I always thought how awesome it would be to be able to let go of everything and live with just a few belongings. How much simpler would life be? Packing for a trip would be uber-easy - 'well, I guess I'll just take everything then'; you'd never need to work out what to wear in the morning, 'Oh, here's Monday's outfit - my one pair of trousers and the only clean top I own', and stress would reduce dramatically*.
Unfortunately, living in London is like living in a sweet shop and being told you can never eat sweets. Everyone and everything is materialistic. The jobs are plentiful and pay well and weekend pursuits often include shopping. The tube station I get off at for work is Oxford Circus - right in the heart of Central London's shopping district, so there really is no escaping it.
Having said that, I have a tiny apartment and go back to Wales regularly so it helps to keep me grounded, but I've still seen my wardrobe grow from the one suitcase with all my belongings that I moved to London with after living in Italy, to four giant wardrobes full of stuff...not just clothes, but shoes, bags, belts - and I don't know how it happened!
One thing I realised being in India is that, when every choice is taken away from you, even how you liked your back washed (yep - they even was you there, like a baby), you literally have nothing to stress about....and it's lov-er-ly!
Despite all the temptations of London living, I realised over Christmas that, at least at heart, I am a minimalist. I crave the simple life. I love being in Wales where my days are spent writing, doing yoga and walking dogs and feeding horses. So over the holiday period, I thought up a couple of little tips to help you get more minimalist:
- Do a spring clean and chuck out anything you haven't worn in a while. I have a habit of keeping trousers just a touch too short for me, in the hope that one day they'll fit. They won't...until I shrink at 90, and then they'll be sooooo old-fashioned!
- Keep ornaments to a minimum. If it's truly beautiful fine but don't create stuff you need to dust for no reason. Everyone HATES dusting, even your cleaner. Be nice.
- Buy one size fits all products (and when you've done this, sell or give away the one-size-fits-only-one-very-small-part-of-your-life things). I've realised this is what I've been doing unconsciously for years. I have a Mac Air, because I wanted an ultra portable computer but one that was fully powered and could be used every day. This is why I am no longer craving a tablet to go with a desktop PC. I also have a dark green winter coat that's super warm and covers my arse (most important aspect of any winter coat - who wants a cold arse?) and is just the right balance of smart-casual that I can wear it for work and play. Same with my flat, ultra comfy, good black leather knee-high boots - work and play.
Ultimately, we all know we don't need material things to make us happy. Family, friendship, a warm bed and a nourishing meal are all we'll ever need to be truly happy, but even so it's easy to get caught up in buying hype - the latest smart phone or beauty product guaranteed to get rid of those wrinkles that are now, slowly but surely, creeping across from my eyes like that neighbour's cat that always appears behind me, meows and has me jumping out of my skin like an idiot, wondering where the hell it came from.
So this year, why not shed a few pounds of material baggage and start living more simply? It gets easier, trust me.
*FYI - My main source of stress does not come from deciding what to wear - I literally own 3 pairs of jeans and a collection of the same tops in different colours, plus 6 dresses for work....I don't know what's in the rest of my wardrobe...honest.
With thanks to Fran Flores Dima-ala for the photo.