I’m a minimalist, at least that’s the best word I can think of to describe it – an odd combination of compulsive organization and extreme selectiveness.

Aside from people, nearly everything that’s important to me fits in my backpack. When we travel, it’s all I take, and I love how free that makes me feel. I also don’t have to worry about anyone robbing our house unless they really want to build a library. Books are pretty much all we’ve got.

Years ago, I can remember driving through nice neighborhoods, idolizing the houses, cars, and toys. But somewhere along the way, I changed. I can’t even pinpoint exactly when it happened. Now, all of that stuff feels like excess baggage to me. You have to pay for it, maintain it, clean it, insure it, and so on.

This is hard to admit, but I don’t even like tangible gifts. I’d rather an experience or a thoughtful letter or card. And please don’t try to give me a bag at a conference or event. (Sorry to anyone whose feelings are hurt. It’s not you, it’s me.)

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t really inspired to take this path. It evolved from increasing self awareness.

I realized that a cluttered desk with lots of paper meant that I was constantly stressed. (Special thanks to Remember the Milk, Dropbox, Kindle, and Gmail. You rock.)

I realized that I was particularly suited to running (and barefoot bootcamp workouts) because I didn’t need any special equipment.

Given the choice, I realized that I’d rather wear the same clothes pretty regularly. Lots of choices overwhelm me. Plus, I hate to shop. (I’ll never be envied for my wardrobe, and my feet really, really prefer Vibrams.)

While it’s rarely been discussed, I don’t think this would be a surprise to those closest to me. Over time, they’ve (mostly) adapted to allow me to have my preferences.

Through my choices to honor my real self (whether large or seemingly insignificant), I hope I’ve given them permission to do the same. That’s my underlying belief: Each of us is different, and that’s a good thing. It’s okay to be weird. It’s a lot less stressful than trying to be “normal” – whatever that is.


I’m participating in #trust30, an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Today’s prompt was:

What’s the one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?