Category Archives: Lifestyle

Declutter Series 1: How to Start

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Clean your room.

Growing up, I was always told to clean my room. Me and my brother would get up to all sorts of mischief: throwing food in random parts of the house (don’t ask me why), building ‘castles’ using chairs and blankets, swinging from blankets attached to cupboards (don’t ask me about that either). No matter how many times we cleaned up, our rooms would be a mess again.

One sibling turned into three. At slightly different age ranges, we had so many different toys, books, pens, pencils, clothes… it was next to impossible to keep clean. My mum would often step-in and clean it herself, but it was a lot to deal with so eventually our rooms stayed messy. The cleaning habits of our mum, did not pass on to us.

I believe this occurred for a few reasons. First, cleaning was seen as a laborious chore to do when asked. Second, when I did clean, it was more of an organised mess afterwards. I didn’t know how to clean properly. Third, I was taught to be grateful for every item I received, so I barely threw anything out and convinced myself I could re-purpose it all. At one point, I was obsessed with horror shows so I wanted to collect the fake spider-webs that was displayed at Halloween… and let me tell you, it didn’t add to the space in an appealing way.

The years under 12, I suffered severe asthma and pneumonia. It’s not until today as a 24 year old, I realised the health impacts cluttered spaces can have on the body.

Years went by and less and less attention was paid to organisation. Floors needed to be vacuumed, dishes needed to be done, rooms needed to be sorted. The house was stuck on ‘pause,’ while life continued. Unless someone was coming over, no change would ensue. Multiple times, we’d unwillingly try and clean but it never stayed clean. A house of 7 and not one clean spot. (See what I did there?!) Even a close friend of mine tried to help. It was incredibly exhausting. I think it was a mix of trying to do it alone and the heavy energy that lingered in the house.

A few years later.

Fast-forward to my 18-year-old self. Although I moved out, I had too many clothes, shoes and random items around my room. It was an organised mess at the best of times. My clothes were stored in ‘clothe bins’ and whatever couldn’t fit, was thrown onto a spare bed.

Occasionally, I’d find the will to sort through my things. It was so satisfying. I still didn’t understand the importance of organisation, despite that. Whenever I looked long enough at my clutter, I’d feel overwhelmed. I legitimately had NO IDEA how to change the habits I’d taken with me from childhood.

Freedom.

Until I met my boyfriend Luke, organising and decluttering wasn’t on my priority list. One night, Luke lined up all my shoes perfectly, and although it was something small, that sparked something inside me to change. Around this time, I was also watching YouTubers who were taking on the “minimalist lifestyle”. It was fascinating to me that these people could live with so little and be content. I wanted to be content.

I finally plucked up the courage to clean my room. I got rid of many unused clothes, gave away shoes, trashed random boxes I’d collected from online orders… all that heaviness was finally gone.

I felt like a new person. The twenties are all about re-inventing yourself, after all!

The years that followed involved the usual occurrences of life… pain, lessons and striving to be better. De-cluttering to me, would feel like an emotional release. I didn’t need to hold onto pain, whether it was mental or in the form of material things. Funnily enough, when I’m mad, I clean. Quickly.

I have been working hard to live a clutter-free life.

There are still days when I feel lazy and not every single thing in the house is in ship-shape order, but I’ve come a long way.

I’ve set a new habit and expectation within myself. It’s so easy to look at my space now and think, “Do I need those spare envelopes? Can I find a new home for these shoes?”. I’m constantly looking for ways to live with less or cleverly re-purpose working appliances/furniture/storage items. Eventually, I want to cut-down on waste and live a minimal-trash lifestyle.

Those who struggle with severe hoarding tendencies or major disorganised traits, may need help. Be that friend who encourages. Be that friend who shows up.

