Friday, 31 May 2013

Eyes Wide Closed.

Before I publish my next post I have a quick quote to share.  Although I keep my spiritual beliefs private for the most part, this quote holds significant weight for me.

"Satan has blinded the eyes of those that believe not" - The bible

Why do I find this quote interesting??  It is not because it comes from the bible, many religious texts and ideologies interest me.... What is it then.... ??

For me this quote holds an indubitable truth.  It basically means that if you are closed off to an idea you cannot expect to see any truth or purpose in that idea.  Minimalism requires that you take intentional steps towards change with your eyes wide open and your purpose SIMPLE and CLEAR.  It requires us to move outside our comfort zones and evaluate life from a differnet vantage point, only then can we understand Minimalism and embrace its essence.
James Miller

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Today's Thought - Simplicity.

It's amazing how much you can get done when you have a simple purpose guiding your life.  Its often said that most of life's complexities we create for our selves as a result of bad or wrong choices.  I actually believe its more than just bad or wrong choices that complicate our daily living.  Its not so much that your choice was wrong or bad, its more about the fact that you made that choice without a direction or goal and probably based it more on WANTS than NEEDS.

Life would be a lot more simple if so many people didn't dedicate their time to making it complicated.  Establish a set of life rules and let them become your decision making sounding board otherwise you're just treading water!! 

"I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind." - Albert Einstein

James Miller

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Today's little suggestion - Thanks to Martin Luther.

This is not meant to be sexist at all, it also works in reverse.  Very simple words but if we REALLY apply this motto to our lives then we will see magical changes.
What would you have to personally "Minimise" in order to make this single rule a reality in your life?

James Miller

Minimalism - A definition takes shape.

Hi everyone, today I would like to follow on from my previous post "The creation of MY definition".  If you read that post you will remember I was at a point where I knew I needed to change my life but I was not sure how or where to begin.  Then the concept of Minimalism presented it's self to me so I decided to do some research.

On the surface, Minimalism as a life style choice appeared to offer me the tool set to make the positive changes I wanted to see happen.  I am a very logical thinker so from there I needed to define Minimalism before I could embrace any sort of change in my life.  Without doing this I didn't really know where to begin, how to begin or what it was that I was beginning.  So I set about trying to create My own definition of Minimalism.....  Actually that's not totally true.  I didn't want to reinvent the wheel, what I was really trying to do was uncover "pure minimalism".  At this point all I had really managed to find were very generic umbrella type definitions (remember the dangers of being too general).

Armed with the decision that my focus was to be my family, my relationship and my personal spirituality, I was able to gain a small foothold of understanding and My personal definition of Minimalism began to take shape.  The word "Minimise" obviously provided me with some insight.  Its very general but basically I understood that it meant the reduction of something, downsizing, simplification, decluttering or basically "to make smaller and less complex".  At this point I was still a long way off implementing any changes in my life, however I was now able to focus my thoughts a little more on ways to integrate the concept of Minimalism into my every day routine. The generic definition under which I would operate and use to create a more specific list of "life Rules", finally presented it's self to me via the Internet:

The definition (artistic focus):

"Minimalism is an artistic movement which sets out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts"

The definition that I finally settled on came about after looking at dictionary definitions associated with minimalism and then doing a billion trillion hours of research to try and determine the true essence of Minimalism. Through examining the concept from a more holistic/spiritual stand point my definition, more worldly less artistic than the original, came into being.  When doing this I tried to keep in mind that the end goal should not only be to only make my life better but MORE importantly to positively impact those close to me.  Notice my focus is Family, relationships and lastly "spirituality" (more "self" orientated and thus third on my list).

MY definition:

Minimalism is a life style choice which sets out to enhance family life, relationships and personal spirituality by revealing the essence and essentials of daily life through eliminating all non-essential forms, features, concepts, actions, views or possessions.

Great, now that I had a definition I could begin to read more about Minimalism, subscribe to blogs, chat with like minded people and join online communities to further work out what Minimalism means to me.  From there I could formulate my "life rules", checked and balanced against my definition.  My definition became my sounding board so to speak.  I like to call my version "Essential Minimalism" as I believe it reflects the most pure form of Minimalism because my goals are focused on others not myself.  It was only because I now had a working definition that I could begin to look at my life critically with a view to change.

"A mind can't know the light without having experienced darkness".  I have lived a life of excess, confusion, complexity, self indulgence and sometimes total anarchy.  Minimalism became my light and my previous mindset/life the darkness.  As my definition came to light so I moved out of a life of darkness... I was no longer seeing things through selfish eyes, I was not going to be one of the "little boxes on a hill side (quoted from the song little boxes) anymore.

