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My journey towards minimalism


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Ciao, welcome back to my blog!

Today's post will be about something that really matters to me and that I would like to share with you as I truly believe that could be highly beneficial to all, which is minimalism.


What is minimalism?


For those who are not familiar with the minimalist philosophy, it is intentionally owning fewer material belongings to be free from the modern obsession to possess. It is about having a simple, slow life.


It has become very popular lately thanks to several celebrities/writers (such as the famous Marie Kondo) who are speaking about it and promoting a more frugal way of living.


The majority of people are is still scared by this countercurrent lifestyle, thinking it is very difficult to achieve a more minimalist lifestyle as it requires big sacrifices and basically it doesn't allow to fully enjoy life.

This misconception is very common but it from the truth!



How I embraced minimalism?


I was imparted my first minimalism's lessons by my father.

He must have some sort of Etruscan zen ancestors for sure. Since I was a child he taught me how little materialistic things nourish the soul and that the most important things in life cannot be bought by money.


He has always been an advocate of not buying a bunch of cheap, trendy items, but only invest in modest, timeless quality pieces and to avoid accumulating stuff just to show off wealth.


My family has humble origins, my grandparents were farmers and my dad worked for 30 years in the Italian railway system in a local station whilst taking care of his parents' land, farming it during his spare time.


Being a hard-working, honest man, his superiors often propose him to grow the carrier ladder to make more money but he has always refused because he preferred to spend more time with us. In 30 years he could have bought new cars, luxury items and whatever he fancied but he always invested his money, time and energy in his family. My family and I always had the necessary to live decently and enjoy life but nothing more.


My mum is the exact opposite: she has the same family background as my father, however, she suffered a bit more when growing up, and as a result, she had always felt the need to buy and accumulate stuff to prove herself and the others her worth.


I am kind of in the middle: sometimes I act like my father, sometimes I like to accumulate like my mother, especially when I am sad or when I don't know what I want.


Now that I live in London the temptation of buying is triple compared to when I was in Italy. I work in retail, so I always have access to heavy discounts and I am constantly induced to buy stuff.


Thank god my boyfriend is like my father! He thinks 3000 times before buying anything and his frugal attitude towards money affects me too.

For those who don't know it well, it might seem stingy but he is actually very generous with me and the family.

He just doesn't like to spend money on useless stuff. On the other hand, he has some problems letting go of old things, even if they are broken, while I am the one who likes throwing away as I find it liberating.

I decided to opt for a minimalist life mainly due to the of the lack of space.

We live in a one-bedroom flat in East London, close enough to our jobs to spend as less time as possible commuting, which we both hate and we consider a great waste of time.


As we don't know how long we are going to stay because of Brexit and other personal issues, we decided not to invest in new furniture and expensive stuff for the house.


We also wanted to create an environment that could inspire creativity and productivity, so instead of having the classic living room layout with sofa and telly, we divided it into two parts for us to practice our hobbies.

On his side, there is a home gym that he uses every day to train and an artistic spot for sculpture/painting.

My part consists simply in my writing spot: a desk, a chair, a computer and my photography equipment.


The majority of our furniture is pre-owned and we only have what's strictly necessary for our lifestyle.

The few decorations we have got are Nick's paintings and sculptures and some house plants while the rest (such as candles) are gifts from friends and relatives.

Our kitchen
Our "garage" in the living room

My writing spot
His side of the living room
Our bedroom

My side of the bathroom cabinet and my side of the wardrobe

We like to spend our money to visit our respective countries twice a year.

His soft spot for splurging is technology and mine is skincare.

But in general, we like to save as much money per month as possible. We would like to buy a house in the future when we decided exactly where we want to settle down (if that's going to happen at all as we both have a rather gipsy nature).


I have to admit it is not always easy to live like so and for the people around us to understand why: the pressure from society to conform to what is the so-called "normal" style of life is powerful.

Not having each step of our personal and professional life exactly planned, a "proper" house, not being married, not having children is what we chose for the time being but for the others is just pointless.


The truth is that we just want to be free from all of those obligations and we want to be happy right now, not tomorrow when this will happen or we can afford X or Y. I won't allow material things to determine if I am worth or content.


Minimalism is a journey and, like every kind of journey, it has ups and downs and it doesn't solve problems like magic.

My flat is not perfect and my life isn't either but for sure minimalism has contributed to making it easier and more meaningful.


I still own items that I don't necessarily need but I like or have a sentimental value but I kept only what brings me joy.

Embracing this healthy lifestyle helped me to declutter my space, take back my precious time and to got rid of not only all those shallow shiny things that would give me temporary excitement but it also helped to get rid of toxic relationships as well.


Because the best part about minimalism is that it deals with all the aspects of life, from your wardrobe to your relationships. Out of the way to all things, people and also expectations that are draining our life. It is so liberating!

Here I have got some lists about it that I hope you will find useful if you are intrigued by minimal living too or if you are simply curious to see what it means to me on a practical level.


