Teaspoons of Change in an Apartment in Tokyo

Small but significant ways to live lightly on the earth in an apartment in Tokyo

I’ve just come off the back of many years of continuous travel without being settled in one country, one city, and certainly not one room for a long time. I’m currently in Tokyo, Japan to do a Master’s in Peace Studies through the Rotary Peace Fellowship.

This requires me to be in Tokyo for at least 10 months before I can start to head off back into the world to do field work and my normal nomad way of life. This means I had to find a place to live for 10 months – staying in the same place for the first time since 2008 when I lived in Ethiopia for a year.

In general, for the past 15 years I have been travelling and moving often and my usual form of accommodation has been varied including:

  • Living in a van with my best friend travelling throughout Arctic Canada
  • Well over 100 nights/year in my tent for at least 5 years, especially when travelling from Arctic Canada to the bottom of Tierra del Fuego in South America over 2 years
  • A one room dormitory on Ethiopia without running water and sporadic electricity
  • Another van that I lived in around the streets of Melbourne, and often the carpark of where I was volunteering
  • My friend’s garage/basement with one electricity socket and slightly dungeon surroundings
  • Two self-sufficient tiny houses that I made with volunteers
  • And then an almost infinite number of houses, floors, couches and anything else I’ve been fortunate to close my eyes for 6 hours or more each night for 15 years J

Anyway my point here is that I am not used to conventional living in any sense of the word so coming to Japan and living in an apartment was always going to be a significant struggle going on my past form and especially because I definitely know my favourite form of accommodation which are my Happy, simply homes – sustainable, off-grid, self-sufficient, where less is more and just enough is plenty!

So in a very conventional setting that I am in here in Tokyo I wanted to share each and every small Teaspoons of Change that I feel is a move toward more self-sufficiency, sustainability and happiness trying to live within one-planet resources and environmental limitations.

I should firstly point out that the apartment is pretty typical for cheap but common accommodation for a student or single person in Japan. It is 19m² with kitchen, bathroom/toilet and bedroom/living room and rent is ¥450,000 / month (about $450USD).

I don’t have a choice of renewable energy nor water capture for the majority of my electricity and piped water so I have had to work within those parameters as much as possible to find my Teaspoons of Change.

  • Buckets: I have buckets, many buckets. One for water capture from my shower and washing my face each morning, one for capturing rainwater outside when it rains, one for shaving in the bathroom and a basin for the kitchen
    • All of the water I use in the house gets captured in some way through these buckets and is used to flush the toilet once a day – washing up water, showering water, etc.
  • Solar: I have one small 7W solar panel that I can use to charge a small powerbank when the sun is shining. The first day I left it on top of the neighbour’s fence which was the sunniest spot around they called the police not knowing what it was and I had to retrieve it from the main police station assuring them it was not something harmful! I think this is a pretty good indication of the understanding and relationship of Japan and solar energy.
    • Anyway, I can usually charge my powerbank only once in a week with solar power as it has been a cloudy month here

 

 

  • Devices – I use USB devices as much as possible.
    • I have a 10LED usb light I use for light above my desk and computer, this is the light I use the most, the rest of my lights are conventional fluoro lights that I use on a needs basis and are turned off at all other times.
    • My music comes from a small USB powered musical box. The speaker is more than sufficient for listening to my favourite songs at volume or to play podcasts that I save from the internet and put on an SD card which slots into my little sound box  :)
    • I try to charge these devices and my phone via the powerbank as often as possible and my USB light runs permanently from my laptop usb

 

