Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Top 5 little luxuries

3 December 2013

Regular readers of this blog (both of you!) may be aware that I’ve been oscillating between living in Melbourne and Sydney. This oscillation (I do like that word!) will be continuing: I’m moving back to Sydney in about a fortnight (that’s two weeks for the North Americans among us), then returning to Melbourne at the beginning of March, in time to commence my doctorate. So my nomadic lifestyle shows no sign of abating, at least for the next few months.

As a result, most of my stuff is in storage at various places, which leads to the burning question: how much stuff do I really need? As it turns out, my peripatetic existence (oooh, there’s another nice word, peripatetic. I’m on a roll today!) — ahem, my peripatetic existence has been marvellous for my minimalism. How much crap do I really need? Even less than I thought.

Not everything that’s in storage will be purged. I have several coats, scarves and gloves that are staying — it’s just that there’s absolutely no point in taking them with me to Sydney. Especially in the heat of summer. (Winter was on a Tuesday there this year.) And I have a funky retro vase from the 70s, all white and terracotta swirls that is staying, but I’m not moving it until absolutely necessary.

The surprising turns are that things that I Absolutely. Cannot. Do. Without. They seem like luxuries, but here are a few items that help me maintain some vague semblance of sanity:

  • Singing bowl. Meditation has been linked to health benefits: try here, here and here for links. And there are more flavours of meditation than there are of ice cream: if you don’t like raspberry ripple, go for chocolate chip. My personal favourite is using a singing bowl, and I have a small one that’s portable enough to travel with me in a cabin bag.
  • Essential bath oil. Especially while I’m travelling or living a (wait for it…) peripatetic lifestyle, it’s just a little luxury. I’m fond of blends with a bit of vetiver or patchouli, and never, ever anything artificial. I don’t want my bath smelling like cheap air freshener, oh no no no. I’m on a budget; I can only afford the best. 🙂
  • Tea. Good tea. Seriously good tea. Brewed from leaves, so yes, a small teapot is an essential item. I currently have a high quality one with laser-cut strainer, which works because I brew rooibos which is really fine, but I’m looking for something a bit more lightweight.
  • Chocolate. Again, the good stuff. Thankfully good chocolate is becoming more readily available in Australia, although the hot and humid climate in most of the country still makes transporting it a challenge.
  • Cuff links. Small, portable, adds a dash of colour and fun. I’m planning to get about five pairs, without any qualms of guilt, because I’ll use them all. Cuff links always add something.

Those are my top 5 little luxuries — what are yours?

On Nurturing and Minimalism

23 April 2013

This is something that I’m examining in my own life, and today I’m looking at the connection between minimalism and nurturing yourself (yes, there is one!).

Put simply, nurturing is how a responsible parent — yes, the qualifying word here is responsible — would parent their child. Nurturing is not the same as indulging. It is not being a responsible parent to feed your child nothing but chocolate ice cream, allow them to stay up late every night and skip school whenever they felt like it. That doesn’t do the child any good.

So nurturing includes some element of discipline. However, nurturing isn’t about being a strict disciplinarian either: children that grow up in a strict household with lots of rules end up rebelling; there has to be some freedom of self-expression, some relaxing the rules sometimes.

Clearly then, nurturing is about finding a middle path: beloved of Buddhists, the middle path (or middle way if you prefer) goes to neither extreme. And thus it is with my minimalism.

I’m not going to the following minimalist extremes:

  • making a list of everything I own
  • owning less than a hundred (or whatever number) here
  • going without furniture
  • wearing one article of clothing every day

Crazy stuff, all of it; and this is what I’ve seen some minimalists do. Count me out of counting out. 🙂

On the other hand, there are ways that my minimalism nurtures me:

  • knowing where everything is — I don’t have to rummage through drawers and cupboards
  • not wasting money buying unnecessary duplicates — at any given moment I know exactly what needs replacing in my wardrobe, and I buy only that
  • coming home to a nicely made up room — candles, a fruitbowl and a small statue on the bench, as opposed to piles of stuff
  • security in knowing that if anything happened to me, my friends and family could find valuable papers easily and quickly.

I don’t obsess over having very little stuff. I do have a few of life’s little pleasures and treasures: a singing bowl to help me meditate, some essential oil to splash in the bath, fresh navel oranges in the fruitbowl (yum!), a delicious velour jacket in the wardrobe, some squares of dark organic chocolate (it was on special — needless to say, I stocked up!).

And it takes some discipline to maintain this. There’s discipline in keeping a room clean; discipline of making a list of clothing that you own; discipline of sticking to a budget; discipline of saying “no” to all the other things that would clutter up my life; discipline of eating healthy food, including five servings of vegetables and two of fruit every day. But nothing is ever really achieved without discipline, minimalism included.

So there’s a balance, a middle way: this is new territory for me, and it’s easy to stray off the path. But my minimalism, like everything else I employ, is just a tool to help me get to where I want to go. It’s not a destination, it really is a journey.

The 12th Vitamin has been Discovered

9 April 2013

For those who know something about nutrition, there are currently eleven known vitamins: vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, C, D, E and K. Just an aside here: whatever happened to the letters F, G, H, I and J, and how did more than half of the vitamins end up with B? The letter B is just being greedy here. If all eleven vitamins got their own letter we would still have the letters A through to K covered, and no letters would miss out. Just putting it out there…

But I digress. After much long research, I have come to the conclusion that there is indeed a twelfth vitamin lurking in the shadows, that many — indeed, most — people are desperately deficient in. Given the somewhat random way that vitamins have been allocated letters, I have allocated this most essential vitamin to be called vitamin T. The reason for this name is the rich source of this vitamin is found in tea. (For a really good explanation of zen and tea, here.)

Now informed by this new discovery, I am pleased to announce the scientific facts* about this vitamin:

Vitamin name: Vitamin T

Recommended daily intake: Ideally, vitamin T is taken in on awakening, having a calm moment before the start of the day. During the day at selected intervals would also be good, and a final one at night before sleep.

Minimum daily intake: At the very least, once a day is the bare minimum intake for vitamin T.

Sources: The most common source of vitamin T is tea, which involves sitting down, switching off, and living in the now as you inhale the vapours of the freshly brewed tea. Unfortunately, quickly grabbing a cup of tea and sitting at your desk in front of a computer is not a good source of vitamin T, as it will not be absorbed. Similarly, grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning and racing out the door with a “heart-starter” is not only not a source of vitamin T, but is likely to put the body on a caffeine-sugar-burnout-caffeine-sugar-burnout treadmill that so many run on “just to get through the day”. And people wonder why they’re exhausted at the end of the day.

Tea is not the only source of vitamin T; a well-made cup of hot chocolate or even coffee if your taste runs to these things will suffice. In fact, just about anything eaten or drunk with mindfulness will suffice.

Meditation is also a brilliant source of vitamin T, and most definitely recommended in cases of vitamin T deficiency.

Symptoms of deficiency: There is a subtle but noticeable shift from cause to blame, and happiness no longer comes from within but is dependent on circumstances in the outside world. As a result, things tend towards a feeling of overwhelm, or as Abraham Hicks would put it, “outside the vortex” experiences.

Symptoms of overdose: A sense of calm, a happiness/joy/peace in whatever circumstances surround you; being “inside the vortex“.

So there. That’s vitamin T in a nutshell. I’m off to have a cup of tea right now!

 

*Okay, so they’re not entirely scientific facts. But what I’ve written makes some sense. 🙂