Kicking Writer’s Doubt in the Ass

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. 

When I was a child, my parents bought me a typewriter with those tall keys you have to really press down on to make the letter print on the paper. Later, they bought me an electronic one where you could even install a tippex ink ribbon to undo mistakes. 

I’d sit on the floor for hours writing horror stories and trying to emulate my favourite author at the time: RL.Stine. 

The trouble was, I never finished those stories. No matter how much my cousin loved reading them and begged me for the next part, no matter how many commendations I won at school for my story writing, I felt like a fraud. 

That feeling only worsened as I reached adulthood and wrote endless fanfictions which I never published. 

I started a book which I never finished too. One which I had high hopes for at the time which I felt could help others. 

The trouble was, that voice in the back of my head saying ‘Who do you think you are calling yourself a writer? Who would want to listen to the likes of you?’

And I listened. 

And I continued to write only to myself, saving my work but never showing a soul. 

The day I created this blog was the day I decided to give that voice a serious ass kicking. 

Who did it think it was to try to stifle my voice and stop me from sharing my beliefs? Who did it think it was to make me deny even one person who might get some value out of what I had to say?

Because when you don’t share your voice, that’s what happens. Someone misses out. 

Someone who really could have done with reading the words in the way that only you could write them. 

Not only that, but you starve your soul of the very thing that nourishes it. 

If you are a writer, no matter how ‘bad’ you think your writing is, you’ll feel it deep down. 

You need to write to feel better, you get grouchy when you don’t. You need to post. You’re itching to share your thoughts in long form. When you write, you feel a satisfaction you can’t explain and that nobody else seems to understand. 

If any of that sounds like you, what’re you doing continuing to read this? Get out there and write! Someone needs your words. The way that only you can craft them. 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Hooray It’s World Book Day – 12 Books Which Have Changed My Life

It’s World Book Day so grab a cuppa, curl up in your favourite chair and lose yourself in a great book.

Even if it’s ‘just for five minutes’, I implore you, sit down with a good book and realise that a whole hour has flown by.

I’ve always loved my books. I was that kid at school who loved being ‘punished’ by being forced to pull out my reading book in silence, and was annoyed when I had to put it away. Oh, and don’t even think about interrupting me in the middle of a sentence…

As a child I absolutely loved horror books, especially the Goosebumps series. Now I’m 34, and I’ve lost count of the number of self-help books, minimalism books, and other topics I’ve devoured over the years. I’ve also read a few gripping fiction books by some less-known indie authors on Kindle.

So, without further ado, here are some of my absolute favourites. Books which have changed my life, and which have stuck in my mind for some reason or other.

  1. The Joy of less by Francine Jay

The beautiful book that introduced me to minimalism. I love her writing style. Simple, easy to follow, and an inspiring call to action which will leave you feeling physically and spiritually lighter.

2. Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki

For me, this is the ultimate book on minimalism by an ordinary guy who decided he’d had enough of the chaotic, messy, and unhappy life he was living and changed his life through minimalism. He is what I consider to be an extreme minimalist.

3. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

In this book, Cait Flanders slowly changes her life from blackout binge drinker riddled with debt, to one of intention and freedom. This book will remind you that no matter where you are in life, you’re capable of achieving where you want to be. Inspiring stuff!

4. Adventures in Opting Out by Cait Flanders

This book couldn’t have come at a better time in my life, right when I was thinking about where I was going and why. Cait compares her outdoor adventures to real life conundrums we all have, and shares her nuggets of wisdom gained along the way. A truly wholesome book to read if you’re lost in life or wondering if you’re going the right way.

5. A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button

A recent read which shocked me to the core, and further propelled me into eco-friendly and zero-waste living. We all need to do our bit to save the planet, and this book is a great place to start and look at your own consumption habits. Also has a really helpful chapter on caring for certain materials.

6. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

This is one of the earlier self-help books I read and has stuck with me eversince. If you want to escape a life of mediocroty, or level up your mornings, read this. Then read the follow up; The Miracle Equation.

7. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

I’m a big fan of Jen Sincero’s writing, and this book truly made me feel powerful and opened my eyes. This is a book that talks a lot about The Law of Attraction (which I’m a big believer in), but even if you’re not, don’t dismiss this.

8. Zen: The Art of Simple Living by Shunmyo Masuno

A beautiful and simple book about Zen and simple living. The bite-sized concepts spoken about in this book are simply lovely and doable by anyone. It is a great reminder to slow down and appreciate life. I leave this one on my bedside table so I am reminded every morning.

