Monday, August 24, 2015

Some my favorite non-material and minimal gifts

I wrote about my ideas how to deal with presents when you're trying to minimize your stuff. So I figured what would be the gifts that go well with this.

time and attention
the most valuable thing to get from someone. Take them out for a long walk, cook a dinner together
food and drink
tickets to events
charity work
go donate blood together, help animal shelters, there are schools being re-built in Nepal that could need a donation. Make your gift also gift for someone in need.
visit to a photographer
spa treatments
trip to somewhere 
sunrise in a bog, paintball, parachute, exhibition, snowshoeing, cooking/dancing/photography/robotics/etc class

and the most important - gifts are a way to say someone 'you are important to me'.
Don't look bad upon something you didn't want. Someone has put thought and effort into it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I failed meditation challenge

Most of the people now days seem to be doing all those xx-day challenges. It can be about learning something or exercise or anything. But it seems like everyone is doing them.

And I also noticed many people struggle with those.
I must be one of them since I just realized I haven't meditated in a week.. and I'm supposed to be doing 30-day meditation challenge.

I usually try to start less things and finish all of them instead of having thousand things going on at the same time, so I'm kind of disappointed in my self. I was really hoping that this summer I'll gain a healthy habit of regular meditation.
This challenge wasn't even hard for me. It didn't take much time, I really enjoyed it. But I was busy and forgot and...

This was the second challenge in my life (this sounds differently from what I planned :) and I'm glad to admit that the first one was 30-day minimalism challenge. And that one I've done twice. It is just really relaxing and fun for me. Sometimes I swap some of the daily tasks, for example when it's clear it's not possible to not go to food store on no shopping day.

I do understand that the point of challenge is to be challenging. It wouldn't be called challenge if everyone completed it.
But at the same time.. it's just a game we like to play with ourselves.
So what, if some people start new 30-day challenge every week and abandons old ones?

Now I need to go and meditate for a bit :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

How to deal with presents

My mom brought me a dress as a gift from her vacation. I do like to wear dresses, but what will I do with a dress that doesn't fit our climate, my style, body type or even my size?

So these are my thoughts what to do with presents you don't need.

1. Prevent them

Like with anything , it would be best to prevent things from happening.
If your friends and family are able to accept 'no' then just say that you don't need gifts to feel special. Or try to at least explain that you don't need any more stuff. People and experiences are so much more important than gifts.
If not, say what you would like.

Ask for things that you actually need, you can get rid of after using (like food and flowers) or non-material gifts.
It still gives freedom to choose for the person who is going to make you a gift, but if all goes according to plan, you will get something you won't regret.

I usually say what I would like to get for birthday or Christmas. For vacation gifts most of the people know that local sweets and drinks and earrings are my thing (except my mom, apparently:).
I said I need an oven pan and I was lucky that my family got it for me for Christmas. For my last birthday I said I don't want any 'things' and my friends brought me a collection of home made jams and pickles. I really  liked this gift.

With the thing's you've already gotten it's a bit more difficult.

2. Find use for them

Let's say you got a mug for present and you already have hundred mugs. Maybe some of your old mugs could be replaced? Maybe you store your pencils in an ugly plastic container and this mug could be perfect for containing pens? Maybe you like container gardening and you could use the mug as a container for some plants?
Try to be creative. The unusual usage gives so much more value to a usual gift.

3. Is there anyone you know who really needs it?

I don't mean you should re-gift it. But just give it to someone who would actually benefit and be thankful for your present.

4. Take photo of the item

This is my solution to so many problems - take photo of the item before donating it.

5. Keep it

Even the gifts that don't serve purpose in your life. Keep them if you like them. I quite often put them into storage box for a while until I feel ready to let go of the item

Monday, August 10, 2015

Some more ways to relax

So many ways to relax that are forced upon us are related to consuming, shopping, eating, or mindlessly sitting before different kinds of screens. No wonder people tend to gain weight and be sad.

So, these are my favorite ways to relax.

This is THE best way. I really enjoy wondering around, just going where my feet take me without any destination in my mind. Sometimes I listen to music or audiobooks at the same time. Other times I take camera, dog or my Love or all of them with me. No matter the weather (and it rains, snows, hails and freezes often around here), good walk will always relax my mind and lift mood.

Books and stories
I've always loved to read. Around 5 years ago I also discovered audiobooks and both of these ways are great to take in stories and ideas. If the weather is nice, I take my book outside to get some sun, in winter I enjoy it bed with some tea.

