Black Minimalist: Whitney Alese
When and why did you start your minimalist journey?
I guess it goes as far back as the end of my marriage. My now ex-husband and I separated abruptly. It was traumatic for me. I also lost my home and our child in the process, all within mere months of each other. I coped by shopping. I have always loved to shop, but in that season, it was exacerbated dramatically. I wanted to fill every space, not realizing that the vacancy I felt was not within my home, but within myself.
One of the first signs of healing was looking around at my apartment and saying “I need to make space.” I wanted to clear out my space. I felt the only connection between these things was the sadness I felt but refused to deal with.
I began clearing out my closet every time the season changed over to find bags and bags full of clothes, more than anyone could wear in a year, let alone a season. I didn’t really have a name for what I was doing until discovering the Christian discipline of simplicity. I started stripping down to having only what I actually use and only buying what I need as a way to combat greed.
By the end of 2017, into the beginning of this year, I became serious. I rid my home of 50 books, boxes of dishes, kitchen items, and clothes.
What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?
Where do I start?! There have been so many good ones!
I guess one of the biggest lessons is really analyzing my desires. I thought that the quick fix of a thrifted find or an item on sale would make me feel better. That high I achieved from the find literally lasted until I made it to my front door. And the cycle would happen all over again. I felt so encumbered by my own sadness and by all of things I was collecting that I had no real connection too other than that sadness.
Now, I am emotionally healthy enough to analyze what I am feeling. I can say to myself “Do I really want this thing? Or do I feel some kind of void that needs examining?”
Now, I buy things because I want to buy then, not cover up a feeling or inadequacy. I feel more connected to the things I buy and wear because they are things that I deeply want and love and wear all the time.
What are your goals in living simply?
My goals are just that, to simplify my life, in every way I possibly can. If that means a fully decluttered kitchen and a closet of things that honor my style and my body in the place where it is at right now, then so be it. If it means decluttering my emotions so I can get to the raw, unfiltered pieces of why I really feel the way I feel in order to feel it fully, then so be it.
Has minimalism impacted other areas of your life?
I have already talked about my emotional wellbeing. But minimalism has also effected me in the area of generosity as well. This year in particular, I have been led to be more generous, in particular, living with the mindset of an open hand. The idea is, as my hand is open, not clenched tightly around things I am greedy for, but extended out to others, God gives me the opportunity to bless others in return. And minimalism helps me do that. By analyzing my needs fully, as I clear out things I don’t need, I get t bless families that do need things. And that is an experience money cannot buy.
What if any surprises or challenges have you encountered?
I was actually surprised how easy it was for me to let go of things. I thought particular things would be difficult to let go, but once I got started, it was much easier than I really thought.
I also was surprised about how much I loved space. I never knew I actually did. I am a collector. I have several collections that I am proud of, like a crystal and stone collection I have been collecting since I was about 8. I now display it proudly in the space I made by riding myself of a ton of books. But that is the only space I have cleared and put something in to replace. The rest of these reclaimed spaces I just enjoy in there empty, void state.
What mindset changes have you experienced?
I have learned the power and blessing of real generosity.
I have learned to be brave and allow myself to fully feel what I feel without the once necessary purchase of an item to placate those emotions and desires.
I have stopped equating ownership and possession to happiness.
And that open spaces, empty and void as they are are just as valuable and welcome as spaces filled with the things I cherish.
What advice do you have for someone interested in simplifying their life?
Go for it. Just take the step and start.
Start with things you don’t have any attachment to. For me, clothes were the easiest place because trends and style change all the time, and when I was paying $1 of a sweater at my favorite thrift store, it was easy to toss out. My jewelry on the other hand, every piece has a story or feeling attached, so that took significantly longer.
What does being a black minimalist mean to you?
Being a Black Minimalist means tapping back to what our ancestors taught us. We are descendants of people who came from a continent of abundance. And when you live in abundance, there was no need for greed or selfishness.
Generations later, so many of us are rejecting the notion of “the American Dream” being the big house, 4 cars, lots of stuff and extravagance. More of us are finding the extravagance of a debt free life, or financial responsibility, of inner peace and family. And its a beautiful thing.
Hi, my name is Whitney Alese. I am a writer, lifestyle blogger, and social media consultant. And I am a newbie minimalist.
You can read my daily journey in fashion, faith, and frugality on my blog (TheReclaimed.blogspot.com)
You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat @TheReclaimed.