Make your own deodorant- you’ll never go back to commercial deodorants!

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. There are some studies that aluminum levels were higher in Alzheimer’s patients, but we’re not sure if they were absorbed through deodorants, or other sources. Again, in another study,  women who had breast cancer were asked if they used an antiperspirant, and most of them did. But again, who doesn’t? There are so many factors to cancer, you just can’t do controlled research.

However, if you ask 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 (which were aluminum salts anyway), 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!

In my trial and error for three years, I have found  two perfect, inexpensive, harmless methods to prevent body odor (you will still sweat, and maybe we just need to accept sweating is healthy).

1) Essential Oils

lemon essential oil, natural deodorant

My friend told me one day she just uses lemon as a deodorant, she rubs it on her underarms and she is fine all day. I was hesitant to try real lemons, but I found just two drops of lemon essential oil very, very effective. I used it for over a year, 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. A 20 ml bottle lasts about a year.

I have also tried diluted lavender and violet essential oils. Their scent is not as vague as lemon, so it’s not a good idea not to use any perfume if you opt for floral essential oils. Their scent lasts for the whole day. And it might be worth trying to use other EOs you have at home. They may work wonders 🙂

2) Coconut Oil and Baking Soda Deodorant- My Favorite!

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After moving to Singapore, essential oils were just not enough because I was perspiring like crazy (perks of tropical climate, crazy humid all day!). So I had to find another way, and I finally tried the coconut oil deodorant.

I convinced my husband too, because even his aluminum-filled, commercial deodorant doesn’t work here! And he loves the switch, we’ve been using it for months and we’re never going back!

If you live in a dry-ish, mild climate the essential oils will work just fine. But if you perspire more than normal, and live in a humid area, then this is just for you.

The best thing about this recipe is that you can play with the ingredients as you wish. Baking soda might be abrasive for some and cause irritations, in that case, you can reduce the amount or skip it completely.

If you sweat like hell, then you can add more baking soda and skip starch too. Start with a small amount at the beginning, and go for the ratio you are most comfortable with.

DIY Deodorant Recipe

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp starch (corn, tapioca, doesn’t matter really)

optional: essential oil of your choice (lemon, lavender, orange etc.)

Directions:

If solid, melt the coconut oil first, and mix all ingredients.
Move to a jar with lid. Can be kept at room temperature.

Let me know if you try one of these awesome alternatives to deodorant. Not only is this way cheaper than commercial deodorants, it is a low-waste alternative too!

Mini Interview Series- Sheila from Practigal Blog

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I have this mini interview series in Turkish, where I interviewed two of the well-known bloggers in the Turkish minimalist blogging community, Turk Isi Minimalizm and Basit ve Mutlu Yasam (hopefully I’ll translate them to English one day), but today I’m happy to have had a great interview with Sheila, the creator of Practigal Blog. I truly enjoyed reading about her story, I hope you do too! So here you are.

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1. To begin with, how did you start your minimalism journey? 

I began my journey to minimalism years ago before I really knew what minimalism was. I knew that if I wanted to live a life I actually loved, I needed to remove the things that were holding me back from that. At the time, I was stressed, overwhelmed, and tired all of the time. I slowly began decluttering my belongings around 7 years ago, as well as simplifying my schedule. Over time, the amount of things I wanted to have around me diminished. Decluttering turned out to be a repeated process and still is.

A couple of years ago, I discovered minimalism. Giving what I was already doing a name really just gave me a greater sense of purpose and resolve. It was amazing to read other minimalists’ stories and see how much it had benefited them. This was how I knew I was on the right track to living the life I truly wanted.

2. So you were already ahead of game. Moving on to my next question, how did being a parent affect your way of life?

Being a parent who was pursuing a more minimal life made it so that I needed to be flexible and understanding of others. I needed to be gentle in my approach. I decided that I would nurture minimalism in them the same way I would anything else…slowly over time. For me, that was about helping switch their mindset from “I need more” to “I want more”, and finally, to “I have more than enough.” Each of my children is different and has reacted uniquely to my conversations with them. I try, more than anything, to lead by example, and I’m seeing that they are coming around and seeing the value of a more minimal lifestyle.

3. What are your criteria when it comes to deciding on what to keep or declutter (like “The Minimalists” always say value, or Marie Kondo emphasizes what brings joy)?

My approach to decluttering is a combination of both considering an item’s value and personal worth. I pay close attention to my initial reaction when I look at something in my home. What emotion did it spark in me? The amount I am willing to part with has drastically increased overtime using this approach. It allowed me to declutter to the extent that I was ready! I didn’t force more on myself than I could handle. I try to take an honest look at my life currently, and only keep what I am actually loving and using now. If I forgot that I had it, it can go. If it’s always in my way, it can go. If it brings me stress, it can go.

Meet Sheila

3. What kind of changes did you experience after you started living more simply?

Since adopting a more simple lifestyle, I have experienced more calm and more joy! I went from stressed and frazzled all of the time to almost never. In general, I am calm because I don’t take on more than I can reasonably handle. Things I don’t love to do (like cooking and cleaning) aren’t taking over my life. I’ve kept these things as simple as possible so that I have more time and energy for the people and things I DO love. And because of this, I am able to be more present in the moment and truly enjoy my time.
Additionally, I’ve noticed that my mindset has completely changed with what I allow into my life. I am more intentional when I shop, and I actually feel the need to shop a lot less than before. And, I take the time to really think before adding something to my schedule or to-do list. I really consider the value that this activity will add or take away from our family. I think about the true cost of our things, as well as what I may sacrifice when I take on something new.

