Make Sure Your Minimalism Means Something

Otherwise, what's the point?

Read this post on the blog, listen to it on the podcast or keep scrolling to read it in your inbox.

It feels like another lifetime ago that I actually wrote a blog post. Minimalism is a pretty out-of-touch movement at the best of times, so my normal writing repertoire just hasn’t felt right since the incredible explosion of Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

No matter how uncomfortable it is to admit, I am a very privileged white woman. Like a lot of people out there, I am now coming to terms with the fact that my “not racist” ness is not enough. I need to do more to be actively anti-racist. And I have to believe that my minimalist lifestyle has a role to play in that process. 

Minimalism is often sold as a movement about less. Less stuff, less consumption, less busy, less stress. With the lives of Black, Indigenous and people of colour being threatened at seemingly every turn, I wanted to take some time to explore what minimalism could look like if we focused on what it has and not what it doesn’t. 

Minimalism as a movement, by and large, is underpinned by privilege. Being in a position to opt-out or otherwise say no to the ‘traditional’ trappings of life means you have the ability and opportunity to have and make choices in life. 

If you consider yourself a minimalist, you’ve probably spent some time changing your relationship to material things and how you consume them. Maybe you buy less and repurpose more. Maybe you’ve decluttered your possessions by donating them or selling them. 

Maybe, like me, you try to spend less time online, watching TV, or otherwise consuming information (an ongoing challenge tbh). 

We can opt-out of a lot of things as minimalists. But we should never opt-out of doing what is right. 

I don’t know about you but I find it difficult to believe that being a minimalist should only benefit myself as an individual. It’s not enough for me to personally benefit from minimalism and my choice to consume less. And I hope it’s not enough for you either. 

If minimalism is a movement that frees up your time and money to focus on what is important to you (which I think it is), we should be able to redirect some of that time, money and attention we’re not using on ‘stuff’ to movements and causes that are about fighting for justice for people who have been oppressed by the same system that many of us derive benefit from (myself included). 

This might (will) be uncomfortable, but ask yourself:

  1. What am I doing with my free time to help/support/amplify BIPOC?

  2. How am I spending my money to support BIPOC organizations and businesses? 

If you consider yourself an ally (and not just a performative one on Instagram), now is the time to opt-in and stay-in. 

 If you want to be a better ally, but you genuinely do not know where to start, here are some ideas (crowdsourced from the Internet). 

  • Attend a protest in your area if you’re able to. 

    • If you can't attend, consider donating supplies like masks, water, medical supplies, snacks, etc. (Shoutout to Tanja Hester from Our Next Life for sharing this as an idea on her Instagram).

  • Set up recurring donations to BIPOC organizations if you’re financially able to. (I personally have set up recurring donations to the Black Health Alliance, the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund and the Legacy of Hope Foundation)

  • Sign a petition and educate yourself on racial injustice in your country. 

    • Yes, even if you live in Canada, where "racism doesn't exist".

  • Support BIPOC-owned businesses with your dollars (including buying books written by BIPOC authors). 

  • Offer resources (actual, tangible things or skills you can offer to local organizations who can use them). 

  • Challenge those around you in their beliefs if they are racist (even if it means you might lose some relationships). 

I am by no means saying that I am perfect in my allyship. Because I’m not. But there is no other choice than to keep at it and keep getting better. The lives of our friends, families and communities depend on it.

If your minimalism doesn’t go beyond curating the perfect aesthetic to actively trying to be anti-racist and challenge privilege in all aspects of your life, what is the point?  

How are you making sure that your minimalism means something? 

Now Is the Time to Use What You Have

In this new six-minute episode of the Tiny Ambitions podcast, I'm sharing an unexpected side effect of spending much more time at home these past few months - doing my best to use what I already have. From personal care products to repurposing clothes, I'm getting thrifty and crafty because of the global pandemic.

You can play the episode here, listen to it wherever you listen to podcast using the links below, or you can read the episode transcript on the blog - your choice!

Subscribe to the Tiny Ambitions podcast:

How are you using up what you’ve already got at home? Let me know!

