Step #6: Fear

Minimalist Monday

The opposite of freedom is FEAR. On The Minimalists blog, they write about the fear of loss in day 6 of the minimalist journey: “Sometimes we’re afraid to give up what we think we have.” The advocates for less brings more freedom go on to encourage the reader to stop being afraid of what’s keeping happiness away.

Getting rid of the excess in life is truly liberating, but also dealing with the fear that is holding you back is FREEDOM.

This weekend, I created my vision board. Even at my age, there are still things I want to accomplish…my quest to focus my attentions, getting rid of all the non-essentials and live my life simply!

So you may ask, what does a vision board have to do with fear? For me, as my mind focuses on my vision for my life, my focus becomes my vision and less on the fears that are holding me back. If your fears are all you think about (excessive debt, health, loneliness)…these fears become reality.

The following quote is attributed to Winston Churchill. “Create your own universe as you go along.” As I prepared my vision board, I am a huge believer, that it’s your thoughts and also your feelings that shape your life. Your life is a physical manifestation of the thoughts in your head. Taken from the movie the SECRET, “In quantum physics you can’t have a universe without the mind entering into it. The mind is actually shaping the very thing that is being perceived.” I love that!

With this in mind, a vision board sets your thoughts, your feelings to where you want to be. It shapes your life to what you want in it. I still have a few more things I want to add it, but so far, here is what I have for my vision board.

Vision Board

I hope you will take some time, if you haven’t already and put together your vision board. I would love to hear about your experience. Please share in the comments below.

Step #5 – Things

Minimalist Monday

The purpose of life

In this step, Day 5, The Minimalist directs us to evaluate all the things in our lives. Moving beyond what is essential on to developing a discerning judgment on the things that occupy our life. This may be quite a timely post right after a holiday that is highly commercialized, huh?

This stage wants us to understand several concepts. Acquiring things cost us money. Maintaining things cost us money. Using things take our time. Keeping things bring us added stress.

I read an article a few months ago that identified how the social normative teaches us early on to become consumers. Sometimes, I think it becomes our quest to buy things so we can experience happiness. Yet, this quest to obtain all these “gotta haves” is insatiable. And during which our focus gets turned to the outside. It becomes all about the appearance — what we have — what we look like; instead of focusing on being a beneficial person and making the world a better place.

Believe me; I get caught in this too. In fact, I am probably deep-seated in it. This has been difficult for me break the behavior. Just to relate a recent experience. There was a white elephant present game over the Christmas holiday, I “stole” a gnome from someone (Sorry, Janet). Certainly, it was part of the game, but really? Yep. Definitely, the gnome was adorable. Of course, it would look even more adorable in my garden. But really, is a gnome in my possession really necessary? Would it really make my life more complete? Would it make ME more valid? 

My favorite author, Henry David Thoreau, wrote, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” In acquiring possessions, it’s not the money spent, it’s the time given. So, before bringing something new into our life; we really need to be discerning on defining what value this “thing” brings.

 So, this new year, here are 5 criteria that I am going to start using before I add new items in my life.

  1. Do I really need this?
  2. How will it add to my life?
  3. What am I giving up to make this purchase and/or bring it home?
  4. Will this help me meet my goals?
  5. Am I buying this to validate who I am?

I am going to try this year to be more discerning in the things that occupy my life and focus more on becoming a better person — realizing that happiness is a choice in the journey and not found in the things I have acquired along the way.

…make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

What are your thoughts? Do you have challenges with “things”? Do they get in your way of making a difference?

 

Step #4: Essentials

Minimalist Monday

If you define abundance in terms of feeling there is plenty, you will be rich every day of your life. (1)

In Zac Brown Band’s song, “Homestead”, the lyrics go: “I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t.” While these words are easy to understand, I took a moment to let them sink in. How simple! How true! I have everything need…but too, I have a whole lot of things that I don’t need. What a great yard stick to measure what is essential in life.

Step 4 of minimalism is essentials. Coming from a life of consumerism, this is challenging to get down to only the essential. As I have mentioned before, I’m challenged. So, as a wimp, I start small.

I started with my kitchen counter.

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These pictures reveal clutter. I am a person of convenience. If it isn’t convenient, chances are I won’t do it. So, I wanted to take things off the counter to easily keep it clean, but I still needed easy access to some of the items. I had a hard time determining what is essential and what isn’t. This was not be easy for me.

