By now you may have heard that in less than a month, I will be traveling to Istanbul, Turkey. There I will get TEFL certified to teach English. I also have big plans for working with the Syrian refugee population. In the wake of my decision to move, I knew I wanted to travel light. I started pretty late, but worked fast, and ended up getting rid of more than half of my belongings. The results of this change are greater than I could have ever anticipated.
1. I feel WAY calmer
My room used to look like a hurricane hit it every-other month. Things didn't really have a specified place to go, and I was constantly trying to find things. Every morning I had to decide what outfit to wear. All these mini decisions coupled with my generally busy lifestyle made for a very stressed Lena. Even when my room was clean, by eyes would be distracted by all the possibilities of things to do. When I started getting rid of stuff, I instantly felt a sense of relief and calm. My room felt more Zen. I can now sit quietly without my eyes darting around at everything in my room. I don't have the anxiety of losing or finding things, because there isn't much around!
2. Going with the flow is easier than ever
You know what has excited me the most about having almost no stuff? Being able to move anywhere, at anytime, very easily. Packing is probably the most dreaded thing about moving for most people. When living simply, all I need is to dump my stuff in a suitcase and I'm off! Change feels so easy now that my anxiety for it has eased. Opportunities are right around the corner, and I am mobile enough to take off running towards them.
3. Every moment is precious
When I first decided to move, the biggest emotional moment was thinking about leaving my loved ones. My siblings are still very young, and I hate the thought of missing their childhood. Just like everyone, I would let days pass by without spending meaningful time with them. I always had the excuse “I can see them anytime”. Now the days are numbered and I have a sense of urgency and sentiment. I stopped watching TV and indulging in other time-wasters. Objects and entertainment have been replaced by what matters most: people you love.
4. I've (somehow) become even less materialistic
For the past six years or so I have slowly transitioned to buying only second-hand objects unless absolutely necessary. Most of my clothes are what I've sewn or from thrift stores. I rarely spend a lot of money on a material object- I would prefer to spend it on an experience. Even so, I did find myself getting attached to certain things. When I started getting rid of stuff, I gave a lot of it to my siblings. In those moments I discovered that the real value of an object is the memories it creates, and those will stay with me. By passing them on they can bring about new memories instead of sitting useless in my closet.
5. I've become more thoughtful
Things are more clear cut. I only kept things I needed and that were important to my goals, like sketchbooks, a journal, and a case of my art/sewing supplies. Objects in my room are no longer battling for my attention. There are less things to aid in my procrastination, and less decisions to be made on a daily basis. My mind feels more clear, so I can get right to work when I get to my room. All this simplicity in my work space has left a lot of calm space in my brain for thought.
What are some tips you can offer for someone reading this who is looking to downsize for the first time? What are some of the experiences you have had when it comes to living simply? Comment below and share this post with someone who would enjoy it!
War seems to be endless. There is always an enemy to be defeated. The cycle goes like this: American public is outraged by an occurrence, the Media does a blackout coverage of said occurrence, which makes the American citizens even more angry about it. Politicians say: "Let's wipe out the threat!" People agree enthusiastically. Trouble is, there is NO SUCH THING as war without innocent civilian causalities. The amount of senseless killing in the world is too much to fathom. Every horrific event a child witnesses brings them even closer to living a dysfunctional life that may lead them to drugs, crime, and violence. These troubled children of a lost generation may go on to cause more disturbances that could bring about a war. The cycle can't stop until we make it. As a global community we need to lead with compassion for EVERY human being. We must make conscious efforts to STOP WAR and take measurable steps to START PEACE.
Buy this T-shirt to raise awareness for injustice and provide assistance to refugees that have been affected by conflict worldwide!
Original graphic by Michigan based Syrian-American designer (yours truly!)
My family has suffered mass losses at the hands of the political war in Syria that is disguised as a Spring. Some of them were able to escape to Istanbul, Turkey and have built a new life there. They endured horrific circumstances to get there. The money will buy me a plane ticket to Turkey where I plan to teach English and help my family and other refugees as much as possible.
Through a recent talk with my Aunt who is living in Istanbul, I discovered that there are a lot of Syrians living around her in that area. I asked if she knew any seamstresses, and she could name a few. This made my mind explode with possibilities!! Back when I first decided to go to Turkey I knew that I wanted to combine my fashion work with my travels in a way that benefits a humanitarian cause. How amazing would it be to bring work to these brave Syrian seamstresses??