Road to Minimalism: Changing Habits (What Youtube doesn’t tell you)

So despite me excitedly jumping onto the Minimalist bandwagon a week ago and dedicating a significant portion of my free time this week to decluttering, the last few days have not been great in that I’ve bought a lot of stuff (both online and offline) which I probably don’t need (a significant amount being clothes and decor).

I keep telling myself that as long as I LOVE it, it’s ok. But that’s a lie, its not ok especially when I LOVE everything.

What I realised today was that despite knowing and agreeing with everything about the idea of minimalism, actually putting into practice is another thing. There’s sooo many Youtube videos about how to start the journey to minimalism and “The 5/10/20 things I no longer buy”, however there isn’t many that talks about how to change your whole lifestyle rather than simply decluttering and not buying anymore. Obviously the decluttering does instigate a degree of change in your lifestyle, but for those of us who are shopping addicts, there is a danger that we’ll get rid of half the things we own and replace it within a week or month.

As I was thinking about this today I realised that in order for minimalism to work for me, even if I don’t replace the things I throw out, what I do need to replace are my habits. No matter how much stuff you get rid of, there will be a point where you can’t get rid of anymore, and then what? Also, the other side of minimalism is to create a more happy and meaningful life. This doesn’t come by just getting rid of stuff. So how does it work?

For me I think the best way to do this is to identify the times in my week where I’m prone to shop and then to make a list of things I enjoy doing other than shopping and replace those time slots.

So for me its a habit of mine to come home from a long day of work, have dinner while watching tv and then browsing the internet, which pretty much 100% of the time leads to me online shopping or at least online browsing. Another danger period is on weekends if I need to go buy something other than groceries. Because this usually means I have to go to a big shopping centre rather than the local shops down the road, it puts me in an environment where I’m surrounded by retail shops and its often hard to stay focused on the one thing that I need to buy rather than being distracted by all the pretty things around me.

In an attempt to change my habits, here are a list of alternatives I’m giving myself to replace that time with:

Weeknights:

  • Have a bath
  • Give myself a manicure/pedicure
  • Do a facial
  • Read a book
  • Read a blog and learn something new
  • Exercise
  • Go out with a friend
  • Study a language
  • Plan your next holiday

Weekends:

  • Find a new hobby
  • Go hiking
  • Go to an event around the city
  • Meetup with a friend
  • Go kayaking
  • Volunteer
  • Exercise
  • Get a second job/freelance
  • Create a website for your business
  • Write a book
  • Blog
  • Do a DIY project

So now I’m going to make a commitment to myself that if I ever feel the urge to shop for any reason, do one of the things above instead. Hopefully that will keep me from replacing everything I worked so hard to get rid of.

Road to Minimalism: Decluttering Makeup, Skincare & Fragrances

I’m making a bit more progress with the decluttering as the week goes by. I do a little bit a day and make sure I’m conscious of what I’m keeping and throwing out, trying to notice patterns in what I like and dislike.

I’m also making a conscious effort to document everything in photos so that if I ever go off track in terms of maintaining a minimalist lifestyle, I can refer back to the photos and realise how much stuff I’ve wasted.

In terms of makeup especially, I have watched waaaayy too many Youtube videos about makeup and as a result bought a whole heap of stuff I rarely use. I wear make maaaybe once a fortnight, if that. So having 6 different foundations and 20 different lipsticks was probably not the best set of decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Skincare I actually use, however I always fall into the trap of buying skincare products because there’s a sale or a special offer or because it smells nice. I always tell myself “it’s ok to buy this because I do use moisturiser all the time so I’ll eventually use this”. But when you’ve got like 5 different bottles of body lotion, 3 toners, 4 face moisturisers and a whole bunch of body mists you realise sure you could eventually use up all of it if you didn’t buy anything else for the next 2-3 years and if the product doesn’t expire or go off by then.

