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Our home is our sanctuary, but it’s easy to let it slip to the bottom of the priorities list as life gets in the way. Before you know it, you’re looking around the place wondering how it got so bad. You start blaming yourself, feel disappointed in yourself and feel a strong resistance to getting things back on track. After all, the task of bringing it back to a state you’re proud of feels like such an overwhelming task that it’s easier to ostrich. Hello Netflix, Youtube or whatever your procrastination tool of choice is.

Believe me, I’ve there. In fact, I think I’m actually kind of there at this very moment. With one trip away after another, home becomes the dumping ground. In, out, shake it all about. Pile after pile of clean laundry, dirty laundry, stuff to go into storage, stuff to be repaired, stuff to be donated, stuff to go back to a friend. You name it, I’ve got it all.

The good news, however, is that it’s just stuff. Bricks and mortar and flooring and stuff. No one is dying. Nothing is so serious that we’ve got a health hazard (except perhaps for gym socks long overdue a wash. Yuck.) So here’s a list that I live by, for how to deal when the walls are swallowing you alive. Some things are instant, some are short term and others are long term. The ultimate goal is to prevent said situations from happening quite as often. But let’s be real, none of us are perfect and from time to time life is simply too busy to spend all day cleaning. Other things are more important. But for when it is time to get dirty to get clean, this is how we do.

INSTANT

  1. Do jobs that can be done in less than a minute. Chances are that you have things that can be done in 60 seconds or less. Hang your keys on the hook. Put your glasses away before you stand on them. Turn on the dishwasher. Change your dish towel. Do all of those things first. These will make you feel accomplished and get the motivation flowing from your head to your toes.
  2. Write a to-do list for everything else and prioritise. When it comes to organising your home, there are some things that you want to do and others that you need to do. As with every aspect in life, prioritise the needs first. Putting laundry on, taking the trash out, doing the dishes. Those kinds of things.

SHORT TERM

  1. Schedule half an hour into your day for the next few days to get on top of your shit. Tidy, clean, organise and reward yourself with a tasty snack or an episode of your favourite TV show. Pavolv’s dog, man, I’m telling you.
  2. Ask for help. If you feel utterly overwhelmed and can’t do everything that needs doing in the time you have allocated without having a breakdown, phone a friend or rope in your significant other. Most of the time it can actually turn into a lot of fun. What starts out as sorting through piles of crap leads to finding old photographs and laughing at that terrible haircut over a bottle of wine you’ve found buried somewhere in the rubble.

LONG TERM

  1. Assess the way that you consume and how you feel about the things that you own. You may not want to Marie Kondo your life, but it’s worth learning about your relationship with material items. Most of us own far more than we need and most of those things don’t bring us any happiness. Less stuff owned means less stuff to get in the way, less stuff to pile up and less stuff to clean up. Go take a look at The Minimalists if you’ve never done so before and start questioning if you really need all this stuff in your life. WARNING: it might get deep. You might find your spending habits are your way of trying to soothe your discontent about the way you’re currently living your life. Be prepared to have some serious realisations. Fear not; they’ll serve you well in the long run.
  2. Along with minimalism being a lifestyle approach of owning less, it also means downsizing. If you have the space, it can be tempting to shuffle your shit from one room to another. After all, out of sight is out of mind. If you have to look at your mess, you’re more likely to sort it out. I feel like that about our waste too, but that’s a whole seperate rant. If you want to up your organisation game, consider moving to a smaller place if you can get away with it. It will make it easier to keep on top of things if you frequently let them slip.

If you can prevent the piling up in the first place, you decrease your backburner stress levels. This makes way for the important things. The fun things. So sort your sh*t out and feel a million times better because of it.

Photo via Unsplash

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coconut oil

Whenever I’m heading out of town, I have this little competition with myself to see how little I can take. I live for the challenge. For some reason I get this kick out of taking a tiny bag away and wowing the person I’m visiting (or boyfriend, who can’t seem to understand the concept of packing light and takes a giant duffle bag with him even for an overnighter. I know, right?)

One of the areas I’ve focused hardest on is my cosmetics bag. Multi-use products are your friend when it comes to keeping weight down and streamlining your stash. And nothing does quite as incredible a job as coconut oil.

