay because it helped her pay for more things.  One day this girl separated from husband and she began to move her things from a nice sized two-story home to a little ohana rental close by.  She filled up her  hatchback multiple times but still left many things behind.  Yet, when she was done she felt shocked to see how empty the big house looked.

Girl moved out of the big city to Maui and she gave away jackets, pencil skirts, silk blouses and other things that were too dressy or too yuppie for small town life.  She was a bit sad when she moved. She missed her friends, her dog, her tennis class and her spinning on Waikiki beach.  Her lifestyle was now very casual and she found she needed more casual things.  She started to gain weight and then began to miss the size two version of herself.  She found she needed larger things. So she bought more things, casual things, in a larger size.

Girl started a blog and moved into an 800 square foot space that she and her dad had designed to fit all her things. She stayed up late writing, editing pictures and learning.  She couldn’t get enough of content. Content that taught her about design, art, tech and pursuing happiness made her heart sing and long for more.  She received a camera for Christmas and took photography classes and found a new passion.  Exposure, aperture and shutter speed became part of her vocabulary.  One day she realized she was buying fewer things. When she did buy, it was with intent and mindfulness. She debated over a large cappuccino mug for weeks because she already had one cappuccino mug and that seemed to be sufficient.  She wanted photography gear but one item at a time, over time, was enough.  One had to learn how to use gear and so the initial thrill of acquiring was long lasting.  Girl preferred to write about things and cared much less about owning things.  Living a creative life was the antidote that had been missing all these years.

Yes, this girl is me and I’m finally ready to embrace living with less.  I only want to own things that have a purpose or make my heart sing.  I’ve been embarking on a personal minimalist project but do know it is unlikely that I will ever become an extreme minimalist that we read about on the web. I don’t plan on counting the objects I own or wearing the same dress every day or living out of a suitcase.  I do plan to live a high quality life with good design but on a smaller scale.  I’ve been writing in a journal my thoughts and reasons for embracing a beautiful life with less and I’m ready to approach these changes with some structure and I’m ready to share with you.  These are the areas of my life and things that I’ll be working on:

  • Wardrobe
  • Accessories
  • Linens
  • Digital
  • Personal Finance
  • Home
  • Food
  • Time

I’m not setting goals in terms of time or number of things I’ll eventually own.  This project is about evolution, not revolution, one minimal step at a time.

I will be blogging as I work on mini projects along the way.  This is not about de-cluttering or organizing but about paring down and simplifying.  Although in certain areas, some organization is needed as well, particularly with my digital life (photo files are out of control to say the least).  There also may be some areas where I may purge and purchase some new things that will be simpler to manage  in the long run (linens is the one area that comes to mind).

Will I still blog about things?  Yes, I will still blog about beautiful things, good design and objects made with love.  A love of good design brings a greater appreciation for the things we do choose to own.

This month I will be joining fellow blogger Eden from The Road to the Good Life in her Mindful Consumption Challenge.  You can read more about the challenge on Eden’s blog.

You can also read another Maui blogger’s take on her own approach to minimalism, Ihilani of SoPupuka.  Ihilani’s story is different from mine but yet I could feel a connection with her reasons for embracing a minimal life.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

lisacng @ expandng.com November 1, 2012

What a journey to realize the real you, so to speak. I think that it can be hard to critique each purchase, asking yourself if you really need it or want it. You even did that for a cappuccino mug! (I do that too. The shiny pretty cups at the Starbucks store always beckon to me, and I have to remind myself that I have so many already) Lately, I’ve been trying to do the same with my wardrobe. I need to sit down and hem some stuff, like Eden gave in her example. Good luck on your challenge! Can’t wait to hear updates! Ironically, reading “fashion”/”style” blogs have actually helped me to buy less quantity, and more quality!

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Tania November 2, 2012

It was my mug with the bird on the handle, I think you’ve seen it on IG, I keep my coffee pods in it. It is so funny, I kept debating and the thing was like $5. When I finally bought it, it was 20% off. Having a small space really helps me think before bringing in another pretty cup or plate.

Fashion blogs were my first blog loves although I don’t read the outfit a day ones much anymore. Street style photography is my favorite, like thesartorialist, because it doesn’t tempt me to buy, the focus is on the photo and how they’ve put things together in an original way and less on what lines they’re wearing or what they’ve bought. Your blogger friend who sews is also very interesting to me. LoveMaegan does list her to buy info but her strength is less about what she bought and how she styles things, she’s go a bit of DIY in her too and I keep her in my google reader.

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another jennifer November 1, 2012

This is a wonderful story, and I look forward to reading about your journey. I think we could all use a little simplifying!

