Slow is boring.

Slow is boring.

In today’s hectic, win at all costs, strive for cheaper, higher, faster, louder world, slow gets a bad rap.

Slow means saying no. Slow means missing out. Slow is lazy. Slow is boring. Slow is beige.

And yes, there is bad slow. (My internet this week, for example.)

But since adopting a slower pace, my life has become immeasurably more interesting. It’s become more active. I’ve said yes to more incredible things than I ever thought possible. My life has become anti-beige.

Really? Ask the nay-sayers.

How can slow – plodding, ponderous, lagging, sluggish, leaden – be anything but boring?

But slow is the precise shade of lavender in an incredible sunset.

Slow is noticing the smell of wet earth after the rain.

Slow is committing to memory the sound of my kids playing.

Slow is having time for long conversations.

Slow is having the energy to help others.

Slow is saying yes to Sunday afternoon bushwalks and siestas.

Slow is putting the phone down when I’m talking to someone.

Slow is making time for yoga.

Slow is tilting.

Slow is out of my comfort zone.

Slow is establishing what my comfort zone looks like and happily dwelling there sometimes.

Slow is time in nature.

Slow is saying yes to adventure.

Slow is travelling and learning and really seeing new places.

Slow is stopping to notice.

Slow is making space for the things I love. And then enjoying them.

Slow is understanding that life is fast and time is precious.

Slow is making the most of both those things.

 

 

A Return to Slow

A Return to Slow

When I first launched this blog (back in 2011!) it was about creating a slow home – a holistic approach to building a life of contentment, balance and focus on the important things.

As part of the process of creating our slow home I began writing about my decluttering efforts and found a large group of readers who needed help with letting go of their stuff. My posts about decluttering resonated and I started focusing more and more on Stuff – how to let go of it, what to do with it, why we don’t need it.

Now it’s 2015 and I run an amazing group on Facebook that helps people declutter their homes and lives. I’ve written handbooks that take people through the process of simplifying every area of their house over the course of a year. I write a lot of blog posts on the topic of decluttering.

However, my passion is Slow. And for someone who is building a life that doesn’t place undue importance on the things we own, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and writing about Stuff.

And Stuff is not what I’m passionate about. My passion lies in helping people create slower, simpler lives with space and time to focus on the things that matter. Decluttering is a big part of the process and an absolutely vital one. It’s impossible to create a simpler, slower life without getting rid of the crap and cruft and clutter first. Stuff is heavy.

But the idea is to move beyond Stuff. I’m not concerned with the specifics of this, as it might mean you own 100 things and can successfully live from a backpack for the rest of your life, or that your 6-bedroom home in the suburbs is now uncluttered and inviting. What a simplified home looks like is up to you.

For me it’s about a space that has space. White space and empty walls. Space for relaxation and spontaneity and heaps of laughter. Space to enjoy the view and the airiness. Space to reflect. Space to continue to build a life for our family that feels authentic and positive and intentional. Because doing that allows the stuff we do own, the stuff we intentionally keep and choose to surround ourselves with, the things we do, the choices we make, the experiences we pursue, the work we do – that space makes it all more important. Giving those things room makes them important, because they are important.

But getting beyond that part is where life really starts to get interesting, and that is where my passion lies. In helping people get to the living part.

So this blog will continue, of course. (What else would I do with myself at 4am?) But I want to go back to exploring ideas on the periphery of Stuff. How we can create a home and a life that work for us, with rhythms and systems and ideas that help guide us in the direction we want to take. What we can add to our lives in order to make them feel whole. Reconnecting with dreams and desires and goals that have long been buried under mountains of things we no longer want or need.

In short, I want to provide the how-to and the why-to create a slower, simpler life.

I also want to introduce the idea of slow, simple living to as many people as possible which is one of the reasons I’m launching a new podcast in a few weeks time.

The weekly show is called The Bloom Podcast and in it I will dive deep into the ideas, practicalities and realities of living a slower, simpler life. Some weeks I will have special guests with me (I’m so excited to share these with you) and other shows it will just be me riffing on what slow living is all about.

I’d also love to answer your questions on the show. So if you have any questions related to slow, simple living, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below or drop me an email. I’d love to hear from you!

Similarly, if you have any suggestions, topics, ideas or guests you’d like to see featured on the podcast, let me know.

 

 

4 ways downsizing saved my budget

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Chelsea Baldwin at Broke Girl Gets Rich.

4 ways downsizing saved my budget

I never knew the first time I set off overseas with only one suitcase it would change my life.

OK, maybe I had an idea that it would kick off this insatiable urge for more travel to see more places, but what I mean is I didn’t expect it to really affect other areas of my life so positively… especially my finances. (After all, plane tickets to the other side of the world aren’t cheap.)

Traveling taught me some wonderful lessons in minimalism and how to live a full, everyday life with fewer possessions.