  •  Toilet:
    • I rarely flush my toilet with the lever on the toilet, instead I flush with 90% left over water from the shower, the kitchen, or capturing rainwater with my buckets
    • I have filled my cistern with a wine bottle and two large plastic bottles so it uses less water to refill and I have made it so it only flushes as little time as you need and control – so not just one push and the factory choice of how water but a matter of holding the lever flushing till the waste is gone which is a lot less water
    • I have not done a full flush in the month I’ve been here with my combination of re-purposed water and minimum flushing techniques and no smells or nasties floating around the place!
    • BTW the terracotta pot-plant pots are to assist with a squatty potty (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbYWhdLO43Q) and can be used with a candle as a low-burn thermal heater (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzKbFzUEWkA)
  •  Bathroom:
    • I continue to military shower as I always do, or as a few of my friends around the world call it, d’Arcy shower: cold water only, get wet turn off the water, wash, turn on water and rinse. I use about 5-10l maximum with this technique. I must note that it is warm in Japan in summer so the cold showers haven’t been too invigorating so far but come middle of winter I will be using hot water but showering less often, still using the d’Arcy shower technique
    • I capture as much water as possible from my showering to use to flush the toilet
    • Of course only organic soaps and cleaning is with vinegar and bi-carb soda
    • I haven’t brushed my teeth using water for many, many years mainly because I have spent a long time in developing countries where you can’t safely use the tap water. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to clean your teeth without water and I spit my toothpaste into the toilet to be flushed by my shower water
  •  Kitchen:
    • As I stated earlier I use a small basin in the sink to capture all washing up water and any other water for washing my hands or veges etc. all of it going into flushing the toilet
    • Exif_JPEG_420I inherited a small fridge when I arrived but I am so used to not having or using a fridge so it was used as a cupboard for the first month till I gave it to my neighbour who moved into an empty place the other day so I am fridge-free and instead have an esky (cooler, chilly bin, call it what you will) outside and a smaller coolbag in my cupboard inside
    • Meat and dairy free. I do occasionally eat these things when it is not my direct choice – eating at a friend’s place or function where the food has been determined for me
    • No microwave – big suckers of energy and I use a rice cooker which I am told is more energy efficient than cooking rice on the stove…
    • I don’t use hot water in the kitchen (or actually anywhere in the house since it isn’t winter) and my dishes don’t seem to mind nor does my general health
    • I inherited a pressure cooker to cook my lentils and beans etc, although to be honest I haven’t used it yet! But when I do it will save energy!
    • Less gadgets and stuff, my drinking vessel is a large jar and I have about two of everything and if I have more guests I get them to bring their own plates and utensils that I will wash and dry for them at the end of the night (in cold waterJ)
    • All of my food waste goes into the vacant block across the road from me and I have a nice organic compost system going on there as it is scattered over a space and seems to be composting very well – without complaint from the neighbours, yet!
    • I was dumpster diving once a week last month from the convenient stores that throw out heaps of stuff everyday which goes straight to landfill but it is mostly very processed and unhealthy food. I would also get in decent trouble in Japan for such a thing as they wouldn’t really see the logic in ‘one man’s waste is another man’s meal’ so I have stopped for this month to try and get some better eating habits and go for a dive once in a while from next month

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  •  Bedroom/Lounge:
    • I mainly use this as my study space and spend a lot of time here but mostly under outside light from my sliding glass doors or under my USB LED light
    • A huge thing for me is less stuff. Small places, or in my case for 15 years, my backpack, means I don’t have nor need stuff. A laptop for my work and communication, a phone, some camping stuff and the usual draw of miscellaneous items
    • The three significant purchases I have made since being in Japan have been: my loft bed, push-up bars and a shoehorn, each of these things give me daily joy and justification for my purchase. I work under my bed by day – increasing the space in my apartment x2 and sleep on it by night, my push-up bars are cool and my shoehorn is something I’ve wanted to own for a while and I like putting my shoes on comfortably and not ruining them and making them last longer! These are the kinds of things I define as luxury items because I don’t NEED them but enjoy having them
    • The majority of my clothing is second-hand, minimal and I wear the same stuff for years on end
  • Transportation:
    • I don’t have a car nor have I had once since I was using one as a form of accommodation in Melbourne in 2009!
    • Tokyo is very easy for public transport and mostly cycling friendly
    • I actually rarely use trains and like to walk or cycle to downtown 20km away if I can and I usually make it a priority to do so and take the time it takes J
img_20160907_122935-pano

Everyone used a bicycle in Japan!

  • Exif_JPEG_420

    Meditation – seems pink is the way to do it (or what was left over from the person before me)

    Recreation:

    • Mostly it is walking, writing, cycling, running, meeting and talking with friends, speaking to my girlfriend via whatsapp, some stretching, a little bit of meditation, etc. They are all pretty energy-low recreations

 

  • A few of the normal Teaspoons of Change things are: washing clothes in cold water with minimal detergents and only on full loads, 100% recycled toilet paper, ethical and Fairtrade food and products where possible – not so great in Japan and for university I am close to paper-free unlike my classmates. I do all of my readings on my laptop and assignments sent via email, I still haven’t purchased bottled water for more than three years and I will have a beer about once a week which is via can or bottle and not too many or too often – it is a treat and appreciated as such.