9. What Extraordinary People Know by Anthony Moore

I love Anthony Moore’s articles on Medium.com. He writes openly and honestly about his own struggles and successes in escaping a mediocre life. When I found out he was writing a book I was really excited. Apparently, this book didn’t do too well but it is a gem with simple easy advice and lovely photos throughout. If you know you’re capable of more but stay stuck every day, don’t hesitate to pick this up.

10. Running For My Life by Rachel Ann Cullen

A very recent read which I raced through to the end on an emotional rollercoaster of sadness, hope, and inspiration. Rachel’s story is one of challenging severe mental health issues through her discovered outlet of running. This book had me almost in tears one minute, and feeling elated along with her the next. She just released a follow up called A Midlife Cyclist.

11. This Naked Mind by Annie Grace

If you’ve ever questioned your relationship with alcohol or tried and failed to quit time and again, I urge you to read this. Packed full of scientific information, and explores the internal reasons why you just can’t seem to stop. It’s also non-judgemental and shame-free reading. Tonnes of ‘aha!’ moments and dawning realisations.

12. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book is a classic but despite how old the text itself is, the advice is still incredibly valuable for today. Perfect for learning how to relate to others, build relationships, and negotiate in a positive manner with just about anybody.

And there you have it! My list of absolute favourites to adorn my shelf and subconscious.

Of course, there are way more, but to list them all would take significant time, and there’s even more I’m currently reading.

If you haven’t picked up a book in weeks, months, or even years, it’s never too late to fit in a good book that might just light a fire in you.

Who knows? You might discover something new about yourself.

Give it a chance and spare five minutes of your time for a book today.

Image by David Lezcano on Unsplash

Site transformation

I’ve wanted a great looking website for a while now; one that really conveys my theme and message. So that I can have the site I envision, I am working out how to transfer and eventually change over to Squarespace (which I tried out and loved because it’s so simple and intuitive).

Plus, I’ve changed and grown so exponentially that I feel like releflecting that with a new website and a fresh new design. Due to being so busy with my very demanding and very attached 5 month old, it could take a while, but I will get there as with everything else.

Stay tuned.

Why I Consider Myself An Extreme Minimalist

It’s the second year of writing on this blog, and over that time, I’ve grown while my pile of belongings have shrunk.

I’ve written a lot about minimalism and the process of decluttering, but since then, my mindset has changed, what I want has changed, and what I thought I needed to be happy has been challenged time and again. 

I am now what I consider to be an extreme minimalist. 

Minimalism is all about only keeping the things that you love, that you find useful and that bring value into your life. Once the physical aspect has reached a certain point, it extends into other areas of your life such as relationships, career, and personal values. 

Extreme minimalism is minimalism taken even further and isn’t something there is such a lot of out there on the internet. Many extreme minimalists have gone furniture-free to encourage more movement in their daily lives as well as introduce even more space to move around freely. They keep only what is essential for them and live as free as possible. 

What is essential will differ depending on the individual, and that will always be the case no matter what kind of minimalist you are. 

Some extreme minimalists I follow are Youheum on Heal Your Living, and Anja’s Artworld. While my lifestyle is different because I have a family and different hobbies, the extreme minimalist lifestyle very much appeals to me.

As I decluttered more and started asking myself big questions, I realised that I too, wanted more, by having even less. 

Of course, because I have a family, there’s only so far I can go. I can’t go furniture free, for example, as I would have done, because my family loves having a sofa, table and chairs. And that’s fine by me. Extreme minimalism isn’t for everyone, and I’m focusing on what I can do personally to minimise my own stuff so I can maximise my life. 

So far, I’ve got rid of about 80% of my stuff.

It’s strange to think I used to be an organised hoarder. The stuff I held onto caused drawers to break and arguments between me and fiance (now my husband). I didn’t know what I wanted out of life other than to collect and play as many videogames as possible and write fanfiction which I never published. 

I was simply surviving day to day, and was struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. 

Growing up, I had been taught that life is a constant struggle, that money is only for rich and/or crooked people, and that my dreams were unrealistic. For the longest time, I viewed successful people with suspicion and saw almost every opportunity as a con. 

It has taken many years of working on my past, working on my mindset, changing the stories I told myself on a regular basis and becoming minimalist, to unlearn all of that. 

My minimalist journey started a couple of years ago sometime after being confronted with my huge attic hoard by my mum.

Later, we moved into a house we would be sharing with my parents and for a time we had to live in the bedroom while a side extension was built onto the house so we would have our own living room and enough bedrooms for all of us.

