My must haves this Christmas

Warning: This post DOES NOT contain affiliate links. My holiday essentials aren’t something you can buy in a shop.

My Christmas Must Haves - How I Approach Christmas as a Minimalist

Christmas – you’ve probably noticed that it’s approaching fast. Here in New Zealand, we don’t have Thanksgiving and we don’t really have Halloween, so the shops have been waiting for Christmas since Fathers’ Day in September.

Some people love Christmas, some people hate it. I oscillate between the two. Generally, I enjoy Christmas day, but can’t stand all the hoopla of the whole holiday season. I’m not Christian (or religious at all), so it can be a challenge to find meaning in Christmas beyond consumerism – gifts and food, and lots of them. Not to knock gifts and food, but if you’re looking for real joy in Christmas, gifts and food alone isn’t going to do it.

Christmas is a challenge to my more minimalist and anti-consumerism values. But that’s not a bad thing, because preparing for Christmas prompts me to pause, reflect and clarify my intentions. That leads to my must haves for mindful and meaningful Christmas. Continue reading “My must haves this Christmas”

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Busy is the new fine – why I am fighting back

How many of your casual conversations start something like this:

“How are you?”

“Oh, you know, busy!”

It seems busy is the new fine.

Default answer, default setting
What’s the big deal? It’s just a throw away response to a polite question, which probably doesn’t interest the asker that much anyway.

But it is a big deal – it’s accepting and reinforcing a social norm.

Busyness is no longer a blip, a short burst of extra activity, an exception– it’s the default. Being busy is not just socially acceptable, it’s almost expected.

Busy is not fine
By operating with busyness as the default setting we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are sending out messages like:

  • if you’re not busy, you’re not successful or important
  • it’s not enough to be satisfied with what you have, you should always want to do more and have more
  • quantity is more valuable than quality.

Worse still busyness blinds us. When we’re busy, we’re more concerned with the what than the why. When we’re busy, there’s no room to think, reflect or question. In a world where we’re busy by default, in effect, we put our heads in the sand.

Continue reading “Busy is the new fine – why I am fighting back”

But, why?

If, like me, you live with a three year old, then you probably ponder a seemingly endless array of “But, why?” questions everyday!

Right now, I am participating in WordPress’s Blogging 101 course . The course poses a great question, “Why do you blog and not just keep a diary?”.

Obviously, I write a blog because I want other people to read what I write. But, why?

Connection
One reason that I write for the world to read is because I want to connect with people with similar interests. Yay for other people who struggle with the indecision around hoarding vs chucking out plastic take out containers and like to share ideas about using up breadcrumbs! I’m pretty stunned that people actually read what I write. And commenters – oh my goodness, you truly make my day and give me so much motivation to continue.

Motivation
Another reason that I blog rather than keep a diary is for external accountability. I’ve only made it through the introduction of Gretchin Rubin’s Better Than Before , but I’ve already discovered that I’m clearly an “obliger” . Bascially, this means if I don’t feel like I’m letting someone down by not doing it, then chances are I won’t do it! Lame, but true. Publishing here creates an expectation amongst my audience that I will keep publishing, and that’s the kind of motivation that I need to keep writing.

Readers, commenters and followers you are the reason that I blog. I really appreciate that you give your precious time to my humble opinion. I am very grateful – thank you.

Do you blog? Why? What motivates you?

New Year challenge fatigue – and it’s still December

My January tradition is to attempt (note: not complete!) Apartment Therapy’s  January Cure . I wasn’t going to attempt it again this year. Then I saw “decluttering” in the blurb and thought maybe they are changing it up. This provoked in me an irrational need 1) to know and 2) not to miss out. So needless to say I’m signed up.

Then I got an email about Courtney Carver’s The Busy Boycott 21 Day Challenge. Oooh that sounds good.

And finally just now I have seen that Joshua Becker’s  Uncluttered starts January 1.

Decisions, decisions! Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the great simple living options – ironic huh?

Are you trying out any challenges for the New Year? Got any recommendations?

Spreading sunshine

I am parked up at the table in our sunroom/dining room. The sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. It feels like spring is on its way. I’m very exciting as winter seems to have dragged on forever.

sunshine blogger award
A lovely day – the view hanging out the washing

It is fitting that today I am talking sunshine – the Sunshine Award to be specific.

A big thank you to Simple Is The New Green for the nomination. If you haven’t already, head over and check out Simple Is The New Green. She writes about “Finding WELL-th: Purpose, Prosperity and the Pursuit of Happiness”. There is lots of thought provoking and topical stuff, written in a down-to-earth manner and with a dose of humour. I like it.

Here are the answers to the questions that Simple Is The New Green set for me.

What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day would start with waking gently in my own time as the sun floods the room with light. We’d go on a fun family outing (beach, river, estuary, riding trains or anything involving animals) in the morning, and laze around home for the afternoon. I’d squeeze in some reading, writing and knitting. Our extended family would join us for a causal dinner, dessert would involve lots of chocolate and they’d be a great selection of craft beer. I’d have an early night with crisp, clean sheets on the bed.

 How do you find instant gratification that doesn’t cost anything?

Feeling the sun on my face, smelling the sea, hearing the waves hit the beach and seeing my son smile.

If you knew a disaster was coming and you have 10 minutes to evacuate your house, what would you take?

Such a Mum answer for this one – my son, his two favourite stuffed animals, his jacket, PJs, blanket, nappies, drink and snacks, plus my wallet, keys, phone and laptop, my husband and the back up hard drive.

And now to share some of the sunshine, I’d like to nominate the following bloggers for a Sunshine Award. Love what you do – thoughtful, wise but not too serious.

And my questions to them are:

  1. What is one book that you wish everyone would read?
  2. What is your go-to way to relax?
  3. If you could give one piece of advice to yourself 15 years ago, what would it be?

Is it sunny at your place? Feel free to join in, share your answers to the questions, share links to blogs you love and want to everyone else to discover too (that includes your own!)

Starting as you mean to continue – gratitude in the morning

My Mum recently found an old Garfield toy of mine in her attic. I loved Garfield as a child – we both liked lasagne and hated mornings.

garfieldmornings

July in New Zealand means dark winter mornings – getting up when it’s dark outside puts me out of kilter and can leave a cloud hanging over my whole day. Spring will come, but in the meantime, I’m open to strategies to beat the winter blues.

Continue reading “Starting as you mean to continue – gratitude in the morning”

Minimalist fundraising – rejecting raffles and accepting donations

Tips for surviving fundraisers when you're a minimalist

I attended a community fundraiser this morning supporting the Red Cross’s work to help the people of Nepal recover from a series of devastating earthquakes. It was fun event, full of community spirit.

Minimalist fundraising

The fundraising featured the usual raffles and auctions. Being in the throes of the Minimalist Game, I viewed the tables of prizes through a different lens. Now, don’t get me wrong, the prizes were lovely, tasteful and good quality. But it was also stuff I don’t need and don’t really want, stuff that would just sit around my house for a few years before I moved it on.

My usual approach is to buy raffle tickets no matter the prize, but now I really don’t want to win! I don’t want to bring the stuff into my house. What to do? On the spot I formulated some quick strategies , which I thought I’d share.

Continue reading “Minimalist fundraising – rejecting raffles and accepting donations”