Minimalism Misunderstood | Addressing misconceptions

Minimalists come in all sizes, genders, ages, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions. If you’re thinking of delving into minimalism, you should know that there are no hard and fast rules to being a minimalist. A growing movement, Minimalism continues to invite others to define their lives in greater ways than by the things they own. I think of Minimalism as a recipe. It gives me the ingredients I need to let go of all the things that are cluttering my life and make room for what matters most.

Despite its recent growth, minimalism is misunderstood by a lot of people. A few of these misconceptions I will address from my own personal experience.

Minimalism is an all or nothing movement

When I first started reading about minimalism I thought crap, I’m going to have to get rid of every single thing like, yesterday. This made me anxious. I was anxious at the thought of letting go of all the things that gave me anxiety in the first place. Ridiculous, I know. As I further researched the movement, I realised that minimalism is a personal process that should be experienced at your own pace. If you begin with letting go of just one thing at a time, it will give you the momentum you need to let go of more.

Minimalists don’t own nice things and look poor

Actually, what most people don’t realise is that one of the benefits of living a minimalist life is the opportunity to purchase quality possessions. Owning fewer things means you can spend more money on quality items. In the age of capitalism and consumerism, we get bogged down in thinking that wealth is determined by the number of possessions we have. Unnecessary trips to Westfields or Kmart are now a thing of the past for me. When you commit to buying fewer things, our lives are opened to the opportunity of owning nicer things. I choose quality over quantity.

Minimalists wear the same clothes every day – black t-shirts and jeans

I remember telling my boss that I was going to watch The Minimalists live and he looks me up and down and goes “but you don’t look like a minimalist?” He shares the common misconception of many that minimalists should only wear black t-shirts and jeans. This is certainly not the case for me. One of the first things I did when I began my minimalism journey was go through my wardrobe and remove everything that I hadn’t worn in the past year. I’ve managed to cut this down to pieces I haven’t worn in the past 6 months. Now, my every day approach to clothes is to ensure that every piece of clothing I own serves a purpose and brings joy to my life. By “joy”, I mean comfort and by “purpose” – you know what I mean.

Minimalists live a boring life

My life is in no way boring, even if I do say so myself. Life is a lot more exciting now because I choose to focus on the things that make me happy.  In fact, minimalism removes many of the mundane tasks that rob me of my daily joy and excitement. Tasks like chores, organising and clearing clutter. I would include laundry in the list too, but I actually enjoy it. When unnecessary possessions are removed, minimalists are free to choose what will define their lives. I choose to focus on myself and my family, try new experiences, travel the world and attempt the impossible. I’d decided to become a minimalist partly due frustrations with the amount of time, money and energy I was focusing on stuff in my life rather than experiences and relationships. With minimalism, I have found more opportunity to live out my greatest values.

Minimalist homes are plain and boring

Since beginning my journey, a project that I continue to work on daily is the act of going through our home and removing anything that isn’t meaningful, beautiful or doesn’t add value and joy to our lives. By the end of this, I want every decoration in my home to be of significance to us. I want our guests to walk into our home and immediately realise what’s important in our lives. Our walls will not be plain or boring but will be filled with life and love.

Minimalists come in all sizes, genders, ages, ethnicities, nationalities and religions. If you’re looking to join the movement and become a minimalist, remember that minimalism is a highly personal journey that is measured by the added value in YOUR life. Because of that, it will always be practiced differently by each individual and the outcome is defined by you. Through identifying what is valuable to you and defining your life in greater ways than by the things you own, a sense of freedom is inevitable.

Misunderstood

Valentines Day | My changed perception

If you’re a Minimalist or just anti-Valentine’s Day, you’ve most likely boycotted the entire event. The thought of spending all that money on expensive gifts, flowers, chocolates, and restaurants probably makes you feel sick. You would’ve been saying “every day is Valentine’s day (meh)” and reminded everyone that we should be showing our partner how much we love and appreciate them daily. After all, Valentines is all about consumerism anyway – a total waste of money right?

Well, all the above used to be my truth. I’ve never celebrated Valentines Day but my Minimalism journey has changed my perception of it and what it means. You see, Minimalism is about spending on what matters and creating experiences instead of stuff. It’s about focusing time and energy on celebrating people and relationships that are priority.

Minimalism helps us to acknowledge the love that is already around us and let’s us celebrate the many versions of love that exist. It’s about discovering what you love and cutting out everything else that gets in the way. Transfer this minimalist mindset to your Valentine’s Day and it becomes that much more beautiful.

I spent my Valentine’s Day acknowledging existing love, remembering eternal love and appreciating self-love. I woke up grateful for my life, son and family. I took myself to the spa for a massage, relaxed at the hairdresser, visited the cemetery with fresh flowers and then enjoyed a workout. I focused on the important things and kept it simple. I showed gratitude. This Valentines Day, I celebrated love my way.

