5 years of minimalism: 5 top things I learned

Who are you to talk about minimalism? I am the self proclaimed “black sheep of minimalism,” aka Mignon Cobra, the minimalist. You can check out my youtube channel, I’ve made over 200 videos on minimalism. #humble brag.I’ve been at this for about 5 years, so I have SOME idea of what the hell I’m talking about. But one thing I learned about minimalism is I discovered, I don’t know shit haha .So if you want to know what the hell I learned from all this “decluttering” and “capsule wardrobe” and “only black clothes” movement, let’s look at the deeper stuff.1) Desire will always be there
In the beginning, it was easy to just NOT buy stuff. That’s just a matter of discipline. I said, I won’t buy it, so I didn’t. But what I didn’t expect is….how the hell did I kill the desire of wanting X and Y, as I lay awake at night.”That rose gold iPhone 7 would look sooo good on a marble phones stand, next to my other rose gold makeup….””If I bought those biker shorts, I would look as hot as Kim did in her Instagram posts for the yeezy release….””Stylesuzi bought YSL lipstick and swears by them, I bet if I bought some at the Hong Kong airport, it’s cheaper than if I bought them in Toronto, so it’d be worth it…”Then the shame and guilt washed in. “Wow, I’m so materialist! I can’t get rid of this feeling of wanting more, even though I KNOW it won’t make me happy! Thank God my subscribers can’t see my thoughts, they would know I’m a fraud”.So I struggled for years. I would buy in secret, like one or two desired items a year. One on my birthday and then one for Christmas. In 2016, it was my xiaomi rose gold phone. In 2018, it was my yeezy shoes. SHAME!Then I decided to go on the journey to just get rid of desire. I did kill it. I wanted nothing because I told myself, all this stuff is just not worth all the mental anguish.And then, without desire…it’s similar to lack of motivation. I wanted nothing, wore nothing, wanted to eat nothing, did nothing and everything felt like a chore. That’s a depressing place to be.And I told myself, this is where I’m suppose to be. This is a higher, enlightened thought process. But honestly, it wasn’t. And I named this place the void.I looked online to search for the solution to the void. Online, there was three “healthy” void fillers: Exercise, being creative and mediation.So with nothing to do, nothing to buy, nothing to eat, I started my journey to an eating disorder. I worked out all the time, cuz I had nothing better to do, and I ate nothing but a vegan keto diet (aka only veggies).Finally, after 2 years of living like this, I thought, I feel like a waking corpse. I hated myself and my life.So I guess I decided to WAKE THE FUCK UP. And I indulged in ALL the things. And I felt alive again. And I decided, yah, okay, what good is “non-desire” at all? What is the whole point of living my life without anything at all, especially for years on end?I originally thought, since I can’t satisfy my desire permanently, no matter how much I ate or bought, then desire is bad.But, it’s the same logic as thinking “What’s the point of eating, if I’m just gonna be hungry later? Screw it, I’m done with eating. I’m gonna fast till I die and only eat a meal every other week until I die”.Nope. I decided to eat. I decided to shop. I decided to LIVE. And I do it because I understand that having desire, even though it can never be fulfilled, is not wrong. It’s just the feeling we have as long as we are alive.2) Material things aren’t that important but also not unimportantSomewhere in the depth of my minimalism journey, I thought, I’m gonna just spend my money ONLY on experiences. I don’t need material things!So no more wearing makeup (cuz that needs to be bought), no more clothes (ever!!), no more going out to eat, no more bread, no more (insert whatever material thing).And I just lived like a monk, pretty much. I almost shaved my head, so I wouldn’t have to wash my hair or buy hair oil. #extreme minimalismI could only “buy experiences”. So for the entire year, I bought nothing, and did nothing. I saved all the moments of life, just for the 4 weeks a year during my vacation. Then I’d just binge it all. Binge shop makeup, binge eat at restaurants, binge buying clothes, binge watching tv. Cuz all I was allowed to do during the rest of the months of the year were meal prep, work out, edit videos, homework and part-time work. No fun ALLOWED AT ALL.And that’s no way to live. Once I brought it all back, I was like, wow, this material stuff is actually nice. I don’t only want experiences. I want to experience interacting with material stuff.The abstract world is nice, but shit, I’m not a saint and I wanted from life!3) Addressing deep subconscious thoughts/ motivesBesides using shopping to buy things that you need e.g. food, clothes and shelter, most things enter the realm of “wants” rather than “needs”. And when you cut off the umbilical cord of the shopping addiction, you are forced to be born as a new individual who has to deal with the real deep shit.“Why do you want a LV purse?”“I will look good”.“Can’t a cheaper purse do?”“No, cuz what would my co workers think?”“Why does it matter what your co workers thinks?”“….I…I need their approval…”“Why?”“…cuz….I don’t feel appreciated at home, especially when it’s a long day and I cook for my husband and he doesn’t even say thank you anymore like he used to and….”You enter the real deep hard shit that you can’t cover up anymore with buying MORE stuff.For myself, I had to address my relationship with food. When I couldn’t keep myself busy with buying stuff, I started to work out. When I got obsessed with that, I had to address the underlining demons of why I even felt the need to work out or be thin. I wrote about that in another post, so you can check that out.I def recommend people who use shopping as an emotional crutch to stop shopping and allow themselves to figure out who they really are. The real deep ugly shit comes out and you become a better person for it.4) Less is more (but not always)It’s nice to be not be in a cluttered space. But I took that too far and I was living borderline monk like. And I HAD to go and and re buy the stuff I stupidly decluttered. I don’t know what Kondo Marie is on, but it’s expensive to rebuy the shit you mistakenly declutter!!! Don’t do! Take it slow, my friends!!! Less is not always more.You can definitely live with less but don’t get obsessed. Decluttering can be a long term expensive hobby.5) Balance is the MOST important thingIn line with the previous point, balance is key. You don’t need to live in a rat nest but you also don’t need to live in a sterile house magazine looking type of minimalist living room.Minimalism is just a journey till you figure out how much stuff you do or do not need and realize, that really, your life is more than just material stuff.The hardest part of me was cutting away from the material world. And once I experienced rejecting the material world, it was a very sweet feeling to return to the material world and enjoy it’s desires and pleasures. You can enjoy this or that, but if you understand and know that you don’t NEED any of it, then you are truly free. You are the one in control, and forcing yourself to abstain from it means you don’t. So enjoy the balance and find that sweet place where you feel light and free but grounded all at once.XOXOMignon Cobra