4. On a similar note, did you notice any other changes related to your habits such as eating, cooking or sleeping?

I’m generally more intentional with my time, so that includes self-care. I practice self-care much more regularly than before because it is part of each of my routines. I pay attention to what I am putting in my body like never before, and I prioritize eating well and moving more. In terms of sleep, I now consistently go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. This consistency has given me so much more energy during the day!
You must practice self-care in order to be healthy and present your best self. Learn how to prioritize self-care, even when you are super busy. Plus, get 20 simple self-care ideas for the busy woman that you can easily add into your routine.
an article on how to practice self-care on Sheila’s blog

5. This sounds really lovely, and something I need to work on as well. And what about your family? Did you get encouragement from family and friends during the decluttering process? Did they become a part of it, or, if they didn’t, how did you choose to react?

I would say that I was definitely alone in my new mindset in the beginning. Most people around me didn’t understand because they generally had the mindset that you work in order to have more (and bigger) things and do more (and bigger) things. Slowly over time, my husband has joined in. He needed to see the value of it first. Once he saw the changes that were happening in our home and with my mood, he was on board completely.

6. What was the easiest and the most difficult item for you to toss at the beginning of your decluttering process? What category would you recommend for beginners?

The easiest item for me to part with in the beginning was items in the kitchen. I cook frequently, but I don’t love it, and I’m not that good at it. I didn’t need a bunch of fancy baking pans and gadgets. They just weren’t getting used. The hardest items for me to part with were gifts. I had so many gifts from our wedding that we still hadn’t used…4 years later. But they were nice things and I felt like I should start using them, so I would keep them. Eventually, these things were parted with as well. It just wasn’t worth it to store them for no real reason anymore.
For beginners, I would recommend a quick sweep of the entire house first. You will probably find items in every room that mean nothing to you or are causing you stress. Next, I would recommend with whatever area is causing you the most stress on a daily basis. Start with that room, and practice maintaining the decluttered room before moving on to the next.

7. That’s great advice actually, and opposite of what I usually read. I loved the part about a quick sweep of the entire house. It’s less challenging for most and doesn’t sound intimidating.

Speaking of decluttering, are there any objects that you feel you will never get rid of? 

There are definitely pictures and keepsakes from my children that I will never get rid of. I don’t have the best memory for some reason, so I need a few things to jog my memory and help me remember old times. Here’s a picture that my my middle daughter drew years ago depicting her dream of opening an art store downtown someday. I don’t think I could ever give this one up, because she still has that same dream today!
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photo credit: Sheila Price

There’s also this figurine that topped our wedding cake. I don’t think I’ll ever part with it as it’s become a part of our home decor.

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photo credit: Sheila Price

8. Do you have any tips for our readers, or anything that makes you say “I wish I’d known this when I started decluttering”?

My biggest piece of advice is to remember that this is YOUR journey. Avoid the temptation to copy what others are doing or compare your progress to theirs. It’s super important that you are making decisions based on the life you are currently living and the life you want to live, so looking around won’t help with that! Only you can know what needs to go in order for you to live the life you’ve always dreamed of! And, only you know what will help you live a life you love. We are all wired differently and have different things that bring us joy and fulfillment.

9. Finally, a more personal question. You also write about being an introvert. Can you explain in a few sentences how you think minimalism can help introverts?

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Photo by Easton Oliver on Unsplash
I believe that minimalism (to some extent) is for everyone! For introverts in particular, minimalism helps with their need to recharge, their ability to be productive, and their desire to make deeper connections with others. A decluttered home filled with only things well-loved serves as a sanctuary for the introvert to recharge after spending time with people. A life that’s uncluttered minimizes distractions so that an introvert can focus better and be their most productive selves. And finally, the choice to prioritize healthy relationships and minimize unhealthy ones allows the introvert to invest in their relationships in order to give them the time and attention they need to continue to grow.
I once again would like to thank Sheila for the delightful answers. I recommend you to check out her blog to read about her experience with minimalism & being an introvert, and to get more tips about simple living.

What Minimalism is not About

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?

 

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.

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  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:

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:

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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.

 

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.

Minimalism and Simple Living

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As a person who keeps making a mess at home, I got pretty excited while reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo a year and a half ago. I wondered “Will I ever be this tidy?” Minimalism? I’d never thought of it before I read this book. Actually, the book doesn’t entirely suggest minimalism, it tells the reader to only keep what sparks joy. Get rid of the others, you don’t need them. Hold each item and say “Does this spark joy?”

 

As crazy as it sounds, it got me thinking. My husband and I, we love keeping small things. All around the house, we have music boxes, glass figures, toys, animal figures, snow globes, you name it. Do they really speak to our heart? Or are they just gathering dust? As I was asking these questions to myself, I started researching people who also read the book. It turned out most of them were minimalists! People with ten-item wardrobes, backpackers with 100 items total, people living in small cabins and so on.

 

Just the thought of a simple living such as this sounds beautiful to me. Less stuff, less responsibility, a peaceful life. Kondo says you have to do it all at once, it may take 6 months, it may take years, but do it all at once. The important things are intention and action. I can say I’ve started taking action 1.5 years ago and I’ve made great progress regarding clothes. About the others I’m slowly thriving and learning. The best thing is that I’ve learnt how to shop for quality and longevity in products.

 

This is soo important in kitchen as well because kitchen is where I breathe. If it is cluttered (like my mom’s or mother-in-law’s) it keeps bugging you. It takes away your joy of cooking. That’s why while we were decorating our home I didn’t want any extra dishes just for the guests. This is like a priority for Turkish homes and I am probably condemned by the elders 😀 My daily dishes are simple and all white. I don’t have countless pans, I only have one for each size. I only have one tablecloth, why more? Even that may be too much if you ask me, I may declutter further in the future.

I believe if one documents their journey, they will be more motivated to move forward and as more people tag along, they will be bolder to dive deeper. So this is my motive to start this journal.