What’s lurking in your storeroom?

I discovered the real benefit of minimalism is that you get to use everything you own.

In my pre-minimalist days I used to collect a lot of things and due to ‘stuff –overload’ few things would be put out of sight. I had this really chic office bag in black which my parents had got for me. I had just started working and thought I wouldn’t be able to carry that look at the very beginning of my career. It got stacked away somewhere and I forgot about it.

About 5 years later I finally got it out of the cover (while de-cluttering ;)) and decided to use it as I urgently needed a bag. I loved it and felt very happy transferring my stuff into the new bag.

After 10 days of use I noticed that the corners of the bag have started to chip-off.  After years of storage I guess the bag got spoiled and it started showing up on the bag already.

How I wish I had not stored it for such a long time and begun using it immediately.

The journey on this road called minimalism has taught me to:

1)      Own less: This is the core philosophy of the practice. For me it means to own enough so that every item can be used in its freshest state. Imagine a soap made from fresh ingredients like lavender essential oils and you store it for eternity. One day it will lose its scent and the reason why you paid extra for that soap. Instead if you used it the day you bought it, the pleasure from using it instantly will be doubly or 4x. But to use an item in its freshest state means that I must not have 10 of those, else it will get into the waiting line.

2)      Stop preserving things: Another reason why stuff gets stored away is the fact that it’s too good to be used now. We keep waiting for the right or perfect time to use it. In my case I put the bag away for both reason: many other bags in possession and it wasn’t the right time in my professional career to use such a bag. If you own a beautiful object use it now. Derive the maximum pleasure today and you will feel very satisfied with owning less.

Take out time today to go through all your belongings and see if you’re missing out on a beautiful ring, an uplifting scent, a hand crafted scarf etc. But take a decision for each item that you pull out of the lumber room: Use it or Discard it

Lets banish words like Store, Preserve, Save, Put Away etc…

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When you truly want to de-clutter, you’ll spot a helping hand

For last few weeks I have wanted to discard this particular shirt of mine. I have been wearing it to work and it looks good on me, but I somehow don’t enjoy wearing it. Maybe it’s the color, maybe the style. But since it’s in a good condition I end up wearing it, putting the decision to discard for later.

Today I was sitting outdoor taking a sun-bath when I noticed my shirt was torn, maybe due to ironing. It is beyond repair and has to be discarded. I noticed that I instantly felt happy instead of feeling upset. I could finally discard it without feeling any guilt.

Since I was being so confused, the shirt itself decided to lend me a helping hand by getting run down by a heavy iron.

Has this ever happened to you?  Imagine you have a vase that you really don’t care for but it’s been lying in your living room for years. There is a party, and you have guest and children over. One of them carelessly poke’s into that dreadful vase and there it goes into a million pieces. You keep your calm effortlessly as you actually feel relief.

It’s like you didn’t need to take that painful step of removing that object out of your life. It walked away on its own. So many times we lose things on trips or generally. Half the times we are disappointed but there are times when we feel delighted instead.

Just another way to ease out the de-cluttering process 🙂

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Cycling in Old Delhi

On a non foggy Sunday morning at 630 am we set out to meet our cycling group opposite Delite cinema, on Asaf Ali Road. I never imagined that I would actually end up waking this early for a cycling tour around old Delhi. I was very excited. We were with a group of American students from Iowa University visiting India and the tour was organized for them. I decided to join my husband for this sport. I was probably more amazed than the Americans to see our culture. I had never seen Delhi like this, never before.

About 150 years ago, Delhi was a walled city with 8 gates. This tour was called the Shahjahanabad tour. We started at one of the 8 gates called the Turkman gate. Only 3 gates are remaining now.  I took about 15 minutes to get familiar with the cycle as I was cycling after more than 10 years. We cycled thru the narrow alleys of that area, crossing the meat lane, spice lane, flower market, Chandini  Chowk, and Tees Hazari court district. We also climbed a very ancient mosque called the Fatepuri Masjid. The view was simply breathtaking.