Thanks for listening and until next time, keep living that tiny life. 

-Britt

Four Things I've Learned I Can Live Without Because of COVID-19

I guess I didn't need these things in my life after all.

Read this post on the blog or keep scrolling.

Our world has changed so dramatically since the beginning of the year, it is hard to remember what our ‘regular’ daily lives used to look like. With global supply chains changing and our daily habits being altered to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, our consumption habits and patterns of behaviour have also changed. 

Since I’ve been spending so much more time at home, I’ve noticed some interesting changes in my daily routines and habits. These changes are all directly related to the global pandemic we find ourselves in. I know some of these habits might change once our ‘normal’ routines are restored, but I wanted to document some of them as they are now. I'm not writing this post to say you should be depriving yourself of certain things at this time. There's probably already enough in your life that has changed that is beyond your control. This post is really just about me noticing, "hey, I guess I didn't need this thing I've had as part of my life for a long time after all".

Makeup

For the record, I am not a makeup guru. I’ve never known how to apply makeup properly. I don’t derive any joy from transforming my face into a beautiful iridescent masterpiece. Don’t even get me started on contouring or baking my face. It’s like a foreign language to me. It’s just not my jam. (I’m honestly just jealous that I never learned the proper skills).

So, I wasn’t surprised that my (reasonably) minimal makeup routine has gone to the wayside since I started working from home in the middle of March. My normal makeup routine for work included foundation, concealer, brows, eyeshadow and mascara. Now, it’s moisturizer only. And I love it. My skin is also getting a chance to breathe, which is a nice bonus. It’s going to be a hard ask to get me to start putting makeup back on every single day when I have to go back to work in an office environment. 

It’s also been an interesting experiment to become reacquainted with my face sans makeup. I definitely don’t love everything about my makeup-free face and I know makeup could help ‘improve’ those areas. But, there is no way you could convince me to put a full face of makeup on right now.

The flip side of this is that I’ve been diving into my very small collection of lipsticks and giving them a whirl once a week (Friday usually). This has been an interesting change because I never wear lipstick. Literally never. I’m the person who buys lipstick because I want to be the person who wears lipstick. I’m also convinced that I have weirdly shaped lips and lipstick just looks weird on me. But, since it’s just me who will see it, I’ve been giving it a whirl. 

It’s been fun experimenting with lipstick. It doesn't feel as onerous as a feel face of makeup does. I think that's because, unlike a full face of makeup that I’m doing to fit some kind of professional business workplace norm, playing with lipstick is just for me.

Social Interaction

If this pandemic has proven anything to me, it’s that I could not be more of an introvert if I tried. I saw something on Twitter a couple weeks back and I’m sure you’ve seen something similar. 

Shoutout to @The76KProject for being my muse for this post.

CANNOT RELATE. I am exactly the introvert I thought I was. Actually, it’s almost frightening how confirmed my identity as an introvert has become. People are (rightly so) panicking and stressing about their lack of social interaction and in-person connection because of social distancing and self-isolation measures due to the pandemic. I am having the opposite reaction. I feel no greater joy than when there is no reason for me to leave the house or interact with other human beings. 

Part of this is because of where I live, in relation to where my social network lives. I live very far away from everyone I would voluntarily want to socialize with (all four of them). Therefore, my baseline level of socializing hasn’t really changed that much. It’s pretty much the same as it was before we all had to start social distancing and spending time in our homes. 

But, even if I had a ‘normal’ social life (whatever the heck that means or looks like), I still would be pretty fine with not being able to socialize with people. I don't really understand socializing. I'm terrible at social etiquette. And I'd pretty much always rather just be at home.

In-Person Office

Before my current job, I worked remotely for about a year and a half. It was a big transition going from that, back into an office environment (thank you, anxiety). When we got the order at work to start working from home once COVID-19 hit, I practically ran out of my workplace to set up my home office. 

I know working from home, especially in this situation is difficult for a lot of people (if you even have the option to work from home). But, I love working from home and this situation has reminded me just how much. Since I started working from home, I’ve worked out almost every single day, spent more time on hobbies like reading, knitting and blogging and generally felt much less stress and anxiety than I do when working in an office environment. 

