Minimalist movement

Lately, I’ve really noticed how much stuff I have. Like far too much. And I feel a little bit crowded in amongst all this stuff … and yet at the same time, this is my life in material things. Memories, souvenirs, books, CDs, vinyl, university materials, and more. It never used to bother me but after my travels to countries where many people don’t own even a quarter of what I do, it’s really hit home how much stuff I have acquired over the years. So what to do about it?

“Paring down my possessions over the last two years has afforded me more free time and more freedom and a less stressful life.” – The Minimalists blog

The Minimalist movement has really taken hold in the last few years and there are now hundreds of blogs out there devoted to it. Two that I have taken a liking to are The Minimalists and Becoming Minimalist. These have both given me insightful information and viewpoints that have helped accelerate my desire to clean out and cut back to ultimate live my life to the fullest. The challenge now is where to begin – that leaves me feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but is one I need to overcome shortly, or I’m never going to get started.

Do you feel that you have too much stuff? Would you like to cut back to just the essentials? Where would you begin?

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Vegetarian vibes

I think I’m turning vegetarian, I think I’m turning vegetarian, I really think so ….

One month ago, I embarked on a trip of exploration and self-searching in Vietnam and Cambodia, and decided in my sleep deprived stupor at Kuala Lumpar International Airport that I would finally give the vegetarian thing a shot while I’m away, once and for all. So that leads me to the all important question is – how did I go?

Proudly I can say that I basically went completely vegetarian, except for a few moments of beef and seafood scattered throughout the trip (less than one hand’s fingers in total in five weeks). Did I lose weight? Well no, not as much as I was hoping. Did I feel healthier? Sure did, felt a complete turnaround in how my body felt, I felt … and for lack of a better word, cleaner. And after seeing live pigs, ducks and chickens strapped to motorbikes, and huge carcasses of meat hanging at the street markets, the decision wasn’t to difficult to make.

Vietnamese vegetarian food on a table from a local place called 'Wrap N Go'

Vietnam is a haven for vegetarian and vegan eaters … it’s truly amazing the food available that’s delicious, healthy and cheap – and all meat free. In Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon, my friend took me to an amazing vegan restaurant, it was unbelievable how much you DID NOT miss meat at all. It was so satisfying and fulfilling, meat wasn’t even considered (by me that is). I find back home that much of the vegetarian food is tasty and delicious, however I’m still left craving something else to go with it. In Vietnam, and Cambodia too, I lost that desire. Completely.

Have I kept this up since returning home? To an extent, yes I have. I have completely given up chicken and pork (though I do miss Roast Pork crackling – yum!) and only occasionally have seafood and beef. Predominantly my meals are all meat free. And I feel great. And it’s cheaper as well, which sure is nice now I’m still looking for a new job.

As someone who ate meat as a key part of most of their daily meals for the past 30 years, moving to vegetarianism was always going to be tough. But more and more people seem to be heading this way, turned off meat by more information about our factory farming processes and systems, in which the book ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foers has had a key role. So what I’d like to know is this:

Have you turned to vegetarianism later in life? Did you relapse to eating meat? And do you think you can stick to this for the rest of your life?

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Put the bikini away … and “Suit Up!”

The holiday is over. Back to reality, home. Reality sucks? That one is for me to decide.

Phu Quoc Island beach scene
I have just returned from five weeks travelling alone in Vietnam and Cambodia. It was an opportunity to relax, refocus, and reassess options and opportunities. Time out, no matter how full-on, is a great and much needed thing. I kept this journey all this on the down low from friends and acquaintances back home so I could get the most out of the experience as well. No interference, no criticism, no judgment, no fear by me.

It’s so important to let the soul out to breathe every now and again, don’t you think?

So where to now? This was a question I asked myself numerous times throughout my travelling – what was I to do upon returning? Soon I realised that this wasn’t helping me at all and thankfully my friend who lives in Saigon gave me a copy of her book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and told me to read it: NOW.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Learning to live in the present when you’ve spent most of your life living in the past or future, worrying about both, well it’s a hard thing to adapt to. Initially I couldn’t get into the book at all, but then it was like a light bulb suddenly lit up above my head (funnily while I was being thrown around on a bus between Phnom Penh and Saigon) – I must persevere with this book, I must learn to live in the NOW, the PRESENT, or I’m never going to be happy. I thought I’d given self help books a flick a while ago, but if you can gain something from it, then who cares what happened in the past, this is the NOW. This book combined with my travels and spending time with my friend who sees life in a more peaceful standpoint than I ever have, it’s made me reassess everything. And it’s at that point that I return home with more determination in my heart and soul to live a life more pure, with more meaning and purpose, and most importantly, with less stress. I’ve decided that in 2011, these are the things that are going to be most important to me:

  • Happiness in myself
  • More time with family
  • Happiness in my career / job
  • Better control of my financials
  • Better health
  • Helping of others (and animals) in need
  • Being more environmentally conscious

Life is much more than materialistic selfish things … it’s simply LIVING. I want to LIVE. I choose LIFE.

