Tag Archives: minimalism

lazy summer days

Summer days are meant for doing a certain amount of nothing.  It rarely seems the case these days, as I watch my friends and their children rushing to summer hockey camps, day camps, intensive swimming lessons, and a plethora of other activities to fill their summer days.

What happened to just having nothing to do?  To the days of going to the park and playing, or reading?  What happened to just being a kid?

This isn’t a popular perspective where I live, and I would wager it isn’t where you live either.  These days, everyone needs to be scheduled to the hilt, because if you aren’t busy, you are wasting your time, right?

Wrong.

There is so much benefit in just allowing yourself time to be.  Time to sit and just watch the day go by is so mentally therapeutic!  Being busy does not equal being productive.  This is something I have learned after years of having too much going on in my life.  There is still too much going on, but I am still a work in progress too.  I am officially on holidays for two weeks, and while my time clock may be stalled, work wise, my actions have not.  I still have lists of things I wish to accomplish during my time off, but I know full well that there are too many lists and too little time.  Where do I fit in time for me?

It’s ok to let the dust settle in the corners once in a while, or for the dishes to wait until morning.  We all need to recharge our batteries once in a while so that we can function optimally.  Don’t forget to take time out to relax and do nothing.  There is so much value in just being.

what do we really need?

I was fortunate enough over the past couple weeks to gain some perspective on the philosophy of minimalism.  I spent the better part of a week away, cultivating relationships with family friends.  During this time, I needed to choose what I would do with my down time in the evening.  I brought a couple minor things…a tablet to continue with my writing, some kitchen cotton to crochet some dishcloths-a minimal mental task that keeps my hands busy when I’m feeling tired, and my aromatherapy studies.

During the course of the week I discovered a couple things:  The space I was spending time with was peaceful with minimal items in the room.  It simply allowed the mind to rest.  I spent more time with people, interacting instead of spending time in front of distractions.  The tablet never came out until everyone was settled into their beds.  It was a good exercise in being present.

A valuable lesson came out of this experience for me.  I discovered that even though I hold on to the ideals and philosophies of minimalism, I am still finding that there is a lot of stuff that lives with me in my house.  After returning home, I looked at my house with a refreshed minimalism lens and began going through things to donate or discard as needed.  It was quite satisfying to shred fifteen year old documents, and provide a new home for clothing items that were gently used, or not used at all.  In the kon marie way, these items had served their purpose at the time, and now they needed to be thanked and sent on their way.

I still have a way to go, but it is a journey.  I am still ever grateful for the experience to refresh my determination to live a simple life.

simpler times

Heritage locations that showcase how life used to be lived can be a great reminder of just how far we have come.  It’s also a reminder of how much simpler life used to be.  People didn’t have computers, smart phones, or even robotics to help do their jobs.  They used good old muscle power.

I spent the day at one of these such sites this week.  I like to visit places like this alone and truly immerse myself in the sense of what it was truly like at that time.  Why?  Because I hope that the reminder will help me to appreciate what we have now.  Also, to remind me that we don’t need everything we have in this modern life we live.  It helps reinforce my minimalistic lifestyle and appreciate what I have and use daily even more.

We live a good life.  We don’t plow the fields with a horse drawn plow anymore.  Most of us don’t even have a need to grow our own food, so if we do, it is more of a hobby than a necessity.  Imagine the wonder that our ancestors would have had if they were told that growing food would become a hobby!

We are beyond fortunate.  We are spoiled with having immediate gratification.  Taking time to remember this perspective is grounding.  I am grateful for the reminder.

cultivating creativity

Creativity is a huge part of my world.  I see my world through the lens of a photographer, remember things with a writer’s pen, and dream with a painter’s brush.  My soul breathes creativity, and it warms my heart to know that my children have inherited that gene from me.  While it sometimes breeds frustration when we cannot achieve the product that we have dreamed of in our mind’s eye, the process is still very important.  As I watched my younger one crochet his own creations at the tender age of ten years old, he can see what he wants to create.  He has taken my guidance and moved beyond what I have given him and created more…turned it into his.