Next came nail polish. Again I don’t use nail polish very often. Sometimes I’ll go through a phase for 2-3 weeks where I’ll be bothered to consistently have my nails painted and then it’ll be followed by 3-4 months where I don’t paint my nails at all. However when I’m in a store or at the airport browsing duty free, I always end up getting nail polish. I guess because its a small purchase I tell myself its ok as its only a small treat and won’t take up much room. And then the next thing I know, I have close to 40 bottles of nail polish, all of which vary between 3-4 main colours – nudes/light pinks/peach, red, black, white and turquoise.

Lastly, fragrances. I love buying new perfumes and having a new scent so over the years I’ve collected quite a few perfumes. Usually the ones I buy are more on the expensive side so are of good quality which means they do last for quite a while. However, it’s really only been in the last 2-3 months where I’ve actually gotten into a habit of wearing perfume everyday. Before that it was sporadic at best which means it would take me years to go through a bottle of perfume. More often than not, I’d have to throw it out because it went off or the fragrance had changed.

Below are some pictures of the decluttering process.

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This was at the beginning where I tried to put all the makeup, skincare and fragrances I owned in one gigantic pile to sort.

In terms of nail polish, because it’d been so long since I’d used some of the colours, I’d kinda forgotten what they looked like on which meant I had to try on quite few colours before I could decide whether I wanted to throw them out or not.

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Not a great application, but because I was only interested in seeing what they looked like on, it didn’t really matter.

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In the end these were the colours I decided to keep. The colours I threw out were hot pinks, oranges, yellows and purples. I realised that even though they were all pretty colours, they were not pretty against my skin.

Also because I work 5 days a week, I realised a lot of the colours I liked to wear were the nude/skin tone colours and also red. The fuchsias, turquoise and coral colours are more for weekends and summer holidays.

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This is the pile of stuff I decided to get rid of. Most of what I got rid of was because the product had expired rather than the fact that I didn’t like it.

I still have quite a lot of makeup left, but I have made a commitment to myself that I will get rid of at least a quarter of it within the next 1 – 2 months. Mostly, I want to actually try all the foundations and lipsticks properly (e.g. wearing it for a whole day at least) before I make a decision on whether to throw it away.

I feel like I am making progress towards becoming more minimalist. I’m glad that it’s the weekend now which means I can focus more attention and get more decluttering done at a faster rate.

Overall, I want to have a very curated set of holy grail skincare and makeup products – basically a capsule makeup collection and skincare collection. Right now for my facial products I’m using a line of popular toners, serums and moisturisers by Japanese brand Kose combined with some Korean skincare products. Altogether it’s working wonders on my skin with less pimples, lightening of scars and tighter pores. I love it so much so I think I’m going to stick to it rather than trying anything new.

In terms of makeup I haven’t found anything I love as much, although I purchased a new BB cream lately which I have high hopes for. I’d really like to create a capsule makeup collection of all things that I love, except I haven’t really found much that I love as of yet.

 

Road to Minimalism: Decluttering My Wardrobe

One of my worst habits is spending a large portion of my income on clothes. My wardrobe has been filled to the point of bursting on a consistent basis over the last 5-6 years, especially after I discovered online shopping in the form of ASOS and most recently H&M and Uniqlo which opened stores in Australia about a year ago.

About twice a year I’ll have a big clean up of my wardrobe usually when the seasons change, however despite those cleanups, I’d always manage to replace whatever I got rid of very quickly with new stuff.

On Monday this week I decided to do another clean up having been inspired by all the youtube videos I’d watched on minimalism and decluttering.

Here are some photos during the decluttering and the results after.

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This first photo was taken during the decluttering process. Everything on the bed was clothes I planned on keeping and everything on the floor was the donation pile.

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This is the pile of clothes I was giving away, after I’d put the clothes I was keeping back in my wardrobe.

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This last one is the same pile of donation clothes stacked and categorised. I wanted to know what I was throwing away and how much I was throwing away.

In total I was giving away 65 pieces of clothing which included:

  • 17 items (26%) I’d never worn before
  • 18 items (27%) that I’d worn 1-2 times
  • 13 items (20%) that I’d worn 3-5 times

Out of the 65 items:

  • 17 were dresses (26%)
  • 12 were tops/tees (18%)
  • 12 were shirts/blouses (18%)

The information I got after I organised and categorised the clothes I was throwing out was quite useful and also really highlighted how many things I’d purchased that I didn’t even like, let alone love. Such a high percentage were things I’d worn less than 5 times (73%).

