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.
I’ve done it! I’ve gone and written a script ready for my first Youtube video on minimalism and simple living. I don’t even have a channel name just yet but I’ve taken the first step.
My hope is to share the benefits of a minimalist life with a wider audience, and with a Youtube channel, hopefully this will become possible.
It’s also a challenge for me going into 2021, to do something I have never done before so that I can grow and, in turn, help others to.
All that is left now is for the video to be filmed and edited, which my husband has kindly offered to help with. I will be keeping you all posted on here, and am hoping that pretty soon one of my upcoming posts will be a link to my channel.
Of course, I’m terrified. My heart’s pounding harder just thinking about the camera pointing at me. But that’s part of the challenge. So even if my videos come to nothing, I’ve still taken a step closer and done something my old self would never have even considered.
After the crazy year that 2020 has been, I’m really looking forward to having something new and positive to jump into and learn.
If there’s anything you’ve been putting off doing, go ahead and take the first step. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you can say you started.
2021 is almost upon us, and one of my goals (which I’m actually starting from now) is to get a real handle on my finances and let minimalism work its magic on my bank account.
I’m not going to lie; I have a real weakness for books, video games, cafe trips, alcohol, takeaways, and replacing my backpacks for newer ones that catch my eye. My worst financial sins by far are falling back on Paypal Credit or my Argos store card.
The allure of these credit services has allowed me, throughout 2020, to make some really silly financial decisions and questionable purchases that were far from mindful.
Admittedly, finances are something I’ve always struggled with despite becoming minimalist. It’s not that I’m incapable of making sound decisions with my money, but that I’ve been living reactively rather than intentionally.
I have no problem getting rid of my old stuff once I buy something new. The problem is that I buy new when I don’t need to.
A couple of months ago I went back to decluttering the attic. Only this time I tackled some of the stuff that was harder for me to let go of: my old game consoles.
I will talk about that process in another article, but what’s important to mention now is that I sold them and made quite a substantial amount of cash. It’s been my second time doing so. The first time I blew the money I made, but this time something was different.
The SNES and a bunch of other things I sold meant a lot to me. They were a huge part of my childhood and my identity as a gamer. This time, I wanted the money I made from them to mean something. After all, I’ve minimised so much that there’s not much left to sell so I saw it as my last chance to use it for good.
For the first time in my life I used that money with real intention and didn’t buy anything frivolous. In fact, I was loath to spend it at all. That’s when I decided I wanted a big change and have made quite an extreme plan in the form of a 365 day shopping ban.
Cait Flanders did it in ‘A Year of Less’ and the methods she took to turn her life around have always stuck in the back of mind, especially after reading her second book ‘Adventures in Opting Out’. Cait couldn’t be living the lifestyle she is living now, travelling the world and growing as a person if she hadn’t first taken serious stock of her negative habits, negative self beliefs, and chaotic spending.
I hit 34 at the start of this month and it’s terrifying to realise I’m middle-aged (or almost middle-aged depending on how you look at it) and am only just waking up to the fact that I need to be in control of my finances if I ever want the future I’m working towards to materialise.
So, I’ve sat down and drafted my shopping ban. It’s not as extreme as Cait’s was because we have different interests, but it’s a start. I also found myself including a ban on ways to spend my time. Here’s my draft with a few notes:
SHOPPING BAN 2021
Gluten-free food (I’m gluten intolerant)
Herbal and decaf tea
Alcohol (from budget) would ideally like to quit -set low budget
Cafe trip (from budget)
Books (but only if my backlog is empty)
Easter eggs for Eiden (my son)
Birthday gifts and cards
Xbox Ultimate (I adore video games too much to deprive myself)
Driving lessons (very important to be able to get to future counselling courses)
Counselling course level 3 (very important for my future career)
It’s almost Christmas, and although it’s different to previous years, what isn’t so different is the mad panic to buy, buy, buy, either to show love to friends and family, or out of sheer obligation.
