Things I said Goodbye This Week

This week I said goodbye to my guitar, which has a sentimental value but has never been used for the last seven years. It’s been sitting at my parents’ house, sadly. I remember the first time I started to play when I was twelve; I had a very cheap guitar, but I was quite eager. I even filled my journal pages saying that it was my only friend. Ovsn853792er the years, however, after I saved some money and bought a Yamaha, I realized I wasn’t made for playing the guitar. I could write, or cook for hours for example, but I couldn’t stand guitar practice for more than an hour. So I slowly stopped playing it, and this photo is from 2009, when I almost never played the guitar.

I asked a friend of mine, who is a musician, what to do with it, and he said he can gladly buy it. As a matter of fact, he needed a classical guitar. I sold it for a symbolic price, after all, what matters is that he is going to use it far better than I did, and it will make the guitar happy.

 

The second thing I said goodbye to is eight books. Two of these, I realized I will never read them again. Two of them, I realized I had the original English copy of the book, and these img_0997are the translation. I never liked the other four anyway. So I put them on the Freecycle group of the university I’m working at,
and in a minute, I gave them all away.

We fill our homes with items saying “what if” to ourselves. What if I play the guitar again? What if I read this book again? What if my grandchildren want to read this book? We even imagine these items as our legacy, we see our grandchildren using them as a memory. In reality, no grandchildren will keep 500 books just because they inherited them. They will most likely keep the ones of utmost value. So I believe even if we keep some items as legacy, we must keep the best of them and in the best condition.

 

 

Makyaj yapma, kendin ol, böyle çok daha güzelsin!

Makyaj yapmayı hiçbir zaman sevmedim.

Hiçbir zaman.

İlk makyaj deneyimim lisede, okul gezisi için gittiğimiz  İstanbul’da idi. Kaldığımız Çapa Anadolu Öğretmen Lisesi’nin yatakhanesinde, kızlar birbirlerine göz kalemi çekiyorlar, ben de uzaktan seyrediyordum. Bana da çekeceklerini söylediler, tamam dedim. Ama pek başarılı olamadılar, çünkü gözüm yabancı maddeye hemen tepki vermişti, sürekli kırpıyordum gözlerimi.

Niyeyse sonrasında anlaştığım tek makyaj malzemesi göz kalemi oldu. Üniversitede giysilerime göre mor, mavi, yeşil, siyah göz kalemi kullandım, şimdi yalnızca siyah var.

İlk fondöten ve rimelimi, üniversite son sınıfta, staj için bir liseye gittiğimizde almıştım (İlk kumaş pantolonumu da). Sanki yirmi yaşında olmak suçmuş, ve ben makyajla daha büyük görünmek zorundaymışım gibi kendimi kamufle ediyordum. Öğretmenliğe başladığımda da kamufle durumu değişmedi, küçüktüm, öğrencilerin saygı duymadığını hissediyordum. O zaman da basıyordum fondöteni, allığı, rimeli. Sivilcelerimden de utanıyordum hem, lise öğrencisi gibi, yirmisinden sonra insanın sivilcesi mi çıkar diyordum. İlaçlara, tedavilere rağmen hala bir ergen suratına sahip olmak güvenimi kırıyordu. Hem makyaj yapmayan öğretmen mi olur? Her daim şık şıkırdım olmalısın.

Böyle hissediyordum öğretmenliğin ilk yıllarında. Ama kendime güvenim arttıkça artık makyaj yapmak çok saçma gelmeye başladı. Hem sonra onu temizlemeye hep üşendiğimden sivilcelerim daha da kötü bir hale geliyordu. Radikal bir biçimde değil de, yavaş yavaş azalttım, Makyaj Mezarlığım adlı yazımda ilk kurtuluşumdan bahsetmiştim. Ve şimdi bana bir yüz kremi, bir göz kalemi yetiyor. Bazı günler göz kalemi bile sürmüyorum ama ondan hala vazgeçmiş değilim. Bazı günler de renkli BB krem sürüyorum, özellikle sivilcelerim rahatsızlık derecesinde cildimi işgal ettiğinde, ya da düğün derneğe gidildiğinde. Fakat artık şu rahatlığa sahibim: Bu sabah uyandığımda yalnızca yüzümü yıkayıp dışarı çıkabilirim, ve bu beni hiç mi hiç rahatsız etmez! Dışarı çıkmak için maskeye ihtiyacım yok, insanları etkilemek için ise hiç yok! Hem zaten en çok acı çekenler kendinden uzaklaşmaya çalışanlar değil mi?