Struggled to have “great hair”

I struggle with my love of my own curls and society’s pressure for perfect hair.

I don’t know when the idea of “great hair started”. Maybe in the 2000’s for me. When the pin straight hair was in. Or that all my friends are asian with straight hair.

I had no one around me but me who had curly hair. So I started to straighten my hair. Then I felt pretty. But only for a bit, because I knew this wasn’t my real hair. My real self had curls.

I’ve done the straight perm and it was great until the multi hair texture stage, when the roots are curly. It was a good learning experience. I won’t do that again.

I still keep my hair straighter from grade 8. It’s 15 years old. Even in my decluttering madness, I never chucked it. I thought, “what if I need to straighten my hair?….”

What is so damn great about straight hair? I always ask myself that. Luckily now, natural textured hair is in. But I still have that deep dark thoughts in the back of my mind.

“Wouldn’t it be so great if I could just wake up with straight hair, never need to style the curls, or wash it just to define the curls?”

I imagine myself with the long shiny locks shining in the sun as I run through the park, or bike through a forest.

It’s a stupid fantasy. And sometimes, watching people on youtube doesn’t help. I see their long straight hair and I feel jealous. And when they reveal they straight perm it, I wonder, am I chicken for not doing a straight perm again? The first experience left me scarred.

I wonder, why won’t they embrace their curls? It makes me feel lonely. When I look at my own curls, I feel happy and sad. I like them. I think they’re pretty. But another part of me thinks, “My hair would look longer if it wasn’t curly.”

My curls mat out if I sleep in them. The pattern looks weird and so I have to wear it in a bun. I feel bald in a bun, I don’t feel cute or sexy.

My curls only look good if I wash it and style them. Then it’s matted hair till I re-wash it.

I wish I could have great hair days, every day. But I can only do that if I’m willing to commit time and energy to heat style them. I tried to sleep with curler in my hair, since it’s heat less. It’s really uncomfortable to sleep with stiff stuff around your head.

I went through a period in 2015 where I straighten my hair every time I washed it. It completely destroyed my curl pattern. Took me 3 years to grow out my hair. I had to coconut hair treat it on the weekends. It was all very sad.

So I decided, it was just easier to love my curls than to keep torturing them. So that’s what I do now. I just accept my curls. It’s hard, I won’t lie. I always want straight but I can’t have them.

Who knows what the future will bring. Maybe I’ll get over this feeling, maybe I won’t.

Let me know if you ever felt like this.

XOXO

Mignon Cobra

I quit diet culture

It started when I was in middle school. My parents moved me from the ghetto school I went to downtown, to the upper middle class. The vast majority of these students were French and Anglophone descent. I was latino. The only latino.

When we hit puberty in grade 8, I developed the body of a woman that I currently have. They still had children’s bodies. And I bullied for it. It scarred me. So I started to diet, in a desperate attempt to be left alone. If only I didn’t have curves, I thought, desperately.

In retrospect, I should have told all those kids to go to hell.

I ate vegan subways, no meat, just veggies and a bun, to try to slim down. Luckily the internet didn’t have much dieting info out there for me to read, so I didn’t have access to any of that stuff yet.

Then in high school, I made some great friends. I felt happy for once. And in my new happiness, free from all those mean kids who went to other schools (they all went to private schools, and I went to a public school. Thank God) I ate again. I had an appetite. And I gained a lot of weight.

And my school crush noticed. He yelled out loudly in the hallway that I had a large ass. It destroyed me. Now, looking back, I think it’s all rather stupid. I should have told him to go to hell too. He had no right.

Turns out, he’d ask me out 8 years later, once we were adults. And we’d go on a date and I realized he was a bit of a loser and I’m glad we never were a thing. Who needs a toxic person like that in their lives? I dodged a bullet.

Anyway, heart broken me decided to show him what he missed. I went to the local pool at 9am and swam laps until 5pm. My new 9 to 5 job. Lol

I got a great tan and lost some weight. My friends all told me I looked great. The seed was planted. I started to tell my dad, to change my lunch from a typical latino lunch of rice and beans, to salmon and broccoli.

My mom, told me I didn’t have to be like all the white girls. I could just be myself, a good latino with curves. I thought to myself, she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about. In this North American society, no one wants to feel a thick chick. Ah the 2000s. Great times. If only there had been Kim and Kylie then.

