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.


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.

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.


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…

Spring Cleaning: where to start and why it’s good for the soul

The benefits of owning less

Hooray for the first day of spring! It’s been a long winter for me, for many reasons. So I’m ready for the new season.

I love the turn of seasons, and the natural opportunity it brings for change, renewal and refreshment.

Spring is a great, and very classic season for the age old tradition of spring cleaning.

People often ask me where to start with decluttering.

If you’re embarking on a decluttering mission at the change of seasons, a great place to start is your wardrobe. Now’s the time to haul everything out, and get rid of any winter clothing that hung unused for the last few months.

  • As you look at each item, decide whether you love it, and whether it’s truly useful to you. If not, get rid of it. Be as ruthless as you possibly can.
  • If you hesitate with any item, it’s usually because there’s something wrong with it. Is that something that you can change / fix / mend / alter? If not, give yourself permission to let it go! The physical act of letting things go is liberating, and good for the soul. There’s truth to the saying, “messy house, messy mind.” By getting rid of physical possessions, we feel lighter mentally. Decluttering lifts emotional weight too, as we let go of our emotional attachments to things.

The more you can cull from your wardrobe, the lighter you’ll feel. And it will likely propel you on to clearing out other areas of your home, and your life. What things in your schedule have served you well in the past season? What’s weighed you down? Now’s the time to assess what has been de-energising you, and whether it is a necessary thing in your life.

Here’s to the new season, and to all it brings.


Life versus the iPad

The insidious infiltration of the screen into every corner of our lives is disturbing. My son’s kindergarten has just installed a monstrous sized screen on the wall. And purchased a whole lot of iPads. Since when did kindergarten involve staring at a screen, rather than immersing yourself in a world of mud pies, sand castles, paint and play dough.

Technology is introduced at a younger and younger age in the name of getting our kids ready for a tech savvy world.

We’ve got to be kidding if we think that kids need to use iPads at kindy or school. Do we really think that most of them are not getting enough screen time outside of school? And if they’re truly not? All the better for them and their healthy, creative development to be relatively screen free when they’re young.

My kids don’t need to use an iPad. We have one which I use mostly for our challenging kid when he has anger outbursts and needs some form of containment. It’s effective, that’s for sure. But it’s certainly not my first choice.

Tom Hodgkinson, author of “How to Be Free”, has this to say about screens:

“Sometimes I think that life is becoming no more than staring at a screen. We stare at a screen all day at work. We stare at screens in the gym. Buses now have screens installed in them. There are screens on trains. Then we get home and stare at our computer screen before staring at the TV screen. For entertainment, we stare at cinema screens. Work, rest and play: all involve staring at screens. Screens make us into passive receivers. Smash the screen and find a pencil and a piece of paper instead. Goodbye, TV; hello, chalk! … By parading a stream of other people’s lives in front of us, screens remove the responsibility to create our own lives. We watch other people doing things instead of doing them ourselves.”

Let’s get outside and feel the sunshine on our faces, instead of looking at photos of others in the sun.

Let’s pick up real books, rather than scrolling mindlessly through trash.

Let’s spend more time in the real world, and see real life scrolling before our own eyes, rather than the virtual world of the screen.

Let’s live real.

Life on Screen

How we miss the best of life in our desperation to capture it

Photos, photos, photos. In this digital age of iEverything, most of us are drowning in them.

I’ve worked as a professional photographer – photographing weddings, interiors, families and children. Because I carry a camera around for my job, I tend to prefer not to use it on social occasions, or when I’m with my kids, as it just feels like work.

But I’ve noticed that in this digital age, many of us are so quick to pull out a camera and start snapping anything.

The great irony is, that in our desperation to capture and hold on to the present moment, we’re actually missing it. We’re trying to preserve it for later, rather than living it now.

There may be something beautiful, stunning, and REAL, happening right before our eyes, but because we’re so busy with a camera in front of our faces, we fail to truly appreciate it.

Most photos we take dilute the moment, rather than preserving it. A photo of fireworks is nothing like the real thing. A beautiful sunset looks nothing on paper, but in real life? Breath-taking.

There’s most certainly a time and place for taking photos and capturing memories. I love a good photo, and I do take a few shots at special events and celebrations, snap candid shots when something grabs my attention, and get on a creative photo taking buzz from time to time.

But I don’t ever want the camera rule the situation. I try to sit and soak up the moment, and enjoy it for what it is.

I want to be thoughtful about when I click the shutter, to be less trigger happy, and more present to the beauty of now.

Consuming versus Community

We were created to live in community. In connection with others. It’s our number one human need.

But today so many of us live such independent, separate, isolated lives.

What are we filling the community void with? We’re filling it with stuff. Consuming to fill the space left by a lack of community.

Consuming things.
Consuming social media.
Consuming online content.
Consuming entertainment.


We need to step back from this consumption. Notice the void. Feel it. Realise it’s a sign that’s something’s wrong with society.

Realise that if we all keep consuming to fill the void, we won’t reach out to others.

I don’t have an answer to this problem. Only an observation of how the problem is currently playing out.

But maybe, as we let ourselves feel the void, we’ll take the first step towards turning this ship of mindless consumption around.

And let it propel us forward to seek more meaningful community and connection.

Weathering the storm

It’s been a little quiet on the blog lately.

My life has been far more challenging than I ever thought possible. I’d like to write more about it, share our journey, such that it might resonate with others. But it involves a child, and I’m very conscious of the fact that words are printed indelibly on the internet.

So I won’t say much right now. I hope to say more one day, maybe, once we’re through this storm.

It’s been a long, long storm. And the winds are still raging. It is still unbearably difficult.

So we wait.
That one day, this storm will pass.