WOW, "I'm a Minimalist", I can remember thinking..... NOT.... With hindsight I can see I still had a long way to go.  I did however have a new weapon in my arsenal, MY definition of essential minimalism.  So where was I....  I knew I needed to minimise the non-essential in order simplify my life, but where the hell do I begin and what do I need to change.  To make matters even more daunting I was still unsure if doing this would really achieve anything or make things better... Maybe it will make my life worse !!

In my next post I will elaborate a little more on the processes I went through to develop my "life Rules" and many of the ideas, concepts and people I needed to consider when doing so.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Today's suggestion.

No TV Saturday..... Try going a full day with your family today without switching on the idiot box.  Grab a board game and do something different.  If you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always got.

Thanks for stopping by - James Miller

Friday, 24 May 2013

The creation of MY definition.

Hi all, thanks for stopping by once again to view my blog.  Today I would like to chat about the steps I followed to finally get down on paper MY definition of minimalism.  I would like to recommend that anyone wanting to experience a new way of life through minimalistic practises also embark on a similar process.  Doing so will allow you to have a clear understanding of :
  1. Who you are doing this for.
  2. Why are you doing this.
  3. Exactly what it is that you are doing.
  4. What goals you want to achieve.
  5. How you go about achieving your goals.

My Goal !!! A pictures paints a thousand words.
Before embarking on my life changing journey I had an overwhelming feeling of "is this it?".  My life was normal for all intents and purposes, but it felt empty.  Every day was a battle..... All I seemed to do was work and pay bills, with little time left for anything of any real substance.  My relationship with my beautiful wife was in the proverbial "crapper" (when compared to how it is now) and I didn't spend enough time with my Daughter.  There was no one specific thing that went wrong, it was a combination of smaller things all of which were issues associated with not spending quality time with the people I love.  I had let worldly pursuits blind me and I no longer had a direction.  My self esteem was low and every day became a grind, at times I felt suicidal.  Right at this low point I asked myself the following questions "Am I happy to continue the way things are", "Do I want to be in this relationship", and "what changes can I make to fix things".  My answers were No, Yes, and buggered if I know......
Right, time to act..... I knew I loved my wife and that she loved me, I knew we both loved our daughter, I knew I didn't want to continue this way but I didn't know where to start or what to do to fix things.  So I stopped right there and had another little think, I asked myself what was the single most important thing in my life.  I could not answer with just one thing, but I did answer,  "my family, my relationship and my personal spirituality".  I didn't want to cut out one thing so I could buy more of something else (like the Porsche above), I didn't want the perfect new age minimalist home (that costs a million dollars to build - again pictured above).  What I wanted was a perfect life with my wife and my daughter and for me to explore my inner "soul" more so as to become a better person to and for those in my life. 
From there I decided to investigate ways to focus more of my energy on these three crucial areas of my life, but how can I achieve this when all I do is work and most of my money goes on bills and/or selfish pursuits.  After much discussion with friends, reading of books, searching the Internet etc I happened upon the concept of Minimalism.  Immediately I could see that Minimalism not only offered me a way to change my life, it also offered me a way to change myself. 

"If you don't define a thing then that thing may define you" 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Winter money saving ideas. The trusty Slow cooker.

Winter is almost upon us southern hemisphere dwelling folk and for our family this can be an expensive time of the year.  It seems I am always reaching for my wallet once the cold hits.  Keeping a home warm, comfortable and safe is an expensive thing to do and as the winter weather settles in the cost to do this increases. 

During winter the main increases in expenditure are electricity ( i.e heating) and hot water.  The bills associated with these two services can double or more during winter months even if you have an alternative heating method like wood or gas.  The simple process of keeping cloths dry can be a challenge and often an expense. These two services aside there are also many "hidden" increases that we might not initially notice.  Have you ever examined your grocery bill during the winter months?  Our household grocery bill increases quite a bit during winter.  As a general rule people spend a lot more time indoors (for obvious reasons) when its cold.  You start work in darkness and usually finish work in darkness, daylight hours are less and the temperature has dropped so you go into hibernation mode.  Being inside makes it a lot easier to curl up in front of the TV (or with a book) and grab a "snack".  People that spend winter in reasonably cold climates tend to eat more and usually put on some "winter fat" as my grandmother called it.

A simple basic solution that saves us considerable money on groceries this time of the year is to utilise our trusty slow cooker.  You can load it up with an inexpensive cut of meat, tons of veggies, spices, herbs and what ever takes your fancy.  Switch it on in the morning and come home to a cooked meal that is perfect for winter.  Wash it down with your favourite bevvy, minimal washing up, minimal preparation time, everyone is happy.  Experiment with recipes change things around a bit, I have never found cooking easier, cheaper or quicker (as it cooks while you are at work) than using a slow cooker.  They usually make enough food to provide leftovers for lunch the following day too.  Yummo.  JM


To liberal, soft and squishy, I can do what ever I WANT - Part 2

Explanation: A definition that is too liberal runs the risk of becoming both everything and nothing.