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Tania November 2, 2012

Mahalo Jenn and I agree, there isn’t many of us couldn’t simplify somewhere in our lives.

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Lydia November 1, 2012

Mauishopgirl, As I read the first paragraph of your post, I saw myself in it. I have joined the challenge for many of the reasons that you listed and I hope that the challenge becomes a habit. Being mindful in all things is my goal. Blessings and good luck.

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Tania November 2, 2012

Yay! We can do it! I like that the challenge is not an all or nothing deal like a shopping diet but instead focuses on making us more aware and documenting what we do buy.

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Lori November 1, 2012

Thanks for this post, I’ve been striving for mindfulness for a while. It’s so easy to get distracted by daily life and get caught up in acquiring material things to comfort ourselves. I’m looking forward to hearing and being inspired by your experiences. =)

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Tania November 2, 2012

Thanks Lori!

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Shalagh November 1, 2012

I wrote an article once in which I said”we have obesity of possession”. May I also say that, as much as I like pretty things, they’re not as special when they’re not given visual room to breath. And that I like it when you talk growth. It’s a blog turn-on for me. I’m with ya’ Tania.
Love,
Shalagh

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Tania November 2, 2012

I’d love to read that, if you remember, attach the link here in the comments or send it to me. If I don’t see it, I’ll search for it.

Thanks Shalagh!

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Shalagh November 2, 2012

It was one of my first articles published on Divine Caroline. And when I went there just now to retrieve the link, I realized they’d featuring me on their Meet the Member. Here’s the link to the article entitled Reformation of a Clutterbug http://www.divinecaroline.com/38/80924-refomation-clutterbug.
And here’s me in the spotlight http://www.divinecaroline.com/
in the middle towards the bottom.
Thanks Tania
Love,
Shalagh

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Tania November 2, 2012

Wonderful! And I agree, we are a nation of people that likes stuff, lots of it, in the biggest homes we can struggle to afford. I think the extreme minimalism online movement is a backlash of sorts against it. As I see the age of many of these minimalists, they grew up during a time that consumerism was at an all time high and then graduated at a time there were no jobs to be found even for someone with a fancy degree and that buying the house of your dreams could quickly turn into a nightmare. It is also a time where you can no start your own business online and publish ebooks or have your own mag, make yourself an authority on whatever you choose enabling you to travel about if you didn’t encumber yourself with things and a mortgage. But that’s just my little theory.

I’m going to write a post next week about how I’m doing mini purges because I’m crazy busy this month and a link to your article would fit right in. Thanks!

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Ihilani November 1, 2012

Wonderful read Tania! I love how you narrated your own story and felt like I was hearing it for the first time, even though we had talked about a lot of these things previously. I love what you said about your camera gear, that you gleaned a lot of satisfaction from mastering one piece of equipment at a time. I think it’s so awesome when the things we buy really expand our skills and interests. The joy is not in the “thing” but in what we create with the things we have. I can’t wait to read about your projects as they unfold.

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Tania November 2, 2012

Well said Ihilani. Before I purchase new tools or gear now I try to think really hard and ask myself, “do I just want new, shiny and lighter or will I be able to expand what I can do?”. This is why I was able to get beyond my initial reaction to the iPad mini launch and restrain from continuing to want a mini.

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Sarah Von November 1, 2012

Good on you! I have a two bedroom apartment with the appropriate amount of furniture to fill but no more. In fact, my best friend tried to stage an intervention a few weeks ago because I only have two pairs of pants and every time she saw me I was wearing the same ones! But I just don’t see the point of owning stuff just for the sake of it :)

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Shalagh November 1, 2012

Sarah,
Having to do laundry frequently is different than enough chairs to sit in. I am pregnant and would give my eyeball to have enough pairs of pants to fit me well for a week. Simplifying doesn’t have to exclude pragmatism. Too much or too little are still extremes. I too can not wait to hear about the epiphanies Tania is yet to experience.
Shalagh

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Tania November 2, 2012

After listening to the podcast on The Suitcase Entrepreneur I’m not surprised you only have 2 pairs of pants because of your wanderlust ways :-) I used to travel quite a bit for business and it made me really think about how much clothes do I really need and do I need as much as variety as I do have as I seem to get along fine with the little capsule collection I take on trips. When I worked at Prada, we had a visual merchandiser who used to visit us in Hawaii from another office and she always brought with her just a few pleated Prada skirts and a Helmet Lang denim jacket. She then just wore different but all very similar plain fitted white Ts. She always looked chic yet looked virtually the same each day. Vera Wang is also known to just wear black leggings and pretty plain big slouchy tops and sweaters in black, grey or white each day. Since my weight gain I’ve also started to wear the same clothes week after week because I don’t fit in everything and I wear the same jeans all the time and I found it to be so much easier and I think I will continue to do some sort of uniform dressing I drop the weight now that I no longer feel compelled to get my creativity out with my wardrobe, I can do it with my blog instead.