In my reading of organizational tips, I learned placing items together at “point of use”. So I have a my teas together on the right, all my baking/cooking items in the area on the left (in addition with all my supplements). The counter is premium “real estate”, so I only wanted things I use daily on it. While I do take my vitamins daily, all the bottles make the counter look very cluttered. So, I wanted to move them to the cupboard.

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The counters now. Only things that are needed daily have earned a place in the prestige spot on the counter. I still have my kombucha on the counter, so I have to decide if its necessary there or I should move it to another location.

The look of minimalism…tidy, organized, clean.

“I’ve got everything I need and nothing that I don’t.”

This song provided a paradigm shift that I needed. It’s going to be my motivation to continue on. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, here is the Youtube link — enjoy.

I’m loving this simple, minimalist life.

So, what do you have on your counter? Is it only the essential things? Have you been able to minimize its contents even further?

Day #3:The Packing

Minimalist Monday

Challenged…again! My challenge? I have a hard time of letting go of things. Day 3 of The Minimalist is packing. The instruction is to box up everything and then when you need something, find the box, take it out. I am just too practical — okay, LAZY — to box up everything and then when I need someone to find the box. But I’m on this quest, I adjusted this step a little…okay a lot. I started with my bedroom, specifically my closet. You may be thinking, what a wimp. This, however, was the most difficult. I love clothes…it’s a curse and I blame my mother!

This is what I started with…my closet (please, don’t judge).

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I followed the guidelines of Project 333. The strategy is to choose 33 items to use for three months. If you are interested, here are some resources with more information:

Project 333, simple is the new black.
Declutter Your Closet
Or simply perform a google search of “Project 333”. You will come up with about 216,000 results.

A word of caution: Do not…I repeat do not tell anyone of the male species the guidelines of this project and how challenging it is for you. Their response will be laughter. This will be laughter at you, not with you or beside you, but at you. I made this mistake several times before learning to just keep my mouth shut. On the other hand, most females are very sympathetic.

So, again, this was really difficult for me to make choices on what to discard or keep pieces. So, I purchased 4 bins for each season. 

3In these bins I started tossing clothing appropriate for the season designated on the bin. At this point was able to move through my closet relatively quickly. I got rid of duplicates and discarded the pieces that were worn out or items where I asked the question, “What was I thinking!”

I recently read an article mentioning a study by Princeton University. It talked how certain habits can zap your energy. On the list was clutter. Clutter appears to be my  middle name. The study recommended starting small and when you see the benefits you will have the motivation to move on. Working through my closet gave me motivation to move onto my room. I’ll save that for another post.

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I faced the beast. I conquered! This was liberating.

This challenge has also changed my shopping behavior. I don’t feel it’s a requirement now to find something to buy when I’m on a trip or tagging along with a friend who’s shopping. I realize. I have 33 items. I don’t need anything else. Also, buying something means I have to give up something else. When I retire pieces from my wardrobe, I’ll have a reason to shop and will end up with new items which I need and will fit with what I have. Then I won’t end up with nonsensical items because I was compelled to buy it.

Also, with only 33 items in my closet, getting ready in the morning is a breeze. So, this challenge is saving me money and time. 

Anyone else heard of Project 333? Have you embarked on “simple is the new black”? Interested in taking on the challenge? I would love to hear.

Step 2: The Plan

Minimalist Monday

If you define abundance in terms of feeling there is plenty, you will be rich every day of your life.
Following along with The Minimalist 21-day challenge, I began to make a plan, attempted and began to make a plan again. This has been difficult, but since I have began the journey, the results have been encouraging. I want to live my life simply and only keep in it, what’s important. It’s been hard for me to make the distinction of what is truly necessary. The Minimalist recommends making a must list. This list is to identify what you must do to achieve your why. I used their list (they did an excellent job on) and adapted it to fit me and my why. Here’s my list.

  • I must live healthy every day.

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  • I must focus on eating clean, real food.

I have been on this quest for a while and have failed as many times as I have started. A friend told me once, “It’s a process.” As everything in life it IS a process. You are only one meal away from eating healthy — no matter how many times you need to start that beginning. Just take it one meal at time.

  • I must exercise at least four times per week.

