We live in a world where everyone is busy; the faster the pace, the better. But what would happen if we chose to slow down, even for a day? What would happen if we said no to all those things that are supposedly so important that we can’t make time for ourselves or our loved ones?
With the spending season upon us, and Black Friday happening a mere two days ago, we are being bombarded with advertisements and flyers to buy this and spend our money on that. But the things the stores are selling are far from the greatest gift you could give your child, spouse, or even your best friend.
My Black Friday evening, because I worked all day, was not spent shopping the so-called deals. My Black Friday was spent enjoying the company of one of my very best friends in the world. We gave each other the best give we could: our time and our attention. It was a lovely three or four hour visit, sitting in the corner of a quaint tapas bar. We enjoyed a couple glasses of red wine and a cheese board together as we took the time to catch up; to fill each other in on our lives. There we were, sitting inside in the dim ambiance, with a tea light candle at one side of the table, and beautiful pieces of art on the walls next to us. Outside, there was the bustle of the winter festival where we could see families passing by and enjoying the mild winter evening together. We watched as children explored the fire truck parked just across the street, and the horse drawn wagons pass by with children happily waving at patrons as they glided by, courtesy of the team of horses and their driver. We saw couples hand in hand as they walked past the window, smiling and clearly enjoying each other’s presence.
Time is more precious and more valuable than money. In my world, if I want to show someone how much I care, I give them the gift of my time. It is the most precious commodity I have. Consider this, as we enter into the holiday season. Consider re-thinking that expensive give in exchange for something that is far more precious and valuable. Give the gift of your time.
I love libraries. I love the smell of books, and seeing row upon row of books in the stacks. I love the nostalgia I feel when I enter a library and think back to my days as a preteen girl, spending my summer holidays amongst the millions of stories that lived within the library walls.
Libraries, I am afraid, seem to be losing their appeal. With the advent of ebooks, ereaders, and google, libraries seem to be less frequented by society as a whole. It saddened me recently when there was a vote in my community where a new library was proposed to be built, and more than half the votes declined building the new branch library. A part of my heart broke when the results were posted. It seemed to signal the end of an era: an era where everyday life could be escaped and instead lived in the adventures awaiting in the library stacks.
But libraries still do amazing things. They house audiobooks and videos alongside traditional paper books. They house events for writers and readers, programs for preschool, children and teenagers. They host author readings and interviews. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to photograph three published authors for my local library this past week. It was an honour to do so, and my nervousness quickly melted away as I had the chance to learn just a little bit of each author as a person, not just a master of the written word.
For those who still strive for simplicity in their lives, don’t forget about all the pleasures the library still provides. Revel in the books and stories still available within your reach without adding to the clutter in your minimalist home. Take in a book club discussion, or volunteer with other programs your library provides. It is worth it.
One of the things that I have noticed as I get older is how much I value having simplicity in my life. I value a quiet existence.
When I was younger and eager, I had grander plans for my career. I set myself up for a workaholic lifestyle. I was no stranger to this; my father did the same, and even now, he still continues to do so even though he should maybe be enjoying his retirement years. I worked hard, worked extra on my own hours assuming that this is what life was supposed to be, and at some point I would be rewarded with all the fruits of my labor.
It took a couple of decades (plus some) to realize that this is not the life I wanted. I did what I thought I was supposed to do, then at the end of every night I would crash into bed for a couple hours of sleep only to rise again early the next morning and do it all over again. I was exhausted, fuelled by caffeine and deeply unsatisfied even if I didn’t realize it at the time.
It took a major life event to change all of that for me. It took a complete upheaval in my personal and even professional life to realize that I was miserable with what I was doing, and looked at how I could change my life to enjoy what I had. The key was simple. The key was a simple life.
Your job or your career is only a means to an end. It does not define you. It finances your life but it is not who you are.
Once I looked at it in this way, my personal life began to flourish in ways I never saw before. I love my personal time now. I choose what to do with it. I take classes in what interests me, not what I think will give me more advantages for work. I create. I love. And sometimes, I do nothing. Doing nothing was a difficult concept to grasp, but now that I have released so many of the career-focused ideals I enforced upon myself, I can now see how wonderful and refreshing doing nothing really can be. I highly recommend it to anyone.
Enjoy your life. Relax. Take time to appreciate things. Do something for yourself. You won’t regret it.
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?
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.
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.