Archives for December 2018

December 29, 2018

Minimalism is a Lifestyle Template

How I’ve used minimalism as a template to design my ideal life.

Over the last eight months, I have been adopting the minimalist lifestyle to develop greater meaning and fulfillment in my everyday life.

I was triggered to start this journey after learning that the average person lives 1000 months. That’s just over 80 years of age. I became motivated to start living my life with a plan and I saw minimalism as my outlet.

I started this lifestyle challenge by eliminating the excess physical, mental, and virtual clutter in my life, and within weeks I had experienced feelings of greater freedom and happiness.

When I speak to my friends about my journey, I describe minimalism as a lifestyle template that anyone can use to design their ideal life.

Along with the benefits that have come from decluttering my things, minimalism is helping me gain the space and clarity to focus on the things that add value to me daily. These things being my goals and values.

Today, I’m taking action on side projects I had only ever dreamt of, I am spending more time with my family and friends, and I am less tempted to buy items outside of my list of essentials. Simply put, this journey is helping me become more intentional with how I spend my time, energy, and money.

To host and manage this lifestyle I’ve been designing for myself, I use a bullet journal. It’s a journaling system that helps me track my daily personal and work tasks, track my past accomplishments, and plan for my future.

The bullet journal helps me start every day with a plan. Not to mention it has helped me strengthen my word with myself and others. I am proactive, more productive, and less tempted to react to unnecessary distractions.

I find meaning in the daily tasks and future goals I set for myself and find great fulfillment when these tasks and goals become accomplishments.

I no longer feel like my life is passing me by.

December 20, 2018

Questioning the Norm

How can we design essentials that are versatile, durable, and timeless to contribute to a better planet?

Within the last few years, multiple branches of the minimalism movement have erupted in popularity, encapsulating many who recognize the benefits it has to offer. Simple living, nomadic lifestyles, and zero-waste living are a few approaches to minimalism that many are familiar with. Though there are many paths to explore in the world of living with less, the freshly curated trail of sustainability has caught many people’s eyes and is a branch of simple living that should not be ignored.

At its core, living sustainably means that the consumer can easily reduce the amount of time, effort, and money that they put into purchasing items, completing tasks, and generally living life. As with mainstream minimalism, the immediate benefits of a sustainable lifestyle can become addicting, such as knowing that you are doing the environment a favor by using reusable items, increasing the longevity of the items you use, and saving resources, time, and effort by only purchasing things that you love and that fit within your values.

I have a lot of respect for companies that fit within the values of ethical living, selling long-lasting items to customers, and being truthful in their marketing. While there are many companies that are dedicated to sustainability, QWSTION is one of the few that aligns their personal values and ethical sustainability practices in their products.

QWSTION is a young company founded in Zurich, Switzerland by a handful of graphic and industrial designers. Dedicated to sharing their passion of sustainability and ethical fashion through their products, they have created the ideal work bag for those who are aspiring to live with less.

Part of QWSTION’s unique approach to design and production is developing and sourcing almost all materials directly. Regular visits to suppliers enable the comfort of knowing who makes the product and allows for exceptional quality. While the largest part of today’s textile production involves plastics that negatively impact nature and humanity, QWSTION chooses to develop their own materials, using natural fibers whenever possible to achieve the highest sustainability.

These products can be used from season to season and through every design change that our culture throws at us. With the confidence of a durable and timeless piece as well as the freedom from judgement of the fashion industry, QWSTION’s products permit you to work well and travel well. As you continue to make progress within your work and personal life, remember that less is always more. Appreciate the quality of things, not the quantity of things. If we buy fewer products, but better ones, we tend to have more joy using what we already have.

December 12, 2018

Living with Less

How life on the road has been the best idea I’ve ever had.

Two years ago an idea popped into my head: to get rid of most of my possessions and leave my home of 27 years to travel full-time in an RV. This idea was so far out of my norm that I kept it to myself for months, fearing that my friends and family might think I’d lost my mind. I wasn’t sure where it originated but I decided to research as much as possible and find out if it could be done.

