Ashley Kelly

An accidental minimalist on what's necessary and enough.

Ashley Kelly

Everything I own fits into one bag.


I’ve been slowly purging my belongings over the last ten years.

I’ve moved a few times over the last decade - had a roommate, moved out, moved in with a boyfriend, changed apartments, broke up and moved out, moved in with someone new.

Each time I had a move I thought it would be a good idea to evaluate what to keep and what I needed let go of.

It always amazed me how much stuff I accumulated. And, I considered myself someone who didn’t have that much stuff to begin with.

When I started this process, I didn’t have an end goal in mind. I didn’t set out with the intention of only owning a few items or with a specific aesthetic agenda. I didn’t really know what minimalism was. I wasn’t striving for it. I stumbled my way into it accidentally.

Really, I found it annoying to pack and move my stuff around so I wanted less of it.

As time went on, I started liking life with less stuff. I liked how I felt and how my home felt with less clutter.

Less baggage.

I decided that the things I would keep in my life needed to serve a purpose - either as a useful tool or something that brought me joy.

And, I liked that.

Earlier this year, my partner and I left home to begin a year journey of travel.

Part of getting ready to leave included a real assessment of what we were going to bring with us.

After giving away all our furniture, donating clothes and a bunch of other stuff, we were left with one backpack that housed all our belongings.

We really made an effort to bring only what was necessary and enough for us at this juncture in our lives.

I’m not saying that minimalism means living out of a backpack and blindly disposing of all your things. I also don’t think it’s about simply surviving on the bare minimum.

To me, minimalism is a practice in consciousness of what’s necessary and enough.

As you change and as your circumstances change, what’s necessary and enough will change too, and that’s ok.

For me and my partner, living out of our backpack is what’s working today. If we decide to stop travelling and settle down in one place, our needs and what’s enough for us at that time will be different than they are today.

There’s a notion behind minimalism that more does not equal better. I think a better way to put it is that more may not equal better...and equally less may not equal better.

Sometimes less is better and sometimes more is better. I think it depends on circumstance.

I also don’t think it’s helpful to create an enemy to fight like capitalism, media, advertising, or what ‘they’ put in front of us.

Whatever is ‘out there’, is going to be ‘out there.’

Minimalism is about being deliberate, intentional and conscious. It starts with you looking at yourself and at your life. Looking at what’s valuable and meaningful to you and why?

And evaluating and re-evaluating what’s necessary and enough as you move through the evolution of your life.

You can choose to consume mindfully.

You choose what you say yes or no to.

The ‘enemy’ isn’t out there.

Minimalism starts with you.

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself.

Do I really need this?

If yes, why do you think you need it?

Is this really necessary?

What’s enough?

What’s meaningful to you and why?

Is this something that makes my life better or brings me joy?