Hands up who washes up, on cleans the house and vacuums the car when they have something important to do? (My hand shoots up high at this point). Hands up who finds they’ve spent three hours on social media when they had a blog post to write, a piece of work to do or have promised themselves they’ll get round to something you really should have done ages ago? (Hand shoots up a bit higher). So hey we all procrastinate at some time, but according to the leading experts on procrastination 20% of us are chronic procrastinators. This would be those of us who put bills in a drawer, who never get the important stuff done, and who never ever buy a gift on time. But why do we procrastinate?
So the tinsel is up, the turkey is thawing out and the sherry is being poured, but how do you manage not to throttle Aunty Bertha when she tells you that you’ve put on weight for the tenth Christmas in a row, or avoid the tense atmosphere between your divorced Mum and Dad who only come together once a year ‘for the kids’?
Christmas is a funny time of year, all the advertising and a lot of the social media content we see point to a great family Christmas, all around the table, laughing and joking and having a whale of a time but for a lot of people Christmas can be a minefield of interpreting social nuances and avoiding the family member who weeps uncontrollably when you ask them how they are (that has been me on occasion at Christmas I have to say…or how about the time I ate so many biscuits I got awful indigestion and had to lie down and miss Christmas dinner? I fully admit I am one of the relatives you need to plan for!)
On a serious note, if you are worrying about how to cope this Christmas, use some of these mindful tips to help you through the next few days
1. Get on YouTube and find a three minute breathing space meditation. If you search ‘three minute breathing space meditation’ lots will come up and that’s a real quick space to take some time out when you think you’ll explode if anyone asks you where your boyfriend (that you split up with three months ago) is
2. Get some fresh air- taking a walk either on your own or with others who can bare a bit of silence will give you a chance to get mindful; feel the cold air on your skin, hear the birds singing, look round and see the sights in your neighbourhood, or the place you’re visiting, hear the noise of cars in the distance and just experience being in the moment.
3. Give yourself and others compassion – it can be hard when we’re with our nearest and dearest because often they’ve known us the longest of anyone and know our weak spots, and the things that can send us from 0-60 on the rage-ometer, but actually being kind to yourself, nourishing yourself with something other than Yule log, or roast potatoes, taking time out to do something you love such as reading or knitting, will help bring a sense of calm of peace to the festivities. Add in some compassion for those around you and things will start to feel a whole lot better
4. Rather than being desperate to get home, or get through the boredom of the Queen’s speech that Dad loves to watch, revel in the moment, the glorious being together as a family, or with your partner, or even the delicious alone time with the cat, away from the pressures of work. Stop worrying about how you’re going to tidy everything up, or what’s waiting for you on your return to the office and find pleasure on the small things; the worst Christmas cracker joke or that Fools and Horses episode you love the most that’s on EVERY year.
5. Break out of old habits and encourage others to do the same – if you’ve always had Christmas dinner on the dot of two, what about having it in the evening, or changing it up for a buffet? How about going to a different sisters for lunch this year? Instead 0f a tree, what about decorated branches in a big vase. Changing it up helps to break habits which changes neural pathways and is good for getting you out of a rut. Things will feel newer and exciting and might change people’s old patterns of behaviours as well, and get them out of their comfort zones
if you give any of these a try, or have your own mindful tips to add let me know, and above all have a peaceful, and mindful festive season 💜💝
This Christmas things are very different in our household. The decorations will be up, the cards will be written and sent, the mince pies are already being tested, but there’s one big change. We’re not sending and receiving presents.
With the exception of a secret santa, and a few homemade biscuits for our families, we have made the decision not to give or receive gifts this year. This has caused some upset, and has made us seem probably a bit like a 21st Century version of Scrooge to others. Yet as I investigated the internet to see if we were the only ones, I came across people time and time again agonising over whether to give or ask not to receive gifts, for many different reasons; finances being a big one, but also the over consumption of ‘stuff’ for themselves, their children and the vast wastage of goods when you either get something you really don’t like or won’t use, or even the fact of just having to remove the enormous amount of packaging that comes with everything.
For us there are a few reasons we took this decision. We are trying to be minimalists, and we have a small home. Every Christmas although we’re extremely grateful people want to give us presents, we have to find room for more and more things. As the years are going by our wants are getting so few, it’s harder to find anything we need or desire and so we end up wasting people’s money.