I know, it’s oh-so-trendy and you’re probably sick of hearing about it, but coconut oil really can’t have its praises sung enough. It’s the ultimate multi-tasker and has so many great health benefits. I opt for raw, cold-pressed, organic and human harvested. Yes, I point out that last one because unfortunately the world is a cruel place and not all coconut oil is created equal. Some producers enslave monkeys to perform the harvesting. I know – don’t even. Check out this informative piece for more information. It’ll help you avoid funding animal cruelty all in the name of coconutty goodness.

So why coconut oil? What makes it so special? It contains three medium-chain fatty acids. These are: lauric, caprylic and capric acids. They are anti-microbial, making coconut oil an excellent skincare aid. They’re also easily-absorbed, which means coconut oil gets to work quickly. The real place it comes to shine is when consumed. I highly recommend incorporating coconut oil into your daily diet for benefits such as reducing blood pressure and stabilising hormone levels, boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation. And that’s just a tiny sprinkling of all the perks.

But today we’re specially talking topical, so here are all the uses I get from one little pot when I travel:

  1. Make-up remover – Just as good as any fancy concoction, massage a small amount of coconut oil all over your face (including over eye makeup) and be amazed at how easily it’s all broken down without the slightest irritation or stinging. I remove with a warm wash cloth and then second cleanse with something to clean the skin directly. I’m currently using Organic Surge, but you could use something like Dr. Bronner’s which could double up as a body wash, hand wash, shampoo, make-up brush cleanser…the list goes on.
  2. Body moisturiser – Coconut oil makes one of the best body moisturisers. It smells incredible (if you use the raw, cold-pressed kind) and absorbs very easily. This means there’s no awkward wait before you feel dry enough to get dressed. It’s great for psoriasis, eczema and cracked heels too.
  3. Hand cream – I keep the coconut oil on me for dry hands throughout the day. It’s got the same perks as those mentioned for the body above, but will also nourish the nails and cuticles.
  4. Hair oil – Tame flyaways post-styling, or rub through the ends of damp hair before drying to give nourishment back to your locks. Coconut oil can also be used as a deep-conditioning treatment if your hair is particularly parched.
  5. Lip balm – Coconut oil does wonders as a lip balm when in a pinch.
  6. Highlighter – If you don’t want to carry a seperate highlighting product, coconut oil is perfect swiped across the cheekbones to give back some glow.
  7. Irritation soother – Whether it’s a mosquito bite or a stinging nettle rash, coconut oil is an excellent resource for soothing angry, itchy skin. This makes it ideal for taking on holiday with you. Be aware though that coconut oil will melt at around 24°C, so keep it in the fridge if you’d rather keep it in solid form when staying somewhere hot!
  8. Shave oil – Yes, it can be used for this too. Rub onto damp skin, shave as normal and enjoy how soothed it feels afterwards.

So that’s eight uses before we even get into how I use it combined with a few other simple ingredients to make an array of other cosmetics such as deodorant, massage oil and toothpaste! It’s a truly remarkable, natural multi-tasker that is worth investing in.

Photo via Unsplash

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I’ve been thinking about needs today and how often we think about what it is that we actually need. Or perhaps I should say, how little. I’m specifically referring to material posessions here; not emotional needs. That latter list is lengthy and should be taken care of.

There was a great article published by Forbes a couple months back looking at why we should spend our money on experiences, rather than material things. I encourage you to give it a peruse. Essentially, when we look for happiness in things, we consistently end up disappointed. We soon realise that that thing didn’t bring us the joy we had initially hoped for and so set the bar higher and keep on accumulating. We keep on with our dissatisfaction and the vicious cycle continues.

The problem is that by looking for happiness in material things, we’re forgetting that our exponential evolutionary growth means that it’s never long before something better is available on the market. When this happens, naturally our dated object is less appealing. And when this happens, we’re convinced we need to get our skates on and keep up with the latest and greatest. Otherwise, we’re missing out.

But what if all these posessions are burdens? I mean, think about it. The more ‘stuff’ we acquire, the more space we require to store it all. That means we need a bigger apartment or a bigger car which carries the impact of greater cost. We might even get ourselves into debt, all in the perpetual mission to keep putting stuff in our treasure chests.

There are two reasons we might purchase a material posession. The first is because we need it. This usually isn’t something we get excited about. It’s a basic. It’s not something we think will necessarily bring us happiness, but rather something that we know innately to be essential in our day-to-day lives. The second reason is that we want it. We don’t consider it an essential, but rather a luxury. Those are the two categories you see: basic & luxury. The basics are those things that allow us to live comfortably. The luxuries are things we can definitely do without, but we enjoy the idea of having in our lives and so we long for them.

