Mid-2018 Minimalism goals review

At the start of the year I made a post here about my goals for decluttering and minimalism in 2018. I had planned to declutter slowly but I’ve been feeling a lot better mentally and this has led to a lot of fast and furious decluttering – over 1700 items! As a result, I have virtually completed all of my goals for the year that I originally set so it’s time to set some new ones.

Review of my original goals

• The jigsaw puzzles I felt were becoming a chore so I donated them all including the puzzle board.
• The bath and body products have nearly all been used up and I am switching over to eco-friendlier alternatives with fewer chemicals.
• I am now down to only 7 notebooks and those that are left are almost finished, plus I have started writing again so it looks like I will actually need to buy a new notebook sometime soon!
• I tried to complete my cross stitch projects but honestly felt so burdened by the thought of having to spend so many hours to complete large pieces for a hobby I haven’t been enjoying for around 18 months now that I actually threw away my projects and then gifted all my threads to a family member who was very happy to receive them.
• I sold my D-SLR for £200 – the rising cost of electronics in the UK worked in my favour as a year previous I had only been offered £100.
• The colouring books were all either recycled or donated as I found it wasn’t a hobby I enjoyed after all.
• My final goal was to continue decluttering my books; well I have donated many books this year but I still have a few to read before I am down to owning only my absolute favourite and most important books but they are definitely thinning out. In total I now own only 39 books, down from over 600 before I began my minimalist journey 6 years ago.

Results

• It now takes us only 5 minutes maximum to pick up the entire room
• Free from other hobbies which were distracting me from my one true love, writing, I have now slowly started scribbling away here and there
• My partner feels happier and calmer in our new space, although he now claims that my share of the chores is far too small!
• I have begun eating healthier, including finally kicking my addiction to sugar since I have so few distractions now. I’ve also reformulated my work out plan to something I think will suit my lifestyle better and we started going to the sauna/steam room quite frequently which has been bliss!

New goals

• Notebooks – Finish using them all up until there is only 1 left.
• Books – I think my books can definitely be cut in half again.
• Headphones – For some reason we seem to have at 6 pairs floating around when 3-4 would be enough.
• Wardrobe – I think there are items in there I’m hanging on to that I could probably thin out. Especially socks, for some bizarre reason I own more than 60 pairs of socks…
• Jewellery – I rarely wear jewellery so why I still own a jewellery box at all is beyond me.
• Bags – I still own far too many bags when I typically only ever use one.
• Mementos – I’m debating getting rid of these altogether since I never look at them unless I’m decluttering – if they are so important why are they still shoved in a box under my bed?
• Toy animals – I’ve narrowed these down a lot, getting rid of 3 huge bin bags of them, but I still own far too many.
I guess mostly my goals now are about refinement and working towards the kind of lifestyle I have been wanting to achieve for a very long time. With fewer distractions, it’s getting easier and easier to focus on the things that really matter and incorporating lifestyle changes. I hope by the end of the year to be much closer to where I want to be.
How is your journey with minimalism going in 2018? Share with me in the comments below.

 

Advertisements

My favourite healthy quick and easy meal

One big concern about switching to a healthier diet is the amount of time required to prepare healthy meals. So today I wanted to share my favourite healthy meal which I rely on which is soup.

What’s so great about soup?

Soup is my favourite healthy meal because it is easy to make, it’s versatile, you don’t need a recipe, it can be made in only one pot, it’s frugal, healthy, you can sneak vegetables in that you (or others) might not otherwise eat and it can last for days if you make a big batch. What’s not to love?!

How do I get started?

Slow cooker – (That’s a crock-pot for those across the pond.) My favourite way to make soup is in the slow cooker because it allows me to prep at least 3 days worth of lunches in one go and then leave it to cook while I go do something else more interesting than stirring a pot! Simply chop up your vegetables, add stock or water and your herbs and spices then leave to cook. When it’s done simply use an immersion blender to turn your freshly cooked vegetables into soup and voila – you have an easy healthy meal.

Staples – Although soup comes in many varieties and flavours the basics of any good soup tend to remain the same and can be bought cheaply to create several different soups. I usually rely on butter, onion, garlic, celery, stock, salt and pepper and then add whatever vegetables I want to base my soup on.

Herbs & spices – You can switch things up with your soups by adding different herbs and spices depending on your mood which means that even if you use the same vegetables your soup doesn’t need to taste the same every time. Right now I am loving fenugreek to add a bit of a kick to my soups but I believe in experimenting and having fun! I usually get my ideas for which herbs and spices to put in by rummaging in our spices cupboard and smelling them.

