In this podcast episode, Tammy and Christine discuss their experiences with minimalism and how it has impacted their lives, particularly in the context of their nomadic lifestyles.
They delve into the benefits and challenges of adopting minimalism while living international school teacher lifestyles. Tammy and Christine's experiences offer valuable insights into the rewards of decluttering and simplifying one's life while navigating various cultures and job roles. Listeners are encouraged to tune in and learn how minimalism can transform the way we approach our physical spaces and mental well-being.
This episode is sponsored by ClassTechTips: ClassTechTips save you time in the classroom by making EdTech easier for busy educators like you.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to today's episode. We are talking about Minimalism generally and why Christine and I got into this whole world of minimalism and education. So I'm just going to ask my co author and friends some questions about how we got here. So, um, Christine and I, we, we met in Singapore and neither of us are Singaporean.
Am I right? That is correct. Yes. Yes. Neither of us were born there. We did not grow up there, but we met there. A few years ago in 2015. It was correct. And, yeah, so we both have moved to some places. So can you talk, tell us about that process for you? You know, moving from Australia and to your first move in that whole thinking around, like moving your life, changing your job role, getting involved in a new culture.
Cause that's a lot of, a lot of stuff. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Well, I initially set off from Australia thinking it would just be a two year jaunt. I'd do two years overseas and have this grand adventure and then turn around and come home again. That was a long time ago and I'm still overseas, so the plans definitely changed there.
I definitely remember the feeling of trying to get rid of all of my stuff. In Australia before I left and, you know, trying to do it ethically, not just taking everything to the tip, but trying to resell things and pass them on wherever I could. And it, it was a seriously emotional experience trying to, get rid of all of your belongings.
Cause I didn't want to take up too much storage space of any of my family members or anything like that. And so I distinctly remember like, I'm not going to get this much stuff again, like this is, this has been too many belongings and I definitely need to get rid of some of this stuff and keep it back into that, smaller amount.
And because I've moved, this is my fifth country now that I've lived in that, that has definitely been helpful, to, to make. Sure that I don't collect too many belongings like you, how many plates do you really need in your life? Right, right. You can usually get by with just a couple and it's okay.
So that has definitely been a feature of, of me moving from country to country. And so how did you decide then, what you kept to bring with you? Yeah, that's a great question. I, well, I had some advice from friends that had moved overseas before. But you know, things that you don't really think about, like if you have anything electrical, the plug is not going to work in your next country.
So that's an automatic, right. I can get rid of that., you know, and then you don't really want to have to keep replacing things over and over again. So it's kind of how, how few electrical items can one own and still get by comfortably. So yeah, things like that. And I think, you know, I just So I took a few comfort items, you know, products that I really liked, but you know, as you, as you spend more and more time overseas, you kind of get more flexible with, with what products you're willing to use and things like that.
Yeah, for sure. And then how about settling into, cause your first move was to Tokyo. And so that's a completely different culture. And so you're moving from, you know, a larger space, you got rid of a lot of stuff, moving into smaller spaces. And you're starting, like, you've got to meet new people, new culture, new roles.
So how did you manage that? mentally. So, you know, we've done some physical decluttering, but emotionally and mentally, that's a lot to handle. Yeah. I mean, I think, I think you're, cushioned in a way when you go to international schools, because they usually, , you know, you start with a new group of people and you're all going through the same experiences together.
You have that sort of united experience going in. You also have the school who is. Prepared and ready and used to people going in and out. So they're there helping you and holding your hand as you go through so many of the things. So, you know, it's not just you on your own, you know, setting off to a new land.
You've definitely got help along the way. And I think in a way with the, with the adapting to a different culture, again, you're cushioned because you're in an international community of people who, you know, probably speak the same language as you and,, you know, have, have some similarities, even if they're not from the same exact country or area there, you know, you've got some things in common with people.
So, I think, I think the international world is, is a little bit different from, you know, Other people picking up and settling in a brand new place. I think we're very lucky in that way. Yeah, I agree with you. So knowing that and thinking about that cushion that you had to help you acclimate and figure things out, what did you find were the biggest challenges or stressors in that kind of move and whether it was from Australia to Japan or.
To Europe, because you've been in two European countries now, so yeah, well, I think, I think every country has had its upsides and its challenges and it's, you never really know what you're going to run into until you get there. So in Japan, I think one of the hardest things was. You know, overnight I became completely illiterate.
I couldn't read any sign. I couldn't read any label. You know, I had all sorts of disasters, you know, trying to cook things when I couldn't read what was in the package and things like that., so. Yeah, there's, there's definitely all sorts of different,, obstacles to overcome, but I think, you know, having experienced it a few times, you know, going in that something is going to come up that will challenge you and you know, that you'll get through it.
You've just got to be adaptable and flexible and open minded and, and kind of go into each new change, with, with that sort of approach rather than, You know, how quickly can I get back to life as normal for myself? So, , yeah, but you've got to be really flexible with things. Yeah, definitely. I, I feel like I've had, you know, similar experience to the, to you.
I moved from Edmonton, Western Canada to New York city. And I felt like that was culturally a big shock. So for me, that mental piece was. Was big, but leaving Edmonton, I didn't really go through that same decluttering process because we left everything there for a while. Right, right. We thought it would be a, you know, a place we were going back to.
