So I recently started to make it a point to find time in my schedule for reading. I decided to start with Marie Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” – partially because I am a big fan of non-fiction books as I find them easier to digest in smaller sittings and more forgiving during long periods of absences between reading, and partially because I have been pretty intrigued by the contemporary western collective’s obsession with divorcing the self from the object.

Just looking at the blogging world, instagram, youtube, and even newspapers and magazines, the western world seems to be completely obsessed with the concept of minimalism and the benefits of de-cluttering.

Rae in Puerto Rico -

Minimalism and it’s concepts have intrigued me for some time now, and while I am a big fan of youtubers and bloggers who talk about capsule wardrobes and pairing our items down to the bare essentials, I haven’t really talked about minimalism here on LFB because as much as I am a believer in living only a moderately materialistic lifestyle, I am one sentimental mother fucker, tend to collect little tchotchkes, and find that messy bohemian interiors seem to suit my personality better.

Which, I think upon further inspection speaks even deeper about the kind of personality I have. I cannot just do away with things because another person might have deemed them “not useful.” “Essentials” is also such a broad and ambiguous word which most likely means something different to everyone. I know that many minimalists say that the goal is to practice your own form of minimalism and personalize it to your needs, but I have to say this is where Kondo’s concept of only keeping things that “spark joy” seemed to resonate with me better.

Rae in Puerto Rico -

It can sound superficial upon first glance when the primary deciding factor for whether or not you decide to keep a blouse or an expensive bag is if it “sparks joy” or not, but in fact it is actually quite deep, visceral and even spiritual. Because “joy” is not defined by a monetary value or even the item in and of itself, but what the item makes you feel, what kind of memories may be tied to it, how it might boost your self confidence, etc. And we aren’t just talking about clothes or accessories, but every. damned. object. in your house.

Now, I am no expert on minimalism and not yet finished with Kondo’s book, but from what I have gathered, at the end of the day, both minimalism and Kondo’s method are aiming to do similar things: change our relationship with objects.

And here is where I think we should now try to push this discussion further. Why is it that in the west (or in other developed countries), where there is so much excess and opportunity, do we seem to be even more dissatisfied with material items than ever? What is it about our modern lifestyles that cause us to constantly want more, but yet never reach any full level of satisfaction?

I think part of that dissatisfaction comes from feeling as if we are weighted down by the things we own – that they control us not the other way around. After coming back from Puerto Rico, I looked around my flat, and thought about how not only objects but places can be like a rope of string tied around our ankle and connected to a heavy rock, preventing us from spreading our metaphorical wings and taking flight. Now I have said plenty of times here on LFB that I am a homebody, and I am so I definitely appreciate having a home base and two beautiful kitties to come home to.

Rae in Puerto Rico -

But I cannot say that I do not dream of filling a backpack full of “essentials” (there’s that word again!) and traveling the world without any clear destination in mind. The people I meet when traveling, the things I learn about myself when thrust into new situations and confronted with foreign cultures and languages, the experiences I have when my feet walk across soil, sand or mud that it has never touched before – these things, people, places, are what fulfill me and give me life. Being free to explore all of this without any ties is a blissful experience. I would be nothing without my friends and family but I would be nothing without these experiences and opportunities either.

While I know that I am just a mere human who has been on this earth for less than 3 decades and cannot even begin to scratch the post-modern condition of discontent brought about my a society that has become more materialistic than ever, I do know this: in addition to feeling like slaves to the things we own, they can also tear us down. Marketers try to pull at our heartstrings and our confidence by presenting us with aspirational objects. They tell us that if we own this, wear this, or eat this we too can become as happy and sexy as the women and men we see on television. And to a certain extent, it’s okay to aspire to these things. Being aspirational is on par with ambition. But when material wants (not needs!) cause us to continue to reach for a lifestyle or emotion that can never quite be attained (read: bought!), we are like Sisyphus rolling one hell of a rock up a bloody mountain.

In Puerto Rico I realized that one of the few times I seem not to care least about material items or beauty standards is when the stunning magic of experience is the only thing occupying my mind. Now, I have found for me personally that travel seems to be one of the biggest ways for me to awaken this inner sense of contentment, but I am pretty sure that there is an even bigger lesson to be learned here as well.

