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Last week, I suggested the first question you ask as you embark on or review your new NoXS Minimal lifestyle was the question of “NoXS”. That one asked you to think about how much would be okay: at what point would you consider an area to be in excess?

The second question then is the “Minimal” question: how minimal are you prepared to go? While at first glance it might seem like this question is the same as the first, they are in fact quite different. Furthermore, there is a tension that will arise between your two answers which is important (and which we shall discuss on the next post) in working out what your NoXS Minimal life will be like for you.

This question is in fact the harder of the two. While every ideal in your head will have you scaling back to as meagre an existence as you can imagine, you cannot fully answer this question without taking into careful consideration the practical nature of what it is you are conjuring up in your head.

So to start with, whittling your pots and pans cupboard back to only one mid-sized saucepan might seem like the minimalist ideal. But before you go and have your kitchenware melted down, consider first what you do when your recipe has you boiling rice, simmering a curry and boiling a Dahl. Three pots required! Now, if such cooking is a once off, no problem – just have a plan (cook the curry, Dahl and rice separate and take a bit more time to do so). But if you cook like this regularly, your minimalism will just be a form or martyrdom that will frustrate you and those around you before too long.

This is why here at NoXS Minimal I consistently go on about the NoXS Minimal journey NOT being a one-size-fits-all exercise. While my kitchen may be well equipped, yours might be bare. That doesn’t make mine any less minimal than yours assuming I actually use what I have (and that is another blog post right there). Similarly, your lack of a library may be found to be quite disturbing to someone else whose work (or pleasure) is book-based. And you might find their lack of things hanging in their wardrobe equally so.

Three important things in answering this question:

1. Be Honest With Yourself: Goes without saying, but temper that honesty with the other two things.

2. Don’t Be A Martyr: Yes, you could just dump everything today. I am sure many have done so with varying degrees of success. But I would suggest that if you are in doubt, do the old test of holding onto it, see if you use it during a period of time (from a few months to a year). This can validly include admiring it if it is some kind of display item. Or out it away somewhere. If it hasn’t been used or missed in that period of time, THEN do the removal honours. Better this than suddenly realising the expensive item you gave up you actually do need and have to go get another of! This way also will assist in a gradual paring down which I think most will find easier for transitioning and therefore more likely to stick.

3. Consider Others: If you are in a family, make sure you consider the others in your household. Goes without saying, but you would be surprised the arguments I have heard of! But, even if you live alone, consider what you do at your place with others. Do you entertain? Do you like to be hospitable? Do you like to have guests stay? You should think carefully about how your paring back will affect your capacity to do these things and, if they are important to you either a) reconsider getting rid of that item; or b) change your approach (perhaps picnics in the park are now the order of the day instead of BBQ’s in your backyard?).

It might be useful to work on one room/area at a time and ask the NoXS and the Minimal question about that space. Take your time in answering them and as you do, start to see the the tensions that arise. For example, you might decided that you only want to own “x” number of shirts. But what if your travel or occupation needs you to own “y”? Suddenly your NoXS and your Minimal are in tension.

And it is what you do with that tension that will make your NoXS Minimal life sing. More on that next post.

Live Simply & Simply Live,

Mark G

NoXS Minimal derives it’s name from two key questions. The answer to these two questions form the creation of the “lines” within which we create our NoXS Minimal lifestyle. Once this philosophy is in place, we can apply it to the Three Spheres of NoXS Minimal living.

Before I outline the first question, it needs to be understood that the answers to the two questions will vary for each person. The answers work in tension with each other – as we will see – to create the boundaries of your NoXS Minimal life. But as we have said so often, what each of our NoXS Minimal lives look like will be very different from each other. And this is okay. Furthermore, what we determine as our boundaries today may very well change as we grow ourselves. This is why it is a good thing to regularly ask ourselves these two questions and adjust our lives accordingly.

The first question relates to what it means to be “NoXS”.
This is a question of how far we are prepared to expand. It might be posed as: if I were to start with nothing, at what point would I be stepping over the line at which I would be entering excess?

In other words, how much is too much?

This is a good question to ask for those of us who have the potential to flagellate ourselves with minimalism. It allows us to consider what is a healthy level of “having”.