Anyway, I discovered live journal and I entered the world of “Ana”. I used all the tips to keep slimming down. Drink milk free, sugar free, green tea. Sit in cold baths. Count calories. Go for a run before breakfast (now that I’m older, I realize it’s because you run in the fasted state). Do jumping jacks. Skip dinner. Jesus.

And I loyally followed it all during high school. Then I finally scored my first boyfriend who told me, he noticed my great body, during a party.

I tried to diet more, but we went out to eat a lot and I gained weight. I complained and he told me, “Why do you bother anyway? You’re not the skinny type anyway.” Needless to say, we didn’t last.

By university, I was tired of dieting. I couldn’t lose the last annoying 5lbs. So I gave up for a bit. I just made sure I hit the gym everyday. I ate balanced meals, but I never snacked, because you never know.

Then in medical school, through youtube, I discovered “fasting”. GAME FUCKING CHANGER. I lost the last 10 lbs, and I quit carbs (enter keto diet).

That’s when I think my full blown ED came out, once I discovered fasting. Before, even though I’d be at the gym for hours, I never dared skip my square three meals. I always had my breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But once I found that I could skip a meal, and discovered AMAZING results, then the vicious cycle started. I fell in love with how I was finally getting the results I had dreams of in the gym. Cut abs, hip bones, toned legs, muscles finally showed, where the fat had always covered it. My curves, that my mom said were beautiful Latina curves, that I hated, FINALLY disappeared. I was finally part of the itty-bitty titty committee. No more hips, no more breasts, I felt lean and beautiful. I finally looked like a 12 year old. Really sad, if I thought about it now.

But that feeling of “beautiful” didn’t last too long. I wanted more. I thought that just having reached my goal weight wasn’t enough. I worked out more and more.

The problem started though, during the first holiday after I reached my goal. I went back to eating “normally”. I hadn’t realized that losing the weight was one thing, but I had to maintain it too.

If I don’t fast and eat ketogenically, the weight started to come back on.

I was horrified. So I started to fast harder. I lost my period. I cut meat. I cut carbs. I cut calories. I was eating 300 calories a day. Just some tofu and veggies. This went on for 2 years.

Then I decided, why the f* am I doing this to myself? I realized, being thin, nothing changed. People still treated me the same, life went on the same. My Instagram didn’t blow up. I didn’t have a glow up. And no matter how thin I got, none of it was enough. I wanted thinner. So I always felt miserable thinking “once I’m thinner…I’ll be happy.”

On a practical level, this diet lifestyle also sucked. I was always hungry. And I thought about yummy food non stop. I was obsessed with food. And I always felt deprived because I couldn’t eat any. If I ate anything, I felt so shit after, that eating it wasn’t worth it. I also started to get into the realm of binging. If I started to eat, I couldn’t feel any hormonal signal to stop eating. My hormones were so out of whack. I literally could not feel “satisfaction” if I ate. I could keep eating, and eating, it used to alarm my boyfriend.

“Aren’t you full?” He’d ask me. I’d reply, “No” and keep going. It was like I’d get into a trance. When I’d wake up from it, I’d lose my mind and get hysterical. I’d start smashing thing in the house, screaming “I hate food, I hate myself, why the f*did I eat that? Am I f* stupid?!”

With my hormones all messed and my body begging for food and nutrition and my mental state not allowing me anything, it was a terrible place for both my boyfriend and I. He was scared to bring home snacks or treats, so he’d hid them from me. That’s so messed up.

I also hated that I had tied up my self worth with the number on the scale or how lose my clothes felt. I felt good if things were baggy and I felt like shit if they even remotely fitted. If they were tight, I’d just straight up fast.

It was horrifying.

So I decided to quit it all. I decided, for the sake of my mental health and for my period, I needed to quit this. I needed to start small but strong. I promised myself, I will always eat at least 2 meals, no matter what.

Right now, I’ve been working myself up to three meals. I also listen to my body cues. If I’m hungry, I eat. Don’t get me wrong, I feel have some fear and anxiety when I eat anything, but I tell myself, this is for my period. I DESERVE TO EAT. I DESERVE TO HAVE CURVES. I also make sure I eat AT LEAST 1000 calories a day.

I don’t need a calorie calculator, I know the calorie count of most of the food I eat. So I tell myself happily, YES YOU CAN EAT THAT BANANA. Yes, you can have Oreos, Yes you can have seafood. Yes You can eat cheese. I hope for the day I can eat carbs with mental peace.

I make myself eat carbs daily but I’m still hating it. Recovery is hard. I also got really bad since once I started to eat daily. I got acne on my cheeks, forehead and chin. But I pushed through.

I think the most important things I have gain through recovery is I don’t have binges anymore, I love my curves, I smile more, I can eat more without anxiety, I laugh more, I never weigh myself anymore, I work out for the joy of it, I don’t think about food daily anymore, I eat treats more often and generally, I’m just healthier. I have a period, I don’t have crazy mood swings, I’m not starving, I’m not vomiting, I’m not standing for minutes on end, anytime I find a mirror, pinching my saddle bags.

I am working on making peace with this latino body of mine. I tell myself, it’s pretty, it’s beautiful with curves. Shakira has curves. I can have curves too. I guess I still have this fear inside me, people will say horrible things again if I get curvy again.

But this time, I’m ready because I love myself now. I don’t need their acceptance. Mine is all I ever needed. I want to be a curvy me.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and why I finally quit diet culture.

XOXO

Mignon Cobra.

Forget minimalism, I’m into frugality!

