the power of a personal “thank you”

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I was reminded of a moment in my past while driving today. A few years ago, the father of my boyfriend at that time was generous enough to help me with my driving lessons. He took some time off and gave me useful advice that until this day has worked its magic. I vaguely remember how I inadequately thanked him for his efforts back then and I felt bad about. At that moment, I sensed a strong loving vibration in my chest when that I hoped would telepathically be send to him as a message or gratitude. But then I realized I should just send a physical thank-you card with my thoughts just in case the telepathy doesn’t work. So it is very cliché and it’s long overdue, but I took the time to search the address, verify how his name is correctly spelled, find an appropriate card, and find the perfect words to write down my message.

I instantly felt like I needed more of these acts in my life. I want to express gratitude, send kind words all over the world, and let people know that their kindness is eternally engraved in our hearts. Sending love and warmth is very much needed in a society of apathy.

It’s a shame to see old people regretting helping out others because they were never properly thanked. My dad for example, expressed his emotions about this topic yesterday. He was angrily frustrated by how little gratitude he got from his other daughter about the sacrifices he made for her to be able to help her paying for a house. He was upset about the troubles he went through to be able to save some money while selling his personal sentimental belongings just to help her out, in a bad economy. I felt for him, he had obviously regrets and didn’t feel appreciated for his efforts. And I told him that he needed to express these thoughts towards her, that she needed to know this, to hear it from himself. But he couldn’t, or maybe he was so hurt that she didn’t realize this on her own. I am not sure how that story will continue, but I hope that my dad doesn’t become bitter out to this disappointment. Being stuck with your unresolved emotions is only burdening you personally and can result in a chronic disease. At least, that’s how I’ve seen it happen.

There are many ways to say what you needed to say. Don’t wrap it in hate, dare yourself to express the pain in a vulnerable and honest way and with that you will gain so much strength in return. Even if you don’t say it to the person’s face, you can always write it down somewhere, and see what you do with this note later.

picture by Kamila_Aubre_Perfumer

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when minimalism led to pessimism

I noticed that few people dare to express their negative experiences with their own decluttering process. I was on the fence about sharing mine, because I would prefer to keep a positive vibe on my blog. But I also know that it’s important to keep it real and reach out to those few people who are also dealing with these negative issues as well. Here is the dark side of minimalism, the negative side-effect that I believe no one talks openly about:

When you come across minimalism on the internet, it instantly looks great and appealing. People seem stylish, happy and zen, so you try it as well. But here is a thing that isn’t joyful about the decluttering and the minimalistic journey. It’s a moment within the journey when bad thoughts occur and you might be faced with deep personal issues that seem impossible to solve at that moment.

Schermafbeelding 2018-04-02 om 11.45.24A while back, I encountered an emotional dissatisfaction. A sadness that was underlying the garbage, the mess, the clutter. It suddenly became clear to me: the more trash I cleared from my life, the more I faced the emptiness of my existence.    You don’t declutter to gain nothing in return. Minimalism isn’t about giving up stuff and remaining with less. It’s about finding more meaning, more satisfaction, more quality in life.   
I started noticing how little interests remained underneath the chaos. I didn’t know what to do with myself or my life. I was buried beneath my past, underneath a pile of deception, of unfinished projects and the mess was a result of that pain.

I know that decluttering is the first step towards the life you want for yourself, that this is the way to build a life of your dreams. But right there and then I realized that there wasn’t much I truly loved doing or having or being. I lost direction: somehow the less I needed, the less satisfied I became. I couldn’t tell what would bring me joy. All the things that used to make me happy at some point in my life and were useful then: all those things didn’t apply these days anymore. I knew I badly needed change but I couldn’t tell what kind of change. So I took a break, stayed away from the mess and the decluttering in order to figure out what was going on. I binge-watched series, I was extremely passive, got back into a nightly-routine of sleeping during the day, lacked energy, hated myself for a while but dealt with these emotions. The unhappiness had nothing to do with the (external) stuff itself. I realized I needed to focus upon my self: self-worth, self-perception and so on. It isn’t something I have actively chosen to neglect over the years; it came to be, due to situations and environment I was in and the people in my life. I realized at that moment ‘I am actually unhappy with how I look’ and even-though I wasn’t making a big deal out of it throughout the past years: it’s now become something I can’t neglect any longer. It used to be a coping mechanism, but today it is not working anymore. I chose for myself right there: no more suffering. It’s time to do something constructive with this pain and dedicate this time for myself to heal. Here is where the self-love starts. I put myself first for healthy reasons and I am clear about my intentions. I learn to distinct between what is important for me now, instead of what people expect from me at that moment: which is most likely very unhealthy for me to do.

Those important missing pieces in myself were the root of much unheard sadness in my life. The self-neglect grew from childhood until now: it was about time. So, I chose to acknowledge this pain and face myself with the truth. I learn to accept the truth. Then I truly try to figure out how it came to be (by meditation) and why it is still here. And then it is time to let it go, bit by bit. The shell must break open. And that is by self-healing and finding therapeutic ways t overcome this misery.  This is how I gained a bit more of self-confidence.

Thank you for reading

image by Hilde Mork

 

note the recipe, not the book

Here is a tip for you.

