Kirstin’s Writing Portfolio

Sample Writing (Blogs)

Gunnar’s Mother:

Empathy: A Lesson in Saving My Family

The Squirrel and the Man who came after

Five Fun Free things to do with Baby

Why I go to the Y

Thoughts on Theatre:

White Whale

Contributing Writer:

Northlight Theatre Blog

So Loon Car Fee

HOW TRAVELING TURNED ME ON TO MINIMALISM

The idea of simple living sparked a low burning flame in me many moons ago. But like most sparks that come to me, I put it on a distant back burner and let it simmer there until I understood what to do with it. 

Growing up in the middle of a suburban plain in Colorado, my early life was centered around convenience and the mindset that more is more.  One of my favorite activities as a teenager was touring lavish model homes and dreaming of one day buying the biggest house on the block and imagining the extravagant things I might fill it with. 

It wasn’t until I spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, living with a host family that I came to see a different way of living. My host family lived in a 4th-floor walk-up, a modest three bedroom flat, maybe 1,100 square feet with one small bathroom. My host mother, Carmen, a kind and gentle single mother of one, was a former teacher who retired and hosted foreign exchange students to make ends meet. I was so thrilled with this placement, especially when I learned her cat, Prischa, was soon expecting kittens. Dinners were my favorite part of the day, Carmen, an incredible chef, often prepared five-course meals complete with homemade soups and dessert. Once the kittens were born there wasn’t anything more I could want in a home. Coming back to that flat on Borgo la Croce was heaven. Carmen was a true mother away from home, she comforted me when I was sick and hugged me when I cried (this only happened once when my favorite kitten was given away while we were gone…Carmen cared so much that she phoned the family immediately and arranged for the kitten to come back and visit so I could say a formal goodbye). 

From what I could tell, Carmen spent her days shopping and cooking. I remember being completely shocked by the lack of convenience in Florence. There were very few “grocery stores” and the grocery stores we did find, were about the size of a suburban 7-11, with less than half of the things you might go looking to find there. I was astonished and also completely smitten with this “slow-paced” society. Although I was living in a city, the streets were too narrow for most cars and almost everyone traveled by foot or motorbike. If you wanted meat you went to the butcher, if you wanted bread, you went to the baker. It was no wonder why prepping for a meal could be a day-long event, there was nothing convenient about this lifestyle, and I loved it.

Years later when I returned to Europe for another study abroad, this time in London, I took a weekend trip back to Florence to visit Carmen.  I packed everything I needed for that 3-day trip in my medium sized purse and nothing more. When we stepped off the train, I deliberately decided not to buy a map and told my feet to find their way back to Carmen’s door. My heart nearly exploded as I turned each corner remembering my way home and tears pooled in my eyes when I heard Carmen’s voice calling my name from the top floor flat. Even Prischa greeted me like an old friend. 

Carmen decided to explore the city that weekend with my friend Hannah and I, and I remember feeling this rush of euphoria the whole time, and it wasn’t just because we stopped to eat gelato whenever we pleased. Everything I needed was in a tiny bag and nothing mattered more than the company of these two incredible women and the sites of this beautiful city before us. I will never forget how it felt to sit beside Hannah and Carmen speechless as we watched the sunset behind the Duomo. I can’t explain what it is exactly, but something about the slow simple culture in Italy opened my eyes to perspectives I’d never considered before. Happiness isn’t found in large expansive homes, its found in the enjoyment of the people and the culture around us. 

When I think about my time abroad, I remember the freedom of living with less and how meaningful each day could be without the burden of having more. This is why my path into minimalism has brought more joy than regret. Everything I let go of brings me one step closer to that euphoria and lightness of needing nothing more than the company of loved ones around me. 


STORIES (Instagram) and Poetry