Divine Space

You need to create space to let new things come in. Sit with the space. Wait for the Divine to fill it up. Don’t try to fill it up yourself. You’ll fill it with nothing.
~ Cheryl Richardson

Dear friends,

You may have noticed that My Light Bag had gone quiet for a few weeks and I apologise for having left you hanging. The reason why I haven’t been around for a while is this:

My life had gone on overwhelm and I needed to hit the stop button.

I was heading for burnout with all the work, voluntary, creative and personal projects I had going on, and could no longer deal with everything. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day, nor enough energy, to manage everything. I had to stop everything apart from the essentials in order to recharge my batteries and get some clarity back.

You see, I had always thought that time was there to be filled. I was terrified of having nothing to do. Mortified of not having a plan for every hour of the day. Scared witless off free time. I always believed that I should be productive, and should be working, creating, learning or helping every minute of the day.

So I filled up my day so much that, despite having few external obligations, I was always exhausted at the end. It felt like I always had more and more things on my ‘to-do’ list. I reached a point where my concentration and passion disappeared, and frustration and exhaustion took over.

I was blessed to hear Cheryl Richardson‘s message at a key time and to realise that I needed to stop. To give myself permission to do less. Or even nothing at all. This included stopping blogging, no matter how much I love it, for the sake of health and sanity.

I took Cheryl’s advice and stopped. For the first time in a very long time. And the effect has been astounding. My head is clearer, my heart is lighter and my soul is more joyful. I am finding new energy, new perspectives and new ideas. But most importantly, I am giving myself the space to listen to what the Divine has to tell me, instead of arrogantly thinking that I have all the answers and solutions.

I have also learnt a very important lesson: living simply isn’t just about living with fewer material possessions. It has  quite a lot to do with making space in our daily activities, too.

At the moment I am going through many changes in work, in relationships and most crucially – changes in myself and my life projects. For this reason, I need to take a break from even those projects that I hold close to heart like blogging, in order to make space for all these changes to blossom beautifully, rather than stressfully.

I will be back again soon and I look forward to continuing my simple-living journey with you.

All my love

Have you ever had a time in life when you needed to press the stop button? What were the results?

Guest Post: Consumer Happiness Wears off Fast

Every week I invite a fellow simple-liver to tell us about their lifestyle.
This week, Dianna tells us about how minimalism transformed her attitude to consumption.

Dianna Williams lives in Columbus, Ohio, USA. She is a creative, with web graphic design, photography, singing, ballroom dancing, improvisational acting and writing among her many talents. Dianna blogs about minimalism at www.theminimalistmarch.com and inspires friends, family and people across the world with her journey.

How would you describe your simple-living lifestyle?

My simple-living lifestyle is a work in progress. Earlier this year, I read about The Minimalists, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and I got to meet them earlier this month. I realized that many of my ideas fall in line with the minimalist lifestyle. I already focused on having quality relationships and experiences, and I had begun to recognize that the happiness involved with buying something wears off fast. I am slowly decluttering my possessions, and I am evaluating what gives my life value.

What was the one significant moment that made you realise you needed to simplify?

Last year, I made the decision to go back to college, which involved decreasing my work hours and salary by 25%. As a web designer, I was making good money; however, I seemed to spend more than I made. And it never seemed as if I had enough money. When I added up my expenses, I found I could still pay the bills even at a lower salary. And I also realized how much money I wasted. I was spending a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need.

Have you had any important realisations about your past consumerist habits?

I have realized that it pretty much stinks to wear a skirt that I bought with a store credit card of which I am still trying to pay down the balance. In the past, it was like wearing a lie. With every bill, there was the constant reminder that I was wasting money, and I was wasting money that wasn’t even mine. I could never save money when I knew it was owed. So in order to address the desire to spend, I must evaluate and validate the purchase: Do I have a practical use for the item? Will it improve my life and add value?

What has been the biggest positive effect(s) on you through living a simpler life?

