Mindful Minimalism

Mindful Minimalism

When we think of minimalism, some of us imagine the Japanese practice of having extremely few belongings. We visualize bare walls, empty rooms, sleeping futons rolled up into the closet, and hardly any personal keepsakes. In western society it is unimaginable to walk into a room without furniture, or see only enough supplies in the kitchen to match the number of residents. As extreme as this Japanese practice is, it also has its benefits. It is said that a decluttered home is the reflection of one’s mind; two thoughts can not occupy the same space, therefore an empty home is embraced instead of frowned upon. 

The idea of negative space is a form of simplicity influenced by Buddhist practices in Japan, but it is steadily gaining ground in western cultures. Although minimalism to that extreme is hard to attain for most individuals, there are certain takeaways we all can benefit from – a clutter free home.

The following is a handy list of things that you can easily let go of, how to dispose of such property, and what you should definitely hang onto.


– Donations and Recycling –

There are many options to recycle and donate your items mindfully. Smaller non-profits in your area will benefit the most from donated goods. They tend to value all donation and find good homes for many of the items you are letting go of. 

Compartmentalized donating will help get the most out of your valued belongings, because some might actually be still worth money. Broken jewelry might be of no use to you, but local mom and pop jewelry stores purchase good quality metals to create their own jewelry. Fashion is always going through phases and what you thought is no longer trendy, might be back in style and desired at your local second hand shop. 

Books have lost their appeal in todays society, but libraries are more than happy to take them off your hands. They even appreciate foreign books!  

When time is of essence, places like Salvation Army can be your one stop drop-off solution. Depending on the location, they even take recyclable items like tube TVs.

– Paper Clutter –

Most of the things we purchase come with a handy user manual. We might glimpse at it a few times, but more often we just put it in our ‘manuals pile’ never to be seen again. Keep the warranty and discard of the handbook without worry. Everything nowadays can be found online, so there is no need to hang onto extra paper clutter. The same goes for bank and credit card statements. How often do you catch yourself discarding of those without even opening them? When you go paperless, it will not only help you declutter, but it will also safe some trees. 

– The Kitchen –

Chances are that you have an awesome collection of spices that you have kept way past expiration date. Spoiler alert; they do expire and some even as quickly as a year! You probably rotate between 2 to 3 pots that you use over and over again, while others are just there in case you ever change your mind. The rule of thumb is to let go of things that you do not use within a 6 month period. 

Did you know that most plastic is non reusable? If it is multi-use plastic, it can only be utilized while it is intact. Any scratches or tears deem it unsafe due to the chemical components that will start leaking into your food once the structure is compromised. 

– Bathroom Necessities – 

Lotions, soaps, perfumes, and makeup have a shelf-life, too. It can be just as harmful for you to use expired products topically as it is to ingest them. Reactions can range from an irritation to a severe allergic reaction. It is best to stick to a minimal amount of products that can be used up between six months to a year. 

– ‘What If’ Scenario –

When you look around your home, can you pinpoint your most precious belongings that you cherish greatly? Can they be accessed easily? Are they gathered in the same place, so they remain unharmed in case of the worst case scenario like a natural disaster or fire? Have a plan for those belongings you treasure most. Oftentimes they can be summed up in old photographs, family mementos, and hard to replace paperwork (birth certificate, passports, etc). Try to keep them in one place; preferably a water and fireproof safe. It is hard to store your everyday electronics inside of one, so place a backed-up hard drive into the safe instead.  

Chair copy

Hanging onto clutter can be a hinderance in life. Sometimes big transitions such as downsizing can come very suddenly, and oftentimes we are not prepared to face the consequences of years of accumulated possessions. We need to be more present and mindful with our demand for valuables. Make your next move as stress-free as possible by steadily perfecting a minimalistic approach towards your belongings. Not only will it be of great ease in the future, but it will also help you live a more practical life with focus on your priorities.  

Going Veganish

Going Veganish



I can always go for some wings; nice spicy wings. It’s hard for me to go a day without ice cream or cheese. Let’s not even get started on some steamed shrimp with old bay. My mouth is watering just thinking about the foods I have left behind this past month.

My Transitioning Fridge – Adapting to a new diet takes time and patience.

January first rolled around and I started my new ‘vegan life’. Following the advice of some of my wonderful friends to take it day by day and transition slowly, I was ready for my life changing experience. I went online to come up with recipes prior to my grocery store trip, and found a whole ‘January 1st, new year new vegan’ trend. Yup, I involuntarily found myself as part of a movement.

Grocery list in hand I headed to Trader Joe’s (shameless plug). My cart was packed with all kinds of fresh produce and as I expected, my bill was less due to the lack of seafood and meats. Aside from sometimes finding wild caught frozen salmon or Kosher chicken, I mostly purchase my fish and meats at farmers markets. That comes with a hefty price tag for a tiny portion.

So why the vegan change you may ask?

In short: health benefits of avoiding toxins that are found in meats, and of course the guilt factor of eating animals. Regardless if bought at the store or from a local farmer, the toxins are hard to avoid in animal products nowadays. Fish is even more complicated to purchase, since most of the waters are unfortunately heavily contaminated. Going vegan might be an impulse decision for me, but I have already spent many years riding my diet of certain foods deemed harmful; like red meat for instance.

First Impressions

Transitioning is making it a lot easier on my body and is allowing it to slowly adapt to the new changes. I have cheat meals here and there when my meat cravings get too intense, and it is okay! I felt that the option of going from zero to one hundred seemed too radical of a change, and I felt that I was likely to fail. Throwing out food is also never an option in my home, so I am determined to finish up all the animal by-products, while slowly replacing them with vegan options.

Herbal Tea With Coconut Oil – In an attempt to combat my skin breakout, I drank herbal tea with coconut oil. Coconut oil is a natural anti-inflammatory remedy!

One month in I can see that the diet is doing wonders for my gut and digestion, but my skin not so much. I have been breaking out like a kid going through puberty. I do not recall my skin reacting in such a violent way even during various detox sessions that I had. This is certainly not a side effect I was expecting, but it is remarkable to see how many toxins are getting released from my body. I stopped wearing makeup a year ago, so lets just hope this is a swift transitional phase.

As previously mentioned, going vegan sliced a few dollars off of my grocery bill. I love to cook so I was excited to try out all those recipes that I googled. A new diet comes with endless menu possibilities, so I thought. By the end of week two I was fed up with my sweet potato and pasta variations. I could not figure out how to make my butternut squash less plain and the amount of beans I ate trying to get close to my daily protein intake made me quite bloated. I was constantly under my daily intake goal. Such a drastic drop in protein caused me to be tired all the time. I could not go a day without a power nap. My normally tasty meals felt rather bland without meat and fish. I was not only fresh out of ideas, I was also craving spice! Towards the end of January I had consumed two rather large orders of spicy wings.

One Month Takeaway 

A vegan diet is certainly not for everyone. It takes commitment and a strong will to let go of the things you love, just like with everything else in life.

Fighting Old Habits With New Methods – Sugar addictions like my addiction to ice cream are very hard to kick. I froze some peeled bananas to make my own home made banana ice cream.

I have not given up on the idea of going vegan, but it would be unfair to those truly dedicated to call myself such. I still have so much to learn, more meal ideas to try, figure out how to get my correct protein goal (without the bloat), and most importantly commit to the idea of a cheese and ice cream free life.

This past month has been quite a journey and I will continue to better myself and transition until I am comfortable with my diet goals.