As mentioned in my last post, the stuff I did keep also showed me a lot about what clothes I liked and didn’t like.

Overall I felt like I was a lot more ruthless with my decluttering process this time compared to all the other times I’ve thrown out clothes. I tried to keep in mind that I should only be keeping pieces that I loved and knew I’d wear a lot. I also realised that some of the things I’d bought had been purchased because I thought it looked ‘pretty’ or was a ‘pretty’ colour even though it didn’t end up looking very pretty when I wore it.

Important lessons on clothing – what to buy and not to buy:

  • Simply liking the way an item of clothing looks is not enough. You need to ensure that you like the look of it when it is actually ON you.
  • When you are considering an item of clothing, assess it against a multi-dimensional criteria rather than just one single aspect e.g. colour. Other aspects to consider include:
    • Fit – is it a fit/cut that is flattering to your body shape
    • Quality – will it stretch or shrink after multiple wears, does it feel comfortable on, will the colour run or fade quickly with every wash
    • Structure – the cut of the item may be suited to your body shape, but because of the material the overall structure of the item may not fall in a flattering way when its actually on your body e.g. materials that are too soft, thin and stretchy (e.g. thin jersey material) does not look good on me even if its an A-line dress which is the cut that usually suits me best. Similarly pencil dresses made out of soft material also clings to all the wrong places on my body, where as pencil dresses made out of material that is thicker and less stretchy look good on me.
    • Colour – whether the colour complements your skintone, whether the colour complements other items of clothing/accessories in the outfit
    • Upkeep/Maintenance – are you willing to clean the garment as per the cleaning instructions on a regular basis? if not then this item is probably not for you.
  • Keep to a neutral/limited colour palette as this means its much easier for you to have items that complement each other and to create multiple outfits with a limited range of items.
  • Do not buy clothes if you have to change something about your body in order for that item to look good e.g. don’t buy anything you that doesn’t fit because you think you’ll lose weight and be able to fit into it in future
  • And last, but most important – DO NOT BUY ON IMPULSE. Buy something ONLY IF YOU LOVE IT and also only after you’ve thought about it for a day.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve made significant process in decluttering my wardrobe. Now its easy for me to see everything in my wardrobe easily. Having said that I’d really like to aim towards creating a capsule wardrobe with around 30 – 50 items. The 65 items I got rid of is probably only 1/3 of my current wardrobe, which means I have around another 120-130 items (and that’s not including the winter clothes I’ve stored under my bed).

Discovering Minimalism: The Stars Align

For the last few months, maybe even the last year, I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with life. It wasn’t a deep, intense sense of dissatisfaction, but more of an underlying feeling that most aspects of my life were not going in the direction I wanted them to go and that the path I was on was no longer bringing me happiness.

One thing that has gradually come to my attention over the last 6 months is the fact that I feel like for a while now I have not being striving for anything and to me that is somewhat of a foreign feeling. When I look back over the course of my life I notice that I have always been striving for something, even if at the time I may not have been aware of it on a completely conscious level or explicitly defined it as a statement to myself. And in terms of the things I was striving for, it ranged across all aspects of my life, e.g. when I was younger it was making new friends and social connections, doing well in school, finding a good job, getting a better paid job, being a better person/girlfriend/daughter/friend, understanding myself better, exploring my interests, trying new things, saving money, being healthy, exercising, travelling, etc. Now I look back over the last year, I feel like I have really lost that sense of introspection and as a consequence, my level of self awareness.

For the past few years, especially since I broke up with my ex, I feel like I have just indulged in everything a little too much and have reached a level of excess that I’m kind of embarrassed to be confronted by. Perhaps because the last 4 years has encompassed so many big changes in my life, combined with a significant increase in independence and freedom, I’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum and basically threw caution into the wind and said to myself “I’ll do whatever I want, when I want and I am accountable to no one (including myself)”. Now I’m coming to the realisation that I need to pull in the reins before I do something that I regret or something that can damage my life for the long term. Looking back now it scares me how reckless I have been in some instances and how lucky I am that nothing irreparable has happened (knock on wood).

