Back to Reality 2019

After crawling through Christmas with a horrible lingering cold… I’m not exactly bouncing into the new year feeling motivated!

Unlike my usual Back to Reality blogs about my plans and goals for the year ahead – my Back to Reality 2018 post was largely about planning less and not setting concrete goals.

And 2018 turned out to be a brilliant year! There were some very difficult times (which I might tell you more about later), but overall for me it was a fun, relaxed and happy year. Particularly in August when we got married then lived in a hut for 10 days!

There’s definitely something good about not planning too much. And after a decade of prioritising work, it was glorious to step off the treadmill and take time to prioritise life.

There are a couple of big lessons that I’ve learned over the last few years and in 2018 I put some habits into practice which I want to carry into 2019.

Lesson no.1: There is no such thing as a work/life balance.

This might sound like a sweeping statement and many of you might disagree. But this is something I heard Courtney Carver talking about on Instagram stories and it really changed the way I think about work/life balance.

If you’re self employed and working in a creative industry it is virtually impossible to find a “balance”, set boundaries and compartmentalise work time and life time. The edges are very blurry- sometimes work takes over and sometimes life takes over, but it’s difficult to find a lasting balance when you can’t easily separate the two.

So I’ve  given up my constant striving for the perfect work/life balance and instead I now focus on having a good sleep routine and ring-fencing some me-time each day and each week. This makes me feel like my time is more balanced overall and as a result – work feels less like work because I have some calm time every day to come back to.

I’ve tried various things including meditating and making green smoothies (well… beige smoothies). But these are the habits which have made the biggest difference for me… and I notice the difference if I let these habits slip:

  • Going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday… (a little bit later at weekends).
  • Switching my mobile off at dinnertime each night and leaving it in another room.
  • Going for a walk every day.

These three simple habits make my life feel so much more balanced than it used to even when I’m really busy.

Lesson no.2: I can’t say yes to everything.

This might be stating the obvious, but a lot of us struggle to say no! It might be work stuff or social stuff and you might be worried about letting people down or fearful that opportunities won’t come up again, but saying yes to everything generally ends up with us taking on too much.

In 2018 I accepted that I can’t do all the things I want to do and practiced saying “I’d love to, but I can’t right now”. And do you know what? Nothing terrible happened! I’m making decisions and planning ahead rather than just being carried by the tide and only dealing with what’s urgent. I have lots of exciting things planned for this year… but not too much!

It can be difficult to say no to things that I really want to do, but I’ve leaned the hard way that saying yes to lots of work opportunities means saying no to having free time. And I have a million things I enjoy doing in my free time so I occasionally need those evenings and weekends!

Being less busy means that I have more time to enjoy my life and enjoy my work. I’m so excited about my projects for 2019 and can’t wait to share them with you!

Minimalism: The Highs and Lows

I was wondering recently how long it’s been since we discovered minimalism and was surprised to find that my first blog on the subject was 26th March 2017! I can’t believe it’s been over a year!

My first blog was about starting the clear-out process with something simple. And we chose mugs.

At the time we cut down our mug collection from 28 to 15 and I clearly remember finding it really difficult and finding justifications to keep more than we’d originally planned!

Beardie and I now only own six mugs. We have two each and then two spares in the cupboard for guests/builders. This is perfect for us, but wouldn’t be ideal for someone who has a lot of friends over for tea and cake!

Approximately one year after starting our Minimalism journey – I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the highs and lows.


Highlights

It doesn’t take as long to clean

The rooms that we have tackled already have a lot less clutter so it’s easier to keep them tidy and to clean.

I’ve saved money

Particularly on clothes. I wasn’t an extravagant spender anyway and I haven’t given myself a spending ban at any point – but I’ve been making more sensible purchases and I’m finding it easier to let things go if they’re not right.

I’m creating more

Saving some time and money means I have more time to spend on creating. I’m growing more fruit and veg in the garden and I’m finding more time and money to spend on sewing and knitting garments for myself.

I’m looking after myself

Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff! It’s about simplifying your life and living more mindfully.