Once complete, the living room was going to be very narrow and long, so I knew I had to be selective about my stuff. I wanted a fresh start, anyway. New furniture, new ornaments, new everything. 

Over time, I got rid of bags upon bags of clutter. I must have been walking to the charity shops every other other day because everyone in my family started commenting on it and making jokes out of it. “You’ll have nothing left”, “Their shop will be just full of your stuff”. 

Ironically, I did feel as if I had a shop full of stuff, yet none of it had brought me lasting joy. 

The more I got rid of the more free I felt, and the more my decluttering muscles built. But I also started to feel guilt for the amount of stuff I had mindlessly accumulated. Some of the stuff wasn’t even all that old and was something I had convinced myself I needed but then realised I didn’t or got bored of quickly. 

Some of it was gifts I had kept out of guilt and obligation. 

More recently, we’ve had our second child who is now almost 5 months old, and the gaming room we’ve had will soon need to become her bedroom. As a result, we’ve been slowly getting rid of our large collection of games and merchandise (definitely some of the hardest stuff for me to part with).  

Most of it, I realised, was just to show my identity as a gamer and as an interesting person. I used to want to be like my favourite Youtube game collectors and imagined one day showing it all off on camera. 

I wanted my friends to come over and be wowed as they looked over my awe-inspiring collection. 

Now I don’t want any of that.

Not only have I parted with a lot of my stuff, I’ve shed a lot of my ego and realised the things which are really important to me; writing, taking photos in nature, going on long walks. 

I’m not saying I no longer enjoy playing videogames; that’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was 4, and can’t imagine a life without. What I’m saying is, I want more out of life, and extreme minimalism seems to be the way for me to make room for that. 

I was tired of a layer of dust accumulating over everything. Fed up of dusting huge units of furniture. Exhausted with the decision fatigue when I didn’t know what game to pick. Bored of worrying about what might happen to my collection in any number of situations. 

I consider myself an extreme minimalist because I am almost entirely free of decor and things that might otherwise overload my senses visually, and I’m considering sitting on the floor more and on fold-away furniture to encourage a more active lifestyle. So far, my long walks have been doing wonders for my stamina. 

I’m already experiencing many of the benefits of extreme minimalism: 

  • Less things to clean and maintain, more time to relax, be with my family, or learn something new. 
  • Less visual clutter overloading my senses. 
  • The more money saved by not buying random tchotkes, the more I have to support me in what matters. 
  • Celebrations being focused on family and fun instead of stuff and storage (this is a work in progress as it involves others being on board). 
  • More space to think and for my kids to play freely. 
  • Space for my husband to set up his PC station for gaming and work, and still have plenty of entertainment area left.
  • Less worry about safety and getting angry at superfluous things getting broken by my kids. 
  • Room for growth and potential. 
  • Space for the big questions in life and for self discovery. 
  • Space for silence and a cup of tea just thinking about…nothing. 

I’m quite excited to continue my journey and wonder where I’ll be six months and even a year from now. Likely, I will be returning to posts like these as a fun way to check how far I’ve come. 

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

When Others Don’t Get It – How to Live The Life You Were Meant to Live

When you live a counter cultural lifestyle people will have something to say, usually by those closest to you. 

As I’ve become more and more minimalist, one of the silliest comments said to me is ‘’you won’t be happy until you’re living in a cave and shitting in a hole in the ground’. 

Pretty extreme, right? 

But, so what if that WAS the way I’d be happy? (I wouldn’t be, but still…what if?)

I also recently left Whatsapp and Facebook and some of the comments were ones of downright panic and exasperation. 

“But how will you keep in contact with people? It’s kind of stupid in this climate!”

But I knew that the damage it was doing to my long-term mental health and the time it was sapping were far worse a cost, so I have stuck to my decision with no feelings of guilt. 

As a result, I’ve felt 80% more present and see that I have more time than I ever realised, even if most of it is taken up by a screaming, teething 4-month-old at present. 

The people who I’m close to can still message or call me or vice versa so it isn’t a problem. 

You have to ignore the comments (which usually come from others’ own fears) and as my favourite writer , Anthony Moore, has quoted ‘Stay in your own lane’, for if you’re busy looking at others, you will crash.

On a similar note, Cait Flanders, author of Adventures in Opting Out’, quotes ‘Hike your own hike’. You don’t have to do what your friends are doing, or even what your family expects of you if where you’re going feels wrong to you. 