Yesterday I ended a brief post with the above statement, I would like to elaborate a little on this concept today.  As these posts continue you will begin to get a picture of what I am trying to define, by the time I have finished all my "introductory" posts you should clearly see how I view Minimalism and have a foundational understanding for what I call Family, Relationship and spirituality focused Minimalism (Essential Minimalism) - Please hang in there with me. When we are done we can move on to the "good stuff" and flesh out some of the techniques I use to simplify my life.  We will also look at topics on a multitude of subjects, all of which I feel are pertinent to a person trying to implement a lifestyle of Minimalism.

OK, back at it then.  While I was pondering what to write for this post I decided to Google the term "liberal", I found a few comical pictures defining the term and thought I would share them before we continue.

Hmmm, they made me think though.... Have you ever heard the saying that "many a true word is spoken in jest"?  While the reason for posting the pictures was to lighten the mood I am sure you can see the intended truth hidden behind the Pun.  See where I am going with this?  If your definition becomes too general essentially you don't actually have a workable definition anymore.  Specifics and a solid foundation are needed to provide both a start point and some initial direction.  It's a bit like the snow ball rolling down the hill, because its a hill it rolls and as it gets bigger it gains momentum.  A "very general" definition actually works in reverse, it's like trying to start that same small snowball at the bottom of the hill and push it to the top.  In Australia we have some interesting and colourful sayings that portray this colloquial truth.  One that comes to mind (pardon the language) is "up shit creek without a paddle", because basically that is where you are if your definition has no meat on its bones.  A definition that is too general can be bent, spindled or twisted to suit any situation or circumstance, for example minimising your Porsche FLEET so you can buy more Lamborghinis.  I call this soft core Minimalism and in my opinion it is more about people adopting a lifestyle they call minimalism for reasons that only benefit themselves and often damage the people they are closest to.  It's really just a definition of "convenience" because you can make it "everything or nothing" depending on how you decide to interpret it in any given situation.
I really like the second picture, obviously it is not a "real" definition but it still holds some indisputable truths.  If your definition is too liberal essentially it can allow you to do anything you want, even to the point of doing exactly the opposite to that which you are trying to achieve.  A definition that is too liberal can be its own antagonist. To conclude this post I hope that I have explained briefly the dangers of having a definition that is either too liberal or too rigid.  What we need is a definition that allows us room to change but not room enough to miss the point of minimalism all together, because that is NOT the essence of minimalistic living.  I have a friend that professes to be a "total minimalist" (perhaps by her definition) and maybe some of you will agree that she is.  Basically her slant on minimalism is "cutting out one thing so you can have more of something else".  While this kinda sorta fits the general definition of minimalism, but it is a million miles from what I believe to be a true minimalistic lifestyle.  In my eyes its soft core and caters to the masses not the "true minimalist".
I know that so far this blog seems like lecture notes, but never fear the fun stuff is coming.  Later today lets look at some winter money saving ideas (as promised yesterday), just to break change the excitement dynamic a little.  JM

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

To liberal, soft and squishy, I can do what ever I WANT!!!

Hello from Downtown Hobart and yours truly James Miller.  We are heading into the winter season in Tasmania and it’s about to get cold and wet.  This can be a wallet draining time of the year for many and minimising expenses can be very helpful when battling the winter months and associated bills.  Firstly though, I want to have another look at defining minimalism, lets chat quickly about the dangers of having a definition that is too liberal. After that lets have a look at some real money saving ideas for the winter period.

To liberal, soft and squishy, I can do whatever I want..... If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.  There you have it, in a nutshell,  sorta....  To put it simply, we need some definitive boundaries for minimalism to work.  Without some definition of what minimalism really is you have no real direction and it can be difficult to begin the process.  The definition can and will be different from person to person but it is still very important to have one.  This helps to keep us focused on the end goal; it gives us the tools to evaluate our current modus operandi and make changes / improvements and provides us with a framework for explaining our current minimalistic practises to others.  Being able to cite a definition allows fellow minimalists to know what your goals are and how you implement them.  It also allows us to critically look at the way goals are being achieved and make slight changes to the way things are done in attempt to simplify and improve our methods and protocols.  Your definition is like the computer program that runs a big industrial machine (us).  Having a definition not only begins the process and gives it direction but also, via goal evaluation, allows us to see where things are not working and require a little tweak (I love that word).  A definition that is too liberal runs the risk of becoming both everything and nothing.... Explanation required....  Stay tuned for more on defining minimalism and some winter saving tips.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013


An interesting video, nice to see some people get the point.  I just thought I would toss this one out there while you eagerly await my next post :-)


Monday, 20 May 2013

My Slant on Minimalism

What does the term Minimalism mean to ME?  This really is the very first thing we need to talk about.  To understand this Blog you need to understand me, well maybe not all of me (my wife would say that’s not possible) but you need to know how I personally define minimalism and I bet you a home cooked meal your definition is different to mine. Never fear I am a very good cook !!