Secondly present giving is often a ‘I’ll spend £30 pounds on you, and you’ll spend £30 pounds on me. What do you want for Christmas?’ Given what I’ve said about being hard to buy for, it’s no wonder poor people ask everyone what they want for Christmas so as not to waste their hard earned cash, but it begs the question to me, if you don’t know what I want, please get to know me better so you know what to buy me. I’d much prefer that. You see to me the gift of showing up, the gift of time, the gift of being there for the shitty bits far outweighs any gift I might get. I’m not being glib, I do love presents sometimes, but I also prefer to spend time thinking about the person I’m buying for, get some nice wrapping paper, or buy them an experience they’ll remember. I would prefer it when times are down that someone says ‘What can I do to help?’ That to me is the greatest gift anyone could give. Their time and their love.
Christmas was once (in case any of the younger generation aren’t clear) a religious festival. I’m not religious, I don’t celebrate Eid or Ramadan, so why would I celebrate a Christian festival? Now it’s just an orgy for over consumerism, and getting worse each year, and I don’t celebrate that either.
I like to give gifts but on my own terms. Something I spot for someone that makes me think of them, something that cheers someone up like a bunch of flowers or a gift that I’ve really thought about. I didn’t ever want people to think I don’t love them. I’m a big old ball of love, but I just want to express it by showing up and being there, not by buying a Boots 3 for 2.
The other key aspect of not buying gifts is of course the finance. This year if I’d bought all the gifts I’d done in years before I would have had to use my credit card. Money is all budgeted out for us, and a big expense like that just can’t be taken out of a monthly budget. Yes I could budget for 12 months to pay for a days worth of excess, but that just doesn’t work for me right now.
The result is although it has been hard to explain to the people I love why I am not buying gifts this year, it’s been worth it. I am far more enjoying Christmas without worrying who to buy for, what to buy and how I’ll pay for it. I feel festive, and free and for the first time in years, I am looking to enjoy Christmas for the key parts for me; family time, good old films and mulled wine! So now off to perfect the homemade Christmas biscuits…
It’s a year to the day that I started blogging under hashtagminimalistliving on WordPress. I cannot believe how much the time flies, or what a difference a year makes and probably a million other of those other cliches we roll out from time to time.
The last year has been a big one for me in many ways – I have probably got rid of half my belongings, stopped watching TV, acquired two more cats, moved home and deepened my commitment to minimalism and mindfulness.
And it’s here I start to journey down a different path. Whilst I am incredibly committed to minimalism as a concept, and totally believe in the power of the declutter and simple living, it’s the living bit that really gets to me. Living simply has changed my life. It’s that simple. The need to longer keep up with life through the ever negative news culture, to lose the need to buy, buy, buy and to begin to learn treasure simplicity has given me a life rich in people, and in small things such as going for a coffee, taking a walk and playing with my dogs.
In all honest if I invited Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn over for a cuppa, they would probably say I am a hoarder in comparison to their stark, clean, minimalist lifestyles and I think they would be right in saying so. Yes we’re minimalists but we have nowhere near 100 items, and although there is definitely a way to go, we’re a lot more comfortable with where we are now and what we own. Our stuff no longer owns us and I believe we have stepped back from the materialist lifestyle we were both so embroiled in. By no means is our quest for minimalism over, but I think it slows down from here on it.
So from here on down I am focussing on my complete passion; mindfulness. I’ve already written about mindfulness this year so it’s not something completely new to the blog but it’s definitely going to feature as a key part of my blogging. This weekend I started on the journey to begin to teach it. Although the UK has no formal qualification process, there is a best practice accreditation register of teachers and this is what I am aiming for. It’s been an incredible weekend to start my journey (more of that in a later blog) and I want to use my blog to share mindfulness with you, meaning my blog will become more mindful, whilst still keeping minimalism as a key part of my mindfulness.
For those of you who have no idea what I am rabbiting on about mindfulness in its true form is about living in the present, accepting what is, and just ‘being’. Something that sounds incredibly simplistic, but in our current, modern lives, something which is also incredibly hard to do. I hope you will join me on the journey and please if you do want to know about something around minimalism, simple living or mindfulness and would like a blog about it let me know.
