Project Minimalism

"At this time in my life I’m a real sponge. I’m learning simplicity and how to wear my body. I’m enjoying life and trying to be the best me. This is all just the beginning of something big."- Gelila Bekele

My dad says he could write a book about my journeys and it would be called "The Misadventures of Phoebe" (pronounced: fo-eb).

As I discussed here, I embark on different journeys all the time (including this blog).  While some might think it's comical, it isn't. Though my forays into bangles, Aladdin pants, turbans, and other fashions in the 8th grade were pretty funny.
But really...not to sound too "meta"...these journeys are just checkpoints on my overall path...a way to keep me in check and enrich myself, which is all I really want. I think it's really easy to get side-tracked in this world and lose sight of what's important. I personally get so into things like cosmetic products, fashion, global political gossip, Facebook, food...*bows head in shame*....Yes these things could be good, fun and entertaining.  But for me, sometimes they could distract me from more important things like working on self-confidence, my relationship with family, friends, and most importantly God, performing charitable deeds more often, etc.  It's difficult to find genuine balance, though I really really try.

Some of the happiest and healthiest periods in my life have involved the following:
1. Self Love
This included not really looking at different magazines, TV programs, and blogs.  It also included saying daily positive affirmations and really reflecting on my own spiritual and physical beauty.
2. Meditation and Prayer
This has always been key for me.  I'm all about inner peace through prayer, reflection, and reading.  The three most important books for me have been The Alchemist, The Prophet, and currently The Bible.
3. Re-examining the meaning of food
Hmm. I think this is particularly important for people who have struggled with their weight/health, like me.
I'm fascinated by the idea of "restriction", not in an unhealthy way (though the definition of unhealthy really is open to interpretation).  But I'm thinking more like veganism, vegetarianism, raw-foodism, or cleansing, for example.  I'll briefly touch on my experience with the master cleanse and veganism.
Master cleanse: I did this in late June. The experience of separating myself from food, controlling my impulse to consume, and consequently having allot more time to focus on other things..especially things I didn't want to focus on (procrastination) was difficult, but absolutely invigorating. For me, it was like emptying myself to let God in. #Deep.
Veganism: I was a flexible vegan right after I did the master cleanse. This meant NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, with the exception of seafood one a month. Though difficult, it was a great experience because it made me realize that I didn't have to eat everything on this Earth. It forced me to think about capitalism, over-consumption, and my overall physical health.
4. A temporary minimalist life-style
This is where everything comes together. There's a reason why this post is entitled "Project Minimalism"!
This has been the most important step of all.  For some reason that I can't explain, whenever I am in a situation where I have to live a minimalist lifestyle (limited electricity, food, warm water, communication and clothes), I am forced to re-examine my privilege (as a highly educated, upper-middle class American young lady), re-address my goals, and re-focus on my spirituality and life. Interestingly and somewhat problematically, this usually occurs when I am living in a poor country, such as when I do humanitarian work in my favorite place of life *Haiti*, when I studied International Health in Brazil, South Africa, and Vietnam, etc.
I am able to live simply and see clearer.
Yet, it has always bothered me that this only occurs when I am away from home, or even immersed in another culture. Why can't I implement these practices in my own country? How can I live "simply" when I work with the poor but live so extravagantly back at home?
This is especially important for me since my number one professional/life goal is to serve extremely disenfranchised, poor, and suffering populations all over the world, as a doctor, healer, and community partner.
I'm re-embarking on MINIMALISM, but bringing it closer to home, to make it more real. I'm also making it permanent.
One of my closest friends directed me to a blog called mnmlist, and subsequently I discovered other minimalist blogs that have been really helpful.  These blogs focus on the idea of "de-cluttering".  In reality, this means getting rid of stuff.  Stuff that inhibits us, stuff that doesn't matter, stuff that takes up space, stuff that others can use more than we know. It's about clearing up space, keeping what we need, knowing what matters, and essentially controlling the impulse to buy.  There are so many ways to apply minimalism, including fashion and beauty (I'll always like nice shiny things), to health, and even spirituality... and I want it all!
Here are some steps that I have embarked on towards minimalism and will continue. The interesting thing is that these steps involve the same exact themes as above, just re-purposed.
Project Minimalism:
1. Clear out the junk
This has been tough, but it feels refreshing (I'm obsessed with the feeling of freshness). This is the most implemented form of minimalism, and includes clearing out junk.  I'm disposing, donating, and selling more then 60% of my belongings.  I'm only buying and keeping what I really need.
2. The Photo Project
I'm no longer going to admire others' beauty more than I reflect on my own. For the next 40 days, starting today, I am going to take a picture of myself every single day to re-enforce self-love.  I'm not sure if I'll share them on this blog...that might be too much.  But I will definitely share a collage of the photos at the end of this period.
3. Spiritual focus
I'm going to pray even more. Simple as that.
4. Mind-Body-Soul
I'm going to re-visit veganism and do a semi-cleanse for 40 days.  Going to clear out the attachment to food, so I could be more attached to myself and God. #taketwo

*Note: I'm no Mother Theresa honey, but I do try to be closer to God always because it feels good to me.  Do what feels good to you, no matter what your spiritual beliefs are!

It's a long road, but it'll be awesome. I'm feeling very excited and very refreshed.

What steps will you take to be more in tune with yourself?

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  1. This is a great project. Best of luck to you Naika.

    1. Thank you for commenting Joanie! N