Alicia Keys Celebrates Upcoming New Album "HERE" With Special Show in Times Square

Şekil A.1: Makyajsız Alicia Keys

Cilt bakımı konusunda da epey bir ilerleme kaydettim. Elimdeki ürünleri bitirince Yves Rocher’den devam etmeye karar verdim. Ticari bir marka olsa da öncelikle hayvanlar üzerinde test edilmemesi, sonra da paraben ve sülfat içermemeleri bu markayı tercih sebebim.

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Şekil A-2: Bu kadarı valla yetiyor.

İşte tüm saç-cilt bakımım ve kozmetiğim bu kadar! Lipbalm tarzı şeyleri eklemeyi unutmuşum, dudaklarım çok kuruduğu için olmazsa olmazım: artisan yapım bir balmumu kremim var ki dillere destan.

Dediğim gibi saç ve cilt bakımı için Yves Rocher mutlu etti beni, güneş kremi ve göz kaleminde ise Missha. Missha da hayvan testlerine karşı, Koreli bir kozmetik markası. Keşke BB kremleri de benim cildime uygun olsaydı da Nivea’ya kalmasaydım. Ama şu ana kadar denediğim beş-altı BB krem içinde cildime en uyumlusu, en sivilce çıkarmayanı Nivea, o yüzden şimdilik ondan devam ediyorum. BB kremi tamamen hayatımdan çıkardığımda ona da bay bay diyeceğim. 🙂

Sağ alt köşede gördüğünüz ise Edremitten alınmış zeytinyağı sabunu. Eşim sağolsun, duş jelini hiç sevmez, beni o alıştırdı sabuna. Aslında bu kadar alerjik bünyesi olan ben senelerce neden duş jeli kullandım onu da anlamıyorum, mis gibi sabun varken. Evde varsa zeytinyağı sabunu, yoksa da kalıp banyo sabunlarından kullanıyoruz (duru’nun gliserinli zeytinyağlı sabunu ve hacı şakir’in hamam sabunu süper kokuyor laf aramızda, ama doğal zeytinyağı sabunu bulunabiliyorsa baş tacı tabii ki!)

Son birkaç senedir, hayatımda ilk defa, yüzüme bakıyor ve aynaya yansıyan bu yüzü seviyorum. Ergenlik döneminde, hiç sevmiyordum dış görünüşümü, sivilceli ve gözlüklü olarak bir ezik klişesini yerine getirdiğimi düşünüyordum. Şimdi de sivilceli ve gözlüklüyüm, ama güveniyorum artık kendime. O yüzden artık maskelere de ihtiyacım yok. Ne güzelmiş kendin olmak!

17 Before 2017- and thoughts on 2016

Earlier in September, I set seventeen goals for myself to accomplish before 2017 starts. Here is what it looked like:

 

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November and December was crazy at work, so I can’t say I was great at making all of these goals come true. Let’s see how it went:

Goals 1 to 4: Minimalism

These were the goals related to my minimalism journey. Although my kitchen and vanity are quite compact as they are, I wanted to declutter them once again. However, apart from giving away empty jars and throwing away unused make-up, I haven’t been quite successful in these.

And again, although I know what to wear pretty much every day, I couldn’t set a time to organize my wardrobe just for work. I do love my winter sweaters, though!

My fourth goal was to finish 7 skincare and make-up products before 2017. I finished 2 of them, threw away 2, and working on the other 3.

 

Goals 5-9: Mind Goals

These are goals related mostly with mind. I started a novel about 4 years ago but never touched it for 3 years until I went back this year. But I am not sure if I like it anymore. I am like 5000 words in, and I’ll maybe go on, maybe not. Anyway, I would like to write an independent short story no matter what happens in my novel journey.

