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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.