BLACK MINIMALISTS: KELVIN BELFON
I found Kelvin like I've found most of the black minimalists, combing the internet. He was featured in my first edition of Black Minimalists on the Web. Kelvin blogs about simple living on his site Going Uncomplicated and is also a speaker, coach, and recruiter. Kelvin is one of the few black minimalist men I've met and I'm honored to hold this space for him.
When and why did you start your minimalist journey?
In 2013 our family relocated to the city of Denver, Colorado. We were excited to begin a new chapter in our lives. After completing the initial walk-through of the 2-bedroom rental, I knew our new home was too small.
I thought about renting a storage unit for our overflow; but it would be an added cost and something else to keep up with.
As we were unloading the moving truck, a garbage bag full of CDs one of our moving helpers was carrying broke. Then, he made this really random, but pretty convicting comment, “Dude, have you guys ever thought about not carrying all these CDs around? Why don’t you just go digital?”
We had actually gotten rid of a lot of stuff before our relocation. We knew we were moving from a medium-sized home in the suburbs to a small townhouse in the city. Still, our downsizing wasn’t enough.
That guy’s comment did a lot for me. It was embarrassing and made me feel like a hoarder. But it also forced me to interrogate my priorities, “Why am I keeping collections of things I no longer use on a regular basis?”
Once we got everything in the house and started to unpack over the next few weeks, that guy's remark kept playing over and over in my mind. Within a few months, my wife and I started purging and our minimalism journey started.
What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?
Large families can be minimalist too. It just looks a little different. We are a family of 6! In our home we struggle to keep toys, clothing, and school papers in their proper place. The issue is not abundance, it’s organization. That can be tricky to negotiate with a 7 year old boy, a 4 year old girl, and twin toddlers who like to explore.
Keeping up a minimalist commitment can also get tricky when school flyers and the children’s wish lists start crowding in. But the benefits of minimalism are well worth the effort of doing simple things like having a meeting with the children’s teachers requesting not to receive nonessential flyers and handouts at home. So we’ve found ways to make it work for us!
Minimalism is more than decluttering stuff. Our family started minimizing the physical possessions. But in the process we also have started eliminating some debt, detoxifying our minds of self-sabotaging thoughts, removing unhealthy relationships, practicing mindfulness, eating healthier, and becoming eco-friendly.
I’ve also learned that my minimalism can help others. In minimalism one eliminates the unnecessary. This can help save time, money, and even live a healthier life. But beyond the personal benefits, practicing minimalism can help us contribute more to charity, serve others in our community or those in others countries around the world (a passion of mine!).
What are your goals in living simply?
Our family plans is to continue going uncomplicated till we reach a “comfortable” level. We also plan to become debt free. Last, I’ll like to help others simplify through education, coaching and speaking. I believe most people want to simplify, but are not sure where or how to begin.
Has minimalism impacted other areas of your life?
Oh yes it has...big time. I’m more intentional about the people I allow in my personal circle. I love to help and serve others. But in the past, I’ve had trouble saying “no” and allowed others to take advantage of my loyalty.
In practicing minimalism, I’ve learned to develop healthy boundaries and protect my family in the process.
I’ve also become intentional about caring for my body. I’m not a vegetarian…yet. But I try to eat healthier while avoiding processed foods, fast foods and so on. When possible I exercise in order to stay active.
What, if any, surprises or challenges have you encountered?
Hmmm. I have a full time and part time job. My wife is a full time PhD student. We have a 7 and 4 year old in school. And then there are our 20-month old twins who’ve become extremely active around the house. We are a busy family. Some seasons are easier than others, especially when my wife is not in class.
Ideally, we would like to be far less busy so that we have more time to relax, read, and write. But we’ve had to adjust those expectations, go with the flow, and enjoy as much time together as a family as possible. The key has been to avoid getting on a guilt trip about things. One thing remains true: It’s all about family for these minimalists!
What mindset changes have you experienced?
I was raised in the Caribbean with little personal possessions. Since relocating to the US, I’ve accumulated lots of possessions. For immigrants like me, the acquisition of things is a symbol of having a good work ethic.
Material belongings are not inherently evil. I still own a few myself. But my values have changed. I’m no longer pursuing the typical American Dream, seeking happiness in things or comparing myself to the others.
The people in my life are my priority. These are my wife, children, and close friends. People, I believe, are more important than things!
What advice do you have for someone interested in simplifying his life?
Start. Take the plunge! Make the decision to simplify. Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. Be patient with the progress. Remember, it took years to accumulate your possessions, so it may take a while to minimize.
Avoid comparing yourself with others. There is no one way to simplicity. Everyone must find his/her own sweet spot! You are not alone. Find healthy supportive community voices like Yolanda for encouragement and inspiration.
Where can we learn more about you?
I blog about minimalism, family, relationships, travel and more on GoingUncomplicated.com
Anything you would like to add?
Minimalism is not the end game. It’s only a tool to help us eliminate life’s distractions. Focus on your priorities…not the methodology.