But as I’ve turned minimalist over the past couple of years, dramatically reducing my possessions and experiencing endless self-growth, I’ve come to realise that stuff isn’t the key to love or happiness. In fact, an excess causes untold stress, financial hardship, damage to relationships, and to the Earth.
As a child, I’d physically always had everything I wanted, never going without the latest console, latest games, or best toys. The walls of my bedroom were lined with toy boxes, but even back then, I was never satisfied. There was always a new toy I wanted, a new book, or a new video game.
From my teens to my early 30s, I was what you’d call an organised hoarder. I had so much stuff that it was breaking my bedroom drawers, had filled up several storage boxes under my bed and on top of my wardrobe, stuffed every cupboard and lined every shelf. But no matter how much I had, I wanted more, more, more.
No matter how many games, consoles, books and trinkets I had, it wasn’t enough. I often dreamed of owning a bigger house, certain that if I only had more space to keep everything and entertain my friends, I’d finally be happy.
It didn’t matter whether I’d just acquired an entire wishlist of stuff for Christmas, either, come January I’d hit the sales to fill the hole inside me. You see, I didn’t realise at the time that one of the sources of my unhappiness was the sheer amount of stuff in my life. Greed and excess.
Another reason was low self-esteem which was further exacerbated from going down the path people expected of me rather than what I really wanted. Stuff was acting as a bandage for the trauma in my past, and as a smokescreen for decisions I had made that I wasn’t truly happy with.
I hated myself with a passion, but as long as I didn’t face it and kept the smokescreen going, I convinced myself I’d be fine.
Except I wasn’t. I was as far from fine as one could get. All of this hoarding and consuming caused countless arguments between me and my fiance, Leighton (now my husband), and I was forever in overdraft with my bank due to spending splurges. I was also a hot mess inside.
Then, one day, my mum had a declutter of the attic at her house. A huge amount of the stuff, she said, was mine, and she was bringing it to me to sort through.
When she arrived, I was stunned. It took her several trips back and forth between my house and the car to bring the bags and boxes. Years of my childhood and school life bulged at the seams and was dumped on the living room floor for me to sort.
At first, I wanted to put it all in our attic, but Leighton stopped me. “No way!”, he said, “That attic is rammed as it is with your crap and we aren’t having any more. Either you sort this or it goes in the trash!” So, with that, I was forced to confront some of my hoard, and the past I had been clinging onto.
And 75% of it was trash.
This experience didn’t instantly turn me into a minimalist, but unbeknownst to me, it was the first step.
Fast forward to the present day and I can tell you with a hundred percent certainty that freeing yourself from the burden of your excess physical possessions is one of the most freeing things you can do.
The second most freeing thing you can do is to free yourself from the desire to own more, and the pressure to buy more for others ‘just because it’s the norm’.
Free yourself from the expectations of marketers and focus on being grateful for everything you already have, especially the people and experiences in your life. Advertisers would have you believe that to ‘give her the best Christmas ever’ you should buy their latest scent or designer handbag. That to be a true friend you should buy any number of random seasonal gifts.
Instead of buying your friend yet another pair of socks and a novelty gadget from the gift aisle, why not connect with them and get them something that aligns with who they are and what they want for the future? Maybe they want nothing at all, in which case you should believe them. After all, most people are already drowning in a sea of clutter and years of unwanted gifts.
Why not spend time with them or donate to a charity of their liking instead?
Not only will this be lighter on your wallet and your stress levels, but will help people (or animals) in need, and give you both a far longer lasting glow than any physical possession can.
According to Nationaldebtadvice.org.uk, over 16.9 million people borrow money to pay for Christmas gifts, and one in twenty will skip paying a bill over Christmas because they can’t pay it.
We’re falling prey to marketing and trying to buy love and connection – things which cannot ever be bought. And when you think about it, would your loved ones want you to go into debt for them? Would you want your loved ones to go into debt for you?
