Some thoughts on busyness…

One of the most common responses to the question, “How are you?” is, “Busy.” Why is busyness the new normal? Why do we so easily over schedule ourselves?

Laziness: It’s somewhat easier to just say yes to everything that comes along, than to be thoughtful and intentional about how we fill our days.

FOMO: Social media and our global society exposes us to so many more available options with which to fill our time, and we can’t bear to miss out on what others are up to. So we overcommit and stretch ourselves beyond the limit.

Fear of silence: We are so addicted to noise, busyness and distraction, that it’s a foreign and uncomfortable concept to find ourselves with unfilled, unscheduled time and space in our day. Quiet The Mind is a fantastic illustrated guide to the art of silence and meditation (it’s short and sweet, for the busy among you).

Busyness gives us a sense of purpose and significance: “I’m busy, therefore I am”. If our schedule isn’t bursting at the seams, we can find ourselves feeling lost and insignificant.

And we’re transferring this busyness disease to our children. 

We are scheduling their every spare moment of free time with extra curricular activities, play dates and homework. They hardly have a minute to just be kids. To let their creativity develop freely, and unhindered by their schedule. I highly recommend the book Simplicity Parenting for more great thoughts on this.

So let’s be thoughtful about how we fill our days.

Let’s not fear silence, and space, but embrace it, sit with it, and learn from it.

Let’s allow time and space to embrace the present, to be spontaneous, creative, and fully alive.

 This post was originally published on ihearthome.

Decluttering hacks: how to overcome the excuses and get started!

The benefits of owning less

When the topic of decluttering comes up in conversation, most people are quick to tell me they’ve got a garage / kids bedroom / storage cupboard / [insert messy overwhelming space here] that is on the to-do list, but they just haven’t managed to tackle it yet. Sound familiar?!

There are common stumbling blocks to getting started on the decluttering journey, but by identifying them, and arming yourself with some key strategies, you can take the bull by the horns and begin the journey to a simplified life. It’s so worth the effort.

Here are top 4 things standing in the way of you and a zen home, and tips to overcome them:

 

1. No time

This is the number reason for most people. I get it. We lead busy, often overloaded lives. And the simple answer to this, is to make decluttering a priority and schedule it in to your calendar – it could be an evening a week, a weekend day a month or whatever time you can carve out. If you’re serious about tackling your clutter,  you’ve got to prioritise it.

Along with scheduling time, start using those little pockets of time when you might otherwise be checking social media, or email, or doing something else that’s really not a priority. If something’s enough of a priority for us, we’ll find the time.

 

2. Not knowing where to start

When our stuff reaches overwhelm point, it’s easier to do nothing than to do something. The key is not to start with the hardest, most overwhelming space. The size of the task will overwhelm the size of your motivation, and you won’t start. Pick a small area – even just the kitchen junk drawer if you have one. If you can do one small area from start to finish, the sense of accomplishment just might motivate you to tackle a bigger space.

If you’re game to start with a bigger space, start with your wardrobe. Being stressed and overwhelmed by your wardrobe, and struggling with decisions about what to wear before the day’s even started is not conducive to a productive day. Starting the day with a decluttered wardrobe that contains items that you love to wear and feel good in, makes such a difference to your state of mind and the way you tackle other decision-making throughout the day.

 

3. Thinking we can do it on our own

Often people don’t call on others for help with decluttering, based on the premise that they can do it themselves. But decluttering can be a harder, more emotional process than you anticipate; it requires making a whole heap of decisions. With every item you have to decide whether to keep it or part with it, and if you’re sorting through every item in a wardrobe, or a garage, or any other cluttered space, that’s a lot of decisions.

Getting someone in, whether it be a friend or a professional, who is not emotionally attached to your stuff, can help you to be more objective, work through the many decisions, and actually get the job done.

 

4. Fear of letting go

The most common line I hear: “I might need this one day.”

Emotional attachments to our stuff, and the fear of letting go, so often stand between us and a simplified home.

The only way through this one, is to accept that, yes, you may get rid of some things that you may need one day, but buying (or borrowing) the very odd thing that you happen to need down the track, is far better than hanging onto everything “just in case”. You won’t need 99% of the stuff you get rid of ever again. It’s not worth the stress of a cluttered home for that 1% of stuff that you may or may not even need. I’d far rather get rid of it all, experience the peace and simplicity of owning less, and accept the small cost of needing to replace the odd thing occasionally. Since we’ve been living this way, we’ve never looked back.