Now here’s why I think we should all celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s simple, love is powerful, and energy is contagious. On Valentine’s Day, love is literally in the air. We often spend days worrying about our problems and let petty concerns consume us. Some of us even dwell on the fact that we don’t have a Valentine. With so many people thinking about love on this special day, we should take advantage of the collective joy and let it shift our energy. Love has the power to pull us out of any stream of negative thinking.

Some say that Valentine’s Day is all about consumerism. This may be true, but we can choose to refocus it on love. We can still celebrate Valentine’s Day without getting caught up in consumerism. Giving is an important factor in showing someone you love and care about them. However, the act of giving itself isn’t what’s important, it’s the intention behind it.

The intention behind a gift should always add meaning and value to someone’s life. Don’t get caught up in trying to give the most expensive and latest gifts. Focus on the simple things. We can give kind words and compliments, do something nice, spend our time with someone, and be physically close to our partner. On Valentine’s Day, relationships can benefit from taking love further and deeper by immersing it in the romantic ambience.

How beautiful is it that we have day where we can focus completely on another person without expecting anything in return. From now on, I will celebrate every Valentine’s Day my own way. Rather than trying to ignore the forces of love around me like I used to, I’ll use the energy of love to enhance my life and experiences on this day. I encourage you all to do the same. On Valentine’s Day, a minimalist mindset encourages thoughtfulness with money and time spent. It’s a day to focus on each other and build on relationships.

On Valentine’s Day, we focus on love. The world can do with more love.

Simply,

Una xxx

 

5 Ways Minimalism Changed My Life | Consider how it could change yours

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I simply stumbled into Minimalism. I needed space to make sense of my life and figure out who I was and where I wanted to go. I had gone from being a Wife and a Mother to now a Widow and a Single Parent. I no longer had a clear sense of identity. My 5 year plan was out the window and I’d hit a brick wall. It was time to rediscover who I was. The thought of figuring out life again and on my own scared me. I needed just enough room to breathe and refocus. I hoped and prayed for relief.

My Minimalism journey began with the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge. The relief I got from completing it was amazing and life changing. The constant challenge of throwing something different out each day turned into a habit. Now I find myself actively looking for things to get rid of, donate or give away – it’s simply satisfying.

What I realised whilst pursuing a life of simple living has changed everything. It changed how I value myself and even my things. This realisation gave me a new-found energy. My attitude changed, my self-worth began to spike and my dreams began to reinvent themselves as the space around me grew bigger. Minimalism has taught me that you must pour out of your life first, if you want to fill it up.

The 5 Ways Minimalism Changed My Life

1. It helps to uncover the real you

It gives you permission to be yourself with no shame or regret. It helps you shed guilt of not being good enough and to be proud in truly being enough. It teaches you that “enough” is not a neutral state – it is gratitude for what you already have.

2. It restores order to everyday living and to your soul

It helps you set priorities and fulfil them with renewed purpose. The feeling of overwhelm begins to lift and your soul is slowly restored. That version of you that was buried underneath all that stuff actually finds freedom. Freedom from comparison, expectations, negative self-talk, shame and grief. Simple living helps to release all those wounds into the healing of unconditional love.

3. It ignites passion and activates courage

You know those things that you used to love but you don’t have time, space or energy for? They will be reignited with abundance and your soul will be brought to life. Courage will replace fear and you will begin to choose a purposeful life. A life of fitting in, conformity and complacency becomes boring. It takes courage to choose differently.

4. It captures the present and sparks joy

As a parent, we feel like time is flying by much too quickly. Before we know it, our babies will be grown and gone. Minimalism helps you to enjoy precious moments with your eyes and heart, rather than with your phone. You experience pure joy with the simple things – cuddles in the morning, tickles, giggles and blow kisses at the school gate. The demands of excess steal the opportunities for moments of pure joy. Simplify and slow down.

5. It gives us greater purpose

We are meant for more than just work and surviving life. Remove one distraction and you’ll recognise 5 more. You’ll shed the excess and discover the gifts and talents you were created to share with the world. Every step towards living simple leads you to a positive state of being in which living with less becomes more than enough.

Simplify & slow down,

Simply,

Una xxx

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Simplifying Packing for Travel | Rarotonga 2017

My son and I travelled to the paradise island of Rarotonga (Raro) for my cousin’s wedding in October. During this time, I was only halfway in to my 30 day Minimalism Challenge. I could already tell that my mindset towards “stuff” had changed and certain stages of this trip showed me by just how much. Packing for travel stresses me out. I usually leave it to the last minute and I never enjoy the lead up to a trip.  This trip brought to light packing habits of mine that need to change. It showed me what was important and showed me perspective.