I shocked myself last Christmas when I found there was nothing I wanted my family to buy me. I had minimised so much and had been practising gratitude whenever I could, so I felt grateful for what I already had. I also didn’t want to add potential clutter back into my home, undoing years of decluttering and emotional work. Instead, my husband gifted me money to put towards the counselling course I had applied for.
Rather than short-lived pleasures from receiving physical gifts, I invested in myself. As it turns out, taking that course was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Since then I’ve also bought a photography course because I love taking nature photos and want them to be the best they can be. Without minimalism, I’d never have discovered any of these passions or invested in them because I’d be too busy organising my stuff and looking for more. I’d be too broke.
It wasn’t easy to reach this mindset, especially as I was used to always receiving piles of presents and spending beyond my means for everyone else. Most likely, it won’t be easy for you either, but I can assure you it will all be worth it.
If you’re new to this I suggest starting off with small steps and changes, which will gradually snowball into huge life transformations if you let them.
With that, I wish all of you, my amazing readers, a Merry and stress-free Christmas. You deserve it.
It’s been a few months since my last post, and in that time I’ve become a mum again to a gorgeous little girl.
I’ve also got back to minimising and simplifying, which is now more important than ever with a family of four, even more so because my six-year-old son has just received an autism diagnosis. I know that simplifying his life and routines can help make a difference in his stress levels and sensory overload, but the same can be said for any child, and of us adults.
Since having a new baby to take care of and settling into the new rhythm of sleepless nights, exhausting daytime hours when she refuses to sleep, and making my son still feel loved and valued, it’s forced me yet again to look at how I spend my time.
Because all my time in the week is now spent on changing nappies, doing endless feeds, keeping up with the laundry, and other household chores, the time I get has to be used intentionally whether that’s an intentional hour of rest, half hour of gaming, reading a book, or decluttering.
The past week I’ve spent a good chunk of my time decluttering the attic, not just because I love the sense of freedom and satisfaction I get, but because I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of my kids. And that involves me facing a prospect many of us don’t like to acknowledge – death.
One of the many reasons I live a minimalist lifestyle is because when I’m gone, whether that be when I’m a hundred years old, or even next month, the last thing I want is to burden my loved ones with sorting through my stuff, deciding what to keep, what goes in the skip, what gets donated, feeling guilty if they don’t keep something, trying to figure out what best represented me, and frankly, wasting hours of their remaining time on this Earth.
When I pass, the last thing I want is for people to look for me in my stuff. I want to be remembered for the life I lived, for my personality, for the things I said and how I made people feel; not the figurines I owned, the shoes I wore, the limited editions I collected, or the phone I had.
You may be thinking this all sounds a bit too much on the morbid side, but hear me out.
When I gave birth to my son six years ago, I lost 4 litres of blood when my placenta got stuck to the walls of my uterus. I almost died and one of the nurses told me how lucky I had been to have pulled through. Before that, I’d never really considered the life I was living or the impact my stuff was having. Soon after, it struck me that I wasn’t following my dreams, either. Rather, I was just floating along in life with no clear direction, buying more and more stuff to fill the sense of emptiness.
Back then I was still living as an organised hoarder, and to think back on it now, it’s sad how much stuff my family would have had to go through. Trinkets, old toys, old letters, old party invitations, tonnes of gaming paraphernalia, old stationary, overflowing boxes, relics of my past, painful memories, stuff I clung to because I thought ‘I wasn’t me without my stuff’.
As it turned out, the ‘me’ I was clinging to was the biggest piece of clutter of all, and the real me was waiting to be discovered in empty spaces, free of the hoard that weighed me down, free of the physical weight of my past, and with more free time that wasn’t wasted on organising and acquiring more.
We all have limited time on this planet, and that also goes for our children (if we have any).