Listen to your emotions, and try to identify what is standing in the way of you and letting go.

We have to learn to let go and trust the process, as we head towards the sense of peace and freedom that lies on the other side of our clutter.

Have a good week everyone 🙂

Rachel x

In search of the true self: why we need to declutter ourselves

true self

The journey towards a simplified, decluttered life, involves far more than just our physical spaces.

As we go through life, we create and acquire labels, images and identities along the way, many of which don’t belong to us, and certainly shouldn’t define us.

There’s much to be gained by digging below the external version of ourselves, decluttering the identities that we’ve collected, to reveal our true selves within.

The process is a deep, rich, and often challenging journey to discovering the truest version of ourselves. Easier said than done. But absolutely worth it.

Here are some of the most common aspects of our selves that are worth reflecting on, addressing and decluttering:

1. Job title

We are not what we do. And while work may be a big part of life, we are so much more than a job title. Anyone who has experienced a job loss, or become a stay at home parent for a season, or other similar circumstance, knows how much of our identity we often attach to what we do. When finding ourselves having to live without a title, we’re suddenly forced to discover the self beneath the title.

When I married at 24, I left my job as an engineer to travel full time with my husband’s band. It sounded glamorous, but for the most part was far more of a challenge to my ego and sense of self than it was glam. I went from having a job, a role, and a sense of purpose, to being on the sidelines without a role or identity. Suddenly having no external title, no particular role, and no real sense of purpose, forced me to unearth the real me beneath the external facade.The 14 years since have been a long journey of discovery (that I’m very much still on – aren’t we all?) that I am not what I do. It’s been incredibly tough at times, but so worth it.

2. Image and appearance

For many of us, entering the teenage years goes hand in hand with creating an image for ourselves, in order to fit in or stand out. We either try to go with the crowd and conform as much as possible, or we go for the nonconformist “different is cool” approach. And we so often drag this skewed focus on image into adulthood.

But there’s freedom in realising that we are so much more than our appearance. The more in touch with our true selves we become, the more our personality has a chance to shine through any external packaging we’ve come up with.

It’s not about ditching self expression; I’m the first to admit that I love a beautifully curated (and minimalist of course!) wardrobe. It’s just about realising we are so much more than our external appearances. Where fashion used to be an all important expression of who I was, I now see it creative, artistic expression of one aspect of my personality (and sometimes all it’s expressing is the fact that I’m far too tired or busy to care about what I look like that day!)

3. Reputation / Personality traits

We often gather certain reputations as we go through life, e.g. “the responsible one”, “the party girl”, “the quiet one”. These may have once been representative of you. But they are simply labels.

If you think you still hang on to labels, reputations or personality types that you no longer identify with, it can be helpful to journal your thoughts. Try making a list of who you are now, what you’re good at, what are your strengths and what you love. Make another list of some of the labels that you’ve held onto but want to let go of. Reflect on what you’ve written, where you’ve come from and where you’re heading. The simple act of writing, and seeing things for what they are can help us step more boldly into a truer version of ourselves.

Lets keep digging for the real version of ourselves underneath all those layers. It’s worth the effort to discover the gold within.

Friday Favourite Things

Happy Friday everyone.

I’ve got two favourite things to share with you today:

1. Wall planters

Gala Collier Ceramic Planters
Gala Collier Ceramic Planters

I couldn’t wait for the chance to finally get some new house plants once our renovation was finished. I’m really not a green fingers so am surprised that my 5 new plants are still alive 5 months in. Fingers crossed. These planters are by local ceramic artist Gala Collier. I love buying local and handmade when I can, and love the simplicity and beauty of these. I got the string of pearls plant from Plant & Pot, and Gala very kindly gave me a cutting of her chain of hearts. Bringing nature indoors really is happiness in a pot.

2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I’m all about what Greg has to say in this book, on how to discern what’s essential to our lives, and what’s not. I love this:

What if we stopped being oversold the value of having more and being undersold the value of having less? What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?

What if the whole world shifted from the undisciplined pursuit of more to the disciplined pursuit of less… only better?

Have a great weekend, and may it contain a little less busyness and a little more time to celebrate the moments with those who are important to you.

xx

Friday Favourite Things

Happy 2017 to you! I hope your year has started well so far.

Simplifying, owning less, minimising. I love these words, and the sentiment behind them. I’m all about buying less, owning less, consuming less, and being present more.

But a well curated life also includes choosing wisely and well the things that you do add in to your life. Something well chosen, that you truly love, will often mean less consuming overall. If you buy one thing that you love, that may stop you buying seven things that you don’t.

