Monthly Archives: February 2016

Cure For Loneliness? – Be authentic

One apprehension I had about spending a few months in rural France was “will I be lonely?” After all, the situation is not that different to the 3 months I spent in Malaysia in my early 20s, where I was profoundly and painfully lonely. In fact, the decision to go alone and deliberately isolate myself was in part to explore my fear of loneliness. However, when I returned, I decided I was simply a social creature, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I set about investing in close friendships further, instead of seeing my need for people as some kind of weakness.


My current stomping ground – miles of open farmland…


But here in rural France, I don’t see many people, there is a language barrier, I’m working from home and I only have contact with my English friends on the Internet. All this was the same when I stayed in Malaysia, so why did I feel lonely then and not now?

The difference is not how many people I see, or how often, but how fully I’m seen, understood and accepted by the people I do see. It’s about being able to be fully authentically myself with people.

When I stayed in Malaysia, I was only in contact with one friend in the world who truly understood me, so daily emails were like a lifeline. The main person I saw was my Grandmother, aged 80, who’s idea of who I was came entirely from her expectations of who I should be, and was vocal about it. Additionally, it was considered unsafe for me to go out on my own, as a single western female bodied person, so when out and about I had to keep my mouth shut. I was also aware that meeting a gorgeous lady and asking her on a date could end up landing me in jail. Essentially, during all my interactions with others I felt isolated.

I’ve felt this way within households I’ve lived in, and even whilst living with a partner whom I loved deeply, because there were other close relationships in my life at the time within which I felt painfully misunderstood.

There are aspects of me that may be totally outside of the field of vision of the person who I’m talking to (and show me anyone who can say different!). For me, these are the particular sticking points: fluid gender, sexuality, aspects of my mixed culture and spirituality, positivity. When these things went unseen or were seen negatively by others, it was hard for me to see them myself. Therefore, I couldn’t experience them, couldn’t present them or explain them to others, and experienced the pain of this as “loneliness”.

Over time I’ve found ways to make space for these aspects of me, to learn to be fully myself with the right people (I’m indebted to my friends & lovers for making space for this), and to find the language to explain who I truly am to new people on their own terms. I’ve realized the importance of being fully authentically myself in every aspect of my life – work, friendship, performance – an idea that is generally viewed as a recipe for disaster.

It’s said that social media and Internet communications cause loneliness, but I would argue that’s only true when they fool us into having interactions with people where neither party are being authentically themselves.

What I now believe is that the greatest gift you can give to another/to yourself is simply this – to be present and allow them to be whoever they are. This is easier said than done, as it requires a complete absence of judgment and abandoning of all expectations of who you think they are, or who you need them to be. This may also mean abandoning what you expect to be true about the world in general. It may widen your heart, your mind and your soul, since what happens next could be totally outside your current field of vision, understanding and experience. This is why making a space for someone is so powerful – it might give them what they need to finally be themselves, or to evolve into who they are going to be next…


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Infectious Minimalism (Guest Post)

My Minimalism has somehow become infectious. It inspired my best friend to have a major clearout, and then write this article. Thanks Katie!

“Minimalism seems to have made it into the mainstream, in parts thanks to the New York Times No. 1 best selling books by Marie Kondo. Their success comes from understanding that our relationships with our possessions are not just practical but emotional too; and although I began my journey towards minimalism because I just want to be able to keep track of what I had, it quickly became a way of an emotional decluttering too.

belongings as art

Here are my beautiful bags, all lovingly altered/made for me by my friends and family.

Less Choice is More Freedom

 We spend our day making constant choices about small or unimportant things – what to choose from the menu, or in the supermarket, what clothes to wear in the morning, which books we read. When I began getting rid of stuff this was something that concerned me – what if I want to read that book again? Or wear this skirt ? What if at some point I desperately need this automatic avocado peeler and slicer? (Okay, I made the last one up….).

emotional things packed away

Box-love. Finally, I can actually find things in their rightful places, and even the boxes they are stored in are things of beauty.


But although there have undoubtedly been times I have felt a pang of absence for something I no longer have, there is a bigger payoff: an absence of what I call ‘mind-clutter’. To chose between 6 pairs of trousers and 10 tops creates needless choice. As Neil Gaiman says “the main reason I’ve been wearing more or less the same thing for about 20 years is so that I don’t have to think about what I’ll wear”.

Removing these constant tiny choices has stilled my mind and allowed me to chose what I focus on, like my underlying thoughts and feelings, or the world around me. And having less choice makes me appreciate the smaller choices I do make – which cup of these two to use, which of my two scarves to wear, where to sit to be in the sunlight. Consumerism teaches us that constant choice gives us freedom, but it often just shackles the mind. There is a joy that comes from these small choices and even a joy from having no choice at all.

The Spark of Joy

And joy is what Kondo’s second book is all about. Every time we see something we react to it – often on a deeply subconscious level. For me a large part of choosing what to keep was bringing these reactions into the conscious level. Kondo has a simple but effective way of determining what to keep – if it doesn’t bring a ‘spark of joy’, ditch it.

For example, I had a big stash of clothes I couldn’t wear anymore because I’d put on too much weight. I kept hanging onto them because I did not want to let go of the thought that I am not that person anymore, and did not want to think I might not be her again. But the truth became that every time I saw them I felt sad, and guilty and bad about myself. When I gave them away I also gave away these feelings.

Sometimes the emotional reaction to things is not that simple, for example, there were some things from my ex that stirred fond memories in me when I saw them. But at the same time it was bitter sweet because we’re are no longer in contact and I am sad to have lost him. Some things I got from him I gave away, some I kept but put in storage. It’s important to remember the past, even the sad bits, but to be constantly be reminded of it by your possessions can encroaches upon the present.

Be Friends With Your Pen

stationary sparks joy

I actually can barely physically write because of problems with my hands and use a dictation program most of the time. So on the rare occasion that I am able to, it feels good to have a special pen.

The anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggested that humans can only really have strong connections to about 150 people in their lives. I think that this is also true of our belongings. Every time you see or use something your own it is an interaction, like a human one, it demands our attention, even if it is only to pick up a pen and paper to write a letter. My possessions are now like friends – each one needed and wanted.

I started my minimalist journey because I had 4 rulers but everything was so cluttered I couldn’t find anything. I now have one ruler and can find it most of the time! But it has also been a surprisingly spiritual journey. I understand more now why nuns and monks give up their possessions on entering the religious life. I thought it was all about self denial, but it is as much about freeing your mind from negative relationships with the world around you and there by giving you the space to be more aware of your inner self.

  • Katie Moudry ”













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