The more I learned and read about others leading this lifestyle, the more I believed I could pull it off. The fact that I’d never so much as spent a weekend in an RV didn’t faze me. I focused on the freedom I would gain, traveling to beautiful places. The opportunity to explore, hike, and fully enjoy nature. I resolved to continue planning until I encountered some insurmountable obstacle.

Spoiler alert... I never did.

I began looking around my house, making a list of items I would purge. My intention was to give away my furniture, appliances, and clothing to people in need. Things with a lot of sentimental value would go into storage, but the cost for that space was not to exceed what my monthly utilities had run.

Every box packed and trash can filled over the next few months brought me closer to my goal. When I got close to my exit date I contacted a woman at the local community college who coordinates services for students with children. Soon, trucks began coming down the driveway and grateful young people would cart off my stuff.

I had not anticipated how satisfying this process would be. And now, 18 months into my RV life, there’s not a single material possession I regret giving away. I have all the essentials right here, along with the freedom to move on or stay put wherever I choose. I spent three months last summer as a Forest Service volunteer at Mount St. Helens National Monument, camping in the back of a ranger-station-turned-visitor-center. I was surrounded by a  gorgeous forest with the Milky Way overhead and no sounds at night but owls. This, and other experiences have brought a depth and freshness to my life that I would have thought unlikely at my age.

When asked how long I intend to live this way, my answer is simply, “as long as it works for me.”

I hope that will be quite some time.

December 6, 2018

Simple is Not Easy

The challenge of simplicity may not be easy, but is worth the time and effort.

I was not looking for a change when I first stumbled upon the minimalist approach. I was preparing for a month-long trek across the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain. My plan was to travel as light as possible, so for obvious reasons, I began to research all things small. It was then that I found this new, exciting, and large movement. It influenced me to pack light and pack smart.

It wasn’t until halfway through my Camino journey that I saw the beauty in minimal living. I realized why living simply was so appealing to me—I could focus on what truly mattered. I could enjoy everything I had because I had them for a reason. 

Each day, I’d wake up early, pack my bag, and start to walk. In my bag, I had about 8kg of stuff. It didn’t look much, and still, I had not used all of it during my trip. I was amazed that I could survive on one soap bar to do all my self-washing and laundry. I was even more surprised that I could live with just three sets of clothes. Wash, dry, wear—it’s as simple as that. 

One of the biggest surprises was the makeup. I rarely go natural with makeup—I like my eyeshadows, eyeliner, lipsticks… but after a few serious conversations with my sister, the only items I took were mascara, eyeliner, and face cream. Even with my love for makeup, I only used these makeup items a handful of times on my walk. The sun kissed my skin golden brown, my freckles popped out, and I really didn’t feel the need to put anything else on me.

Upon returning home, I was overwhelmed by all the stuff around me, and I desperately wanted to hold onto this minimal way of living that I enjoyed so much on the Camino trail. However, holding onto this lifestyle was far from easy. 

Before traveling to Spain, I moved all my belongings into a storage unit. After finding a new studio apartment, I realized it is a few times smaller than my previous apartment, which meant that my belongs were crowding the space. If I ever wanted to start living minimally, this was the time. 

Even with the desire to live simply, throwing things out does not come naturally to me. I like my books, movies, and CDs, as they bring memories and ease. Excuses were made until I made a breakthrough. I had found a year 2000 Panasonic CD player, one in which I had not switched on for years and could not find a home for in my new home. I debated the decision for days, and in the end, it was placed in the bin bag and removed from my life. It felt so good!

Over the next few weeks, more items followed the CD player out of my life—some things I never would have imagined getting rid of. My apartment with fewer items began to look and feel like home. Everything that remained in my life had a genuine purpose. The space I gained was precious, the clean and airy room made me feel calm. Coming home wasn’t exhausting, and I enjoyed sitting on the sofa and simply just being at home. 

Of course, there are still things I can get rid of, but it’s a process that doesn’t need to be rushed. A clutter-free space not only created room for things that matter, but it also cleared my head. Getting ready takes me half the time, looking for things is easy, and cleaning is simple.

Simple may not be easy, but it does feel good. It also may not be for everyone, but it gave me a new outlook on my everyday life and what I want it to become.