Minimalist interview*

edge of wine barrel, Moishin Winery, Guerneville, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

I recently did an interview with the wonderful Robyn Devine of Minimalist Knitter. I’m going to reprint it here since my brain is going full minimalist right now! Pregnant mush brain… :)

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

AS: My passion toward minimalism probably began in a really practical way. We have always lived in relatively small homes with minimal storage space. When we were preparing for the arrival of our first child, my nesting instinct kicked in. With it came a strong desire to clear the decks, to simplify my visual landscape. There was something about the chaos of this new adventure of parenthood that I needed to balance against a simple, clutter-free home.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

AS: I discovered that I don’t need much stuff! And nearly everything I’ve given away or sold has been forgotten. There are no regrets. (Except that one pair of red platform sandals. What was I thinking?! ;)
Several years ago, I came across this quote that I love: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This is the motto I try to live by as much as possible. 

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

AS: I try to live by the law the buddhists call “The law of least effort.” This basically means that more effort does not equal more results, but right effort equals right results.

I don’t like to pain over my work… write when it’s not coming, sit for many hours at the computer trying to wring something out of myself when I really just need to fill the well and be replenished.

I listen closely to my intuition, live my real life as much as possible, and write in bursts from the richness of my actual life. This is how I nurture my creative spirit. I listen for when there is a story that wants to be told. 

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

AS: My desire to shop! and want things! I still want things all the time. I love clothing and fabric, beautiful color and brilliant design. I try to regularly let go of clothing, kid’s toys, etc. to keep things in balance, but that desire to want more is still hard wired in me.

I think it’s about mindfulness though. I watch myself now and ask questions: Do I need this? or just want it? It’s okay to just want it, but I want to consciously choose what I am taking in as opposed to being compulsive. 

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?

AS: I like the policy of the revolving door. As you acquire something new, let go of something else. Letting go is a spiritual practice… and we can practice in our physical worlds so that when we have to let go of something in the emotional/spiritual realm it’s that much easier.

Are you on a minimalist journey? Tell us about it in the comments!



  1. Posted September 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    We are about to embark on building a new house and we will be clearing the decks in between homes. We are building a simple industrial style warehouse building and minimalism is the thought behind it. I just hope that when all is said and done we can stick by it. It completely scares me. I grew up with nothing and once I had money to spend I’ve managed to keep my world filled with unnecessarily stuff. It will be an almost impossible battle. When our new house is complete it will look something like this: See, now you know we can’t go and junk up a house that special. Wish me luck.

  2. Posted September 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    This is such an inspiring (and hilarious) interview!!!!

  3. Posted September 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I definitely have minimalist tendencies, but it’s a constant battle. In 2001, we got rid of our 3,000sf home and all possessions except what would fit in the motorhome or a 10×10′ storage unit. Since our return, we have gradually been building up again, but every summer I go through EVERYTHING and toss like crazy. I hate clutter, but haven’t entirely conquered it yet!

  4. pamela
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    February 2010 I moved to Germany with my husband and our apartment is much smaller that our home in the US. We have purposefully chosen furnishings with a minimalist eye and feel so much more light and free. It’s amazing how clearing the clutter can make such an impact.

  5. Nina
    Posted September 22, 2010 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I’ve been clearing for a while now — trying to squeeze four people and a dog into a 950 sf rental house. I’m OK with letting go of clothes and dishes, even heirlooms and furniture. It’s the books and art supplies that get me.
    And I wish I had a good excuse for my own mush brain!

  6. Posted September 22, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    For many years, I’ve been very drawn to the voluntary simplicity movement. Because I am also a human female, I am equally drawn to Anthropologie, Etsy, and various Portland boutique shops! I realized I was at the height of contradictory impulses when after attending my weekly two hour Voluntary Simplicity group held at a local Whole Foods meeting room, I crossed the street and splurged on all sorts of unnecessary but lovely items at Anthropologie. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” !

  7. Em
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Since I lose things almost constantly I am a minimalist by default. My family however are all maximalists. This used to really annoy me but now I just find it quite funny. They need chaos around them, and I need calm. Possibly this is because my brain is more chaotic than theirs are and so our needs are opposite. But every so often I want to wait until they are out and hire a skip!

  8. Jennifer
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    In addition to not having anything in your home that you believe to be beautiful, I’m reminded of the way that one of my good friends lives….if you don’t use it, wear it or display it, what’s the point of having it? (Apart from my parents wedding china, I mean….)

  9. Posted September 27, 2010 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    this is a good page . I like the words

  10. Posted September 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    this is one of the most inspiring things I have read in sometime – thank you A

  11. Posted September 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    That quote about what to keep in your home turned on a brilliant light bulb for me. *Know* to be useful, not *think* to be useful. This post has inspired me and my husband to release everything in our house that no longer serves us, also before our first child is born!

  12. Posted September 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    We are currently moving out of our almost one-hundred-year-old house that is about 2200 square feet into a 1200 square foot townhouse in a cohousing community. We are very excited, and have literally been spending the last four weeks sorting, selling, freecycling, recycling, and donating many of our belongings. We had so many things in the basement of this house that we never used, and the new house has no storage! It feels really good to lighten the load.
    This move is great for us on so many levels. I’ve wanted to downsize for a long while, and we get to have a smaller footprint while sharing resources with our neighbors in cohousing!
    If you’re curious about cohousing, go here —
    Blessings on your upcoming birth, Andrea!!