Japanese Candy Wrapper Journal Video Tour

I love Japanese candy and snacks- they are often packaged very creatively and cutely, and feature all kinds of unique textures and flavours. For a while I had a subscription to a Japanese snack box (best birthday present ever) which gave me the chance to try out all kinds of different stuff. I love the cool packaging of these treats so much that I thought it was a shame to toss out the wrappers, and so I decided to start a Candy & Snack Journal. I’ve since added more and more as I’ve gotten candy as gifts, at shops, and on my trip to Japan in 2017.

When I first started this blog I made a post with a quick peek of my journal, but I decided it would be fun to make a video going through each page. I’ve enjoyed looking back at the candies and snacks I’ve tried, and hope that some others will enjoy the video too!

 

 

 

UnSTUFF Your Life: 12 Tips from a Geek Who Read all the Books!

Books on organizing, tidying, and decluttering your home are quite popular right now. I’ve read a few such books in these last couple of years, and I’ve dedicated some pages in one of my journals where I keep track of tips and reflections on these books.

pic of my journal

I’m not chasing a minimalist or magazine sort of aesthetic- I have eclectic tastes and enjoy collecting books, figurines, and other stuff (often of clashing cute/creepy/many fandomed varieties!) However, I don’t enjoy clutter that is mindless, and I’ve learned a lot from the tidying and decluttering experts that I think can be incorporated into the lives of everyday people who are finding their stuff overwhelming. No matter the size of your space or your personal style, I think everyone can benefit from reconsidering their relationship with their things, casting out clutter, and celebrating the items that they truly love.

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These funny little faces give me joy every time I see them XD

Here I will share the tips that were most useful for me personally. At the end i’m including a booklist for anyone else who might be interested in reading up more in-depth on these concepts! Happy tidying 🙂 

Tips

  1. As Marie Kondo states in her bestselling books, If it doesn’t bring you joy, you might be better off without it. (Note: joy can come in many different forms, such as aesthetics, function, comfort, etc.) Another variation of this is: “If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes‘, it’s a NO!”
  2. Reflect that every time you observe or consider an item in your home that doesn’t bring you joy, you are wasting mental space and time on that item, which adds to mental clutter that can really annoy you over time!
  3. Acknowledge the privilege you have to be considering how to manage all the stuff you have- this is an opportunity to be thankful for the things you have even as you are working to lessen their hold on you.
  4. If you’re even considering whether you should let something go, that’s a sign that you probably should.
  5. Consider stores to be your own personal warehouses-if you have a hard time letting go of an item because it might become useful someday, remember if it’s that useful it will always be available later (and if it’s expensive you can likely borrow or rent it!)
  6. Think: if I lost this item or it broke, would I buy it again? If not, then you probably don’t need it or love it as much as you thought.
  7. If sentimental items are holding you back, consider taking a picture of the item. Remember, it’s the memories and intention that matter, not the item itself. 
  8. Storage solutions are not the answer- declutter everything and rely on built-in storage options in your house first. Storage solutions can often exacerbate the problem (hiding the clutter away but not truly tackling it)
  9. Don’t hold onto something just because of guilt– If it was expensive, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not what you need and you are wasting mental energy on it.
  10. If you have a hard time parting with items that were gifted to you, think: the person probably isn’t truly that emotionally invested, and likely wouldn’t want you to keep it if they knew it was not useful or wanted. 
  11. Consider if the item(s) can be donated, sold, gifted, passed down, or recycled. (One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!)
  12. Remember that someday you will be gone. Perhaps this sounds morbid, but it’s a practical consideration that can inspire you to consider what you really want in your home vs. what is there just because. Consider that every single item represents a potential judgement call that someone (a friend, family) will have to make in addressing the things you leave behind when you die. 

Books

These are the books that I’ve read so far on this topic. There are certainly more out there, so explore your options!

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
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  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo 
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  • The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up: a Magical Story by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto
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  • Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
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  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson
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  • Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
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  • Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki
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  • The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi
  • Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames
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Consuming vs. Creating

I wish I could find the exact quote; I read a book once, a good few years ago (I can’t even remember what book it was). I have no recollection what the book itself was even about, but I do remember this: the author quoted someone who said something like “if you aren’t actively creating, you’re just a consumer”. That simple, harsh truth really stuck with me.

Back then I realized that, for a variety of reasons at that particular moment in my life (okay… decade of my life) I was barely creating anything. I was solely consuming in all meanings of the word- consuming food, entertainment, and material goods mindlessly. I wasn’t using my creative mind in my job, in my hobbies, or in my day to day life. I was spending way too much time scrolling endless junk articles on my phone. I’d lost my teenage penchant for writing poems and playing with visual art.

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^Ignoring my friends for my phone? >.>

I don’t want to come off as preachy- technology is super useful, and we use our cell phones for so much more than distraction seeking. Plus, it’s fun and recharging to do mindless things once in a while, and I have abandoned the term “guilty pleasure” because if you love something, why should you feel guilty about enjoying it? Speaking of which, read this awesome blog post by @biblionyan on the topic of guilty pleasures!

But that’s the thing; this “guilty pleasure” pastime of scrolling and losing myself in click-bait wasn’t actually enjoyable for me. It was just a habitual, unfulfilling distraction I automatically turned to because it was easy and gave me a hit of dopamine.

