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- This blog post has some cursing in it - I am tired today and some four letter words are needed to easily convey a message. -
Learning to live simply - it's not easy. I left a busy life in Los Angeles and moved to Europe 5 years ago to live with my boyfriend. I came over with two suitcases and very little money and started building my life from scratch, with the little freelance jobs I could get to keep a flexible schedule working with my health problems (it took me 3 years to buy a proper desk chair haha).
Minimalism at it's best ideal is that you have enough money to buy simply the best of what you need and no more - but it ignores the rest (the majority) of people who are just scraping together what they can to get by - and who keep everything they collect in case they need it some day.
However - I want to iterate that letting go of junk that's really not serving you is the best way to lighten your load and move forward towards a life where you are better at taking care of yourself.
Studies show that having too much clutter, mess and stuff can cause more stress, depression and anxiety - not things you need to add to your already overloaded healing body.
This year I moved for the 15th time in 15 years - and I got rid of everything that really didn't serve me. I cleaned out my closet and cleared my calendar. I can't keep traveling and pretending I'm well when I'm sick.
When you're sick is not the time to try to force your way out into the world, and it's really helpful to learn as early on as possible that this is not the time to try to impress people with how good a sport you are - you're just going to delay getting the help you really need.
Tips on where to start -
- Unsubscribe from email newsletters and campaigns. Go through your inbox and unsubscribe from any newsletters you're not absolutely in love with.
- Keep your calendar clear as possible - your closest friends will understand your need for flexibility. It can be so stressful wondering if we're going to have enough energy to go to an event - just reply to invitees that you'll have to make the decision on the day.
- Get rid of any clothes or shoes you haven't worn for a year - or anything that doesn't fit anymore. It's nice to have "goal clothes" but really - they're just holding you back from being who you are. Clearing out your closet and being able to clearly see all your favorites makes it easier to feel good about what you're wearing every day.
-Throw out any kitchen appliances you hardly ever use - we inherited a waffle iron and vegetable steamer that we never ever used, and those things can add up really fast and take up a lot of space. Honor the stuff you use daily!
- Donate books and videos that have just been sitting on the shelf - obviously keep the treasures you truly love, but if it's just "eh" it's not adding any value to your life by having it there.
Granted - I acknowledge just DOING these tasks take energy. Take it one bite at a time, when it feels right. Set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes and then stop. At least it will get the intention rolling.
It's easy to hear someone tell you to simplify your life - you're probably imagining all the ways you can't - focus on the ones you can. Focus is a key aspect of simplifying. It means paying attention to what you DO have - living in simplicity is a life in mindfulness.
Use the wayfinding techniques to feel for you what would be a great area of your life to simplify - where do you need to lighten your load? Listen for your answer.
If you don't love the shit out of something around you - get rid of it (you'll find that you love the shit out of a lot more stuff than you might have thought - and maybe ask yourself why the fuck you kept something else around for so long).
Moving from the USA to the UK was a perfect life lesson in less - less convenience, less consumption, less busyness, less to achieve, less to prove - but all in the best ways.
Simplicity doesn't mean depriving yourself. I finally live in a flat with a dishwasher after 4 years of hand-washing dishes - and having the dishwasher has increased simplicity. However, hanging on to old business and formal clothes that I really can never wear were holding me back into living into my life now.
When you are ill, you have the largest burden - being ill is just the first one. On top of that you have to carefully manage all your resources - your time, your physical energy, your limited money (I've lost hundreds of thousands in lost potential income), your food, your caffeine, your emotional energy, your sleep, your appointments - The outside world may even put the expectation on you that if you are sick you have to be even MORE perfect in order to prove that you have the WILL to cure yourself. (Breathe in Peace. Breathe out FUCK THAT SHIT ).
My way of dealing with these challenges has been to simplify in every way possible, and that really includes having gratitude for what I have, the focus to change what I can change, and the patience to hold on and wait for the things I can't change yet.
The number one thing to always consider - What do I need right now?
Simplify. This is the time to do it. Life finds a way to busy and clutter itself without much help.
The Maharishi said:
Keep your desire turning back within and be patient.
Allow the fulfillment to come to you,
gently resisting the temptation to chase your dreams into the world.
Pursue them in your heart until they disappear into the self, and leave them there.
It may take a little self-discipline, but be simple, be kind.
Attend to your inner health and happiness.
Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things toward you.
Allow your love to nourish yourself as well as others. Do not strain after the needs of life - it is sufficient to be quietly alert and aware of them. In this way life proceeds more naturally and effortlessly. Life is here to enjoy.
Check out The Story of Stuff (or watch the 20 min intro film here)
Check out Minimalism - a documentary on Netlflix (critical cap - Minimalism is great for the upper middle class but there are some good tips in this movie too).
If you found this helpful please help me raise money for The OHC to bring integrative health care to people going through chronic illness.
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Go to Day 1 for the Table of Contents of the Sofa Heroes Challenge