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The meaning of life…

270 words, 2 minutes to read.

When I was a teenager, I helped my boyfriend clear out his grandmother’s house after she died.

She was a hoarder. It took twenty of us six weekends to do the job.

At first, the family members and I trod carefully. Everything we picked up was debated, questioned, argued over.

There were cupboards full of china knick-knacks (could be precious!), and shoe boxes stuffed full of stamps still stuck to torn-open envelopes (could be valuable!).

There were suitcases of unlabelled photographs that nobody could identify and – I remember quite clearly – a huge pickle jar full of baby teeth from the seven children and numerous grandchildren she’d cared for over her life.

There were clothes from the forties, fifties, sixties and beyond, all gradually falling into disrepair. All a feast for moths now, all shabby, stained, and musty. Three garden sheds and a double garage full of tools, wires, plugs that didn’t fit anything. Oddments of twisted wire and bent nails.

At first the twenty of us trod carefully. But soon we grew tired. Soon the treasures just became junk.

Leftovers of a life that had gone.

In the end, the family members took very few items. I was offered items, but I took nothing. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.

The rest of the belongings were either given to charity or sent to landfill.

We all took a deep, thankful communal breath when the job was finally done.

The lesson I learned from those weekends sorting through a dead woman’s life?

It still lives with me, thirty years later:

That stuff we buy in shops? It’s all just junk in the end. Life is more important than that.

Don’t waste your life on stuff.
Don’t let your possessions become a burden, for yourself or those you love.

Your stuff will never love you back.

Stuff is just junk in the end

That stuff we buy in shops? It’s all just junk in the end. Life is more important than that.

Let it go

Declutter everything – with 5 easy steps!

140 words, 1 minute to read.

Ask yourself these five straightforward questions to declutter everything…

1. Is it a duplicate?
Do you have more than one of this item the same? If so, why?

2. Is it easily replaceable?
Can you borrow / obtain / rent / buy the item locally for a small cost?

3. Was it free?
If you didn’t pay for it and you don’t use it, why on earth is it still in your life?

4. Is it a gift that you dislike but feel like you have to keep anyway to please someone?
People don’t give gifts in order to burden you. Let it go.

5. You haven’t worn / used / consumed it in the last six months or more?
Don’t leave it in your life. Get rid of it!

After decluttering, what next?

250 words, 2 minutes to read.

You hear about decluttering. Maybe you’ve already done it, and everything you don’t need – everything that doesn’t “spark joy” – is gone.

Now you’re wondering, what next?

Minimalizing our possessions is the easy part.

It might seem hard at the time, but decluttering our possessions is the easy part.

The harder part of being a minimalist is understanding, at a deep level, why we are doing this, then working to become the person we feel we were truly meant to be.

True freedom doesn’t come from owning less. True freedom comes from our possessions not owning us.

Minimising our possessions brings our true inner self into stark relief.

Once we clear the clutter away, we’re more able to see ourselves as we truly are.

Once I’d decluttered my life, I realised I needed to do a lot of work on myself, as a person.

I was eating poorly, and was overweight.
I wasn’t giving as much to charity as I’d like.
My marriage was unhappy and unsatisfying, for both of us.
I had too many “Facebook friends” and not enough real relationships.
I wasn’t contributing to my community as much as I’d like.
I was spreading my interests and talents too thin, and was consequently ineffective at most things.

Minimising our possessions is a first step.
Minimising the parts of our life that are not meaningful is the second.
Take the first step, and you become ready for the second.

Second step to minimalism

Minimalism is a rainbow…

240 words. 2 minutes to read.

The minimalism blogosphere is full of black and white, grey and nude.

Capsule wardrobes in black and white, grey and nude.

Stark clutter-free homes in black and white, grey and nude.

It’s almost as if someone Up On High is declaring: If you’re a minimalist you must wear nothing but black and white, grey and nude!

It’s like they’re decreeing: If you’re a minimalist, your home must be stark and bare, with white walls and concrete, bare brick, and black iron metalware.

But what if, as D points out in The Dark Side of Minimalism over at Visible Spectrum Blog, your version of minimalism is rainbows?

What if the reflection of your truest self is bright, vibrant colour?

What if black and white, grey and nude make you depressed and sad?