Firstly I want to refer to the way the word is grammatically defined, I like to look at minimalism as having two definitions, the dictionary definition and the “REAL WORLD” definition.  Minimalism, as defined by the oxford dictionary, is :
1.  A person who advocates or practices minimalism.
2.  A person advocating moderate reform in politics.

Adjective (also minimalistic)
1.  Relating to minimalism. Lacking decoration or adornment; deliberately simple or basic in design or style: his recently renovated minimalist Conran kitchen
2.  Advocating moderate political reform.

Early 20th century: first used with reference to the Russian Mensheviks. Usage in art and music dates from the 1960s

Here is another definition from >>


1. One who advocates a moderate or conservative approach, action, or policy, as in a political or governmental organization.
2. A practitioner of minimalism.

1. Of, relating to, characteristic of, or in the style of minimalism.
2. Being or providing a bare minimum of what is necessary.

Below are two more definitions, although not completely fitting my personal definition they are quite close.

The Dangers of a Definition:  Zealots BEWARE!!!

What’s wrong with having something perfectly defined??  Well nothing if you are talking about mathematics, chemical science, physics or a similar field of endeavour.  When building a house it is a really good idea to have your building plans concise and well defined, you don’t want ambiguity when putting up a roof.  The reality however, is that a considerable amount of the language we use to communicate is to some degree or another open to interpretation.  This is why I want to clearly explain how I personally define minimalism.  Having said that, I have what I call a ”margin of error” component associated with my definition, that way I can modify my thinking, take on new views and understand the views of others better.  I simply evaluate the suggestion/concept/idea against my core values and make a choice what to do.   I guess about 80 percent of my definition is what I would call my “Foundational Credo”, the other 20 percent is, as mentioned above, my “margin of error” component.  To set anything completely in concrete allows no room for change and minimalism is actually all about change and being open to new ways of living and new ways of SEEING the world.  It’s about losing the shackles of societal indoctrination and living according to a new set of PERSONAL VALUES. 

As we change personally, as we age, as society changes we need this “margin of error” buffer zone.  Our lives are in a constant state of flux, we just don’t always see it happening around us.  Here is a quote that always reminds me of this truth: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven .A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
So many of the words, phrases, allegories, metaphors, and other literary devices that we use to communicate can have immeasurably different meaning from one person to another.  A good definition with a built in “margin of error” allowing an element of flexibility is essential.  A simple paper based definition is, for my liking, too open to be misinterpreted thus the quintessential meaning of being a minimalist may be lost or we may risk becoming zealots and miss the point of minimalism.  This blog, for me personally, is my way of finally listing, evaluating, re-evaluating and testing my value set with an openness to change and a view to improve/simplify/clarify my current stance.  It also allows me to ratify the importance of those values which remain constant and true in my life and therefore won’t (for now) be changing.  There are dangers of adopting a definition with no element of flexibility, but there are even bigger dangers associated with having a definition that allows too much flexibility. 

To sum it all up I can see dangers in having a definition that is too rigid.  Who wants to feel guilty when you break your own concrete rules ?? Some flexibility must be associated with your final definition.  Next post I want to have a brief look at what can happen if your definition is too liberal.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Getting started.

Getting Started - Minimalism.

living a minimalist’s life in a dystopian world

Hi I’m James from Hobart Tasmania, this is my first blog post and probably the most important one I will make. I am going to try and set forth my underlying belief structure and thus establish the foundation for all my blogs that follow.  I will do this over a series of approximately 12 consecutive blogs as I don’t like spending too much time preparing posts.  
Reading this introduction provides you, my valued advisors, with a glimpse of my “mindset” and thus a window of understanding into the STUFF (of life) that I choose to discuss, chew over, speculate, comment on, or hypothesize about. My blog will be one of varied subjects but the bedrock will always be “Family, Relationship and Spirituality focused Minimalism”.

Do Re Mi, Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  Before I divulge anything about myself I am sure that my writing style has already planted a mental seed about who I am and what I must be like.  Well, I am not actually going to reveal much about myself yet.  Initially I want people to mull over and contemplate the core essence of this blog and hopefully provoke a thought process that empowers us (you and me) to change our lives and live them in a way that creates deep inner peace, joy and fulfillment.  A life that allows us to be content with what we have and who we are.  A life where the sun shines more often than not and where the glass is half full not half empty.  I want us all to use this blog as a personal conscience “poker” where we refine our value set on the road to achieving a deeply “spiritual” (and I don’t mean religious) fulfilled life.  This blog is as much yours as it is mine.  Stay tuned for my next post, feel free to introduce yourself.