That’s a joke. I could never throw away my minimalism (I’m not a minimalist anymore). I am, however, very in love right now with frugality. I have always been kinda, cheap, I suppose, but it wasn’t my fault. It’s the sort of default I developed growing up on welfare.

Anyway, long story short, once I got some student loans and grants, I stupidly went and spent my grants on eating out, and buying clothes.

No one taught me financial education. I just went to school. They don’t teach you that there. Society will, however, teach you that in order to be successful, you should be able to eat out and buy lots of fancy new clothes! So did so.

The summer after I graduated from university I made the wonderful discovery of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and I finally saw the light. I didn’t want to be a “poor person buying luxuries first”. I wanted to build up my wealth!

I hadn’t discovered what I was trying to do was more about frugality than minimalism. But at the time, minimalism was the closest thing I could find to anti-consumerism.

So I followed minimalism for a while. Worked lovely, at least to keep me busy and radical enough from buying stupid shit. However, I did do one thing I don’t agree with, in my frugality mindset.

I used to have a decluttering obsession, like, 3 years back. I WISH I could have saved some of the clothes and bags I decluttered. In my new found frugality, I really don’t think I will ever, ever have a $300 MK bag again. *Tear* Who knows though, once my dividend pay out reach $9,000 like Mr. Money Stash, I might go out and get me one lol

I also used to recklessly use up my makeup, in and effort to “use it up” before I decluttered it. #Project-hitpan! Sometimes the product was just half done and then I decluttered it. What-the-actual-fuck. What a waste of money! If it took me 6 months to finish half, shit, I still had half worth of product left to use! Another 6 months! I justified it as, “whew, finished decluttering that ol’ shit!”

So, so stupid! I’m hitting my head against the wall. I knew it was wrong but I had gotten so caught up in the idea that I could be “lighter” and “free” if I decluttered everything.

Now, in my newfound frugality, I think I have a healthier relationship with stuff. When I was a minimalist, I wouldn’t buy anything cheap, only if it was “minimalistic”. That stuff is more expensive. Doesn’t have to be, but usually it would be.

“If I can’t have much, at least I can have the best”. So I bought YSL and when I went cruelty free, I bought 98$ Urban decay palette. I didn’t blink because in my minimalism way, I was justified in buying expensive stuff. Shaking my head. I know, life’s a journey.

Also, I rarely bought anything. There was this really good sale on a pair of shoes I wanted. I had waited …like 11 months to buy it. No way, like a year and a half. And it was more than half off. 899 to 400. And I bought it…and returned it, because in my mind “I’m not a consumer! I don’t need shoes!” I did that with a lot of stuff. I used to think, if I was a minimalist, I can’t have more than x number of stuff. I can’t own a lot of stuff.

Now, if I need something, and it’s affordable, I have no problem buying and keeping it. Actually, affordability is a bigger driver for me than abstract thoughts like “keeping number of items minimal”, or “little amount but expensive / the best”.

I will gladly buy 2 or 3 drugstore brands and stock it up for a bit (stocking up items is a big minimalism no-no) because it was an insane sale, than only buy 1 expensive brand name and only use half of it up and then declutter it when I had the decluttering bug bit me.

I’m using frugality to help me build up my wealth, so having money is more important to me than keeping up with the minimalism jones. I don’t need to own little amount of clothes or whatever else silly notions I had. Having a plastic bag as a purse being one of them, just because having a luxury bag meant I was a “ignorant consumer”.

The decluttering aspect of minimalism was one of the mistakes I think I did wrong. There was the notion you could just go out and re-buy what you threw away by mistake. But …as a student with a lot of student debt, how realistic was that? I was suppose to go out and just replenish what I decluttered? I thought that I had learned my lesson to stop buying shit when I moved from Canada to China to stop buying shit, so what the hell was my obsession with decluttering with the careless mindset that I could just “replenish it”? The whole point was, stop wasting money!!! A decluttering obsession cost me more than I had thought to consider.

Now, I keep it practical, affordable and realistic. I also got off my high horse. Before, as a minimalist, I wouldn’t consider buying second hand. Ew, I thought. I thought since I don’t own much, I can afford to always buy new. Nope, now I’m all for second hand to save money.

Firstly, I think, if I don’t need it, I won’t buy it. But if I need it, I shop around on kijiji. I also let myself have “wants”. When I was a minimalist, if it didn’t bring me joy, I decluttered it. But I also, in a weird sick way, if it brought me joy in the store, couldn’t have it. And so, in another weird sick way, I thought, I’m gonna declutter the feeling of joy. So I decluttered everything that brought me joy. Weird right?

Now, I understand we need thing practical things but there is also things that don’t need to bring us joy. And some things do. So I have a bit of both. I’ll be honest, my cooking pot doesn’t bring me THAT much joy but I’m grateful it makes my food. My makeup though, sparks INSANE amount of joy. I will never ever let myself declutter my precious makeup. I keep things, regardless if there’s joy or not.

I love minimalism, and I still use it as a tool, but it’s nice to find frugality, it’s a more budget friendly lifestyle.

Let me know what you guys think!

XOXO

Mignon Cobra

5 years after minimalism: I QUIT

I wanted to go for a sensationalist title. Did it work? But in all seriousness, after doing the whole minimalism thing (and all it’s variations e.g. KonMarie method of sparking joy, extreme minimalism, essentialism, aesthetic minimalism) for about 5 years, I’m kinda ready to move forward.

It’s the pendulum shining in the other direction. Am I just gonna become a maximalist now? BUY ALL THE STUFF!

