Tuesday 4 October 2016

Becoming a minimalist - Jane Foster

I usually listen to TED talks whilst I'm working in the studio and for some reason, I've gone through a phase of listening to lots and lots of them recently, end on. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a TED talk about minimalism with Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus .It struck such a chord with me that I've not been the same since. I then went on to watch a documentary on minimalism that was shown all over the States. I suddenly realised that this was how I wanted my life to become and that for years and years now I've been going down the wrong path! (I'm very hard on myself and I'm saying this slightly tongue in cheek!). I believe that often in life there's a readiness to when we're ready for change so coming across this new way of living has coincided with me having found true happiness and contentment with my career at last.  - Let me go back twenty years or so ago  -  I studied for 6 years after my A levels (5 years at music college and then one year PGCE) before spending over 2 years abroad volunteering in Cambodia with VSO. I remember at the time my thoughts were to volunteer with VSO before I got into the possible trap of having a UK job and possessions etc.. - I thought it was perfect timing as I'd not been used to a wage and so therefore wouldn't miss not having one. I'm so glad I went abroad for those years and to some degree, they were two incredibly happy years as I was doing something that felt worthy, I was challenging myself in many areas, I was free, had exciting new experiences, made fabulous friendships and created my own entertainment as there wasn't any electricity (I had a generator that sometimes worked) I didn't have a phone or TV or not even any hot water. (and the cold water we did have had to be distilled every day). When I later returned to the UK and got stuck into various teaching jobs, I began to slowly (or perhaps sometimes quickly!) fill my life up with 'stuff'! I guess as I'd not been used to earning money, whenever I did have any extra salary, I bought things for my home and gradually accumulated various collections of anything I could find, ranging from old furniture from car boot sales, ceramics, vintage fabrics, records, books etc... I then became a home owner and had all the costs that owning a home incur such as renovating, painting, new bathroom etc.. ......... twenty years later and living in my fourth home at the age of 46, I now realise that very little of what I was spending my money on matters. I'd spent years defining myself through my belongings and now that I've somehow arrived at a place in my life where I'm happy in my everyday life and what I do (that is illustrating and screen printing for a living) I no longer need to spend money on filling my life with any more stuff but am now ready to do a lot of letting go and culling.
I've made a huge start with the long process of culling stuff in our house  - my partner is thrilled as he says he's always been a minimalist at heart (never buying possessions apart from the odd Grand Designs magazine as a treat!) and that I'm the one who has been the hoarder!
I've gone through each room, drawer, cupboard (and yes, have also read the Kon Mari method!) I've been ruthless, only keeping things that we use or love. I've felt lighter each day as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I can't wait to do the whole house and then tackle my studio.
I want to start living a more intentional life where I definitely buy less stuff and make better, more considered careful choices about what we choose to have in our home. Quality over quantity and making sure we buy things that will last years and not just one season.
I now have a fifth of the clothes I used to have on my clothes rail and all the rest have gone to charity, leaving items that I love and will definitely wear. I did the same exercise in the airing cupboard and couldn't believe how many sheets, duvet covers, towels etc... I'd purchased over the years. Again, I heavily culled to the extent that I actually enjoy opening the cupboard and seeing less! I can now find what I need!
We now have a minimalist space in the garden after having culled over 20 plant pots and containers (we invited friends to take them)  - we look out onto a calm deck, a few silver birch trees and grass. Believe it or not, I used to spend a lot of time in my day watering plants or not watering them and feeling guilty that they needed watering!
Becoming a minimalist is much more than just culling ones clutter and stuff and much more than the aesthetic minimalism you see in home magazines -  it's about leading a more intentional life in all areas - how we spend our time, what we eat, what commissions to say yes and no to etc.... I guess one reason I'm wanting to return to blog writing is that it's a platform for me to record my life without taking up any room. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms might vanish in the future but everything tied into my own personal website is a way for me to document parts of my life without keeping actual belongings.
I'm looking forward to seeing where this path takes me - it's already felt incredibly liberating and I'm enjoying being in a much calmer space. I spend a lot of time looking at images on various Instagram sites I follow so it's lovely to create a calm environment to switch off in. Also, as I'm not a huge fan of housework and cleaning, it's much easier with less stuff and takes half the time! Will show some photos soon and will keep you updated!