In her latest book Cait also says ‘ People can only see as far for you as they can see for themselves’, which, in my own experiences, I’ve found to be true. 

It’s like having a pair of glasses and then giving those glasses to a friend. Their vision is likely to be extremely blurry or the glasses won’t suit them at all. 

I was told I was crazy for making a sudden decision to take a counselling course out of nowhere (I had a dream about it)- which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I was told I’d never make it out there in the world by one of the closest people to me – yet here I am.

I was told that many things in my life were ‘just a phase’ but because I simply stayed true to myself and my beliefs, I am much happier for it and those ‘phases’ were actually important life changes that are improving my life to this day.

You have to do what feels right for YOU. I understand if, like me, you have a family, there may be compromises you have to make along the way, but, ultimately, your life is yours to live, the decisions yours to make. 

If you don’t live how you like now, the regrets later on will also be yours, and yours alone. 

Photo by Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash

When the Mask Falls – Discovering the Truth About Myself Through Minimalism and Slow Living

Some time has passed since my last post, but truthfully, I’ve been going through a few things, and I’ve also discovered something big about myself in the healing process. 

I’ll start by briefly mentioning that I’m in the process of healing for postnatal OCD, obsessively checking on my baby daughter, having terrible intrusive thoughts, and horrendous night terrors that have woken me almost as much as the baby. To say I’ve been exhausted is an understatement. 

My mind and body have been completely totalled. I was still going out for long daily walks but that itself wasn’t fixing anything. I couldn’t understand why I felt so completely overwhelmed even when things were calm. 

When I say I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, the only way I can describe it is like a constant deafening ‘noise’ in my head. Not literal noise. Just a feeling of so much going on that whenever there was a moment of silence and my baby napped, my head felt as if I had just been to a nightclub, then got home and sat in the silence with my head promising a hangover. 

This feeling isn’t new to me. I’ve often struggled with it and sometimes it’s even lead to the odd meltdown. Now, I do have an autism diagnosis, but to me that’s never felt like the whole picture. 

At night, I couldn’t wait to reach for the wine or the beer to ‘tone down’ the constant sensory overload I was feeling. Obviously, not a good thing. 

Well, a few weeks ago, I made a radical decision. I was going to dramatically tone down as much sensory stimulation coming at me as possible. This has meant leaving Facebook, leaving Whatsapp, not checking the news, not filling in silences, not playing intense videogames for a long period of time or before bed, and not checking my phone in the morning. 

The news has been constant source of worry and stress over things I can’t control, as well as yet another thing to keep me clicking and bombarding me with information. Why was I doing it to myself?

I was fed up with the urge to check all the time, losing hours to apps and then feeling as if I’d had no time to myself, fed up with feeling as if i had to respond on Whatsapp all the time (the app shows when a message has been read) and I simply don’t want that pressure to respond instantly. 

Nobody should have to feel that kind of pressure unless it is an emergency. 

For those reasons, I likely won’t be returning to Facebook at all or checking the news unless I absolutely have to.

I’ve taken breaks in the past thinking I would reset my habit and all would be fine. But because social media services are designed to exploit our minds and our need to be accepted, I know that isn’t going to happen which is why I’ve found myself time and again down the endless, noisy rabbit hole. 

I understand that in the current climate, the expectations to communicate digitally are heightened, but for me, it’s not been doing my mental health any good. 

With a 4 month old and a 6 year old autistic son, total peace is just not going to happen, so I’ve taken control of what I can so I can show up for my family as a better, calmer person, and hopefully continue to heal. 

I’ve been making a habit of colouring again as part of the healing process. Honestly, I had forgotten the joy and the peace of simply worrying about what colour to use next. I’ve also been just sitting in silence for long periods of time with my favourite beverage of choice (a calming herbal tea or some hot milk).

I’ve slowed down my walking speed instead of walking like I’m on some imaginary timer, and that had paid off because I captured some great photos I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. It seems that rushing around doing anything automatically makes my brain think I’m in a survival situation, so I’ve been intentionally slower with household chores as well, and in moving around the house. 

I make sure to feel the floor beneath my feet, whether that’s the warm cosy carpet of the bedroom between my toes, or the cool hard flooring of the living room. 

Mornings are now much slower. No longer do I rush to get myself and my son out the door to school. The stress was doing neither of us any good so I’ve started making time for cuddles and showing him the amazing sunrises from his bedroom window instead (to which he runs off to get his camera). 

I also make a point to braindump in my notebook every morning which is akin to emptying the household trash and is seriously refreshing. 

