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 🙂

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.

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

FAKE-MODEL.jpg

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

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€. 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 🙂

Happy redecorating!

Biba

kitchen our new

Simple is good. That includes food.

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 🙂 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 😦
  • 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 🙂 🙂

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

 

 

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Dear reader,

Hope you are doing well. I feel really calm today. This week has been super exciting, as many imaginative plans have come down to concrete agreements.

After the movie I travelled to Germany for a week and had a conference in Stockholm, where I presented some theoretical research findings from my dissertation thesis. It was very well received. At the conference I’ve met a few wonderful new friends and I’m seeing some very soon again. Meanwhile, parallel to my journeys, I continued my research about SFBT and have done a lot of reading about it. For quite some time I’ve been thinking about how to propose what I do to my faculty and people in my environment. The idea is, while I’m still at the faculty and while I’m still learning, to run some sessions for our faculty students. My first attempt, proposing this idea to student council, was not very well received. Soon I realized it was my mistake and I didn’t propose the suggestion in a proper manner. It sounded too much like a psychological counselling, but SFBT is in fact not about that. Felt quite disappointed and down for a few days, but then again, it was only the first step and one closed doors doesn’t mean the end, perhaps there’s a window somewhere that’s opened. So I kept going – talking to people what has happened to me, what I do now and in what way we could all benefit enjoying solution focused practice.

The second step was the faculty leadership and president of our faculty tutor system. They were both pleased with the idea of Brief Coaching for the students. I talked to the student coordinators as well and they were also interested and cooperative. I also made some connections at other faculties of our university and youth syndicate. All successful. At the faculty commission for tutorship meeting (me being part of it) we discussed the idea and the members suggested I should make some contact to the head of the psychological counselling services at our faculty. Was this irony? No, but it made me realize that my first attempt was not denied because of the idea, but because of my rather poor approach.

So I improved 🙂 but was pretty nervous about the meeting. Not that my idea wasn’t good enough, but because I’m not a part of the psychological professional community. I can understand the “battle” about who counts as a competent therapist, counsellor, psychotherapist, there are also frequent arguments between psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.. (This doesn’t have much to do with our topic, but just to illustrate the situation where sometimes opposite interests meet or view each other as a thread, but in fact they could often complement each other!). However I was nervous that he might see me as a “quasi” professional and might not be willing to listen to my suggestion, same as people in my first attempt weren’t.

But he was. In fact not just that, but he briefly already knew the approach, so I didn’t have to explain much. Very soon we found common language and began to talk about possibilities and strategies in order to launch Brief Coaching in collaboration with psychological counselling in autumn. He invited me to prepare a presentation about SFBT in his class. I was flattered. I’ve never given a presentation to psychology students and my confidence was way too low for something like that. But on the other hand, I believed in my idea and more than the fear, the wish for introducing it to more people was present.

So I started putting the presentation together. Really wanted to tell as much as I can and be as persuasive as possible. Also wanted to give real examples and do some exercises, as pure presentations are often being rather boring. So I’ve put it together. Didn’t feel quite right. I wrote to C. and told him about my progress and also about the presentation. Asked him for advice on the exercises. As always, his reply was immediate, as if he knew I would need him. His comments were that I wanted too much and should not try to squeeze the whole training day into half an hour. I needed to hear that, because he was right. Also the exercises I’ve chosen were too advanced and complicated. He suggested I run only two very basic ones. In order to do my best I wanted too much…

His words (cited) were: “The most difficult part of this will be to hold yourself back from being evangelistic – trying too hard to persuade. The XX exercise is an exercise in persuasion so don’t make too much of it – for most people Coca cola has a much better taste than carrot juice – it doesn’t mean that it is a better drink!”

I went out of the house to the garden and picked some weed. Went through his words again and again. Also did the exercise “imagine you were at your best on the day of presentation”, what will be the first thing to notice? Then suddenly, I realized it’s ok. It was one of these illumination moments. Ran back into the house and turned my presentation upside down. Had a goodnight sleep afterwards.

The next day was the presentation day (yesterday). It was a group of 1st year students at MA level of psychology. A really nice group. They were collaborative and showed interest. As the exercises part came, something weird happened. I gave the instructions and described the exercise. They looked at me, quietly. I looked back, saying nothing. Felt like this lasted for ages. My mind went wild, guessing what is going on and why are they just looking at me and not doing the exercise?? Was I not clear enough? Did I say something they didn’t understand?

C. advised me to trust the process. That it will do its job. I realized it was me who was on the test, whether I could do it or not. Well, didn’t have much choice anyway, so I relaxed and trusted. At the same time I figured that the quiet was because the students were thinking about what I’ve just said. Seconds went by, nothing happened. But then, some started talking to each other, really quietly at first. And after 20 seconds the whole classroom was loud, people were smiling and were full of ideas. It was a moment of bliss. And a lesson at the same time. Trusting the process, keeping myself uninvolved and keeping the situation as simple as possible, turned out to be the keys to solution.

The professor sent me an email afterwards and thanked me for the presentation (at the end it lasted for an hour and a half, instead of half an hour). He said he liked it and the students as well. So did I. Hope you did too, reading this post. I’m off to England now looking forward to another training. Can’t wait to see what will happen next.

Again, if someone asked me to imagine what my most vivid picture for the best future hopes would look like, I’d reply that reality turned out so much better… and I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible!

A word about simplicity to conclude with. I’ve always sympathized with the idea of minimalism and the idea that less is more. This is also one of the core principles of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. By the way, this blog is designed in a very simplistic and minimalistic style and I intend to keep it like that. But I don’t know why it is often the case that to put things simple requires more work than making things complicated. Maybe it’s a mind-set thing, Da Vinci should give some nice thoughts on that (see the title) and Einstein did as well, as he said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.