I am just beginning the journey to a simple life, and one of the biggest positive effects so far is that I don’t feel weighed down. Having too many things is a burden, especially when it’s time to cleaning. Having debt and mismanaging money is also a burden. In both instances, there is no chance to get ahead. The changes I am making now are helping me to breathe a sigh of relief. All of the little changes are going to add up to many positive effects.

Any words of recommendation for those thinking of simplifying?

Through my own experience, I know that decluttering the things I accumulated was overwhelming and stressful. But I had to remind myself I didn’t buy everything or get into my situation in one night. I couldn’t expect the change to be instant. So my advice is to set little goals and remind yourself that change is good. With change, you will rediscover true happiness.

Answer the Following Questions Before Decluttering

Have you noticed that decluttering isn’t easy? Have you understood why?

The reason is not just because we have a lot of stuff in our houses, but because we have a lot of confusion in our minds. Decluttering is challenging not for physical reasons, but for psychological ones.

As I mentioned in a previous post, decluttering is a means to end. We let go of the material things we no longer need in order to make space and time for what is truly important to us. We let go of the unnecessary in order to be able to fill it with what’s truly important to us. And that’s where the challenge comes in: we must answer these questions if we want to declutter effectively:

What is important to my life?

What is unnecessary to my life?

Decluttering is difficult because we need to know ourselves, our priorities and our true desires really well.

We need to know what is truly important to us and what we can do without.

We need to know what we love and what we vaguely appreciate.

We need to know who we are in order to keep the things that are valuable for creating an authentic and happy life.

We need to know who we are not, in order to get rid of things that make no contribution to our life.

And to do this we need to do the hardest thing of all: to be completely and brutally honest with ourselves.

Source: prolificliving.com

Source: prolificliving.com

Who am I, really?

If I am truly, shamelessly, brutally honest with myself, is my true self sexy or modest? Outrageous or discreet? A party animal or a mediator? A social bee or a book worm? A lady or a tomboy? A technology geek or a nature lover?

If I am truly, shamelessly, brutally honest with myself, would I prefer to spend my evenings in bars or in bed? Playing computer games or doing sport? Trying the town’s new restaurant or trying a new recipe? Watching TV or watching the trees sway in the breeze?

This is not about what you think you SHOULD be like or what you SHOULD prefer. This is not about what would look better in front of your friends, or more respectful at work, or more impressive in society. The only way to truly declutter effectively and get the crap out of your life is by getting rid of what’s not truly YOU.

Source: meetville.com

Source: meetville.com

We cannot declutter our homes in one go, because it can take us a while to actually understand who we are, what we want and what we value in life. I started decluttering four years ago and I’m still in the process of discovering what is truly important to me.

If you’re having trouble sorting out a certain area of your house or a certain cupboard, stop for a few days to answer the above questions. Answer from your heart. Once we make sense of our inner world it is so much easier to make sense of our outer one.

dr seuss true you quote

Throw URGH Away

Have you ever sighed a huge ‘URGH’ of frustration when walking into a room, or opening a cupboard, or seeing the documents on your laptop?

This is the ‘URGH’ of “There’s so much crap that I must take care of but I don’t know where to start”; the URGH of  “I can’t face simplifying, but I just can’t carry on living like this”.

pile of clothes

Source: houseoffraser.co.uk

The URGH of a dirty kitchen.

The URGH of a pile of documents.

The URGH of a chaotic wardrobe.

The URGH of small trinkets all over the place.

This URGH weighs us down, makes us cranky and sensitive, puts us in a bad mood, decreases our concentration, makes us depressed.

Why go through all this for possessions that aren’t necessary? For things that are not vital? For stuff that is of no importance?

Why ruin our days, our lives, for things we don’t even need? Why put ourselves through this discomfort and unhappiness by choice?

When we choose to buy excess things, we choose URGH.

When we choose not to throw away our junk, we choose URGH.

