So, if you’ve followed me for a hot minute, you may know I’ve dabbled in the idea of Low Buy/No Buy exercises (with varying degrees of success), and have embraced a certain idea of minimalism, if not a direct representation of it.
A caveat (because sometimes the clarification is important to avoid the impression I’m passing judgment on those who don’t live the way I live): Minimalism is a journey, totally dependent on the person partaking of it, and there is no one way to understand or live a minimalist life.
While I’ve always been a rather organized person, I’ve also always had a penchant for collecting things. First it was books. I’d amassed a library of 5000 books in my younger years and enjoyed them at times, for sure, but also became acutely aware, when I moved with my husband to Michigan, that they became more a burden than relief from burden. As a family of four, our space was limited and decisions were required to make the most use of our space and to feed our mental health and the health of our family, as a whole. Not only was a book-purchasing habit financially ill-advised at the time, but they drew me away from acknowledging and dealing with stress in a healthier manner. Obviously, this doesn’t speak to everyone who has a library of books at their disposal, but is only a comment on my own experience with this addiction.
And I’ve found, over the years, that my answer to stress or guilt or grief was to feed my addiction to acquire. Yes, I donated my entire collection of books to the local library book sale and moved exclusively to borrowed, rented or electronic books. But when grief became a constant friend a few years later, I found myself acquiring things anew. This time it was tarot decks and purses and clothes and things I felt would somehow provide a fulfillment that I was otherwise missing because of the loss I’d recently experienced.
It took a long time, four years actually, to recognize the habits I’d formed and how they negatively impacted my mental and spiritual space, and to take steps to rectify the behaviors and partake in a little self love by, well, not partaking, as the case may be.
2020 Has Been A Real BITCH.
Let’s be honest.
But it’s also been a positive journey towards understanding where happiness resides, and how to remove the noise in my life to see it there… that happiness… waiting. And it hasn’t been easy. In fact, I’d say it’s been the most difficult process of my life, re-evaluating what I hold worth in, and why that worth wasn’t directed, from the very beginning, at myself, my family and the earth.
Yes, the earth. Because, with minimalism, also came an understanding of our impact on the earth. But don’t worry, this wont be a lecture on going green and carbon footprints, I promise.
So I’ve become conscious of the waste I leave behind, and the distraction from the people and things important to me. And, as a business owner, I don’t want to contribute to waste and clutter and things without value. Sure, I make baubles and sell baubles and love that people wear my baubles and enjoy them. I love that people value what I offer and that I can offer something worthy of that at all. But I want to do so consciously. Purposefully. Meaningfully.
Because of that, you may notice some changes to how I run my business and offer my products. It’s been a journey in itself, finding solutions to product packaging, for instance, that are entirely eco-friendly, while still embracing a minimalist home. If you run a business, you’ll know what I mean…. it can over-run your living space! So I was on the hunt for packaging I could buy in bulk (thus reducing the amount of deliveries and carbon emissions) but would fit in the space allotted to it, and was 100% recyclable.
Did you know that even though a mailing label or sticker may be marked as “recyclable” that often the papers it comes adhered to isn’t. That not all tissue paper can be recycled, and not all ink can be recycled?
Well, I finally found all the things to safely and securely package my items, while remaining 100% eco-friendly.
But it’s not just packaging. While this may not be everyone’s favorite change, I am no longer accepting any custom requests for anything not currently in my available materials inventory. I am only ordering jewelry-making supplies once a year, again to reduce carbon emissions and packaging waste. If I do not have a 24″ chain to substitute with the 20″ chain offered, for instance, I will not be buying chain specifically to accommodate that request. While I don’t typically take custom requests regardless, if I should take one and it requires materials I don’t have on hand, the request will (sadly) be denied. I want to push myself (and encourage any artist out there to do the same) to use what I have before investing in more. More, in my case, is simply a distraction from creation. I call it “decision overwhelm”, when I see too many things and fail to actually start a project because I can’t decide what to use. It’s the same reason I reduced my entire wardrobe to essentials. I no longer have to spend time deciding what to wear and can just put on what’s available and get on with doing things.
And, I’m sure, during the months to come, the need for more change will make itself apparent, and I hope you’ll bear with me while I continue to transition to a sustainable, minimalist and ultimately happier way of life. It continues to be a struggle, but I’m daily working towards buying consciously from people and brands I believe in, for things I truly value, and to offer those things to others in return.
Stay creative, folks (and I assure you that you can do so with less)!