I’ve got rid of even more stuff. In fact, I now consider myself an extreme minimalist (which i want to talk about in another post). 

I’ve cut out chemicals and sprays which I was incredibly sensitive to and switched to all natural products instead. Even that has gone some way to reduce the overload on my senses. 

As I’ve slowed down and started noticing the signals my body is giving me, I’ve realised that caffeine is yet another thing I am sensitive to, which has been putting me into fight or flight mode without even realising. Without slowing down, I never would have noticed that as I chugged every cup of tea like I was on a timer.

In just over a week, my husband tells me I’ve not been waking up screaming as much, sometimes not at all, and I feel generally calmer in myself. More grounded. 

Now for the revelation I discovered about myself. And it was the brain-dumping and reducing the huge amounts of sensory input which lead to the realisation. 

I’m actually an extroverted HSP (Highly sensitive Person)

Why is that such a revelation, you ask? Because for pretty much my whole life I’ve ignored that and lived a loud, obnoxious lifestyle. 

Growing up I always had trouble making friends and being bullied, and a few other traumatic things happened in my life, so I acted out constantly. Later on, when I finally did make life-long friends, I acted silly and loud and hyper all the time (which quickly became a part of my identity with friends). I acted that way for so many years I forgot it had once been a mask. In fact, it was still a mask.

I wore this mask because deep down I feared being lonely and friendless and a little voice in my head told me I couldn’t be calm because I’d be seen as boring, that I’d lose the people close to me if I calmed down because there was nothing else about me. I continued to tell myself that story for the longest time. 

Sometimes people would comment and go ‘that’s very Emma’, or ‘that’s not very Emma-like’ which further cemented these fears I had to live up to this identity I had forged.

Even after receiving a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (which has calmed down somewhat after cutting out gluten and using more natural products) I carried on like I was, continually burning myself out. I wasn’t even aware I had been wearing a mask because it had become such an ingrained part of myself. 

The relief upon realising this was as if I had just dropped a heavy sack of potatoes I’d been carrying for years. I just stared and stared at the page where this had all come out of me, hardly able to believe it. 

That’s not the only thing that helped me come to the realisation I’m an (extroverted) HSP. I’ve been minimalist a few years now and have become more and more on the extreme side, wanting less and less visual distraction, craving peace and nature more than ever before. 

I found myself watching Youheum’s Heal your Living on Youtube (an extreme minimalist) just so I could feel the calm and because I love her incredibly serene, slow voice. But, strikingly, what made me watch these videos over and over, was that she talks about being a HSP, which is something I hadn’t heard of before. 

When Youheum spoke about being a HSP and how extreme minimalism was helping that, something clicked for me. I felt like she was talking about my deepest self, but I wasn’t yet ready to accept it, so I watched it a good few times. 

Upon reading about HSP’s, and finding it is a very real thing, I was struck by how much like me it all was, the only difference being I’m in the 20-30% of extroverted HSP’s – most are introverts. 

So now, I’m kind of dealing with the mask having fallen away, and am having to nurture and nourish the ruined, daylight-deprived skin beneath. And I’m doing this mainly by myself because everyone else has always known me as ‘that crazy loud girl’. It’s embarrassing, to be honest, and despite being public,  this blog felt like the safest place to explain it. the safest place to be myself.

I have to wonder if it wasn’t for the postpartum illness, and if it wasn’t for minimising even further, how much longer would that mask have stayed welded to me? Until I had another meltdown? Until I got yet another chronic illness? 

This is the first time I’ve spoken about this.

In a way, it’s helping me to process the fact I’ve been pretending for so long and subjecting myself to unnecessary levels of stimulation and noise. All under the belief I was boring and undesirable. All because I was petrified of being lonely.

I’ve since come to realise after all these years what quality friends and family I have, and that anyone worth having in my life, will continue to love me for who I really am. 

And I’m also thankful to discovering minimalism because without that, I’d never be where I am now and this blog wouldn’t even exist. 

If you’re also a HSP or have recently discovered you are, feel free to comment and I  will get back to you within 48 hours. 

Photo by William Farlow on Unsplash

Wearing Blood: Will You Pay The True Cost?

I’ve been a minimalist for a couple of years, and when you’ve been minimalist for a good while, something changes inside you. You start thinking about the Earth and the people and animals who share it with us. It’s as if there’s suddenly space to think about something bigger than ourselves. 

Most of us drift through life buying what we want when we want. Now the internet has made it even easier for us to buy things on a whim. Everywhere we go advertisements follow us, convincing us we’re undesirable, unfashionable, and lacking, despite our wardrobes and cupboards spilling out.