So where to from here? It’s a change of name and a change of focus in my blog. My ultimate aim in creating the new name The Mindful Hub is to eventually offer resources such as meditations, quotes and writings alongside my blog so that others can come to find mindfulness and explore if it is for them, but i will be taking it one step at a time. The Mindful Hub is born today, 14/08/2016 and long may she reign.
In my last blog post on capsule wardrobes I mentioned that the reason I think a capsule wasn’t working for me right now is because nothing is pulled together. I have a real mismatch of colours, styles, textures and patterns and it’s not looking good.
So whenever I need some inspiration I turn to my old favourite Pinterest, which provides me with most of life’s wisdom, particularly when it comes to minimalism and simple living.
I found a new concept I’ve not heard of before, which really interested me; a personal uniform. I’d not heard of it before so did a bit of research. French style seems to be everyone’s personal favourite. Depending on which blog or website you look at everyone has something slightly different to say about it. Some people say it’s one outfit you wear every day. Some people say it’s a small set of colour or styles you frequently wear. Apparently according to Who What Wear- What is my style uniform? one lady wore the same thing every day for three years. Boring. If you read Simone Kitchens article My uniform style has changed my life, it’s about having a simple style, one look for summer (long, flowing dresses) and one for winter, (Jeans and a boxy, oversized sweater). Still not what I want…the how to of a personal uniform tells me how. So now I am getting somewhere.
And then my old favourite came back into the blogosphere at exactly the same time I was considering this whole uniform business…Caroline from Unfancy was one of my biggest inspirations in creating my capsule wardrobe. I used her suggestions and her wardrobe planner. I love her style and her simplicity. And she’s literally just back and blogging again after what sounds like a difficult time. Her new posts? All about the personal uniform. It must be fate! You can check out her series here ; Unfancy Personal Uniform Series.
A personal uniform feels so right for me. I feel a real lack of structure and clarity to my clothes, and my style. I am a plus size woman, and good quality, stylish clothes can be hard to find. Most retailers think a linen sack is good enough. As a minimalist, I still love clothes. I just want less of them. I also want to put them on and think ‘Oh yeah, you’re rocking it today!’ when I look in the mirror. Newsflash, fat women can learn to love their bodies and the way they wear clothes. This woman with her fabulous style and outfit blog taught me that.
So I have started to think about what will my uniform look like? I am so excited to think and plan it. It’s a big subject that I don’t think can be dealt with in one blog post. I have Pinterest boards to show you, places where you can design your own colour charts, uniform patterns, styles and accessories, so I can’t fit it all in. So I am following in the Unfancy footsteps of creating a series. The next part will be all about colour…
Do any of you have personal uniforms? Would you like to, but just don’t know where to start? Hopefully some of the links above will give you some inspiration!
You may have noticed I have been quiet of late. No blog posts over the winter. If you followed me on Twitter you will have noticed the posts are rarer than usual. Even the Facebook witticisms are thin on the ground.
So what has caused this communication black out? Busyness? Probably Lethargy? Most definitely. The truth is it’s my annual hibernation period. Like the black bears and prickly hedgehogs as soon as it gets dark and the leaves begin to drop I retreat into my shell, put on my big fluffy jumper and hunker down through the winter months.
I sometimes feel guilty about this self indulgence recharging time and announce this hibernation to the world early on so my refusal of invitations, sofa hugging and winter naps are known by one and all and the boundaries are clear.
I didn’t think it would affect my ability to create, but this year it has. I have felt able to do no more than lift a coloured pencil to my mindful colouring book. So no blog. I seemed not to have the words, the thoughts or the ability to get them on a page, electronic or otherwise. Some people call this SAD or season affected disorder, some the winter blues, but it amounts to the same thing. The need to hibernate for at least 3 months, the fact that as soon as it gets dark the pjs and fluffy socks go on and the dallying in the summer sunshine seems a lifetime away.
So I have been having early nights, reading books, eating good old winter food like soups and stodge and generally enjoying some down time.
That’s the thing you see, I am enjoying my hibernation. The chance for some rest, skin sloughing and moisturising, hot chocolate, reflection on the past year and anticipation for what’s to come, and enjoying lazy afternoon snoozes in the half light. It’s a winter version of minimalism – simple living in line with the seasons.
But as the first snow drops start to poke through the grass, I am starting to stretch, yawn and come to life. So look out for blogs on being sugar free, some books I’ve been reading and reviewing, and the latest decluttering in the H-G household.