Why keep a bunch of stuff for them, for our partners, for our parents or siblings, to have to spend hours, days or weeks going through our stuff when we pass on? As uncomfortable as it is to realise, it’s not like we can take our stuff with us when it’s our time. Instead, the weight of our life cascades onto family and friends. Sadly, that stuff sometimes even harbours the power to cause heated arguments and family rifts. Families get divided for decades over an antique vase, a china collection, or money, which, ironically, would probably be spent on acquiring more stuff. Stuff that won’t even matter when we’re gone.
Remember, we can’t take our stuff and whoever deals with it all can’t get back their time. Time which is so important and passes in the blink of an eye.
But enough about death, let’s go right back to the very beginning.
We’re born owning nothing. Blank slates of endless potential. All we want is the love and attention of our caregivers, and whatever we need to survive. Then suddenly, at some point along the line, we accumulate stuff. Stuff to speed up our development, stuff to teach us about the world, stuff to entertain us, stuff to distract us, stuff to show us how much we’re loved.
We grow up and we want more. More toys, more gadgets, more games, more clothes, more, more, more. Where once we were happy with love and experiences of the world, we’re taught by the people close to us, and through endless advertising, that we can’t be happy without the latest toy, the fullest wardrobe, the biggest game collection, or the trendiest coat.
We’re taught that we’re not enough, that if we don’t receive more, we aren’t loved or not worthy. Our ‘self’ gets hidden by the sheer amount of stuff, and that pattern continues through life until we break it or we die.
Let me give you an example of how too much stuff affects us as children.
Recently, I was forced to declutter my son’s room. He struggles to let go of things regardless of how many years it has been since he last played with that teddy bear or can no longer fit in that favourite t-shirt. Finally, the drawer under his bed broke under the weight of years of artwork and plastic toys that he never played with. Yet despite it all, he complained he was ‘bored’ or would roll around on the floor in a state of overwhelm. Whenever he wanted a particular toy, he always came crying to me or his dad that he couldn’t find it. I’d go to his room and it would look like a hurricane had passed through it on his hunt.
At bedtime, he couldn’t even decide what book he wanted me to read to him; he either made me choose or constantly chose ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. Even though it’s one of his favourite books, I realized he wasn’t even listening to it anymore, and had become bored with it. He was simply choosing it every night because there were far too many books on his shelf for him to process.
So, I got to work removing most of the plastic McDonald’s toys, Kinder Egg junk, and things he never touched. I also removed a pile of books he’d either outgrown, or seemed to hold no interest for him. Then, I went through all his artwork, discarding the damaged pieces, paper with hardly anything on it, or pieces I knew he didn’t care for as it was something he had done when he was two. I’m ashamed to say that most of the artwork clogging his drawer wasn’t even his doing; it was pieces I hadn’t been able to let go of because I was still clinging to his toddler stage. Most of those went in the bin once I had taken a few photos.
Bear in mind, instead of instantly donating the toys and risking upsetting him, I put the bags of his stuff into the attic to be sorted at a later date. That way, if he wanted his jingly bells back, or the teddy he had picked up that time he went to hospital when he was 2, he could have them.
Now, here’s the surprising thing.
He’s never once asked for any of it back, nor seems to have noticed that 70% of it is missing. And he’s started choosing books other than ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ all by himself. There’s also been fewer instances of him crying because he can’t find his Nerf gun bullets or other favourite things.
Quite often, we think we need more, and we assume the same for our children. Whenever we’re bored or unfulfilled, we might order something new on Amazon or go shelf-browsing until we spot something we like.
And when they’re bored, we rush to buy them another toy or download yet another app.
Instead, we need to rediscover simplicity, then do the same for our children.
We need to reconnect with loved ones, and claim back the time that is so precious, and we need to remind ourselves that we’re worth it, despite what marketing would us believe.
Hi all! After a lengthy hiatus, I’m glad to say I’m back. I’ve been exhausted through pregnancy, and now as a mother to an almost 5 week old baby girl. It’s certainly been challenging to settle into the new rhythm of life as a family of four. I’d forgotten just how chaotic life can be with a tiny baby who relies on you for survival and comfort around the clock, but it’s so worth it!