What excess looks like could be determined by many factors – space, cost, what one considers reasonable and location to name a few. Yes, these aren’t all that objective. I’m not sure if an objective factor exists (please let me know if you can think of one). And that is why the question asks for some honesty.

Answer the NoXS question and you will be half way to determining your NoXS Minimal limits.

Next week we will consider the other half – the “Minimal” half – of the question.

Until then, how might you describe your NoXS?

Live Simply & Simply Live,

Mark G

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Maybe Avril Lavigne was right.
“Why’d [we] have to go and make things so complicated…”

Today was filled with lots of mundane things:
– I went for a run;
– I went for a swim;
– I had brunch with family;
– I had a nap with my wife;
– I watched a cartoon DVD with my son;
– I read a book;
– I made dinner;
– I talked to a friend on the phone.

But it was one of the best full days (ie not part of a day but full day) that I have had in a long time. Yet not one thing on that list required much of anything except being.

So why do I seem to spend so much time and money and effort on making the most of life when all that seems to happen is everything becomes complicated?!?!

I learned a great lesson today about being content and happy. They don’t cost much, the require little and really the only thing you need to think about is the people you share it with.

On that note, I’m off to uncomplicated the rest of the week. You..?

Live Simply & Simply Live

Mark G
(Picture credit – miiitch.deviantart.com).

Micah True - aka Caballo Blanco (The a White Horse) www.ultracb.com

Micah True – aka Caballo Blanco (The a White Horse) http://www.ultracb.com


The other day I was contemplating the economy. Not something I usually do. But a question popped up I could not shake:

“Why does our economy have to grow?”

Now, every economist in the world will be able to give me a plethora of reasons. I even thought of a few myself. But here is the thing: I will bet that every one has as it’s core the need for someone else to continue to make money, and more of it. So one might say, “The economy has to grow so we can employ people as the population grows.” True – but you could employ more people now without the same growth if some of the executives in your company were happy to take home a little less pay. Or the shareholders were happy to take home a little less dividend.

As I chewed this, the concept of Korima came up. Korima is a concept within the culture of the Tarahumara people (also known as the Raramuri). Basically Korima means “What I have, you have too.” It is a simple way of ensuring everyone in the community has what they need to survive. At the same time, nobody presupposes Korima will save them and therefore the Raramuri do not allow it to be a motivation to laziness. This is no communist system in that sense – but instead a commitment to ensuring that nobody in the community lacks anything.

Korima is a challenging concept because it demands that I recognise that I have more than enough; and the more is capable of being given to one who has little. And that even if I think I have (or do actually have) little, I will always have enough to give something to someone with less.

I first became aware of Korima through a man who became my mentor in running and in life. Micah True first moved to the Copper Canyons to live with the Tarahumara to learn how to run from them. (Hint: if you want the full story read Born to Run). But he learned so much more. One of those things was Korima and he was so taken by it that he began to embrace and practice it in his own life.

Korima shone through in everything Micah True (known to the Tarahumara as Caballo Blanco – The White Horse) did. And as he mixed in the running community, he mixed the two and carved out a community among us runners that practiced Korima among ourselves. Unfortunately Micah True passed away two years ago this week while out on a run in the Canyons. But his legacy loves on, especially among the trail and ultra communities that I mix in.

Maybe Korima is not only a great way to start making change (see last week’s post) but also a way to discover what it means to be truly human? What I do know is that John Lennon was right – if people wanted peace more than a TV, we’d have peace – and that Korima might hold the key…

Live Simply and Simply Live
Mark G

(picture sourced from http://www.ultracb.com)

When a young lady was barred from playing in a high school soccer tournament recently in the US for wearing a hijab, next day her team mates and coaches turned up, with her, in hijabs for their next game. They were all allowed to play.

I was taken by this news report (click on the underlined above to see the link) because of the NoXS Minimal way this young lady’s team mates and coaches brought about change. They entered into her world with her and showed others how silly their rule was. In doing so, they showed solidarity with her as well as “sticking it to the man” for her (or rather together with her).

Bringing about change is easy. Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Michael Jackson put it in Man in the Mirror as “If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make the change.” The bottom line is massive change would happen if we would. Change that is. And a part of that means standing alongside those for whom change is needed (as opposed to needed to change).