If you are keeping a book in your collection simply to hold on to a page or two: get rid of the book. Instead, take pictures of those pages, scan them or duplicate the text, preferably digitally. Gain this way actual physical space and freedom as you don’t have to look for that one particular thing between all your other books. I applied this method with a vegetarian cookbook, it was a book that meant nothing for me: there was no sentimental value, it was neither visually nor physically pleasing. I wasn’t fond of the book in any way, except for that one recipe that happened to be a success for us at home and that’s what I chose to keep: just the recipe.

 

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image by
Nick prideaux

introspective decluttering

I admit the whole de-cluttering journey isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. For me it takes a lot of practice to make the slightest progress, whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally. At the start I wasn’t aware it would entail much trials and errors. Somehow I planned to declutter all my stuff in six months time. That stuff that took more than 20 years to accumulate, I somehow believed that 6 to 12 months would be enough to go through all of that. The reality is: I don’t always have the time nor the energy to dedicate myself fully on this project. Life happens while you make changes for yourself and you have to make room and time to dedicate yourself on your personal goals.

Decluttering is something that happens gradually for me. I was mislead by some minimalism talks and videos I saw before I started my own journey, I saw how others made it look effortlessly, some of them even took a full week or maximum two weeks and that was enough time for them to change their entire life. But that clearly isn’t the case for me here. Of-course I realize now that I was being unrealistic with my ‘goals’ as I should have known that I come from a further place with much more (unresolved) stuff. As a former hoarder my de-cluttering process is taking much longer than expected. I believe that going through this hard effort now, will always remind me to never go back to that crowded lifestyle. Looking at how things came to this point makes me sad that I let it come this far without knowing/realizing, but on the other hand I am really grateful that I am finally doing something about it now. I am finally taking matters into my own hands and taking full responsibility of my own life, without fear. It takes effort, courage and hard work to go trough this mess.

Decluttering thoroughly entails lots of self-realizations, moments of taking a break from it, confronting your issues, experiencing some self-therapy after a big clean-out, and so on and so on. It’s a personal journey into understanding yourself;  how you got here, what made this happen and why it’s hard to get rid of it. They say memorabilia and sentimental objects are the hardest to let go, but that has not been the case for me. In my opinion everything can hold some emotional value, especially if you’ve neglected a part of yourself for too long in that case you emotions will irrevocably be triggered in everything you come across and therefore you will learn about you inner struggles. Because when you decide to declutter your life, you have chose for yourself that it’s time to finally confront your personal demons in order to move forward. De-cluttering is a spiritual journey, the journey of undressing your true self.

It’s about taking time to evaluate your life thus far, see what brought you until here and where you want to go from now on. Deciding your own destination, picking your tools, making room for what’s important to you. Letting yourself breathe out the shit that has been holding you from your personal growth. Breathe out the mental struggles, breath out the emotional clog and say goodbye to what has been disturbing your true peace or happiness.

 

 

Schermafbeelding 2017-11-19 om 20.33.46image by Willem Douven

finding your essentials

One of the perks of becoming a minimalist is finding your true likings and be able to cherish them.

potjes

Fun fact: you might not know this but my blog started out as a cosmetic-related one, luckily that changed along with the course of my personal journey.

Not long ago, I went to Lush for a particular product I needed for my winter-dry skin (that I repurchased a few times previously) This wasn’t an impulse buy, but in addition I also treated myself with a new product for my hair. I asked to my favourite Lush assistant to help me out and she gave me her recommendation of a good vegan hair conditioner. I smelled the product and I instantly knew this was going to be a new favourite of mine.

I don’t shop as often as I once did and therefore I truly enjoy my purchases, whereas a few years ago I wouldn’t have gotten much joy out of this. I used to buy lots and lots of skincare, make up, cosmetic tools and I just couldn’t get enough. I am quite embarrassed by how much I owned at one point. It wasn’t until I actually cleared out almost 80% of my stuff that I got a better look at what I truly love using. There was a point in my life where I even used to buy cosmetics just out of curiosity, without truly looking at the ingredients or at the company’s policy and then regretting the purchase afterwards. I was left with many unused stuff and I rationalized my obsessive shopping addiction by claiming that I was writing reviews about these products on my blog. My room was piled with perfumes, nail varnishes etc. and It’s funny how today I don’t need nor use any of that stuff any more. The bathroom counter was always full with products, whereas today I only have a few utilities that can easily be put away to clean the surface: it’s such a blessing now. I know what I like, I use it frequently and I can truly recommend a good product.

Here is another embarrassing story due to having too much stuff: I remember getting a rash at some point and not knowing what specific product caused the allergic reaction, because I used so many of them at once. That was such a low point for me, I knew then that I needed to cut down the use of products and find out what ingredients are working for me and which ones aren’t good for my skin type. We are constantly being told by advertising, the media, companies.. to “need” more than 1 or 2 products for taking care of your skin and hair, but that is really overdo.

I remember feeling liberated by getting rid of almost all my skincare products, I reduced all that stuff to just a few ones and I know now ‘if it doesn’t work for me or I don’t like it: get rid of it, give it away or give it back’. Do not let it sit on your bathroom counter looking at you, waiting for your attention to be removed. Give yourself a break and use only what is good for you. Don’t waste your time with stuff you don’t need. And when in doubt: ask for a sample of a certain product before making the full purchase.

The photograph in this article is one I took a few years ago
  and never got around using it.