Minimalism : My minimalism journey to owning less and living more

The Problem

In a society where we are bathed in product marketing from morning until night and where excess money often doesn’t get the chance to settle before it is spent, many of us will find ourselves surrounded by ‘stuff’ that we own but don’t actually want or need.

It’s not surprising there for that ‘Minimalism’, ‘Debt-free living’ and ‘Capsule wardrobes’ are hot topics for many of us. Minimising what we own and what we buy is often seen as almost a revolutionary act, so it’s important to educate ourselves and gather supportive community around us when making these changes!

In my last year before turning 30 I’ve dedicated myself to the phrase ‘Live Your Values’ and have taken action on changes that I’ve been considering (but not acting on) for many years.  I hit 29 and really dove into my own journey of living my values and by doing so I’ve taken some long hard looks at how I spend my time and my money.

I noticed that the more that I worked the less savings I actually produced and consequently the more unnecessary ‘stuff’ I started to accumulate. Call it retail therapy or a one-way-train-to-debt-town it became clear to me that something had to give; I didn’t want to spend my life working long days for money that would get spent without thought on things that didn’t bring me the joy that the product marketers promised.  I wanted to have more time for my passions, for creativity, for loved ones and for giving back to a society that desperately needs my attention.

The Solution

So I stopped.  I made a commitment to myself to start looking at what I actually spend and why I’m spending it and made a strong commitment to myself to stop purchasing unnecessarily. (Check out my article: 5 tips to curbing your spending habit)

I started regular clear-outs of my possessions, cutting down on the unnecessary clutter that made a mess of my surroundings but also meant that I needed larger living spaces to house everything that I owned (but didn’t really want).

My partner and I committed to moving towards our goal of building our own home, a Tiny House on wheels, that would allow us the freedom to side step the rental market, work less and live more but would also limit us to only the possessions that we need and will use regularly.

I started researching how this new way of life might look and found amazing stories of people who have cut back on what they own but have gained so much more.  I found inspiration through these people who have faced their fears and opted out of the rat-race anyway.

The Results

And what have come of these changes? Well, there is still so much more to do and like the title says this really is a ‘journey’, but it’s amazing to see the freedom that comes from really looking at what you own and deciding to keep only those precious items that bring you joy.

It’s quite a profound shift to stop following the media and marketers and take control of your own spending habits; there’s a lightness that is found in these small  but empowering shifts.

I can see that I can work hard and save well for big dreams, like our Tiny House, and that these dreams can become reality so much faster! Our little home will be starting construction in 3 short months and I couldn’t be more proud or happy of both Tom and myself for working hard and making this dream become our reality.

I’m so looking forward to sharing more about this journey in the coming weeks,

Until then,

Bex

 

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Health : How do I start doing yoga?

When our lives are moving too fast and our days are getting more and more full of distractions, it can be very hard to prioritise a few moments to just switch off and have some ‘self-care’ time.

I’m definitely one of those ones who spends much of their life hunched over the computer screen, constantly scrolling youtube and social media for more interesting distractions.  Recently I’ve noticed just how comfortable I’d become with feeling uncomfortable in my body and I turned to Yoga to see if I could get more into alignment.

Last month I decided to commit to a regular yoga practice, whether it looks like laying on my mat being still or 30 minutes of intense asanas (yoga poses) I’ve been spending a lot more time on my mat and that is always a good thing!

Some of the benefits that I’ve noticed:

  • My shoulders have relaxed and I get less headaches! I suffer from very tight upper back and shoulder muscles, and long work days on the computer certainly aggravate that! Now I do yoga after every long work session specifically working on poses that open up my back and shoulders.  It’s magic!
  • My back doesn’t twinge after working any more.  As I’ve strengthened my core and upper back, my lower back seems to be coming more into alignment too.  It’s amazing to see the body starting to balance itself out.
  • I feel more calm and steady within myself.  Just knowing that I’m prioritising some ‘me time’ really helps me feel more relaxed and taken care of.
  • I’m feeling healthier and my body is getting stronger.  I’m noticing increased core and upper body strength in particular, which is something that I definitely wanted to work on.

How am I sticking to a regular yoga practice?