 

What I am still struggling and challenged by:

  • Plastic packaging – so incredibly ridiculous in Japan, even when I buy direct from the small plots of land around me that sell their produce direct it ‘has’ to come in a plastic bag. When I asked for it not to be packaged they just take out the produce and then throw the plastic packaging anyway in the bin…
  • Energy – my laptop and wifi lives on power and not sure how I can divorce myself off mains power more
  • Heating – I’ll see what happens in winter as I plan to get a onesie, rug up, do lots of push-ups and use candle heating with terracotta pots
  • My flying habit – I still fly a lot for work, travel, family etc and I have a very stringent carbon pricing program through http://www.offsetters.ca/ but need to reduce as much as possible moving forward…

My hope in all of that is not to say ‘look at me saving the world’ but to share some of the ways I love to live and there might be a few things that you think about taking on in your own homes…

So some of the things that I really love about my way of living is that I am happy when it is raining – to capture water for my toilet, or when it is sunny – to charge my powerbank with solar. I’m still not sure what to do when it is cloudy which actually seems to be most of the time!

The other thing I really love is that when I leave my house or go to sleep at night everything is off and I am not using a single watt of energy – mainly because I don’t have a fridge and I unplug my wifi. I think this makes a huge difference.

I love to look at the world like this and do my best to reduce my consumption and walk lightly on the earth. I’d love to extend this much much further and would love new ideas, suggestions and feedforward on more I can do… please share with me your tips!

Posted in 2016, Japan, Teaspoons of Change | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

My First Month in Japan, Different, in Not the Way You Might Expect

 

All set to write my first blog in Japan now that I have cleaned my house which takes all of 2-3 minutes in my 19m² apartment, which is pretty standard in a city of over 30 million people!

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The first thing I bought was a loft bed to basically double my space (and bed size!)

In my friendly little apartment, which I should mention is about twice the size of my two self-sufficient tiny Happy, simply homes in South Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, I have found a few moments in between my Master’s in Peace Studies and new life as a Rotary Peace Fellow to share with you a few small insights into life in Tokyo and will try to do so once a month.

I’m  used to moving a lot in my life. I’ve been a social justice nomad for the past 15 years in over 85 countries around the world, and never lived in one place for more than a year since I graduated as a primary school Japanese teacher in Adelaide, Australia in 2000.

Whilst sleeping in the same bed for 30 days straight is a novelty for me it also means I’m not off on new adventures, new life lessons, new cultures, new places and new people. However, I have supplemented that with a much deeper understanding of topics, perspectives and solutions related to peace through my studies. Although I did manage to sneak away a few weeks ago for a night in my tent in the mountains to feel like I was still travelling!

The best comment I have heard so far about stepping away from the world to put my head in books and academia was summed up by Hilary, a Rotary Peace Fellow in the year previous to me. She spoke about how this is a rare opportunity to nourish yourself in discovery, new learning, deeper learning, keen analysis and critique of ideas and overall a new vision to go back out into the world. Her advice was to embrace this opportunity, and that is exactly what I am doing.

rpf15-rotary-ceremony

There are times where I still feel like I should be out doing not learning but I am thirsty to seek ideas and answers and extend my understanding of the world to be more effective in it, especially through this new lens of peace.

Those  are some of the feelings that have greeted me on this experience so far, as for the practicalities and daily life stuff it is slightly unique for me compared to my other Rotary Peace Fellows who are all new to Japan. I’ve been lucky to have lived in Japan twice before, I speak almost fluent Japanese and two years ago I walked 1000km and cycling 1500km in Japan to kick start my initiative called Teaspoons of Change.

From the first moment I arrived I felt the familiar hug of Japanese hospitality (although the Japanese don’t hug). I was picked up from the airport by three Rotarians, taken for breakfast, and soon after lunch, then taken from housing agent to university to accomplish all the little things you have to do to start a new life in a new place, when you will be there for more than a month, which is my usual time span skipping from place to place.