Things I learned since starting my decluttering journey:

  • The job is never done until it’s done
  • Help is essential – it’s OKAY to ask for help
  • Accountability is essential
  • Self-control for buying is essential

If you want to clean your home and declutter, I have created a guide to get you started. Cleaning doesn’t have to be laborious. Break it up into small tasks. Effort goes a long way! It’s worth it, I promise you!

Decluttering Guide

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or leave a comment down below!

Photo by Thought Catalog.

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Relationships and why we need them.

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First, it is important to address what the word relationship means. A quick Google shows that a relationship is a connection or correlation between things or people. As humans, we need connection to thrive in this world. I see so many remarks on social media that men and women prefer to be alone because ‘there’s less drama’. Perhaps you need to find the right group of people? Good relationships are important to maintain health and wellbeing.

So, besides wellbeing, why do we need relationships?
The answer is quite simple. Every person on this planet, has a set of innate needs that drives their actions. Abraham Maslow (psychologist) formulated a hierarchy of needs that drives actions. One of them is the need to belong and be loved. Although some people prefer to be alone, the vast majority have a need to connect with others.

What hinders a relationship?
Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if one or both people’s needs are ignored, therein lies the problem. Note that needs can be broken down into many sub-categories and change throughout one’s lifetime. Other factors that affect one’s needs are personality traits, cultural influence and financial state.

Something that shocked me to my core was when Larry Rosen said, “Hurting people is not a need. Hurting is used to fulfill an UNDERLYING need.”

I will use a personal example to demonstrate underlying needs. Early in my relationship, I found it very difficult to open up to my partner about how I felt – especially in heated situations. I adopted a habit of bottling up my emotions. I was hurting him, when my need wasn’t to hurt, it was to feel safe and accepted. When I finally worked through my issues, I could share my feelings openly. I was no longer scared. This lead to deeper understanding and meaningful conversations.

It is important to note that communication plays a big role in keeping relationships alive. Confrontation can be resolved if you know how to listen well, as well as how to communicate effectively.

Understand that human motivation is based on fulfilling needs. Everyone’s needs differ. Ask curious questions. Make a conscious effort to get to know the people around you. We are social creatures for a reason!

What are your needs? What are the needs of those you love? If you can find time to understand people from a kind and curious perspective, I can tell you that your relationships may improve and even thrive!

 

Watch a video on human motivation/needs here.
Image by Evan.

How to study when you’re sick.

The photo above is my current situation. Although I am typing this post while sitting on a desk, I have been living in my bed. Fighting the tiredness doesn’t make it go away, unfortunately. I’m sure most of you know what it’s like… assignments due, classes to go to, rent to pay and the list goes on! So, how does a student study while sick? I’m about to tell you.

What’s your priority?

Over the course of this semester, I’ve accepted now that studying is one of my main priorities. And no, I didn’t accept it for months, until recently. I was set on working four days a week and studying meticulously during off-hours. However, it did not work out that way at all. The complete opposite, in fact. Nowadays, I study more than I work and it’s a constant cycle of “I may not pay rent, but that’s cool, I’m getting an education”. You may think an education isn’t all that important – that’s okay! This post is geared towards those who do. Then again, isn’t life full of lessons anyway? Ha!

Back to the subject.

Right now, my body is aching and my lungs are struggling a bit more than usual to take in oxygen.

My priority then, is to complete anything that is due next, like my counseling assignment. Once that’s done, I’ll study for a test that’s coming up next week. Revise, revise, revise! Anything else can take a seat in the back, as far as I’m concerned. Things like readings (I’ve been doing terribly, if I’m honest), lectures (almost up to date) and practicals — will be attended in due time.

Also, try and refrain from infecting others as much as possible. Stay home or distance yourself if you have to be out and about.

So, what’s your priority? Make a list. Work down that list in order of importance. Use as little energy as possible. You’ll need it to recover and be well.

Rest, and take breaks.

