By Kerry Slavens

 Each year, as I edit YAM’s Home Issue, I’m reminded that home isn’t just a place — it’s a state of being. This became crystal clear to me recently when my husband and I cut our living space almost in half in order to fit into the downtown condo we wanted. 

As it turns out, not only did we change addresses, we ultimately changed ourselves. During the process of editing our belongings down to fit our new space, we not only got rid of clutter, we also got rid of outdated notions of who we were and what we were holding onto. 

A lot of people have since asked me how our lives have changed, and if I miss anything we sold or gave away. Truly, I can’t even remember most of it. What I can tell you is that getting rid of stuff created space in our lives for a cascade of positive changes in almost every area, including wellness. 

Five months into living in our new place, we decided to apply the same principles of minimalism to our diets by eliminating meat, dairy, gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners. Hello, veganism.

It was a huge change because we love steak, butter chicken, and, yes, cheese. And I won’t lie, the first week or so was rough. Even though I was eating enough, my body tried to trick me into thinking it needed meat, dairy and sweets to survive.

It wanted butter chicken, cream in coffee, and cheese. But what it really wanted was Diet Coke — I had no idea I’d been so addicted!

By week three, my body began to adjust. I noticed a massive jump in energy, along with a flatter (albeit not completely flat) belly. By this point, we decided we had to learn vegan cooking, because salads can get very boring. So hello raw cashews, tempeh, chickpeas and nutritional yeast. 

Some people in my family like to talk about all the things my husband and I have “given up” since we downsized and changed our diets. But trust me, I haven’t given up anything except extra emotional and physical baggage and some extra inches around my waist.

I’m no puritan — I believe life is to be enjoyed, and that means creating space for fun and serendipity. As blogger Jacob Jolibos wrote on No Sidebar: “Leaving room for happenstance might be one of the single greatest adventures of your life.”

This article is from the March/April 2019 issue of YAM.