Having my Rotarian guardians has not only been of great assistance, especially when you ask them to help you transport a bunk bed from one side of Tokyo to the other!, but also the fellowship and cultural inclusion that comes with it, so not only I, but my other fellows, really get to be a part of this country we are in for our studies.

As for living in Japan, I’ve got my taste back for slightly stinky, slimy and fermented soybeans, known as なと (nato), for breakfast, banging my head on low doorways and for the first time in a long time, I’m enjoying, and being challenged by, academic rigour which I have not been faced with for 15 years since my undergraduate degree.

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The narrow but tall rise street of downtown Tokyo where you can’t believe how much you can fit per square metre!

Most of all I have a strong feeling of gratitude that I have been handed this opportunity to put time, effort and priority into learning and shaping my future with a peace perspective. Already I know I look at the world differently understanding some of the core perspectives of peace, such as, peace not really being the absence of war but a celebration of life that everyone should be able to access.

My mind has already begun racing ahead to my field experience and master’s thesis next year and I approach each day eager to learn more of what I can translate into action to see a more just, peaceful and happier world with access and opportunity for everyone, everywhere and forever.

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The privilege of walking alone down the street without fear

 

20160202_164954For most blokes in Australia they reckon the women in their communities get it pretty good, especially when compared to women in other countries.

Well for me, I think that unless a woman has exactly the same access and opportunity in life as a man then that is not good enough anywhere, and Australia is certainly in that list.

Let me start with a simple example of walking down the street…

It is extremely rare that I ever have to face fear walking down the street alone and I can say that I do a lot of walking in a lot of different streets around the world. On the odd occasion that I do get a little nervous it is because I walk past a group of men trying to intimidate me, note that this is never the case walking past a group of women, except for the usual nervousness of attraction😉

I know in the 15 years and over 80 countries of walking 1000’s of kilometres on streets and roads by myself that this would not have been as easy or with as much freedom or without extra caution had I been a woman.

Remember, I’m only talking about something as simple as walking down the street – not forced marriage, income inequality, under-representation and all the other facets women have to deal with more than men.

The reason I can walk down the street alone easier certainly isn’t because I’m stronger, faster or better at kung-fu that women, the deciding factor is attitude – attitudes of the men I may encounter walking down the road. There is a huge difference in attitude. As a man I’m rarely their prey and largely I’ll be ignored and on the rare occasion I’ll feel threatened which never feels good no matter if you are a man or a woman (and as I said the threat will only ever come from a man or group of men than from women), however if I’m a woman walking down the road the likelihood of feeling threatened or uncomfortable is far greater.

If the deciding factor is attitude, then attitude is something we can change.

For starters if you’re a man and you think there aren’t problems with gender inequality in whatever country you’re in then you have your head stuck up your own male arse.

I don’t want to just imagine a world where any female: our mothers, sisters, nieces, daughters and female friends can live in a world without fear or inequality, I want to act and see it be a reality.

Gender inequality doesn’t have to exist, there are no laws or religions to say that women should be oppressed, in fact there are laws designed so that shouldn’t happen. Fellas what we need to do is make women feel comfortable and live without fear, support people and orgs who do this as their daily job (like HeForShe) and we must be the change to treat women as equals and absolutely not stand for any other males who don’t do the same.

with the ladies from Seven Women

I’m not a woman (despite my gender neutral name) so I can never fully comprehend the gravity of gender inequality or the true situation but I do know I’ve been afforded the gift of more freedom, access and opportunity with less concerns, checks and balances by being born a man, which none of us have a choice in by the way.

We should not be looking so much for sympathy or charity for women but for empathy and justice.

This is why it is important to not only have an International Women’s Day but to celebrate it!

And here are a few ways we might like to celebrate this day:

 

Posted in 2016, Opinions / Thoughts / Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 New Year’s Revolutions!

New Year’s Resolution and Message – 2016

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G’Day Folks – Wide, Far and In Between!

A very happy Christmas (or 25th of December) and a very merry New Year (those Gregorian calendar inclined).

I feel a little guilty to say that 2015 was yet another brilliant year for me as I know it is not always the case for others but I always feel too privileged with how lucky and significant my time and experiences feel on a daily/yearly basis.