Pro of being a minimalist:


-There is no real minimalism rulebook, only guidelines as it varies from person to person

-Owning only the items that add value to your life and that have a purpose

-More time for self-care or just to do what I truly enjoy

-Less cleaning/tidying up

-Less stress and pressure

-More savings and financial independence

-Clean environment=clear mind because no physical clutter = no mental clutter

-Better for the environment

-Freedom for the society's comparison game and from the past


Things I got rid of lately:


-Old charity shop books that I am not going to read again

-Old and worn-out towels, loungewear and underwear

-Chipped mugs and plates and a battered pan

-All the boxes that came with products I use and I didn't have the place to store out of the way

-Plastic bags

-Duplicates such as technology cables, spare toothbrushes and so on...

-The "just in case" items such as an old spare pillow, extra screwdrivers etc...

-Old or expired makeup

-Old paperwork and notebooks

-Expired medicines

-Old uniform clothes still in good condition: some sold on eBay or gave to charity

-Broken items that couldn't be repaired



Things I no longer buy:


-Bottled water:

It is not sustainable for the environment. I bought a couple of glass bottles and I just drink filtered tap water. To help with the taste, I flavour it with fruits and mint.

-Costume jewellery:

It tarnishes after days and it looks tacky.


-Beauty services such as manicure, pedicure, eyelashes, brows, wax and so on:

I use my hands a lot at work and home and even gel doesn't last long enough for the price to pay to maintain it frequently. But the main reason is that it damages my nails badly.

For my face, I prefer a natural look so all I do is to use a tweezer when I need to and that's it really.

I only have a haircut at the salon twice a year as I like to grow my hair.

I use an epilator for my legs and armpits and bikini area a good quality safety razor.

I used to go to the tanning salon but I stopped this year as it is not healthy for my skin and now I am simply sunbathing when I can or using a tanning lotion instead.


-Gym memberships:

I downloaded a free app (Fiton) that I highly recommend: it offers a huge variety of workouts for every level. I have a few equipment items for home-workout such as elastic bands, weights and a yoga mat (all hidden in the old brown wardrobe we keep in the living room as storage space). But honestly, I wouldn't even need them as my bodyweight is more than enough to train, I am basically only using what my boyfriend already had when we decided to live together.

There are so many printable workout circuits on Pinterest and videos on Youtube that it is very easy to find what you need for free and whenever you feel like it.


-Apps:

I don't buy any kind of game as I don't like them and it feels like I am wasting my time.


-Uber or cars:

The London transport system is usually reliable so I'd rather take the tube or the bus.


-Boost scents for laundry, scented candles, room sprays:

They are toxic for us and the environment so I replaced them with essential oils and a nice aromatherapy diffuser. The few candles I have got are gifts but I am planning to sell them.


-Decorations in general, (either seasonal or not) and trinkets:

Aside from a small Christmas tree, a few glass balls and a couple of decorative pieces that have an actual function (such as jewellery holder) I have been gifted by friends, I don't buy any as they take space and time to clean/maintain.


-Occasional wear:

For weddings or special events, I would simply wear something appropriate that I own already. I just can't stand the idea of spending money on a dress that I would use only once or twice a year.


-Uncomfortable shoes:

I own 3 pairs of heels and I am pretty sure they will be the last ones I am buying as I just won't wear shoes I can't walk in for more than 15 minutes.


-Trend orientated clothes/accessories:

Anything that won't last a season doesn't have any sense to me.


-Souvenirs:

Pictures and postcards are much more appreciated than objects (unless is food!) that after 2 days will only take space and get the dust.


-Faux plants:

To be fair I never bought one as I just don't like them.


-Paper books and magazines:

I adore them, (especially the smell) but I don't have much space and they tend to be super easy to accumulate. I prefer to read on my Kindle reader so I can stock them all without problems.

In this category fall cookbooks as well. I know, they are super cool to display. I bought one once and I have never followed its recipes because I like to experiment on my own. If I don't know how to cook something I'd just check my favourite blogs.


-Fancy kitchen appliances:

I cook meals from scratch every single day but I'd rather slice and grate vegetables and fruit on my own.

Kitchen appliances are expensive, they usually take a lot of space and they consume a lot of energy. I only need my espresso machine, a hand blender, a bamboo steamer and a kettle.

Things that I really use every day. For the rest, I just use a very good knife and it also improves my manual cutting skills.

What you won't find in my kitchen: a microwave as I don't eat pre-made food, a food processor, and 3000 types of useless tools.

I only really use my bamboo chopsticks, a ladle, a wooden spoon, a pair of scissors, a good sharp knife, a peeler, a masher and a manual grate.


-Iron curls and straighter:

Heat is my hair's number one enemy: no matter how much heat protector serum I put on.

When I fancy having waves I'd just tie my damp hair in a braid before going to bed. It takes less time, the result lasts longer and it is healthier.


-"Just in case items":

If it is under 20 pounds and it can be purchased within 20 minutes from where I live then I don't need to stock it. If I am not going to use it regularly I just borrow it from a friend.


-Expensive makeup and makeup tools:

If your the skin is not healthy, it is going to show anyway.