I always find it surprising how little I find myself missing from home when I go away camping. If I have the kit to keep me warm and can zip open the door to beautiful surroundings, that’s enough. I don’t need the plethora of things that I keep around my apartment; I’m out in nature and this beats any number of throw pillows and decorative candles.

So what is it that you actually need? This varies from person to person. But ask yourself the question – particularly when you’re longing for a material item. What is it that you think that item will bring you? Will it satisfy what it is that you’re truly longing for? Often times you’ll hesitate and realise that there’s an ulterior motive behind trying to acquire that thing. Is it so that you don’t feel left out? Because at the end of the day all you really want is to feel accepted and feel a part of something? Is it because you think that by having that thing you’ll become a tiny bit more like a particular person you admire? Maybe you’re unhappy with the person you are and you think that you can somehow shop your way to a new you?

Firstly, you must stop. Apart from the essentials that you know you need, consider what it is that you truly want in your life and ask yourself honestly if that material posession will bring you it. Then, get rid of the stagnant, unwanted stuff that is lying around, collecting dust, not bringing you any happiness and take a fresh look around.

Without all the stuff in the way, you are able to see a bit more clearly. You may not like what you see, but it’s what’s there regardless. And the only way to change what is unwanted is to look it in the eye and understand it.

 

Photo: Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Minimalism

Minimalism is the trend of the moment and it’s easy to see why. Clear surroundings equal a clear mind. A de-cluttered mind is free to create its best work. You’ll likely know the obvious ones like cleaning out your closet and donating old books, but what about the more discrete sources of clutter? I find these accumulate quietly until the hum becomes so loud that I need to stop and have a serious sort-out for my own sanity.

Lately I’ve been on a mission to rid my aura of stagnant materials. I’ve been clearing out the old that applied to a previous version of myself and making way for the new to come in. This takes peaceful practice, but is aided by a great deal of spring cleaning. See below the five ways that I’ve worked to rid the clutter from the depths.

  1. It’s really easy to accumulate a whole host of subscriber emails that you totally ignore. These ping through as your day progresses, offering nothing of any worth to you and your journey. Unsubscribe. Don’t just delete, but actually take the action step to prevent another infiltrating your inbox the next time the sender is trying to sell you something. I recently had a mass eviction of all the crap and boy did it feel good.
  2. Assess your pantry. If you like cooking and are anything like me (inheriting my mother’s siege mentality and having permanently rammed store cupboards), you’ll keep buying new items, totally forgetting about all the near-expired produce at the back. It’s a bad habit to keep layering the new stuff at the front as you are a) wasting your cash by letting the good stuff go bad and b) not incorporating good kitchen feng shui. Its horrible opening your cupboards and having a momentary panic that everything is going to fall out. Who needs that much stuff?! And if you really are the keen cook, get it organised.
  3. Go through your documents. Those of us doing adulthood with at least some clarity or care will likely have a document wallet or file – that place where all the important stuff is kept. This is where I store bank statements, insurance details, bills, contracts and all that other important but unattractive stuff. Chances are, if you have one of these you’ll keep ramming in document after document until the thing is bulging at the seams. Do yourself a favour and go through it, shredding and disposing of all the old stuff. It applies to a time in the past and not where you’re at now. Why are you still holding on to a paper statement from 3 years ago when everything can be found electronically now anyway? And on that note, if you’re really committed to the minimalism thing, see where you can go paperless and do so.
  4. Cosmetic clutter. I realise that this won’t apply to everyone because some of us are more product-junkies than others. I used to work in the skincare industry and it was at a time in my life when I was beauty-obsessed. Over the past couple years I’ve let products run their course and empty. I’ve made a point to use what I have, rather than do what I used to – and what I’ve seen so many others do – which is to purchase a product and once the novelty has worn off repeat the process with another. I’m at a point in my life now where I really only want the bare minimum, high-quality products in my bathroom and make-up bag. It’s so much more streamlined only owning what I truly adore and need.
  5. Apps & Programs. This one I find really satisfying, I must admit. It’s essentially the process of going through the apps on my phone or programs on my computer and deleting what I don’t use. This will free up storage space and stop you having to keep sifting through unwanted items to get to that which is useful for you. Digital clutter is just as bad as material clutter.