When we travel, we view everything with new eyes. Our senses are heightened, and we treat every day of our holiday as the start of an incredible adventure. We return home, elated, but slowly slip back into a routine that leaves us feeling less than satisfied. Now I spoke last week about treating even your every day life as an adventure, and I think that applies here to this post as well. But moreover, in viewing each day as an adventure, as something precious to hold, we are teaching ourselves to have gratitude – the same kind of gratitude that we do not have to work hard to find when waking up on a beach, swimming in a river, tasting a new dish in a faraway land, or confronting a new culture. So do this one little thing for me. Have gratitude for your experiences – all of them. Place them above things and thank your lucky stars that you have oxygen in your lungs, open eyes, and a beating heart which lets you take it all in.

photography by: Papa Tashman
Edited by: Rae Tashman

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Stay conscious, Rae



Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • You sound poetic, it’s always a treat to read your posts. You look amazing too.

  • I’ve heard so much about this book, I’m not a total minimalist either but proud to say that my share is an empty garage, well ofcourse besides the car,haha you look awesome ,love this outfit and that hair color too,xoxo BING, “go get some awesome”

  • Man, I love reading these posts of yours. Haven’t let myself buy this book yet as ironically I can’t be buying more things in order to downsize as I need to ship an apartment full of things across the world. I love the points you make about the whole ‘items that spark joy’ thing; I’m an incessant clutter champion too. I just like being surrounded by little trinkets that I’ve collected from places I’ve been or that pertain to things I love. And the whole essentials thing! I’m trying to pack ‘the essentials’ into my suitcase and divvy up the others into boxes to be shipped (2-3 months delivery, yikes) and it’s tough because I think your essentials change as your lifestyle changes, and, frankly, twenty-something life is all about change. xx

  • I read this book before the summer and it did something to me that was beyond materialistic or related to how I organised my home. It freed me from what didn’t spark joy, as she says in the book, which made me realise that I had surrounded myself with so much padding (both material and immaterial) that i wasn’t opening myself up to people, I didn’t have room for them in my life. Since then I have tried to keep that space for experiences and only recently I realised that my home is not a tie to where I live, but also a tool for financial travel if I wish to, as I can rent it out for long periods of time.

    Inma x

  • megsiobhan

    Such an interesting post! I keep hearing about this book, and feel that maybe I need to buy it, so it can impart it’s wisdom on me! I’m trying to do minimalist but need to do it in my own way, and this sounds a great read…

    Meg | A Little Twist Of…

  • You have such a beautiful way with words, this post was an absolutely lovely read!
    I haven’t read Kondo’s book yet (I have this natural urge to resist hyped books and movies) but I am interested in the whole minimal lifestyle hype. Partially because our current appartment is just so stuffed with, well… stuff. And partially because we’re moving soon and I feel like it’s the perfect moment to consciously decorate our new home.

  • You speak to me from the heart, really! Such a nice post :)

  • i am so jealous right not! seems like you have a great time (I love your look by the way!)

  • Oh I love this. I think you – without finishing the book – put down just the things that I took away from Marie Kondo’s book. Also, “But when material wants (not needs!) cause us to continue to reach
    for a lifestyle or emotion that can never quite be attained (read:
    bought!), we are like Sisyphus rolling one hell of a rock up a bloody
    mountain.” is one of the truest things I’ve read in a while. Thanks Rae!

    Also, I really would like to travel with a backpack full of “essentials” right now.

  • You always have the best words to say. Minimalism is definitely something I’m trying to master and like you I’d love to pack a backpack full of essentials and just travel travel travel.

    Kierra |

  • This look is sooooo freaking gorgeous! I am in love with your hair color!! :) This was a very inspirational post! :)


    ♥ Tay

  • Gorgeous shots, lady! What a beautiful place!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  • Loved reading your post. It’s so inspirational~ Beautiful photos as always and I love your hair!

    Stephanie |

  • KNC

    This completely resonated with me. I’m on my minimalism journey and there’s no way that I’m parting from my gallery wall even though it’s essentially a “wall of useless junk.” The spark joy concept is beautiful and completely justifies keeping everything.

