Keeping the Possessions Minimal, but Not My Interests.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAVJAAAAJDY2ZTI5OTNiLTA1YWMtNGEzMS05ZTljLTUzNmRlZTE0YjE1YgSometimes people think (and I think) I’m contradicting myself because I choose to live a minimalist lifestyle with less clothes, less makeup and overall less possessions. Yet, my interests are not minimalistic at all. I’m currently interested in writing: blogging, creative writing and handwriting/lettering.

But I also like to read and talk about psychology, the environment, sustainability, sewing& embroidery, botany & gardening, cooking & nutrition. Not to forget I work full time as an English instructor and I love teaching. And I’m almost sure I forgot to mention a few some.

My old (though somewhat related) interests were in playing the guitar (which I decided to sell as I wasn’t playing for nearly a decade), knitting and crocheting, animal rights, social anthropology, sociology, and political sciences. Last but not least, I also want to learn (and feel the need to learn) more about positive sciences. I’m regretful that I hated Math and Physics in high school.

Does a person who wants to lead a minimalist life style need to keep their interests to minimum? I definitely don’t think so as the whole idea behind minimalism is to keep what matters and what is valuable. So it pretty much depends on the person.

But then again, I sometimes feel guilty that instead of excelling in one particular skill, I tend to go back and forth between these areas, and knowledge and skills  grow slowly. It feels like I need to have a life purpose yet I don’t. Wouldn’t life be easier for me if I just tried to excel in teaching? I sometimes wonder.

However, recently I came across a term, coined by Emilie Wapnick:

Multipotentiality

“An educational and psychological term referring to a pattern found among intellectually gifted individuals. [Multipotentialites] generally have diverse interests across numerous domains and may be capable of success in many endeavors or professions, they are confronted with unique decisions as a result of these choices.”

She also has a fantastic TED talk:

She simply describes those of us who has many interests shouldn’t blame themselves, or be afraid and discouraged. Even if you lose your curiosity in one subject and be a beginner many, many times in your life, you use all your accumulated skills and knowledge and bring a new perspective to your new areas. So in a way, you are always a beginner, but because of your complicated history, you are never a beginner.

This really makes sense to me because as separate as they may seem, all of my interests feed into each other, and help me lead a more meaningful life every single day. I can relate to most of my students, who are studying at different departments, because one time in my life I delved into their profession in one way or another.

Sometimes I decide to quit one of these areas altogether, as in the case of the guitar, and I feel a bit guilty about that too. But after watching Emilie’s talk, I realized practising classical guitar taught me rhythm and mathematics, as well as  how to appreciate music. It introduced me to great musicians as well. So I’m always grateful for that. I don’t want to go back in time and become a master guitarist, though, I just wasn’t meant to be one. I didn’t have the motivation that my teacher had, for example, practising four to six hours everyday. I was too busy researching some other area I found mind-opening.

Learning that there are a lot of people like me is a relief. Learning that multipotentiality is not a burden but a gift made me more confident in pursuing my endeavours (or starting new ones, does learning really end anyway?).

Do you feel you are a multipotentialite, too? Or is specializing in one area more of your thing?

image source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-multipotentialite-judi-umali-rajkumar ( a good reading piece too if you’re into it)

you can also visit: puttylike.com (Emilie’s website)

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:

humming

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.

Living Life on Auto-Pilot, and Taking Control

 

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Have you realized we live most of our lives on auto-pilot? How many people remember if they washed their faces or not this morning? Or how they walked/drove/commuted to work? We probably did all of them, being on auto-pilot, but without any awareness. Unless there is an  unpleasant experience, we could go on default mode all day. Without one drop of consciousness; we could go to work and come back home, chat with people and watch the news, cook and wash the dishes. This is our lovely brain’s gift to us.

Days, months, and years pass like this and one day we realize we never enjoy life, haven’t accomplished our dreams, and in fact have led a very mundane life. Worse yet, we may not realize this until the end of our lives. Most don’t. Realizing is just the beginning. And solution is not so far away.

The closest and the most permanent solution is mindfulness. Being fully aware of what is going on each moment. Not what might happen, not what has happened, just what is going on right now. If you are breathing, breathe, eating, eat, waiting for a bus, you got the point. Be one with that moment and discover it again and again. While on auto-pilot we can’t do that. And the difference is huge.

One of the teachers in the mindfulness course I am taking said this: “Focus on what is, rather than what if.” It is very memorable and effective.

The effects of mindfulness are scientifically proven, too. The best known effects are increasing performance and productivity. There is, for example, a study on university students mindfully washing dishes and enjoying it. It’s a chore many, including me, hate to do, but being aware of the moment beautifies it.

I think one of the most important effects of being mindful and taking control again is on talking and listening. This is the most difficult for me as I like talking and sometimes I realize I talk nonsense, and just chatter; only to realize afterwards. I noticed while I am not very talkative in groups, when there is the famous awkward silence, I throw a few words in. I can’t handle the silence. I also interrupt sometimes if I get impatient. What experts suggest here is to remember to breathe. When the person before you finishes speaking, take a moment to breathe. It doesn’t last a second or two, but you reset the auto-pilot and take control. So you don’t interrupt and say useless things. Although I have a long way to go in order to achieve it, I believe one day I will get there.

Just being aware is enough most of the time.

 

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.

before hard disk.png

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.