How I started minimalism and whyPin

Becoming a Minimalist Wasn’t For Me – Until it Was

Last Updated on 3 years by Iva Ursano

I had it all. Almost. I mean, the big house in the posh neighbourhood I left a couple of years ago along with the unhappy relationship but aside from that, I had a pretty good job.

I had a nice apartment. I had a great SUV that I loved, I had enough jewelry to open up my own store. Coats and purses, and shoes and boots.  I had lots, I had everything.

So you’re probably wondering why I turned to a minimalism lifestyle then.

The materialistic life was a colourful one. It was beautiful. Nice things to show off. Big house to entertain in. Super SUV to get around the town in to get back and forth to a job that I hated to buy things I didn’t need to put in my nice apartment that was too expensive for its own good.

Only to realize at the end of the month, I had more bills than I had money. Damn, messed up again.  Was I ever gonna get the budget thing figured out? Not likely. It was time to look into minimalism life.

The journey to minimalism

I found it in the spring of 2015 when I ventured off on a volunteer mission to Costa Rica for 3 weeks.

It had been 1 year since I left my relationship and I was finally starting to do things I’ve always wanted to do. Things that I never could.

It was time. It was time to discover this life of mine and this world to see what it had to offer me. There had to be something better than this crappy little town in Northern Ontario where it snowed for too long and was cold and expensive and SO unprogressive.

There had to be something better and I was determined to find it. And I did. And off I went to a third world country.

I found it in a tiny poor town in Costa Rica. A town where everyone smiled, no matter what. A town where people really were just happy to have a roof over their head, a shoddy one at that time but at least it existed, some food on the table and family to love them and laugh with at the dinner table.

I saw happy people and smiley faces without jewelry and cars and fancy homes. This was foreign to me. How can this be? This opened my eyes even more to a minimalism life that I was sure I could pull off.

After three weeks in and I got it. I finally got it. I finally  understood how a minimalism life truly is amazing.

There’s no place like home.

Nope, there’s no place like home, if you know where home is and the purpose it is supposed to serve. I didn’t know where home was but I was willing to go find it. I knew it wasn’t Sudbury. It was comfortable but that doesn’t always mean home.

It just means you are here, you live here, it’s well known, it’s safe and this is where you stay. It was time to bolt, and really find home. Where does my heart want to go? What’s calling me? Where do I belong?

I desperately longed to find a place and call it home.

I desperately wanted to belong somewhere. A place where my heart was happy.

I just wanted to be “home”.

Everyone goes on and on about home and here I was at 52 years old still with no “home” to call my own. If turning to a minimalist lifestyle meant home for me then I was willing and prepared to give it a shot

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The start of my minimalism

Upon returning back to Sudbury from Costa Rica it was clear to me what I had to do. It was time to get rid of all my stuff, ALL my stuff and head back down to Central America.

I wanted to be happy like all these people were. I wanted that sweet simple easy life. The simple life where everyone was just happy to be alive. Smiling, loving and simple. I totally understood it now.

I got rid of all my things and started my online search. Where was I going this time? And how was I going to pull it off? I knew right then and there, the next place I went to, wasn’t going to be for 3 weeks.

I was gonna be there for the long haul.  I knew it and felt it in my heart of hearts. It was time to go. I didn’t know where or when or how, but I knew it was going to happen.

And it did. I called out to the universe and the universe answered back in colour. The universe found a home for me and I was more than willing and raring to head there. As fast as I could.

Honey, I’m home!

October 2, 2015 I plopped my bags down in Panajachel, Guatemala. I was unsure. It was poor, stinky, dirty, hot, loud and busy. I had two suitcases. 53 years of my life was stuffed into 2 bags.

I was happy. Scared, but happy.

And so my life began. As the days unfolded, it dawned on me. It was very clear to me.  As I walked down the streets lined with vendors, old ladies smiling, kids playing, young men selling jewelry (no thanx, none for me).

The sites, the sounds, the smells (yes even the dog poop). The energy was alive and beautiful. So beautiful.

I was home, in a third world country. With nothing but two suitcases. My heart was full. So full.

Peace and Love


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  1. I guess I would do this once i am done with my project just get out of here and just go to the people who live life as simple but happy, for this is what i have been doing all these years, thanks for the article.

    At 52 years old and not satisfied, I have reason to be satisfied with this current situation but I guess it is time for me to allow myself to find peace and enjoy being with grassroot and common people lifestyle, I would certainly do this once i have this project completed, am off to enjoy my life of what has been a miserable 52 years of it, thanks again for this insight for I was contemplating on doing this for the past 3 months but was not sure, but i guess I will do it now.