At the beginning of this journey I bought myself a pretty magical yoga mat.  I invested in the LuLuLemon Reversible 5mm Yoga Mat which is widely known as one of the best grippy and well cushioned yoga mats on the market.  I spent my $80 because I’ve always struggled with non-grippy mats in poses like down-dog and I really wanted to support myself to have the best tools for this new adventure.  I’m here to tell you that though you don’t need a fancy yoga mat, it’s the best $80 I’ve spent and would thoroughly recommend you invest.  Especially when you’re starting out having that extra grip allows you more expansion in poses and in my opinion just more of an enjoyable experience!

I do my yoga as an ‘at home’ practice, and i’ve had the best results with getting on my mat in the morning or straight after I finish my work.  It’s a great idea to create a regular schedule where you know from the beginning of the day exactly when you’re going to set aside time for yoga.  You could even schedule in 30 minutes in your calendar for yoga throughout your week.  It’s worth experimenting with which times of the day works best for you, you might be more of an evening yoga person!

Once I started to settle into the teaching of listening to my body I realised just how many different styles and intensities of yoga practice there are! Depending on my mood I will practice slow relaxing sleepy yoga or more intense poses that really work my muscles if I want to reenergise myself for the day ahead.  Knowing that yoga doesn’t need to look a certain way has been a great realisation; how you practice yoga can be determined by what feels good for you in the moment!

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What Yoga resources do you use?

If you live close to yoga studios I highly recommend you make the most of the classes they will have on offer.  There are often amazing beginner offers that you can use, or cheaper monthly memberships.  There’s something magical about being in a class full of people practicing yoga together and I highly recommend you find a teacher near you that you really resonate with.  Yoga is so varied so it may take you a few attempts to find a class that you really connect with!

If you live deep in the country like me it might be over an hours drive to your nearest yoga studio, but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice!

One of my all time favourite yoga teachers is Yoga With Adrienne. She has hundreds of yoga videos online that you can watch over and over for free.  I like to scroll through her playlists and choose any of her 20-30 minute classes.  If I’m especially tired or low energy then her ‘bedtime yoga’ classes are wonderful but she has a range of intensities available.

Some other yoga teachers that I enjoy watching are:

If you’ve been nervous to start your own yoga practice then I’m here to tell you that you really don’t need to be.  You can start small with 15-20 minute classes online and build up your confidence to heading to your nearest yoga studio for one of their beginner friendly classes.  The benefits that you’ll experience from stretching your body and giving your mind some downtime will outweigh the nerves of starting something new!

Until next time,

Bex

 

Conscious Consumer : 5 tips to curb your spending habit

Whether we believe we ‘buy into it’ or not, many of us unwittingly fall into the trappings of the consumerist society we were born into.

It’s interesting to consider when we actually started to believe that the acquisition of ‘stuff’ would bring us happiness and wellbeing: was it those cartoon adverts as a child that glorified the most recent toy craze or glossy teen magazines that highlighted next seasons fashion must haves?

For most of us purchasing ‘stuff’ is a daily ritual, one that rewards heartache, sadness, good behaviour, birthdays, loneliness or just plain boredom.  But does it really bring us the satisfaction and ‘wholeness’ that we crave?

Recently Ive started to realise just how trapped I’d become in the idea that more stuff would make me happy.  When I started realising just how short-lived the enjoyment of a new purchase was it became clear to me that this was not the way I wanted to live my life anymore.

I looked at my life and saw that I was working more, so that I could buy more.  I wanted to be able to work less and live more, I wanted to have fun! I craved less clutter around me and more space to just be me, so I decided to really try to cut down on my unnecessary spending once and for all.

I tackled this by implementing these 5 techniques I’m about to share with you.  It’s my hope that you too may look a little deeper into the reasons that you spend unnecessarily and free yourself up to just live more!

Without further ado, here are my ‘Top 5 Tips To Curb Your Spending Habit’!

1/ Stop following social media accounts or reading magazines that promote fashion and makeup hauls and idolises unnecessary spending!  Look at what media you are consuming and consider just how much of it is actually just advertising that aims at getting you to buy more.

2/  Find out what your emotional shopping triggers are : are you on the way to work and feeling low about your body? On the commute home and rewarding a hard days work with some retail therapy?  Find other ways to reward yourself or show yourself love, like taking a long bubble bath or putting aside a little money each week and take a beautiful weekend trip somewhere instead.  Reward yourself with experiences instead of things.

3/  Don’t dangle the carrot under your nose : give yourself a transition time where you don’t go into shops or even look in the window shop.  Don’t allow yourself 30 minutes to shop before work if you know that’s when you’re most likely to spend.  Go for coffee with girlfriends instead of heading to the shops together.