Like the young lady in the hijab – her friends took a big risk, identifying with her. But they knew change was needed. And they knew that while they technically were not effected, that they would need to change and enter into her world, risk ridicule, being treated similarly and even possibly losing their place in the tournament. But they knew a stand needed to be taken and if someone was going to bring about change, it would have to be them.

John Lennon once said that if the world wanted peace instead of TV sets, we’d have peace. Sure, there are a gazillion and one ideas that might bring about change. But if none of them change you, they are just not going to make much difference in the long run.

Unfortunately (or fortunately if you like) this is very simple and minimal and requires no connections, dollars or lobbying power. Just the intestinal fortitude to change self for the betterment of the world.

And all of us can do that today.

Love Simply & Simply Live,

Mark G

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Here in Queensland, Australia, the State’s electricity companies run a safety campaign called “Look Up and Live”. It is a reminder to the population that many areas in the State have overhead power lines; and that looking up and making sure the truck you are driving or work you are doing is not going to interfere with the power lines is just as important as checking there is no power running underground before you dig. The catch cry, obviously, is to Look Up And Live.

This has come to mind because my wife said something similar in regards to electronic devices. Our family were in a restaurant and the family of five at the table behind us were all engrossed in their own individual smart-thing. She said she wanted to start a campaign called “Look Up…” to get people, particularly young children, away from being engrossed in the led-lit screens that far too many parents use these days as convenient baby-sitters.

And that is why the power companies’ complete slogan makes so much sense. Are we really living when our faces are buried in our smart-things? Are we really living when our gatherings these days consist of people gathered, yes, but engaged with Instagramming their food or Tweeting someone’s quip or FourSquaring their location or Facebooking what they are doing as opposed to actually doing it.

Perhaps the Look Up And Live slogan is very timely for us right now? Perhaps looking up and living the moment will be far more valuable long term than posting it. Sure, take a picture or Tweet a quote – but don’t do it at the expense of being in the moment. Surely that Tweet or pic can be posted later.

Because let’s face it, not only do we post it, but then we wait to see it appear in our timeline, and then we check other things on our timeline, and then we respond to comments on our timeline, and then we live respond to people commenting on the post we just put up and before we know it, the moment is gone and the conversation has passed and all we have to show for it is a blip in a Universe of information that within the next few hours will disappear into oblivion and will be lost to all, including yourself.

I’m starting today. You meet with me and maybe I’ll take a picture if the moment warrants it. Otherwise, my attention is yours because I want to Live the moment.

Look Up and Live.

Live Simply and Simply Live,

Mark G

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The older I get the more I am convinced that everyone needs at least one space they call a “Sacred Space”. This is a space that is set aside in your heart and mind as a space which you find significant because in it you encounter peace, connection and centredness.

For most, immediately a church or chapel comes to mind. There are a few spaces like these that I would call sacred spaces. One is the church in Morpeth, NSW in which my parents were married and where I was baptised. I also find the same connection to the outdoor chapel at a retreat centre in Canungra, Qld and to the labyrinth on the grounds of St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra.

But the space need not be religious per se. Many people I know have a sacred space they have created in their own homes. For reasons I won’t go into here, probably my most significant sacred space is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Furthermore, it need not even be a defined “space”. I find trail running a sacred experience sometimes. I also feel a certain sacredness around certain people who are very important to me as spiritual mentors no matter where I am with them.

What is important is not just that we can identity our sacred spaces, but that we spend time in or with them. What you do there is up to you. How long you spend there will be determined by your commitments and schedule. But the point is that you find yourself there and that your encounters with the Holy in that space bring peace, hope and balance.

Within the Spiritual Sphere of being NoXS Minimal there are three “P”‘s – Purpose, Prayer and Provision. It is in the sacred spaces that we find a deeper understanding of these things and become more in tune to them outside of the sacred space. Silence, solitude, meditation and reflection take place and provides room for rest, re-creation and gratitude.

And here we get a grasp of what is real, what is necessary and in turn, what we don’t need and can let go of. In sacred space, our understanding of why and how NoXS Minimalism makes our lives better becomes clear.

Where are your sacred spaces? When was the last time you spent time there? What did you discover…?

Live Simply and Simply Live,

Mark G