It may be May, and this was written back in January, but, in isolation, every day is New Year (or at least a new beginning), so it still seems as good a time as any to talk about it. Every year I make a one-word motto for my new year’s resolution. It’s not so much about setting an impossible goal I fail at by February, rather a word that can spring to mind across the whole year, a word to live by. It’s evolved over the years, initially being more like an obtainable goal like switching to cloth options instead of disposable things like tissues and paper towels. Then as I wrapped up ten years of study it became about change and new beginnings. One year I focused on improving my physical and mental health. The idea is to do better, live better. This year my word is clear and easy, like a breath of fresh air: RESOLVE. Continue reading
So here we are. Three years after I last blogged regularly and about seven years since I first started writing them. I had grand plans to write again this year, but I’d fallen out of habit and just couldn’t focus hard enough to get the thoughts out of my head. I found too many distractions. I was on sabbatical, happily travelling the world for no reason other than to tick enough places off my list that I could throw away the travel brochures in my storage unit. Europe first, then Africa; for almost a year I was taking the first major, independent holiday of my life. I had this list of things I planned to do as I travelled; setting up a business, read many of the books in my e-book collection, write. Instead, I happily got caught up in watching tv series’ season by season, and, by the time I was sitting on an overland truck crossing Africa, I’d gotten addicted to a mindless game app. I didn’t mind too much, I mean, what else to do on a truck for six hours each day? When I tried to write, I got motion sickness. I couldn’t focus on ideas for the business, I couldn’t even get through podcasts. My mind was firmly set in enjoying Africa doing nothing in particular.
In the background was this ever-changing world. Coronavirus was spreading, first China and parts of Asia. Then Italy. Passing Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, we got maybe five minutes a day of wifi if we were lucky. So, while we knew it was out there and spreading, we existed in this cosy, isolated, news-free haven of our truck and while some worried about what they read, I felt untouchable. We were fine. COVID-19 had not hit Africa, other than a case or two; we were safer than if we were at home, oddly enough.
Then one afternoon in Namibia, everything changed. Continue reading
And Letting Go
It takes six months to pack up, six months to unpack – David Pollock, Third Culture Kids
Mentally, emotionally, literally – Pollock, the late expert on nomadic expat life was right. When I left Australia in 2002, it was an exit I knew was a long time coming. Travel was all I ever dreamed of doing. And, months before I gave notice in each job overseas, I realised that I was emotionally ready to leave. Sometimes it was due to visas running out, other times because with families ever-growing and changing, the time was just right. Now, after three years here, I know it’s time to go. Mentally, I have been coming to terms with the exit for months, planning how to wrap up work projects, working out what jobs big or small, need attention. Making and checking off a list of sightseeing and experiences to finally do. Pollock is spot on – much as it does take months to emotionally plant your roots in the new destination and feel connected, likewise, the emotional pack up, the mental preparation to leave, equally doesn’t happen overnight. After so much practice, moving here, moving there, I’m still in amazement of how well it’s going. Continue reading
The end is nigh… the new day is dawning.
Thinking more and more about my future and the directions it might take, it has been clear to me that I am ready to move on from where I am now. I feel like I have gone as far as I can to challenge myself and learn from this current experience, this current job, this current life. The long hours can be tough and are taking their toll.
The journey of minimalism and intentionality have been lingering on my mind, searching for inspiration amongst the others in my community, shaping my vision and playing out dozens of scenarios about who I want to be and how I want to live. I wholly believe life is fluid and dynamic, that you can change your surroundings and attitude with the right choices and motivation. I am more motivated than ever before, to look at my life and see the changes that need to be made and to take the steps to do them.
This Year, No Fear Continue reading
I am not a cat person. Not really much of an animal person at all. But in the great binary question of dogs versus cats, I suppose I am a dog person. If I had to choose.