I’ve always been a big advocate of self care and this was largely the motivation behind the Moody Blanket. I believe that looking after our minds is as important as looking after our bodies but it’s something many of us feel we don’t have time for.

I started a habit tracker this year to encourage me to meditate daily, eat healthily and get more sleep. I really feel the benefits when I stick to my daily habits and I notice the negative impact when I let things slip for a few days.

Habit Tracker by Clementine Creative

The Lows…

‘Stuff’ stresses me out

I’m quite an impatient person and if I decide to do something I generally just want to get it done! However – I knew that rushing through the initial ‘getting rid of stuff’ part of minimalism wouldn’t work for me. I’ve had big clear-outs before and I inevitably put things out of sight to sort out later. This time I want to do it thoroughly and make a lasting change!

People deal with the process differently. Ryan of The Minimalists had a packing party – putting all his belongings in boxes/covering furniture and then only keeping what he had used within a certain amount of days (extreme!). Whereas Josh (also of The Minimalists) gradually got rid of the majority of his belongings in the space of a year.

Beardie and I kick-started things in June by playing The Minimalism Game. When we came to a standstill we followed this up with a mini packing party for our kitchen crockery at the end of last year. Other than that we’ve just been gradually working through things… and it’s a slow process.

We’ve probably tackled more than half the house which is great – but because we haven’t completed the process of minimising every room, I always feel like I should be doing ‘stuff’ and ‘stuff’ becomes stressful!

I feel guilty

I guess it’s natural when taking good care of oneself to feel a bit selfish!

I find meditation particularly difficult because my mind bounces around and I feel like I ‘should’ be doing something else.

But taking time out can often make you more focused, more productive, calmer and generally a nicer person to be around. So ultimately self care is caring for everyone… my brains just not calibrated that yet!


As you can see – the highs outweigh the lows for me! I would love to hear from you if you’re working on simplifying your life too… particularly if you’re a fellow crafter surrounded by ‘artistic clutter’!

Minimalism – Feeling the Benefit

It’s been a full month since I finished the Minimalism game and although I’ve not been counting – I’m sure I’ve got rid of at least the same amount of stuff again!

I’ve done big clear-outs before, but this time it feels different. I’m not just getting rid of a few things so that my stuff fits in to the space I have – I’m gradually getting rid of everything I don’t use, wear or love and putting in place systems so that I acquire less “stuff”.

We now have a bookcase which has virtually no books left on it and empty boxes under the bed and on top of my wardrobe which were once stuffed to bursting! At some point we’ll have to decide which pieces of furniture to keep because with less stuff to store we need less furniture to store it.

The process is difficult. The most time-consuming part so far has been moving my bookkeeping over to a digital system. I’ve always preferred to have paper copies of all my receipts and invoices, but then I don’t have a digital back-up of the receipts and it takes up space. So I’ve started the laborious task of scanning in all of my receipts for the last tax year and shredding all the paperwork. It’s a pain! But I feel like I’m investing the time now to save time and space in the future so it feels good.

Part of me wishes I’d done a “packing party” where you pack up the entire house as if you’re moving (covering furniture in sheets) – and anything you’ve not unpacked after 21 days you get rid of! But that was far too extreme for me so I’m plodding along and gradually getting on top of things.

I’m really starting to feel the benefits of this process though. I’ve been away a lot in July and packing and unpacking is so easy when you have less stuff! I can open my drawers without them getting stuck because I’ve squished too much in and I can see exactly where everything is because it’s all folded vertically. My teenage self would be rolling her eyes at how much pleasure I’m getting from a tidy chest of drawers!

I know that some of you felt inspired to get minimal after my previous blogs so I hope you’re feeling the benefits too. And if you’ve watched the Minimalism documentary, want to be a minimalist but don’t know where to start – I would recommend reading Simplify by Joshua Becker. Its a quick read, gives a realistic veiw of the benefits of minimalism and talks you through how he became a “rational minimalist”.

I’m hoping to finish “phase one” by the end of this year. Phase two will involve going back through all the items where I’ve thought – I will get rid of this…but I don’t feel ready just yet. This might involve getting rid of more yarn…unless I can find a reason to keep everything in my remaining stash!