Minimalist Me

Copyright: markusgann / 123RF Stock Photo

About 51 weeks ago, I wrote a post about quitting complaining.  I challenged myself to quit complaining for a month.
I think it worked well, I discovered that by thinking with intent, I was able to flip my negative thoughts around – for the most part.

However, after a while I stopped “thinking” about it, and almost exactly 1 year on, I have realised that I am back to my old tricks, whinging at every opportunity to anyone who will listen.

It’s just pure coincidence of course, that I happened to have noticed this almost exactly one year on from my original post about the subject, but as I was randomly flicking through my blog the other day, I took it as a sign that I should revisit this little challenge.

But I’m not stopping there.  No, no. In typical Serene style I am going to make the challenge even more…er…challenging!

I recently viewed a TED talk on Minimalism, and found it rather interesting. I clearly have been living under a rock because when I plugged “minimalism” into Google I was overwhelmed with the reams of blogs, websites and YouTube videos of people sharing their experiences, providing advice and giving tours of their homes and closets (burglars – don’t even bother!).

What I found most interesting was how people reported that adopting a physically minimalist lifestyle, translated to their mental and emotional state.

Living with less meant they experienced more.

I myself am becoming increasingly frustrated with how cluttered and disorganised my life feels. Hell, my entire blog seems to be centred around my discontentment (and my neverending search for satisfaction). At first I thought it was the crazy work hours, then I thought maybe I was trying to do too much with my time, but I continued to forge ahead, feeling proud of myself for my strength and resilience to handle anything and everything.

Then, about 4 weeks ago I woke up in agony – my neck was completely locked up, I had pain radiating down my arm and pins & needles in my fingers.  I couldn’t work out, I could barely move – and sitting at a desk 17 hours a day was painful and mentally draining.  Suddenly, dealing with all of my stuff seemed like a huge effort- all I seemed to do was move stuff in my house – it was everywhere! Socially, I just couldn’t face the thought of going out, I was too uncomfortable.  I was sleep deprived.  I began to cry at the drop of a hat. I became anxious when faced with simple tasks.  And I began to fear this is all my life would ever be.

I am too young to feel this old!

Having seen 3 chiropractors in the past month I think I have found one who may actually be able to help my neck & back (without the traditional “cracky” techniques, thank you!! Ugh!).
So, at least that is a positive move.

It is not enough to fix the physical pain though, I need to fix the inner turmoil, I am tired of feeling at war with myself.

My first step to overcoming this, is to simplify my life and de-clutter.
I am a single person living alone in a 2 bedroom home, and every room, every drawer, every shelf of every cupboard is packed with stuff.  I don’t even know what most of it is, half the time I don’t even open said drawers and cupboards!

My wardrobe is bursting with clothes, I have actually run out of hanging space and drawers and have resorted to shoving pieces in corners…(and if you knew how big my wardrobe was, you would be horrified to hear this).

Quite simply, my house is a mess, and so is my life.

Little wonder why I cannot focus on work tasks, much less the personal activities (writing, blogging, studying…) I have no room to breathe, no space to think.

So this weekend, I start on my closet.  I have no doubt it will take me the entire 2 days – perhaps even longer – but  am looking forward to offloading!

After that, the study.

After that the kitchen & linen press.

How much stuff does one really need to survive, anyway?

Now, I am not going extreme minimalist here – I know some people challenge themselves to live on only what is absolutely essential – to the point of getting rid of all furniture, etc.  At this stage, I am more focussed on reducing my stuff and learning what I need and don’t need to be comfortable without turning my home into an empty shell.  There are things that I don’t intend to ditch- my shoes being the first on the list.  I have a lot of shoes (ok maybe I can afford to relive myself of a couple of pairs), but I also know I cycle through all most of them fairly regularly depending on the season.  I think I can probably survive very happily on about 10-20% of my clothes (excluding sportswear), but I love to change up my shoes and though I don’t need them all, I do like to wear them.

This is the great thing about a challenge such as this – it is tailor made to you as an individual.  It is about what makes you feel good.  Not only that, it is an evolving thing.

I am told that the first step is to understand why I want to do this.  This will apparently help when I am struggling with decisions of what to toss:

1.  I feel claustrophobic in my own home
2.  I can never find things
3.  I want to stop buying things in an attempt to fill an emotional void
4.  I want to clear my head
5.  I want to save money (more on this later)
6.  I want to learn to be content with what I have and be present
7.  I want to feel valued for me, not how I look (this is more about me understanding the value of me)
8.  I want more time (i.e. I want to spend less time worrying about what to wear/looking for things/frivolous shopping)

In conjunction with this, I am putting myself on a shopping ban. I am allowing myself a couple of well considered purchases – which I will consider further over the weekend.  But apart from a couple of things I can think of right now, I really do not need any more things.  Really, I earn enough, yet somehow I always seem to be making credit card payments, and never have enough money to just take a holiday if I want to, and though I have a modest emergency fund, if I were to lose my job it would be panic stations to pay my mortgage past the first month.

I realise that this might be the situation for many, but really, I have no excuse. I am not rolling in it, but I earn enough to be in a better position than this.

It is high time that Adult Serene woke up and took control of her circumstances, rather than being controlled by her circumstances.



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