Black Minimalist: Danae Carson
When and why did you start your minimalist journey?
I would say the desire to live a more simple and intentional life started around the summer of 2014, but really became my anthem in the later months of 2015. During the summer of 2014, I’d just returned to the DC area after living 2 years in Northern California. I found myself longing for my “one day”. You know, the "One day when the money is there I’ll do X" or "One day, when I have the time, I’ll do X". It hit me that I wasn’t really living, I was just existing. That’s when I knew I needed a change.
What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?
1. There’s so much joy in simplicity. I’ve learned to be at peace and find joy in the seemingly most mundane things.
2. Slow down. It’s okay for things to take time. By nature, I’m very do it now or never at all, and in choosing to live a simpler life, I’ve learned to be okay with taking my time. Taking my time to plan things; to dream. Taking my time to be. Be present. Be intentional. To show up where I am, to the hearts I’m surrounded by and be grounded in that.
3. Contentment. I’ve really discovered this probably in the last year and even more strongly as this year unfolds that in choosing a simpler and more intentional lifestyle, I’m rethinking and relearning what contentment is. From asking what does it mean and what does it look like? To seeing what it isn’t. I’ve learned thus far that contentment is not settling; it’s preparing for the future, honoring and learning from the past, and leaning into the present.
What are your goals in living simply?
I love this question! Honestly, I didn’t initially have any goals. I just knew that I was tired of life just happening and me not happening to it. So, I wanted to change that by being intentional with myself and my world. Now 3 years (give or take) into this, while I want to maintain showing up to my life, I also want to be more resourceful. I find myself really getting into DIY things like making my own body butters and face washes. So, being more resourceful is a goal, using what’s in my hands and what’s around me to create. Also, being more financial savvy and free. But the goal of goals is to live a full life and I believe living simply helps me do that.
Has minimalism impacted other areas of your life?
Yes! It has definitely impacted how I travel. I recently spent a few days in Ireland, and for the first time ever, I only packed a small carry-on for my clothes (a few items that could easily be mixed and matched) and a backpack for my camera, journal, raincoat etc. Looking back, I could’ve gone lighter, especially with the clothes, but that carry-on and backpack was packing light for me. Usually it’s a large suitcase with clothes I’d never wear but pack “just in case” plus a backpack (with a purse tucked inside somewhere). It’s a small thing, but packing that light for 10 days in Ireland was a huge victory for me.
In some ways, choosing to live a more simple and intentional life has started to impact my style. I don’t consider myself a fashionista by any means. With that said, as I grow in this journey, I’m honestly relearning what my style is and what it looks like. I’ve been toying around with capsule wardrobes for the last year and I’ve been eyeing the 10x10 challenge, all to really push myself to get creative with what’s in my closet and have fun in a space I often find daunting.
What if any surprises or challenges have you encountered?
I think the biggest surprise for me has been seeing so many people who share this same value for simple living. And I mean truly share it, not just ride a wave of hype. It is so inspiring and encouraging to discover and see people who are committed to living a more simple, slow, and intentional life. It’s an awesome reminder that you aren’t alone and it is possible!
What mindset changes have you experienced?
The mindset that focuses on following/doing for the hype has changed for me. Personally, it’s easy to fall into a trend and ride the ups and downs of it. But, when I intentionally chose a lifestyle that goes against the current at which society flows, I learned it wasn’t the easiest or about the hype. There has been a lot of time spent discovering and resting in the steadiness of the day-to-day and finding joy and purpose there which isn’t always the most attractive, but has been the most rewarding for me. And, to do that and do it well, goes beyond the hype of a moment. It’s my conscious choice to change and build on that choice through the daily decisions I make in my life.
Another mindset shift for me since choosing a simpler lifestyle is that having a structure or framework for my life means I can’t be free. One thing that has seriously kept me grounded especially over the last month was finding my rhythm and routine and intentionally setting aside time to invest in myself. It all comprises of small, simple tasks that feed my spirit, creativity, soul, and love for coffee. These small habits have kept me grounded and ultimately have shifted my mind from fearing a lack of freedom to a mindset that believes these habits make room for what matters.
What advice do you have for someone interested in simplifying their life?
Know why you’re doing it. Always know your why. Let your why be what stirs you to pursue a life of simplicity.
Don’t compare. Everyone’s journey is different and looks different. That’s what makes life so beautiful---no one person’s process is the same. What works for me, may not be your jam and that’s okay; it doesn’t make either one of us more/less minimalistic than the other. In choosing to pursue a more simple and intentional life, you get to go on a journey with yourself and that’s special and intimate and shouldn’t be clouded by comparison.
Be okay with the journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve been pursuing this lifestyle for a couple years now and still have so much to learn and grow in. My living space could use another declutter session and some days my routine doesn’t go as plan. Instead of giving up, remember your why, breathe deep and start again. It’s not a race or a competition. It’s a lifestyle change and that takes time and patience.
What does being a black minimalist mean to you?
It means being unapologetically me. To me, being a black minimalist means being okay with embracing and choosing a lifestyle that is very counterculture, realizing there is so much power in it and it’s not just for a select few; being a minimalist---living a simple, intentional life has more than one shade.
Where can we learn more about you?
You can find me sharing all my thoughts and feels on my blog This Wondrous Life at www.thiswondrouslife.com.
You can also find me documenting le journey on IG at _thiswondrouslife and on FB at This Wondrous Life.