I'm going to make it my mission to try to incorporate more work from home time once this temporary order is over.

Online Shopping

 I don’t know about you, but I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing (or even done any online window shopping) since the beginning of March.  As soon as everything shut down in Ontario (around the middle of March), my online shopping completely ceased. Overnight. Obviously, that's because I had much more immediate things to be worrying about and buying a new piece of clothing was not high on my list.

Fun fact, I had a pair of second-hand dress pants delivered to my house the day I started working from home and I completely forgot about them until a week ago. It is fascinating to me how quickly our priorities change when we're forced into it.

I'm not new to shopping bans but this one is the first since I became a minimalist that was imposed on me by forces outside my control (in comparison to the shopping ban I made myself do in 2018). 

The fact that I can live without online shopping is not a new realization for me. But it has been a nice reminder that it's not something I need to do. It's an easy thing to be able to do when I'm looking to add a piece item to my closet. But my closet can survive without any new additions for the foreseeable future since I'm just wearing yoga pants and sweaters every day anyway. 


None of this is particularly revolutionary. I'm sure you've been experiencing similar shifts in your habits and routines. I do just want to say that everything on this list that I've 'given up' comes from a place of privilege. I am privileged to be able to work from home during this chaotic time (and therefore not need to wear makeup). I am privileged to not need to buy any new clothes right now because it means I already have enough in my closet to make due with.

I always know that calling myself a minimalist is a privilege. But it's even more readily apparent when the world has turned upside down.

Have you started to live without something because of the pandemic that previously was a big part of your life? How was the process of letting it go? Let me know!

Image Credit: Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

The Tiny Ambitions Podcast 🔉

In Search of the Tiny Life

That's right, I'm relaunching Tiny Bites as the Tiny Ambitions podcast!

I know I said I would be back in September of 2019, and what a lifetime ago that seems. However, life got the better of me and now here we are, April 2020. If you’re wondering why I decided to change the name of this podcast, it’s because I am a terribly literal person and Tiny Bites just didn’t explain for me anymore what this podcast is about.

Have a listen here to the full (3-minute) long explanation for what Tiny Ambitions means to me, and what I'm planning on sharing with you in the future. If you're in more of the reading mood, here's the TL;DR version.

Tiny Ambitions is about recognizing that the life you're living is enough. It's not about letting people or corporation make you feel like you need more to make your life worthwhile. Above all else, Tiny Ambitions is about the search for the tiny life. I don't know if I'll ever find it, but I hope you'll join me in the journey.

If you subscribed to Tiny Bites, you don't have to update anything - you're already connected! If you're new and would like to subscribe to the new Tiny Ambitions podcast, here are the links where you can listen:

I'm excited about getting back into the podcast game after such a long and unexpected hiatus. I hope you'll come along with me for the journey.

Have a topic or question you'd like to have answered on the podcast? Let me know in the comments or you can email me at tinyambitionsblog@gmail.com.

One Drop at a Time: FeelCBD Oil Review + Giveaway

I've been trying FeelCBD Oil Drops for the last couple of months for my anxiety and sleep issues. Here's how it went, plus a giveaway from FeelCBD!

Read this post on the blog, or just keep scrolling.


Disclaimer: FeelCBD provided me with gifted product to review. All opinions are my own. Previous to my reaching out to FeelCBD to work together for a review and giveaway, I was already using (and loving) their products. 

Medical Disclaimer: This post provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.


One thing I knew I needed to work on in 2020 was my mental health. My seasonal depression was peak this year, I was having trouble sleeping and my anxiety was also a constant undercurrent of whatever mood I was in that day. I had heard from a lot of friends and family that CBD products could help, but I was nervous to give them a try. 

Just like any product you’ve never tried before, CBD products (and their cousins, THC products) are a confusing world to delve into, especially when you consider the stigma that often accompanies these products (even with full legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in 2018). 