I knew I wanted to spend more time creating again and really using my free time to learn new things and develop new skills, but for some reason this mindset just didn’t stick. I’d read an inspirational book, or watch a documentary, and feel motivated- for a couple of days. Then I’d fall back into the same stale routines.

Happily, I have now gotten to a place where I am creating and living so much more again. I am writing, drawing, painting, dancing, studying, traveling, and learning new skills like public speaking. I’m seeking out new opportunities rather than hiding from them. This has come about in the last two to three years. How did I get my creative spark back? Why hadn’t I been able to reignite it sooner?

My anxiety and depression were holding me back.

I unpacked about my struggles with anxiety and depression in a blog post recently, which you can read here. Long story short, after years of battling these issues, talking to counselors, and trying lots of methods unsuccessfully to manage, I finally tried medication prescribed by my doctor, and it helps me so much. Life is exciting and fun again. I feel like the old self I once knew and lost somewhere between adolescence and adulthood.

The passion for my job at the library, which I knew was lurking inside me, finally bloomed. I worked on building up my self-confidence from my lowest low. I started seeking out new opportunities instead of waiting to be asked. I began using my creativity more in work projects, and at home.

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Feeling lifted out of the muck, I sought out new hobbies: handbell choir, dance classes, sewing, yoga, cosplay, crafting, dabbling with ukulele, volunteering at the SPCA. I even helped out with some small roles in a local web-series created by-nerds-for-nerds. Speaking of which, my dorky fangirl self, who had been hiding in a sort of shame cave, fearing judgement of others, emerged proudly once again.

I started creating visual art again, something that I had largely abandoned in the height of my anxiety and depression. Before long it became a familiar habit. I get a regular urge to create art now, and when I get into my flow several hours can pass without my realizing.

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I’ve since started sharing my art in small local galleries & markets, and online. Sharing my art and creative projects with the world brings me joy.

I think that everyone has the capacity to be creative in their own way. Sometimes we get bogged down by a narrow idea of what “creativity” means, but we can be creative in so many different ways- at our jobs, around our homes, through the clothes and accessories we wear, or in our gardens, for example. Right now I am slowly but surely working on a goal of being more creative in the kitchen with baking and cooking.

Speaking of infusing creativity into our daily lives, recently I came across this extremely interesting Ted Talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee about the roots of joy.

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She presented her insights about some of the universal triggers of joy as discovered through studies of people all around the world- things like bright colours, soft shapes, fractal patterns, novelty, abundance, a feeling of light and air.

Two take-aways that stuck with me:

  1. Why,  if these playful, colourful, and creative expressions bring us joy and increase our happiness and productivity, do we design so many aspects of our homes, offices, hospitals, schools, and streets in uninspiring, predictable shapes, and shades of beige and grey?
  2. Why do we judge people who embrace colour and creativity in their own lives, in what they wear, how they decorate and so on, by labeling them as kooky, emotional, unprofessional, or “girly”?

I think we can learn so much from people who incorporate fun fearlessly into their lives (or rather, refuse to let go of it just because they are getting older). I’m fascinated by people like Iris Apfel, Yayoi Kusama and Elizabeth Sweetheart who present themselves however feels right to them, and don’t give a flying fluevog what society thinks of them for being different. Thanks to social media like Instagram, it’s easier than  ever to find unapologetically creative people and bold sartorial inspiration.

A potential struggle for being creative is the busy lives we lead- there were times when I thought “how will I possibly have time to finish this personal project”? But as with anything in life, you make time for what is important to you, what makes you happy and fulfills you. I work on art during my work breaks sometimes, and because I consider my art time important for my well-being, I will pass up invitations or events on occasion if I know I haven’t had time to paint in a while. I am lucky to work at a library where I have the option of using my creativity on a regular basis such as illustrating the Joke of the Day, making fun book displays, or drawing pictures to accompany my power-point slides!

Yes, I still check my phone, yes I still watch Netflix and play video games, but when I do I always aspire to be mindful and intentional with this use of my precious time, and avoid getting lost in zombie-like distraction. Time is the most important commodity we have, and in this often cruel and unfair world I’m privileged to be a healthy woman living in a safe country where I have the gift of free time to explore my creativity. I don’t want to squander that.

Freeing myself from depression and intense anxiety has enabled me to enjoy my life and creativity to the fullest. I am glad that the days of dragging my feet through life are behind me. After 10 years of waking up with sighs of fatigue and defeat, sighs of contentment are a welcome change. There are so many things I want to do with my life that I don’t know where to start, so I am dipping my toes into everything.

I wish I could share this wake-up call with the world (well, that’s what a blog is for, I guess) but I think that, first and foremost, it’s something that you need to truly want for yourself.

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Candy Journalling

A couple of years ago my hubby bought me a Japanese subscription candy box for my birthday. It was the perfect present, as I absolutely love Japanese culture AND candy.

The wrappers of Japanese candies and snacks were so cute and interesting that I couldn’t bare to throw them away. But what does one do with a bunch of old candy wrappers?

I decided to start a Candy Journal. I’ve kept at it, and I am now at 81 pages! I love looking back at all the yummy candies I’ve tried. It also helped me to make more educated candy decisions when we went to Japan last year! 🇯🇵💙