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the constant work of minimalism

21 October 2012
San Francisco 2010

For me, too much complexity has crept back into my life over the past few months. Since starting my elimination diet and constantly researching food information, getting involved in new projects, taking onboard the perceived expectations of others and my ongoing challenges with finding products like shampoo and sunscreen that don’t irritate my skin – I don’t like how cluttered my mind and diary have been these past few weeks. As I left yet another event absolutely exhausted and forgetting to take in the joy of a breeze or having the mind emptiness to open a new book, I realised it was time for a balance reassessment.

  • I said to my husband that I needed quiet time in one of our favourite urban parks. We grabbed some takeaway food, a blanket and went immediately. My husband, dog and I lay in the park for 2 hours, chatted, snoozed and watched the sun set. It was perfect.
  • I turned off my phone. Even though I am happy to ignore phone calls at times, it feels even better to turn it off at moments of overwhelm and feel truly disconnected.
  • The past 3 weeks I have had the internet deactivated for 7 hours a day. If you have an IT savvy husband this is a great way of forcing yourself away from the information overload and increasing productivity.
  • Talk less. Sometimes it’s best to have less words tumbling out and focus my energy on finding clear objectives in my mind.
  • I’m seriously considering deleting a social media account. I don’t tweet often and don’t like the medium but have used it to follow businesses/people. The repetition of tweets and barrage of unnecessary information just fills valuable real estate in the mind!
  • We set a “no plans, no times, no driving” day. A sleep in, a lazy breakfast at home and a wander down the street with our dog and to get a takeaway coffee for my husband. Simultaneously we both found our minds quietly plugging away and solving problems or creating and we retreated from the warm weather back home to jot down our inspired thoughts.
  • Reassess my limitations with the changes in my eyes. It’s a process I must go through several times a year. Another round has arisen and I’m asking myself questions.
  • Walking dates. There is not much more invigorating than an early morning or sunset walk with my husband and dog where time is not relevant and the little things bring great joy.
  • Repeating my mantra. Simplify. Forget all the conflicting, marketing-driven health advice and go with what I know to be right for us. Ignore a recipe book and just whip up a simple, fresh meal.

I think minimalism is sometimes portrayed as a once off journey to a destination, a nirvana of sorts where one is immune to any blemish on their life choices. Conversely it’s a constant juggling act of balancing your ideals and the assaults of the world around you. Whether it be advertising, events, diary commitments, health information, demanding or negative people, your own aspirations for perfection etc, it’s all about reassessing and being honest with oneself over and over again.

8 Responses
  1. October 22, 2012

    I agree that attempting to live a simple life is not an easy path to follow, and it is so easy for life to become more complicated again without realising it. Your posts about simplicity always make me reassess my priories too.
    Enjoy all those important parts of your life without the extra baggage weighing you down.
    Sarah x

  2. October 22, 2012

    I’ve been feeling the same way – my diary has been a busy mess lately! It all caught up to me last week when I was feeling very run down indeed. I’ve still got a couple more weeks before all my tasks/events can be crossed off the list, but I’m trying to be very careful about going to bed early when I can, eating well, and drinking some revitalising juices. And not scheduling more things in than I can handle! Phew, it requires ongoing dilligence! I love your idea about setting a “no plans, no times, no driving day”! I hope all your minimalist measures are working and that you are feeling more rested x

  3. October 22, 2012

    I like how you have minimised the noise in your life by turning off your phone and limiting internet access at home. I need to do that, I’m constantly online checking emails and I know it’s not healthy.

    Your time at the park with your husband and dog sounds delightful. It’s been a while since I did that with Stu, but now that the weather is warming up, I plan to change that!

  4. October 22, 2012

    Hi lovely, this is such a beautifully written reflection. I love your balance reassessment guidelines. Enjoy reconnecting with those all important things that get lost in the day-to-day grind x

  5. October 23, 2012

    You’re absolutely right. Often we keep ourselves so busy in order to fill the hours and make us feel important. Personally, I like twitter but dislike inane tweets which to me is just noise. It’s a little like having to sit in front or behind a chatterbox on the train. By the time you got off, you know the person’s entire life history.

  6. October 23, 2012

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you for your list! I agree about the dreaded cell phone. I rarely have mine within reach and people always get annoyed with me that I NEVER answer it. I just hate the phone! Could live without it for sure! I don’t do the social media thing, so I’m good there. LOVE the “no plans, no time, no driving day!” Wish it could be everyday, but I’m going to try to do this at least once a week. Great idea! I am feeling a little less simplified myself with these 2 babies coming. It is going to be a challenge for sure, especially since I enjoy my quiet time. I’ve been cleaning out the house for weeks and still feel like I have too much! Less is more, less is more, less is more. I must keep telling myself this. Thank you for your post to remind me to get focused again. Have a great week. XO

  7. October 23, 2012

    Hey lovely, such a wonderful post and a timely reminder to take the time to focus on what is important! I totally agree with you that simplifying is a constant journey and I love what you wrote there about being honest with one’s self over and over again. It’s something I’m working through at the moment too. Your take on things is always an inspiring catalyst! x

  8. October 25, 2012

    “…it’s all about reassessing and being honest with oneself over and over again.” Cannot agree more with this. You managed to observe something so complex and then nail it with words. I love how as soon as you felt like you weren’t enjoying the busyness you did something about it. I think a lot of people would be tempted to just keep on going with the destructive overload.

    Along the same lines, my Mum and my friend and I have been chatting about all the stuff you accumulate. Mum’s moving soon and one of my friends quit a job they hated and has spare time to do a spring clean. They’ve been throwing out or donating great quantities of stuff that was just hanging around. I think reduced clutter must make them feel more free.

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