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

 

A one-ingredient deodorant that is so effective

The one-ingredient deodorant I am going to share is not even a DIY. It is very simple and effective.

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But before that,

Can antiperspirants really cause cancer or Alzheimer’s? Or, to be more exact, can aluminum be absorbed in the skin so as to cause cancer or Alzheimer’s?

From the scientific perspective, the answer is no. There is no conclusive research that clearly link aluminum intake through deodorants and diseases.

From most supporters of Alternative (or Holistic) medicine, the answer is yes.

Well I am not for or against either of those, because I know most medical research is not possible unless you have a big sponsor (if you are curious go and check out what happened to the author of Pure, White and Deadly), and the Internet offers so many alternative medicine solutions by unauthorized people, it is unsafe to trust either sources of knowledge. So it is like a Russian roulette.

But I know for one I am allergic to most commercial skincare, especially because of the artificial colorants and aroma.

Thinking about the risks, I tried to stay away from it, and I’ve had some unpleasant experiences. Well I tried crystal deodorants, dermo-cosmetics, and some commercial spray or stick deodorants but the result was the same. They did not prevent the smell. They made it horrible actually and I sometimes felt really ashamed in public. If I had left my underarms alone it could have been better, at least the odor would be more authentic!

So my friend told me one day she just uses lemon, she rubs it on her underarms and she is fine all day. I haven’t tried it but I found just two drops of lemon essential oil very, very effective. I’ve been using it for over a month now, and no unpleasant odor whatsoever! It hasn’t caused any irritation either (and I am super sensitive). It’s much more practical to carry and apply than the actual lemon, and ridiculously frugal. You just use a couple of drops per day.

So, one is tested by my friend for years, the other is tested by me for a month. The trick is the lemon is antibacterial and it deals with the odor-causing bacteria. You can try both, it’s very cheap anyway, and if you don’t like it, there are tons of other ways to use lemon EO.

And whether or not antiperspirant runs a health risk, it is smart to switch to a deodorant that is more simple and natural, one that is produced locally and whose bottle can be easily recycled or reused. And it might be worth trying to use other EOs you have at home. They may work wonders 🙂

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.

What does Minimalism have to do with addiction?

When you start on a journey towards a more organized life, it is okay to start from your home, where an average person spends the most of their lives (if you’re like me, though, it is well above average). And once you stop being crazy about cleaning and organizing, you can have lots of free time. Some people even worry about what to do with their new-found freedom. This is what we need to look out for: we need to make sure that habits overcome addictions.

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I have found that addiction and minimalism are closely related. Once you get rid of worthless stuff (be it actual stuff or not), you start to feel this emptiness. Well you can fill it with anything you want, from writing that story that’s been bugging your head to meet friends and have mindless conversations, to actually wrap yourself up in a good addiction. But good news, because minimalism makes you also mindful of your actions, it may be easier than ever before to kick an addiction.

What happened to me was I realized I had the addiction once the emptiness struck: I was playing ridiculous amounts of video games per day.

Long story short, I’ve been playing on and off for like twenty years. I remember in the 90s, in summer holidays I could play up to 7 hours a day. Outside was boiling hot, I was playing with my sister and cousins most of the time, it was like a favorite pastime activity. Come winter my father used to take the adapter cable to work, and filled with study, I wouldn’t remember games at all.

At university also I was doing pretty great, except summers. In summers, where there was no studies to fill up my mind, I would get carried away by computer games like Sims or Diablo. I would only come out for meals. But that didn’t bother me at all, I was fine with it and didn’t consider it an addiction.

When I started to work in 2010 things took a turn. I now was playing not for fun, but to take the anxiety of the work away. I was doing what people were doing with alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. I would forget about every distressing detail and that is why getting rid of it was not easy. The iPad I bought for reading e-books had become my playmate.

But one day I discovered Leo Gura’s channel on youtube. His videos are, to say the least, life changing.

Basically what Leo says about addictions is that you have to be fine with emptiness, no matter what. And the simplest (although not the easiest) way to do is meditation. Sit down there and do nothing. This is pretty effective and more difficult than it sounds, but every time you have an urge to do no matter what, sit down, think about why you think you need to do it. What if you just sit down and don’t do it?