We then cycled outside the walled city, into civil lines, stopped for tea behind the Oberoi Maidens, a beautiful colonial property. We ended up crossing Red Fort and finally the Jama Masjid. This experience for me was so beautiful. We cycled a total of 11.5 kms.

Luckily I do yoga regularly so my body didn’t hurt at all after cycling.

But this has made me hungry for cycling more often now, than once in a decade.

Cycling is such a minimalist activity with so many benefits. I also realized that many things which are minimalist are also more in rhythm with Mother Nature.

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Year 2011

As we set into a new year, we must all have a focus, a goal which we would like to achieve in the coming 364 days.  New Years Eve is also the time to let your hair down & turn the volumes up. People gulp down alcohol and dance like never before. It is a lot of fun to let go… only if we truly learn to let go.

I especially look forward to the freshness, the New Year brings. Everything seems full of hope and you feel that this is the best time to make changes, improve areas which need it, make relationships stronger, get more disciplined etc…

Over new years’ dinner with my family we were all sharing our personal goals. Everyone mentioned only one goal they really wanted to focus on. I have so many that I couldn’t quite prioritize them. My dad was recalling a new year’s message; he got from a friend’s mother.  She said, “Enter this year by subtracting one word from your dictionary of words, i.e. the word GRUDGE.”

I related to that quickly. It made my task of prioritizing goals much simpler.

So the year 2011 is dedicated to loads of positive energy around me and I take a vow to not hold a Grudge be it people, weather, clothes, food or circumstance. I am looking forward to staying positive and reviewing this at the end of the year.  If we were all to remove grudges or negativity from our lives, the word problem would also quickly disappear from our dictionary.

This year I have also decided to take up the project 333 challenge. I am very excited to make it thru till the end of March with 33 items of clothing, shoes, accessories & bag. To check out more details about this project please visit this link: http://www.bemorewithless.com/2010/quick-start-guides-for-project-333/

 

Have a fabulous 2011!!!!

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Collecting Knick Knacks

I was never a big shopper or fond of collecting stuff. I always bought in moderation and decluttered seasonly. But after reading blogs on minimalism and sinking deeper into the concept i realized that i wasn’t a minimalist afterall. I loved buying knick knacks on any trip of mine. I felt that whatever was the speciality of that region must be bought in forms on knicks knacks to bring back home. I would buy shot glasses, decorative things, paper holder, match boxes, magnets etc. This would be a way to tell people where all we visited with stories around it.

But now its a completely different me. I still buy the special things but things that i can use and enjoy. For instance we went to Sri lanka and i decided to buy lots of Dilmah Tea. Whenever my husband and I have time to drink tea together at home we always have the Dilmah tea as it feels very special to do so. It feels so much better that buying a shot glass which i will never use and can barely see and hardly enjoy.

Recently we went for a wedding function and the family had organized for a “personalized” giveaway which included a wall hanging which included your photograph , a small clock & the meaning of your name. It was all assembled on the spot. I opted out of taking that give-away back home. The earlier me would have happily taken that home.

I feel so free from the silly knick knacks that can take more breathing space away than clothes. Although thats another area which needs regular de-cluttering. The best part is that i can never imagine going back to be that person who used to collect knick knacks.

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Christmas Carnival

Christmas is approaching in a couple of weeks and I am quite looking forward to it. Although I am an Indian, this festival has had a significance importance for the past 3 years.
During this time of the year, a carnival is organized for a group of under-privileged students and nearby villagers. I have participated in the carnival twice and it’s the happiest times I’ve had.  The villagers and students do not ever experience things like carnivals & fete’s or times of celebration so this event is their day to let loose. The carnival has 4-5 games stalls for the children, discounted food stalls and a jumbo sale stall. The main attraction for them is the jumbo sale stall.
What exactly is the jumbo stall?
The organizers wanted to donate their clutter and thought of getting all their unused items to the carnival for the villagers and school students. But realized that they would have a problem distributing as everyone would fight and there would be a tug of war. Another great idea was born, they put a nominal price tag to these items, so that it would resemble a flee market and these villagers & children would get that kick out of buying.  The items are priced very low and few minutes into the sale you have people pushing each other to get the best product available. The key thing here is that it is at a very affordable rate and so everyone enjoys participating in the Jumbo Sale.
It is such a great way to de-clutter and do charity at the same time.