What vegetables/flavours could I use?

The world is your oyster but you could try potatoes, leeks, broccoli, peas, red bell peppers, onions, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, lentils, mini pasta. If you get stuck for ideas you can always check out what’s available in the supermarket and then make it from fresh to avoid all the additives and preservatives.

What is my favourite flavour of soup?

My favourite flavour of soup is spicy parsnip right now but not so long ago tomato soup was where it was at!

What’s your favourite go-to healthy meal? Do you make soup? Share with me in the comments below and thanks as always for reading.

5 easy steps towards better health

For those of us who are, shall say, a bit prone to falling off the waggon with regards to taking care of our health from time to time I wanted to write about five easy steps you can take to improve your health on a small scale that will inspire you to make more changes and feel accomplished. If you haven’t guessed I’m all about progress, not perfection.

Remember, the longest journey always begins with the first steps.

Here’s give simple easy steps you can take towards your journey to health.

1. Drink one glass of water

Drinking eight glasses a day every might seen impossible and daunting, not to mention like you are giving up all other drinks. So why not begin by committing yourself to drinking just one glass a day? Or if you prefer, a 500ml bottle you can sip whilst doing other activities.

2. Eat one piece of fruit

Having a wholly clean or ‘perfect’ diet can seem intimidating and difficult, so why not start by eating just one piece of fresh fruit a day? Or if you prefer you could go for vegetable sticks with dip. Every nutrient counts. Maybe the rest of your diet will suck, but so far you’ve done two things to improve your health – good on you!

3. Take a vitamin

This takes seconds to do but you will reap the benefits and you’ve done yet another small step towards your health.

4. Switch to one decaf drink

All that caffeine does nothing for your body, so if you aren’t ready to quit caffeine, why not try switching one drink a day to decaf? The easiest one to do will be the last drink of the day since most people state their reason for drinking coffee in the morning is to get going. It will also help you get off to sleep better in the evening.

5. Get some sleep

You deserve it. And you’d be surprised how a good night’s sleep will make you feel so much better. So why not go to bed half an hour early or if you’re feeling ambitious, an hour? And with a bit less caffeine in your system you’ll likely feel sleepier and find this step easy than usual and drop off faster.

So there you have it, give easy ways to get started or re-start your health journey. Have you fallen off the waggon? Or are you just starting to do something about your unhealthy diet? Share with me in the comments below.

15 things I am grateful for

I thought I would write about 15 things I am grateful for right now in my life – of course this list does not cover everything I am grateful for, just some of the things which sprung to mind.

  1. Clean water. Earlier today I saw a photo of a little girl drinking water out of a puddle in order to stay hydrated so I am most definitely grateful to be able to turn on the tap and have not only clean drinking water but also hot water when I want to get washed.
  2. Food – Although our financial situation isn’t good we can still afford healthy food so I am grateful for that.
  3. Partner – With billions of people on the planet I consider myself incredibly lucky to have met my partner and be in a loving long-term relationship.
  4. Pets – I have two gorgeous pets whom I love and adore, is there anything better than getting licked by a happy pet who wants to show their affection?
  5. Technology – I recently had my laptop revamped and I am enjoying it so much more now! I’m so grateful it’s so easy for me to write and edit stories and blog posts.
  6. Sight – Although I need an eye test right now I’m super grateful to be able to see all the different colours in the world – seeing wonderful colour scheme combinations on Pinterest makes me so happy!
  7. Hot drinks – There’s something so wonderful about hot drinks whether it’s British tea, coffee or hot chocolate, I really enjoy a hot drink and usually have at least one a day.
  8. My phone – My partner picked out my phone for me as he thought the dual lens camera would really suit me. It turns out he was right, I love this camera and I really enjoy recording snippets of our lives.
  9. NHS – Although the NHS is not perfect and is currently underfunded I’ve had some great experiences on the NHS and I never want to see it replaced with a private health care system.
  10. Literacy – Around 1 in 10 people worldwide are illiterate so I am super grateful to be able to read and enjoy books via my local library or second hand.
  11. Food diversity – When I was growing up food was a lot less diverse than it was now but over the past few years I’ve been blessed to try Spanish tapas, Japanese sushi, Mexican and eastern European cuisines. I really enjoy having such a wide variety available – it makes life really interesting!
  12. Internet – I’m still that annoying kid at heart who wants to ask 100 questions a day about the world, luckily for my family I now have Google!
  13. Legs  – Everyday I like to take a short walk at least, though I often I go for longer walks where I find new places or just get some fresh air and thinking time so I’m going to add my legs to this list!
  14. Central heating – As someone who seems to be permanently cold, I am super grateful for central heating and can almost always be found next to a radiator.
  15. Video – I really love watching a wide variety of things, usually documentary-style programs – lately I am engrossed in restoration and renovation projects – the transformation of spaces from uninhabitable to a home one again. And all of this is only possible through the invention of video.