Anyway, earlier I found the time to write my latest thoughts on simplicity, and how clutter affects ours and our children’s lives not just now, but far into the future.
I will publish this in the next few hours when I find a moment, but I look forward to writing more often again and sharing my minimalism journey with you all.
I realise it’s been too long since I’ve posted here, so here I am, sitting writing this at 12:50am UK time – a time I’m usually wandering around dreamland.
It’s my second night of being wide awake because it’s becoming almost impossible to get comfy now that I feel like a beached whale at almost 34 weeks pregnant. People tell me it’s a small bump for a second child, but try telling me that as I gasp from the exertion of using the stairs, and of trying to roll over in bed like a flipped over turtle.
Anyway, if you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’re wondering where my usual minimalism posts all are, or if this blog itself had become some long forgotten internet clutter, dusty and abandoned.
It hasn’t, and I’ve made more huge strides in minimising and simplifying my life – even more so now that I am mere weeks away from having my second child.
The truth is, I had forgotten just how exhausting pregnancy is, and along the way my mind has filled with emotional and mental clutter which has made it almost impossible to write.
First of all, I got worn down by the Coronavirus lockdown and adjusting to all of the uncertainty and the new strange ways of life. I’m quite the extrovert so it took more of a toll on me than I thought.
Secondly, I finished my level 2 Counselling course, but while I was ecstatic about being one step closer to becoming a counsellor, I was also incredibly sad that it was all over. Due to the nature of the course, me and my course buddies got to know each other on a far deeper and personal level, and it made the ending particularly poignant.
Suddenly, I found myself feeling lost on the days I’d usually be doing my course, and despite having a plan for the future, I lost more motivation to write and do the things I love.
Enter the final stretch of my pregnancy, and I find myself obsessing (more than usual) about everything being perfect. Logically, I know that there is no such thing as perfect, but that hasn’t stopped me from driving my husband crazy with my ‘everything has to be done and be perfect right NOW’ attitude.
Unfortunately, this attitude has also spilled over into other areas of my life and I have to admit I slipped into spending a lot of money and used a lot of energy on having to have the perfect writing device, the perfect footrest, and the perfect sized workstation for me in the living room (since the gaming room is very slowly transforming into a future nursery).
I thought, how can I possibly teach and share about minimalism at the moment when my mind is like a hurricane has ripped through it? I felt like a fraud.
I even feared for a while that I had fallen out of love with writing, but I realised how ridiculous that was because not writing was making me grouchy, and I’ve not stopped journalling. In fact, the sudden random urge to blog is another thing which was preventing me from sleeping tonight.
One more thing – to be completely honest, I’m also terrified because everything went wrong after my first pregnancy and I almost died from blood loss due to Plancenta Accreta where the placenta basically sticks to the lining of the womb and won’t come out. It’s not so easy to declutter those kind of worries.
For now, my plan is to take life as easy as possible and perhaps share more of my everyday life and musings on here.
Huge changes will be happening so I’ll be kinder to myself as I mentally take myself back to basics and rediscover my joys -something that we all need to do every now and then.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, stay simple.
I realise it’s been a really long time since I posted on this blog. I can’t deny I feel guilty about that because I was going to post an article on being extraordinary. While I do have the article, I couldn’t bring myself to post it because in the current climate, it just doesn’t feel right, and I’ve been sorting out elements of my own life, and thinking about my future, as well as battling pregnancy fatigue.
I’m now 28 weeks pregnant, and what I have been focused on is minimising and simplifying my life more than ever before.
This post is a little catch up for this blog about my minimalist journey since the lockdown started, and to share my thoughts about where I am now.
One way I’ve been thinking about my stuff is the sheer weight of it in my life, both physically and metaphorically.
I often read about people on decluttering journeys who load their cars with bags upon bags of clutter they’re casting off from their lives, and how many trips it takes to the charity shop.