Travel bags – Raro was our third international trip in 11 months. The first was a holiday to Tonga and the second, to Samoa. For Tonga, I packed two 120 litre duffle bags at 23 kilos each, the kind that rugby players use. I’m used to packing everything bar the kitchen sink. It’s either the Mum in me, or the Tongan in me. For Raro, I managed to pack only one 120 litre duffle bag with both of our clothes and one piece of carry on luggage each.

Airport Check-in – I approached the check in counter nervously and you know that guilty feeling you get when you see a police car on the road even though you haven’t committed any crimes? That’s how I felt. I put my bag on the scales and I almost fell off my invisible chair. Our bag only weighed 14 kilos. The lightest I’ve ever packed for a flight in my life.

Unpacking in the Resort – Wedding outfits. Check. Swimming gear. Check. Work out gear. Check. Other clothes. Oh crap. That’s when I realised I barely packed anything. Even though laundry is the last thing you want to do when on holiday, it’s amazing how it can solve a lot of your problems. Who cares if you’re seen wearing the same outfit again, at least it’s clean.

Embracing the frizz – I had packed my hair straightener and curling iron to tame my frizzy in-between hair. I didn’t even use them once so I had to embrace my natural frizz. Reverting to a simple bun did wonders for my sanity, especially in the heat. By simply removing this process from my morning routine, I gained an extra hour in my day. Next time, I know not to pack these items.

Gift/Souvenir shopping – I barely bought anything at the Saturday local markets, gift shops or duty free. I bought one gift for us both and a couple of presents for friends and family but that was all. The mere thought of adding “things” to our home whilst I was still trying to “simplify stuff” and declutter didn’t make sense. I thought to myself, I often buy souvenirs on our travels and never touch them again. It was best I didn’t buy them at all.

Realisation

I realise that the 30 day Minimalism Challenge has really been positive and I’m extremely happy with my progress.  I found that minimising the “stuff” I packed and the souvenirs I bought whilst travelling meant that I could focus on experiences and not consumption. Less time was spent getting ready in the morning and I was satisfied with what we were able to fit into a single day, rather than trying to do too much. Most importantly, the extra time I got back, I spent it enjoying my family. They were the main  reason we travelled in the first place and they became my focus. For future trips, I’ll definitely be asking myself whether what I’m packing will add value to our experiences or hinder them. I look forward to planning more holidays and refining my packing for travel habits. I guess I’ll have to plan more holidays to do just that.

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From simple beginnings to simplifying stuff

It all began in the early 90’s in a Bungalow in Grey Lynn Central, Auckland, New Zealand. For many years, a young girl shared a bedroom with her elderly Grandmother. Her Father had been murdered and her Mother was an absent young widow consumed by grief. The young girl was raised by her Uncle, his children, and Grandma. Grandma was her constant and when the girl was 15, Grandma was gone. May they rest in eternal peace.

At the age of 15 she landed her first job and made money. This meant she could finally buy her own “things”, which was a concept completely new to her. She loved to buy new “things” because she had never owned a “thing” in her life. When you have nothing, you dream of having everything.

She became addicted to having “things” and found it hard to let them go. Perhaps because she’d lost so much when she was younger, she didn’t like letting go of “things” that belonged to her. Throughout the years, more money meant more “things” and this gave her a sense of freedom. Ironically, one day she would become prisoner to all the “things” she thought gave her freedom.

Fast forward twenty years to Sydney, Australia. It’s 2017 and she’s lived a colourful ten years there. She became a mother, got married and landed a well paying corporate job. But now she too is a young widow…a little bit of history repeated. She deals with her grief in her own way but fortunately she has great family and friends. They help to raise her son and keep her grounded.

They live a good life despite their life changing loss. They still live in their family apartment which has accumulated A LOT of “things” over the years. Jokes are thrown around loosely about her being a hoarder but she’s in denial. She tries to understand why she has so much stuff though. She eventually admits to herself that when her husband passed away, she’d make pointless purchases in search of a bit of happiness…to fill the void. They were all temporary “fixes” that didn’t fix anything at all.

One day she begins to reassess her life. She works full time and feels guilty that she’s away from her son so much. She makes great money and can give him anything he wants, but she knows that money can’t buy his happiness. He wants Mum, not “things”.

Her stressful corporate job begins to affect her well being. She’s exhausted, yet most nights she can’t sleep so she stays up watching Netflix. She’s stuck in a rut and one of these sleepless nights, she makes a conscious decision to get herself out it. This is the night she watches “The Minimalist” documentary and suddenly, everything makes sense. Her life, her habits, her current situation, they all make sense. She’s now on a mission to “simplify her stuff”.

And so, the 30 Day Minimalist Challenge begins.

Welcome to my journey,

Simply,

Una. xxx