With great reluctance back in October, I took in a week-old abandoned stray kitten I found on the property and nursed it toward better health. Having spent years as a nanny of babies, I was kind of awestruck how much tinier and more vulnerable this kitty was, this baby who fit in my hand, with his big eyes looking up at me in total dependence. Continue reading
Different people find and follow minimalism for different reasons. Some lose everything in a fire or burglary and have to start again with a reassessment of what they really need. Others leave their spouse and need to ponder what to part with, and what is necessary for moving on or starting again. Some are families that, in the daily grind and struggle to keep up with the Jones’s, find themselves accumulating too much and losing sight of the fun of parenting and family life. Finally there are the hoarders, who have emotional attachments to things, and minimalism is the breath of fresh air that flips the switch in their brains to start letting go.
That is the start of the journey. Maybe a friend said something or they heard about the Minimalists’ movie or podcast or they saw a quote on social media from Joshua Becker or Courtney Carver. However they hear about it, downsizing, intentional living, minimalism starts to make sense and the journey begins. Decluttering, although emotionally difficult to separate from things you’ve purchased or been given or earned, is a relatively simple task. Pick up object, decide to donate or dispose or sell, object leaves hands and home. Straightforward at least. But what about the journey ten years’ down the track? When the home is relatively emptier? What does minimalism look like then? How does one live intentionally in practice? Continue reading
Some years ago in my university days, I attended a party. A young bachelor approached me. We engaged in the usual small talk: What’s your name? Where are you from? What do you do? It all seemed to be going okay. It reminded me of a speed date. We started to talk weekends, free time. What have you read lately? What movies do you like to watch? What do you like to do in your spare time? I paused. I frowned. I stuttered. I was totally stumped. The answers that sprung to mind were none I dared to admit. I thought about how an honest answer might sound out loud. Study. Procrastinate. Declutter. Repeat.
In the space of just a few moments I had one of those lightbulb moments where I realised that I wasn’t living the life I wanted to lead. Continue reading
How ironic that I wrote a post in January stating my intention for the year was to find better balance for myself, and then for the first 120 days of the year this blog has sat dormant and untouched, like a half-typed, discarded novel. Meant to tell the story of my life but incomplete. I never intended to stop blogging following my climactic declutter triumph last year. More that my job has escalated in terms of time demands, combining with the usual daily grind to command every last spot of free time I have in a week. Continue reading
2016 is done.
In numerology 2+0+1+6=9 and 9 is the year of endings and change. No one could deny there was so much of it last year, losing iconic celebrities like David Bowie and Alan Rickman at the start through to George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds at the end, and so many in between. There were countless terrorist attacks – I was very close by during two of them – plus the usual and at times, unusually-located flurry of weather hazards and natural disasters. Then there was senseless tragedy, helplessness and devastation for the vulnerable people of Aleppo, as well as broader Syria and Yemen. The wider Western public gave in to fear and wayward politicians, voting in Brexit and Trump and changing this liberal world as we know it. Time will tell but I think what people were really voting for was a pre-neoliberalist, pre-Reagan/Thatcher world where everyone had a full time job, comfortable wages and job security and adult children could afford their own house and dreams. Something no politician can achieve these days without dramatically changing the massive corporate power and wealth influencing the global government and world today.
Quite simply, it was quite a year.
For me 2016 embraced both endings and change, but not really in any negative way. Continue reading
Over the northern summer I spent my eagerly anticipated month in Australia, relaxing on a much needed holiday break while also consciously thinking about the things I own, how to declutter in a meaningful way and how to spend my time in a way that balanced relaxation with family and friend time, spontaneity and community. I was so proud of the result. I returned to work feeling truly at peace with myself, for the first time in a long while.
I arrived in Australia one wintry Wednesday night. Completely focused on my mission, I secured free wifi in my hotel room and promptly posted online ads for my mattress and bedding package as well as my bike. Within two hours I had someone interested to buy my bike and coming to meet me Thursday afternoon. It was a great start. I was so ready for Thursday to arrive. Little was I to know how smoothly things would go – preparation was everything. Continue reading