In December 2016 I watched a documentary called Minimlism: A documentary about the important things. Directed by Matt D’Avella, and staring Ryan Nicodemus, and Joshua Fields Millburn .
To say this documentary has completely changed my life is an understatement.
In May of 2016, my then husband Paul bought me a book; Marie Kondo ‘s The magic of tidying up. Rather than being offended by him buying me a gift that basically implied that I was a messy bitch… I read the book cover-to-cover and loved it.
“I just thought you’d like it ‘cause its Japanese and you love Japan” he said.
Little did he realise what he had started…
This book was the beginning of it all… After reading this book, I got rid of about 80% of my stuff. As I’d had a lifetime of hoarding things and collecting things… this meant 5-6 full car loads going to charity donations. Sorting through all my clothes, then books, then paperwork, then ‘things’ – I selected the items that I thought “sparked Joy” in my life.
This book planted a seed and I would recommend it to EVERYONE.
However this book only really showed me how to declutter my stuff (and in a really great way)… but not WHY I was doing it in the first place.
Why get rid of almost everything I own? Wasn’t it okay just to have the stuff in my spare room? The mountains of boxes and overflowing costume bags… weren’t *really* in my way were they….?
Or were they?
As is inevitable with this type of journey; once I’d cleared some space getting rid of a load of stuff… because I hadn’t addressed the ‘why’ , because I hadn’t got clear on how I wanted to live my life, old habits die hard and I soon filled the spaces I’d cleared with new ‘things’ to quote; “Make me happy”
But happiness cannot be found in things.
That’s when I saw the Minimalist documentary, and I began to fully embody the message;
Love people, and use things…. Because the opposite never works.
I continued to jettison more and more physical possessions from my life and when I felt like I had decluttered all the ‘things’ in my life, I moved onto the next step; commitments.
As a sufferer of anxiety disorder, panic attacks were a daily occurrence and life was increasingly difficult, and yet the one thing I felt I couldn’t do was say… No.
I began to learn the power of the word No. Saying ‘no’ without guilt (that’s a toughie) to all the things that didn’t align with my values and beliefs so that I could begin to think about making room and making time to say ‘yes’ to the things that truly mattered to me.
After clearing out my calendar, I moved on to relationships. I had a lot of toxic people in my life and I was able, after adopting this minimalist mindset, to let go of the need to please everyone and continue to foster relationships with people who honestly drained me of energy every time I saw them.
A lot of the time I just stopped texting / contacting these people; and low and behold – they soon disappeared off my radar, since the relationship was so one-sided to begin with. Once I stopped efforting friendship… I found out who my true friends were, the ones who continued to reach out. I was surprised and humbled when I announced that I was leaving the marital home to move out on my own, the level of people who seemed to appear from nowhere to rally round me. (And now I’m surrounded by beautiful people whom I love!)
After all; You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you…
This documentary and the message behind it, ultimately resulted in me having the strength to admit; both to myself and to my friends and family, that I was polyamorous. Although some took this news badly, (because they grossly misunderstand what being polyamorous actually means) I’m no longer worried about pleasing others or worried about other’s opinions, or interested in living my life by the approval of others.
By questioning EVERYTHING in my life, I found that I had been so desperate to get married and “be a wife” , so ingrained was the disney ‘happy ending’ – your life is only complete when you find a husband… that I settled for a husband that really wasn’t right for me. After questioning the stuff, then the commitments and choices, I moved on to the people in my life… and found that I was unhappy, but couldn’t put a finger on why I was so unhappy… until I realised… with a lot of pain… that I wasn’t meant to be with the man I’d married. Also; that “being a wife” was a really crappy life goal (Note: for me… for MY life and MY values, no offence to the happy wives out there xx).
It’s nobody’s fault – these things happen, the wrong people get married all the time. And Paul was a wonderful husband and dear friend (until he broke contact with me after filing for divorce… now I can only hope he is doing okay, and continue to send loving thoughts towards him).
After moving on with my life, discovering new friendships, falling in love again and learning that I absolutely have permission to do that (despite what ugly things might be said by people who have ZERO idea of the actual situation…) – I began to focus on my values.
I value freedom.
I value friendship.
I value health, dance & yoga.
I value singing and performing.
I value love.
I have all these things in abundance now and I truly believe that I have the minimalists to thank for showing me the way. I’m even finally working towards my dream of becoming a yoga instructor and leaving the stressful anxiety filled world of IT Support behind.
In November of 2017; almost a year after watching the documentary, I took a piece of music from the film created by the band VVE (who were formed specifically for the documentary’s soundtrack); a track called “End of the Line” and I wrote a performance piece to it. And here it is;
Created with the idea that we, as belly dancers, do not need our expensive glittery costumes or rich fabrics or decorations in order to be dancers…. We don’t even need our hair! (My head was shaved on the day of this performance and £1075 + the hair donated to charity; to see the video for that click here) . We actually just need good friends and a good beat.
Performing this piece was an absolute honour, A massive thank you goes out to my mentor and teacher Alexis Southall – not only for believing in me and letting me do the piece, but also for being a part of it. And to my muse and my hero; Ashley Lopez for joining me at the end. Dancing on stage with her was absolutely a bucket list item ticked off!
Each dancer who joined me on stage was someone who has been a positive influence on my dance journey over the years and I wrote each 16count section with the dancer in mind.
As each of them appeared from back stage to take a piece of costume from me; I felt a weight lift; as if I was shedding all the negativity of the divorce and my past life ; and a friend was right there at that moment to take these things away from me (it was really meta!)
Then when the beat kicked in I felt just a rush of absolute joy – which escalated with each dancer who joined me on stage until when we got to the end and we all joined together to sing; “Follow me to the end of the line, there is nothing we don’t leave behind” … I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn’t catch my voice!
(Thank goodness my girls were behind me to lift me up!)
So many people have messaged me to tell me that this piece made them cry, and the emotion on the night was palpable.
Thank you. xxx