Most urgently, I must find a new job now that I’m back. So as Barney Stinson loves to say, I’m going to “Suit Up!” this week and find myself the right job for me (that’s a ‘How I Met Your Mother’ reference – bought the whole TV series on DVD in Vietnam lol).

Barney Stinson "Suit Up!"
Once I was stuck on staying in one location, but now I’m open to any opportunities – as long as the job is right and pays appropriately. This year, I’m aiming higher than ever before and it’s time to get paid what I deserve, instead of with previous roles. So watch this space as I seek my dream job, my right job, and happiness …

Have you found your dream job? How did you find it? And what makes you happy in your job?

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The vegetarian vision

Turning vegetarian while travelling in Vietnam was part of this self-healing plan for my latest trip abroad. Between jobs, I leapt at the chance to travel for an extended period to somewhere that requires a certain substantial amount of time, rather than be confined to the rushed holiday of “two weeks annual leave”, an aspect of permanent work that I loathe. I put everything on hold – my life, my career, my finances – to make this escape …

The destination – Vietnam.

The purpose – to discover myself, to escape the trials and tribulation of life back home, to really travel and explore, and of course, to have an amazing memorable time.

For a long time, I have read that for my blood type, my body type etc that I should be vegetarian. Numerous past attempts have failed … so embarking on this journey, I decided to use this as an excuse to try again. It definitely helps being in a country where vegetarian / vegan options are abound (and may I say, absolutely delicious!), and it also helps to be initially visiting a good friend from back home who is vegetarian as well, to be my guide.

Day two in the country and I have to say, so far I have eaten like a Queen. An avid fan of Vietnamese food back home, I did not come clueless to Vietnamese culinary delights, but to say I’m impressed so far, would be an understatement. Fresh, spicy, tasty, vibrant, colourful, enticing – its all of the above and more. I am extremely excited about what else will be passing my lips in the weeks to come … photos are sure to come …

Last night I did unfortunately succumb to the meat at the Vietnamese BBQ restaurant we went to, a brilliant al fresco establishment, perfect for relaxing in the warm night air. The smell was simply wonderful and I lost all willpower. Although I embraced the meal and thoroughly enjoyed the meal, surprisingly I came to regret it a little today … instead embracing our all vegan lunch instead to cleanse the palate. Throw in a crisp sweet Watermelon juice with a stunning meal and I felt happy inside again.

The vegetarian vision still stands, I will endeavour to stick to it for the rest of the trip and reassess my health at the end of the month. I need to see for once and for all – will it actually make me feel better within myself? Will I feel healthy? We’ll just have to wait and see …

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Where to begin …

So it happened. I turned 30. No big deal, right?

I don’t know if it’s being a woman, or just expectations are higher now, or I’ve just gone a wee bit mad, but turning 30 was, um can I actually admit it … terrifying! Think I’ve lost it? In the past few years, I think I’ve felt like I’ve been losing my mind and soul … one tiny piece at a time …

Imagine this – six months before you turn 30, you take a death-defying leap from organised “normal” work within in your field to embark on your passion and love within a specific industry, stepping right out on a limb … and in the month of your so-mentioned birthday, it all goes, well kinda pear-shaped. Oh sh*t, right?

Experiences like these, though at the time are like going through hell, are sometimes exactly what you need to reassess your life and career. Add that I am (still) single and don’t own an apartment yet, turning 30 was not the big special event I had hoped it would be. And well that’s all I need to say about that.

2011 – the year after I turned 30 …

2011 is the year after I turned 30, with a birthday that barely scrapes into 2010. 2011 is the year that break free from past and embrace a new me.
2011 is the year that I share to other women across the globe, turning 30 is NOT terrifying … in fact, it’s liberating!

Join me on this year of exploration, travel, soul-searching, and simple pleasures. Forget tales of Julia Roberts through Eat, Pray, Love, this is a realistic journey of one woman’s search for truth, respect and dignity in a chaotic world. A world where the stakes seem to be higher than ever before for women …

Turning 30 is about discovering who I AM, what life really is all about, and at the end of the day, what really matters. Let’s go on this journey together.

Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.

P.S Don’t worry, I’m no hippy, just a “normal” 30 year old woman, tertiary educated, intelligent, street-wise, savvy (if I say myself) … but I believe you’re never too old to find your inner hippy, drop out of the rat race (temporarily) and discover/rediscover yourself, meet new people and simply enjoy all the world offers (the simpler, the better).

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