What comes with this territory is frustration, upset, sometimes a couple tears, but then it ends in pure joy.  The joy that you don’t get from buying an item, but one of soulful satisfaction for doing it yourself.  It may not be perfect.  It may not be the product envisioned, but it is a unique, one of a kind item that was created with love, determination, creativity, positive reinforcement, and joy.

do more of what you love

I have had a week where I was able to spend time doing the things I enjoy.  There were still things that needed to get done, like take the little ones to school and make dinner, but I did these things in a way that I preferred.

We walked to school, which is a convenient 5 minute walk.  We brought the dog both ways.  We didn’t need to use before and after school care this week, and that made a huge difference in how much time we had to do things together and the free time they had without having homework or meal time.  Our days suddenly gained a lot of time.

We made meals that were fun and delicious with organic whole foods that were deliciously vegetarian.  Dinner became a joy instead of a chore.

It’s amazing how the simple things take on more enjoyment when you have time.  Less stuff means less to clean.  Less to own means less to owe.  This gives way to freedom.  The less you need to work to pay the bills for the stuff you need to clean.  Seems pretty straightforward, no?  With less, you can do more of what you love.

the art of simplification

There is a lot of discussion about Minimialism, particularly since the documentary about Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (http://www.theminimalists.com)  came out.  It really isn’t anything new, but perhaps new to the masses who are caught up in commercialization.

I have been on my in and out journey through minimalism for years and years.  I know that I do feel better when my life is uncluttered.  I feel stress and anxiety when there is too much stuff in my house and in my life.  And I could suspect that you feel the same too, whether you recognize it at this moment or not.

I look at minimalism as a component of simplification of one’s life.  I think simplification truly is an art to achieve these days, what with all the social media and marketing proclaiming how we need this and we must have that.  Why you’re just not important if you don’t have x, y, and z.  I call bullshit.  We don’t need any of that stuff.  The big corporations need us to want that stuff.  The CEOs who make six, maybe even seven figures a year because they have convinced the masses that all this stuff is necessary in our lives.

Guess what?

They’re wrong.  So very very wrong.  We don’t need all that crap.  We don’t need to have the latest and greatest phone or computer.  We don’t need to spend a million dollars on a house just because that is what is expected.

What we need is to live within our means.  What we need is to be comfortable saying no to consumerism.  What we need is to spend more time with family and loved ones.  To spend time enjoying life without worrying about debt or clutter or how popular we are or how many friends we have and how we compare financially.  We need to get back to basics.  To live simply in all aspects of our lives.  To find joy everyday in the little things and be thankful for the chance to be here…the chance to wake up in the morning.  Not everyone has that same luxury.

Life in its simplicity is finding joy in the small things.  Recall that motto I posted a while back?  Life is lived in the mundane.  Let’s live.

the concept of happiness

I think we all struggle with being happy from time to time.  The ebbs and flows of the emotional sea don’t stay constant in an euphoric state.  There are a myriad of quotes that attempt to explain why it’s ok.  

Without the rain, there would never be rainbows.

Insert your favourite quote here…

Sometimes I think happiness is a choice.  Sometimes I struggle with the hand I’ve been dealt in life and wonder why I’ve been given what I have, then wallow in self pity because of it.  I think it safe to assume we have all been there.  

So here I am, contemplating this concept of happiness.  As I read more and more about those who have less and less, it really does appear to be a conscious decision on whether or not we choose to be happy.  Interesting concept.  I’ve been reading how we can only have enough energy to make so many decisions in one day, so paring down to necessary items can reduce the number of unnecessary decisions being made in a day which leaves you with the energy to focus on the more important  decisions.  Maybe there’s something to that.  Less trivial decisions mean you can devote time to the meaningful stuff. By not putting off the meaningful stuff means less stress of knowing there is a weight on your shoulders waiting for you to address it…that looming dark cloud of problems needing to be tackled.

Happiness as a choice means you choose to let some things go. Like in meditation, we notice those thoughts entering in, acknowledge them, and mentally sweep them away.  Perhaps unhappiness can be something like that in our consciousness.

What if happiness truly is independent of our possessions?

