We lived in one room in Switzerland for eight months.
Who gets the chance to live in one of Europe’s most picturesque cities? When my husband was offered a role in Zurich, Switzerland, it was one he could not refuse.
The initial three months was later extended to a year, and I decided to join him for part of the journey. For him, this was a fantastic career boost; for me, it was a time-slot in which I could kick-start my writing career.
We would take just a few possessions with us, and instead live within a neat, blank canvas dedicated to creativity. This was exciting!
Visitors to our smallholding in France, where we keep farmyard animals, a peach orchard, allotment, and gardens describe us as “eccentric hoarders.” Each day is a manic quest that passes by quickly. Tidying up occurs in sporadic bursts!
So, we now had the perfect opportunity to clear our minds, free up our surroundings, and rent a minimal space before returning to the madhouse.
Think about it: How much “stuff” and space do we require to satisfy our basic needs?
How many separate rooms are warranted?
How many material objects are actually useful to us?
A lot less is the answer.
My story is one of chance, but it’s changed the way I view that “stuff.” Whilst packing for this minimalist journey, it felt like I was creating an assemblage for a desert island. It felt good.
Accommodations in Zurich are scarce, expensive, and attract much competition. After a handful of failed attempts, we needed an alternative solution. We found one in the form of a bright, modern, energy efficient, one-room aparthaus close to my husband’s office.
It was comprised of basic furniture where I created three visually separate spaces:
>> Bedroom area: A double bed and single bed (the latter became a sofa), a wardrobe, two bedside tables, and two lamps.
>> Dining space: A fridge with small freezer, a unit with cupboards, and two chairs.
>> Office: A desk with drawers, a cupboard with a shelving unit, and a lamp.
In addition to this, between the office and bedroom spaces, I created an area dedicated to yoga with my Buddha statue and candles, which provided positive energy and an aesthetic quality.
The office space was a blank canvas with a calm atmosphere which freed my mind and allowed me to concentrate on my role as an apprentice for elephant journal.
The bedroom area provided comfort, sensuality, warmth, and a whole lot of Eastern magic!
On the opposite side was the dining area. The fridge was small, so we cooked and ate before replenishing supplies. I worked out food quantities and pre-planned meals ensuring little waste. Any leftovers went to birds in the local park.
Daily rubbish was recycled, and I looked at supermarket packaging and how I could re-use it. Boxes and trays were great for cutlery and utensils, water bottles were perfect for watering plants, and some glass jars were suitable for drinking tumblers.
There is something very rewarding about keeping a small space neat and tidy—and it’s essential. A place for everything and everything in its place. The staff were so impressed with our room, they photographed it for their new website!
With less space, we buy less; a quality over quantity choice. We question what we need according to practicality. We compromise and we cooperate with each other.
We don’t have to rid ourselves of the things we want in attempting minimalism. We can try it for a while by making decisions about our sacred spaces and precious objects.
When we’ve experienced the freedom of minimalism, we begin to appreciate its simplicity and look at our spaces and objects differently. I certainly did.
Look at what you don’t need, what could be given to charity or re-used more effectively—maybe start with a room at a time.
Give yourself deadlines or goals, such as clearing out your redundant winter wardrobe before summer or finally seeing the bottom of that kitchen drawer before guests arrive!
Check into a hotel for a couple of days and take minimum items. A cheaper version would be a camping weekend. These are ways we can discover how little we need to satisfy our basic requirements.
In doing so, we are being mindful of the waste we create and our contribution to consumer society. We feel neater and lighter—like a burden has been lifted.
We can create space and spontaneous freedom to make love, eat, and work whilst being respectful of our outside environment.
I had an amazing time in Switzerland with my other half. I streamlined my waist, kick-started my writing career, and we certainly made the most of our Eastern style Bedouin area!
If we want to accomplish something new, we need to free up something old.
I discovered that when we are fulfilled with our love life, our eating habits, and the work we undertake, we require a lot less “stuff” around us.
And when we are mindful of having a clean diet and a clear desk, we free up a lot of time for more creative endeavours—like bed-ouin!
Author: Shelley Dootson-Greenland
Image: Author’s Own, Pixabay
Editor: Travis May