Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn

A version of this post, Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn, was previously published here on 19 July 2018. 

Hey, look, I know that there are some famous minimalist gurus who do everything in black and white. Others seem to go monochromatic, or use a lot of white space. As a symbolic gesture or a way to establish a style for your brand, it works. That doesn’t mean that your life has to be drab. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need or want to make space for the things you do means just that. It’s one area where I agree with the nice Japanese lady; if a thing makes you happy, it’s a valid reason to hang onto it.

As I’ve stated before, my bullet journal is not an arts-and-craft project that doubles as a productivity system. It’s a productivity system that I leverage with color-coding. I also tend to doodle while I think. Pens, highlighters, and Washi tape fits in with that. But I also live in a country where it’s dark and depressing for a good part of the year. Do you know what helps with that, psychologically? Bright, happy colors. I own useful things, and many happen to be pretty. That’s all within the “rules” of simple living minimalism.

How Much Constitutes Enough is Subjective

Yes, I am aware that there are minimalists who only own 100 things. Or 50. Or some other completely subjective number. There are various reasons people do this, some of which are valid. I follow a couple of minimalists that travel the world. They need to keep the number of items they take with them down to the most practical lower limit. Some people live in tiny homes, or can only afford ridiculously small apartments. There are some, like me, who know that their housing situation is ultimately temporary and they’ll have to move at some point. I hate moving, so the less I own, the less annoying it will be.

I think that there is an objective amount of stuff that constitutes “too much”. If you can’t walk through a room, you probably have an excessive amount of stuff. A vast collection of broken and useless objects is likely unnecessary. Things you haven’t used or looked at in years would qualify. Beyond that, though, it really is subjective. Oh no, I own 9 rolls of Washi tape! Well, yeah. It takes up virtually no space and I probably dropped a whole €8 on it, if that much. I rarely spend money on myself. It also gets used, and it adds some non-austere visual interest to the journal I live out of every single day. I don’t think I’ve lost the plot here.

Color is a Thing That Exists

Let’s go back to that part above where I mentioned moving. If we have a choice, we will remain here in Finland, in this city. It could be another city, though.  We could even end up in another country. Moving is inevitable. I’ve been living in this state of temporariness, this holding pattern of sorts, for six years. I am ready to have a permanent based of operations again. Not necessarily so I can spread out, but to maybe be able to buy some things — large things, heavy things, expensive things — that I know I’ll be able to hold onto, and not have to sell off because they’d be too expensive to ship to wherever we end up moving to.

My world comes down to Katie, my laptop, and my journal. Everything else is replaceable. Furniture, cookware, bedding, it’s all just stuff. I can probably get all of my clothes into one suitcase. The pens, tape, and other accessories that goes with journaling can get thrown into the backpack I use as a laptop bag. So why can’t I have a few objects, like my teddy bears and my emotional support unicorn, as the anchors that identify the space I occupy as “home”?

The bottom line is that the things that I have are not only useful, but especially meaningful to me. That’s because I do have so few things. I’ve loosened up a bit lately, for the sake of mental health and self-care, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve fallen entirely off the simple living wagon. All I’ve done is adjust my own definitions of what I want, and what I’m willing to make space for, to accommodate my own changing needs.

Minimalism, Austerity, and My Emotional Support Unicorn

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.


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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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