Saying Yes (Means Saying No)

Over the past few years I've been more and more overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work that needs to be done. And it no longer feels like the regular ebb and flow of a busy but balanced life, it feels constant. Like a consistent pressure that finds no relief when something is finally crossed off the list. Instead it's starting to feel like the list is ever growing, the deadlines are non stop and the projects keep mounting to a near tipping point. Do you feel the same?

Enough is enough.

Which is really what prompted me to start posting here in the first place. How does one find balance when they are ambitious and driven? 

It means setting some boundaries and saying no

Which is really hard to do, especially for women, who are under a constant pressure to be in that caregiving, super woman, I-can-balance-everything and I'm-always-on-top-of-it role. Which is why I started this blog and my Minimal.art.ist Instagram. Which on the surface it might seem like I'm actually adding more to do, but for me, having a visual record of my process helps me organize and prioritize.

I've started taking things off my plate this year by asking myself some really important questions:

What's really important to me? What do I value?

How much is my time worth?

Am I doing this for love or money (or both!)?

What do I want to look back on?

What else do I want to be doing right now?

Of course these questions don't apply to everything; I'll always have to dust my things, feed the cat and do the laundry. But it really does help me step back, take a breath and look at the value of my work objectively. 

And or course, if I have less things, there is less to dust.

So for the first time as a teacher and an artist I've started saying no to things I would normally jump at. I've stopped volunteering so much, I've been focusing on one project at a time and as I read my books I send them to Goodwill (or leave them in a coffee shop/airport for someone to find). It's been a challenge to stick to especially since I've usually said yes to everything, believing the more I did the more opportunities would come my way. I know now it's important to curate my activities, to have some time where there is nothing planned and I can reflect on what I've accomplished and to look forward unburdened.

I usually spend my free time worrying about when I’m going to work next.
— Merritt Wever

Constant worry about the next item on the "to do" list is no way to live. Free time is freedom. Freedom to focus on whatever you want.

How to do it:

Start by writing down all the programs you, your partner, your children (if you have any) are actively engaged in, namely the extra curriculars. Only include the people that effect your life on this list, don't worry too much about friends, room mates and extended family (unless you are very close) are doing. Focus on you, be selfish. In that list cut off half. Just strike it out. Ask yourself the questions above, does doing that thing add value to your life? Do you look forward to it? Is it the thing you would chose to be doing right now?

This is going to take some time and will look very different for everyone. You may only be able to take off one thing, or you may mark out your whole list. Think about you and the time you are spending on the things you don't like. What can you move to the back burner, or let go of entirely? You'll be surprised the amount we think we need to be doing, but don't really want to do. By giving yourself more time to focus on the few things you are really passionate about, you are adding value to your life. 

The key thing to remember here is what adds value to your life? Not what others expect of you and not what traditionally is your role. You have the power to design your life. Why not start now?

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Thank you for reading Mininal(art)ist). Please check out my instagram for more consistent updates on my process and progress. Mahalo!

Please feel free to leave a comment below! How do you take back control over your time? How have you simplified your life this week?

(Un)Subscribe

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 

The Holiday season is almost upon us (and if you're a fan of certain fancy coffee drinks it's already here)! And with that comes great gatherings of friends, family and co workers, to celebrate what we're thankful for and to make resolutions for the new year ahead. It can really be a magical time of celebration, love and friendship. A chance to reconnect and appreciate what we have, who we know and where we've been the last 11 months. 

For many it seems like great times ahead and, of course for others, it's not so festive. But this post isn't about the family, friends or the gatherings. It about that one thing that might be on the back of a lot of minds. These people, who, instead of living in the present moment, enjoying the warmth and companionship around them are thinking about something else. I speak of course about Black Friday

And more specifically even, Black Friday ADVERTISING. In this incredible, digital age of mass information and email marketing we are constantly receiving messages telling us to buy this, do that and live differently (as long as we shop for it). And pretty much everyone is receiving the same message. According to a Mailchimp article, in 2015 they sent 1.2 billion marketing emails on Black Friday.

Wow. That's a lot. 

So, Even with my die-hard resolve to work on my own personal minimalist/artist lifestyle, I recently found myself clicking links to online deals and thinking about what gifts I'd like to get myself over the holidays. And that's how advertising works, with over 250 email marketing options for sellers to choose from, it's tough for the average Joe to think logically in the face of so much that's new and shiny. 

"If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

So today, before I get ready to head over to a friend's house for good food and good company, I have taken the time to go through my emails and click Unsubscribe from almost everything. Most of the lists were things that I signed up for with the best intentions. Thinking I would be receiving artist exhibition opportunities, information on classes for personal and professional development and other emails list that seemed like a good idea at the time. but I don't read them and I tend to feel overwhelmed with the amount of things I could be doing. The sheer amount of opportunities to try something, buy something, is too much and it;'s impossible for me to try and buy everything and still have a quality experience. 

So no more.

I encourage you to do the same. One of the best ways to avoid temptation and distraction is to cut those things out entirely. Keep to the lists you find useful and focus on the things you actually read that feel worth your time. But otherwise, let it go.

My next goal is to sort though other digital clutter, including my unread emails, how many tabs I have open at any given time and all my unsorted photo files. But for now I am going to celebrate this little victory and drink a cup of coffee. Cheers!

***

Thank you for reading Mininal(art)ist). Please check out my instagram for more consistent updates on my process and progress. Mahalo!

Please feel free to leave a comment below! How do you celebrate the holidays without consuming? How have you simplified your life this week?

Wants (and Requirements): Living with Intention

Wants and Requirements.

Two things that I am constantly thinking about. Where do we draw the line between the two? How do we break down our basic needs and wants into the two stark categories of excess and necessity? How can we decide, without the influence of advertising, culture and peer group what truly adds meaning and value to our lives? 

These are a lot of big questions that I've been spending the last few years trying to answer. And alas to no avail. Currently I am feeling overwhelmed with work, obligations and things that, if I had my choice, would be eliminated from my ever-growing "To Do" list. So where does that leave me? How do can a busy routine change into something better?

Welcome to Minimal(art)ist. Even though right now I have a mountain of work to do I am doing this instead, which is ok. It's ok to take a breath and think these things through. With only one life to live I am realizing how important it is to choose what things require our attention and what things we can let go of. I feel, in my overwhelmed state, that this blog and record of my progress is what is necessary for me right now. 

Requirements:

Food

Drink

Shelter

Health

Love

Wants:

Everything Else (More on this to come)

We all have some basics requirements in our lives; shelter, warmth, health, sleep. to eat, drink and eliminate waste. And to love and be loved. Everything after that is extra and in many cases excess. I am hoping to minimize the superfluous things in my life so what remains are truly the things I want. They are there because I want them there, intentionally.

Hopefully I can more fully explore this in my life, art and workplace. If all goes well I'll be able to reach out and inspire others to live a fuller life with less.

Check out my instagram for more consistent updates on my process and progress. Mahalo.