A Minimalist Journey

My journey began in 2016 with the sale of my own 4 bedroom home, followed by clearing out my parent’s condominium in Florida and large split level home twice in the Midwest.  I then spent the next two years living with my parents caretaking, with my stuff in boxes in storage.  Recently, I relocated across the country and made the decision to reduce my belongings and downsize as I prepared to move into a small two-bedroom condo.  Having gone through the process of selling, sorting and giving away items so many times over the past two years, I realized that the more stuff I had, the larger my burden was.

Although I had shipped my belongings from the Midwest and downsized considerably, when I arrived in southern Florida, I was informed by the trucking company that my belongings were delayed and would not arrive for almost two weeks, leaving me to live in an entirely empty condo with no bed, table or chairs.  At first, I thought it would be ok, a minimalist adventure, something that I had wanted to do for years, so I mentally prepared for minimal living.  I had a few dishes, one pan, five tops and five pants and one pair of shoes that had developed a hole in the toe that I would wear for the next two weeks.

In the beginning, the emptiness felt like freedom, but then the stark white walls and ceiling began to feel like a hospital as I had nothing to make me feel grounded.  I love color and earthy things like plants and rugs, so I tried to embrace the emptiness although I had moments where I struggled to feel at home, as I had no sense of belonging or personal items to make it my own.

Over time, I started to enjoy the simplicity of not having a lot of stuff to clean or pick up.  Life became easy and effortless in my newfound space.  I cleaned and reused the same dishes for each meal, I reused my towels, I only had a few items in my closet and the space became liberating to me.  I was no longer focused on stuff but spent my time focusing on meeting new people and engaging in activities that were meaningful to me.

Then the day came when the truck driver called and said he would arrive at 8:00 am the following morning.  I was excited to get my things back and missed my furniture.  The truck arrived on time and the driver and workers started to unload.  With each and every load of boxes that they carried in, I started to feel my energy drain and a heaviness settle over my soul.  After several hours of carrying in boxes of all shapes and sizes, the small two bedroom condo became crowded and filled to the ceiling.  I had even downsized before I came but had not realized how small the condo was.  I started to feel suffocated and quickly missed all of my open space I had been living in.

When the movers were done, I signed on the dotted line and picked up a yoga matt that wasn’t even mine.  Somehow not only did I end up with a household full of stuff, but I also had other people’s belongings as well.  I felt the heaviness physically and felt like I was living as a hoarder.  I knew that I couldn’t keep all the boxes, nor did I want to, but I didn’t want to even think about opening them or touching them that day, so I left the boxes alone and went outside for a long walk, mainly to get away from the stuff.

I later made the decision that I did not want all that clutter and that I had spent too much of my time accumulating things in the past.  The stuff had to go, so I made the decision that I would not spend any more time shopping.  If I brought something new into my house, something else would have to leave. I had briefly spent a week living a minimalist lifestyle and had grown to love the freedom and ease it brought me.  The next day I began to open boxes and with some help, I was able to donate all of my unwanted items which included kitchen appliances, dishes, candles, artwork, clothes, shoes and other unneeded things.

I came to the conclusion that although I wanted to live a simple minimalistic lifestyle, I also needed to have a few of my own belongings to connect with or to help me feel grounded so I decided that a few larger pieces were needed, but a lot of the smaller items that had no significance would have to go.

My personal situation was still somewhat in transition as I searched for my place of belonging.  During this time, I applied for a job in Arizona.  I decided that if I was offered the position, I would have to cut my belongings in half again, as this would mean shipping my belongings over 2000 miles, a costly and expensive trip.  So box by box, I began my journey into minimalism and felt lighter with each box that I unloaded and left my home.

At this moment, I do not know what my future holds or what direction it will take me, but I do know that wherever I go, I don’t want my life and home to be filled with stuff, but want it to be filled with people, love, peace, joy, and happiness.

If you decide to begin the journey of minimalism, let me help you take the first step.  This journey may not be easy in the beginning, but through the process, you will learn about yourself, become free from the past, and find that your life becomes lighter in ways that you could never imagine.

Starting Over

Life changes aren’t always easy. At some point in life, we all have to face them in various ways, a death of a parent, divorce, illness or relocation. At this time, I’m facing one of the biggest life changes I have ever faced and have found the process stressful and filled with challenges.

It’s easy to look back and reflect on regrets that we have or be filled with sorrow at what was or at what wasn’t, but that only prevents you from moving forward. I have to remind myself of this often.

