S is for Space: A-Z of Simple Living

#minimalism

{via Pinterest – original source unknown}

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

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One essential part of creating a simple life is Space.

You need white space, empty space, your own space.

You need spaces that act as nothing more than a buffer, an empty spot for your eyes to rest, a safety net, an escape from the constancy of daily life.

The opposite of space and the enemy of simplicity is cramming. You cram when you try to fit:

  • another commitment into your diary
  • a new book onto the shelf
  • one more t-shirt into the drawer
  • a new after-school activity into the kids’ schedules
  • an extra responsibility into your work day
  • a new ambition into your long-term goals
  • another knick-knack onto the shelf
  • another box of stuff into the garage

5 Areas of Your Life That Need Space

White Space

Highlight the things you want to celebrate by surrounding them with white space. A painting on an otherwise bare wall. A photo of a cherished day. A lamp on a side table. What better way to communicate the importance of the item, the person who gave it to you or the memory it evokes than give it space to be appreciated?

Use white space on your:

  • walls
  • shelves
  • dining table
  • kitchen bench
  • fridge
  • bookshelves
  • bed
  • bedside table
  • garden

Mental Space

Most people I know are mentally overwhelmed. There is too much going on – too many responsibilities, too many people, too many requests, too many social commitments, too much to remember.

And yet, when given some precious downtime, so many of us can be found with our noses in a smartphone, flicking through Pinterest, mindlessly browsing Facebook, updating feeds to see what other people are up to.

But to truly simplify, you need to give yourself mental space.

You need quiet time – where you can meditate, pray, rest, read (a real book!), ponder or do absolutely nothing with that beautiful brain of yours.

And to find true quiet time, you need to unplug. Get off the phone, close the laptop, turn off the television, cut the ties of constant connection with the online world and give your brain some space.

Space in Your Days

We schedule the hell out of our days. Between work, train timetables, coffee dates, meetings, school pick ups, kids activities, social events, friends, family, visitors, birthdays, sporting events and exercise, there are huge spans of time that stretch ahead of us, booked out weeks in advance. How exhausting.

You need space in your days.

Space for flexibility and – even more fun – space for spontaneity. Space for an unplanned trip to the beach, or a movie afternoon complete with blanket fort and popcorn. Space for drop-in visitors. Space for hobbies. Space for exploring your neighbourhood.

The key to space in your days is to not overcommit. Which is easier said than done, but absolutely worth trying.

Space in Your Budget

It’s a fact that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Unexpected bills, medical emergencies, car and home repairs all have the uncanny knack of arriving when you are least prepared.

So while I am a big proponent of creating and sticking with a household budget, you do need space in your weekly expenses. For those things you weren’t expecting.

Ideally, you want an emergency fund to help with any surprise costs, as well as an additional amount every pay period that can go towards regular savings.

Space in Your Long-Term Plans

Having plans and goals is wonderful. Sparky and I have plans for this year, next year and five years time. Having an idea of where you’re headed gives you something to look forward to and something to work towards. It’s exciting and motivational.

On the flip side though, it’s important you don’t lock the details in too early.

You need to leave space in your long-term plans for:

  • changes in circumstance
  • opportunities that arise
  • shift in direction
  • changing priorities

Leaving this space doesn’t make you indecisive. It means you’re open to life and all of its possibility.

At some stage, yes, you have to lock it in, bite the bullet and commit. But when you’re still looking at long-term goals and plans, remain open. You avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety, and your imagination will flourish in the space you’ve gifted it with.

 

R is for Remembering: A-Z of Simple Living

Making time and space to remember || A-Z of Simple Living

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

Despite what many people think of minimalism or simple living – namely that it’s about living in a sparse white house with few personal touches – I’m here to tell you it’s not a matter of tossing out mementoes, forsaking the past and disregarding sentimentality.

Actually, for some it might be. And that’s cool. Whatever floats your boat.

But what can’t be denied is this: simplicity is about stripping back the inessential. Promoting what you love and paying attention to what is important. So to disregard your past and cast off all photos, mementoes and markers of time is unnecessary.

Instead, we need to make time and space to mindfully remember.

Stuff Doesn’t Equal Memories

It’s important to understand that your memories – while tied to a certain item – are not in that item. And if you give the item away, you are not forsaking the memories attached to it.

People are afraid of forgetting, I get that. You’re afraid of forgetting people, moments, feelings. So you hold on to everything that reminds you and everything that could potentially remind you. You hold on out of fear and guilt.

But instead of blindly holding on, make time to mindfully remember. Mindfully remember the past and then go live in the present.

Life is constant river. You cannot, no matter how hard you try, hold on to the water that flows swiftly through your fingers. It passes straight through, regardless of whether you want it to or not.

Memories fade. It’s a truth.