4/  Start a spending log for a month and see clearly how much you are actually spending unnecessarily.  I use ‘Dollar Bird’ which is a free android and apple finance app that allows you to easily log and itemise your spending.  Seeing what you spend on clothes and unnecessary purchases and totalling up the costs is a great catalyst for change!

5/  Don’t let yourself buy anything right away : if you’ve walked into a shop and have your hands full with hangers and bee-lining for the cashiers, ask the cashiers to hold onto your items for half an hour or even better give yourself an evening to consider those purchases!  Often time is enough to consider if you need all or in fact any of your purchases.

It’s my wish that all people have the opportunity to experience the freedom of owning just the things that you absolutely love.  It’s amazing to relieve yourself from the stresses of debt and money-making and really live for life again!

Please do send me a comment about your experiences of reducing your spending and moving towards more conscious spending.

Until next time,

Bex

 

Healthy Vegan Treats : Carrot Cake Muffins

I’m a relatively new Vegan and I’m still finding my way around the kitchen, so I was so surprised and happy with how easy it was to vegan-ize my favourite muffin recipe!

My aim was to create a really moist vegan muffin; something that is low in sugar whilst still tasting amazing, healthy enough that you could grab one if you’re running late in the morning and not feel TOO naughty.

These Carrot Cake Vegan Muffins are packed full of fruits and veggies that bring sweetness and flavour as well as a wonderful moist texture.

Let’s get stuck in!

 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp flax-meal for ‘Flax Eggs’
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 apple (grated)
  • 1 large carrot (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plant milk
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
  • 1/4 cup Raisons

 

Method:

  • Heat oven to 190*C and put cases in your muffin tray
  • Mix Flax-meal together with 5 tbsp water and leave for 5 mins to thicken.  This will become your ‘Flax Eggs’
  • Combine all dry ingredients (saving apple/carrot/raisons for later) into a large bowl and mix together
  • Add in the plant milk and coconut oil along with the apple, carrot and raisons.  Mix together gently by folding the ingredients into each other to combine (The key to good light muffins is to mix very gently!)
  • Fill up the muffin tray with the mixture (you can be generous here, they won’t rise that much) and place in the oven
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown on the top and are not too spongy when you press on the middle
  • Enjoy warm! (You can freeze excess muffins for snack emergencies)

 

You can easily make these gluten free by replacing the wholemeal flour with gluten free flour and making sure that your baking powder is also a gluten free variety.

I can’t wait to see what you think! Please do tag me on Instagram with your photos : @thelittlehome.oz

Until next time,

Bex

How I went from meat-eater to Vegan overnight

Rewind to Saturday night, one month ago, where I find myself standing in the middle of a packed Bourke Street staring at a computer screen held by a black-clad person in a Guy Fawkes mask.  I’m just out of work and on the way to meet Tom for a movie and a burger but instead I find myself standing there transfixed by a little laptop screen that depicts the horrific treatment of some very terrified looking farm animals.

I’m in a hurry but time stands still; I’m completely unaware of the people around me, of the person behind the mask holding the laptop, of passers by and their reactions, until a sweet middle aged lady wearing a black vegan t’shirt comes up to me and *ping* time starts rolling again.

We chat, she tells me this is footage from Victorian abattoirs and my heart recoils. My previous tactic of being able to push this kind of footage off as ‘US slaughter house footage’ just doesn’t cut it with this experience any more, and my heart is left raw and open to change.  I remember the scared ‘moos’ of the babies and mama’s being separated in the fields near Tom’s parents home and driving past the cargo lorries full to the brim of cows and sheep on their way to market or the abattoir.

The timing was perfect.  I met my first ‘Cube Of Truth’, the name given to the protest tactics of Vegan movement Anonymous For The Voiceless, when I had been seriously considering not only my health but also the morality of my choice to eat meat and dairy.  Recently I have been on a gentle journey of aligning my actions with my values and this was naturally starting to transcend into my diet choices too.

So fast forward to the present moment and I am a month into this new adventure.  I’ve eaten so well, adjusting surprisingly easy to these new changes. Just as with most big changes I’m experiencing moments of complete insecurity and concern, questioning my choice and fearing the work that will be involved.  When I relax however and let this fear past I get to see the reality of the situation, that I don’t need to live by anyone’s definitions, that I get to choose in each moment what I do and don’t eat or wear, and that I am unimaginably strong and capable of fulfilling any commitment I make to myself.