If anyone is interested in donating, please do leave a comment with your contact.
This carnival takes place at Mandi Village located in New Delhi, India.

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De-cluttering your Diet

I have come up with four basic rules for a fat-free forever diet. They are:

1) If you are a tea/ coffee drinker, skip the sugar (no sweeteners)

2) No Biscuits

3) No Chips

4) No Maggi/ cup –a-noodles etc.

After coming up with this list it crossed my mind that well the key to healthy is linked to a clutter free kitchen. The common factor to the above items is that all of them have a long shelf life and high amounts of preservatives. If a food item can last really long you never know what all has gone into producing that item. I would feel safer avoiding that product and saving my health. For me that would mean the end of stocking packaged food supplies. Once you stop buying packaged food or reduce it, you’ll see a much more beautiful kitchen. A kitchen which has nice fresh fruits and vegetables, few spices, grains. My purchases will be restricted to only fresh items that would get used up in maximum a week or two instead of things that keep lying in the shelves for months.

Basically packaged food is your enemy to good health.

Packaged food is very addictive and thus that much more important to break free from. Avoiding such items you not only keep the kitchen counters clear you also keep your stomach in a good shape. It’s like saying that I am de-cluttering my belly!

Ever seen a kitchen of a poor man? It looks way cleaner than a rich man’s kitchen. To me it also looks more appealing, since they generally do not have too much space to stock up a lot of utensils and extra food. So my aim is to reduce and eventually stop my intake of packaged food. What about you?

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Joy of Giving Week 2010

It is the joy of giving week from the 26th September till the 2nd October 2010 as celebrated by Goonj. It is one of the biggest initiatives by this organization.

While we are celebrating so many different days in the year starting from Valentine’s Day to Mothers Day to April fool’s Day to My name day to No Housework Day etc…  

In the same stride, someone came up with the Giving Away week and while you are giving away lets extend it to a week rather than just a day.

“Anything lying around unused in your house is an opportunity waiting to touch a life…” GOONJ

 

So you have to peep into the many drawers, cupboards, storage, kitchen, bathroom of your house and take out anything you not need or use anymore. Their main focus is on clothing and school items.

But please do not restrict yourselves and purge your houses to whatever extent possible and please go and give it all away. They have organized collection centers on various days, especially for the Joy of giving away week.

GOONJ’s Public Centers during 26th Sept- 2nd Oct ‘2010 – http://www.goonj.org/pslist.htm

Please note that this week is just before the major festivals set in so as to bring happiness to few people so that their Diwali is a bright one.

If you want to know how this will benefit you, please take a look at the list below:

1)      You will be making someone very happy

2)      You will be de-cluttering your space, causing a lot of joy for yourself

3)      You will be keeping things from entering the landfills as someone else will be using what you do not use anymore

4)      You will be at the heart of doing social service

5)      All this will generate more awareness for the success of this initiative

 

P.S.: I am giving away suitcases filled with stuff to Goonj.  It just feels so good.

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Book Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic

This is one amazing book, which got converted to a film as well. It talks about an average girl named Rebecca working in a financial research firm in London. She is not well suited for the job as her interests are very different but it gives her a good salary. The salary is good but is always at depleted levels as she loves shopping.

The book takes you through various situations she encounters like attending press conferences, facing questions about her line of business she is not ready to answer, running into her favorite store to find it on a big discount, her relationship with her roommate which is fabulous as she appreciates her shopping habits to the core. On the other hand she seems to be constantly bombarded by endless bank letters to pay her credit card bills as she is always over-drawn.