    Traveling is fantastic, too. Who cares about what you physically bring back? It’s the experiences and memories (and food of course)!

  • Your hair, oh my it is gorgeous <3

    Lauren x |

  • Aditi Oberoi Malhotra

    I love these shots babe!! So Stunning!

    Adi xx

  • Ok I had to refresh the page in order to see this comment section – sorry to bug you :P
    Anyway I just wanted to say that it seems like I’ve been following that writer’s method all along. But be careful about going into overdrive with the whole “letting things go” thing… I spent last year traveling with nothing but one very small carry-on suitcase and what I learned is that sentimental value isn’t a waste, it’s human. I also learned that not everyone who likes to wander is meant to wander constantly. While in Asia I got so homesick, I nearly broke up with my bf to go home. It was very difficult.

    💋💎 🦄💋

  • You commented on my blog and I thought it was only fair to come check yours out. The first thing I said when I clicked on your page was, “damn, she’s cool!”and I am so right. Extremely jealous of your blog, great content and like I said, you’re fabulously cool.

    Lots of love!

  • I so wish I could be there right now!! Not digging this whole winter thing.

  • Love those gold hoops with the blue hair. Great style girlie!

    XO, Jessi

  • This is so beautifully written; I completely agree. It’s hard to be a blogger and somehow make yourself less of a consumer and more of a minimalist. Especially because otherwise you may have a limited variety of things to write about. It’s ok to be sentimental! When I moved from my parents a while ago there were tons of items that did mean a lot to me, but weren’t worth holding onto (such as my baby blanket) so instead I just took a photo of it and created a photo album. It’s a way of remembering, but also decluttering (to an extent.)
    I will definitely be giving that book a read because it sounds very interesting.

  • Love the blue hair…I’m going to Puerto Rico soon and I hope to have the same enlightening thoughts as you did when you were there. Minimalism, being grateful for what I have, and just taking in experiences.

    Characters & Carry-ons

  • This is very inspiring and very beautifully written!


  • minaali

    Beautifully written post!
    I agree so much with a lot of what you’ve said, I’ve downsized quite a bit lately – particularly my wardrobe, and it does make some things a lot easier. ^^
    The Snap Narrative

  • idu

    Only keep the things that spark joy – I like that a lot. Especially coming at a time when I’m getting ready to declutter. Great post, I enjoyed reading. I hardly ever find time to read for fun anymore.

  • I absolutely love this post! I have been trying to live a minimalistic lifestyle for several years now. I understand the feeling of getting bogged down, especially when I see how much stuff people around me collect. I was inspired to live a minimalistic lifestyle by a priest– of all people! He made a point that we tend to turn our houses into essentially a storage unit. We buy stuff to put in a house and they don’t add any meaning to our lives. They’re just there. They’re just stuff. Since then, I’ve made it a point to really only have things with a purpose. My friends laugh because my decorations consist of purses and shoes. I justify it because I can actually use the items instead of a vase or a random ceramic pug statue.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee | Etsy

  • Rae

    Sounds like a really interesting and thought provoking book. I will definitely try to appreciate what I have more instead of what I “want”

  • You are singing to my brain with this post. Basically I’m being kicked out of my flat at the end of March. It’s ok because come May I can help house sit (and CAT SIT) a house with a friend.
    And I fucking hate saying this because it makes me feel very material when I’m generally not, but I have my furniture and my books and my collected artworks. I love my books and art, can I spend 9 months with it locked up in storage while I find a new place to live? I don’t have a lot of stuff, but that that I do have I worked hard for, and it’s almost comforting at times to see that if I work hard and I can have and do the things I want. I have very little ‘excesses’ in my life that are material, I have enough clothes and shoes, I have enough to be able to cook fairly well. But books and art and cats are my essentials.
    I love this and you’ve given me some more things to think about while I ponder what to do.