So this year as well as talking about simplicity (I’ll never stop talking about that!) I’ll also tell you about some of my favourite things. What I like, what I love, what’s worth spending money on, what’s not. Because I love researching and choosing carefully what comes in to my home and my life, and sharing with others what I love.

We’ve also just about finished renovating our home. I’ve loved the process of creating spaces that are simple, beautiful, and serve their purpose well. So over the year I’ll share some pictures of my favourite rooms and spaces in our home.

And people often ask me about my wardrobe, perhaps imagining that it’s a perfectly curated selection of white, zen, minimalist items. It’s not. But I do love it, now that it only contains things I truly love and use, so I’m happy to share some of my favourite pieces with you.

So here’s my first list of Friday Favourite Things for the year:

1. I’m currently reading, and loving Parker Palmer’s “Let Your Life Speak”. It’s a thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring reflection on how to tap into your vocation, and uncover your true self. Here’s an excerpt:

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.

2. Houston Design Co. coffee cups. We’ve been through a tough few years, and I’ve needed to add little things into my day to bring me joy. Drinking coffee out of hand made local pottery does that for me.

coffee
Houston Design Co. tumblers

3. Our new laundry tiles. We’d already renovated our bathroom when I discovered these tiles, so thought I was out of options for using them in our home. When it struck me that I spend more time in my laundry than my bathroom, I decided that adding a little bit of beautiful to my laundry was a great idea. I’m loving it.

Scandinavian laundry. Black and white tiles.
Our new laundry.
Here’s to the new year, and all it brings to each of us.

Rachel xx

P.S. I’ll also be using Instagram to share some of my favourite things, so head here to follow me.

Silence + Christmas

Silence and Christmas seem like mutually exclusive words in this stressed out, rushing, overloaded consumer culture in which we dwell.

Silence is not given much of a platform in our society.

It makes us uncomfortable.

It makes us restless.

It feels like it lacks purpose. Meaning.

But maybe the secret to noticing moments of meaning lies in the silent spaces. Maybe if we are silent long enough, we’ll give our true selves time and space to begin to emerge.

There’s truth to the phrase “pregnant pause”. Lifes’ pauses, or silences, can be pregnant with meaning if we are still long enough to hear them.

I love love love this quote from Irish poet Michael Longley, interviewed on the podcast OnBeing:

“If you don’t have anything to say, say nothing. Silence is part of the enterprise.” ~ Michael Longley

I’ve written less on here lately, for a number of reasons. One small part of the reason is that often the internet just feels like shouting to me.

And I don’t want to join in with more meaningless noise.

I want there to be a reason for saying what I say.

And so sometimes saying nothing is as good as saying something.

Silence

It’s a busy time of year to be contemplating silence, I know.

But what better time to force ourselves to carve out moments of space amidst the noisy, chaotic lives that we create for ourselves.

I can tell you that it’s possible, and your body and soul will thank you for it.

Wishing you all moments of silence this Christmas time,

Rachel xx

How to identify life’s most important ingredients

You know the saying, “Live like it’s your last day on earth”? It’s meant to provide a framework for reflecting on what’s important, and how to fill your days.

If we took it literally, none of us would do any chores. We’d eat the unhealthiest food in the world. And want to spend every minute doing the things we love, with the ones we love. It’s a nice sentiment, but more than a little unrealistic.

So how do we distill our lives down to what’s most important? It’s something I reflect on often, as I continue this journey of learning to live a life that is intentional, edited down to what is truly essential, meaningful and serves a purpose.

Well what if we asked ourselves the question, “what would you do with your last 5 years on earth?”. No, it doesn’t have the same ring, but it’s a far better yard stick to get us thinking about what is truly important to us.

If you did have 5 years left, how would you use your time then? How much of it would you fritter on social media? How much of it shopping for things you don’t need? How much of it scrolling? Watching mindless, pointless youtube clips?

Truth is, none of us know if we’ve got 5 years left or 50. Better to assume the former and use it well.

I’d rather spend more time with people I love and less time scrolling through updates of those I barely know.

More time smelling the roses and less time buying new things to put them in.

More time reading good literature and less time reading articles full of empty statements and lack of substance.

More time breathing the fresh air and less time staring at a screen.

More time living and less time living vicariously through the virtual reality of social media.

More time enjoying what I have, and less time accumulating more.

Let’s live like it’s our last 5 years on earth. And see where that takes us…