Like any good Instagrammer, I happened across a Canadian company producing hemp-based CBD products in different blends with essential oils, depending on what you were looking to get relief from. That company was FeelCBD, a company based in Vancouver, BC. Their products combine hemp-derived full spectrum CBD oil and plant-based essential oils. Their product line ranges from vaporizer pens to topicals to oildrops (which are what I’ve been trying out for the last couple of months). 

I won’t be getting into too much detail of how CBD works, but FeelCBD has a great blog where they cover a range of CBD related topics. Feel free to check it out if you want to learn more!

Why I Wanted to Try FeelCBD Oil Drops

My main reason for wanting to try FeelCBD’s products is that I wanted a product that could relieve my anxiety, that I could take during the day while I had to be at work. THC products have also been helpful for my anxiety, but, for a variety of reasons that I am sure are abundantly obvious, I can’t rely on those products when I’m working. The full spectrum CBD that FeelCBD uses undergoes an extra distillation to remove any detectable traces of THC which means it has no psychoactive effects. Based on my experience using three of their CBD oil drops, I can attest to never feeling ‘high’, like you might feel from THC products. 

I occasionally experience panic attacks, but they are a rare occurrence (something I am deeply grateful for). But I’ve been experiencing more panic attacks at work, brought on by certain people I have to work with who interact with me in very aggressive ways that trigger my fight or flight response. It’s embarrassing to admit, but these attacks at work are what spurred my initial desire to try CBD products. I don’t mind when I’m anxious at home. Because I’m not normally doing anything that is impeded by my anxiety. But when I’m at work, I need to have a certain level of certainty that I'm not going to spiral or have a panic attack that I can’t control. 

I want to be clear that CBD drops are not the first foray into methods of dealing with my anxiety. I also have a meditation practice that I lean on when I’m feeling particularly anxious. I try to exercise every day and do yoga or some other form of stretching. I’m also working with a counsellor and doing a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program. 

When it comes to my anxiety, I’m really just looking for something like works. 

FeelCBD Oil Drops

The first order that I placed with FeelCBD was for their Calm Drops(their bestseller) and their Sleep Drops. I wanted to try something that was more specifically formulated for helping me feel relaxed and calm when I was anxious and I also wanted to try a product specifically formulated for sleep. 

When I reached out to FeelCBD about the possibility of doing this review, they sent me their extra strength Natural Drops to try out. My intention was to use this product primarily for period pain relief (which, for me, can make me unable to leave my bed), or for severe headaches. 

First off, I’m pretty sure FeelCBD has the fastest shipping of any company I’ve ever ordered from. I placed my order with them late in the evening on a Sunday, and they arrived from Vancouver, BC, to my doorstep in northern Ontario, on Wednesday. That’s faster than most things I’ve ever purchased from Amazon Prime. 

Second, I know this doesn’t actually matter from the function of the product, but the bottles are a beautiful semi-translucent glass with labels that are colour coded for each formula. Calm is purple, Sleep is blue, Natural is teal. I’ll also just say that I work in marketing and I have mad respect for their brand design. It is beautiful, minimalist and overall very pleasing to look at. 

It’s also worth noting that, in every case, I have been taking the drops directly, underneath my tongue. You can also put them in a cup of tea or water (which would be delicious with the Calm Drops). The main reason I chose to take them directly is because they are more quickly absorbed that way. I am all about the most immediate relief I can get. 

Tincture 1: Calm Drops

  • Price: normally $49.99, now $34.99 as part of their affordability measures for COVID-19

  • Essential Oil Blend: peppermint, vanilla and lavender

  • Strength: 300mg Full Spectrum CBD

The Calm Drops were the first product I tried when I got my order and let me tell you, they are fantastic. Not that this really matters in terms of how well the formula works, but the drops themselves taste amazing. You wouldn’t think that would be the case with peppermint mixed with vanilla and lavender. But you would be wrong. 

I started with the recommended dose of half a dropper (5mg) one night before bed (I figured it wouldn’t hurt my sleep). I’ve settled on a once in the morning and once in the evening routine when I’m feeling especially anxious. I find taking it twice and spaced out like that gives me the most effective feeling of calm. It is actually hard for me to tell how long it takes for me to feel the effects because they are subtle. I never feel zonked or out of it. I just feel like my ‘normal’, anxiety free self. Calm is the perfect name for these drops, because that’s exactly how I feel when I take them. Calm and relaxed and level. 

