In May 2015, Brooke Moore had a strong urge to simplify her home. She and her husband were raising two young kids, and Brooke's resilience was already low as she'd tragically lost her brother six months earlier. She drove a few carloads of stuff to her local thrift store, but had no idea she had taken the first steps in what would become a beautiful journey to minimalist living.
Brooke found that this new minimalist lifestyle was exactly what she needed to move forward And she hasn’t turned back. Brooke started a consulting business, Simplify With Brooke, where she helps others learn to transition to a low-stuff, low-waste lifestyle.
What does the good life mean to you? How did you come to this vision?
The good life is based on experiences. It’s about being present to the people in our lives and spending time doing what we love. Getting to my present day life was a process for me, which started with donating a bunch of items. I was grieving the loss of my brother while caring for a baby and toddler. Though I couldn’t name it at the time, I later realized what I was craving: voluntary simplicity—a life that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich.
As I cleared out extraneous items in our home (75 percent of everything under our roof, by the time I finished), I found that I actually gained so much. I gained a renewed mental clarity, a fresh sense of creativity, more time, and more energy. That’s what minimalism is about at its core: clearing out the things that are not important to us, in order to make room for the things that do matter. In my case, I didn’t know what new adventures were awaiting me until I made room for them.
What is the one thing you enjoy most about your lifestyle?
I love how free we are. Living minimally and being very low-waste (inspired by Bea Johnson’s book, Zero Waste Home) means that we have a lot of time to spend in nature. That is where the four of us are the happiest. We don’t spend a lot of time tidying up our home because there is not much to tidy!
Is there anything about your life you wish you could change?
New Dream posted a video—Visualizing A Plentitude Economy—and it really stuck with me. The ideas from the video have me wanting to see a cultural shift where Americans (particularly my husband!) could work 30 hours per week instead of 40—or even telework more. Financially, that option is manageable for minimalist families because you're not spending a lot of money on new things.
I’d also love to explore communal living, but again, a cultural shift needs to take place where houses are smaller and clustered together around an area where all of the families can cook together, play together, etc. Currently our neighborhoods are not set up for that style of living.
Tell us about the work you do.
I spend most of my time having adventures with my two boys, Ronin (age 3) and Everett (17 months). To be honest, I also spend a fair amount of time dealing with fussing and tears. Parenting is awesome, but it's hard work!
I also oversee my business, simplifywithbrooke.com, where I help my clients minimize their possessions so that they have only want they use and/or love, and I blog about simplifying.
Describe ways in which you are involved in your community.
I am leading a series of talks at Historic Takoma Inc. on Low Waste Living, where I share stories and advice. I also volunteer every December at our neighborhood Alternative Gift Fair, which allows people to buy donations (on behalf of others) to help people and animals in need.
For many, your lifestyle is considered “outside the mainstream.” Does this present any challenges, and, if so, how do you deal with them?
It does present challenges. At times, it is discouraging trying to keep our footprint small because it feels like everyone wants to give you a plastic bag, even as you’re practically shouting, “it’s ok, I brought a cloth bag for my loaf of bread!” Also, loved ones sometimes have difficulty understanding our choices.
Please describe any new hobbies that you’re excited about, or that you would love to learn if you had the time and resources.
For many years I wanted to eat a more vegan diet, and once I simplified, I found a new mental capacity for trying different recipes (plant-based meals). That’s very exciting for me! I’m also excited to be involved in raising awareness about the rights of infant boys to be free from unnecessary circumcisions (for more info, watch this video).
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
When I was pregnant with my first child, my midwife said to let our baby teach us what s/he needs from us. So that is exactly what we did: if our son was showing me he wanted to nurse, I nursed him! Even if he had just nursed 45 minutes ago. To this day, that is still how we raise our children—letting them guide us in what foods they’d like to try, activities they want to explore, etc.
And, as it turns out, one thing I have found is that children and babies don’t need much stuff—even though marketers try to tell us the opposite.
My life is beautiful. I am grateful for my sweet boys and my loving husband. I would love to hear from anyone out there who has a desire to simplify!
New Dream's "Living the Dream" series profiles folks from around the world who are living lives focused on “more of what matters.” If you or someone you know is living the New Dream, please contact us—we're looking for inspiring stories to share!