Having recently moved 1,500 miles away to start a new life alone, I find the process extremely overwhelming, but my first priority is meeting new people, making contacts and exploring the area. I reflect as I make this transition as to what my old life was like, it was safe and comfortable, but I had also stopped growing. It is in difficult circumstances that we often grow the most. Although it doesn’t always feel good, it’s through this process that we go within, reach out to others and find inner strengths that we never knew we had. Sometimes it feels as if we are being tested beyond our limitations, but it is through these challenges that everyday life becomes more meaningful. It is also during these times when we experience the helpfulness of other people and connection to spirit.

No matter who you are, there will be a point in your life when you are faced with what feels like an insurmountable challenge, but when you find yourself in this place, remember what may appear as a crisis or disaster, will be an opening to a greater life than you could ever imagine. Although I am not through my transition yet, I trust that all is for my higher good. If it were up to me, I would stay in a safe zone, but often in life, we are pushed or shoved out of our comfort zone and into new and untravelled territory, where we must sink or swim and sinking isn’t an option. There are people who are life preservers that can help us through our difficulties. All you have to do is reach out.

I also believe that it is through our own hardships that we are better able to help others along their paths. Sometimes the path ends, sometimes the path leads us to unexplored places, people, and experiences. Trust the process even if you can’t see the end of the path or where it leads. Sometimes it’s just about surrendering to what was and what will be. Surrendering isn’t always easy either, but sometimes its easier than fighting or clinging to an old way of life that no longer exists.

Life is a journey of ups and downs and changes in directions. Trust that when the path ends, another one will begin and while you are exploring, make connections with others along the way.

Minimal Living

As I prepared for a major life change and relocation, I struggled to work through the stress of packing up my items and belonging and wondered why I had collected so much over the years.  In my big house, the items didn’t seem to take up so much space, but now through this transition, the material stuff seemed to take up emotional and mental space.  I was stressed out trying to pack things up and decided at the last minute to sell off a lot of things I no longer needed, and if I had more time, I would have sold off most of my material goods, leaving it all behind.

As I struggled packing boxes, I quickly learned how all the meaningless material goods that I had collected, was actually a burden in many ways.  I then made the decision that I would downsize and for the first time in my life, stop collecting stuff and live a simple life, free of materialism.  I wasn’t sure I could do it, as I liked my stuff, but I also realized that none of it gave me lasting happiness, in fact, I discovered that the happiness was so short-lived that the I was left with the aftermath of later getting rid of the stuff or paying for it.  The stuff had become a paradox.

I had craved a life of simplicity for years and now I was actually faced with the ability to act on this concept and knew that the less I had, the happier I would be.  I didn’t need a closet full of clothes or a bunch of pots and pans or meaningless trinkets.  They took up space in my physical life as well as in my mental life.  I also thought about the waste of money I had spent over a lifetime and how that money could have brought me happiness in so many other ways like giving to others, going on more adventure trips or having a large savings account and security.

As I prepared for transition across the country, I knew that although I had already shed a lot of what I owned, I knew that when I arrived, I would have to get rid of more.  I no longer had space, nor did I want the stuff.  I made the decision that my new life would be simplistic, minimal and spirit filled.  My days would not be spent shopping or collecting, but would be spent in connection with others, and connecting to spirit. I would spend my time doing things I enjoyed like Qigong and Yoga.  I also decided to start eating healthier and spending more time on being creative in the kitchen, making whole natural foods.  I decided that each day needed to have meaning and that I could create that through simplicity and minimalism.  It would be a challenge, but one that I had wanted to make for years.  This was to be a new adventure for me, but one that would leave me feeling peaceful and content.

Although through this process, it was a very stressful and emotional time, through the shedding of tears and the releasing of my belongings, I was able to see clearly again.  Somehow all the stuff had prevented me from seeing what was really important in life.  The junk clouded my vision and with the baggage gone, the clouds began to disappear.

What are you holding onto?  Are you willing to let go?  Take the adventure with me!

Breath of Joy

 

Karolee Bulak Wellness Consultant

Yogic breathing techniques have been around for thousands of years, but not until 1970’s has the western world learned the life-changing practice of yoga.

One of the most joyful breathing techniques is called “Breath of Joy.” This practice lifts your spirit and generates happiness as you increase the oxygen flow to your body and mind.  It also promotes a release of stress and negativity and a reported reduction in depression. It’s a fun practice for children and adults, but if you have medical conditions, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before beginning a new practice.