And if you spend your days trying desperately to remember, to preserve feelings and thoughts and experiences that have already happened, you are not living. You aren’t engaged in the moment. You aren’t present. You aren’t paying attention to what is happening right in front of you. And what is that saying to the people you’re with?

Yes, the glory days were wonderful. You were young, beautiful, free, adventurous, untethered, needed, loved, nurtured, maternal or the life of the party.

And guess what? Today you can be beautiful, free, adventurous, needed and loved. You can be all those things. So celebrate by living it. Today.

What Does This Look Like – in Real Life?

All this might sound fine in theory.

But what about being faced with real-life decisions? What about artwork from your kids? Gifts from your loved ones? Family heirlooms? This stuff also makes up life, and to disregard it completely is to stick your head in the sand. At some point you will have to make decisions about what to do with it.

Instead of mindlessly holding on to all of it, you need to make time and space to mindfully remember.

Choose a photo of a happy time – a holiday, family reunion a particularly joyful afternoon in the garden – and display it. Give it space. Celebrate it. Remember it. Because one photo on an otherwise empty shelf tells you and those who see it that this moment, this person, this event is worth remembering.

Create one photobook each year, and include all your favourite images in it. Holidays, birthdays, sunrises, cheeky grins – all those moments worth celebrating. That one photobook of images from the past year is an act of mindfully remembering.

Pick a family heirloom and display it. Give it space and a place of importance. One crystal bowl from your grandmother displayed on your otherwise bare dining table means so much more than five of them covered in dust and packed away in the garage. Celebrating that one item speaks volumes on how you feel about her.

If it’s a memory rather than a thing, get it on paper. Write a note about how you felt when your husband proposed/your daughter was born/you got your job/bought your puppy/the plane took off on your first trip. Frame it, stick it to the frigdge, include in your photobook. Celebrate it and mindfully remember.

 

However you decide to celebrate your memories, it’s important to give them space. They need space and light and room to breathe. And for some, the space required to celebrate these things seems like emptiness. But I believe these moments deserve space.

We absolutely need to remember.

We need to remember in order to learn. To celebrate. To appreciate where we’ve come from and how much we’ve grown. To remember who we love and how we’ve loved them.

We need to mindfully and intentionally remember. Not out of fear or guilt, but out of love and joy and respect.

The way you remember matters.

 

Q is for Quality Over Quantity: A-Z of Simple Living

 

'Q' is for Quality Over Quantity

 

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

“Quality over quantity.”

It’s such a cliche. So much so that I nearly didn’t include it in the A-Z of Simple Living.

But it is just too important to ignore.

I think we need to look for quality over quantity in all things. But today I’m not really talking about the clothes you wear or the furniture you own. I’m not discussing the house you live on or the make-up you wear, the toys your kids play with or sporting gear you exercise in. I’m not really looking at stuff at all. Because simple living is about so much more than stuff.

Hell, life is about so much more than stuff.

No. What I’m talking about are the immeasurable things. The really important things. The things that actually matter. I’m talking about the quality of those things.

Friendships. Spirit. Character. Faith. Relationships. Love. Community. Connection. Humour. Joyfulness. Curiosity.

Think about the quality of these things:

  • 15 minutes of good, real, honest conversation with your best friend is so much more significant than shallow small-talk with a room full of acquaintances.
  • An hour reading with your kids is so much more important than a whole weekend passively watching TV.
  • A morning chat over a coffee with your lover is so much more fulfilling than half a day trudging through IKEA.
  • Watching a seriously great television show once a week (Walking Dead, anyone?) is so much more enjoyable than hours on the couch each night, flicking between channels.

Quality over Quantity

When you weigh up the options, it’s hard to disregard the importance of quality. But so often we float along, doing what we’ve always done and getting what we’ve always gotten.

If you adopt the idea of quality over quantity for everything in life, you will, ironically, discover more.

More time, more joy, more space, more fun, more meaning, more love, more presence, more mindfulness.

If you focus on more of these things:

  • Quality relationships
  • Quality time
  • Quality words
  • Quality play
  • Quality rest
  • Quality food
  • Quality entertainment
  • Quality friends
  • Quality reading

What do you stand to lose by focusing on quality over quantity?

And, more importantly, what do you have to gain?

 

P is for Persevering: A-Z of Simple Living

{ via Pinterest - no original source found }

{ via Pinterest – no original source found }

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

– Yoda

Starting something new is easy.

  • 2nd January at the gym
  • Salad and juices on a Monday
  • Alarm set for 5am tomorrow

These things are easy to do once, twice, maybe five times, because motivation and inspiration carry you along in the beginning.

But what happens when that motivation wears off? When life gets busy and suddenly that new habit you valued so highly slips by the wayside?

