As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.
Today’s interview is with Tammy Strobel, the force behind RowdyKittens, where she talks about minimalism and shares her passion for car-free living. Tammy just published her latest book Smalltopia, which is an amazing and practical guide to working for yourself!
MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?
TS: Initially, I didn't chose a simple, minimalist lifestyle because I wanted to follow my "passion." When we first started downshifting it was out of economic necessity. We had a lot of debt and had to make a serious change in our consumption patterns.
After I started doing more reading about simple living and minimalism, I realized I could live the life I wanted and pursue my passion. Without debt holding us back, I was able to leave my day job and start my own little business.
MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?
TS: Once I got started on the journey, I became more and more focused. I slowly eliminated distractions from my life (like the TV and the cars) and started focusing on writing, volunteer work, and spending time with friends and family.
MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?
TS: Living well with less is not about deprivation. Getting rid of my clutter and debt has made my life richer and given me time to focus on important priorities, like nurturing my creative spirit. When I was commuting to work for over two hours everyday and literally "trying to keep up with the Jones's" I didn't have the energy to focus on creative activities.
MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?
TS: Defining the line between need and want. Advertising is so prevalent in our culture and sometimes it's hard to stay no. So for me that means staying out of stores where I'm tempted to buy stuff and waiting 30 days to purchase anything new.
MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?
TS: Most of us have the skills to purchase any kind of consumer product and have it shipped to us within 48 hours. On the flip side, most people don't know where their city council members meet where public meeting take place. Flexing your citizen muscle will foster community connections on many levels. For instance, Richard Layard is an economist and has researched what makes us happy for years. He said "the greatest happiness comes from absorbing yourself in some goal outside yourself." So turn the TV off and invite friends and family over for a scrumptious dinner. Talk about your passions, listen to alternative philosophies, and immerse yourself in helping other people.