A few weeks ago I watched a documentary called The True Cost (also available to watch on Amazon Prime). Perhaps you’ve heard of it? The true cost is about the fast fashion industry and what our clothing choices do to the people that make them. I turned on this documentary thinking it would tell me what I already knew – that people in the countries making our clothes are poor and work in dangerous conditions. 

As it turns out, I knew very little. 

Let me tell you, The True Cost is a hard watch. Hard but essential. Not even my husband could watch it the whole way through because it made him so angry.  I could see him out the corner of my eye shaking his head in disgust and the corners of his mouth downturned. 

I don’t think there’s anybody who can watch this and not be affected because it’s so human and so powerful. It’s as if someone rips the proverbial curtain of your reality down and tears it up beyond repair. 

This documentary is nothing like the stuff they showed you at school – people cry, people get killed in the street, beat to death or shot for trying to stand up for better working conditions. I held back tears when I saw an ordinary man standing up for his rights get killed, and the people who knew him were devastated. 

Mothers work such long hours they only get to see their young children twice a year who are brought up by other villagers. The heartbroken mother who was interviewed for the documentary,  explains that she works so much so that one day her child may have a better future. 

Women like her put their lives at risk every day working in unsafe buildings such as the Dhaka garment factory in India, which collapsed in 2013. The death toll was 1,134, and The True Cost shows the footage of people falling to bits after members of their family were found dead or still buried under the rubble.

A previous incident back in 2012 saw the Tarzeen garment factory in Bangaldesh catch fire while all the exits were locked and the windows downstairs barred. 112 workers died and the rest permanently injured themselves from jumping out of the top floor windows.

But they’re not the only death tolls. There’s also the suicides by the farmers who owned the cotton fields; over 250,000 of them who ended up in debt because they were forced to buy genetically modified seeds to meet our clothing demand and make the big CEO’s rich. 

Oh, and we’re murdering the planet to impress people we don’t like before we tire of our attire.

In India, the river Kanpur is polluted with Chromium 6 because of cheap leather being tanned. This pollution is slowly killing the villagers who live nearby and giving children crippling physical and mental disabilities. There’s also the towering mountains of discarded trash and clothing. 

Here’s a horrifying fact for you: the fast fashion industry is second only to the oil industry for the damage it’s doing to our planet. Let that sink in for a moment. 

We’re destroying the beauty of Earth which has been here for over 4.5 billion years, to look good for a day, a week or a month. 

What’s that? You think you’re OK if you simply donate to the charity shops? Think again. Most of our clothing goes to landfill where it will rot for thousands of years due to the unnatural materials and polyester used to make them, and the rest ends up in third world countries where it provides jobs but kills their local clothes making trades and prevents development. 

By continuing to consume as we are we’re telling these companies and brands that it’s perfectly fine to treat other humans like worthless money printers so long as we can’t see them and get to save a few pennies. That these human lives on the other side of the world are worth less than the $2 a day they earn making these clothes. 

One scene showing hundreds of people going crazy in a clothes store on Black Friday sickened me. They went at those clothes like rabid wild animals. Mindless. Greedy. Zero respect for whatever they grabbed in the frenzy. 

After watching The True Cost, I found it hard to sleep. I’d recently decluttered a load of clothes from fast fashion stores. Cheap dresses, cheap jeans and £6 tops from Primark filled my wardrobe and drawers. 

The factories that make these clothes have no choice but to make clothes on the cheap because as shops over in the west compete for the cheapest prices, so do the CEO’s in charge of the big fashion chains. This means they go over to these factories and tell them that unless they can make tops for 2 dollars or less they will take their business elsewhere.

The people who own those factories then have no choice if they want to keep feeding their families, and the workers then suffer even more under endless hours and poor working conditions that kill many like in the Dhaka factory collapse incident. The sad thing is, there’s often no better alternative for the workers.

The fashion industry is a corrupt system that has gone unchecked for far too long,  becoming ruthless and greedy.  But as consumers we have a choice. We can take our business elsewhere and only shop with ethical brands. Only by more and more people making ethical choices can we hope to force change. 

Brands see money, not people.

We need to change that so that people just like you and I can feed their families, spend time with their children, and not risk their lives in unsafe factories. We need to dry their tears and stop filling our wardrobes with their blood. We have the power. 

Photo by Fernand De Canne on Unsplash

Why Your Heart is The Best Storage – Decluttering Sentimental Items

In the last quarter of 2020 I decided to have another go at clearing the attic. This time, I vowed to put my heart and soul into it, especially because it was so dangerously cluttered.