There are a lot of people who would argue against this statement.  Any business who depends on consumerism. If the concept of happiness independent of material goods caught on, many of these businesspeople would no longer be making their millions of dollars a year. My materialistic ex would never agree with this statement, particularly when he bought four brand-spanking-new vehicles in a span of two years.  But there are many, many people in our first world countries who choose to subscribe to this concept of minimalism and the decision to be happy.  This happiness seems to resonate on a higher frequency. This is something I have experienced. It is incredibly satisfying. Then to find the consumerism re-enter my life, slowly at first, it has made a negative impact on my life.  Decisions to clean and declutter make me depressed. It’s like a punishment that keeps me from doing what I love.  I want to create. I want to write, paint, be creative in my post production for my photography, but it all gets put aside because how do I justify doing things that bring me joy when I have a mess everywhere, no space to work, and have problems finding the things I would need to accomplish my creative product?

So, here.  This is the concept of happiness.  I am choosing to be happy. I am tackling the evils of consumerism and materialistic ways.  I am removing these unnecessary things from my space and allowing happiness to move in.  Happiness is a much better housemate. 

I choose happiness.

motivation to declutter

It takes making a mess in order to have things clean and tidy.  I know this, and perhaps sometimes that’s the deterrent to decluttering.  It’s already feeling like a mess, but I’m going to be making a bigger mess.

Keep the end product in mind though.  Decluttering and removing those unwanted, unloved, unneeded items will clear your space for those things you do want, love and need.  Removing those items that bring back hurtful memories and the past that you want and need to part with will also clear physical space for the joyful pieces, but more importantly, it removes the negative items from your head and heart, allowing you to move forward in your life.  One of the most liberating things I had done was finally removing my old wedding dress and wedding cake topper from my home.  Removing those key items from my house was in a way, permission to move forward with my life.  To say yes to my new path, and to be excited about it.

We all tend to collect stuff.  It’s a result of living in a consumer driven environment.  We end up with too much.  It becomes overwhelming.  We look at the mess, knowing we need to clean, but it becomes too much.  The mental work is exhausting.  Let’s put it off for another day…but that looming overhead creates mental clutter.

The mess you make today will serve you for tomorrow.  Don’t wait to get started.  The result is worth it.

the art of minimalism

I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot. Much of it has been blog posts and articles on minimalism.  I need that extra encouragement and motivation to get back to some simplicity, as many of us do from time to time.

When my exhusband and I first parted ways, I bought a home for myself and my sons. We didn’t have a lot to put into our home, and it seemed rather bare.  I wanted to buy quality furniture that would last for a good long time, but I also wanted it to fit into our lifestyle. I also didn’t want to go into debt just to furnish the house.  So, some pieces came from Ikea, or ikea-esk shops.  Relatively inexpensive, but will do the job needed until I was ready to get the real deal.  And it was fine to start with.  We were just incredibly happy to be moving on with life in a positive note. 

After about five months, I found the dining set that spoke to me.  It had a rustic style, was made with refurbished wood, and the hardware was handmade.  It spoke to me on so many levels.  The style, the reuse of resources, the handmade personal touches.  It felt very earthy and helped me feel connected to nature the way I like to be.   I had saved the money needed which was great because that meant I wasn’t going into debt to buy this gorgeous piece of furniture.  

This was the only piece of furniture I have purchased for the house.  In all fairness, we don’t need anything else at this point badly enough to warrant the spending.  But where we did go wrong was the little spending.  The toys that add up but don’t get played with.  The extra craft supplies that we bought without specific purpose but had grand ideas for.  The extra stuff for Christmas that really wasn’t needed, wanted, or used, but was bought for the sake of volume for Christmas morning. 

Clutter affects us in so many ways.  It affects us mentally because there’s this mess looming over our heads that we know needs cleaning.  The dust that accumulates because we can’t properly dust around the extra stuff.  We just feel better when there is less around us.  I know that, yet I still fell into the trap of having stuff.

So, over the next 50 days, I am embarking on a personal challenge to declutter my home, and prepare a healthy and welcoming environment.  What I am hoping to achieve is mental comfort, a clean home that houses simply what we need or truly want.  Those things that are no longer necessary need to go.  Those things that hold negative feelings and negative memories must leave the premises.  These things create mental clutter, which is just as harmful.  Once this is done, my creative living can have the freedom to expand into the open spaces. And for me, this is very important. 

I encourage everyone to consider how the things in your environment affect you…both good and bad.  Minimalism is not for everyone, and it looks different for everyone too.  What is the same is the stress relieving effect it should provide.