Since I can’t drive, whenever I donate anything and as I decide to let go of even more stuff, I walk to town with the weight of those bags. As I walk and the bags weigh me down and cut into my hands, I can’t help but think about the sheer weight of my life.
All that heaviness. The stagnant energy that clings to it. The burden of guilt and old memories.
I welcome the relief once the weight is gone, and it often feels as if my arms are floating. Better than that, is the feeling of lightness in my home. There’s more space for energy to flow, space for potential in the future. Not potential new stuff, but opportunities and beliefs that serve me.
The more I cast off, the less weighed down by the past I feel, and the more hope for the future. It’s true that less really is more.
Speaking of the future, since I get so much joy from decluttering and love to help others with it, I had a sudden profound idea to look into becoming a professional declutterer – something which wouldn’t have occurred to me had I still been weighed down by stuff.
Clutter really is something that always lurks at the back of your mind, taking up space and valuable energy. Like a computer with an error message warning you its storage is getting too full, the brain is pretty much the same, and lightening your physical load will massively lighten your mental load.
Being 28 weeks pregnant has made the effects of minimising even more apparent. At a time when I find myself needing more rest than ever, I’ve been able to do just that because there’s no mess, surfaces are clear, and it’s quick and easy to vacuum and dust (our new dishwasher has simplified things even more – especially because my parents live with us).
I’m not having to worry about having enough space for the upcoming new addition to our family, because there’s now more than enough space to accommodate.
In fact, having a new baby on the way is making me think of the stuff in my life even more. For example, my husband and I have been massively attached to our gaming room. It’s the place we go to chill out and play videogames, display our games, and even use as a workspace.
But ultimately, we decided we could give up that luxury so that our second child has a room of their own (more essential because it is a girl and she’s going to be 6 years younger than my son who’s growing up way too fast).
With that in mind I started minimising the gaming room quite early on, and while it started off hard, it’s now got to the point where I no longer feel attached and could happily pass it on , safe in the knowledge that most of it hasn’t been played in years, is realistically never going to get played again, and that most games are now available digitally.
I also realise that I don’t need to have a Youtube worthy gaming display to prove that I love gaming. The way I do that is by actually playing them and letting them bring me hours of joy and excitement.
Sitting on a shelf, they do nothing but take up space, look pretty, and add decision fatigue. The digital streaming services available now on all platforms have helped teach me that. And if I don’t play them while they’re available, I was never going to get around to doing so in the first place.
Another hard thing I’ve done in the past few days is put my wedding dress and accessories up for sale. Initially, I felt sad, but when I brought the huge storage case down from the humid attic, I saw the space that had been created, and reminded myself that it would be far better bringing that same joy to somebody else than it sitting in less-than-ideal storage conditions, taking up valuable space.
Some people are curious why the whole journey has been a process which has taken a couple of years.
Before I was a minimalist, I was what you’d call an organised hoarder. At first glance, I lived in a tidy environment, but it was bursting at the seams and I was forever organising and wishing for a bigger house so I could store more. Window ledges, cubby holes, shelves, cupboards, drawers and storage spaces were rammed with relics of my past, and things I thought I needed, and it was causing heated arguments between me and my husband (who was my fiance at the time).
I also reacted to every whim for something new, be it a new phone, a new bag, a new journal, or another games console. These whims came all the time because deep down, I wasn’t happy and the satisfaction never lasted longer than a few days at most.
That hoarding and the constant buying was a result of years of deeply ingrained beliefs and trauma, and it’s taken a few years to get to where I am now with the mindset and beliefs I now have. Another factor is the seasons of life we all go through.
What’s useful in one season of life may no longer serve in the future, so the minimalist journey never really ends. There will always be times where life needs a mindful reevaluation of where you’re going and what may no longer be serving you, although once you’ve done the main bulk of decluttering, it should never be as stressful or as time-consuming again, provided you stay mindful and vigilant of what comes into your life and why.