I’m at about a half a bottle left right now and you can bet I will be buying more. I might buy multiple bottles at once, especially since FeelCBD has lowered their prices to make them more affordable for people right now. 

Tincture 2: Sleep Drops

  • Price: normally $49.99 or $99.99, now $34.99 or $66.49 as part of their affordability measures for COVID-19

  • Essential Oil Blend: spearmint and ylang ylang

  • Strength: 300mg or 900mg Full Spectrum CBD (I’ve been using the 300mg)

Taste wise, the Sleep Drops are a bit stronger than the Calm Drops, but I didn’t find them unpleasant by any means. I’m just a bigger fan of vanilla and lavender apparently. Can you blame me?

I really wanted these drops to work for me. But no matter what dose or timing I’ve tried, I haven’t really noticed any change to my sleep.  I’ve tried everything from a quarter to a full dropper, anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours before I go to bed. The result is always the same, I’m still sleeping not well. 

I don’t know if this has to do with the blend of oils (i.e. maybe spearmint and ylang ylang just don’t agree with me), or if they are not as effective because my sleep problems are often caused by my anxiety and don’t really exist as their own issue. If you struggle with sleep, and only sleep, these might work better for you than they did for me. 

To FeelCBD’s credit, I did get in touch with them to ask about dosing recommendations and they did try their best to help me out.   

Tincture 3: Natural Drops

  • Price: normally $49.99 or $79.99, now $34.99 or $52.49 as part of their affordability measures for COVID-19

  • Essential Oil Blend: none (they are au natural)

  • Strength: 300mg or 600mg Full Spectrum CBD (I’ve been using the 600mg)

Like the name suggests, the Natural Drops taste decidedly...green. Again, it’s not unpleasant. But when you taste them, you know what you’re tasting doesn’t have anything added to them. I originally wanted to try these drops to help with my wonky (aka constantly painful) menstrual cycle but I haven’t had the chance to yet. However, my partner and I have both used them for severe headaches we’ve had in the last couple of weeks and I am happy to report they worked great! 

I have been using the stronger 600mg drops, at 10mg per dose, whenever a severe headache strikes. Like with the Calm Drops, I can’t say for certain how long they take to kick in (it really depends on how you are taking them and your body’s metabolism), but I’ll just all of a sudden notice that my head isn’t killing me anymore. And that is a great feeling.

I personally wouldn’t choose to use these drops for anything other than severe pain, as they are a stronger (and more expensive) strength. I’m trying to reduce my over-the-counter painkiller intake as years of high dosing because of menstrual pain has left me with an incredibly high tolerance. Based on my experience with using these drops for headaches, I think they will make a great stand-in for the usual dose of painkillers I would take (that would rarely have any impact). 

Bottom Line: I’ll be buying more

I’m super pleased with my CBD oil experience. I was casually looking for something to help ease some anxiety and physical pain and I’m happy to report that they have worked for that purpose. At around $50 a bottle, depending on the formula, I know they are not cheap. But they are the only thing I’ve tried in a while that has actually worked for me. Plus, with the new affordability measures FeelCBD has implemented (they are dropping their costs to the minimum needed for them to continue to operate), it will be a little easier on my wallet when I need a refill. 

If you’d like to give FeelCBD a try, use code “tinyambitions” for $10 off your cart. 

Giveaway

The kind folks over at FeelCBD have generously gifted me a Vaporizer Kit to give away to one lucky follower. Here’s what you need to do to enter the giveaway:

  1. Make sure you are following me (@tinyambitions), and FeelCBD (@feelcbdca) on Instagram. 

  2. Comment on my FeelCBD post on Instagram, and let me know you’re interested in the kit.

  3. That’s it!

**The giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, 19+ years of age. The giveaway will close on April 13th. 

Have you tried CBD oil before? How was your experience?

Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions

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