    I could not get my love of my life and heart so why waste this time and moment on something that has been tearing my heart apart, better go and forget my sorrows by living with these people and drown out these failure in love with these people for that was what i was doing, helping poor local people and enjoy the satisfaction when we accomplished small things and would help me forget my failure in life especially my love of my heart and life.

    1. Yup just go do it. And stop using the word failure so much. It’s a bad word!!

  2. It was inspiring reading your life experience. And brave of you to have closed that old chapter and opened a new one! many just dream of that, but you have done it. Bravo! May all you have all the happiness and best wishes in your new home.

    1. Hey Sabitha thanx for your comment. Brave, yes and terrifying but something I had to do and so glad I did :)

  3. I’va, your Truly an ANGEL!! If I was younger I would join you!!
    I lived in Puerto Rico in 1963 I understand the the lives of the poor!

    God be with you through your life journey!!!

    1. Thank you Margaret I always appreciate you xoxo


  4. Hi Iva, if you don’t mind my asking what do you do to pay the bills? What about your family, do you see them alot? I understand the challenge living in a material world and trying to maintain a healthy spiritual existence, but that is such a leap. I applaud your courage and self assurance, all the best to you. Share the love.

    1. Hi Dennis. I became a full time freelancer in 2016 so it was easy for me to pick up and go anywhere. It took time to get to that point in my career but I’m there now. :) Family I can fb chat/video call with. It was a huge leap but I don’t do anything too small. What’s the point?..;) Thank you for your comment and your kind words


  5. Done that too. Early retirement due to illness (which has improved a lot now) and packed it up my life in 3 suitcases and returned to the Philippines where I had worked a couple of times before. Okay, it hasn’t always been easy and nothing has happened the way I expected, but I am happy. Have an adopted family, friends and a very simple life. Sure there have been challenges but I am happy. Most of all I am loved and cared for and can return that love and caring as well. No regrets!

    1. Sounds like you had a nice full life too David! Good on ya! Definitely not always easy but worth it. Thank you for reading and commenting.


  6. WOW! God is so good! And, if you listen, you will hear him!!! For years I wanted to go off into the mission field. Yeah. Right. With 2 young children and a husband that was not a believer. I tucked that desire into the depths of music soul. I would appreciate the stay-at-home privilege most could not have. Then the day came when my part-time job needed to become a full-time job because he was ‘done’. Got my oldest tucked away in college & moved out; took 2 years, but it finally happened. Long story short, I recently moved, lock, stock & barrel, to be near my oldest who was married now. Now that I’m here, she doesn’t have the time of day for me being married, mother of a 1 year old and a teaching occupation. I have immersed myself in my job and friends I have made, with my faith a strong factor. Praying and asking what do I have a passion for? Why am I here and what is my purpose? My mission field desire came front & center! Have to admit, that scared the SHIT out of me! I’m not sure why? I am responsible for me, myself and I! I have tucked it back again, but not in the depths like before. It is now on my short goal list! I have been getting rid of stuff since my move & now live in a small studio apartment–don’t even have that much to get rid of! Praying for guidance and empowerment! Love you, Iva!

    1. What a story!! Thanx for sharing Darlene!! My mission vision was always on the back burner until one day it practically bit me on the ass. My life has never been the same, or happier, since that experience. I hope you come down here one day :)

      Iva xo

  7. That is so inspiring. I am not a traveller but have taken stock of my life recently by being grounded and doing lots of work on myself and I realise that my life is the best just where I am. I was restless and seeking something for many years to discover I had it all the time. Yes it rains, yes it can be cold but there is more to a full and enriched life than weather. I have real friends.They are my family.

    1. We all find happiness and joy in different things. Glad you found yours! Thanx for your comment and visiting the blog :)

      Iva xo

  8. This is such an inspiration, holy cow! You’re amazing!! And that last line (re: the margarita) made me quite literally LOL.

    1. Awe thanx Amber. You are amazing too and I really enjoyed our talk today. Thank you for being you xoxoxox

  9. Hi Iva,
    I just love all of your posts, the way you tell your life to the world is just simply sincere and touching.
    Some people who have the similar life experience like yours can learn and will probably take the same path as you did.
    We sometimes already knew what to be done to make our lives better and happier but just do not want to leave our branded bags and jewelries and luxurious cars and houses, so they are still where they are, unhappy living in a materialistic life.
    I learned life in a hard way myself, I made lots of mistakes and shits almost 3/4 of my life and now end up in a big whole and struggling to be back to the surface and breathe happiness again.
    Thank you for the lessons in life,
    Spirit lives when man dies..

    1. Hey thanx so much for that Erick. WE all learn the hard way, I don’t think there is an easy way to learn but it’s all perspective. I love your closing line. xo

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