March is social media free month

456 words. 5 minutes to read.

Cross-posted from 5 Minute Minimalist

Have you ever looked up from your phone or laptop, and realized that you’ve spent hours stuck down the rabbit hole of social media?

I have.

I quit Facebook a few years ago, and before I knew it, I was addicted to Twitter.

Then I stopped posting on Twitter so much because I was wasting so much time there, and I got addicted to Instagram.

These days, I’m on a variety of social media, and it often feels more of a burden than a pleasure.

I often feel like I have to check my feeds, even when I don’t want to.

Social media in your life

If you take stock and be honest…

– Do you ever feel worried about what you’re missing out on, if you don’t keep up with your feeds? I do.

– Do you ever ignore your kids, partner or other family members because you’re “busy” reading social media? I have. 

– Have you ever reached for your phone and read social media when you’re with friends or family, instead of communicating face-to-face with them? I have.

– Do you ever worry about how many “Likes” you’ll get, and find yourself checking a post over and over again to see who has “Liked” it? I have.

– Do you ever worry about what people will comment? I have.

– Do you ever worry about saying politically incorrect things or upsetting delicate or sensitive readers? I do.

– Do you ever feel like social media is the biggest waste of time in your life, and that you could spend that time on far more productive, positive things instead of social media if you weren’t on it? I do.

I notice that the popular people on social media say politically correct, unchallenging things, and they don’t ruffle feathers.

I’m a feather-ruffler by nature, and find the social media stifling to my free thought and free speech. Do you ever feel that way too?

Social media often feels like a race to the bottom, rather than a sharing of great ideas and actions. Does it ever feel that way to you?

Social media isn’t all bad

There’s nothing wrong with social media in itself, but it is very addictive for most of us.

What that means is, we spend so much time on social media, we often don’t prioritise what is truly important in our lives, and we spend hours trawling through social media instead.

So this month – this March – I’m quitting social media. Just for one month. Just for 31 days.

No Facebook.
No Twitter.
No Instagram.
No Snapchat.
No anything else.

Take a break

If you’d like to join me and experience what real life is like without social media, feel free to copy the image on this page, and post it on your own feed. Then say goodbye to your social media for 31 days.

Remove social media apps from your phone if it helps. That’s what I’ve just done.

Take a breath of fresh air.
Step outside.
Enjoy the view.
Enjoy the free time.
You don’t have to take a snap or share anything or add any filters or look for the best angle this time.
This time, just for 31 days, your life will belong to yourself again.

The Minimalists Social media podcast: Social media
Break The Twitch blog:

March is social media free month

March is social media free month

Do minimalists homes have to be black and white?

Not all minimalists live in shades of black and white.

I love color. My bedroom definitely counts as minimalist, but color is everywhere – in the wood furniture, in walls the color of seaglass, in greenery and clear light bursting in through the open windows and in vases of fresh flowers.

minimalist blue bedroom

My bedroom at the farm. Choose the colors that make you happy and give you peace. And not everything has to be black and white!

Minimalism is all about finding the things that bring you joy…and eliminating those things that make you feel heavy, cluttered or depressed.

My room is an oasis of peace and calm, and being there brings me bliss. I feel at ease, relaxing or reading a book.

I genuinely believe that a calm, beautiful bedroom free of clutter helps us feel more rested and happy, as well as supporting our relationships with those we love.

Minimalists don’t have to wear black, grey and white, although many do find calm by eschewing color. Choose the colors and items that make you happy. Build your life around them.

minimalist flat surface

The top of my tallboy. I have an antique Chinese box I keep some items of jewellery in, and an antique Chinese brass horse I’ve had since I was a child. Plus a small china dish to keep jewellery when I take it off at night. Three items – any more, and things would feel cluttered. The walls are painted the color of seaglass, which makes me feel rested.

For me, I base my wardrobe around my favourite colors of blue and green, and everything I wear is purposeful and comfortable. Color abounds, but my wardrobe has less than 33 items, and I wear everything I own. Nothing is unkempt, or kept simply because I bought it and feel guilty, or because I might fit into it again someday.


Minimalism frees us to be ourselves, outside of the demands of society. Own things because they make you happy and support who you are, not because you feel you should own them. If you want a neon pink house and it fills you with joy, then own that neon pink house and rock it with joy! 🙂

Be who you truly are.

With none of the stuff others tell you to have. Don’t be what other people tell you to be – you’ll never find your bliss that way.

Be your genuine self. No more, no less.

“I might just need it someday…”

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve held on to belongings, convinced that although I didn’t need the whatever-it-was right now I just had to keep it.