It also saved my budget.

With all the on-again, off-again travel I’ve done, I’ve taken on a lot of low-paid internships, rendering my yearly income for the years since my college graduation well below poverty level.

But, given that circumstance, I’m able to fund travel, I don’t have debt, I’ve got a decent emergency fund and I’m gearing up for 2015 to be a year of serious retirement-based investments.

I learned how to downsize, almost out of necessity at first, and my budget reaped the benefits.

1. I sold my car in exchange for a bicycle – and got a nice emergency fund in exchange

I realized I didn’t have any need to be holding onto a car that I hardly drove… especially since it was far easier, cheaper, and healthier for me to buy a $60 bicycle with a basket on the front to carry my things, a $10 helmet and a $5 lock. A whopping $75 for more than a year’s worth of transportation. (And I could get my tires refilled for free from a local shop!)

With the money I got for selling the car, I set up an emergency fund, which is now one of my most prized possessions. It brings me so much peace of mind to know that if a financial emergency comes up, I won’t have to scramble around for months or pay credit card interest because I can’t afford it in the moment.

I also don’t have to buy gas, pay for car insurance, or set money aside for those lovely car repairs that are inevitable with older vehicles—something that’s definitely made my lifestyle possible with such a low income.

2. I got a basic smartphone with a foreign SIM card—no fancy data plan

In the US, any kind of phone plan you get will cost you at least $65 per month—and that’s without roaming charges.

When I needed to “upgrade” my phone last year, I opted to buy an unlocked Samsung S Duos 2 for about $150. I was in India at the time, so I got a pre-paid Indian SIM card with a pay-as-you-go option for texts and calls, and a monthly rechargeable data plan that cost about $3 per month. Each month, I spent less than $5 – freeing up some nice space in my budget for groceries, savings, weekend travel trips, or whatever else I wanted to spend it on.

And thanks to apps that also run on wifi, I don’t need to buy a US-based SIM card and plan when I come back to visit – I can use apps like WhatsApp, Viber & Google Voice to take care of all the calling I need for free.

3. Cutting down on “stuff” that needs repaired

Repairs cost money.

And in the world of self-employment, any time that cuts into your daily work schedule to manage these repairs also costs you money.

Getting rid of things like an extra netbook computer, mp3 devices, my car, old jeans, excess kitchen utensils, and unused furniture means I no longer had to worry about keeping these things in good shape.

And because I had far fewer possessions, far fewer things were breaking on me. (The things I kept were higher quality too, further decreasing the rate of needed repairs—like keeping the MacBook & selling the Asus netbook, for example.)

Now I don’t lose working hours and I save cash that would have normally gone out the window.

4. Using money from sold items saved me in tight situations

I’ve already mentioned that I used the money from selling my car to set up an emergency fund, but selling items that were a little more expensive than I wanted to donate has helped me out more than a few times.

For example, one Christmas I cut back by selling a piano keyboard set and my netbook. I took that money to fund my budget for buying Christmas presents that year—so I never had to cut into my own finances where I didn’t have room.

Moving Forward: Recognizing that ‘things’ are a means to an end

This year, my income is much higher than it’s ever been, so the downsizing I maintain will be more for my mental sanity than financial reasons.

They key lesson I’ve learned from all this, which I will hold onto moving forward in the future, is that things are merely a means to an end, but life is an end in and of itself. Things are great when they help you move forward, but need to be eliminated when they start holding you back—financially or mentally.

——

Broke Girl Gets Rich is a blog that chronicles the journey and lessons behind creating a life of financial stability and freedom. You can read more about it here.

Dear Toy Story, Thanks for Nothing.

Dear Toy Story, Thanks for nothing.

Let me preface this by saying I love Toy Story. I love my kids imaginations. I love imagination in general. I love happiness. I love ice cream and rainbows and birthday cake and unicorns. I am not a heartless adult who has forgotten what it is to be a child.

But.

But honestly? Toy Story kinda screwed us up.

As a kid I thought my stuff had feelings. I would rotate my soft toys each night, so as not to upset anyone left out of my bed. I felt a pang of regret at the aqua Chuck Taylors I ignored until it was too late and they no longer fit me. I kept ticket stubs and clothing labels in a wardrobe-door shrine to things that happened and felt sad at the thought that one day, they would no longer matter.

And as a kid, that’s OK. As a kid we’re still wrapped in our imagination, finding our place in the world, understanding who we are and what’s important. What has feelings and what doesn’t.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your stuff?  It doesn’t have feelings.

Your toys don’t talk when you’re not there. They don’t plot their escape or plan daring rescue missions. They don’t feel sad when you grow up. And if you decide to donate them, I promise there will be no mournful Randy Newman/Sarah McLachlan song playing over a montage of your time together.