  • Okay so, firstly, Papa Tashman = so cute to help you take photos and I love how you look, DAT HAIR RAE <3 and when I read "I have been pretty intrigued by the contemporary western collective’s obsession with divorcing the self from the object" it felt like I was reading an academic essay again haha! But I loved reading this, I think it definitely rings true for so many of us, us Milennials (big M because we're supposed to be the leaders of the future of something), to want to break free from material things yet desperately cling on to so much we cannot seem to let go. And every time a new post pops up on my feed about some blogger's new addition to their wardrobe and makeup, I can't help but think 'damn are you sure you can use up all of that' – I feel like the 'West' (again in quotations bc I'm not trying to imply any connotations here) has always been an advocate of buying more, living more but at the same time, their struggle with living minimally and the Pinterest-y ideal simply can't be true! It's a hard choice to make, and you're right about finding gratitude and the space between, and most importantly, a balance between the two!

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

  • Len Dela Peña Parent

    You look absolutely stunning Rae.Stay fab!
    Happy Valentines Day!
    Much love, Len

  • You look beautiful in these photos! I’ve been wanting to get into some light reading as well, but I never seem to find a quiet time to do so. I love the idea of minimalism. Especially in this day and age, it’s so easy for us to always want more and the new and best thing out there, but I don’t feel like it truly brings happiness. I wouldn’t mind living in a tiny cottage with only a few items in the future. Living a quiet life and being able to just travel is my dream.

  • Kait Elizabeth

    You look beautiful love! And what a well spoken and thoughtful post. Hugs, Kait

  • I’ve heard a lot about Kondo’s book, but I haven’t gotten around to it myself yet. It’s on my TBR list! Hmm, I’ve definitely noticed a trend in the minimalist style that I’m not sure how I feel about, but I’ve also noticed a trend in the minimalist lifestyle, which I feel better about, and which I think Kondo’s idea about ‘what sparks joy’ is in line with -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • Seems like I’m going to have to give this book a read. I have to say the concept of “sparking joy”, when you really think about it, it’s so brilliant. As you said joy knows not of monetary value. Also, loved reading your thoughts on what “essentials” can mean, Rae. Such a great review (+ some gorgeous photos!!!).


  • Love this hair color! It looks so good on you!

  • Sophie Lee

    Interesting post, i will put the book in my reading list <3

    Love from Best Bags For Women 2016

  • Great post Rae.
    I’m also bemused with the sudden fixation on minimalism in the west. In Japan at least, it’s a way of life. A necessity and also very much compounded in tradition. In the west, it could be to many (not all) just another aesthetic trend.

    A few years ago, I made a decision to stop buying things just because I wanted them. I made a conscious stance to only buy the things that are well made, timeless, well designed and that would add to our life story. Things that would become part of our story. Things that could be passed to on to our son. I feel better about my sense if materialism now. The things I have really matter and so we have compatibility much less than before.

  • Loved this post, as I am trying to live more consciously! My father is partly Greek and he’s always reinforced minimalism in my mind, as he explains it’s quite a large part of the Greek lifestyle (where he’s from). However, I’ve only gained an understanding about it now, as I hate being controlled by materialistic possessions and have sold or donated many of them – I feel so much better now that I’ve done that, but there’s still a lot of work to do; mainly preventing myself from buying items because I want it, rather than need it!

    Pop over to my blog :)


  • Great post! It’s such an interesting problem that we’re taught that buying things will make us happy and then people all seem so confused when it doesn’t work. Of course travelling and learning new things and meeting people and having experiences is what’s really going to bring us joy in life, not buying things. But at the same time, like you I don’t find minimalism is really something that suits my style or personality. But I don’t feel weighed down by my possessions and they’re not a source of stress and anxiety for me, I’m just a sentimental person and I like collecting things. But they don’t define me and I wouldn’t feel completely lost as a person if I didn’t have any of it anymore, which I think is a key thing.

    While I see the benefits of having a good clear out as much as the next person, I also really like the idea of keeping things that spark joy because there can be things you picked up overseas that don’t necessarily have a function other than to spark joy and remind you of that place, so it’s never really sat well with me to just own less things for the sake of being minimal. People associate minimalism with being clean and having a tidy mind, etc but it’s definitely possibly to still feel that way even if aesthetically you prefer what I like to call organised clutter, like you and I do.

    jessica –