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Courtney - Maui Jungalow November 1, 2012

Tania, as I have explored your blog, I’ve realized that it’s far more than just the name MauiShopGirl. At first glance, I thought it was about finding and buying pretty things on Maui, but I see how you use your vantage point of enjoying beauty to write deeply and from the heart about all sorts of things including your family history, consumerism and life philosophy.

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Tania November 2, 2012

Thank you Courtney! I created my domain name years ago, ~ 2008 and I think I thought I would write a shopping blog/retail special events blog then and I was living on Oahu (but named it Maui because I grew up here). But the domain sat, unused until 2011 and I went through so many changes in my life since then but meanwhile it got a lot of use on the internet as I started to use it as my handle for many things. The name ShopGirl however comes from a fascination with the retail industry but not as much from a consumer standpoint. I’ve always been fascinated with how shops select their merchandise, how they setup visuals, inventory management, trend forecasting and the psychology behind why we buy. I read and have read retail trade news for years for fun! ShopGirl is the term used to describe a young salesgirl, which I once was, and was also Meg Ryan’s AOL handle in “We’ve got mail” (I adored her character as a small independent bookstore owner who engaged with all her customers). ShopGirl was also the title of a short novel and movie written by Steve Martin. So, I didn’t change my name even though I planned to blog about design, lifestyle, etc. So, I also see ShopGirl as someone who helps their visitors find things they need or that are attractive. I considered changing it recently but not in the mood to go through all of that right now. But I do need to put more info in my about me, I’ve only got a blurb in there now and it doesn’t give a good idea of what the blog is about and why it’s called shopgirl.

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brootis November 1, 2012

very well put grasshopper, life is all about the journey as you must look deep within yourself to find happiness. as I follow your blog I see you growing,life is good!

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Laurie November 1, 2012

Your post came at a great time for me Tania. I sometimes feel so out of control with so much stuff in our lives and I would love to pare down. Too much stuff, too much weight, too much work and too many bills – all issues I’m trying to work on! I look forward to reading your future posts!

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Tania November 2, 2012

I think for me everything is related. I do think my fluctuating weight through life affects my purchasing habits and vice versa.

We can work on it together Laurie!

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Laine Griffin November 3, 2012

What a lovely way to tell your story. I’m looking forward to following your mini-projects. Hopefully it will inspire me to do the same!

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noreen November 4, 2012

hello tania – good for you! i’m happy you are creating a simple and beautiful life. sometimes i find shopping and things – literally things! – get in the way of time with my loved ones. so less IS more. i’m with you.

regarding my camera – you’re ahead of me. i own a nikon point and shoot. love it. someday i’ll have time to own a more “photographer” camera – but not yet. too busy in the classroom. joy to you!

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Tania November 4, 2012

Your pictures are always so beautiful! You rock that point and shoot.

I do find things and shopping get in the way of living too. I cringe when I think of all the time I’ve wasted shopping, going to alterations, going to the dry cleaner, etc. Yikes.

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Eden November 7, 2012

Hi Tania!

Thank you for joining the challenge and for sharing your story. I’ve also found by thinking about clothes more, materials and construction, I don’t buy as many things that scream “this season.” Vivienne Westwood actually has a similar mantra – Buy less, choose well, make it last.

By the way… you should totally take your explanation about the name of your blog from your comment above and add it to your About. That’s a great context. I was initially confused about the title/focus.

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Tania November 12, 2012

I redid my “about me”. It took me forever to write but once I was done I felt much energized about the blog. Writing about my focus will help me stay on track too.

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Tiffanie November 14, 2012

I’ve always known from the first comments you left for me that you are anything but superficial, and so I never took the name MauiShopGirl as something commercial sounding, it was just you.

Your story is true and real and honest. It’s clear you have been doing a lot of searching and growing, and I love what you’ve come to. So many people never realize what they are doing when they fill their lives with things. I have fallen into that pattern before. It is so good for you, the environment and everything in between. I am looking forward to seeing some of the changes you will be blogging. Lots of love to you, Tania!

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Tania November 15, 2012

That is such a compliment Tiff, thank you. I now realize my “fluffiness” has to do with creativity and am embracing it a bit more.

Hugs and love to you too.

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