Today's blog post will be less about photography and more about adding (or would be that reducing to) minimalism to my life - so if that's not your thing, you can safely ignore today's post. A few people have asked about it on and offline, so I thought this would be a great place to just dump all of my thoughts at once. If you want to talk more on it, let's meet for coffee! If that's not possible, drop me a line.
As I usually don't talk about this sort of subject, I'd like to about a few specific areas: return to analog, decluttering and clean eating. You can scroll to whichever section interests you!
Return to Analog - Unplugging
This whole change - though I know it's kind of a trendy thing to do right now - came about with my return to analog photography a few years back. I loved the simple mechanics of an old film camera and the move away from digital help. Granted, I still have a digital camera in use, but nothing feels as natural as standing behind a large format camera and manually calculating the light and settings. This led to a few new rabbit holes which I have really enjoyed:
- Love of all film cameras - which has been my journey on this website
- Reconnecting with analog records
- Journaling on fine paper with incredible fountain pens
So, I can hear you, "This sounds like more stuff", and in some instances, it is. I now have a collection of classic albums beneath my old turntable. And I also have a collection of antique cameras on my shelves. But what this is decluttering is my mind. The simplicity in these objects, these things, are starting to remove my dependence on their digital counterparts.
Reducing Phone Dependence
I hate to admit it, but I really love my phone. And I do far too much on it. I wanted to track what the hell I do on there, and how often I do it, so I installed an app (again, counter intuitive) to do just that. The app is called OFFTIME (Google Play / iTunes) and it is used to detox. You can use various modes to force yourself to be offline - essentially bricking your phone for a specified amount of time. I have mine set up to sleep from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am - no calls, texts, etc can get through. I also have an offline mode I use off an on during the day. In this mode, I can get texts / calls from my family - but everything else is muted and a nice message goes to the sender to let them know I can get back to them later.
Note: you don't have be blocked out of your device with this app - though there is a strict mode for that - you can access your apps whenever you want, it just reminds you you're doing it again. That's all the push I need.
As far as the tracking bit goes, I see that Twitter and IG use up about 70% of my time on my phone - and that is considering I was checking my phone an average of 150 times a day. The rest was texting and email. Oddly enough, zero phone usage for calls. When I do use the phone, I have it flash a message now, "You've been on the phone for 10 minutes" so I can take the hint to do something else.
Work and Personal Email - 3 Times a Day
Email is another time whore for me - though not only on my phone. Most of this is chewed up on my computers. I have this irrational fear that I'll miss something important if I am not up on my email, every waking second. A last minute business meeting, a contact that needs something ASAP. But in reality, emergencies are not communicated through emails.
If someone at work needs to contact me in an emergency, they have my office and cell number (I allow my team to break-through the offline mode of OFFLINE app) - and 99% of the time, that is how they contact me - not through email. If a family member or general contact has an emergency, they know my personal number.
So, I have set up one-hour blocks of time where I will check my emails at work: 6:00 am, 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. This assures everything is addressed during the work day. Nothing slips through the cracks and I am able to maintain a Zero Inbox.
For personal emails, I do my best not to check them during the work day. I tend to glance at them at around 5:15 am when I get up each morning, then not check again until 4:00 pm.
So, that's 3 time slots for work, 2 for personal.
This reduction in digital things also has me paring back my dependence on social media things - and this will become more and more evident down the road. I no longer need this connection over social media to interact with humans.
I would much rather sit face to face and have a real conversation. Linda's cousin said it best the other day on Facebook. I don't remember the exact words, but in a nutshell he said,
I will no longer be posting life on social media; if you want to talk with me, let's meet for coffee.
That's awesome - and I am in process of taking a page from that.
TV - Cord Cutting
This has been another great money saver, as well as mind cleanser. The damned idiot box. No, we have not unplugged it, but we dumped cable last year and now rely on Amazon Prime TV and Netflix for most of our viewing. The quality really changes when you move from flipping channels to see what's on to seeking quality TV, like Netflix's The Crown.
Decluttering - Start with the Socks
I have been skimming the surface on this topic for about a year at home, but only recently begun to take it a little more serious. I look at my "things" at home - and there are just too many. Especially when it comes to clothing, so I am going to start here with you.
Like the title above suggests, I am working to do more with less. It all began with the sock drawer. My sock drawer became unruly. It actually took over a second drawer. When it was threatening to take on a 3rd, I knew I needed a self-intervention. I had about 50 pair of socks: work socks, casual socks, hiking socks and so on. I didn't need all that - after all, last time I checked I only had the one pair of feet. So I streamlined down to one drawer, now with just 7 pair of daily socks, 4 pair of dress and 2 pair of hiking. 13 pair is it, and it's really all I needed.
I took this philosophy on to my knickers. Seriously, I don't need more than a week's worth as I do laundry every Sunday. I had over a month's worth.
I am now in the process with t's, pants and the dreaded closet. I have so many clothes I hang on to for sentimental reasons. "Oh, I can't get rid of this shirt, I bought it in Colorado" though I will never fit in it again. I am teaching myself to be more brutal now, and changing the thought to, "Someone less fortunate sure could use this shirt I no longer fit into..." and it's really helping me out. I haven't hit these areas as hard as the socks - but that's en route.
Damn, can do this with shoes and jackets as well. Here's all I need and will work towards:
- 1 pair dress shoes
- 1 pair sneakers
- 1 pair casual shoes
One trend I like that I am starting to lean towards is keeping it simple. I am not going to go out and buy all new clothes to make it simple, but will thin out things with this in mind: basic neutral colors have a lot of options. So I think I'll start heading that way with the dress shirts and t-shirts. Simple solid colors (which I have plenty of) and thin out the rest for Goodwill.
Less Physical Books
I am a self-admitted book addict. I love having shelves and shelves of books - but honestly never re-read the majority of them. Over the past few years, I have been moving everything over to my Kindle. I have been slowing pulling out physical copies of books I will never read again to donate to the town library.
There are a few that I read over and over (I admit to re-reading the Harry Potter series every single year) and a few special edition volumes that will stay, but for the most part the attachment to them isn't real. I understand that whole need to buy a physical book, to feel the pages and smell the paper and ink - and I will continue to do so. But when complete, the book will just be handed off or donated (unless it meets my need to read over and over again).
Several I have purchased again, but in Kindle format so I always have them. And recently, Linda and I have been sharing our Kindle libraries with each other (I think it's called the Family Library) and have been enjoying reading the same books at the same time.
The Basement Monster
OK, who is with me here? The basement never gets tackled because it's such an unruly place? This is the latest endeavor for Linda and I. And we took it on (still in progress) as if we were moving. We are simply asking ourselves:
"Would we want to move this to the new house?"
If not, it's either headed to Goodwill or the dump. We did our first pass a week ago and it was really fulfilling. We packed the car solid with donations and utter junk - no idea why we had some of the stuff still - and forgot we had most of it.
The Rest of the Home
From this point, I want to start expanding this concept into the living areas - reduce what isn't adding benefit and comfort to our lives. In no way am I going extreme like the 50 Things or even the 333 Things movement - that's not the goal at all. But it's to get rid of the unnecessary things - the redundant things. I am talking about my 42 coffee mugs. My 19 travel coffee mugs. You get the idea.
Clean Eating - Hunt and Pick
The final area I am hitting on today (sorry, post much longer than I anticipated) is clean, healthy living. We are not doing any fad diet now - we've had our ups and downs with the lot of them for the past 2 decades. What Linda and I decided is to just eat healthy and smart. And this one we have made super-simple. If you can hunt it or pick it, you can eat it. But we are at all costs avoiding added sugars and processed foods.
We are trying our best to stick to humanely raised meats and fish. We understand the whole process of animals being raised for meat and are seeking out those done in the most humane way possible.
We prefer our meats from a local farmer that we are friendly with - knowing that nothing has been added to the product and how the animals are raised in open fields. We don't restrict the red meats as much as a Mediterranean diet.
Obviously with our fish, we are looking for what came off the docks today.
Fruits & Veggies
These are making up the majority of our current diet. We are trying to go organic with them, especially with the "Dirty Dozen" and much less strict with the "Clean 15". My breakfast is now made up of coffee and a bunch of fruit. Lunch is a salad bigger than my head (only use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and pepper to dress).
Grains & Nuts
This is an area that separates the way we are eating from such diets as the Low Carb and Paleo. We allow whole grains (brown rice & raw oats, for example) that haven't been processed as well as raw, natural nuts..
Spices and Condiments
Like I mentioned, I am sticking to EVOO for the salads, and am allowing most (if not all) natural spices. For condiments, we are just starting to experiment with making our own. I bought two varieties of mustard seeds to begin making my own in house - and I am sure that will lead to trying more in-home creations. Out only sweeteners right now are authentic maple syrup or honey.
For the most part, we stick to water, coffee and tea. But as long as it isn't processed, we are up for it.
So, this isn't here to guide anyone or convert anyone. It's to answer a few basic questions others have had on the changes I have been making over the years and how they are affecting my life (hint: all for the better). I would love to talk with you more on any one of these areas and exchange ideas. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested - and if you're local, let's hit a coffee shop and talk face to face.
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