This is what I set out on. I’m proud to say that I wrote more than one story, in fact, I wrote 3 stories and I’m working on the 4th one. Plus, I registered for a creative writing course, which has been my highlight of the year.

FutureLearn: I managed to finish three courses at FutureLearn, which has been so great and informative. The courses are: Nutrition and Well-being, Start Writing Fiction and Mindfulness for Well-being and Peak Performance. These courses are given every two or three months, they are entirely free and given by professors all around the world, and are interactive so you get to participate in a lot of discussions. I strongly recommend the platform and these courses in particular.

In addition to writing, I wanted to read 50 books, but I could only finish 29. This is pretty big for me, I had set a rather impossible goal anyways.

And for my blog:

My blog of course is among my goals. Keeping a record here really helps me put things in perspective. Right now I have 100 followers, I want to double it by the end of the year.

I couldn’t spare much time on blogging since October, so I am a bit disappointed with myself. I have only 53 posts and 134 followers at the moment, which isn’t much progress since September. I hope I can work more on it in 2017.

Goal 10: Job

I started my new job on January 6th, and towards the New Year the committee will decide whether I will be permanent or not. Fingers crossed!

I have my final examination on Wednesday, so still fingers crossed!

Goals 11-14: Health

 

Oh I feel so guilty about this! I haven’t had my check-up, nor did I practice much yoga.

Goal 15: Crafts

I did finish the table cloth I started! Here is a close-up:

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Goals 16-17: Spirit

I’m still working on making meditation a daily habit. I think my main problem is that my days can be unpredictable, so it can be difficult to set a routine. But I am hopeful 2017 will be a better year for me to practice more mindfulness.

And last but not least, finishing the year in gratitude is so important to me. This year has been both challenging and rewarding for me. I got into a new job, and I went through a very interesting training process. Some parts of it I loved (like getting to know yourself first and being more mindful), while some parts I couldn’t really make sense. Serenity was my key word last year, yet I was more stressed than ever. Still, it is very interesting for me to see that every passing year I am growing as a teacher and a person, and it feels like I am getting more self-confident. I make more conscious choices, and behave more responsibly. I guess I have become an adult without even realizing!

As I am writing these, I am worried as well as excited for 2017. It hasn’t been a good beginning in Turkey (mass shooting at a night club in İstanbul) and it seems we can’t escape terrorism: it’s in our daily lives now. It is very distressing to live with it and go to public places, as there has been 3 massive suicide bombings in Ankara, where I live. There has been students in my school who lost their lives at the age of 18. It is just hope sometimes that keeps you alive, so my wish for the new year is to never stop hoping.

Given Away and Sold!

Sometimes we just don’t realize how accessories take over our space and no matter how many new items we buy, we just can’t get rid of the old ones.

Today I’ve given away two of my watches.

I can get rid of clothes very easily, cheap accessories I can just throw away, but something like watches, and if it has sentimental value, is difficult to toss.

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I wore one of the watches for 4 years and the other 6. They got their share in the wear&tear department, but the 6 year-old-one was a present from my father, and the 4-year-old from my sister. They were sitting in my shelf, and I wasn’t willing to change the dead batteries, either. So why not give them away and give them a new life?

Actually it was my husband who got me to give away these. He recently sold a watch that I gave him as a gift last year, he really liked it at first but it was uncomfortable for everyday wear for him. As it was brand new, it wouldn’t be logical to just give away, so he sold it for a reasonable price. And now he can buy one he will love more.

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And then he suggested I put my watches – along with a pair of sunglasses that he’s been wearing for more than 1o years- on our university’s freecycle group. In less than 5 minutes, I was able to give them away! (Even someone offered to pay for the Rayban glasses but I said no, it is too old to sell) What a relief, and knowing that the students WILL use them is a great feeling!

I wish I had given them away earlier, they’ve been sitting on the bookshelf for a year or so. I think they’ll be much happier sitting on a wrist and working rather than sleeping on my shelf.

