Black Minimalists: Chris and Anna
When and why did you start your minimalist journey?
Anna: It kind of started from my obsession with HGTV, oddly enough. It’s kind of weird now that I think about it. A network dedicated entirely to interior design, home goods, and luxurious living sparked my minimalist journey…kind of. I confided in an ex-coworker that Chris and I used to watch a ton of House Hunters, Love It or List It and Property Virgins. She told me that I’d also love a show called Tiny House Nation or some variation of that. At that point we had already given up our TV (not knowing a ton of minimalist do) so I went right to YouTube! It was love as first sight. After that I read a few books, watched a few TedTalks and tossed a lot of crap out the window. Chris and I also decided not to stress about a huge wedding (we were engaged at the time) and eloped in Marfa, TX. No rings. One witness. All black. It was very “us”! Since then it’s just been apart of who I am. Who WE are.
Chris: I first began my journey as a minimalist once I visited the super cool little artsy town called Marfa located in the western region of Texas. We went to Marfa for my birthday and we also got married on my birthday, it was great. While we were there, I was so inspired by the works of Donald Judd and the minimalist art movement as a whole. To me, it wasn’t just art, it was a whole new way of approaching life. After Marfa, I remember purchasing the book, Do Less by Rachel Jonat. In the book, Rachel talked a lot about how to rid yourself of things that are excessive in your life and put more passion into those things in life that are more meaningful and timeless in a sense. After reading Do Less and experiencing Marfa, being a minimalist is something that I wanted to adopt. Not because it looks or sounds cool, but truthfully, to get rid of so many excess things and clutter in my life and in my mental! I believe that becoming a minimalist can improve your life in more ways than one may imagine!
What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?
Anna: OMG #allofthelessons! I am definitely more comfortable with having people not understand me or certain life decisions - that’s for sure.
Chris: The lessons that I’ve learned are honestly quite simple. You truly do not need a million and one things to navigate through life! I feel like simple living, minimal living, is LIVING!
What are your goals in living simply?
Anna: I don't think I have goals with living simple. It’s almost a skill set that I’ve now acquired. Kind of a bonus in life. I guess my goal would be not to forget this invaluable tool.
Chris: One of my biggest challenges as a minimalist is the ability to filter through what is important or sentimental and what’s just simply junk. There are some things that one would like today and dislike tomorrow. I want to have things in my life that are more timeless and don’t have an expiration date on it if that makes sense. Basically, my goal is to have a tighter grip on the amount of things I have at any given time and to just get more time to spend on the things that matter most to me!
Has minimalism impacted other areas of your life?
Anna: It has impacted everything from the way I eat to the way I set my goals. Sometimes you need to spend less to have more, work less to art more and slow down to see real progress. Yes, I used art as a verb!
Chris: Minimalism has impacted all aspects of our lives. When you think about the average American, most people spend so much money on consuming things on a weekly and monthly basis that they don’t even realize how excessive it actually is. So we’ve learned how to not be affected by the force feeding of items being advertised in the media. We know when we should or shouldn’t be purchasing things. If we need to make a purchase it’s definitely going to be something that can last for a very long time and not some trendy item that’s just going to fizzle out anyway.
Minimalism has also affected the way that we generally think. I remember for a long time, we did not own a television and anytime that we had company people thought it was so weird! It wasn’t that we could not afford a television, because the truth is we could’ve purchased TVs for each room if we wanted to. At that specific time in life, we didn’t feel a strong desire for a television. We didn’t want to spend money on TVs. Especially, considering that we already had a very nice Mac Desktop computer where we would watch Hulu or Netflix on our time, when we felt like it. People didn’t understand us at that time! We simply were not giving into consumerism. We were also not being slaves to watching countless hours of television per night. I mean who says that every person in America has to own a TV and sit up and watch 4+ hours of TV per night? We were just not interested in that, and the more we stuck with it, the less “weird” people thought it was.
What if any surprises or challenges have you encountered?
Anna: One challenge that I have encountered is pretty much the issues with all labels. You can get so caught up in the name and trying to fit perfectly into a box that it becomes a burden. There is nothing wrong with wanting or appreciating material objects. Just know that they are just that. Materials. There is no wrong way to be a minimalist.
Chris: For me, I wouldn’t really say that there are many challenges just because when I set my mind to do something, it is rather easy for me to stick with it. For example, I recently decided to go vegan after toying with the idea and having tried the pescatarian and vegetarian lifestyles before. I cut out all animal derived products and I simply do not have those cravings at all. I believe that becoming a minimalist has taught me to not be attached to things in any way so it makes it easier to set out and actually do many things!
I will say that I was definitely surprised by peoples reactions of how I decided to live my life. Many people thought that it was weird, but, who’s to say what’s “weird” or what’s normal. Being different from peers or choosing to live a different lifestyle is in fact not weird at all, it’s perfectly normal!
What mindset changes have you experienced?
Anna: I used to get really bad anxiety and still do from time to time when making purchases. I would constantly return items trying to get the best product for the best price. It was nerve wrecking. I definitely value my time a lot more than i do saving half a dollar on lotion.
Chris: I am just simply able to think a lot better and clearer. I am not attached to anything. Ok, maybe my camera, but that’s how I make a living so that would be considered a meaningful item in my life : ). Again, it’s totally ok to have things, just make sure they are meaningful and have a place in your life. Avoid being excessive!
What advice do you have for someone interested in simplifying their life?
Anna: My advice would be so go at your own pace. You dont have to own a certain number of items and you don’t have to be voluntarily homeless. Maybe get rid of 5 items and minimize how many errands you run on a given weekend. That’s 5 less things you don’t have to care for and a ton of time you’ve given back to yourself.
Chris: I would say to start with reading Do Less by Rachel Jonat, it provides great great detail and ideals of why we should be living life in a more simple way! From there, take it day by day and learn more about yourself and the things that are meaningful to you. Learn how to filter out clutter in your life. That can be anything from relationships that are energy draining to materialistic items. It definitely takes time, but becoming minimal and living a simple life is worth it!
What does being a black minimalist mean to you?
Anna: It means shaping a generation of people who see wealth in themselves. I want black people to see themselves and know that they are dope AF with or without the gimmicks. I mean, YOU’RE BLACK! You’re already dope AF!
Chris: Going against the norm or perception of what is expected of an African American. Especially, an African American Male! Being a black minimalist and having black minimalist peers is super inspiring!
Where can we learn more about you?
Chris: You can keep up with me online at www.christophermichaelvisual.com.