The Breath of Joy

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart
  • Inhale 1/3 of your lungs as you raise your hands in front of your body to shoulder level
  • Inhale again 2/3 lung capacity and bring your arms out to your sides at shoulder level
  • Inhale fully and swing your arms directly overhead with palms facing each other
  • Exhale completely as you swing your arms back down, bending over releasing a “ha” sound
  • Repeat up to 9 times

 

Dance Therapy

dance therapy

A powerful and fun way to relieve stress and remove blocked emotions is through dance therapy and body movement. Through motion, we free not only our bodies but also our stuck emotions that often become trapped in our bodies, allowing us to feel lighter and happier in body, mind, and spirit.

Physical exercise is commonly recommended by doctors and counselors, but not everyone likes to walk or hike. But dance is another way of healing that allows the freedom of spirit where your body can express itself in fun and therapeutic ways.

Soul Motion is a wonderful, free form expression of dance, that both an individual and group experience that allows you to release unwanted emotions, physical ailments and uplifts the soul. It is also a spiritual practice that allows you to connect not only to yourself and spirit but to others who are also dancing through the same journey.

Soul Seekers

Hiking in the mountains on a spiritual quest

At some point in your life, you may find yourself seeking the meaning of your life and questioning your career path or your relationships. Being on a spiritual quest is not only normal, it’s healthy as we continue to grow in life.

What is it that you are seeking? The journey begins with a simple restlessness within the soul, and if ignored, the restlessness grows stronger until life becomes unbearable. The universe will then force you into growth and change in whatever area of life that needs to end. For most of us, making large-scale changes or transitions isn’t easy because we then enter into the unknown, which can be a scary place, but it is in this emptiness, that the universe can open doors to new opportunities or people that are destined to be on our spiritual path.

When you find yourself growing restless, go within, and there you will find the answers that you need to change your life for the better, and if you need help or support through this process, I would be happy to help guide you through life’s transitions in a gentle and supportive way.

Nature’s Kitchen

Raw Wild Blackberries

Recently I developed an allergy and intolerance to common foods that I have eaten all my life, dairy, sugar, gluten, and caffeine, which ignited my journey into healthy foods and I started using food for mental and emotional health and viewing it as energy.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I often talk to people about the body/mind connection and explain that when we feed our body poorly, it makes a negative impact on our mental and emotional health. Food is nature’s medicine that we can control, which impacts our ability to fight off illness and disease. Not that we choose to get sick, but what we put into our bodies either strengthens us or weaken our immune system.

I am always seeking adventures and often go in search of them on my bicycle.  Today I traveled the Green Circle Trail finding miles of wild blackberry bushes along the way!  I munched on the trail as cyclists rode by shouting, “Breakfast!.”  I also picked a lot of berries to make smoothies, gluten-free scones and to add to my coconut yogurt.

Due to my allergies developed later in life, healthy food has become a passion of mine. I often try to buy organic if possible, but nothing tastes better than eating the berries right off the bush!

Here is a recipe from my friend John in England. I have adapted it a bit to reduce the sugar content.

In John’s words:

“I use a pot full of blackberries and give them a good wash.  I then add 1 cooking apple, cut into chunks, remove the skin, add a small spoonful of sugar and cook until simmering.  When it starts to smell really good, I remove the pot from heat and let the berries and apples cool so the berries have melted together a bit.  It’s delicious!”

Turmeric for Depression

salad with tumeric for depression
Turmeric has many reported health benefits such as being an anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, helps alleviate asthma symptoms, and promotes sleep, but according to new research trials, Turmeric can also help with mild depression symptoms. A truly amazing food that aids in mental and physical health.

I had this delicious healthy salad at Finca Luna Nueva, an organic echo farm in the Costa Rican Rainforest. Each meal consisted of fresh fruits and vegetables organically grown on the farm. It was one of the healthiest weeks of my life including great people, healthy foods, yoga, and adventure.

The salad’s dressing was also made with Turmeric which was organically grown.

A hot yellow turmeric drink on a cold or gloomy day will lift your spirits!

My recipe for Turmeric Tea:

1 cup coconut or almond milk
1/2-1 teaspoon organic turmeric powder
a sprinkle of cinnamon

Heat milk in microwave or on the stovetop for 1 minute, add 1/2-1 teaspoon organic turmeric, add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top and then enjoy!