Over the weekend I was surfing Youtube, as many people often do, and like always in the mystical land of Youtube, you often find yourself somewhere with no idea of how you actually got there. Anyway, I ended up watching a series of videos on minimalism and by series I mean I did this for basically the whole of Sunday, for the entire day. After watching what would probably be 80% of the videos available on Youtube on minimalism, I was very inspired by what I saw and heard and have decided (perhaps brainwashed) to endeavour to live a more minimalist life.

As I watched video after video I realised that a lot of the ideas and principles behind minimalism were things I related to and resonated with what I was feeling inside. What other people had experienced that motivated them to embark on their journey to minimalism were things that I completely identify with and it almost felt like a relief that:

  1. Other people had felt the same thing
  2. Minimalism was a solution to how they felt and helped them feel better and be more happy

Some of the things that really resonated with and inspired me:

  • People felt like they just had so much stuff and was continually buying more stuff to the point that they lived in clutter and didn’t even know what items they owned
  • People spent so much money on stuff and it was an endless cycle of wanting to buy more and more and never actually feeling satisfied
  • There was in one sense a pressure to keep buying new things and on the hand it was also a sense of escapism to go shopping in order to make yourself feel better
  • Because people were so focused on buying new things and having a lot of stuff, a lot of their time was wasted on caring about their stuff, taking care of/cleaning/organising their stuff until it felt like their life revolved around their stuff
  • People were missing out on the more important things in life because their focus was diverted to owning and increasing their materialist possessions

One of the books I read a long time ago called the Power of Habit said that there are certain key habits which if you change, can lead to a whole series of life altering changes, like a domino effect. I think for me minimalism is that one key habit that will change everything.

Things I think it will help me change:

  • Discourage me from buying more crap I don’t need
  • Teaching me to be more appreciative of the things I already own
  • Decluttering my apartment (recently it has felt like its really full despite the fact that when I first moved in in May, it had felt like I had just the right amount of space for everything to fit comfortably)
  • Teaching me how to actually save some money (so many people I know have such a better handle on their finances and have been able to buy property and yet I am sooo far from even thinking about buying property)
  • Teaching me on how to enjoy and focus on having more experiences rather than possessions
  • Giving me the time to focus on developing my interests and learning more which is always something I’ve wanted to do
  • Creating the environment to have a healthier lifestyle (a lot of the youtubers practicing minimalism also believe in being environmentally friendly and being vegetarian/vegans as these two concepts seem to go hand in hand with minimalism). I think this one is especially important because over the last few years my health has been on the decline. My Mum used to always comment on how I never got sick when I was a kid and over the last few years I’ve gotten sick multiple times throughout the year with things like throat infections, flus, fevers, injuries e.g. knee strains, calf strains, etc.
  • Helping me to develop a deeper appreciation of the possessions I already own and investing in better quality things but at a much lower frequency than my current purchasing habit

I hope to make a 6-months and a 12-months plan on becoming a minimalist. This will include:

  • Significantly curbing my spending and drastically increasing my savings
  • Significantly decreasing the amount of time I spend browsing online stores
  • Spending a lot more time in developing my interests:
    • Reading all the books on my bookshelf and donating them after each one
    • Learning one of the many languages I want to learn
  • Wearing things out – e.g. using everything I have and not replacing it unless its absolutely necessary – this includes all the clothes I have, the cosmetics and body care stuff, candles, manchester, cleaning stuff
  • Donating things I never use or use infrequently and not replacing them
  • Being more conscious of what I eat and not buying excessive amounts of food and then letting it go to waste
  • Focus on more unprocessed foods and natural products
  • Exercise, move my body, stretch and meditate – hopefully with a decluttered environment I’ll find it more motivating to move around more
  • Focus on things that increase my experiences rather than possessions
  • Focus on things that increase happiness instead of stress
  • Save money for things that actually bring me joy like travelling
  • Create a capsule wardrobe of curated items of clothing that I love