Although I’m in the comfort of my own room, it’s still important to rest and take breaks. Some people can handle aching muscles and constant coughing in public – I can’t. Unless it’s an absolutely mandatory task (test/exam/critical information to pass a subject), you’ll find me at home, studying but taking my time.

If you are able to, take your time, have as many resting breaks as you need. Look after your body, you only get one. Unless cloning is a thing…?!

Nourish your body.

I must admit, the last few weeks of assignments, tests and general living have proven tough. My diet has not been the best. However, now that my body has contracted some sort of chest infection, it’s super important that I eat well. This is advice to those who fall into the categories like  “I don’t have time to eat”, “I’m lazy” or “I’ll just eat when I really need to”.
It’s important to take care of yourself not just externally (exercise, hygiene and so on) but internally too. Right now, I’m sipping on ginger, honey and turmeric tea. Yesterday’s tea was turmeric and honey. For breakfast, I had a sweet-potato and vegan cheese sandwich, as it was easy and required the least amount of effort.

Eat more fruits and vegetables! Stay away from sugary drinks, dairy and greasy food. Do stay hydrated and well-fed!

Give your body the nourishment it needs. If your energy comes from anything, let it be good food and hot, soothing teas. Or water if tea isn’t your thing!

Good luck, and may you complete your assignments/tasks to the best of your abilities. I’m going to study and possibly cough up a lung.

Note: please see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.

The pursuit of balance.

Whenever I get sick, I immediately think it’s because something in my life is out of balance. Whether it’s to do with my diet, social life, study or personal life – it is a reminder to reevaluate where I’m at. My mood dips and I just don’t feel “myself”. Or maybe I’m not drowning my hands in enough sanitiser…?

Whatever the cause of this funk, I’ve found that nature and meditation helps to rebalance my mind and body. 🌿

Yesterday was one of the reasons I decided to write this post. My partner and I attended a Japanese festival and decided to take a break from the big crowds. We sat in the shade, next to a row of trees that swayed with the afternoon breeze. I crossed my legs and closed my eyes. Peace. Those few moments of silence, awakened a feeling within. The feeling I experienced was like satisfying a hunger that food could not provide. It’s as if my soul needed this all week. It felt like an itch that I could finally scratch. I felt whole.

This is what I want, all the time, everyday.

Of course, I know that life is full of ups and downs, sadness and disappointments; but how different would my life be if I could actually find stillness even in the chaos of life, and not just in the comfort of my own home? So many moments remind me how important stillness can be for this ever-evolving journey. I wish I had this clarity back when I felt like a ticking time-bomb… that’s a story for another day!

This week, I invite you to practice silence/meditation for at least 10 minutes (or longer if you prefer). Find a place whether indoors or outdoors where you can meditate. No distractions, turn your phone off, silence the to-do-list and just be. Find gratitude in the small things: having a blanket for the cool nights, having access to clean drinking water and a roof over your head, and many more I’m sure you can think of!

If you realise that you are not happy with the state your life is in or the way your thinking has sunk into the dark abyss, talk to a trusted family member/friend or start an action plan. Or find a professional you can talk to, to help you through the darkness. There’s nothing wrong with needing assistance! Life can be tough.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

What helps you rebalance? What brings you clarity? What is within your control that you are willing to change? What habits can you include daily to lead a more peaceful life? Who is it in your life that can help you on this journey? Who can you look up to either by online influence or in real life to guide you? What will you take responsibility for? What can you forgive yourself for? Is there a way you can give back to the community or the universe for getting you to this point? Remember, everything is connected. If you believe you are no good, you will be no good. If you believe anything is possible, you will achieve whatever you set your mind to. Find whatever it is, that fuels your fire. Give yourself some space to breathe and just be.