And on another perspective, I like to think about an older Pelin, say, 90 years old. What would a 90-year-old Pelin give advice to a 27-year-old one? Would she want me to spend 7 hours a day doing an activity that would hinder my progress towards my goals, hurt my back, neck, hands and eyes? She would rather have her find her life purpose as soon as possible and pursue it, right? And enjoy the moment in the mean time. So I try to listen to future Pelin’s advice. It is funny but effective. And I think it can apply to every mild addiction, like shopaholism or food addiction. I agree alcoholism and other severe addictions might be handled professionally.

As you go through junk in your life, it might be a good idea to go through the junk actions, too, and everything from talking to drinking coffee to watching something can be a form of addiction. Looking at our lives from a distance and noticing the actions which benefit us and the ones which seems “fun” on the outside but killing us slowly help a huge deal in living a more purposeful life.

 

 

 

Where do you call “home”?

Since I was born, I have lived in 8 different places. Come to think of it, the place where I most felt at home was the dormitory, where I spent four years at university. It was the smallest place ever, four beds( two bunk beds actually), four closets and a long table with four chairs across the beds. As you can imagine I had a very limited supply, just clothes and books. Very few sentimental items and that’s all. I was living the minimalist lifestyle before I knew about it and I recall these times as the happiest of my life. I was very productive, wrote a lot, studied very effectively and was quite social. 

Why do I need to remember those times today? 

Because I am at a crossroads. I may live abroad for 3 years if I want to, but for that I need to shift my career a little bit and maybe never go back to my native country. And it made me think if I ever feel at home here. 

This decision also made me reconsider my belongings, so much can fit in a suitcase, right? Which of these will certainly make it with me I will have to see. And when I actually get there I can be very conscious of everything I buy to create the minimalist living I am up to. 

So many possibilities. Along with so many worries. Let’s see what the future brings.

Experience over things: the case of museums and malls

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Yesterday I went to the natural history museum in Ankara. I live in Ankara for eight years-on and off- but never really thought natural history museum was worth a visit. It’s funny because I love biology, paleoanthropolgy and most definitely I love geology and stones (I have a small collection of semi-precious stones and have some glass animals, just looking at them gives me joy).

The museum had everything I love and more. I really enjoyed the experience. Surely, I enjoyed myself because I had a limited time to look at them, and they weren’t mine. If they were mine, if I had all the stone collection there, would it make me happy? Certainly not. And I don’t know why, it made me think of a shopping mall. If I had all the shopping mall, it would definitely not make me happy. So maybe approaching the mall as a museum of sorts is a good idea. Watching and studying stuff but treating them as a collectible that I can’t and won’t have. And cherish the experience, even if it means making fun of /maybe feeling sorry for fashion and human nature.

My German teacher once told me that he and his wife always did window shopping. They would do window shopping for the whole year. Then, they would do actual shopping once a year, knowing what they want and need. No room for impulsive shopping or regrets. You have to have massive will power for this, but why not? It sounds very logical and also freeing. Some people, including me in the past, feel the urge that they need to buy something once they go out of the house. It must be freeing not having to buy anything.

 

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:

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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:

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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!

 

Slow down. Cut down.

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What do you do in a day?

I, for example, on a day I don’t go to work, cook, eat, drink coffee, if not enough tea. While trying to work on a fictional story, my mind says let’s go play this video game. Once in a while I get crafty and the whole house turns into a mess of yarn, fabric and needles. These are only the things I do on my own.

There is also spending time with my loved one, talking to family on the phone, and meeting and calling friends. Other than that, I also have these connections who I never need in my life but just can’t cut contact with.

The days I go to work are catastrophic. Before getting to school, the panic of planning the day, printing out stuff for students and arranging activities bite me up. And when I actually get to school, things to do in the breaktimes are neverending, and ten minutes a breaktime is never ever enough. Ugh, so much to do.

How can a normal person do all this stuff? What happens to their soul if they do all this? How does the body respond to all the chaos?

I have consciously committed to slowing down and do less just like I started to own less. And the first step was curing my addiction to video games (I’ll explain how in a later post). For nearly two months I haven’t played any video games. This is a big success for me as I have been playing video games for as long as 20 years. I think this addiction was my inability to handle the void. I’ve been learning how to handle the void, or emptiness, or doing nothing for these two months. I try to accept everything as they are. This is so powerful. If you can do nothing, you can do anything. Everything becomes so much easier. You can easily eliminate the physical and emotional excess in your life once you master doing nothing. It’s a kind of meditation actually.

Everything happens slowly, but all of a sudden. Everything is as they should be. Slowly, by little steps, but confidently. Being slow, living slowly, but never being lazy. That’s my purpose.

 

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?