Some of the benefits that I’ve noticed so far are:

  1. I’m eating better! I have to plan my food more and can’t just grab junk food from the city at a moments notice.
  2. My digestion is settling down, I feel less bloated and sore after meals.
  3. I’m craving dark leafy greens.  Who knew that when you eat more veggies you crave more veggies?!
  4. It’s really relaxing aligning your actions with your values, there’s so much less guilt.

It’s been pretty miraculous just how simple this transition has been; far less stressful and awkward then I previously thought.  It feels wonderful to say no and remove myself from having anything to do with the suffering of those beautiful animals, and I’m starting to see that I can live a happy and wholesome life without consuming animal-based foods.

I can’t wait to share more about this journey in the near future,

Until then,

Bex

Zero Waste : How to have a trash-free period!

Every month I seem to go through at least a package of Tampons per cycle and it seems that this is the norm for most of the female population. We’re not taught to think about the effects our tampon and sanitary pad use has on the environment, or even that there are other options, so this month I took it upon myself to start educating myself.

Not only does each Australian woman spend on average $5600 in our lifetimes on tampons, each year in Australia women contribute around 18,000 Tonnes of sanitary product waste that goes to landfill. This landfill waste does not biodegrade and will outlive us, our children and even our children’s child!

Alongside the environmental cost is the cost to our own health when using the bleached tampons that are available to us in the grocery store.  Our skin is an organ and very absorbent.  What we put on it or next to it will most likely enter into our blood stream very quickly and because of this the bleached non-organic tampons that I’ve been using for the last 17 years have consequently been leaching chemicals, toxins and pesticides into my body.

I’m a tampon gal and though I know there are some fantastic organic/unbleached tampon options out there (If you’re in Australia check out TomOrganic) these can work out pricey and still don’t tackle the issue of waste.  I wanted to find another way, so I started looking into alternative methods.

For me personally I never took to using pads so I knew that cotton reusable pads where not an option for me, however if they are an option for you then you should totally check this company out: HannahPad.  Their reusable pads are made from organic cotton and are so cute! They come in a range of thicknesses and would be a great option for many gals.

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I’m so lucky that my amazing mum had gifted me a MoonCup a little while ago that I had never gotten into using, so I decided to give it a real go this cycle. I was hoping that this would be the alternative that I needed so as to ‘zero-waste’ my period but I was really nervous about a few things:

  1. That the product would get stuck and I couldn’t get it out again!
  2. That it would ‘fail’ and I’d end up looking like a horror scene
  3. That it was plastic and there for bad to be inside me

MoonCup is a UK brand of menstrual cups that are made out of medical-grade silicone (completely non-toxic in the body) and were the original brand of menstrual cup on the market (they’ve been selling these products since 2002).  Not only is this company employee-owned but they also produce their products in the UK under strict ethical and ecological codes.  I was happy to find that my MoonCup came in a sweet little organic cotton pouch so as to keep it clean when it’s not in use.

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I really can’t tell you about my experience without telling you some info about my cycle: it’s very heavy, it hurts and it lasts for daaaaays (5 days but it really does feel like a year).  Needless to say that I was pretty nervous that my MoonCup wouldn’t cut it, especially on the first couple of days of my cycle when I often need to change super-size tampons every couple of hours.

It took some getting used to inserting the menstrual cup and the feeling of when it was properly in place.  I taught myself the ‘C-Fold’ which is a folding method where you push the cup in half with your thumb and finger before inserting.  On the first few go’s inserting and removing it was quite uncomfortable as I was so sore and tender, but after the first day everything got so much better as I got used to the removing and re-inserting process.

 

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I’m happy to say that there were no accidents or leaks! Unlike some reviews where women say that they can keep the product in all day without changing it, I found that I still had to empty the cup every couple of hours (on my first 2 heavy days).  I was unnecessarily nervous about not being able to remove the cup and it getting stuck, that wasn’t the case at all and I had no problem with removing it and emptying it into the loo.  Also I found that practice makes perfect here and I know the process will become second nature for me.

I’m not squeamish about blood so had no problem seeing my own blood and emptying it into the loo but I know that this may take some getting used to for others.  I felt more comfortable, less dry and sore then I normally would after 5 days of tampon-wearing, and I also felt super proud that I’d stopped around 16 tampons from having to go to Landfill!

I really do hope that you try a menstrual cup for your next cycle.  I would love to hear your experiences of ‘Zero Waste-ing’ your period so please do leave a comment below!

Until next time ❤

Bex