Once upon a time, I exercised faithfully. About three years ago when I started graduate school, exercising was the first thing to go as my schedule went from busy to mind-boggling busy. Since completing school, it’s been difficult getting back into the groove of exercising. I found this blog, busybugeter.com, that recommends setting up a reward system for “good behavior”. Since I love rewards, this will be my salvation! Here is the spreadsheet I made up (modeled after the blogger’s), if you’re interested.

  • I must build loving relationships every day.

Family (1)

  • I must live within my means, while contributing to savings and charity.

I recently attended a Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsey. It completely changed the way I think about money. It has several steps to move you towards financial peace. This will continue to be a “must” for me.

  • I must live deliberately and be self-sufficient.
  • I must write every day.

As I blog, I want to improve and become a better writer.

  • I must show value to those I meet and associate with daily.

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  • I must read every day.

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  • I must listen to music every day.

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  • I must grow as an individual every day.
  • I must live passionately and cease the day.

Passion

  • I must end each day with gratitude.

As directed by The Minimalist, with this list developed; I now will answer the following questions to ensure a successful plan for this journey.

What is standing in the way of my musts?
When did I give so much meaning to my possessions?
What is truly important in my life?
Why am I discontented?
Who is the person I want to become?
How will I define my success?
How will my life improve if I own less stuff?

So far the weeding out of my possessions has brought me relief and clarity to my life. How about you? Has your journey brought you to be a minimalist? Please share any comments or tips.

Minimalist…discover your why.

Minimalist Monday

Minimalist! Minimalist? “What exactly is a minimalist,” you might be asking. I came upon the term about a year ago while watching the TEDx YouTube channel (yeah, I am geeky like that , but there are some really great videos Happy face.) The topic was presented by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn. Their tagline…“A rich life with less stuff.” Since hearing the term, I have noticed people all-around simplifying their lives. I was intrigued. Evidently, the movement still continues and has gained momentum. People are getting back to the essentials, realizing that the true meaning of life has been lost in the quest to accumulate “stuff”. Several years ago, I had already begun my journey of getting back to the basics with my food source to become less dependent on commerce. So, I started raising chickens (a long story…a past blog entry). So, moving from a minimalist foodie to other areas in my life seemed logical…the next step.

Since the initial exposure of minimalism, I have found quite a few blogs about people who have embarked on the journey to reduce the clutter in their life and in turn, to have more time for the things that are most important. One such blogger took a challenge not buy anything for one year. Something I feel would be quite a feat, but somewhat worthy of a quest.

Another blog focused on clothes, capsule wardrobes. Referred to as Project 333, a search can find information all over social media, with quite a bit of information found in YouTube and Pinterest. This will be something I will try to explain, attempt and journal in a future post.

Back to the overall minimalist…Joshua and Ryan have a website: theminimalist.com. The website has a 21 day schedule to follow in the pursuit of becoming a minimalist. They also offer a game, if you just want to dip your toe in, and get just a little wet. One blog, bemorewithless.com laid out seven simple steps to get started. The common thread in all these blogs is the starting place—discover your why. So, I thought with my first returning blog post, I would lay it all out and get started on this life altering pursuit. Why do you want to simplify? Why do you want to de-clutter? Why do you want to be a minimalist?

Discover the “why” of becoming a minimalist. Joshua from theminimalist.com website expressed it:

“In time, Joshua realized most of his stuff—about 90% of it—was weighing him down, keeping him from the freedom, happiness, and fulfillment he so desperately wanted.

So he let go. Over the course of eight months, Joshua jettisoned approximately 90% of his possessions. As he let go, he began feeling freer, happier, lighter. As the external clutter was removed, so was the internal clutter: emotional clutter, mental clutter, stress, anxiety”.

So, here is my why: I have discovered the true meaning of life isn’t what you have, but who you are with…your family, friends, those that love you unconditionally. I realize that I have lost sight of the true meaning of life, getting caught up in acquiring stuff just for the sake of buying and hording. I want to rid my life of all the clutter that is weighing me down and keeping me from really attaining in life what I value most. I want my future decisions evaluated with; will this will bring me the quality of life that is important…will this bring me closer to what I value: family, relationships, self-reliance…living deliberately.

Take a look here at the 15 minute TED talk of Joshua and Ryan. See if it isn’t life changing for you too.

So, what do you think? Are you in? Ready to start getting rid of stuff and simplify???