Your shoes don’t get upset if you play favourites. Your towels don’t need to be used equally. Your other chairs aren’t jealous of all the time you spend sitting in your favourite. Your abandoned DVD boxed sets don’t actually feel abandoned. Your unplayed CDs don’t long for one more spin around the stereo. Your old journals are not staring at you from the shelf begging to be opened. Your expired make-up regrets nothing.

The problem so many of us are now facing in our cluttered homes is that the subtext of Toy Story has stuck with us longer than our belief in talking toys. It says that in order to hold on to the past, we must hold on to our stuff. In order to honour a memory we must keep the memento. In order to remember how young/beautiful/interesting/passionate/talented we were, we must keep those things that demonstrate that. Simply because we own things we must keep them. Because we spent money on our stuff we must retain it.

But as adults, it’s time to take some of the emotion out of our stuff.

I’m not talking specifically about difficult, emotional clutter. There are ways of working through that at your own pace, in your own time. But things you’ve held on to for reasons more about you than the item? Start thinking about that stuff.

Do you need it? Do you want it? Do you even like it? What are you afraid of in letting it go?

And most importantly, don’t watch Toy Story before you begin. You might find yourself talking to your stuff and expecting a reply. Or even worse, singing a Sarah McLachlan song.

Donate or Sell? What to do with unwanted stuff?

Unwanted Items - Do I Donate or Sell?

One of the biggest sticking points many people find as they begin to declutter and simplify their homes is what to do with all this stuff?

We don’t want it. It’s in our way. We’re ready to let go of it. And yet…

And yet we get caught up in the value of our stuff. We probably paid good money for that end table/lounge/unworn jacket/toy of the moment/bike/treadmill and it doesn’t feel good to think we will just let it go. Bye bye, money.

So people get stuck. They decide to get money for their unwanted stuff, and look in to all the different ways of selling it:

  • ebay
  • Craigslist
  • local message boards
  • Facebook garage sales
  • real garage sales
  • consignment
  • Gumtree
  • market stalls

I’m not against selling unwanted belongings. I’ve done it myself, and in some cases made a little side money. But I do want to warn you against trying to sell everything you no longer want as I’ve seen it become a barrier to moving forward too many times to count.

Typically what happens when you decide to sell your stuff is this:

You do all the work of decluttering, collecting the stuff you no longer want or need in order to sell it. Then it sits in boxes or bags in the office or a steadily-expanding corner of the bedroom until you find the time to photograph it, list it for sale online, respond to buyer questions, organise a garage sale, find a consignment store willing to take your items… Then it actually needs to sell, you need to accept payment, organise pick-up or ship it to the buyer.

That’s a lot of work to potentially make very little money and often this stuff sits in a pile labelled “Waiting to Sell” or somesuch and languishes there, still cluttering up your space and still weighing on your mind.

My general advice on selling is this:

Try selling once, then donate – never to be thought of again.

I subscribe to the philosophy that unwanted stuff is emotional weight and getting it out the door as quickly as possible is more valuable than selling it, so I’m conflicted in offering advice on how best to sell. Also, if I’m being honest, I get tired of thinking about stuff all the time.

But ultimately what I want to see is you living a simpler, slower life and if that means helping you work out what to sell and what to donate/give away, then let’s do it.

Simple Tips on Selling Your Unwanted Stuff 

  • Items need to be in excellent condition in order to sell, particularly online.
  • Only trying to sell large items that are in very good condition or smaller items that are quite literally as good as new.
  • Try selling in batches rather than individually (lower-priced items and kids clothes sell well in small batches).
  • Vintage and designer items still need to be in very good condition. Unless it’s exceptionally desirable, don’t try selling anything damaged.
  • Unless what you’re selling is genuine vintage or very desirable you won’t get anywhere near what you paid for it, no matter how well you’ve cared for it over the years.
  • Look at similar items for sale and price accordingly.
  • Hobby-related items are easier to sell (for you) in batches. Look for message boards or Facebook groups related to the hobby and see if there are any interested buyers.
  • Be willing to accept less than you want for an item. After all, you just want it out of your home.

It can be difficult to accept that the stuff we’ve paid good money for is now virtually worthless. In fact, it can be depressing. But the bottom line and the reason you’re here is to simplify life. Before deciding to sell any of your unwanted items, ask yourself whether doing so serves to simplify life or add another complication.

Over the years I have given away tens of thousands of things (sold a few too) and some of the stuff I donated was valuable. When I closed down my jewellery business I gave the vast majority of my stock away, simply because the weight of it was unbearable.

Now that time has passed, do I feel regret at having not gotten some money out of that stuff? Not in the slightest. In fact I feel lighter just thinking about it.

While this post is about selling, I just want to offer a view of the other side because willingly letting go is such a delight. So by all means, try selling your stuff but also keep this mantra in mind when you do:

Try selling once, then donate – never to be thought of again.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...