The only thing I think should be of decent quality is the foundation. For the rest (mascara, pencils, lipsticks and so on), the high street is just fine.


-I don't upgrade my technology devices just because there is the newest version available on the market. If it still works, I'll keep it.


-Pre-cooked or pre-made food

First, I don't like the taste and second, when I look at the ingredients' label I am shocked by the long list of unhealthy stuff that's not going to nourish my body.

I prefer to prepare food every single day from scratch.



Good investments pieces and what I think it's worth spending money on:


-A bigger wardrobe:

It's the only piece of new furniture we own and it was worth it.

We were sharing a single wooden and fabric before and it was a mess.

We would have preferred a pre-owned one but we had always problems arranging delivery for such a big item and also it was hard to fit in the flat.

We kept the old temporary wardrobe, which is now very useful to hide our everyday items (the hoover, gym stuff and so on...) in the living room.


-My Apple devices (phone and computer):

They last forever, I never had any problem with them and they are just the right choice for computer/technology dummies like me.


-Gold plated and silver jewellery:

A good long term investment because I wear jewellery every day and they won't tarnish.


-Espresso machine:

It is still the best gift my boyfriend has ever offered me.

As a true, Italian coffee addict, I use it every day, it looks pretty in the kitchen, it is easy to use, to take care of and it brings so much joy in my life.

-Paying a bit more of rent but living closer to our workplace:

Instead of living in the outskirts of London where the rent is cheaper and the houses are bigger house, we prefer to have less space but we would hate commuting for hours every day.


-A good quality, targeted mattress:

Sleep is crucial for a healthy life overall so I believe it should be the best quality we can afford.


-Skincare:

I never regret any reasonably priced, quality cream as I only got one face. I try to buy from vegan, responsible companies that care about the environment, such as the face theory.

I don't spend much on my body as I use natural oils such as coconut or almond oil and they work just fine.


-Good quality shoes and outwear for winter:

I am a big fan of the capsule wardrobe, however, I never skimp on quality for shoes and outerwear as in London it can be very cold. I have never regretted a warm puffer jacket or a pair of comfy boots.


-Electrical toothbrush:

It is not a big investment but it makes a huge difference in your oral hygiene.


-Dryer:

It is a lifesaver for the winter months, it really makes my life easier.

No more rough towels and clothing in the living room/bathroom left to dry for days. In the summer I don't use it at all as clothes will usually dry completely in a day but considering that the hot weather in London only lasts a couple of months if we get lucky, I think it is money well spent.


-A hand steamer:

I hate to iron, it takes a lot of time and effort plus the ironing board takes a lot of space. A hand steamer is a perfect solution. Only a minute to steam a shirt! Bonus: it doesn't damage the fabrics, even the most delicate.


Goals I am still working on:


-Put out of sight all the everyday items to have my surfaces almost free of items. This is the most difficult part for me as I am a super practical person, I just want to have everything I need at hand but at the same time, I visually don't like seeing stuff out.


-Be more organised with my computer files, my iPhone memory and emails and prevent digital clutter.


-Gift experiences instead of actual items to make nice memories with my loved ones.


-Go to a no-waste lifestyle to have less impact on the planet



Minimalists quotes that inspire me from The minimalists' website and their book "16 Rules for Living with Less" (that, by the way, you can download for free from their blog):


"Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life. "


"Meditation presents a radical notion: that our happiness doesn’t have to depend on external factors. Happiness, it turns out, is a skill—one that you can train, just like you train your body in the gym. This is the next big public health revolution."


“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” Not material stuff, a career, nor a relationship.


"Minimalist living is the opposite of boring. It removes mundane activities that take away from spending time with our loved ones. Once we rid ourselves of the unnecessary, we’re able to decide what will define our lives."


"The Seasonality Rule, aka the 90/90 Rule. Look at a possession. Pick something. Anything. Have you used that item in the last 90 days? If you haven’t, will you use it in the next 90? If not, it’s okay to let go."


"The Wait for It Rule, aka the 30/30 Rule. If something I want costs more than 30 quids, I ask myself whether I can get by without it for the next 30 hours. (If it’s 100 or more, I tend to wait 30 days.)"


"Whenever I attempt to sell an item, I give myself 30 days to do whatever I can (...) Throughout the month, I’ll gradually lower the price if the item hasn’t sold. But if I’m unsuccessful after 30 days, on day 31, I donate the item to a friend or a responsible donation charity."


"Take a moment to write down your ten most expensive material possessions from the last decade. Things like your car, your house, your jewellery, your furniture, and any other material possessions you own or have owned in the last ten years. The big-ticket items. Next to that list, make another top-ten list: the ten things that add the most value to your life. This list might include experiences like catching a sunset with a loved one, watching your kids play baseball, eating dinner with your parents, etc. Be honest with yourself when you’re making these lists: both lists likely share zero things in common.."


"You can't change the people around you, but you can change the people around you."


Thank you for reading my rather long article today, I hope you liked it and found it inspiring.

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