Because I might just need it some day.

I kept a spare belt, a pair of shoes that never quite fit, a white shirt that never suited me but that every fashion expert told me I just had to have – all these things and so much more, because somehow I was convinced I had to have them.

I was wrong.

I don’t even know what I thought would happen if I let them go. Did I expect that some morning I would wake up and need them, or miss them? Not really.

It was more the fact that letting good items go forced me to accept the bad decisions I’d made in my life, and the waste of money I’d committed.

Confronting my mistakes was hard. It forced me to accept my humanity. It also forced me to accept that I, like everyone else, was susceptible to marketing, and to sales pitches, and to silly fashion advice that didn’t work for me even though it might work for someone else.

I had to develop inner strength to let it all go. That sounds silly, but I did. It took time, and a lot of effort. And sometimes I still struggle because I’m not a perfect minimalist and I still make mistakes.

That’s okay. Life is a journey, and it is meant to be a journey of growth and change.

But you know what? When I did finally let all that stuff go, I never missed any of it. All I felt was…release.


And it was good.


Simply living with a strong moral compass…

I believe the world is really quite a simple place. There are good things, and there are necessary things we need, and there are people that help us grow and be happy.

These are the things we need. Everything else is just noise.

When I think of what makes me happy, what nourishes my soul, I think on my friends and family.

I think of the time I spend outside, at the beach, or walking locally around my home time lost in my thoughts. I think of the beautiful sunsets I have seen, and of the warm saltwater when I dip my feet in on the first warm day of summer at the beach.

Simple living is about recognising these basics. But its about more than that. It’s also about standing up for what is right in our lives, protecting the weak, and having a strong moral compass when the whole world seems topsy-turvy.

It’s about knowing what is right, and doing what is right, even when that is the hardest thing to do.


Sometimes it seems easy to follow the herd. And it is. Sometimes it seems easy to take the fast decision, or to say yes when we mean no. But only when we stand true to ourselves can we be our own, honest selves, and give the best version of ourselves to the world.

Only then can we be truly happy.

My story, OR: How I found my freedom

I’m Lee. This is my story.

When I was in my twenties, I lived in a big city.
I spent every lunch time shopping, and spent every cent I had.
My home was filled with all the stuff I’d bought, all the clothes I’d purchased, all the CDs I’d used my credit card on.
I thought all that stuff would make me happy.
It didn’t.


So I became an environmentalist.
Went vegetarian, then vegan.
Had two kids because that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Became a stay-at-home mum because that’s what you’re supposed to be.
I moved to New Zealand, bought a farm.
Went organic.
Did everything I could to be as “green” as I could be.
I thought all that stuff would make me happy.
It didn’t.

I don’t know how my huge farmhouse in New Zealand became cluttered with stuff.
It just did.
Kid toys and clothes and artwork.
Gifts and furniture and makeup and games.
Electronics and gadgets I have no name for.
All the farm tools in the shed.
Clothes that might fit me one day when I lost weight.
Clothes that I hated but that at least fit me now.
Bone china I’d inherited and never used.
Jewelry I’d inherited and couldn’t sell, because if I did I’d feel guilty.

So much stuff.
All of it, weighing me down.
All of it, caging me, keeping my soul locked and trapped.
All of it, telling me what to do, who to be, what to buy, what to look like.

Until one day, when I was broken enough.
I stopped.
I just stopped.

I looked at the stuff.
I said to myself, and to the world:
I have enough.

And I began to let it all go.
I realised it was just stuff.
Not precious, not at all.
None of it.
Not one bit.

Just stuff.

That was the day I set myself free.


Where did YOUR clothing come from? The problems of globalism…

When I was a kid, clothing was made in my own country.

Clothing was expensive, people didn’t generally own much of it, and it was worthwhile for parents to sew and knit, because that was the cheaper, better option.

You could pretty much guarantee that, while they weren’t great jobs, they people who made our clothes were paid decently, and worked in decent conditions. The people who made our clothes weren’t children. And they went home to houses they might even own themselves.

That has all changed.

I was in town the other day, when I actually thought about what I was wearing:

A Levis Jacket. Levis used to be an all-American brand, made in America for Americans. Now Levis are mostly made in Asia, although you’d probably struggle as a common person like me to find out exactly where.


A Sportscraft shirt. Sportscraft were an iconic Australian brand for many years. Now not a stitch of their clothing is made in Australia.

A Jeans West leather belt. Jeans West is another Australian chain that sources all of its clothing from overseas. Is anything even made in Australia or New Zealand any more? Jeans West is now owned by Hong Kong company Glorious Sun – there ain’t anything “west” about Jeans West any more.