So there you have it, 15 things I am grateful for – what are you grateful for today? Share with me in the comments below!

How your lottery win dreams can help you understand what you want from life

I’ve always shied away from spending too much time daydreaming, as I felt that it could quite easily become an unhealthy behaviour, and I also tend to agree with Dumbledore that:

‘It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Remember that.’

However the last few months have really gotten me down and I’ve found myself wondering constantly about winning a large sum of money. I read story after story about lottery winners, what to do if you win a large sum of money and even began watching YouTube real estate tours of multi-million dollar mansions.

I knew that this was not a healthy behaviour to be indulging in, but I could not see a way forward in my life, so I continued. As each day passed my plans become more and more specific and detailed – it was a way to escape my real life problems.

However, something surprising happened. By giving myself free reign to image my life without constraints and boundaries or the usual run of the mill problems, it gave me a lot of insight into what I desire, where my life is lacking and what kind of person I am.

Overall I realised that I don’t need or want nearly as much money as I initially thought – I began at 9 figures and by the end I realised that around £250,000 would get me the vast majority of what I desire. It also forced me to think about what aspects of my life wouldn’t change if I won the lottery (or essentially any other kind of scenario where life’s usual problems and hurdles are absent). All in all, I’ve found my month down the rabbit hole to be quite enlightening as what kind of direction I need to be heading in. So, what did I learn about myself and my life while I was in Wonderland?

What did I learn

1. I don’t want a mansion

  • Maintenance – I grew up spending my Saturday mornings like many other teenagers – watching Cribs. Back then I saw nothing bad about the huge houses that the featured celebrities lived in. Now I’m older (and a little wiser) I was surprised to realise I didn’t lust after the mansions I was looking at. Not only did most of them look cold, empty and like it would take forever to get anywhere but I also found out that some of the mansions I was looking at cost around £20,000-£108,000 per month just to maintain. Imagine having to find that kind of money every month indefinitely just to live in your house, before you’ve bought food, gone anywhere or done anything…! One thing I found particularly interesting is that shows like Cribs sold you the dream of wanting a mansion without mentioning just how much these places cost to upkeep – it’s little wonder then that through my research I found swathes of people who had either earnt or won big money and gone on to buy multi-million dollar mansions, only to lose them or go bankrupt due to the crazy cost of upkeep!
  • Security – One thing that struck me was that living in such a large house would make it difficult to be aware of your surroundings and that many large homes have been broken into without their owners even noticing, which I would think is in part due to the sheer size of the house.
  • Cool…or not? – As I continued to watch real estate videos I couldn’t help but wonder what the point was of many features. What use was owing 21 bathrooms when even with an average sized family of four you’d struggle to need more than 2 at any one time even if everyone was home all day every day. Or let’s assume that you like to throw a party a few times a year – why not just hire a venue for one night rather than spend 365 days a year paying to maintain, heat and clean rooms that are not in use the majority of the time?
    I also found out that some uber rich people have things like a whole room dedicated just to wrapping gifts, or just to store suitcases in. It also seemed like every mansion came with its own bowling alley, tennis court, pool, theatre and so on. Another mansion had about 10 televisions in it at least which made me wonder what the point of having all that wealth was if you were just going to spend it in front of a TV – you could live that lifestyle for far less than the £5 million advertised without all the maintenance!
    Many of these homes seemed like an island unto themselves – but where’s the fun in staying in your home constantly? Whatever happened to going out and seeing the world with friends? Most of these mansions seemed geared towards a reclusive lifestyle – there’s nothing wrong with that by the way, I’m quite the recluse myself – but when it’s every single house and you have the money and potential to go anywhere in the world and do anything, I had to wonder – why?

Overall my experience of looking at mansions and mega mansions was to realise how much I crave a family home full of life, fun, love, joy and vitality rather than owning masses of empty, unused rooms for the pure sake of it.