When we decorate our homes with more and more, we choose URGH.

Let’s throw URGH away.

The only weight we should have in our lives is the weight of a wallet full of money not spent on crap.

Let’s choose lightness everywhere else.

woman holding balloons

Source: iwokeupyesterday.com

Liebster Blog Award, Take II

Last month I was very blessed to be awarded the Liebster Blog Award three times! A huge thank you to The Next 50 Years, A Wrestling Writer and Every Week is Green for choosing My Light Bag!

In turn, I nominate the following blogs, which I greatly enjoy reading:

1. Minimalist Sometimesliebster

2. The Minimalist March

3. 365 Simplify

4. The Mind Declutter Project

5. Quite Simple Bits

6. Find Your Middle Ground

7. True Beauty Ministries

8. In the Stillness of Willow Hill

 

The rules of the Liebster Blog Award are as follows:

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you

2.  Answer the 10 questions given to you by your nominator.

3. Nominate 10 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer all of my nominators’ thirty questions, but you can read the answers to my first Liebster Award nomination here. In the same way, I only nominated 8 blogs, because the remaining blogs I enjoy reading have over 200 followers.

My questions for the nominated bloggers:

1. What is your top simple pleasure?

2. What are your grateful for today?

3. Name a book that has inspired you to make changes in your life.

4. Do you own something you don’t need or love but can’t bear to get rid of?

5. What is your consumption weakness i.e. what can you just not resist from buying every time?

6. Finish the sentence: “I am grateful that I do not own…”

7. Tell us three of the best material things you own.

8. What is the top thing cluttering your life at the moment?

9. Is there any part of your life you’d like to simplify, such as work, hobbies, social outings, personal projects etc. ?

10. What is your favourite quote or motto?

Thank you again for choosing My Light Bag for the Liebster Blog Award – I am extremely grateful for your nomination and very happy to know that you enjoy reading my blog.

My blessings to you.

gratitude blessing

Source: bubblenews.com

Decluttering is a Means to an End

For anyone who is in the process of decluttering or considering starting, remember this: decluttering is a means to an end, it is not an end in itself. We don’t declutter for the sake of decluttering. We declutter to get ourselves closer to a life that brings us fulfillment.

How exactly do we do this?

When we declutter, we get rid of things that are not necessary for our survival and do not add to our happiness. We empty our lives of things that give us nothing, but take our time, energy and space. We clear away these futile distractions in order to be able to concentrate on what truly matters to us.

Therefore, when we declutter, we need to be very clear on what we truly love and what we need. It’s not just about throwing away as much as possible and expecting to be fulfilled just because we’re living like a minimalist. Minimalism and simple living only bring happiness when we’re surrounded by the things that we need and love, nothing more…but also nothing less.

Decluttering isn’t a competition on who can get rid of the most things or live with the fewest possessions.
Decluttering is a personal process, and you should not compare your own experience to other people’s. We all have different lifestyles, needs and passions, so we should cater our material possessions to our own, and no-one else’s, demands.

Why strive to own just 100 objects, or 33 changes of clothes, or 2 boxes of stuff, if your lifestyle requires something different? It doesn’t matter if simplifying for you means owning one pair of shoes or ten pairs, as long as it makes YOU feel good and fits in with your lifestyle.

Simple living is about adopting a life that makes you feel comfortable and free, not one that limits you in any way, be it with too many or too few possessions.

Simple living is about FORGETTING about our possessions; it’s about moving them to the background of our lives. Our foreground –  our energy, time and thoughts – should be about more important things, like our loved activities, our close ones, our daily acts of love.

When we start setting conditions to decluttering or simple living, such as only using a certain amount of objects or living with only a certain amount of possessions, we bring our stuff to the foreground again. Instead of stressing because we’re overwhelmed by our clutter, we stress because we want to fit into some sort of rules about how much and what we should use.