No. The lifestyle has taught me some really valuable stuff that have become ingrained into my value system e.g less value on material possessions, getting out of the rat race, and being creative.

But what kinda pushed me to quit this….emphasis on “less is more” is the realization, that mentally, something was off? I didn’t know what it was, so I youtube’d “I stopped minimalism”.

And a discovered this video.

If you can’t be bothered to watch it, essentially, the topic is that minimalism aesthetic is a reaction to the youthful and colorful lifestyle of the natives that the European settlers wanted to separate themselves from. So enter the bland, grey, black and white.

So what does that matter? Well, in current studies, they found that when they put people in empty bare rooms, with only a painful electric stimulation machine, people would shock themselves to just FEEL something. Feeling nothing was unbearable. Humans naturally (and evolutionary) want abundance, stimulation, and variety in their lives.

If you read my minimalism and the void, that’s exactly where I have been living this whole time. In the nothing.

My experience with minimalism was a reaction to having travelled a lot and seen how annoying it is to carry around stuff. So I had the new-age hippy idea that, why don’t I save money and never have to deal with the problem of owning stuff! I’d be free!

It sounds all lovely and dandy, till you actually live…for prolonged periods of time in the void that most people consider “minimalism”, minimalism as a lifestyle. Of course you can argue, no, minimalism is just a tool, to just get rid of excess and enjoy what you truely love! “Clearly you were doing it wrong!” Hm. No. I felt I was doing it in the current way of doing things. Just google, how to be a minimalist. I can check off all the boxes.

If you found that balance, good for you. However, for myself, for the sake of minimalism,I didn’t allow myself this or that, because somehow I could always find a way to justify not eating/owning/buying something.

So no more! I used to feel guilty that I now have a very full closet or that I have a nice thick collection of makeup in my vanity. I now joy seeing the abundance of my stuff.

I think the difference is that before, where I thought the clutter was “holding me back” from achieving my dreams, I discovered, I can achieve my dreams, with or without a minimalist wardrobe.

On the flip side, minimalism has allowed me to cherish and really be grateful for the amount of clothes I do have. I can remember what it was like, just wearing the same shirt over and over again, and now I’m happy my shirts come in different colors, with different prints.

I feel ALIVE. And I think, isn’t that what I was trying to seek, at the end of my decluttering obsession? This other worldly feeling of being alive? The feeling you get when you go to town with your friends, or you travel and you eat all the good food or buy something you really like?

I want to mention I do also use stoicism in my life. This means, I often train myself to make my baseline of happiness as low as I can, to a certain extent. I take cold showers, so I can cherish warm showers. I eat very basic meals at home, to enjoy the decadent foods of the restaurants. It’s kinda like happiness hacking.

I do this, so with my minimalism, most things above my baseline are quite low for most people, but because I’m experiencing the upgrade, I feel joy. And it prevents me from entering the realm of needing harder hits of joy. It prevents me from becoming a hedonic (needing a stronger pleasure, because I became numb to my current pleasure).

Anyway, what does this mean for me, quitting minimalism as a lifestyle? I don’t need a capsule wardrobe. I CAN have doubles of stuff (I have three mascaras, and 2 different set of pjs. I used to sleep naked cuz my only set would be in the wash. Not great in the winter). I’m going to live more indulgently until I feel it’s too much and then pare down again. It’s just a cycle of life. Feeling alive in the consumption of food, activities, experiences, adventure till I want a cleanse, which also makes you feel alive and so on I will continue.

Let me know what you guys think!

XOXO

MIgnon Cobra

Minimalism and the Void

Weird title, right? When I first started my down-sizing and decluttering, I went crazy. I got rid of everything. I even had just a plastic bag instead of my $300 MK bag. It was all so radical.

Extreme minimalism, I suppose? Upon reflection, I understand, that my decluttering obsession was just a coping mechanism that I used to try to “free” myself and feel “lighter” without all these things holding back. I was mad at myself for having wasted money on “stupid material” things, which never were enough. If I bought something, I was happy for a bit, but the happiness never lasted. I decided, that I didn’t need any material things, then! To hell with it all! I was never ever going to use material things to find happiness.

I didn’t let myself buy or bring anything new into my life. I also made myself develop non-consumerist hobbies.

So I kinda lived in this world of …nothing, I suppose? I would go to river bank and go biking, and I’d working on my youtube channel, and I’d work out. I worn the same clothes everyday, and only ate vegetables. Everything had to be “nature”-ey and simple and minimalistic.

Anything I wanted to buy, I crushed down those feelings of desire, because desire was bad. I was above it all with my minimalism. (Roll eyes) I thought, you couldn’t fool me twice!

So I kinda lived this in state of limbo. I bought nothing, ate little, did little, just a blur of the same days of, working out, cooking meal prep and watching youtube.

And I hated being in that limbo, that I refer to as the void. That void is scary. It’s the days when you stay at home on a Sunday and do nothing. People fill in that boredom with addictions. Drugs, exercise, work, food, sex. Whatever.

I couldn’t let myself have my “addictions”. No makeup, no sweet food, no clothes.

I lived in that void for 2 years. After 2 years, I thought, fuck this. And I returned to “desire”. It made me happy for a bit. And then it didn’t. As I already knew. The material world is temporary and it can only fill in the void for a while. That vanishing feelings sucked.

So I looked up, what could I do about it? There are three healthy ways to fill the void. Working out, being creative and working out. I already did 2 out of 3 but I felt wary of mediation. I didn’t want to go back to the void. Mediation just seemed like more of nothing.

