|This will be the first of a few posts on expectations. So I will start with a general discussion.|
Are personality tests limiting or freeing?
Finding out your ’type’
- mindfulness teaches you to be in the moment – it helps ease anxiety about the future and the past.
- it teaches you to let things be the way they are – acceptance. You are fine the way you are. You deserve love and acceptance and everything is as it is.
- it teaches focus. One thing at a time. Cluttered minds become more settled. You do not force it yet your mind becomes clearer.
- Minimalism is a wonderful extension of mindfulness. I need my environment to support my inner world. Decluttering is a big part of minimalism. Shedding the excess. Yet it is not what it is truly or entirely about. It is as symbolic an exercise as it is a physical one. It brings you face to face with your own excess, your past, the things you don’t pay attention to. It has definitely meant some self confrontation (INFPs hate confrontation :p )… And I am expecting more as this journey unfolds. I just have to be careful of the over-thinking trap and getting lost in my head (INFP trap) So this is a great exercise in acceptance.
- I feel happier in cleaner, uncluttered spaces. There is more space for my wild mind. And it also helps to calm my mind and helps me focus. Aesthetics are important to me. It is important to be in a space that is harmonious and does not disturb or disrupt your sense of well-being. Especially when it is your home.
- Support creativity. It is also important that your workspace support maximum focus and creativity. My mind is already so busy that my environment needs to be a space I feel comfortable in, one in which I can be creative and doesn’t limit me by breaking my concentration.
- I need to live an honest life. Live life in a ‘real’ way. No more debt. No more living above our means.
- Freedom is so important. Freedom from the pressure of having to be like everybody else. Free from debt. Physically free. Free from guilt and the past. You can be more authentic if you strip the excess from your life.
a short update on our minimising efforts
The knot we are trying to untangle feels like it might be choking us. But we are getting through it. The relief will be sweet (that’s the promise, anyway).
This week I worked on cleaning my studio. It ended up being more of an organising mission than a getting-rid-of one (although there were quite a few boxes and bags of junk that left the space). This was a tough one to get started and is even tougher to continue and progress with. Yet, it is happening, slowly.
This is starting to feel like a big struggle against my personality. Hopefully this is not going to leave me feeling empty and as though I have rationalised meaningful things out of my life. Hopefully I won’t miss the memory triggers like the smell of some of the items that evoke strong memories and emotions. Hopefully this will help get my family out of our debt and won’t be a very high price for no reward.
The perfectionist in me wants to get all this ‘right’ and seems a bit disappointed at the slow progress. The sentimentalist and meaning maker is finding it hard not to just bury herself in it all and hide. Then there is a very strong need for freedom that keeps pushing and searching for an escape.
I think I should leave it there. I need to reflect on all of this. This experiment is a tough one. But that might be a very good thing.
So let’s keep going and see where it leads.
This has been a slight conundrum: How can one marry the philosophy of Minimalism with the chaos (and heaps of junk) that have always, for me, defined what a creative space is and what an artist needs? Isn’t this creative freedom?
Recently, however, being influenced by my mindfulness practice and even my daughter’s Montessori education, this dilemma seems like less of a problem. Things are not as they seem. In fact, we may have been tricked or confused by society into thinking that artists are certain types of bohemian, care-free, muddled, cluttered people. Yet, this may not be true. Or at least not the whole story. (How could you be care-free when you are weighed down?)
The Montessori method of education teaches children to work on one thing at a time. It teaches them to focus and to finish problems and then move on. There is structure. A lot of structure, yet, this structure is precisely what gives them freedom. They choose freely what they want to work on, yet they are encouraged to stay focussed without interruption. They work within a prepared environment. Everything has its place. You work on a project and put it away before starting the next one. It is a fascinating way of viewing education and life. Our little three year old is thriving.
In other words: it encourages Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi‘s concept of Flow. This is definitely something I experience when creating artworks or dolls or any kind of handwork. Everybody experiences this state of being completely focussed, alert, motivated and losing one’s sense of self and time in a task or experience. This could be anything from a sport to reading or solving mathematical equations.