Minimalism is not a religion!

The thing is, minimalism is not a religion – although sometimes its practitioners behave as if it were one! (Oops! Our bad!)

There are no rules, set down from some all-powerful leader.

There is no uniform.

There are no set colours we must wear, or items we must have – or not have.

If there is one rule it is this: Find your truest, happiest self.

If your truest self is a rainbow, then BE the rainbow! Joyfully, gladly share what you are with the world.

Only by being honest with what you truly are will you find inner peace and happiness.

minimalism rainbow

If your truest self is a rainbow, then BE the rainbow!

Ten ways to be happy right now

101 words. 1 minute to read.

So what are you waiting for?

1. Go outside for a walk.

2. Walk along a beach.

3. Climb a tree.

4. Write a letter to a relative or friend, and post it.

5. Pat a dog or cat.

6. Lie on the grass and watch the clouds. If it’s nighttime, go stargazing!

7. Listen to a favourite piece of music.

8. Spend five minutes quiet time, reflecting on all the good things you have in life.

9. Go to a local pond or river and feed the ducks.

10. Hug a loved one, and tell them how much you care.

The best things in life are still free.

The best things in life are still free.

My minimalist story…

460 words. 5 minutes to read.

It began when my nice luxury Peugeot station wagon died, four years ago.

The cam belt broke. Exeunt engine.

Luckily, a close student friend of mine was selling her car – a tiny 1997 Starlet, a 2 door hatchback.

Minimalism story

“The Beast” – the little car that sparked my path to minimalism. We still own it 🙂 It’s 20 years old now, and it runs beautifully.

We bought it on the spot. $2300 cash. We needed a car urgently.

The car had no power windows, no stereo, no heating to speak of, and it was 16 years old… but it was reliable and very economical.

We dubbed the tiny car “The Beast”. I fell in love with its gutsy rawness.

The Beast looked very odd compared to all the huge luxury 4WD trucks and station wagons the other mothers drove their kids to school in, when I drove to school on Monday.

I realised with a shock that
a) I didn’t care and
b) The Beast was perfectly adequate for my family, even though it was dwarfed by the cars around it.

Other parents commented on The Beast, but instead of being derogatory like I expected, they sounded almost wistful.

Like me, perhaps it reminded them of the freedom we’d had before society made us feel we had to fit in and impress each other with huge cars, big houses, and manicured lawns.

An epiphany

I started thinking, why did I have the huge mortgage, the fancy clothes, the expensive haircut, the designer phone?

Why did I have all this stuff in the first place, if what really made me happy was freedom?

I realised that
– my days at the beach made me happier than trips to the mall.
– my huge country home and farm impressed others, but to me it represented work and stress.
– my expensive consumer goods made me worry.
– what I truly valued was peace, freedom and being out in nature.

It sounds odd that a car could make me begin to question everything about my life, but it did.

Minimalism begins

Once I began questioning, the questioning didn’t stop. I started examining every aspect of my life. Most of my life changed as a result. I fundamentally changed the person I am.

These days I’m far less burdened by stuff. I live a much simpler life. I have much more free time, I appreciate life more and I’m much happier.

I’ve heard a lot of minimalist journeys are sparked by one thing. Divorce, death, babies, economic hardship.

Mine was sparked by a gutsy little car.

Sharing our libraries, sharing our knowledge…

188 words. 2 minutes to read.

I used to own four floor-to-ceiling bookcases full of books.

Now I don’t.

Now I keep about 20 volumes inside our home, most of which are reference books, that I dip into over and over.

The rest are gone, and I don’t miss them. The floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are gone, and the time dusting them is gone too!

Our Lilliput Library, by our front gate, has made sharing away our books so much easier.

I put books I’m done with into the library. Passers-by are free to take them, for good or on loan.

They also add books of their own to what has now become a community collection, read and enjoyed by many.

Lilliput library

Share our libraries. Share our knowledge.

Anyone can have a Lilliput Library at their gate. You can build one yourself or, like us, obtain one from a community that builds them locally from donated materials.

Books are meant to be read and enjoyed, not hoarded on a shelf.

Share your library, share your knowledge.

Be free of the burden of ownership, and take one small step towards making our world a community again.