My Minimalism Journey: Part I

“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”

― Wally Lamb

On the eve of Sept 11th, I want to share my a little about my “Minimalism” journey as 9/11 was a major catalyst to the start of this journey.

If you have not heard of “Minimalism” you can google the term and find numerous websites discussing Minimalism. I discuss my minimalism journey in several older posts to include:

Shameless “Thrifting”

The Empty Drawer (re-post)

We are seeing each other again…

If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

Craft Book Purge

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps

The Space in Which We Live

For me, embracing Minimalism is more than decluttering my life and living with less stuff. It is a deep set of personal values that I started to internalize post 9/11, I just did not have a name for it at the time.


The Start of the Journey

I grew up in New York State and NYC has a special place in my heart. I traveled there as a child, as a teenager and as an adult.

Some of my fond pre 9/11 NYC memories include:

  •  Going as a child going to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and to see the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall.
  • A day trip in NYC via bus, sponsored by my nursing school in Upstate NY. The trip included  going to the Museum of Natural History (as an adult this time) and realizing just how incredible and magical a museum it is. I was dating Terry (future “Quilting Husband”) at the time and I have a humorous memory of him walking around the Museum of Modern Art (the MOMA) and sharing his head at what he thought was “terrible art” (he did not appreciate “modern” art).

When 9/11 happened, my husband and I lived in Seattle, Washington. We had moved in Seattle in 1997 and it was a welcome change from our crazy life in Houston, Texas. We were extreme workaholics in Houston as young professionals trying to get established in our careers. We knew it was time for a change when we forgot to go to a special rock concert that we had waited years for this particular band to tour and come to Houston (and we had purchased very expensive tickets for!). Work consumed our life and distracted us from enjoying life.

Seattle was a wonderful place when we moved there in 1997 and I met many wonderful friends and had an incredible social network. We used to have a lot of dinner parties/game nights and attend endless social events. My husband still teases me about the time, in order to keep everyone happy, we attended 3-4 (he swears it was 5) Thanksgiving dinners/events in one day. We were always very busy on holidays going from friend’s house to friend’s house to “make an appearance”.

Post 9/11 in addition to a terrible sadness and hurt for my beloved NYC (I have a friend in NYC who had a friend who called in sick on 9/11 and is alive because she happened to be ill that day), I felt this tremendous uneasiness and anxiety. There was not anything I could put my finger on but I knew that I felt unsettled in my life.

I had been a manager for many years and I realized I did not want to “manage” people any longer. I wanted to only be responsible for myself.

One of the great pleasures in my life was time spent walking my dogs, however the neighborhood we lived in was starting to decline and became less safe. Seattle as it grew and expanded became more expensive. The neighborhood we lived in was more still an affordable area but attracted less desirable and questionable characters (we suspected there was a “Meth lab” near our house).

We lived in a large house in Seattle (2800 square feet) and we had a lot of stuff. We had a mother-in-law style apartment in the daylight basement that we rented for awhile and when our tenants moved out we filled it with more stuff. I realize now that a lot of the stuff I bought (as a friend of mine pointed out – I was a “collector”) was related to seeking happiness, comfort, or a temporary purchase “high”.

Around 2001 we adopted our rescued miniature schnauzers Fritz and Snickers from a place I never heard of before – Central, Oregon. They were found as strays in a place called Maupin, Oregon and then were first rescued by a couple who lived in Sisters, Oregon but could not keep them. We adopted them through Miniature Schnauzer Rescue out of Portland, Oregon.

A year or so before I had started quilting, a friend took me to the annual Sew Expo in Pullayup, WA for the first time and I visited the booth of this magical quilt shop called the Stitchin’ Post which was from Sisters, Oregon.

In 2005 close friends of ours moved to Central, Oregon. We went to visit them a couple months after they moved…

This was it, this was the place. Central Oregon was where I needed to be to feel safe and peaceful again and to continue on a journey I did not even realize I had begun.

We returned from our first visit to Central Oregon in October 2005, put our Seattle house on the market. It sold in 3 days and by November 2005 (yes one month later) we were living in temporary housing in Central Oregon.

This is the place I can walk my dogs at 10 pm at night, alone, and feel safe. Speaking of dogs, my husband would joke when we first moved to town that: “we had to bring the schnauzers back to their native land”.

I will continue the story of this journey in a future post. For now let me leave you with a quote I came across that embraces the idea of the start of a journey (which can begin right outside your front door):

Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy.
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it. 

― Charlotte Eriksson


Feature Photo credit: Mathew Herman, free images.com

7 thoughts on “My Minimalism Journey: Part I

  1. stitchendoodlesoup says:

    Great post! Fun getting to know you a bit more. I can relate. We are traveling to Victoria BC in October to stay on the wharf and look at float homes for our “leave stuff behind” and start a new adventure chapter. We’ve never lived on or near the water before (we’re in Denver now) I am however, slightly concerned about the amount of art supplies that will fit into 1500 square feet. Not to mention my husband and his vast punk album collection. Hmmm. I may have a bit more work to do on my minimization self…look forward to reading more 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • tierneycreates says:

      Oh my goodness! I hope you share photos and stories about checking out the float homes Victoria BC is so awesome – when we lived in Seattle we would go there at least yearly (and to Vancouver BC even more often which was like a 2+ hour drive). Excited for you and your new adventure! Thanks for you comment and sharing😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • stitchendoodlesoup says:

        Will do! I cannot wait to see what’s in store – my husband and son will be taking a side trip to Vancouver to see Opeth. Me? I’ll stay back on the wharf. Hand stitch on the waterfront. Maybe I’ll hand stitch THE waterfront 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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