Jeans from The Warehouse. The Warehouse is a discount store in New Zealand. Still owned by a New Zealander, but practically everything it sells is cheap Asian imports. Including the jeans I was wearing.

Nine West Boots. Nine West is an American chain. Once again, my boots, although expensive, were probably made in a sweatshop in some third world country. I have no idea where, and the boots have no label indicating their country of origin.

I think it would be fair to say that not a stitch of my clothing was made locally. Furthermore, I don’t believe I could even track down where my clothing was made even if I wanted to.

This clothing wasn’t cheap (my shirt cost $150) but most of the profits aren’t going to the people who made the shirt. I doubt they’d have seen more than a few cents of the cost price.

What we’re seeing here is very poor people being exploited by a very small number of very wealthy, who own the companies. People in the middle, like me, don’t have a choice about buying sweatshop clothing, because there is no way to find out where our clothes come from, and no alternative to buy locally anyway.

Yes, some clothes are still made in New Zealand, but even they are made from imported fabrics and threads, and imported inks and dyes are used.

The truth is, we’ve been caught neatly in the trap of globalism. The only way out that I can see is to start up manufacturing locally again, made by companies that are willing to accept smaller profits for their shareholders than they would get from globalised, offshore companies.

I also think we need to buy less clothing, but clothing that will last and not date, and buy recycled fashion. We need to say no to fast fashion.

Either that, or we accept the status quo.

I didn’t mean for this to be a depressing post. But I think clothing and fashion are big issues that we, as a society, need to deal with and talk about.

What do you think?

Find your Calcutta, and end the emptiness inside

What is this thing we’re searching for, when we shop pointlessly?

What are we hoping to achieve, when we binge-eat, or binge-buy, or wallow in alcohol or drugs?

The feelings I got inside when my eating spiraled out of control last year were almost exactly the same as the feelings I get when I buy stuff for no reason.

It’s almost like I hope, even though I know it won’t work, that eating – or buying – will make my life better and stop me feeling so lonely and afraid.

And it does make the pain go away, for a little while, simply because I’m focused on the act of buying, or eating, or whatever. But then, when I stop, the pain is there.

It was there all along of course. All I did was distract myself. Binge-buying, like all forms of self-harm, is just a temporary shot in the arm of painkiller. It doesn’t solve anything. We know this, but we do it anyway.

Is any of this familiar to you? Because it’s all too familiar for me. I’m a minimalist, but a struggling one. I’m a work in progress, nowhere near the perfection I read about elsewhere.

This is heavy stuff, for a blog! But I think it’s the core reason we humans are stuck on this mouse wheel of doing, achieving, buying, showing off, comparing ourselves to the next mouse on the next wheel…

We’re stuck, because we’re empty inside. And we’re filling that emptiness with all the wrong things.

Just like junk food won’t make us healthy, junk behaviours poison our souls.

And just like junk food, the habit is hard to quit.

Find your Calcutta

Mother Teresa famously said, Find your Calcutta.

Find your Calcutta.

Find your Calcutta.

in other words, life is nothing without purpose.

If life feels empty, that’s because it is empty.

Although owning lovely things and earning lots of money can give pleasure, they’re not a purpose that can give us real, deep satisfaction.

I don’t believe we all need to become the next Mother Theresa, but I do think that finding deep meaning to our lives by helping others, being meaningful people with valuable goals, and being people of strong ethics, are all ways in which we can find our own, personal Calcutta.

And everyone’s Calcutta is different.

In my life, I run a community group that has grown and blossomed under my Leadership. I don’t get paid for the work I do, and sometimes the work is hard, but for me it is part of my Calcutta. It gives me real satisfaction.

Part of my work in the community group is keeping young women safe from predators. That, for me, is a worthy, valuable goal. I feel like my life is worthwhile, because I am helping to make life better for so many others.

I also find satisfaction in my art – my writing and my music. Both give joy to me, the creator, and to those who enjoy the final product. Creative work can be another type of Calcutta. It doesn’t matter what type of creative work it is, just as long as you yourself find meaning in it.

Finally, I find satisfaction in my family and relationships. I have people I care about deeply, and who care for me. I know that I matter, and that means a lot to me: it gives me solid ground on which to stand.

When I find that I’m getting off track with minimalism, I stop and take a breather and look at my life. I almost always find that I’ve let my Calcutta slip. I’ve stopped nurturing my soul, and the emptiness inside has grown as a result.

Life is hard. We’re not meant to travel this road by ourselves, without support. When life gets too hard, look to your Calcutta. Where you find your purpose, that’s where you’ll find peace.