 

17 before 2017

As fall starts, we have a little more than 3 months until 2017. Fall and winter are my favorite times of the year. And it is a perfect time to  review my year and my goals. This year I changed jobs, I am a little freer now so I had a chance to focus on my personal goals more easily. This list also sums what I was trying to achieve this year. Minimalism, mindfulness, writing, blogging and all.

I got the idea from BohoBerry, such a wonderful idea.

So here is the list. I don’t have to finish all of them of course, but having a list make my goals visual. And actually all of them are thought in detail. I read a lot about setting goals recently, and I will share my insights on setting goals in a future post as well.

Let me talk a bit about each:

Goals 1 to 4: Minimalism

These are the goals related to my minimalism journey. For the past couple of months I didn’t spend much time at home and it will be great if I could finish decluttering my kitchen and vanity before ’17.

Also having a capsule wardrobe dedicated to work is very crucial for me. I made some new purchases and let go of some pieces, so I want to organize a wardrobe with accessories and all and never think about what to wear to work ever again.

My fourth goal, if you have heard of these challenges, will sound very familiar. I want to finish these skincare and make-up products before 2017. The products are:

  1. Sebamed Q10 Lifting Eye Cream (best affordable eye cream so far)
  2. Neostrata Oily Skin Solution (I really like it, except it is twice the price in Turkey now and I won’t be repurchasing just because of the price. I will most likely replace it with plain soap for now.)
  3. Oriflame Red Lipstick (just love this. but it is I guess maybe more than 5 years old (eww) but I can’t just let it go because I haven’t found a red lipstick just like this. So I’ll toss when I finish)
  4. Skin 79 Sué Hydrating Water (it is a very nice moisturizer but not very practical. I would expect a spray bottle instead of squirt, so I won’t be repurchasing this either.)
  5. Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Malt (2 years old, love it, I wouldn’t mind wearing it everyday)
  6. Isana Aceton-free nail polish remover (just put it because I have one more nailpolish remover at home)
  7. Diadermine Zero Tolerance Face Cleanser (no side effects so far, but not very effective either, will replace with bar soap again)

The reason why I chose them is that although they have survived my decluttering splurges for two years, they are the oldest products that I have (except Neostrata, it is like 6 months old). And because I have (or I don’t need) replacements for them it would be nice if I could get them out of my way. The trick in these challenges is that you should put all the products of these kinds away for the time being. It will be exhilarating to finish them till the end of 2016!

Also very interesting to see I have products from all around the world (Germany, Sweden, Korea, US) I think I should consider making more local choices next time I buy this kind of products.

Goals 5-9: Mind Goals

These are goals related mostly with mind. I started a novel about 4 years ago but never touched it for 3 years until I went back this year. But I am not sure if I like it anymore. I am like 5000 words in, and I’ll maybe go on, maybe not. Anyway, I would like to write an independent short story no matter what happens in my novel journey.

I would also like to read 50 books this year in total. This was the goal I set on my Goodreads account. So far I have finished 23, but I still want to keep it to see how far I will get.

My blog of course is among my goals. Keeping a record here really helps me put things in perspective. Right now I have 100 followers, I want to double it by the end of the year.

Goal 10: Job

I started my new job on January 6th, and towards the New Year the committee will decide whether I will be permanent or not. Fingers crossed!

Goals 11-14: Health

These goals are about Yoga and health in general. Yoga has been really helpful to me, so I wish to make it a daily habit.

I have recently been drinking a mixture of ginger- honey-lemon- ACV (and garlic if I’m not going out). Among all benefits, it’s helping me with sinus infections and allergies so I would like to keep it going for as much as I can.

Goal 15: Crafts

I am really into cross-stitching this year. There is one project I would like to finish this year and it is the table runner that I started.

Goals 16-17: Spirit

I started meditating for about 4 months ago but I haven’t made it a daily habit yet. I wish to do so as soon as possible.

And last but not least, finishing the year in gratitude is so important to me.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my goals and I will be more than happy if this inspires you to set some goals for yourself!