This is a lovely opportunity for a touching point with you all to say hi, have a look at what I was up to in 2015, what I plan to do in 2016 and a bunch of ridiculous resolutions that I love to live🙂

I’ve also come up with a few conclusions from 2015 to describe who I am, what I do, where and why I do it…

  • My job is to be a part of ending extreme poverty
  • I usually spend half my time in developing countries working on-the-ground in aid and development and the other half my time working in advocacy, campaigning and awareness-raising
  • I live wherever I need to be
  • I do what I love to do in the world to gain the richest possible experiences, learn more and be an active part of a better world
  • 2015 now takes me to 15 years of ‘nomadding’ and 80 countries with no signs of stopping soon

Continuous nomadThe world is a wonderful place and I feel very lucky to interact with it in the way I do🙂

But my biggest point is to say a huge thank you to all as I continue to live on the hospitality, generosity and kindness of others and the world…

Big pres, Bangkok, ThailandAs for the stats that don’t matter this year I’ve been very lucky to have been, seen and done the following…

  • Been in over 20 countries including parts of the world I’ve never been before like South Sudan, the Balkans and Tajikistan
  • Seen the most desperate and challenging situation for humans I’ve ever seen before in South Sudan where I learnt a lot and saw amazingly good people doing good things
  • Done a mix of presentations, meeting politicians, events and general advocacy on the platform of Teaspoons of Change with 112 presentations to 8500 people including a 3-month stint of 108 presentations to 8000 people in SE Asia and Australia from Sept-Dec!

See below for my scorecard of 2015 New Year Resolutions and what gems I’m looking forward to in 2016! Then further below that a little breakdown of 2015 month by month and an expected breakdown of 2016 month by month…

Have a super 2016 and if you are in Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, the Middle East, Europe, Japan and beyond in 2016 I hope to see you!!! I’ve also won a scholarship to do a Master’s in Peace Studies in Tokyo, Japan for 20 months from September 2016 so come visit!

I’m so lucky to have wonderful, meaningful and high quality interactions and experiences with you so thank you! Lots of peace, love, simplicity and contentment to you all…

Cheers, d’Arcy.  xx

Kyrgyzstan

New Year’s Resolutions – 2016 and review of 2015!

The resolutions that (don’t) matter for 2016…

  • Sunrise on the 29th of the month, as usual
  • Find a fish-shaped cloud after not catching one in 2015
  • Go skinny-dipping (naked swimming) at least three times
  • 10 push ups a day (I continue to like this one, not that the results show!)
  • Sit once a day for at least a couple of minutes (I hope to someday call this meditating!)
  • Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water
  • Memorise all the countries starting with N (10) and O (1 – Oman)
  • Say thank you to the world once a day
  • My favourite colour for 2015 will be green!
  • Meet someone from Niger now that I have Georgia and Armenia done
  • Write postcards to family and friend’s kids for birthdays – let me know if you want your kids to get a card from me!!!
  • Buy Nothing New Month once again in October

Continue to surround myself in good people doing good things!

 The resolution results for 2015…

Sunrise on the 29th of the month, as usual! Mostly
Hi 5 a random stranger on Tuesdays each week Once – too embarrassing
10 push ups a day (not specific to 5-6pm this time) Mostly
Meet someone from Georgia now that I have Armenia done Done and going in 2016!
Find a fish-shaped cloud after relative success with an elephant No luck, carry over
Sit once a week to breathe like a tree and meditate for 5-15minutes (I’m nervous about this one…) Kind of
Memorise all the countries starting with M (18 of them!) Yep, nailed it!
NO more Happy, simply homes! None!
With my first step outside each day take a big appreciative lung full of air and say thank you for another day I mostly forget but do find a time daily
Learn to crack an egg with one hand Yes, cool!
Do Buy Nothing New Month in October Loved it & will do again!
My favourite colour for 2015 will be pink! Was a bit much especially with the manlihood atmos of South Sudan!
Pop more monos (wheelies) on bicycles Not much…

On top of this I will be doing my continued best to see a world with more equality, access and opportunity through promotion of Teaspoons of Change, Happy, simply, Polio Points / Making the Point – keep connected here:

http://teaspoonsofchange.wordpress.com/ & https://www.facebook.com/teaspoonsofchange

http://makingthepoint.org/

Tajik goats

2016 by date and place *note all should be written in pencil and subject to (frequent) change:

