A Reluctant Minimalist’s Retrospective

Anne Delle Donne

I think I cried for three days straight. They say that a woman’s home is her nest, and I felt like my nest was just tossed from the tree. My husband and I had just decided that to have a fighting chance at saving our small business (and only livelihood), we would have to sell our home and move into an apartment that was a quarter of the size of our current home.

This “of course” necessitated a complete estate sale of all our furniture except for our beds, two dressers and cabinets. My young boys went through their toys, and without a full understanding of the changes in store for us, they donated and sold enough to fit into their new dimensions. There was no “storage” for us; we were dipping our feet into the Minimalism Movement. To top it off, to even put our home on the market, I had to complete a total remodel of our bathroom (which was down to the studs and had been for eight months – more on that another time).

Presto – in three months flat, start to finish, we had remodeled and sold our home, sold nearly 95% of our belongings, and were moving to our new apartment.

Ah, time to breathe right, got it all done? On the outside it may have looked like I was a finely oiled machine, but on the inside, I was squeaking, thrashing and not entirely sure how I was going to manage this new scenario, especially with a smile on my face. We have two boys who were entirely too young to understand our motivations and concern that precipitated our abrupt change. My husband was working tirelessly on reclaiming our company back, and I felt alone and an unwilling party that needed to make several decisions I didn’t want to make. Looking back now, I distinctly remember feeling woefully unprepared, and yet somehow, I accomplished a huge feat that spring. What happened, what changed for me?

In part, I stared straight into that part of me who wants to be fearful, wants to control, and thinks I am not enough. I literally put one foot in front of the other. I started getting up early and enjoying my last spring on my big beautiful sunny deck with a cup of coffee and my devotional. I made calls and returned phone calls, and moved my feet one foot in front of the other. I prayed on my knees for the strength and wisdom, and then I got up and put one foot in front of the other.

It started a journey, a path, that I have longingly looked upon many times in my life. A path that I wasn’t sure I had the courage to take, not until I started putting one foot in front of the other. When you take away the stuff: the house, the clothes and 95% of your furniture, all the things I had been using to define my self-worth; I felt exposed and ashamed. The courage to ask myself if I am enough even without my stuff, and to stand there exposed is life-changing and heartbreaking. I am learning that there is truly nothing, I mean nada, zilch of this world that will ever sooth this longing. It is only when I give up my desire to control, to be that finely oiled machine, that I can breathe and put one foot in front of the other.


Anne Delle Donne is a writer and recovering poet. Life is full with two beautifully busy boys, Tobin and Nash, and her entrepreneurial husband. Their family resides in Denver, Colorado.