How do you make time to surf every day?

This is a question that sometimes comes up in conversation. How to make time to do what you love on a daily basis is something worth asking.

 

When I had stuff, but I didn’t have time…

About two years I had a killer little apartment with affordable rent. It was just 1.5 blocks to my surf break. I also had a garage, filled with snowboards and snowboard gear, surfboards, skateboards and boxes of expensive shoes. In my apartment, I had all the things one needs in order to live comfortably. I had dishes, cooking items, furniture, and artwork for the walls.

 

My cute Woman Cave was very hard to part with

 

I was in the middle of a transition period in my life, ending a marriage and selling a business. My life was really stressful and it was affecting my health. I would rush out to surf a couple of times per week and rush back in to get back to other things that needed doing. Some days I would force myself to get up before dawn, squeeze into my freezing wetsuit and shiver my way to the beach while half asleep. I knew I needed to simplify but I wasn’t sure how. 

 

A New Rule

In an effort to improve my well being I implemented a new rule for myself: if I bring something into my life, something else had to go.

At first, the rule just applied to stuff. Someone would gift me an organic soy candle, handmade and scented with pure essential oils. I would have to decide if I liked the candle more than the pair of yoga pants that were starting to get worn through.

 

A New Way of Organizing Time

This way of thinking started to trickle over into the way I lived. If I said yes to getting craft beers with a friend, I would cancel a coffee date that I really wasn’t looking forward to. If I went surfing I would skip yoga class. Little by little my life started to slow down.

Little by little, I started to define my priorities, I started to learn what was important, what made me happy, and what was just sucking the life out of me.

Eventually, this lead me to leave my entire life behind.  I realized that I valued experiences over stuff. Now my life fits into an oversized Patagonia backpack/duffel that travels around the world with me.

 

Downsizing

I own three pairs of shoes right now, high-quality flip-flops, workout shoes and rock climbing shoes.

I have an eco friendly-water bottle and a high quality travel mug. They have been all over the world with me. Other cups, plates, pots and pans, blenders and kitchen gadgets are not something I own anymore. 

 

This water bottle has made it to six different countries

 

I have one tube of lotion, an organic paw-paw slave that I use on my face, lips and body, made by MandaI buy one set of earrings at a time. When they break, I buy a new set.

 

Making Time for Family

Because I am now living a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, I can easily spend six weeks staying with family in my hometown, from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Since I’m not taking time off from work or paying rent on an apartment while I visit them, it is affordable. It has allowed me to be a part of my nieces and nephews lives in a much greater way. I value this much more than I value 12 pairs of earrings or a home address.

I arrived to my parents house in Michigan last week for my annual visit. Unfortunately, I found my mother in bad health. It has been such a blessing to be able to have the time and energy to care for her while she cannot care for herself. But it’s also been a real wake up call.

 

Stuff

I spent the better part of two days removing fall decorations around my parent’s house and replacing them with Christmas decoration. Each fall item had to be cleaned, wrapped, boxed and stored. But then the storage area had to be cleaned and organized. That meant going through shelves and cupboards and closets full of summer items, pool toys, outdated canned goods, clearance buys, and boxes of crafting supplies.

As I took out Christmas decorations, I found myself looking at Pinterest learning how to clean my mom’s silver candlesticks that had tarnished. This involved searching through another cupboard for the proper cleaning ingredients, spilling baking soda everywhere and having yet another mess to clean up.  It was so foreign to me that it made me giggle – what was this surfer girl doing polishing silver candlesticks?

 

When you own silver, you have to polish it. Maintenance just comes along with owning nice things

 

The Nativity Scene

After going through six unworking 9V battery to light up the nativity scene, then getting on Amazon to order new batteries, reading reviews on which batteries had the best shelf life since I was forced to buy in bulk (which meant the extras would have to get stored somewhere in the endless amounts of storage at my parents house) and then having to update the payment information since my mom wanted to use the credit card that got her rewards points, running out to the car to get her purse and then digging through a wallet filled with discount cards and coupons…. One hour later, when the nativity scene was still dark, I just cracked up laughing.

 

 

I didn’t mind doing any of this stuff because it was helping my mom to feel comfortable in her home, but the amount of time and energy involved was laughable. I was reminded of a line from Fight Club,

Your stuff owns you.

 

People often remark to me that it must be nice to live in tropical climates and surf every day. To which I respond, “It must be nice to have a nativity scene or a toaster.”

 

Minimalism

Minimalism is not for everyone. It is not a better or worse way to live. But, as a person who is affected greatly by stress, it works well for me. The way I choose to live has a lot of downsides, like having to wear my mom’s clothing while visiting snowy Michigan because I would freeze to death in my gym shorts and tank tops.

Letting go of my stuff, my commitments, my friends and my financial security was not something that happened overnight. It was painful at times. Sometimes, it was even forced upon me. There is always a trade-off. To my mom, having a lighted nativity scene brings her joy. To me, having the time freedom to help my mom when she is sick, or surf 5 hours when the waves are good, brings me joy.

 

A New Way of Organizing My Thoughts

The minimalism lesson I’m learning right now is to minimize the number of thoughts I have in my head about how other people live. As I bring in judgment I push out joy. Minimalism is about more than just the stuff I own, it is about creating space for joy.

Derek Sivers, one of my favorite bloggers says, 

Life can be improved by adding, or by subtracting. The world pushes us to add, because that benefits them. 

During this holiday season you may be expected to give gifts. If you must add to someone’s life, why not add a little environmental awareness. Here are a few ideas to get you started. This holiday season, be kind to the planet, be kind to those around you, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well.

 

About the author

Melanie Williams

I am a writer and wanna-be big wave surfer. Surfing is my muse. I write about it and how it’s teaching me to live better. I hold certification as a nutritionist, personal trainer, yoga instructor, and lifeguard instructor. My story “100 Days in Mexico” of how a solo road trip surfing my way through Mexico changed my life can be found here www.melanielainewilliams.com

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