Love,

Pelin

 

Decluttering: Komono (Part 1)

What Marie Kondo addressed in her book as “komono” (in Japanese: miscellaneous) is the source of most clutter in our homes. It is the small, uncategorized objects that hang around without much consideration. For me, there are two areas that needed work: paper and plastic bags.

i. Paper clutter.

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I work as a lecturer, so during schooltime paperwork is very demanding and paper occupies literally everywhere in the house. This may also be because I don’t have my office desk in the house, so my couch is basically a mountain of paper and pen during those days. But having a month for school to start here in Turkey, I wanted to tackle other kinds of paper in the house, especially bills and receipts. It was interesting we keep these in one pile, maybe because in Turkish both words translate to “fatura”. And I realized these “fatura”s were everywhere, from bookcase to top of fridge, to the top of shoe cupboard at the entrance. Don’t let me starting the inside of bags and purses! So when I gathered them all, it took me like an hour to decide which ones belonged in the trash and which ones we needed to keep.

For receipts, I tossed all grocery shopping, receipts for items older than a year or passed their warranty, and thought about all the purchases we made for the last year. I am glad most of it was grocery shopping, we had only a couple clothing receipts, and a couple more  for shoes. Both my husband and I went through job interviews in December, which made us realized we had no formal clothes, so I bought two shirts and a nice pair of shoes, while he bought two suits and a pair of shoes. We are approaching thirty and slowly transitioning to a more casual smart style rather than jeans & tees.

I categorized receipts as “from 2015 to June 2016” and “June-August 2016”.

For the bills, you never know what will happen in this country- like one day they can cut off your electricity claiming you haven’t been paying them- so it is best to keep the bills for a year or two. I arranged them in chronological order and tagged them “water, gas, electricity”.

ii. Plastic bags.

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This is two years’ accumulation. I always found plastic bags boring and unnecessary, but it happens. It comes with an online order, from a duty free shop, or simply you forget your fabric bag and you need to get one. I decided to toss a third of it, a third I will bring to my mother-in-law, who said she needed some. The final third in the shoe box I will keep. This is pretty much a what-if keep, but I decided to limit myself to what can fit in a shoe box. And this unnecessary clutter reminded me how much I need to carry these foldable fabric bags around.

Can you practice mindfulness while decluttering? You sure can! It is very rewarding in terms of both a clear home and a clear mind.

Decluttering & Simplifying Digital Space

Well, you all know the feeling when you search for a digital document, you look everywhere in your computer, and everything is such a mess you end up with frustration.

“I just had it somewhere” clogs your productivity in such a way that you cannot even start a task sometimes. And welcome procrastination.

It hit me that I hadn’t organized my digital space for a long time when I encountered this:

before

It was filled with junk. I hadn’t pressed the delete button for a long long time. It was a stressful semester at work, I had changed jobs and keeping up wasn’t easy. So I had a lot of documents from my old job that I can toss and a lot from the new job to organize. Plus I’d watched a lot of series lately and all of them downloaded straight to the desktop. I had the idea of downloading everything to desktop because that way I could see it and say goodbye when needed. But not so much of that had happened in the last few months.

Before I started organizing and decluttering (well they go hand in hand) I also took a screen shot of my hard drive space.

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It turned out I freed up 17 GBs of unwanted- will-never-be-needed documents!

One big advice who wants to declutter their digital space, be it computer, tablet or phone, is that you should start doing it ASAP.

Starting is the biggest helper. If you have a lot of stuff to go through, you can chunk it.

The second big advice is that you shouldn’t leave any documents without a folder. Folder anything. Believe me, it helps a lot, because you know you folder everything, next time you download something recyclebin-worthy, you’re gonna know it and erase it soon.

Here was the order I followed:

First, Desktop. So many things on that desktop that I don’t need now. Films/videos watched and not going to be watched again, e-mail attachments I won’t need, downloaded pictures, edited/cropped pictures, unfoldered photos and so on.

I sent the ones I want to keep to their folders (and created folders when need be).