I’ve already made significant process today by decluttering my wardrobe and literally throwing half of it out. This process was not as hard as I thought it would’ve been mostly because I’ve done this quite a few times over the last year, i.e. when I moved and also a month ago when I changed out my winter wardrobe for my summer wardrobe. Although this time I did do one thing different, which was mentioned in many of the Youtube videos I watched, and that was the Konmari method of decluttering which says feel each item of clothing with your hands and ask yourself whether it brings you joy. If it does then keep it and if doesn’t then throw or give it away. Along with that take note of any patterns you see in the items you decide to keep. Things I noticed when doing this:

  • A lot of the items that I kept were not clothes with patterns (with the exception of a few striped items) – I’ve always known that I didn’t look great in patterns or complicated designs but this made it concrete
  • I prefer to wear dresses – whether its for work or casual, a lot of the items I loved were dresses
  • In terms of casual wear, I also like t-shirts but steered away from tops/pants when it came to smart casual attire
  • In terms of material I don’t like things with lace, or where the material is too soft and not structured. Even with the dresses that I have which are flowy, the material still has a degree of structure to it in terms of cut.
  • In terms of colour, I look good in black, darker greys, white, red, some shade of light pink/peach/beige, khaki, and some instances of navy. I think I suit more earthy/warm shades than cool shades.

This minimalism path seems to align and bring a lot of things that I’ve thought about or dabbled in, into one coherent and tangible concept/lifestyle choice. For example I purchased Konmari’s ‘The Life-changing magic of tidying” a few months ago but never finished reading it and then at the beginning of this month I started a plan to have a “Good November” which included not online shopping, not smoking, not getting angry, exercising, spending less money and focusing more on myself. Up until today that plan had gone pretty poorly with me smoking every day and literally not exercising at all since the month started and also I online shopped on Saturday. Today I also realised that one of the things I’d read about changing habits from ages ago was that it takes 21 days to change a habit and coincidentally after I completely failed the past week on my Good November plan, I’ve now got just about 21 days left until the end of the month. I feel like the stars have aligned and given me the solution I’ve been searching for. The sense of excitement and hope that I feel now is something I haven’t felt in a long time. I feel like this is something that is within my reach and that its something that is very achievable if I set my mind to it.

Wish me luck 🙂

 

 

 

The Mistakes We Make

Mistakes in life usually end in some degree of pain and at times in regret.

One thing I obviously haven’t learned in my 3 decades of living is to not make emotionally based decisions, take emotionally based actions or have emotionally based conversations when you are under the influence of illicit substances. Despite surviving adolescence and my 20’s, this seems to be a lesson I conveniently forgot 3 days ago. Congratulations on failing as an adult.

As a result I probably deserved the pain I went through. Hopefully this trauma will finally etch this lesson into my brain so I never, ever do this again.

Drugs are not my friends.

 

Hurting

Nothing hurts quite like the pain of putting your heart out there and having it politely rejected.

It has taken me so long to find someone I feel something for. It has taken so much to allow myself to feel again. And now the only thing I feel is an all too familiar aching, helpless pain.

I wonder when this will stop. I wonder if I’ll ever have the guts to put myself out there like this again – like offering my heart on a platter, waiting for it to be cut into pieces. How much pain can I take before I quit for good?

Part of me feels this will make me stronger. Part of me feels this will make me colder.

Fuck it hurts.

What do I do now? It keeps going around in my head, in circles, again and again and again.

Do I let go of him completely? Or do I keep seeing him?

When I think about him no longer being part of my life, the ache begins to burn white hot.

But the thought of pretending all this didn’t happen, that my feelings are not there feels like too big a lie for me to keep up.

I just want to stop hurting and be in his embrace.

Velvet Sweetness

“He’ll rekindle all the dreams you took a lifetime to destroy.”

I am feeling something for the first time in a long time. Whether it’s real or fake has yet to be determined. For now I’m content simply to be able to feel again. In the void that has become so dense I feel the light pulsing of a sweet pain that I’d almost forgotten.

His presence is constant at the edge of my mind, rekindling sensations that have long laid dormant. Every glimpse into my memory of him is accompanied by a tingle in my finger tips as I remember his velvety tongue flickering over them.

He tastes so sweet, so addictive.