  • The gym membership is a monthly reminder that you haven’t exercised in weeks.
  • The latte and muffin for breakfast, because you didn’t have time to make something.
  • The snooze button gets hit in the morning because you need just another ten minutes.

This is where perseverance comes in.

A certain single-mindedness. Conviction from the very beginning that what you’re doing is important enough to keep on with, even when life gets busy.

If you have this then you have everything you need to change your life.

When Life Gets Cluttered

Somewhere along the way you made a decision to live a simpler, slower, happier life. That will prove to be one of the best decisions of your life.

But despite your best efforts, complications and clutter try to weasel their way back into your life – frequently. Part of that is just life. Sorry.

  • Kids bring home artwork from school
  • Birthday parties happen
  • Grandparents happen
  • Junk mail
  • Social engagements that aren’t negotiable
  • Weekend sports
  • An unexpected bill

But there are ways to combat the inevitable slip in motivation. Ways to keep simplifying, to keep saying no, to keep being mindful.

There are ways to persevere, even when life is telling you to just give up.

1. Know Your Why.

When things get complicated, it’s important to know why you are doing this in the first place. Use your why as motivation to keep going.

Why are you creating a simpler life? Is it to:

  • find happiness
  • feel more in control of your life
  • make time for the things that are truly important
  • be active in watching your kids grow up
  • make time for things you’re passionate about
  • nurture your relationships
  • get healthy
  • live in a home that calms you
  • have less cleaning
  • make more time to relax, to read, to spend alone, to spend with someone else?

Once you have your why, you can refer back to it time and time again. Write it down, stick it on the fridge, tape it to your wall, make it your computer background. This is your weapon against Old Ways. Wield it whenever you need to persevere.

2. Roll With the Punches – Sometimes

If you battle against the world to keep your life simple and slow – at all cost – you will wind up exhausted and far more likely to fail.

Some days are crazy – there is no way around this. If you have your Why firmly in mind and are doing most things right most of the time, you will get back on track the next day.

Nothing and no-one is perfect – so roll with it.

3. Do Something

When you’re lacking motivation, when you’re tired, when your Why isn’t enough to keep you going – all you need is one minute. Literally 60 seconds will help you to persevere.

Pick a tiny little task that needs doing and do that.

  • pack away the toaster
  • remove one item from your wardrobe to donate
  • pay that bill
  • file that piece of paper
  • make the phone call
  • schedule the meeting
  • make a list
  • pick up the toys

Doing something will spur you into action. And even if it doesn’t, you’re one step ahead from where you were a minute ago.

Action inspires motivation.

Watch Your New Life Emerge

Eventually, if you keep your Why at the forefront of your mind and just keep doing something – a simpler, happier life will emerge. Which is what we’re looking for, isn’t it?

O is for Organised Enough: A-Z of Simple Living

simple living

{via Charlotte's Fancy}

 

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

So often simplifying is mentioned in the same breath as organising.

The logic goes: in order to be living a truly simple life, you must have a host of systems in place that will organise every aspect of your day.

You can schedule your hours, systematise your housework, organise your wardrobe, catalogue your paperwork, arrange your kitchen utensils, reconfigure your garage to hold more stuff and roster your down-time.

But true simplicity means many of those systems are unnecessary.

  • I do have a calendar but much of my weekly schedule is in my head, because it’s really not that complicated.
  • I don’t need a special shoe rack to organise my shoes – I don’t own that many.
  • Filing cabinet? It has one drawer.
  • Toys? They all have a place in the play room.

Living a simple life means that being organised for the sake of being organised is largely unnecessary. If you strip away what you do not need, you will find that life doesn’t need nearly much organising at all.

But Being Organised Helps Me!

To a point, yes.

Life is busy. And some organisation helps corral the busy-ness of life into a semblance of order. So I’m not telling you to do away with your diary, bill paying system or ironing baskets. If they help you in creating a less stressful day, wonderful.

But at some point we start to organise instead of simplify.

Life Is Not Organised.

You need to leave space for life to happen.

And life is messy. Life is uncertain. Life is spontaneous. Life is not organised.

You are reading this because you want a simpler, slower life. And while being organised – to a point – means you have time and space for life to unfold peacefully, over doing it means you run the very real risk of sucking the joy from your days.

And that’s our end goal isn’t it? To rediscover the joy. The zing of doing something spontaneous. The flash of excitement when you realise, “Why the hell not? I’d love to go to the beach/play in the sun/have a nap.”

If you over-do the organising, if you schedule the guts out of your days, weeks, months, school terms, you risk losing one of the biggest joys in life – spontaneity.

So my tip:

Be as organised as you need to be. No more.

Organise what you really need. But don’t turn to organisation simply to store more stuff in your space or cram more committments in your days. The key is to take away what isn’t necessary and good. There you will find your simpler life.

 

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