Lagom

So today, I decided to clean up. Owning a few things since going solo, I wanted to retain even less.  That means, just enough of everything.

A friend of mine traveled to Sweden months ago and fell in love with the term “lagom” which means “just the right amount”.  She was saying the Swedish don’t brag about the things they own nor overindulge in something like food, cars or houses.  They like to live as regular, ordinary people,  and give preference to giving back, contributing, and helping.  They don’t care about status or how much they earn. All of that and yet Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world.

Thinking about it makes me fall in love with Sweden too! “What I wouldn’t give to be there”- Me, daydreaming.  But Sweden or not Sweden, we can actually embrace “lagom” as a lifestyle, isn’t it? In some parts of the world, they call it, minimalism, simplicity, or essentialism (there might be other terms that you know, drop a comment here).

I grew up in a culture pretty much influenced by the Spaniards. With our concept of “fiestas” and “piazza” (in my hometown, we call it plaza), our culture has taken it further to mean:

– huge houses, 

– large “haciendas”, 

– more food on the table (than what’s necessary), 

– (boisterous) laughter, 

– plenty of stories, and 

– overflowing drinks.

While fiestas and plazas are essentially part of the Spanish culture, I believe these concepts stemmed from their inherent quality of being warm, affectionate and family-oriented. Our culture, however, took it to a different level- more like Spanish-with-a-twist.

I’m not against people who own huge properties or love to have fun with beers, food and loud music. I’m just a bit disheartened to see:

– folks with large but empty houses

– yuppies with an expensive lifestyle, and mounting debts

– people who hoard

– people having too much of something (too much alcohol, food, shoes, Netflix, etc)

– people who overwork (yes, included)

– people who overcommit (yes, this too)

– people who are having too much rest (you’ve got to get on your feet too, you know, like literally).

Overindulgence is a bad thing.  You’ve got to save something for tomorrow or share some to someone in need.  We’re not here just for ourselves.  I hope we realize that and become more mindful of the rest of the world and its needs.

Wherever we are or what our status be in society, each of us has the capacity to give.  It may not always be in the form of material things. It could be our time, our skills, wisdom, strength, or we could just lend a hand, or lend an ear.  

If there’s one thing that this weekend clean up reminded me, it’s this:

I can live with just enough, and that’s not depriving myself of anything good in the world. That actually means, giving myself space, room to breathe, more room for what’s important, and to me, that translates to not only freedom but power!  It’s kind of saying, “I can have that, but I won’t”.  

– sundaewrites

Now imagine repeating that when you’re faced with a decision:

“I can buy that luxury car, but I won’t”.

“I can book myself in a 5-star hotel, but I won’t”.

“I can consume the entire chocolate ice cream cake, but I won’t”.

“I can party all night, but I won’t”.

“I can work till daybreak, but I won’t”.

Does it make sense?  Well, I’ll leave you with this word to think about.

“Lagom”.


Few, Less And More

“I took a backseat and just allowed things to happen as they should, watched time pass by as it meant to.  This intended pause just equated to rest at first but then it gave me something more- a sense of clarity to what I really want and what I need to let go”.- sundaewrites

 

I was in high school when my dad first taught me how to drive. After some time my brother and I would always compete and insist on taking the wheel to drive around town.  Some years more, I needed to start driving in the city.  Coming from a small town where I’d have to deal with slower traffic, fewer cars, smaller roads, driving in the city with more travelers on the road, was really a big deal for me.  I implored dad to help me master at least one route- from home to work and back, to the extent that I’d feel more confident about it.  Without hesitation, my dad agreed but on one condition. He’ll stay in the back seat while I drive. This made me feel really nervous but I agreed anyway, knowing it’s something that I have to deal with and overcome.

 

So off we drove through a number of turns, mentally mapping out the road so I’d know my way back.  My dad agreed to just drop me off and trusted me much to reach home on my own at the end of the day, “unscathed”.

 

I was used to having my dad in the passenger seat, but with him seated at the back made me feel less secured and less confident. Once in a while I’d look in the rearview mirror and see his eyes focused on the road. For some reason, he’d instinctively know when I’d feel confused or quite unsure of how to make it through the busy streets. On those occasions, he would lean forward and with his head next to mine, would gently coach me.  Oblivious to the noise and chaos outside, my dad’s voice remained calm, certain and trustworthy. Leaning into his words took away the panic and fear. I was sure I could drive on and make it through.