Date Place What!
8-15 Jan KL, Malaysia Youth empowerment programs with the JUMP! Foundation
16-22 Jan Bangkok, Thailand Teaspoons of Change presentations and youth conference plus a little JUMP!ing
23 Jan – 3 Feb Kathmandu, Nepal Visiting projects, hopefully a hike and prep for India
4-15 Feb Delhi, India Writing some global citizen curriculum with Global Poverty Project
16-23 Feb Sri Lanka Looking for projects to visit and mountains to hike!
24 Feb – 27 Mar Kyrgyzstan Behavioural change communications with UNICEF
28 Mar – 3 Apr Tbilisi, Georgia Quick visit and cultural immersion
4 Apr – end May UAE, Kuwait, Qatar Polio Points and Making the Point in collab with Gates Foundation for Middle East youth & schools
June, July, Aug Europe? UK? Afghanistan? South Sudan? Aotearoa? Wait and see and suggestions welcome but would love to do some polio work, advocacy, youth engagement and write a book… maybe?
Sep 2016 – 2017 Tokyo, Japan Won a Rotary Peace Fellowship scholarship to do a Master’s in Peace Studies for 20 months!

See where the crystal ball really sends me!!!

2015 Lunns

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Classrooms of the World

Recently I saw a blog on 7 amazing classrooms from around the world and went Wow! Then I added a photo of mine from a classroom I was presenting in this year in South Sudan. Then I thought about all of the different classrooms I been in around the world in the past 15 years and 80 countries with 1000’s of students…

In the past 15 years as an educator, presenter, volunteer, learner and sharer I have probably seen more classrooms of the world than few other people so diving back into my photo archives of the photos I actually have here are some classrooms from some of the world! Whilst I don’t really have any constant students of my own, I’ve been fortunate to interact, learn, share and engages with tens of thousands of students around the world. Here are just a few schools, classrooms and students from that lot!

In mosaic and slideshow:

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Teaspoons of Feedback

Always great to get some feedback from presentations and this is really powerful from the guys at Marist College Canberra and I feel is a snippet of the sentiment from most Teaspoons of Change presentations (can I say all?)…

Teaspoons of Change: better for people & planet

This post is going to be a little braggy but I have to be honest that is the reason I love giving presentations, especially to young people as I feel it has an impact. I don’t pretend that after one of my talks the entire audience will start to live in a tiny house having cold showers and spend every moment ending extreme poverty but I do know the lightbulbs go off for many and they start to ask questions and explore ideas that are new and different to them. I feel like I am just another stepping stone that is maybe taking them a little closer to being an active and effective global citizen (or at least I hope so!).

I was very fortunate to receive some feedback from a group of amazing guys from Marist College Canberra. These guys are already heavily vested in service for others and…

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What my 5 most important ‘things’ are in life

I was asked this wonderful question of ‘What are the 5 most important things in life?’ by a senior Rotarian at a Rotary Club presentation I gave recently. I was honoured to be asked such a question by this beautiful and humbled man with far more life experiences and years of wisdom over me. I can also see how his question came about with the privileged life I’ve had in the past 15 years, 80 countries and 1000’s of interactions with different people.

My answer to this at the time was a bit scratchy having to think on my feet and quickly but the first few things that came to mind were attributes like resilience, resourcefulness, simplicity and following your heart not your head.

In the week since that Q&A session I’ve made time to think more about my top 5 most important things in life.

Firstly in my list I don’t have any ‘things’, I’ve never been worried about losing all my stuff. That definition of things for me is stuff and stuff I can live without, replace or get as I need.

The following ideas are the things that I feel are most important to me to be happy, fulfilled and makes me excited to wake up every morning and not hate Mondays.

#1 – Simplicity

#2 – Resilience

#3 – Learning

#4 – Community

#5 – Giving

Number 1 – Simplicity
HS SA (77)I love simplicity. I get so much from life and the world when I have just enough. My favourite quote that I created and share is that ‘we can all have everything we want in the world as long as we don’t want everything’. Simplicity not only adds richness to my life in being more with less but also enriches my connection with people and the planet since my favourite things are walking, meeting people, serving others and reflecting. I also think a lot of mindfulness, humility, contentment, gratitude and peace come with simplicity and gives me a huge sense of freedom where my stuff doesn’t own me and where I’m not a part of the work and spend cycle. Additionally (I could write a whole blog and book on this) it is much better for the environment. I have been fortunate to learn from so many people around the world who live with less (often not by choice) but has given me a very clear perspective in life of what I need not what I want.