The emotions displayed are expressed so well that you wish the book never ends.

So basically there is this childish immature part of her that feels that shopping can conquer all battles she is faced with. She keeps throwing the bank letters to pretend that she never received them. The funniest is how she tries to apply the strategy of cut back but ends up spending a lot more and realizes it’s not her cup of tea. Next she tries to employ the strategy of earn more to maintain her lifestyle and ends up with these part time jobs. In one of them she works as a salesgirl in a clothing store and gets fired in half a day as she is trying to keep a garment from shopping as she wants it badly.

She gets hopeless on how to bring her bank balances from negative to positive and her life back to normal. In a fury she leaves home and goes to her parent’s home to escape from reality. While she is relaxing there she continues to get calls from the bank as her balances is depleting faster than she would realize.  

She bumps into her neighbor there who she had once advised to switch funds from one plan to the other. Apparently the news came around that the company was at fault and had wrongly suggested the switch and the poor neighbors lost out on a huge lump sum they would have received had they not switched. 

Free from the hustle and bustle, distractions of shopping from her daily life, Rebecca thinks about this issue and realizes that the company has been a big fraud to do this. She decides to investigate and submits an article to a friend who publishes this the next day. This becomes her turning point.  She worked from her heart to bring justice to the neighbors she loved dearly.  Her article gets a lot of attention and she gets covered by the TV. She does a talk show with the company’s PR against her. It shows how she wins in the end to bring justice and prove the company wrong. The entire incident becomes life transforming for her. She is able to detach herself from shopping and becomes focused on producing real work that matters to her. Once in a while though shopping is calling her…

This book is such an eye opener for people who keep collecting things. Things never give you the same satisfaction as doing a good piece does. That work will matter from people to people. It would vary from a corporate job for someone to teaching, banking, selling, creating music, writing, raising family, acting etc.

What matters is that you are giving back something to the society and at the same time, give yourself some added depth and meaning. Rebecca was working before but it lacked interest from her side making that job totally meaningless.  It resulted in frivolous rounds of shopping and a life which was in a BIG MESS. 

At last the message I took back was, that it is important to indentify your passion and follow it whole heartedly. It will add that spark to your life.

 

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And we’re dancin’, And it feels alright, I can’t control my desire…….

There’s a passion inside, An inner strength that drives
Can’t nobody take that away from you
It’s the greatest high, You set the floor on fire when you come alive

 

Dancing can make everything alright! I swear by sweating.

Dancing lets you move your body freely along with the rhythm of the sound. To truly enjoy the movement, you have to soak yourself in the music.  I have been dancing for more than 2 years now. While I am taking my time to learn the skill along this time I have learned a lot from dancing.

It is a surrogate for performing.  If you have always wanted to express, dancing is a great medium. You have to make a connection with the audience and you have to throw yourself at them. I learnt that people do not watch your steps, they watch you. So it comes down to projecting yourself. The steps are an aid to make you move and make that connection.

Dancing helped me understand music better. A lot of us listen to music and enjoy it. But few of us actually hear the music. It takes great levels of focus to follow the beats and match your movement with the beats. Once you have the skill of reading music, dancing faster or slower becomes simple.

Dancing helped me look in the eye. I could not make an eye to eye connection while making a conversation. Over the years I realized that to scale up my dancing I had to look in the eye of that one person to make myself noticed. I started connecting while dancing, making this a habit even while taking a shower. Lol

 The biggest benefit of dancing is the sense of satisfaction which goes down deep to the soul. It is like food for the soul, for the real me. I have got a great job. I have a great family to look forward to at the end of the day. But I wouldn’t have been as bright, chirpy, fun-loving, spontaneous, lively had I not taken onto dancing. It brings back life into me. And trust me, I can go shopping and fill up my closet with pretty things to keep my spirits high. But the spirit won’t stay at a constant high. 

Feeding the internal body or soul is much more important than feeding the external body. I’d rather not buy a thing for the next one year if I could dance daily.

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