Then, Documents Folder. So many things here, I didn’t know what to do first. I had three separate folders for e-books, such as e-books, books, and pdfs. I decided to tackle this first and I created 1 e-books folder with the sub-folders “fiction” “non-fiction” (for self-help, cookbooks and science-related books, probably will revisit and reorganize this sub) and “English” (for reference and linguistic books and such). This was the most difficult thing to do. As Brian Tracy suggested, I “ate that frog”. The others unfolded very easily. I erased lots of stuff from my workplace, and foldered everything else, even if they have silly names like “needed” “unneeeded” “from husband’s PC” etc.

The third stop was the Pictures folder. Luckily, I had done some organization before, filing the photos by year every year, starting from 2012, when I bought this laptop. For the miscellanous pictures and artwork, I had a separate folder and I made other folders for the old photos and food photography.

On to the Music and Videos folders. I realised I don’t save MP3s anymore, rather I go on listen to things online. But my all-time favorites like Coldplay, Alanis Morissette, Pink Floyd and Chopin 🙂 deserve to stay there. I can always return to them without the help of the Internet. This was the time for me to see some songs/artists on my PC do not resonate with me anymore. So I fared well 🙂 Same thing true for the Videos folder, which I use to store movies. I said goodbye to those that I know I won’t watch again, ever. But some classics I like to watch over and over again, stayed with me.

Lastly I went to Program Files and uninstalled some programs I never use. This also frees up a lot of space.

Things I couldn’t let go: My game files of Sims 1, Sims 3, Diablo II and Diablo III. Yes, I love ancient video games (which are far more difficult than recent games) and although I haven’t played for over two months, I still feel an attachment to those. I know I am kind of addicted and recovering. Maybe one day I will give the idea up.

Lastly I ran CCleaner to clean up any leftovers.

My desktop afterwards:

after

I chose a simpler wallpaper so it feels much lighter now. And another tip, if you’re a visual person, you can download icons for your folders and have fun with them. You can see my elephant and zebra there, which are soo cute, just my taste.

So that’s it. I hope this post encouraged you to organize some parts of your digital space for clarity and productivity. I am really relieved to free up my space by 17 GBs, it feels just as though you organized and cleaned your bedroom and will sleep in a clutter-free bedroom now.

If you want to read more about digital decluttering and why, there is a great article  on becomingminimalist.com, go and check it out.

Mini declutter Thursday.

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How one accumulates too much stuff is a curious thing.

Today I said goodbye to two tops as their sizes are too big for me to flatter my body.

I also tossed three empty boxes with weird shapes (why do I keep these anyway, just in case I need it, I say, and the whole house is filled with stuff). In the box on top, you also see pompoms that dropped off my slippers last winter, and wandering in the house ever since. Plus the extra fabric from my jeans’ cuffs.

The hardest ones to let go off were the brochures from my recent trip. Minimalists love to say “experience over things” but it is difficult sometimes. So while letting go of these brochures let me tell you their story:

On the beautiful small island, Cunda (in Turkey), an antique church and a 600-year old windmill were intricately restored, being faithful to their original state. The church was filled with an antique collection related to sailing (a very interesting diving suit), and the windmill was turned into a public library. The view from the windmill was amazing, you could see the Aegean sea at every angle. It was fantastic and unforgettable.

And while writing this, my mum was willing to get both of the tops, how nice!

Also, while writing this, a beautiful sunset is greeting me:

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Stay well, and don’t forget to take a look at your surroundings with a skeptic eye!

 

What Minimalism is not About

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1. Minimalism is not about decluttering.

While minimalists find decluttering an exhilarating, freeing experience, minimalism to me is not about what to let go, it is about what to keep.

Marie Kondo asks “what sparks joy?”

“The Minimalists” ask “what adds value to your life?”

I believe the things I keep are a combination of both.

 

2. Minimalism is not confined to backpackers and people who live in ridiculously small apartments.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore backpackers and travelling light. I try to travel light as much as possible and learn from my mistakes. And definitely, there is something to learn from people who carry everything they own on their backs.