What Mindfulness and the Montessori method have taught me (unlike all the years of ‘traditional schooling’) is how to focus and create a mindset and space which encourages flow. When you have a clear, structured space and mindset that sense of freedom and creativity are easier to achieve. A fascinating read is Daily Rituals: How Artists Work written by Mason Currey. This book was such an eye opener to me. Most creative people do have structure in their daily lives. They thrive on it.
What Minimalism is starting to create for me is a space to be more creative in. A space that is clearer. Not one with the blank canvas/ blank page effect but one in which I have exactly what I need to do the task at hand. No clutter. Just enough. I have found that when I limit my palette I am much more engaged. Suddenly you have to be much more creative because you need to use what you have in new and interesting ways. So: All the ‘just incase’ or ‘this could become a…’ objects need to be removed from my space.
I have to be honest here: I have not started working on my studio yet. It has taken me some time to come to this realisation. I have been afraid of it. But I have started sorting through my crafting things. The upcycling and repurposing movement is very inspirational. I plan to only use what I have to create my dolls. Until I run out of essentials. Anything I do not use needs to move on and everything else needs to be used up. Sometimes you need a box before you can think out of it.
Another aspect to this is that I feel guilty because some potential projects are never touched and I keep moving with boxes of junk that could become works of art. This is also a way of purging that heavy guilt. Work on one thing at a time, no guilt involved.
So this coming week will mean starting a very big mission of minimising and simplifying my creative spaces, preparing my environment and hopefully freeing myself. Let’s see how it goes 😉
At first glance the word Minimalism might conjure up an image of vacant, sterile environments – those living spaces where you feel so uncomfortable because everything around you is so perfect and sitting on the clean white couch might wrinkle the impeccably placed scatter cushion. This was the association I used to have with the term. Minimalism meant straight lines, cold, clean, untouched, futuristic and white. Although this may be what some people love and what speaks to them, it put me off. And then I started looking a little closer.
This is not what it needs to mean. For every person their minimalist life will probably be completely unique form anybody else’s. It breaks down life to the essentials. This means that you need to really resonate with the objects around you to incorporate them into your life. The space around you can thus say more about you because the objects in it have been chosen for specific reasons.
Wabi-sabi | another view of Minimalism
Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. Nothing is finished, nothing is perfect and nothing is permanent. This is a very different view from the Western perspective of idealistic beauty.
Wabi-sabi is a perspective that is completely compatible with a minimalist view of the world. It is about being mindful about the beauty around you and finding the value in that which is temporary and unique. Even finding the beauty in yourself and your ’flaws’. This is how I wish to view everything around me in future.
This includes no more junk and no more dissonance. Life and the objects in it are temporary and if an item does not serve you, it may serve someone else. Surround yourself with that which brings you closer to yourself, your community and your environment.
Things don’t have to be stark and sterile. Your space can be warm, organic and natural. The key is simplicity and not stripping your life of meaning. Simplify and you open yourself up to noticing and valuing that which is truly meaningful to you and allowing that in as long as it serves you. If it does not do that anymore, let it go. It could add value to someone else’s life.
It is the difference between tending a garden and controlling it. Minimalism can bring you closer to the earth, it can make you tread lighter.
I love this thought. This is what we are striving for.
This has been a tougher week than expected. It is a slower process and a more emotional one than I thought it would be.
This may have to do with living in an age where one expects some kind of immediate gratification. My house seems more jumbled and chaotic than before because we have all our things out in the open waiting to find new homes. The clean slate will come (I am anticipating the freedom!) but it will be a slow process. We have come face to face with everything we weren’t paying attention to. And it is quite overwhelming.
Still, we managed to get quite a lot done toward our new Minimalist lifestyle. We have donated some clothes and other household items. We also managed to sell a few things. I also had the privilege of giving some wonderful baby things to my sister who is expecting her first child. And, yes! I am the proudest aunt already 😉
Selling items seems to be a real challenge. In a sense we have very few things that are valuable. So the debt is still a big obstacle.
Becoming a Minimalist seems to mean dealing with many ghosts and false senses of stability and permanence. It means dealing with yourself and where you are in your life. A tough but valuable lesson.
This week we will continue our simplifying mission with updates as we progress. There will also be a post about my new doll crafting project this week. So: keep an eye out!