There were many times up there I had tripped over boxes or had to do some bizarre manoeuvre to get around them like some sort of contortionist. One of these days somebody was going to fall through the attic floor or have the mass amount of boxes collapse on them. 

Unlike with my previous attempt, this time I was armed with a clear vision of the space above me being spacious and containing only seasonal decorations, luggage, and a box of my videogame cases (because I’ve been keeping the games themselves in special wallets to save space).

It was a good job I had the resolve I did because when I went up the ladder there was no way I could even haul myself up through the trapdoor.  Every bit of space I could have stood was taken up by piles of full plastic storage boxes, carrier bags, and things which couldn’t fit in any of the boxes. Things which had simply been left to the freezing cold of the winter or the sauna-like heat of the summer. 

Faced with the huge mission ahead of me, I envisioned how heavy all of it was above my head. The sheer weight of it in my life. If you’re a believer in Feng Shui, perhaps this was the reason I always felt like everything got so much ‘on top of me’ and I still had parts of me that could not move on from the past. 

I had made a decluttering attempt of the attic once before and did actually clear some space, but it soon became even worse than before, because I didn’t have a vision and was still clinging on to a lot of my past. It was as if the mess was mirroring part of my inner self, and after making such enormous changes in my life already, I didn’t want that for myself anymore.  

I started off bringing boxes down and clearing as much of the contents as possible. A lot of it was trash. Old posters, old instruction manuals, packaging to things I no longer owned. 

Other things I donated to charity shops and offered on Facebook Marketplace. 

The more boxes I opened, I was faced with a lot of mindless purchasing decisions and things I’d thought I might go back to one day.  But by far, the hardest things I’ve encountered are sentimental items. 

The first one of these things I let go of was a Dick Turpin mug that my Uncle Gordy had owned. I had been very close to him all my life and we used to have a laugh about how terrified I was as a child of this mug he kept in his display cabinet.  What was it doing here in the attic, not even serving a purpose? Gord had displayed it proudly but I was hoarding it in a box. 

I held the mug for quite some time and then I realised the reason I had kept it boxed up was because I was terrified I would lose those precious memories of our laughter together. Yet even without the object on my shelf, I still recalled those memories from time to time. 

There’s a small cup he used to own that we had another memory over that I never claimed when he passed away. I still have the memories of that cup and how he used to say ‘just a spot’ and laugh at me when he was pouring milk into it when I was an infant. 

It dawned on me that I didn’t need to keep this Dick Turpin. Instead, I wrapped it up and sent it to a cousin of mine. Unfortunately, it broke in transit.

For a moment I was horrified, but I realised that even then, I still had the memory. And I’d taken a photo of it on my phone so I could recall it at any time. It also reminded me that physical objects can be destroyed in an instant, either by accident or natural disaster. 

Despite having the photos, it’s amazing how often I don’t look at them. I don’t need to because the memories of Gordy are in my heart, not in the objects I clung to.

Releasing this made it so much easier to let go. And once I let go of that, I found myself moving onto other sentimental things – some of the hardest of all to let go of. Those were my old video game consoles I had as a child and spent many hours on , forming many fond memories. 

As a child, I had everything I could physically ever want, but most of my childhood was full of bullying at school, family trauma, and other things I would give a limb to protect my own children from. 

Videogames were a wonderful escape and there were happy times I played them with my parents, on rainy afternoons, or when I got home from school. Gaming turned into a real passion which I still have now at 34 years old. 

Anyway, one of these sentimental consoles was my Super Nintendo. Here it was, sitting unplugged in the attic and suffering the extremes of temperatures.

Attics are no place to store anything of value – photos and electronics being the main things. Proving this point, many of my Playstation games I kept had started to get disc rot, which was further accelerated by cold and the heat. 

The Nintendo was even harder to let go of because until recently, I had been a collector of videogames and merchandise. We even had a gaming room. Then our second child came along and we needed that room to become her bedroom.

I had to put things into perspective and let go of some of the reasons I had held onto them in the first place (which is another post in itself).

The stuff wasn’t getting used. Its job was to sit prettily on a shelf or to sit in the attic for the rest of time as a memory. That wasn’t treating that stuff with love and respect when somebody else could be playing it or displaying it proudly in their home. Besides, most of the games were now available in HD on recent gadgets such as the SNES Mini. 

So I sold it along with all the games. 