However, Mediation is the really key point because it’s the only one that makes you comfortable in the void.

You are still, on purpose. It’s human nature, to want to move, to strive, to have goals, to chase dreams, to have hope. To be still on purpose takes ALOT of practice. Why do you think monks need to practise mediation for hours on end, for years? Because requires a TON of effort.

There’s only one time when we are naturally still. It’s during death. That’s what I realized the other day, why I hated being in the void, even though I constantly forced myself to live there, for the sake of my “minimalism” and “anti-consumerism.”

It’s uncomfortable to constantly confront the void, because it makes me aware of my own morality.

What is a good life, if not, the delicious food we can eat, the experiences we can have, the clothes we wear, the hobbies that keep us busy? Even work keeps us alive, because have you ever been unemployed and felt that unease, that idleness, the feeling of no hope?

That’s how my boyfriend described what he thought was the void. “No hope”. We can feel hope again when we resume the consumption of the material world. Experiencing life experiences, eating delicious food, enjoying material possessions. For the dead need not any of those things. It’s the privilege of the living.

What does this mean on a practical level for minimalists out there who might be experiencing this, after they strip away the excess or evening going into a deficient? For one, you can bring back the things that brought you joy. You could also embrace enjoying the void, for understanding your morality, allows you to truly cherish your life. I suppose the most important thing is to see the difference between using material things as a crutch to fill in the void, versus enjoying the material world and understanding that it’s pleasure is forever fleeting but that in that moment, it was wonderful.

So I hope this might help out some extreme minimalists or others experiencing similar things.

Let me know if you experienced anything similar.

XOXO

Mignon Cobra

Ketogenic diet and recovery?

One of the key components of my recovery was eating carbs again. The reason I had stopped eating carbs was after I discovered fasting and how a ketogenic diet paired with it nicely.So I started to eat bread and rice now. Refined carbs, I suppose, since I still always had eaten veggies and sweet potato. They are also carbs.I put on the weight I needed for my period, and I felt good. But I really struggled with wanting to ditch the carbs but I didn’t, because for the sake of my recovery, I kept eating them till I was over my food fear. I ate them to the point of being sick of eating bread.I want to discuss that during recovery, it’s different for everyone. I want to explain, I do not starve myself. I eat high protein and fat meals with many assorted veggies. And I have processed food whenever I feel like it. Like, maybe every 2-3 days. So there is no restriction.The thing is, though, for several reasons, I considered whether I wanted bread in my life as a daily staple. Let’s go into it.1) Carb crashes
A mostly keto diet keeps you from crashing from the steeper glucose and insulin spikes. So I wasn’t that happy experiencing the carb crashes after lunch during internship when I want to be awake. I want to be awake and sharp during internship.2) Forget fasting, I was hungry all the time
The larger insulin spikes increased the hunger hormone, gheralin and I felt hungry way more often. And as someone who was recovering from feeling hunger during prolonged 23 hours fasts, I don’t want to have to experience that awful hunger pangs, just a mere 1 or 2 hours after eating. Eating fat and protein left me feeling satisfied and full till at least 7 hours. I hated being hungry for the 5 hours of internship just cuz I picked bread instead of butter.3) Can’t afford new clothes all the time
Weight gain is fine, but I can’t afford to up my clothing size AGAIN. Eating processed carbs need to be used up, or they go into glycogen stores and once that’s filled, it gets converted to fat. I’m happy with my current fat levels. I got lovely curves. I already went from a xsmall to a small and now to a medium. My mental health is in a better place with my thicker body but I’m a minimalist and I’m not cool about getting rid of my pants and shirts AGAIN just to buy more clothes as I keep gaining excess weight. I’m already at my set weight point because I’m finally eating normally and not feeling still ravenous. I am able to stop eating because I’m full. During my E.D, I could eat and eat and eat, and I never felt “full”, even though my stomach was protruding obscenely because I didn’t have the hormonal signal that I felt full. Now I eat and I feel very satisfied. I’m happy with where I am. I feel stable and happy.
So eating carbs infrequently instead of every day is a lot better.4) Working out is easier on keto
I feel a lot better when I eat fat and protein when I work out. I LOVE eating fat. It’s good for my hormones, for my health health and it tastes so delicious. I eat butter with sweet potato, drink coconut milk, eat avocado with eggs and cheese. Glucose works for a quick boost but I actually felt tired after working out when I had bread during the day. Brings me to the next point.5) Brain fog
I felt tired, all day long if I ate bread. I’m not sure if maybe I’m gluten intolerant but when I ate bread, I also got constipated. I felt bloated to the point, my pants wouldn’t go up. I looked 6 months pregnant if I turned on the side.6) Painful acne
I also would get a lot of painful red under the skin acne along my jaw and neck (my lymphatic system), probably due to the buildup of toxics as the gluten gets stuck in my intestinal tract and nothing comes out through my butt, so it comes out through my skin. Sorry if too much information.Eating bread and rice which were forbidden foods have been great for helping me get over my food fears and also helped me quickly gain weight, but I wondered, after a while of eating processed white flour, was it worth it to keep suffering other medical discomforts all for the sake of “eating forbidden foods so I don’t have an eating disorder”?I mean, I no longer felt anxiety if I had carbs. I didn’t even pay the carbs any mind. I just ate them as they were available. The bun on my burger, the rice under my veggies. Nothing special or spectacular.So I just found better food alternatives or using them sparingly. I think that’s the difference here. Because it was a legit food fear. Now, if and when I do happen to have bread or rice, it’s not a big deal at all. I’ll eat it. But on the daily, so my mental performance and skin are functioning well, I eat other stuff. I eat konnyaki noodles instead of flour noodles. I’ll have red bean soup instead of bread for breakfast. And I just increase the fat in my dinner instead of bread or rice. And I feel a lot better. I guess it’s just a food choice, I’d rather eat a high fat diet rather than a low fat, I guess because gluten doesn’t really agree with me. And I’m not going to make myself suffer more simply because of food. I’m so done with that. I just want to feel happy and full every day. I’m over having food struggles.I do feel guilty that I considered eating more “ketogenically” but I thought, no one is living this life but me. I no longer do prolonged fasts and I make sure I eat at least 2 meals a day. I even have snacks, happily, like fruits or cake!I eat anything. I wouldn’t even say moderation or portion control. I’ll have rice AND ice cream. I’m not afraid. I don’t listen to any of the rules. Those just control me. I just don’t go for bread because I want to be practical. I don’t want carb crashes, brain fog, chin, jaw acne, always feeling hungry and needing new clothes beyond my body’s set point.I’m not justifying cutting out a food group. I’m not cutting out bread. I still have bread as it’s appropriate, eg. A bun on a burger. I’m just choosing to eat less of it. I’m not restricting anything and I fear nothing and that’s the key point for me. My mental health and perspective regarding carbs is different.Let me know if such a situation applies to you!XOXOMignon Cobra

