Mindful Living · Sustainable Living

The Eco-Minimalist in Progress

I can’t believe it is already 2023, and I hate to admit that I could not write here much during last year. I say this pretty much every year, don’t I? Well, I blame it on analysis paralysis instead of calling myself lazy. However, there is the beauty in the name of the new year that enables me to reset to start over again. Hence, here I am, sipping my favorite giant mug of cappuccino, which still makes my day more than anything else.

During last year as I wrote, I started the low-buy and the project 333 challenges, which ended up becoming truly the eye-opening experience. It clearly taught me the boundary between what I just wanted and really needed. I did already have everything I needed. Adding more never makes me happier. The key is to know and to face who you really are, figuring out what really works for you and what doesn’t. If you really invest your time and efforts to analyze your style and value, the answer can be incredibly and surprisingly so simple. The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu’s “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough” is the belief I live by each day.

As I still continue the challenges (or now I call them the elements of my lifestyle) this year, I intend to focus much more on the aspects of sustainability, adapting the eco-minimalistic approach. Thinking of the ways to reduce the amount of waste helps me to buy only what I need, exploring and supporting the ethics of the companies I purchase from. Another challenge I can add this year is to truly became a flexitarian by cutting down the consumption of meat despite my failed attempts.

This is just the vague update of my life, which is totally intentional. From my past mistakes for all of these years, I learned that if I declare I would be a minimalist, it ends up becoming the process of mere depriving, and if I decide to become a vegetarian, social dining experiences could be affected negatively at times, and if I try to live the zero-waste life and fail, climate anxiety and the sense of guilt attack my mental health. See? All of these eventually lead me to the vicious cycle of analysis paralysis.

So, the slightly more mature me, who acquired the adequate balance, just relax now, enjoying the phrase “in progress” and embracing each little step that I take as I would love to write much more here this year. All I ask you is to also relax and as my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, says, “please judge tenderly of me.”

Mindful Living · Sustainable Living

The Low-Buy and the Project 333 Challenges

“You already have everything you need. Adding material things don’t make you happier. Cherish what you already have.”

This is my mantra that I wrote to start the low-buy year at the beginning of this year to practice more frugal living to lower the standard of living to be more grateful for the ordinary parts of the life in general and to save more money.

In addition to the low-buy challenge, I also started the project 333 challenge (wearing just 33 items for 3 months) by Courtney Carver this year after selling and donating on Mercari and Threadup. This is totally doable thanks to the environment I could work from home. I learned to truly care for the fabrics of each clothing and cherish each item I own, which means so much to live more sustainably and mindfully.

The cover photo of this article is pretty much all that I have to survive the whole year after decluttering before the challenges. It feels so good to own less and I’m so glad I don’t have to buy any more new clothes I don’t like just to work in the office due to the dress code.

Mindful Living · Sustainable Living

Your Signature Scent as Your Daily Motivation Booster

I am a huge believer of the positive aspects of wearing the scent you love could provide regarding your mental health even though I am not an expert or anything at all.

I can only speak based on my personal experience, but when I take a deep breath after spraying my favorite perfume after I get dressed for the day, it simply uplifts my mind and motives me to have another productive day. It is almost like my daily ritual and I highly value the act, so it took me months to find the scent that I could finally feel like the one for me.

When I used to be overly influenced by the hype of “clean” and “natural” products, I was skeptical of artificial scents. Of course, among the artificial scents, there are the ones that could potentially be harmful, but the truth is that so are some of the “natural” and “clean” ones. Some still made my eczema worse and gave my husband allergy whether they were natural or not. And, given the fact, It takes approximately 252,000 individual petal to produce one 5ml bottle of rose oil, so-called natural and clean products might not always be the answer when sustainability is considered, either.

After I realized the fact and continued my research, I eventually decided that all of the scents are ok as long as you love them and your body does not react to them negatively, and I finally found the one for me.

My scent as my daily motivation booster is Another 13 by Le Labo. The description states, “an utterly hypnotising unisex scent composed of ambroxan (an addictive heady musk) alongside 12 other ingredients such as moss, jasmine and ambrette seeds”, and when I smell the scent every morning after spraying it on my body, I just feel so heavenly and positive, and the perfume is one of the very things I cherish from the bottom of my heart.

What is your signature scent that functions as your daily motivation booster?

Mindful Living · sustainability · Sustainable Living

Living Sustainably Here in America

As I also wrote before, after I realized how materialistic wealth did not contribute to happiness from a certain point, I gradually started to practice meditation to be free from various attachments and to learn to adapt the concepts of minimalism and living mindfully and sustainably by embracing the ordinary in life. I simply wanted to be a slightly better and fulfilled being than I used to be. For example, I quit fast fashion, started using a menstruation cup and switched to shampoo bar, conditioner bar and toothpaste bits. I also stopped eating meat much by practicing the lifestyle of a flexitarian, being fully aware that minimalism is not depriving and attempting to live sustainably does not have to be aesthetically pleasing and you don’t need to be a plastic-phobia, either.

Even though it was obvious that such an attempt of mine was far from perfection, I wanted to, at least, stand by the values I truly believed in and to stick to it as much as I could, and I truly wanted to cherish what I own like my quality time with my dog and Husband. The feelings still remain the same today.

And here I’m wondering why a sustainable lifestyle can be pricey and doesn’t seem inclusive now that I live in the US when it didn’t seam necessarily the case when I used to live in Germany and Japan or I was just not paying attention there.

I understand that there isn’t much an individual can do when it comes to sustainability. Corporations are the ones that should be held accountable more and the involvement of government to a certain extent is vital.

That being said, it still has to mean a lot when we, as individuals, actively support ESG companies that stand by sustainability by purchasing their products and/or investing in their stocks within our budget as the consequence of our mindful choices by not being the hyper-consumers.

What are your thoughts?

Mindful Living · sustainability · Sustainable Living

1133 Days After Moving to America : The Journey to Happiness

I feel like I could write again after being gone for so long, so let me just try.

When I moved to the United States back in the summer of 2017, I was filled with ambition and excitement to achieve the American dream. I was eager to work hard to earn more money to be wealthy. I was buried deeply into the notion that the materialistic wealth equated success and happiness in this country.

Life was so good for a while like that, but something hit me. When Husband and I bought a brand new car and when we almost purchased the condo we wanted last spring (we’re glad we didn’t), I felt numb. No joy, no happy cry, just nothing. The numbness even scared me but life still went on, then just like everybody else in the world, COVID-19 hit us. We were both working remotely from home and even though I was not a fan of teleworking, I was simply happy that I could be with my dog almost 24/7. She seemed to feel much more relaxed also. At the same time, I felt guilty about the time we had to leave her home all by herself for 9 hours or longer on weekdays.

I began to gradually think to myself that if I were to keep on working hard for a few more decades like I used to, I would end up missing out the majority of 13 to 15 years of being able to spend with my dog. The idea seriously saddened me as for us who gave up on having a child, our dog meant the world. And it didn’t take longer until I started to wonder what happiness really is, knowing I am more than fortunate to be able to think this way, and I realized I didn’t have to be wealthy. I just didn’t want us to worry about money. That’s all.

Living with such a realization, I started practicing mindful meditation and eco-minimalistic lifestyle as a flexitarian based on the growing interest in sustainability and I feel like I began to truly embrace the ordinary within the daily life like a big mug of cappuccino and the solid morning walk with my dog make me feel the happiest on earth. That is the point where I am now, still figuring out which paths to take and as an INFP, my ideas can probably evolve as time goes by, but that is still a part of the long journey called life indeed.