Next time I post, I’d like to share with you all, our experience of having a brand new minimalist kitchen, and how it has changed our lives for the better. I feel it is a perfect example of the negative effects clutter can have on an entire family, and the unbelievable change in energy when clutter is dealt with.
At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, people who weren’t key workers suddenly found themselves with a hell of a lot more spare time on their hands.
One thing I noticed was the sheer amount of people who were vowing to do amazing things with their time. Cook healthier meals. Declutter their homes. Start a daily exercise regime. Learn something new. Please note, I’m not talking about the people who are dealing with the terrible aftermath of losing their jobs and businesses, or are dealing with other horrible events in their lives here.
And for a while, people were doing just that, posting about the positive changes in their lives they previously hadn’t had the time for.
Yet, after the first few weeks, fatigue set in and people were soon posting and joking about their newly discovered alcohol dependence, poor diets, homes that were somehow messier than before, and sure they’d almost exhausted the extensive catalog of TV shows and movies.
That’s because no matter how much time you have in your hands, it takes grit and determination to make real, lasting life changes.
You could have all the time in the world and never have to work again, but in the end, it’s your mindset and how you consistently spend your time that makes the difference. It’s your why that must be powerful enough to drive you.
If you were unhappy and unfulfilled before, particularly if you’ve been in that state for a long time, it’s going to take a long time and consistent hard to work to change things. And if you weren’t committed enough to make those changes before, no world-changing event or amount of hours in your day will change that.
Only you can.
That means not giving up as soon as things get tough. And it means recognising that regardless of what’s going on in the outside world.
If you’re truly interested in levelling up your life, if you’re tired of feeling defeated, stay tuned for my upcoming article on why you stay stuck, even with hours at your disposal, and how you could start crafting an extraordinary life from today.
Being locked down during the Coronavirus has allowed me the time and extra energy to do some deep cleaning. Last week, I decided to go crazy on my living room.
I mopped the floor, took everything off the shelves and dusted them, vacuumed the blinds, vacuumed the whole room, dusted the insides of the cupboards, and cleaned the mirror. Oh, and there were too many cobwebs where spiders had set up home and weren’t paying rent.
The whole process took much longer than expected, and the next day I had a pain flare up from hell that lasted days. One of the many reasons I simplified my life in the first place was to manage my fibromyalgia and ME, just like Courtney Carver, author of Soulful Simplicity, who simplified her life to manage her MS. But this pain was a wake-up call that I could do more.
Once again, I find myself thinking about the role of minimalism in my life.
I’ve also got another child on the way, and it’s made me think about how to best simplify my life for the sleepless nights and mad days ahead. Do I really want to be wasting so much time cleaning under and around things when I will need that time with my baby, and for my sanity?
Many people would advise leaving the mess be, and that it’s perfectly understandable as a new parent, but I simply can’t stand chaos or disorder. Especially if I know there’s something I can do about it.
When you’ve been minimalist for long enough, it becomes as natural as breathing. You don’t really think about it because you’ve trained your mind so well and the habits you adopted don’t require a second thought.
The problem with that is that you can fall back into a rut without realising. It seems like I’ve been ready to move onto the next stage of minimalism for a while, but not realised as the days have rocketed by or merged into each other.
Since my minimalism journey started, I’ve got rid of so much stuff, that my room cleaning time was dramatically cut. I unearthed parts of myself I never knew existed and started on the path to a new career.
At the time, I was satisfied with the progress I made, but the pain of that flare up taught me differently.
I thought my living room was minimal enough yet was surprised to find that a vast majority of the deep clean was spent moving my collection of books and the decorative objects and photos from the room divider, all of which are mine. Then, of course, having to dust every object and put it back, even though it would all be dusty again within days.
I no longer have the huge collection of books that I had. What once took up four shelves, now takes up one. There’s a few books on my ‘to read’ list that I intend to donate once I’ve finished with them, but the rest are mainly non-fiction hardbacks that I turn to again and again.