Do I remember all the things I decluttered?

I don’t remember every single one but I do remember most. I suppose it’s because from the beginning of my minimalism journey, I only had a dorm room of stuff I could declutter from. So I can remember most of them.

There’s this idea out there in the trending minimalism that, you can declutter all you want, you will never regret anything you declutter! And if you do, you can just go out and re-buy it. So I went decluttering crazy. In my current thought process, it all seems really wasteful and waste of money. And turns out there are things that I do regret decluttering, but I am NOT going to spend more money again to buy them.

(photo: All the beautiful, beautiful makeup I regret decluttering).

I also have photos of all the things I did declutter. And surprising, I did end up replacing similar items back into my life. Turns out, in the end, getting rid of things that made me happy didn’t make me any happier.

I had had this idea in my head, that if I got rid of EVERYTHING I owned, even things I loved, I could be lighter and enlightened.

Did it happen? Hm, partly, I suppose. I was more lighter when I traveled, but I did miss my beloved stuff. So I became enlightened, a life without the things that bring you joy, is no life at all.

It’s like that Buddhism story of the student monk who asks his teacher, is he a better monk now that he has no attachments? His teacher says no, it’s about balance, not too much, not too little.

So this is what happened to me. I asked myself this question last night because of an interesting thing that had happened.

I was digging in that drawer that everyone has. The one with the used toothbrushes to clean the shoes and other random stuff.

I happened to find 4-5 “decluttered makeup brushes” that I had decluttered last year. Before, when I decluttered ,I threw things into the trash.

I had totally forgotten about these brushes and I felt super super excited. I had missed these particular brushes and I felt happy to find them again. And I remembered, I was really glad toward the end, I stopped decluttering and instead storing away the few last items I was on the fence about.

I had recently been having the urge to buy some makeup brushes, but I had everything I need, so obviously, I can’t buy any.

Yet, I still had this stranger desire, to paint my makeup with some different brushes, you?

And lo-and-behold, I manifested that with my mind! Lol, just kidding. They were just sitting in a drawer.

So after my delightful discovery, I began to see what items I could recall to memory that I decluttered. Let’s see.

– one maroon colored MK travel tote that my ex had given me for my birthday. I loved that bag with all my heart but I read some where that when you declutter, you must declutter all gifts from ex’s. In retrospective, I can safely say, that is entirely bullshit. If you keep a lovely item from them, it doesn’t mean you’re still in love with them or can’t move on. Just be practical. And maybe I only regret it because it was expensive…..lol

– 2 pink simple basic Ts from H&M. I wore them every single day, until they were worn out, 2 years of non stop useage. They were my minimalism uniform in my most radical days. Now…I think it’s fine to wear a variety of clothes. I don’t need to only wear black or all my shirts have to be a pink color.

– Brand new un-opened makeup. I decluttered it because I thought “I’m so mature, I am so enlightened, I don’t need to wear makeup!” BAH-HAH. Omg, so so stupid. I then went 2 years without makeup. Turns out, I craved makeup and in the end, I went back to it. And now I cry when I think how I stupid spent my Chinese New Year red pocket money on Etude House foundation that I just went and threw in the trash because I was a “non-makeup wearing minimalism”. So stupid. Thankfully, I will never be wasteful like that again. I keep all my makeup until I finish it. Every last powder and foundation.

– My YSL cushion case. I also loved this. But when I was a vegan, I decluttered all my cruelty makeup. So my precious (and expensive) YSL cushion case was thrown out. All the stupid things I did in the name of this lifestyle or that lifestyle. Being radical is expensive.

The moral of the story is, sometimes we make mistakes along the way because we figure things out. If I could go back, I’d stop myself from decluttering those items. But its life’s tuition that we must pay.

Let me know if you guys remember or have any regrets about things you’ve decluttered?

XOXO

Mignon Cobra

Does Working Out mean you’re relapsing?

Does Working Out mean you’re relapsing?

This was a big question I faced after I got better. I was 20 lbs heavier. I had made my peace with my new thicker body. Even was wearing my new bigger clothes. And I felt happy with the fat. But I did feel bored and antsy without a gym to release my extra energy.