2. I don’t want an expensive car

It seems almost a given that everyone who wins a large sum of money must want several expensive cars. I have never been particularly good at driving but luckily I do enjoy going for long walks – except when I have a lot to carry or the weather is really bad and I have to do it out of necessity – still, a car would be a great asset even if we only used it part time for bringing heavy shopping home. Yet even with my imaginary 9-figure-unlimited-spending-power I quickly realised I had zero real desire to buy an expensive fleet of cars. In fact all I dreamt of was a nice four-door car in grey, white or black. Even with driving lessons all this could probably all be achieved for less than 10% of the £250,000 many lottery winners have spent on a single car.

3. I don’t want designer clothes

Along with the huge house, fleet of cars comes the expected expensive wardrobe, but when I started looking at what kind of clothes are sold for thousands of pounds a piece I was unimpressed to say the least. The vast majority of these ‘designer’ outfits I would pay thousands not to wear! I honestly felt as though if the tag was for a low-cost brand no one would even dream of buying these hideous outfits, but because it had a designer label on it suddenly it was desirable and worth paying thousands for! I also felt that once you got past a certain price point it became less about quality and more about paying for a specific label.
Over the years I’ve typically bought from supermarket clothing ranges and Primark, having looked at designer wardrobes and labels I now think that I’d like to splash out a couple of hundred for a nice pair of boots but otherwise I’d quite content to shop at NEXT.

4. I don’t want to go to 5 star hotels

I thought back to when we once went to a 5 star hotel how out of place we both felt. Although I wanted to relax I felt like I had to dress up and wear makeup and even then I still felt awkward. When you feel out of place you aren’t comfortable and feel like you cannot be yourself – that’s not exactly how I’d want financial freedom to feel.

So, what do I want?

When you take out all of these big ticket items what is there left to do with a significant win? Well I didn’t just learn about what I didn’t want – and therefore stop thinking about wanting it – I also learnt a lot about what I really do want. My overall conclusion is that I actually want a rather ordinary life, and that although right now things feel totally hopeless and out of reach, nothing I want is anywhere close to being 9-figures out of reach. Perhaps surprisingly the vast majority of the things I wanted came down to a few basic things repeated over until a pattern emerged (and therefore later, a plan):

  • A home – I crave a secure and stable base – having been homeless once as a child, again as an adult and then almost again a third time as a student before ending up in low-end unsafe rentals and always being left to wonder if we would become homeless, a home was top of my list. A modest house I could decorate, furnish and make into a warm, loving space for gathering family and friends, work from home and relax in is number one on my list. I also aspire a lot to remove the technology from the bedroom – having lived in a spare bedroom or in tiny flats for a long time, I’m really sick of not having a designated space just for sleep and relaxing that isn’t full of papers, books, laptops, computers and so on.
  • Health – The second thing that came up over and over was spending on health related matters – whether that was muscle massage, sauna, private therapy, dental treatment or an updated eye test – over and over again I saw that many things came back to wanting to better my physical and emotional well-being.
  • Writing room – Another thing that kept coming up again and again was a strong desire for a designated space for writing – a room I could decorate to inspire my writing and shut the rest of the world out while I got to work.
  • Freedom from the pressure to work – Having been in poor health for a while I would love to know that I could provide for myself and my family long-term without the pressures of working while ill or fear I will become too ill to even push through the day. Another alternative that came up was the desire to work from home, preferably at writing.
  • Outdoors – I’ve always dreamt of having my own garden with a vegetable patch, greenhouse and orchard and this dream really came to the forefront when I was imagining what I would do with £119 million!
  • Charity – Helping others was also high on my list with dreams of doing a huge food bank shop at a supermarket, or going to Toys R Us to shop for charities like Toys for Tots. Other ideas were to help friends get on the property ladder or donating to Shelter Scotland – the thought of being able to help others even more got me genuinely excited! We already help as much as we can but with our own precarious situation there comes limits as to how much we can help – a large win would remove that restraint. I truly believe that there is greater joy in gifting presents to others than to receive!

So there you have it – I learnt a lot by ‘wasting’ my time dreaming and it’s definitely given me food for thought about how I might go about actually achieving this kind of life. I really believe that by imagining my dream life without constraints, boundaries or problems has given me great insight into the steps that I need to take next to begin that journey in 2018. In fact I’ve already scoped out many solutions to taking those first steps. I also felt reassured that everything I want is not nearly as far out of reach as I had previously been feeling.

Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery? What would you do? Do you think that imagining a life without constraints might help you envisage the path you need to take to be happier and more fulfilled in life? Share with me in the comments below! And Happy New Year!