When I thought about what I was getting out of the rest of that unit and its decorations, the answer hit me: nothing. It’s just there to stop our long, narrow living room resembling a bowling alley, and to look pretty doing it.
Is it attractive? Yes. Is it worth the extra cleaning and maintenance time? No.
And who doesn’t want more time and relaxation in their day?
After cleaning the living room, I went upstairs to do a quick dust of the gaming room. I say a quick dust because the gaming room is the hardest to downsize for me, and would take forever to clean efficiently.
There’s stuff in there which is close to my heart as a gamer, plus a collection of manga and geeky books which I don’t keep with my main collection.
Not so long ago, I was convinced that having shelves crammed with games, consoles, and figures like my favourite youtubers would satisfy me . I’d always dreamed of having a gaming room packed to the gills, and of having my own arcade full of my favourite cabinets.
But for me, the reality of such a dream has surprised me. Games and hardware require proper storage and cleaning, and it’s all such hard work to maintain. Not to mention the space it takes up.
There’s also the possibility that we will need to give the room up for an extra bedroom a few years down the line if our baby is a girl.
The thought of leaving it be, then having to deal with all that stuff at once fills me with horror.
Despite downsizing my collection last year, I rarely clean the room because it’s so exhausting and time-consuming. Two hulking shelving units with games, figurines, and books, and another medium shelving unit holding more games and my videogame soundtrack collection.
Then there’s the fact that my husband, my son, and I, each have a PC. Phew!
I’ve been considering going digital with as many games as possible and possibly using a powerful laptop over a desktop. But it’s a costly endeavour to digitise all the games I own, so I have to really think, which games do I love and really can’t live without? Why do these deserve to take up shelf space and cleaning time? How often do I play them?
When you look at your stuff in terms of the time it takes up, and not just the space it requires, the answer will become clear, even if it’s uncomfortable.
It makes me squirm to think about not having my physical games on show. Why? It doesn’t make me less of a gamer. But it does show the money I’ve spent just on showing this hobby off instead of purely experiencing the joy it brings me.
To be honest, I don’t even get around to playing or finishing half the games I buy, even when they’re digital. The same goes for any hobby that requires a lot of equipment or collecting. There’s only so much you can enjoy.
It shows that, for me, playing games isn’t enough. I have this need to show everyone in the house, and anyone who visits, my love of games and the characters in them, as if my identity is at stake if I don’t.
But, of course, that’s ridiculous.
I frequently find myself dreaming about the kind of life the more extreme minimalists live. Fumio Sasaki, author of, ‘goodbye things’ is a well-known extreme minimalist living in Japan, and is one whose book I’ve returned to several times, because of the feeling of peace it gives me, and the wisdom in its pages.
What I find particularly inspiring is that he’s just a regular guy who decided that enough was enough and to do something about the miserable life of excess he was living. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers to achieve happiness and success, but he discovered that minimalism was a good start.
It’s not just me who dreams of simpler living; my husband has spoken to me a few times about how he’d love to be so free of stuff and obligations that he could live and work wherever he desired and not remain tied to one place. At first, that thought terrified me, but the more I thought about it, the more appealing it sounded.
Realistically, I know I can’t live like the more extreme minimalists I admire so much, because not only do I have a growing family, we share a home with my parents. Therefore, there’s only so much I can do, especially regarding shared rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, and storage spaces such as the shed.
We’re also not the home-schooling type, so a life of travelling and completely letting go is something that would be far off in the future.
But I can take control of my own stuff, and I’d rather do that than have it control me and sap hours from days, and days from months.
Unfortunately, due to the current situation with coronavirus, charity shops are closed, and selling things on Gumtree or Facebook is a no-no.
Instead, I’ll use the time to list what’s currently bringing me joy and what isn’t.
Life changes all the time, and with it, the stuff that we need to enrich our lives or bring us joy.