I wondered…was I allowed to go back to working out? I mean, before I used working out a a tool to slim down. Now I just…missed working out for the sake of working out.

However, I was a bit terrified to work out, because, what if I just completely relapsed and went back to my old ways? Got addicted to the results?

The alternative was not moving at all. And I’ll be real, it was borderline depressing. There was only so much video editing, and reading on the phone I could handle before I felt antsy. Going for a walk helped but it wasn’t that much fun.

I missed the pump and the grind of a workout. The sweat, the hustle and the push of lifting weights, and moving on the treadmill.

So I figured, I’d ease back into it. I figured between being a depressed couch potato, or a gym rat, the gym lifestyle wasn’t looking too bad anymore.

I gave myself some guidelines so I didn’t get obsessed. Under no circumstances would I ever push myself if I felt tired or sick. If I felt unwell, I was allowed to skip the gym.

I also made rest days mandatory. I HAD to make a day where I didn’t work out. Every 4th day. What day I wanted, that was up to me. But respect the rest day, I must.

I also decided to just take it easier in the gym. I wanted to go more for lower weight, higher reps. I just wanted to enjoy myself.

So these 2 weeks, I have returned to the gym. I run about 2 times a week, and lift my baby weights. I have two rest days.

In addition, I don’t work out fasted. I lose too much weight that way, and I’m not using working out as a weight loss tool. I’m just using it as a fun activity to do after class.

I also eat a lot more, so working out is good for me. I used to under eat and still work out like a maniac. Not anymore!

I also do more stretching and cool downs. And I do yoga stuff more too. Like just body weight. I feel very content. And I haven’t relapsed. Why? Because I’m not going hard enough to lose any weight, mostly just tone up, and get in that cardiovascular movement that releases endorphins and you feel happy. I’m also happy in my body and that makes working out a joy, no longer a punishment.

Let me know what you guys think!

XOXO
Mignon Cobra

Is Minimalism a privilege?

There’s an article out there that says that only people in a safe nation, in times of wealth, with abundance can enjoy minimalism.

On my youtube channel, I originally disagreed. I said that, I was on welfare and through the use of credit cards, I still managed to buy way more than I needed and through all that folly, discovered the benefits of minimalism.

But now that I am into frugality, wow, I really do agree with the statement that minimalism is a privilege.

To better mange my money, I applying the principle of Mr. Money-Stash. He considers his normal baseline of monthly spending to be at zero. So he thinks long and hard about what he buys. Everything and anything.

For example, even something as fundamental as food. He won’t buy bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, fast food or fake food, from the store OR from a restaurant. You can only eat it for free at parties. He considers buying it with your OWN HARD EARNED CASH is just self-destructive. He also says, “Respect the 10$”. So no more buying lattes. You gotta make it at home. Oh, there goes that kitchen counter top space, needed for a coffee machine.

So I makes me think long and hard about what I spend my money on too. That means anything I buy, I consider it. Before, if I wasn’t feeling my bowl, I would declutter it, and go out and buy a cheap affordable one from Daiso in a color that be suited me. Just because it didn’t spark joy anymore.

I used to feel entitled to my decluttering (kinda wasteful, in retrospect), because I ONLY HAD 1 of the item. I am being such a good minimalist! Roll eyes.

I know there’s more to minimalism than owning little or decluttering, or spending money to re-purchase things.

The point that I’m trying to make is, because of my new self-imposed frugality, I couldn’t just switch or change or buy new things and rid of myself of my current things as it suited me. I could no longer just be like that white man in the article, who just has a laptop, keys and wallet. If he needs anything, he can just buy it. No need for an umbrella or a backpack to wear a water bottle or a book. If he gets bored, he can buy a book or if he’s thirsty, he can buy a bottled water.

Mr. Money-stash said, you should never buy bottled water. You drink it at home or carry a bottle with you from home.

So this newfound way of thinking of my money, made me think, wow, I can’t just spend money for the sake of minimalism anymore. All the luxuries that I thought were not part of minimalism, actually are.

I have more stuff now that I’m frugal. I can’t just go out and buy whatever I need. I’m very strict about it. I try to go without or see what I can use from what I already own. So I’m also very careful about what I declutter. I store away things I’m not currently using, instead of just decluttering for the sake of “empty space”, and if I need it, waste more money to go out and “re-buy it”.

Furthermore, the desire to pursue minimalism is a equal reaction to excess. When I grew up on welfare, I wasn’t thinking, “Oh since I can’t afford anything anyway, let’s not bother with consumerism. I don’t need it anyway.” I wanted it all!

In order to crave “less”, there must be excess to experience. It wasn’t until after I was able to use a credit card to buy things I couldn’t otherwise afford, that I got to experience excess, and it’s negative repercussions.

To be able to experience excess is also a privilege. I can say that, because unlike the USA, Canada and other common wealth nations where individuals can afford beyond their means via credit cards, not all countries run like that. In China, it’s extremely difficult to obtain a credit card. So people buy only what they can afford. And with the rising economy in China, people can now buy all that unnecessary stuff they otherwise couldn’t afford. And what’s one of the reactions to all the stuff?

Many Chinese are becoming fascinated by Japanese minimalism movement. They want to be feel “freer and lighter” among all their clutter. Sound familiar?

So I finally understand why the article said that minimalism is a privilege. Let me know what your thoughts are.

XOXO

Mignon Cobra