I started No Labels Living in 2020 as a way to get down in writing some of my lived experiences. I’ve been writing for a while now in various forms. I started out with journals. No real direction, just half-hearted attempts at getting down on paper the thoughts and feelings that were floating around inside me.
My oldest journal is from 1996. I was sixteen at the time and going through some pretty heavy stuff. That journal is fancy. It has a repeating fish pattern on the cover, without gaps in gold, blue and orange. The covers are padded and the pages are blank and smooth.
After the journal I had as a teenager, I bought Mole Skin journals in my twenties. I wanted to feel a sense of importance, status with what I was writing in. As though the outside of the journal stated the importance of its contents. I have a few of those left lying around. Still empty and I imagine I’ll use them eventually. But for now the journal I keep regularly is a medium sized sketch pad for its cheap yet versatile applications.
I got hooked on journaling in a consistent manner not to long ago after I discovered a community of people who “Bullet Journal”. This is system of journaling originated by Ryder Carroll and at its most basic form, it is merely a system by which bullets are augmented with symbols, that indicate the status of a task. For instance a bullet, * can be modified with a > symbol, which means it’s been migrated to a different list of items. Another example, an X over a bullet indicates that the item has been completed.
The system itself is innovative. But the layouts that people create are stunning. The color, creativity, materials, each unique in their own way, attached to their own personal goals and dreams. It’s like a personal blog in the form of a journal. A place to organize the chaos in life that seems to mount. Writing is a way to become increasingly organized while we’re on to the next thing.
I’ve wanting to start a blog for some time, but I’ve been having trouble finding a voice. A vehicle for my ideas. I also enjoy the idea of renovating something. Be it a house or a system, a routine that’s not working in our daily lives. The sense of gutting the old, what does not work and replacing it with something that is pretty, functional, well organized and hopefully, lasts a lifetime, is appealing to me. It’s also the drive behind NLL. It seems that few are focused on building something that will last.
We’re often too concerned with how we are perceived in the here and now. And unless we’re keeping pace with whatever trend is current, we’ll be left to die a very lonely death.
However, this I feel is not the case. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Following trends usually leads to fear-based thinking, which can lead to bad choices. I’m not saying everything new or trendy is inherently bad, but most trends are fads through and through.
I grew up in a family that confused acceptance with personal image. I’m sure I’m not alone, but this was a very cold and lonely environment to be raised in. It seemed as though the women in my family were always shopping. I can remember many a trip to the local department stores, rummaging around for clothing, searching for the next new thing that would promise a feeling of acceptance. It’s a bit sad to think of now and this was where I felt a lack of self-worth growing up. Not to mention the trauma, neglect and abuse I experienced.
To borrow a phrase from Buddhist psychologist, Tara Beach, “No Labels Living” is really a place to make the U turn from fear-based thinking, to wholeness of being. Not through shopping, but by cutting out the things we don’t really need in our lives and leaving their void filled with a few, well designed, expertly crafted items. Or more importantly, ways of being in relationship with eachother. So we can get to the heart of what’s most important. Living a life that makes us happy and leaves us whole.
It’s a lifestyle that’s based on; sustainability, cleanliness and a well-organized living space. One that imbues life into all of its facets while fitting each person’s unique personality. I think and feel that too many people are afraid of confronting the person they are. The one they would find if they stopped, cultivated and cared for the life they find right here. This is unfortunate. Because we would be creating a more comforting place in life for ourselves and those around us.
And it’s the idea that we need to be accepted by those we think are whole or complete. Based on our image of them, in order to be complete ourselves, that drives our fear-based actions. Not realizing those we assume are “whole or complete” are most likely searching for the same things we are. So we focus on the things they wear, do or drive, instead of looking at how we want to be in relationship with each other. It may not be sexy, but who we are is so much more than how we look on Facebook, or what we look in the latest trend.
Tending to the unattended corners of our life is capable of more than any trend can promise us. There is more to life and that’s my aim, to find it. I hope you’ll come along for the ride and throw your two cents in along the way! Peace : ) & thanks for reading :]
Image credits: Kimberly Barre