I did feel a few pangs of sadness as I boxed it up for the post office and saw it for one final time. Then I looked at the space that had been created and felt that familiar sense of freedom. I still had the memories and could re-experience them any time by playing the updated versions that now exist. Once again the memories were in me, not in the object itself. 

Once I got rid of the SNES, other nostalgic consoles I was keeping got easier to let go of. I had been through the process already and trusted myself to make the right decision. 

I trust my heart to be the storage space for these joyful memories, not a dusty old storage box. 

When it comes to decluttering sentimental items, whatever you decide to do with them, trust your heart, for yours is the safest place for precious memories to be stowed. Remember,  physical possessions can be destroyed. 

It’s taken me a good few months, but there is now a lot of space in the attic and slowly but surely, my vision is starting to materialise. 

There are a few things left to take care of, such as a huge box of old journals, another huge box of photo albums, and a few boxes of mystery cables and parts. I also have some organisation to do. But I’m getting there. 

Over Christmas I bought some mould resistant bags for my decorations and decluttered the ones that wouldn’t fit. I am now limited to those two bags and once they’re full I can’t buy any more without first getting rid of something older. 

Before, I had an entire box containing several carrier bags of decorations, many of which were getting crushed or broken. Not long ago I had to deal with a snow globe which had smashed and leaked its sticky, glittery contents all inside the box and over the carrier bags. 

Did I need all those decorations to have a good Christmas? No. In fact, it was a huge pain bringing them out, putting them all away and ate up huge chunks of time and energy. 

Going forward, I will be far more mindful of what gets stored up there, and I know that storing far less stuff will mean my close friends and family won’t have to shoulder the burden when the day comes I am no longer around. 

Remember: trust your heart, not a dusty old storage box. 

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers. It’s been a crazy and difficult year, and to those of you who may have lost loved ones, are struggling with mental health, or have lost your livelihood, my heart goes out to you.

I also want to say a big thank you for reading or following my blog. It means so much to me to share my simplicity journey with so many others, and I hope my posts have been helping you on your own journey.

As I said in my previous post, I don’t make New Years Resolutions because I believe that if you want to make a change in your life, you should start as soon as possible.

Saying that, I do have some goals this year, some of which I’ve already made a start on. They are:

Start up my YouTube Channel (of which I already have the script)

Improve my photography, learn photoshop skills and possibly start an online portfolio. An added benefit for being into nature photography, is that it gives me an excuse to go for long walks in nature and be fully present. It also makes me feel gratitude for the beauty of the planet and want to take care of it much better.

Minimise even further. I’m not done yet. My current inspiration for minimalism is Youheum from Heal Your Living. I love how she’s so gentle, non-judgemental, and has crafted an extreme minimalist life for herself so she can live her life to the fullest.

Make a few more friends I’m mainly an extrovert and love connecting with others.

Make even more eco friendly lifestyle changes I already have a list of things I could do which are quite simple changes. So far I’ve changed to reuseable sanitary pads, reuseable wet wipes, reuseable food wrap, and a non-toxic home cleaning solution made from white vinegar.

Learn to drive so I may access courses and also drive to beautiful places to practise photography. I turned 34 this year, and it suddenly hit me how much I’m limiting my opportunities by not driving. Most things I want to access are miles from me.

Apply for counselling level 3. I completed level 2 earlier in the year and it was extremely fulfilling. It’s also made me grow as a person in many ways, including being more of an active listener.

Look into learning to coach on simple living and minimalism/creating resources. I’ve always wanted to do this so I can do what I love as well as help other people in a meaningful way.

What are your current goals and what do you hope to achieve through 2021? I’d love for you to share with me in the comments or drop me an email.

Have a happy and prosperous 2021 and I’ll see you all next year 😉 In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, stay hopeful!

Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash

Don’t Make New Years Resolutions…

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when we all post our goals and state that this year will be a ‘New Year New Me’.

I used to make lists of things I wanted to achieve in the new year, then I’d wait for my life to reset as if by magic on the final chime of Big Ben. But now I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I don’t want to change anything in my life. It’s that whenever I want to change anything, I start right here, right now. 

When you’re serious about your goals nothing kills them faster than waiting for that perfect time to make a start, especially on New Years. Once the celebrations fizzle out, often so do most people’s resolutions. And when you see others around you giving up, it’s even more of a perfect excuse to quit when things get challenging.

If there’s something you’ve been meaning to change in your life, remember this: There’s no need to wait for the New Year to ring in when every day is a new tomorrow. 

So, don’t wait for the fireworks, start now. Your future self will thank you.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash