Going Minimalistic: washing your hair in water only

Dear reader,

One of the reasons I fancied Solution Focused Approach straight from the beginning was that one of its core principles is minimalism or “doing more with less”. I’ve always been a huge fan of this philosophy not only in doing therapy, but also in pursuing my personal lifestyle.

Every year or so, usually by the end of the year, I go through a more intense period of revising, decluttering and trying to rethink my doing and living (see archive posts here which start with “Downsize this”. This year is no exception. And the more I grow older, the longer my endeavours seem to last. I have gone into a quite interesting challenge lately:

I stopped using any commercial hair products. ANY. I’m washing my hair in water-only.

Before this challenge I had at least a couple of these products in my bathroom:

  • a shampoo, usually one to enhance volume, because my hair is rather thin
  • conditioner, following shampoo
  • silicone or the-like for my ends
  • hairspray for easier brushing
  • hair foam
  • dry shampoo in case of emergency or lack of time
  • hair-mask to use once in a week

and I could probably list more.

Now I am only using

  • two brushes and a comb
  • water
  • a smile whenever washing my hair ūüôā

I can’t tell you how free I feel. And this discovery came about three weeks ago as I was traveling and have forgotten to pack my hair accessories. All of them. I was also so busy that I literally could not find any store on my way to buy any. So I went without. It is very simple, however, like SFBT, not easy. But in my opinion it is so worth it. We are doing such damage to this Planet. We forget this so often, or at least I forget about and really need some brutal documentaries to show me that this planet is indeed dying of plastic. So I’ve gone “no-poo”, the most radical method.

If you are interested in how to do it, I made a video for you. In it you can find described the whole process with all the resources I had to dig up, and am very happy to share with you to make your transition smoother.

Subscribe to this blog (option on the right bottom of the page) if you would like to watch the video. It is not listed as public due to my privacy (showing you my bathroom and the whole procedure). After subscribing you will receive the video to your mailbox. Thank you!

This is a first post in 2018. And I am hoping to write many more “Going Minimalistic” posts, especially if you’ll find it useful. Enjoy and do come back to me with comments and your experiences!

Biba

Screenshot 2018-01-08 09.17.15

This is only a preview. To watch the whole video, please subscribe to the blog on the right bottom.

Slow Down

Dear reader,

we live in a culture who tells us that we are only all right when and if we are constantly developing, changing, adapting, moving and growing.

I think this makes us miserable.

Several reasons to underpin this thesis. First is quite obvious: the world keeps telling us that no matter how well we perform today, we will have to do more the next year or month. Be more productive, innovative, creative, responsive, agile, be it whatever adjective you choose. We will always have to do something else, something additional. This way we are never good enough and in case we fail, guess who is to blame. Nobody else but ourselves. Because we live in a world where we can become whoever we want to be, we can reach to the highest mountain of dreams, only if we choose to do so.

Second, based on the first, we are not allowed to stop and put down our roots. We are not allowed to take a breath, admit that we have had enough and that we want to live a stable and secure life.

Strivings towards excessive self growth is nothing but a capitalistic discourse undercover. Self help and self development industry is not there to help you live a fulfilled life worth living. It is trying to turn you into a consumer, be it by telling you that you have to invest in yourself by either being enrolled in dozens of courses and fitnesses, buying goji berries and maca shakes or strive towards constant progress and growth.

How about we look out for an alternative for a change. Sometimes good enough is good enough. Sometimes you are already giving your maximum, so perhaps it is time that you tap yourself on your shoulder and say to yourself that you have done a good job. And you do not have to do more. Instead it might be perfectly all right to spend an evening out with your dog or friends, or watch telly or have that fattening meal out.

We are not machines. We are human beings. And as such far far from being perfect. And we will all die. One day all of our aspirations and hard work will be forgotten. Once you are in your fast lane before dying, it won’t matter how much you have accomplished. It won’t matter that you know everything about yourself (or others). It won’t matter that you were always rushing, always trying to exceed yourself. Because you will die anyway, same as everyone else will.

I don’t know what a definition of a good life is. But I am sure that self help and self development movement does not aim at that. It only wants you to become what you already are – an obeying consumer.

Your life. Your choice. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

Biba

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From our Coaching for Change training course in 2016. We couldn’t care less about progress ūüôā¬†

Adidas, Versace, Escada and the like – this is a War – a minimalist’s revenge!

Dear reader,

I’ve got a workshop to deliver today. As usually, I always¬†come equipped with all sorts of accessories and tools to demonstrate what I say and people love it. So once I have the contents, exercises, activities and materials ready, I have to decide what I’m going to wear.

So I opened my wardrobe and began to take things out that seemed appropriate. You know, you can’t wear everything you feel like at every occasion. Then I saw something that surprised me:

most of my items had a designer’s logo written somewhere, sometimes even largely across the whole piece of cloth.

My cardigan has a huge Adidas logo, my jeans a big Guess sign at the back pockets, my purse written Mulberry with golden letters, my blouse a Fracomina logo on the sleeves and my jacket is so H&M that you would recognise it from 100m, because everyone owns one like mine. Then I wondered:

How come I became so stupid to let the multinationals invite themselves onto my body with my permission and how come that I voluntarily want to promote their brands by wearing them and even paying for it?

This is clearly stupid. Usually you should be the one to get paid to do promotion, don’t you? And yet there I was, holding quite expensive items in my hands and wondering where my common sense¬†went.

I had enough. I packed all my designer and non designer’s clothes and took them to second hand or put them on eBay¬†to sell it for cheap money. I refuse to be a¬†sheep and as silly and hopeless as it sounds, but I’m declaring a pesonal war to the multinationals. They will no longer decorate my wardrobe and I will not be their puppet.

What did I do instead? I looked at my items that had no multinational brand sign, were made locally and discovered that I actually do own a few pieces sewn¬†by local tailors. And you know what, I’ve had it for years and the quality is still great.¬†Especially in England, you can get some really good no-name quality considered a classic that will last, hopefully even a lifetime. So I ordered some missing pieces online.

Here’s what I own now, and I do not intend to change this habit¬†dramatically. My wardrobe might be boring, but I don’t want to waste my life thinking about what to wear, where to get the best deal, what’s the latest fashion and which colour and especially I don’t want to worry if I¬†put a few pounds on. I’m lucky that mother nature was pretty generous with my looks, so I don’t need to add much to look good. Less is more and I don’t want to resemble a photoshopped foto model in the latest fashion magazine. So I might have small breasts. So I have long neck, so what. It is as it is and all¬†body parts¬†are¬†mine and they serve me well. End of story. I’m not letting them be a show window and I will not force them to meet¬†the guidelines someone else made for me.

My work capsule now consists of items with no extremes in fashion, makeup or accessories:

  • a blazer jacket
  • a winter coat
  • a waterproof jacket
  • a jumper
  • a sleeveless jumper
  • 4 shirts/blouses (3/4 sleeved and long sleeved)
  • skirt
  • trousers
  • pashmina
  • discrete jewerly such as my wedding ring, my company ring, a pair of discrete earrings and sometimes a discrete chain necklace
  • natural makeup (and I can’t stand a mascara), base coloured nail varnish
  • black everyday flat shoes
  • medium heel pumps
  • winter boots
  • everyday bag and small evening bag. No logos, no brands, no glitter whatsoever.

Since I do a lot of sport, I need some of these

  • trainers (bought directly from companies that provide equipment for professionals)
  • hoodie
  • leggings and base upper layer
  • 3 polo shirts
  • track trousers and shorts
  • sportsbag

And I do have some clothes I wear at home. They are neat, simple and cosy, such as a cashmere cardigan, palazzo trousers and basic tops. And a giant robe, of course.

That’s all I have in my wardrobe at the moment. Let’s see how long I manage to stick with this and not be trapped in our consumerism again. I do hope that this list will stay with me throughout my life and to win this small battle, with possibly no impact whatsoever, but important for me to know, that I refuse to go mainstream. It is of course impossible to escape brands altogether. Yet there is a difference if you buy something that is a classic or something that is a show off and will wear out in less than a year. For example I’m keeping my Doc Martens boots, because they are non-destroyable and I’ve been wearing them since high school.

I realise that my action won’t make any difference and nobody will care. The multinationals won’t make any less profits because of me. However,¬†I feel immensely free now. Relieved, determined, proud and simplistic. If you’ve done any clearance in your life, you know how good¬†it feels.¬†Feel free to join or ask questions if you got inspired though – the more the merrier.

Biba

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Photo borrowed from: http://peacebenwilliams.com/every-guy-must-see-this-the-radical-effect-of-photoshop-on-a-models-body-photos-video/

Use what you have and use it NOW

Dear reader,

recently I noticed I have quite a strange habit: I like to do back-ups and usually play it safe.

For example:

  • When I buy a new dress or a new pair of shoes, I keep it in the closet sometimes even a year until I wear it (if ever!), because I want to “save it” for special occassions.
  • When I go grocery shopping, I buy delicions fruit or food that I then save for later. It so often happens that it rottens before I finally eat it, or I eat it when it’s already expired.
  • I eat more than I really need. You know, in case I might get hungry and won’t be able to have a meal then. This never happens, of course.
  • I spend so much time for preparation, that I forget to enjoy the ride as the preparation stage should long be over.
  • In the library, I take so many books, but only read a few of them.
  • When doing research, I save so many articles, print it and save it for later, and often it’s too late and they’re already outdated to cite,¬†when I finally decide¬†to use it.
  • In the morning as I dress, I pick the second best clothes, because I don’t want to wear out¬†the best ones.
  • When eating watermelon, I set the best pieces aside for later. It so often happens that I’m already¬†full before I can have it. So somebody else has it. It makes me question my sanity.

Quantity over quality. Saving for later.

Saving for what exactly? For when? For whom? What’s this nonsense about? It is nonsense, I admit it. And on the other hand it is this sense of playing it safe and to back up everything and save it for later. What this later means exactly, is secondary. You might want to think it’s a matter of prudence and accountability. It might well be. But the thing is, it doesn’t bring much¬†joy. The best preserved dresses I kept safely are today not interesting anymore, because I’ve changed my style or size. The carefully kept crystal glasses no one is supposed to touch, lie bored and forgotten behind the cupboard window and they can’t fulfil their true purpose. My new sneakers are lonely, because I’m stil wearing the old ones, hence risking joint pain.

While thinking about it today, it made me realize that what I’m doing is nothing but cowardice. Fear to step out, fear to live, fear to dare. Why do I have to buy extras? Why do I pick the second best? Why am I constantly postponing the pleasure? I don’t really have an answer, but I’m certain it doesn’t bring me much satisfaction. Only a mere sense of false security.

So I’m gradually changing the habit:

  • I’m not buying on stock anymore. Whether it comes to office material, food, gas or clothes. Even if there are sales or discounts. The stores are not going to run out of goods like they used to in socialism. Everything is right there, available at all times.
  • I’ve emptied my closet and only kept the pieces which I absolutely adore and which fit me perfectly. I donated or sold the rest. Used to have three wardrobes before. Now I only have¬†one and in this one I only keep the clothes relevant for the season. Luckily I live in a large house that allows keeping things in the attic. Maybe that was another contribution that allowed me to save so much ūüôā
  • I try not to live in the past or in the future. True, I might not have all the resources available yet and true, timing will never be right. And this is so, no matter how long I wait, prepare or save.
  • The times of scarce material goods and resources are long gone. Today we struggle with having too much, not too little. My grandmother lived in times where there was nothing, so she had to save her entire life. But when I go into her fridge for a snack, there isn’t any. She simply doesn’t keep the things she doesn’t need or use. I wish I could become like her.

I’ve been practising this new habit for a couple of weeks now. Since I’m very busy with our EU project and finishing my research, this requires¬†a lot of discipline and clarity in what I do. This habit of using what I have and not saving it for later, tremendously helped me gain both. Further, I’m witnessing increased level of satisfaction when I go grocery shopping or when I open my wardrobe. Cluttering, keeping things for later or cutting back using it, apparently isn’t the right strategy for me. It is in my nature to be¬†a minimalist. But now I realized minimalism isn’t¬†correlated with second best or not affording to use the best you have. It is exactly the opposite: doing more with less, but doing that with carefully selected means. Whether it be behaviour, sleeping habits, food, books or clothes.

My lesson hence goes like that: “Use what you have. Not just own¬†it. Use it and don’t save it. If you don’t use it, get rid of it.¬†The consequence? The results¬†…”

It’s hard. But I’m loving it!

Biba

use what you have

Downsize This: Coq au Vin or Oatmeal? (Notes about a Simple Life 2)

Dear reader,

last week we launched a series of Notes about a Simple Life, starting with limiting online presence (offline being a new luxury). About the past week experiment, I must say I love it. I managed to limit online activities, apps and accounts to only what I really need for my work and I really do check facebook and other media only once/twice a day. Result? Not only have I managed to spend more time outside, but also this new amount of re-gained time I used for my second project. Since yesterday, I have a new kitchen.

My kitchen is very large. It could easily provide enough capacities to cook for 10 people (and there were occasions where this has been more than useful!). However since most of the time there is only three¬†of us, it might be reasonable to¬†question whether I really need all these gadgets and widgets within easy reach, though I use it maybe once a year or never (for some utensils I don’t even know what they’re used for, though I would never admit, khm).

The answer is no¬†of course. So I woke my husband up in the middle of the night one day soon after the experiment with offline life started and introduced an¬†idea how we might change our kitchen and make it brand new for less than 80‚ā¨. Since we’re both fans of recycling, re-use and DIY, this meant creative work and not ordering new kitchen from catalogue. We like home-made vintage and unique style. Translated into real circumstances,¬†these things take time to evolve to truly¬†flourish. Yet as the winter turns into spring and the time is right to eliminate old and replace it with brand fresh, he was totally on board and we started the very next morning. I enjoyed every single cupboard being taken down and the feeling of painting the walls was simply sublime. But the most enjoyable part was removing all the plates, cups, mugs, souvenirs, ladles, etc. we haven’t used in years. Here’s the agenda I followed and all the things and items that didn’t fit within it, were removed, donated, thrown away or stored:

  • if the item¬†doesn’t remind us of a special common moment
  • if we haven’t used it in less than 6 months
  • if there is more than 10 similar pieces (this goes for mugs, glasses, plates and cutlery)
  • if I don’t like it and have a more suitable substitute (this goes for pots of different sizes).

In doing so I learned some lessons:

  • most of the time I use only 3 pots (small, medium and occasionally large and one frying pan)
  • if there is something I don’t like, I most probably won’t grow to like it in the future (i.e. a cup or a bowl). If I keep it it will only remind me of how much I don’t like it and it will take additional space
  • if this gadget is to prepare dishes you seldom eat, having that gadget near you won’t increase the frequency
  • if you buy juicer, home-made bread maker or grinder to change your style of preparing or consuming your food, it’s probably not going to last if you haven’t changed your habits as well. So why bothering buying things you won’t use¬†for habits you won’t¬†stick to? In other words: buying superfoods won’t make you super healthy as well as buying juicer won’t make you eat less.

As the end results, there were still plenty of items in our kitchen. But the difference was huge in terms that we had great fun building a common kitchen together, designing our cupboards together and placing the items that have emotional or functional value for us as a family and not us as consumers. We felt like newlyweds moving in together and building a home together, though we’ve been living there for seven years now. Of course we celebrated immensely and again I noticed what a wise choice it was to eliminate virtual¬†and replace it with life experience. Also we realized we enjoy simple food and simple meals, but prepared with lots of love. So we removed food items such as processed food (prepared soups or sauces) and ingredients that sound complex, because neither of us is a fan of high cuisine. But we do appreciate organic and whole food. Which leads me to another note about a simple life: our garden. More to follow soon, I hope you enjoyed this story ūüôā

Happy redecorating!

Biba

kitchen our new

Simple is good. That includes food.

Downsize This: Offline is the New Luxury (Notes about a Simple Life)

Dear reader,

can you imagine life without your cell phone? Do you wish your day had at least 30 hours so you could manage your TO-DO lists? Are you craving for more and have many future plans of what needs to happen before you can finally be free/happy/fulfilled? Are you feeling guilty because you don’t visit¬†fitness too often or because you don’t always eat like you are supposed to? Is your closet full of clothes yet you’ve got nothing to wear?

You are not alone in this. Most of us are facing these challenges. Especially the younger generation is overwhelmed with plans, speed and cravings. Thought¬†you might like to join my¬†little experiment, if you’ve reached the point where you want to make some change. During the next couple of months there will be a series of blogs titled

Downsize this: … … (Notes about a Simple Life)

You will be invited to¬†go on¬†a journey of downsizing and eliminating things and habits that make our lives complicated. In each blog I’ll share with you a story on a certain topic and you are welcome to add your own stories to it. Life doesn’t have to be hard, that’s the lesson I’ve already learned. But in practice, as said 3516865161 times already, there’s a huge difference between simple and easy. Downsizing and simplifying is far from easy. And yet I believe it can be done.

Throughout¬†the following months I’ll share with you some ideas about what I might do to make my life simpler, what the effects were after trying it out and whether it has been¬†worth it. Today I’ll start with eliminating online presence.

Internet is a great tool. So is a computer and a smart phone. About half of my clients have found me over internet and I work with people from many different continents. My online presence is therefore crucial. Further,¬†internet enables me to be in contacts with my distant friends. That’s a great thing and I appreciate having this option. However I noticed I spend way too much time online, sometimes just clicking between Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Gmail, Outlook, Instagram, Ebay, Guardian, Academia, and many time consuming popular science articles I don’t even remember the title the next second closing the tab. I’m even beginning to notice that my attention can’t stick to more than two paragraphs. I’m not even sure I can manage to read a paper book for more than 20 minutes and not get distracted, especially when I hear a notification on my phone. Sometimes the first thing I do in the morning is checking my phone and the last thing before I go to bed. I have 5 mail accounts, two websites, two Skype accounts, a Whatsapp, Snapchat, Messenger, iMessage GTalk and even Doximity though I never use it. Not to mention that I would probably feel more naked if I left my phone at home than to forget to put my shoes on.

So I have to admit that it’s not me anymore who is in control and uses technology as a tool, but it’s become vice versa. And I don’t like it, so something has to change. It’s clutter and it’s consuming¬†too much of my time and energy. Can somebody who works online manage to stay offline? I believe it is possible, but I’m not sure I can do it. But I’ll try.

Downsize this to:

  • two email accounts: one business and one private. Shut down gmail and other accounts and activate¬†forward options
  • checking emails when I want to, not when they want to be read (resisting the urge,¬†I’ll turn off the push option on my phone, but do that gradually)
  • using common software to share updates from one spot to all the social media
  • taking time for Facebook once a day and this will NOT be while I’m having a snack or a cup of tea. Turn off Facebook notifications on my phone and post updates only to Ribalon Facebook page, meaning slowly reducing the amount of info I put on my personal profile. Only accept friend request from people I call friends in real life
  • eliminating all the apps and accounts I’m not using weekly
  • working online on Skype days fully, but other days stay mostly offline. Working means working, not browsing.

Downsizing will be replaced by:

  • reading books and printed articles (or maybe on iPad if printing means waste of forrests – but iPad has to be without wifi)
  • fostering personal contacts (calling or meeting people or schedule a Skype)
  • handwriting innovative ideas, project outlines, passing thoughts that might need further investigation. I should buy a special book for this very purpose
  • learning a new language
  • playing piano more often
  • spending more time outside (even without phone)

This might sound unrealistic, however¬†fortune favours the bold, doesn’t¬†it?

So let’s see what I’m already doing that¬†makes me confident I can do more?

  • I already don’t watch any TV
  • I’m using newsfeed eradicator on Facebook on my working computer, so I don’t see any newsfeeds (recommend it!)
  • I don’t pick up the phone calls if I’m in the middle of work
  • I try not to do other things while on computer, like eating or listening to radio.

I read somewhere that offline is the new luxury. Let’s see whether that’s true.

Are you on board with me? Thanks in advance for your thoughts ūüôā

Biba

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Found this photo on the internet. Can’t even remember where. This definitely calls for a change (sorry I don’t know the source!)

Simple isn’t Easy – a Word About How to Reduce Your Carbon Print

Dear reader,

in Solution Focused Approach, one of the essential principles is to keep things as simple as possible and to do more with less. This may sound nice, but it’s not at all easy to do, as simple doesn’t equal easy.

As your life gets filled up with more and more complex tasks, more and more obligations and responsibility, you need to develop strategies to cut down and keep things simple, if you want to avoid chaos or a burnout. And this should reflect not only on your working desk and habits, but also in your kitchen, bathroom, closet, phone storage and especially, your mind.

I’ve always been a minimalist. Guess I learned that from my grandmother (see a blog post about her here). She taught me that I don’t buy any stuff that has a comercial during tv news and I don’t buy any stuff that comes wraped in more than two packages. Other things she taught me is that I don’t eat any food that doesn’t have an expiration date, doesn’t rotten or comes from another continent (well to be honest I struggle with this latter one sometimes!).

I strongly believe her lessons were invaluable, because they made me sensitive and sympathetic towards the nature and living beings. Another important trait of hers is, that she never kept any extra supplies, whether it be clothes, food or things (except money, she saved a lot and always gave it to us for our birthdays, though her pension was adjacent to poverty). The irony in that is, that she always has and had enough of everything.

Human greed is infinite¬†and has to be consciously controlled. The idea of constant growth, expansion, progress, isn’t sustainable and fortunately there are more and more studies and civil movements on the rise to support this. Why not taking just as much as you need? This might however be very different to taking as much as you want …¬†

This post has been inspired by recent¬†Leo Babauta’s blog about a simplicity manifesto. It made me rethink my carbon footprint and I was quite happy to commit more to my current values¬†and to keep in line with low waste behaviour. So here are collected a few of my ideas that might be useful for you, if you consider reducing the carbon and rubish footprint you are leaving on this planet and also if you want to simplify your life. I’ve practiced them ever since (many times with failures) and they work splendidly for me when I need to remind myself that less is more:

  • I own less than 250 things (including all the socks, knickers, cups, books). If I go above that, I donate it to charity or give it away.
  • Being a woman, my beauty accessories consist of one kajal, one face cream, soap, hair brush, dental floss, brush, paste and shampoo. I make my own DIY deodorant and use oil for body and hair nourishment. I don’t use powder, mascara or any lipstick, any hair, nail or¬†skin products. I’ve got some jewerly that are all my husband’s presents. I don’t use hairdryer or facial masks. And I’m doing fine.
  • My closet has a summer and winter edition. I hardly go above 5 items of each clothing¬†item and certainly not above 10 (except underwear and socks of course). And I’m doing fine.

    our bathroom.jpg

    Our bathroom ūüôā simple, yet cosy

  • I don’t drink anything but water, tea, occasionally coffee and squeezed lemon. Maybe five times a year I drink alcohol (but am not a particular fan). And I’m doing fine.
  • I own 10 pairs of shoes, including flip flops and winter boots. And I’m doing fine.
  • What is a bit of a mess, is my working desk, which is full of notes, printed articles I’ve read but still think might need them sometimes in the future, half read books, endless small cartons and papers with drawings or ideas. I need to work on that one day. But not today. Anyway I never work at that desk, but sit on the floor and only have a laptop (here’s what my “office” looks like, but now with only one laptop as we’re not working on any international project currently).
  • Minimalism is useful also with¬†several non-material matters, for example relationships. If you want to call somebody, call them. If you disagree with somebody, tell them. If somebody hurts you, talk to them or close that chapter. If you are scared what others might say, none of your business. Etc. And I’m doing fine.
  • I try to grow my own food and am very careful not to throw any food away. I don’t mind eating old bread or leftovers.
  • I don’t use chemical cleaning products. WIndows can be easily washed with newspapers and stain¬†removed by soda. And we’re doing fine.

However there are some things that I’m not proud of and haven’t found an alternative yet:

  • I do buy the best of shoes (if that includes original uggs, then uggs it is), because I want to have good quality for my feet. But I would buy one pair and wear it dead. Not buy 5 pairs because they’re last season.
  • I need to travel a lot, meaning car fuel and airplane carbon footprints.
  • I can’t give up on fruit in winter. Even if it came from far ūüė¶
  • Still, there are moments when I catch myself thinking too much (or ruminating), even though I know I can revert this. But I do get better and better.
  • I write too long blog posts ūüôā ūüôā

Happy today, dear reader. Here’s a toast to minimalism, keeping things simple, yet authentic, compassionate and sustainable! If you get inspired by this post and want to try some things out, do come back to me with your experience!

Biba