Similarly, I do believe living in a small house teaches you a lot. My house is also a relatively small one, with one living room/kitchen, one bedroom and a laundry room. But what I believe is that once you get the idea, it doesn’t matter where you live. You may still live with your parents, in a dormitory, or a seven-bedroom house, or on your backpack! It’s the same and at the same time different for everyone.

3. Minimalism is not about organizing and great storage solutions.

I believed (and I still do) that I had a problem about organizing. My house and my office desk were a mess, and while I thought it was a meaningful mess, I still sought help. What I found was at the core of this disorganization was my inability to say goodbye to things when I didn’t need them. Well I was one type. I lived “in” clutter and called myself disorganized. I thought if I tidied things up, clutter wouldn’t be a problem.

But there is also this type who never ever declutters and lives in a tidy mess. And these people are, well, the closest one may be your mum. You can find stashes underneath sofas, boxes after boxes never opened in years, all these small things that nobody needs or remembers even. But in the workplace I also encounter this kind of people, who file projects, keep hard copies even if there are soft copies, and bring in drawers and organizers (why buy new stuff to store the stuff you don’t need?) because the ones in the office aren’t enough. But they are very very organized and also effective, although 90% of the stuff they keep will never be needed and eat up their time and energy.

This is not what minimalism is. These can be parts of minimalism, but they do not define it. The social media likes the extreme, well, you don’t have to go to extremes if this is not you.

To reiterate,  minimalism is not about downsizing, it’s about loving/valuing/needing what you keep. It’s not about limiting yourself to a tiny backpack or a studio apartment, and finally it’s not about organizing (although I admit it is fun!).

What else do you think minimalism is not about?

Be the Change you wish to see in the world.

I used to ponder upon these words from Mahatmi Gandhi, but didn’t find it very applicable. I was a vegetarian for four years, but even then I couldn’t truly see the meaning behind these inspiring words of Gandhi, who was also a vegetarian. Maybe because I didn’t believe in “change”, I couldn’t make the other people change.

But now I think with the help of my students I’m starting to grasp what he means.

Last year we were doing a text on shopaholism and a student of mine (aged 18) said how the notion of shopaholism fits him, how mindlessly he goes shopping  for clothes and how much he buys. He asked me if I was the same. And I told him I used to be like that but not anymore. For example I’d only bought one t-shirt that year. The class, usually on their mobiles, suddenly started to pay attention. The school that I worked for then was a prestigious private university, so the families of these students were quite wealthy, except the students on scholarship.

When they started to listen, I told them that I decided I only needed a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes for summer, then I did lots of research and bought Levi’s jeans for like 20 dollars (like 70% discount) and a pair of Toms for 50$ (20% discount). I bought less and I paid less. Although my choice of Levi’s and Toms might seem materialistic, in my old days, I would never be able to buy these brands as I shopped so mindlessly. Their prices were always too much for me. Now that I choose what I buy, not the shopping centers that I frequently visited, I had the time to research the prices and buy them for a reasonable price.

I must say that I do not find buying just two items per season limiting. It’s not like “I won’t buy anything for a year” kind of statement. It is knowing yourself and what you truly need. Levi’s and Toms were my items for last summer.

{This summer, on the other hand, I made more purchases. I had three pairs of jeans, two pairs of flare jeans and that pair of Levi’s (which is bootcut). Upon losing some weight I thought those flare jeans do not really flatter my body, and will get rid of at least one (still not sure about the second, but I will give myself the time to adjust from flare to fitting jeans) I bought two pairs of straight fitting jeans and two t-shirts (how many t-shirts I’ve said goodbye I don’t know, but at least 3). So I’m trying to maximise the empty space in my wardrobe while changing my style, which is perfectly okay.}

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Of course I couldn’t express my feelings as freely as I wrote them, but I managed to capture the attention of at least 1 or 2. For two minutes they were able to leave the smart phones and listened to me. Even that meant a lot to me. And it suddenly reminded me of dear Gandhi. I am (at least trying to be) the change I wish to see in the world.

When I first started teaching I got so frustrated at the system and the rules that I started to think I would never be the teacher I was trained for and I set out for. I was afraid that I was going to be “another brick on the wall”. I am slowly learning how to be myself. It is exhilarating.