Number 2 – Resilience

163_0687aI think resilience is a wonderful trait to have. It makes happiness, contentment and gratitude so much more attainable when I look through the lens of just enough is plenty and anything is a bonus. Again I have the fortune to have seen, learnt and lived with some of the most resilient people in the world (who shouldn’t have to be). Resilience also make me appreciate what I have and not what I ‘should’ have. Resilience also gives me pleasure in my physical pursuits when climbing mountains, riding my bike and facing mental physical barriers. I feel very lucky to be so strong mentally from having a high sense of resilience. I can’t complain about many of my personal situations when I know there are others who endure so much more and that they do it with a live-in-the-moment and tomorrow-is-another-day attitude.

Number 3 – Learning

education

This is my favourite kind of education. Being outside on an adventure discovering the world together!

I feel I am always happy, excited, intrigued and fulfilled while learning. I love learning. My passion for new places and new people is to interact and learn more all of the time. I value experiences that give me the opportunity to learn, gain new perspectives and grow as a human and particularly as an active and effective global citizen. Learning is like a source of lifeblood to keep me humble, interested and intrigued. As an educator I love not only continuing to learn from my audiences but to be a source of learning for others in the sharing I do. Learning makes me feel young, it fuels my passions and it forces me to continually change. I also love unconventional and alternative education. I always say my education started the day I left university and started travelling and interacting with the world. I admire not so much the people who know a lot but who want to know a lot, I can see it in their eagerness to listen and learn. I’ve been so fortunate to have learn from all kinds of people and places in the world and I am a direct product of my experiences.

Number 4 – Community
I believe we all need a sense of place and purpose. While I don’t know what my job is nor where I live I do feel a part of the global community and the overwhelming feeling that people are essentially good and we love to interact, learn and help others. I am almost always a visitor everywhere I go but I can connect with community in so many ways. Community adds a lot of fun to life for us to build shared experiences and memories to rehash with each other or others well into the future. I think of family as community, and I think of community as family. I aspire to be as connected and caring about anyone else in the world as would my own family as it is ultimately only birth that separates or joins us together. house warming happy group shotTwo big highlights of community in my past was building the two Happy, simply tiny homes. The reason I build two tiny homes was to create community and that powerful experience of learning, sharing and growing together. In many of the world’s ‘poorest’ places I have seen the ‘richest’ communities and some of the world’s ‘poorest’ communities in the world’s ‘richest’ places. Communities are often difficult, hard work and frustrating but I’d rather be an active participant than a complaining bystander.

Number 5 – Giving

While I was giving some kind of education to these kids in the highlands of Guatemala they were educating me in a lot of life lessons and perspectives

While I was giving some kind of education to these kids in the highlands of Guatemala they were educating me in lots of life lessons and perspectives

I know firsthand the satisfaction of not only giving to others but receiving giving from others and their satisfaction. I find giving a gift and when we give we ultimately receive. Giving gives us a wonderful sense of purpose and fulfilment, I feel an abundance of joy and purpose when I’ve played a role in the fulfilment of another. For me giving is the essential component for being an educator and to see others benefit from your time, energy, expertise and effort. I don’t give so I can feel good about myself, I give so I feel good about someone else. I’ve learn the most from those who give even when they have no ‘things’ to give. As a significant receiver of giving I have a wonderful source of experiences from people from every kind of culture, country, race, religion, economic status and I feel giving, hospitality, kindness and generosity is universal. We love to give we just sometimes forget how good it is if we don’t make it a habit.

When I am living simplicity, being resilient, learning, feeling a sense of community and giving to others it’s a pinch-the-skin kind of day. I can honestly say this has been my daily life for the past 15 years and I don’t plan to change that any day soon.

So in a much longer winded answer to the question of my Rotary friend these are the 5 most important ‘things’ in my life and why.

A few other things I like and are important to me are: adventure, discovery, vulnerability, nature, sport, advocacy, sharing, humour, humility, generosity, celebrations, stories, travel and culture…

If you are curious to some of the sources of my 5 things that aren’t just my experiences and conversations with people then check out a few of these links:

Throw yourself into life situations that provide quality experiences and learning🙂

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