We can think of material possessions as being valuable and contributing in a certain way up until a point. After that they’re simply a burden.

Value of possessions

Photo: Flickr

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It’ll be a long time before Sphynx ever becomes a fashion blog, that’s for sure, but part of my quest to kill the consumer aspect of myself has been to explore and embrace the ‘capsule wardrobe’ idea.

‘Capsule wardrobe’ is one of those terms that I’ve heard thrown around by those craving minimalism in their lives. Until now, I’d never taken any interest in it. I’ve always taken ‘capsule’ to be alternate for ‘boring and uniform’, which for a girl who gravitates towards interesting fabrics, textures and designs has assumed to be far too restrictive to be enjoyable.

New Year, new challenge and all that jazz, I decided to throw what I thought I knew to the wind and try it out. The steps I took are below. I used Cladwell’s Capsule system.

cladwell

  1. Get everything out of your wardrobe, drawers and laundry basket and put it in one big pile. Then, give your storage spaces a really good clean.
  2. Make two piles: the first is things that you love and wear all the time; the second is everything else. Move Pile 2 out of sight for now.
  3. Hang up/fold the items in Pile 1, putting strictly seasonal items into storage, ready to be brought out when needed when the next season rolls around.
  4. Take a look at what is left in your wardrobe. It actually looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Suddenly you start realising you have loads of things to wear, that you actually like. Funny isn’t it; you get rid of loads of items and are left with so much more wear-appeal.
  5. Suddenly, your personal style can be seen; it isn’t drowning amongst items that no longer fit but hold sentimental value, things you bought in the sale because they were ‘such a great deal’ only to have the tag still hanging on a year later, and things that simply don’t make you feel great. Pay attention to the pieces you kept, including the colours, textures, fabrics, patterns and shapes. You love all the items you kept; what about them ‘wows’ you? How do they make you feel? You can take some time and make some notes about this to get those things ingrained, or take to Pinterest and create a wardrobe board, if that takes your fancy. The point of this is to learn what you actually like. Get to know yourself.
  6. Think about your lifestyle. It is no good keeping clothes that you don’t wear because you don’t live a certain lifestyle. If you work from home, invest in comfortable loungewear; if you walk everywhere, invest in practical footwear. This is a vital step in designing a capsule that works for you. You need pieces that work with all the weekly activities you engage in, including work and free time. Be honest with yourself about how your time is allocated; if you only go on a night out once a month but spend most of your week working from home, your wardrobe should mostly consist of well-designed, comfortable basics with a nice dress or two thrown in; not vice versa.
  7. Once you know what you like and have got your head around how you spend your time, you can think about your shopping list. You will need to add in some interchangeable items to help ‘glue’ together the other pieces in your closet. What pieces are you missing? Some of these things you might be able to salvage from your Pile 2; the others will have to go on your Shopping List.
  8. Now that you have your shopping list, you can have fun with it, but this time you’ll be taking a different approach as you hit the mall; you will be shopping with intention. Buy the pieces you need to create a completed capsule wardrobe for that season. If you buy well, the pieces will last you for years to come.
  9. Every new season you can reassess your capsule, putting away items that are no longer suitable with the change in weather. You can also pull out items that have been in storage and think about a few additions you may want to add. This is the only time you do your shop throughout the year; once at the start of each season with the intention of creating a slightly tweaked capsule for where you are at that point in your life and the year.

 

The idea is that your wardrobe is always filled exlusively with things that you love – no half-assed garb in sight. The idea is that you invest in pieces that are well-made and built to last; made by people who were paid fairly and treated humanely for creating your garments. The idea is that you are fulfilled with what you have, rather than feeling the need to buy, buy, buy. You wear everything you own; everything has a purpose.

We are constantly bombarded with sales and marketing ploys that tell us we won’t be happy until we buy yet another item. Just like the fast food industry, we have a fast fashion industry, and it simply won’t do.

We are destroying our planet with our insatiable need to acquire more and it will not end unless we decide to climb to higher ground and see our behaviour for what it is: greedy. We are constantly trying to get more for less, at any expense, and aren’t finding ourselves any happier. What we are actually finding is we have cluttered homes and minds, which is certainly not conducive to bettering ourselves.

Have a think about it. Create a capsule and get on track to decluttering your home in 2016. Opening up the doors to a wardrobe filled only with pieces that flatter you and give you confidence puts you in a very good position to be successful at whatever you set your mind to.