Above: The shade Brat Pack by Lipstick Queen
Nominally, I’m an ex-Buddhist. Maybe it was that angle that appealed to the Plaid team to choose me to write for this column, i.e. “a contemporary perspective”.
I have carried over some lessons learned from the Buddhist tradition into my life today – the one I’m going to talk about today is about owning less stuff. Obviously this doesn’t belong to Buddhism alone – the whole idea of living lightly is something that yogis and mystics from all many traditions have espoused for centuries. I’ve been terrible at it – I’ve always loved fashion and design, which has made owning ‘essentials’ only very difficult…
I’ve always wanted to spend less time cleaning, or figuring out what to wear. And less time organising my numerous (too many) activities.
I’m currently 25% through a 12 week e-course run by Joshua Becker, the author of Becoming Minimalist. Every week, through video, he gives us participants some thoughts or an interview with someone living a minimalist life; and every week, we have an assignment of an area to declutter. We post before and after photos (if we want to; I do it) in a private Facebook group.
As a result, me and my partner have gotten rid of 80% of our books; 50% of our clothes; 80% of decorative tat and tsatchkis. Our house looks slick; cleaning is easier; getting dressed is easier. When I look on the bookshelf, there’s nothing I don’t want to see or am not interested in. Though if I’m to be honest, I can still probably cull even 50% of what’s left.
If I had to choose one lipstick, one pair of shoes, one dress, one shirt, and one pair of jeans to wear for the year, what would it be? If I had to choose one way to spend my evenings for the next year, what would it be? If I could choose only 10 books to mull over and savour this year, what would they be?
Courtney Carver says in her blog posts – such as The Power of One and One is enough – that after 2 weeks of living with a total of 333 items, “I can clearly see that one purse is enough. One pair of sunglasses is enough”. She then moves on to ask how many dishes and cups does she really need? Her blog showcases a truly inspired experiment in contemporary minimalism.
Sources I recommend on this process and topic:
- One Robe, One Bowl by Ryokan – the title says it all; a beautifully produced small book of poetry by this 18th century Japanese hermit.
- Uncluttered – 12 week online course created by Joshua Becker; the support and inspiration from him and others on this course has done wonders for our house and our peace of mind.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKewon – if I had to recommend one book on this topic in relation to the workplace as well as personal time-management, this is it – how to be productive rather than busy. How to be clear about what we want and to waste less, even including words when talking or emailing.
- Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour – by Dita Von Teese – Dita has stuck to a bold red lipstick, a cat eye and black hair, for decades. She has a very definite version of herself she wants to convey to others but more importanly to herself. That’s essential when throwing out stuff too – be it books, clothes or life choices – so you know what to keep and then you can just chuck everything else. I felt that in this book she’s recommending we contruct a ‘uniform’ for ourselves that conveys the who we want to be. This book helped me hone down my makeup and clothing collection, believe it or not… the inspiration for inner peace can take many forms!