There are no rules on decluttering. The whole point of decluttering is to lift a weight off your chest, to simplify your life in a way as to empty your mind of unnecessary thoughts about useless things. It’s about making the space, time and energy to focus on  life, rather than on stuff.

Decluttering should bring freedom, relief and space.

Decluttering is a tool to get you closer to a better life. Use it as a means to an end. And once you’ve decluttered, reap the benefits – go out and live!

enjoy life

Soucre: idlehearts.com

 

The Right to Take it Slow

I recently read an interview* in which Olivier Saillard, director of Paris’ premier fashion museum Palais Galliera, said that he doesn’t answer his emails immediately but several days after receiving them. He likes to have the time to think through his replies, he said.

I’m impressed and slightly envious of his strength of character. Here’s a man who doesn’t buy into ‘quick’, despite being surrounded by it.

In our modern world, we expect answers almost sooner than we’ve asked the question. If I don’t reply to an email within a day, my correspondents get impatient. If I don’t answer the phone, my family thinks something has gone wrong. I receive blank stares of incomprehension when I tell people that I don’t have the internet on my smart phone. Friends are still getting used to the fact that I disconnect from everything (phone, emails, internet) on Sundays.

In a society that wants everything and wants it now, we feel pressured to follow suit. We feel old-fashioned, rude or weird if we don’t keep up with the modern pace. Despite the fatigue and overwhelm it causes, we continue answering to everyone and everything within the minute. We feel obliged to soothe other people’s impatience and anxiety by reacting as quickly as they expect it. In turn, we start feeling stressed and dissatisfied when we can’t work or react quicker. We feel as if we’re incompetent by not being able to function as fast as others would like us to.

gandhi quote

If the way things work in society don’t bring us well-being, we must stop buying into it. It doesn’t matter how others live, we must live for health. It doesn’t matter what others do, we must do what brings us peace. It doesn’t matter what others expect, we must have our own values. It doesn’t matter what others think, we must act in a way that gives us energy.

We have the right to do things slowly, to take our time, to block distractions, to call back later, to answer when we’re ready, to take a day off, to switch off, to be present in real life not virtual life.
We have the right to set our own conditions to the pace of our lives.
We have the right to make someone wait if it’s not urgent.
We have the right to ignore useless messages.
We have the right to short replies.
We have the right to reply later.
We have the right to not reply.
We have the right to delete.
We have the right to live by our own priorities.We have the right to say no.
We have the right to ignore.
We have the right to stop.
We have the right to put our own needs before other people’s desires.
We have the right to choose peace over pleasing.

If a premier fashion curator can give himself the luxury of taking his time, so can we.

Lao Tzu quote

Do YOU feel pressured to follow the pace of modern society?

*Interview with Olivier Saillard in Clés Magazine issue 85.

In my Moment of Drugged Consumer Bliss

I wanted to buy it before I’d even seen it. I knew it would be there. I even knew I’d want to buy it. I knew the longing I’d feel for it.

I was just browsing, killing some time while waiting for a friend to arrive. I say ‘killing’, but secretly I was glad. Glad that I had twenty minutes to spend in a bookshop, finding my new love.

flicking through bookAnd I knew exactly what my new love was. I found it almost immediately, without even having to look for it. It was on display in front of the escalator. I smiled, picked it up – OK, I’ll be honest, I snatched  it up. I stroked the cover, skimmed through the blurb, flicked through the pages, smelt the paper and read a couple of paragraphs.

And suddenly, I felt better. I felt so good that I wanted this book, needed it to continue to give me this feeling of bliss. I was ready to run with it to the till (I only had five minutes left until my friend arrived).

holding stack of booksThing is, I already had an unread book in my bag. And I had dozens more at home. I had books on a similar topic that I’d started reading but hadn’t yet finished. I had books I’d borrowed from friends but still hadn’t read. I had magazines waiting to be opened. I had more than enough to read but I still wanted more.