Influencers I look up to:

  • Susan David
  • Judah Smith
  • Tom Bilyeu
  • Jonathan Levi
  • Nadine Burke Harris
  • Kate James
  • Amanda Nguyen
  • Trevor Noah
  • Jay Shetty
  • Jessica O. Matthews
  • Don Miguel Ruiz

Creatives that inspire me:

  • Annie Tarasova
  • Natkelley (Instagram)
  • cam & nina (YouTube)
  • Michael Seeley (YouTube)
  • Infinite Waters (YouTube)
  • Yoga With Adrienne (YouTube)
  • Plantmama (Instagram)
  • Kim Noble
  • Kylie Grills

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to type it out below or send me an electronic letter! I am planning to start an encouragement card service soon! Watch this space!

… and may the balance be with you.

Fuel for The Fire

Three years ago was when this story began. At the age of 21, I was ready to finally study something that would set me up for my career: Transpersonal Art Therapy. I know what you’re thinking, “What is ‘Transpersonal’ Art Therapy?”. According to notes from my old books, it is “a holistic approach, considering one’s mental, physical, social and emotional well-being. There is more to a person than their immediate identity”. This course opened my mind to things I never thought I’d learn. From the use of art mediums to the concept of consciousness. Every class was exciting.

 

The Struggle

As time went on however, certain memories throughout my childhood and adolescence would take me so aback I could barely concentrate – this is how I learned about triggers. To explain, I was watching a movie with my partner and had a mosquito bite. He told me a source of heat can stop the itch. He took the lighter out and in seconds, a lick of fire appeared, heating the metal casing. As soon as the metal made contact with my skin, I recoiled from the shock of heat – feeling like a 7 year old – knees to chest, wanting to hide away. Fear, my old friend, was back. Now, it was normal to discuss such life occurrences. If we can’t help ourselves, how can we help others? I saw a counsellor at the college and she gave me advice that dismissed my memories; to have sympathy for the person who hurt me as a child. From my perspective, my feelings have been on hold for a decade, pushed way down so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, but here we are! That was the last time I saw her, I can tell you that. I also believe it was a mix of my immaturity and lack of professional support that lead to the mental disaster which ensued. Besides college, my job performance was getting worse, I was in-between-housing for a period of time – nothing felt stable. Anxiety and depression showed up to the party too. And a party it was. A messy, not-wanting-to-live, confusing party.

 

Decisions

I made the decision to quit my job and stop studying for my sanity’s sake the following year. It was time I get my life in order. No more toxic people or environments. The month that followed, was filled with reflection and doing-whatever-I-so-pleased. It gave me the opportunity to regroup mentally and physically (those that know me, know I love food, but due to stress I lost so much weight). I was living in a temporary home when I heard a friend was looking for a housemate. Eventually, we were approved for a unit we wanted. When I was finally settled, it felt like an ’emotional skin’ was shed. I felt free, secure and sane. I wasn’t the same but I was feeling better in myself. After this break, I was sure that mental-health was the career industry for me. Life is lived forwards but fucking hell, I wish I could have gotten a heads-up like “it’s sooo shit now, but it’ll get better”. Still, I’m grateful for how things turned out.

 

Fighting Fear

A huge theme that came up in the 2 years I was studying Art Therapy was fear. Fear of failure. Five times before I started university, I wanted to back out because ‘what if I don’t pass any classes? What if I can’t retain any information?’. I see now, it is the absolute opposite. My brain is like a sponge, soaking up all there is to know about psychology and counselling. Another fear I had was learning a new language. I’m learning Japanese and can now read and spell words written in kana. Recently, I joined online groups about minimalism and millennial entrepreneurs – these groups of people are trailblazers in life. They’ve inspired me to go to the next level – whichever that may be. They teach me to be brave. Another fear was starting the very blog you are reading. I have been worried for the longest time whether this ‘mental-health, well-being and art platform’ would be taken well. But the function of a blog is not just to be taken well but to be used well. This is where I invite you to talk openly about struggles and achievements. This is where self-expression is encouraged! I’ve said it to multiple people I’ve encountered over the years and I will say it here: this is a no-judgement zone. This story is my fuel for the fire.