I strongly prefer dancing, stretching and yoga, but any kind of exercise works. This is controversial to do something energetic to relax, but it works multiple ways for me. I can get the energy out so I feel more calm (and sleep better) and it clears the mind. Half of the time we need to relax our brains more than our bodies.

And I don't mean computer games. (but I must admit that I love strategy computer games). We often play chess, dominoes, chinese chess, boardgames. I even have a few games I can play alone.

Not doing anything
This is definitely the most challenging way of relaxing. most of the people are not able to be idle.
People always end up using smartphone or cleaning home or something. My favorite place to do nothing is hammock. I generally find doing nothing outdoors more enjoyable than indoors.
Like sitting in a park, forest, beach.. or relaxing in a hammock.

there are some other activities I do like meditating. But I must admit I do not find meditating as relaxing. It does calm body and mind, but it lacks some enjoyment I seek in relaxing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Some photo sites I like

I spent at least an hour looking online photo pages this morning.
Serene places, happy people, beautiful food. It really picks up my mood to sometimes get lost in thoughts and look beautiful photos.
So I'm sharing some of my favorites from this morning. Maybe it will pick you up as well.

There are so many good photographers and image sites online (and so many of them are free to use so I can show them here:)

My favorite is as usual Unsplash. It just matches my style and idea of beauty.

My favorite food photos come from FoodiesFeed

hungry yet? :)

Last favorite today is and a few travel/nature-style shots.

...did I mention I really like photography and spending time enjoying it?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Minimizing side effects: unexpected ways how minimizing has helped me

I start with mentioning that I  use minimalist ideas and simplifying as tools to create better life for me, not as a purpose. But on the way I've found out a few unexpected things that have improved that I'd never thought about.

I can breathe.
I'm allergic to dust and mold (and probably to many other things). Both of them are common in indoor air. But I accidentally discovered during my minimizing that having less stuff means having less both of them and it also makes cleaning way easier. Air in my home is cleaner, surfaces are easier to keep clean and I can breathe so much better now and my allergy is so much better. I would have started minimizing years ago if I'd known that.

I have more to wear.
Sounds contradictory, I know. Now that I own less items of clothing I actually feel like I have more to wear because everything I have is organized and visible in my closet I can get some I ideas as soon as I open the closet without searching through it.
Also, everything I have fits me, I like the items and most of the items are easily matched with each other. So I can pick anything and be happy with the choice, really.
And finally, having less means that I know what I have in the closet. I don't need to start re-discovering my own closet every now and then to find items I've forgotten.

First time in my life I might actually look elegant/stylish/have a personal style
..continuing with clothing.
I've never cared about fashion or style. I do like to look nice I guess, but I've always worn items of clothes that I own and like at the moment. It means that if I open my closet, the mood is right, and the item is there - then I'll wear it.
Yellow socks, dotted skirt and and a Garfield t-shirt - no problem.
Now that I try to have less clothes, I try to make sure that all items I have actually go together.
 So it might be that the clothes I have now actually make people think that I might have some style or sense of style :)

I have less guilt.
I'm the kind of person who always feels guilty. If I do the thing that I should, I feel guilty that I didn't to the thing that I wanted. If I please one person I feel guilty that I'm not pleasing another person at the same time. If I'm visiting my family I feel guilty that I'm not working at the same time. If I'm working I feel guilty that I'm not doing something social.
But now I feel guilty less. Not that I don't feel it at all anymore, just less. I hope the amount of time spent guilty will lessen more :)
Simplifying means a lot of thinking why I'm doing something instead of something else and if the thing really needs to be done. And thinking more about the reasons and root causes helps to clear my mind about the things world, people and myself expects from me and the reasons why I should or should not do it.

I've become more creative
I've always been rather creative. At least I like to think that. I used to draw and paint and write stories and poems and I take photos. But the more time passes the less I tend to do it.
During the last year, I've gotten more back to it.  I even started blogging (again) as you can see :)
Maybe it's the period in my life I'm going through, who knows. But there's a correlation and I'm happy about it.

I sleep better.
You know the feeling how your brain rushes around as soon as you plan to fall asleep. You just can't get to sleep because brain is having fun (or breakdown ?).
I used to stay awake for hours at night, trying mental tricks to slow my brain. But now I'm able to fall asleep much more quick.
The journey has made me much more calmer, both day and night. I have less clutter around in my home and apparently less clutter in my head also.