 

Some weeks later I asked dad, “Why did you choose to sit at the back and not beside me”? He said, “So I could see what you see. That way, I could guide you better”.

 

At first, it didn’t make sense. But thinking about it now, my dad was right. There’s a wider gap between the driver and the passenger seat, compared to, where my dad was seated leaning forward.

 

This experience taught me a great deal about assessing my own life. From time to time I’d mentally take a step back and see my actual self, heading towards somewhere and figuring out if the road indeed leads to my true north. Sometimes this requires a thorough review of what I’ve accumulated in my life at every point, and then stripping myself away of almost all of it, barring the essentials.

 

I know it’s a long road, but if I’m to truly enjoy the journey, I have to travel light, I have to be more present, and take every precious moment in as if it’s the very last time.

 

So this is it for me.  

Fewer photos, more experience.

Fewer words, more meaning.

Fewer complaints, more thank you’s 

Less hate, more love.

Fewer distractions, more quietness

Less of everything, more of my true thing.

 

Question:

How about you my dear friend?  What trade-offs are you making? What have you said no to so you could say yes to something far more important and meaningful? Comment here. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

When You Need To Strip Away The Unimportant

photo credit: James Garcia

With a cup of coffee in hand, I reviewed how my days have been. What have I invested my time for? My energy? And like a subtle cold wind touching my skin, I heard this gentle voice bringing me up to my senses,  a question I haven’t pondered on for quite some time. #sundaewrites

 

 

Be present. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you’re feeling.  Reward yourself with the very gift of this moment. Feel every breath, wake up your senses and savor every minute.

It’s easy to go through our days distracted by seemingly urgent matters. We react to things and fail to exercise our ability to initiate, to begin, to design our lives that way we want it to. Now more than ever is the best time we take responsibility. It’s time to get a grip, to make a stand and resolve how our day will be before it even starts, regardless of what’s going to transpire. 

I realized I have unconsciously allowed the victim mentality to rule my mind these past few weeks.  I don’t know how it even managed to creep in.  I found a lot of reasons to blame something or someone for what I’m feeling, so days have been long, hours have been a drag.  I pushed and pushed harder that I forgot how it feels to walk and just enjoy the sunshine.  My head is flooded with unimportant thoughts.  I miss home, I miss my family, I miss the beauty and simplicity of the olden days, of my childhood, all those years before adulthood.

Is growing up a bad thing? Not at all. It’s just that we tend to forget how it is to be a kid- to laugh often, to play, to not hold grudges, to desire big dreams, to dare, to be fearless, to stand up for what’s right, to be honest about our feelings and our thoughts and not be ashamed of it. 

photo credit: Ben White
photo credit: Ben White

When we were kids, we were bolder, we were free-spirited. Why? Because we knew we are loved. We knew that we matter. We believed that we have nothing to lose. We stumble and fall, yes, but we knew that we can stand up again and run-  such courage, such faith, such willpower.

I woke up to a quiet morning today, to the sound of the birds chirping away and enjoying the warmth of the sun. With a cup of coffee in hand, I reviewed how my days have been. What have I invested my time for? My energy? And like a subtle cold wind touching my skin, I heard this gentle voice bringing me up to my senses,  a question I haven’t pondered on for quite some time. What is this all about?”

More than just fulfilling my life’s purpose, I want to leave a legacy. The day’s reflection delivered these words, “Great sermons aren’t preached, they’re lived.”  So if I am to teach someone, I may do so with fewer words.  

You and I both know it’s never easy. We all start with good intentions but some days some things get the better of us.  When life pulls you in different directions, when you feel overwhelmed, and can’t seem to take one more step, it’s good to remind ourselves of this question, “What is this all about?”  And I hope your answer would give you:

  • comfort when there’s pain,
  • joy when there’s a lot to complain,
  • peace when everything around is in chaos,
  • hope in despair,
  • gentleness in the midst of noise,
  • forgiveness when there’s lack of it.

photo credit: Mehmet Kursat Deger
photo credit: Mehmet Kursat Deger

Then maybe you can strip away all that is not important, simplify things again, and start from there.  That way you narrow down your focus to just a few, the ones that really matter.

Question:

Have you pondered about this question-  “What is this all about”? What answers did you get? Did it change the next days of your life? Share your thoughts here. There’s always a lot we can learn from each other.