 

In my moment of drugged consumer bliss I fell for yet another new thing. It wasn’t a pulse of intuition pushing me to run to the till, it was a pulse of consumer madness.

I hesitated, book in hand. I wanted it so much, but realised it would be hypocritical to buy a book on simple living while cluttering my own home. With some disappointment, I put the book down.

“It can wait,” I told myself  “It will be here when you need it”.

I walked away with a full purse, a light bag and a light conscience.

 

Guest Post: Simple Living Gives Us Freedom to be Anything

Every week I invite a fellow simple-liver to tell us about their lifestyle.
This week, Hardik tells us about the magic of a less cluttered life.

Hardik Nagar is a nineteen-year old student in the school of life. His passions include volunteering (with Rotaract), leadership, mentoring, public speaking, coaching and lifting people up to their highest potential. He writes about minimalism and simplicity at http://thatindianminimalist.wordpress.com and can also be contacted via Twitter @hardiknaagar.

How would you describe your simple-living lifestyle?

It is magical. I won’t say it’s good or bad. I won’t judge it on those terms. In any breaking free freedom jumpingcase, it is truly magical. It really is so beautiful when you realize that you’re so much more than all the clutter, both physical and mental. You suddenly now have this freedom to do anything and be anything. And that is gorgeous.

 What was the one significant moment that made you realise you needed to simplify?

It was always about addiction for me. I bought something and after few days I didn’t like it anymore so then I wanted to buy something new. It was an ugly and a vicious cycle, to be honest. And then, one day, I questioned myself on what I was doing. The funny thing is that people often wait for some kind of realization to dawn upon them automatically. It doesn’t work like that. You have to continuously ask questions. You have to make an effort.

Have you had any important realisations about your past consumerist habits?

One thing I realised which changed everything is that I was trying to buy emotions. I associated products with security, comfort and love, and I thought that’s how I’d feel when I bought this or that thing. Sounds shocking but that’s actually what most people are up to. That’s what we try to do unconsciously. I realized it after I stopped purchasing completely. And that completely changed how I see stuff and emotions.

 What has been the biggest positive effect(s) on you through living a simpler life?

You get a sense of freedom; one which was not there until then. The very moment you breaking free from chains birdsdecide to simplify your life, you break from the shackles of consumerism. And you feel a new defining energy running within you. Once you see beyond the lies of consumerism, you will take that leap of faith. You’ll do what you love. You’ll want to become what you always wanted to. You’ll be yourself, with love, kindness and compassion.

Any words of recommendation for those thinking of simplifying?

People often make the mistake of focusing just on physical stuff when simplifying. Always remember, there is no point of a clean cupboard if there is tons of clutter in your mind. Simplifying your material things is crucial. But focus on mental, emotional and spiritual simplifying as well. What’s the point of outside simplicity if your being is not in synchronization with it?

 Can you relate to Hardik’s story?

The problem is: my clothes are OK

I have a problem: the majority of my clothes are OK. I recently tried out items that I hadn’t worn in over a year and asked my partner to rate them on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being awful and 5 being amazing. He gave a 3 to 99% of them.

I believe that the hardest things to decide on are those ‘OK’ items we own. Why? Because ‘OK’ is like ‘maybe': it’s neither a thumbs up or a thumbs down. It’s neither great, no awful. It’s stuck in between, leaving you uncertain what to do with it. It’s not crap enough to throw out, but it’s not great enough to enjoy using it. You feel guilty for getting rid of it because it’s not so bad, after all, but you’re not keen on wearing it because it just doesn’t look all that good.

What on earth to do with these in-betweeners?!

I’ve decided the following: I will have an in-betweener shelf of clothes, where I’ll put all these ‘OK’ items. In the meantime, I will proritise wearing things that make me feel truly awesome, but will have these at hand if ever I need (or want) them.

Sometimes, we need time to show us how much we value an object (or not).

woman choosing clothes deciding uncertain

Do you have any in-between items that are giving you hassle?