And so I didn't have to go through that initial process, but then, you know, moving into a small space in New York City, like the size of a hotel room for a couple of years. Definitely made it easier for me to navigate the physical things because, which was great, because when I was at school, that's where it was just so overwhelming mentally and emotionally that I feel like if I had too much going on at home, it would have just been, you know, put me over the edge.
Because it was just so much to think about with the shifting culture and. You know, the city and and at school. Yeah, for sure. I was. Yeah, it was just so strange how moving into a large public school district like that or system. I felt like I was going back in time. And so I had to really adjust the way I was doing things and the way I was thinking about things to adapt in that way.
And then, you know, Several years later, moving to Singapore, where we met, it was like, mind blowing, the difference, even though I was moving much farther away, to what I thought would be a completely different culture. And it is, because it's Asia, but it's very westernized, right? It is, yeah. People speak English.
And, like you said, that cushion is there. So you move into that international community, which I didn't necessarily have moving into New York City, even though I was classified as an international educator, of course, , just the approach to it. It's very different. And so you feel different stressors.
When, you know, you'd think it wouldn't be so hard to move to the U. S. from Canada, but it was in fact a lot harder. Oh, yeah. And just the pace of life in those, in those different places is extraordinary. Like you going from, from Edmonton to New York to Singapore to Hawaii. I mean, you, you're going from, you know, extremes of ways that people do life, you know.
Yes. Yeah. Some big changes there. Definitely living in island time right now, where, you know, things get done, but just at a much more relaxed pace, which I've settled into quite nicely, even though sometimes it's frustrating, but, the move from Singapore to here was really hard, though, physically, because getting things to a remote island is not easy, and it's, you know, and it's an expense, so that, that was a bit hard,, And then the shift into a different type of school that I'm working at now, it's very different from everything else that I'd done.
And so it's, it's, it's been such a learning process of moving through, like, you're moving your life, changing your roles, meeting the new people, living the new culture. But when I moved, when I made that shift from New York to Singapore, and I know we've talked about this before, but like, The whole idea of me moving into a classroom where there was just almost nothing in it was just so mind blowingly amazing.
Yeah, it was like a freeing experience for you, wasn't it? It was, and I just, like, I always, that's such one of my touchpoint moments in my career where I just moved from so much stuff in New York City, like people, right? Just crammed spaces all the time, the transportation system, like you're always with people all the time and you don't realize how wearing that can be on you in terms of like needing some space and like, I love the city.
I still love it. But it's just hard to, you know, we're still kind of coming out of a pandemic sort of, right? So I still am getting used to like being in spaces with a lot of people. Yeah, for sure. So, , that shift to Singapore, which is, you know, also very populous, but just feels different. And then, , being able to go into a school community where we were really, you know, being an IB school and having a focused PYP program that we were teaching in.
Yeah. Just felt really freeing because I knew what the focus was and it wasn't all of this other stuff Cluttering up the space physically and mentally for me because you know, you're learning a new school. You're learning new people You're learning everything new But I could focus on just teaching and just teaching that With the kids in front of me and that felt very freeing because I hadn't been able to do that for a long time felt like And so it was very transformational to be able to go into that kind of role and space for sure.
Definitely. And do you, you know, we talk a lot with minimalism about, you know, your purpose coming back to your why, thinking about, you know, the reason behind why we do what we do. And do you, do you think that your context has changed your purpose in these different places or,, have, have you always kind of had the same sort of purpose throughout your career?
Yeah, I think, we're like thinking back, you know, kind of retrospectively my purpose has always remained like I really wanted to focus on teaching kids. That's why we go into teaching right but we always get so lost in all of the other stuff. Yeah, but I feel like over time it's become more evident and easier in my roles and context to be able to focus on that because there isn't as much.
Getting thrown at me. I mean, there's still a lot, right? But I think it's, it depends on who you're working with, for sure, too. Like, and does your purpose match? Does your vision match? Who's at the center of your attention, right? And what, what are we really doing here? And I'm in a really great environment right now where we talk about that a lot.
Like, what is the purpose of what we're doing right now? Are we really prioritizing And What our kids are, what we want them to do and what our, or is it matching what our purpose is and those conversations really keep us focused on the things that we do every day. Yeah, it's really helpful to have someone to talk about that way.
And are you finding the same in your current school? Do you have people to kind of revisit that? Yeah, I mean, I think what you said, like, in retrospect, it's always been that through line. I definitely agree with that. Like,, you know, I've been thinking about it more in the last couple of years, obviously, while we've been doing this work with minimalism, and I really, you know, have come to the realization that for me, it's all about the relationships, whether it's with your colleagues or the kids or the parents, it all comes back to that.
And it's, it's funny when you say, you know, thinking in retrospect, because I can remember clearly being, you know, in high school, you know, And, you know, you, you go through that period where you're like, what am I going to do when I go to university? Am I going to go to university? And, and the thing that I kept coming back to even back then is, you know, a 15 year old was, I want to work with people, you know, so obviously that purpose has always been present,, you know, way back when.
So, I definitely agree with you on that one. And it, you Absolutely helps to be able to have people you can, bounce that off with and think about it and who are, who are going to be receptive and listen to you and not just, you know. Let you carry on by yourself talking about these issues. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Well, I think we'll wrap it up there for this episode for today, Christine. Thanks for kind of unpacking some of that why minimalism piece, and we will see you all in our next episode. Bye!
This episode is sponsored by Class Tech Tips. Class Tech Tips save you time in the classroom by making ed tech easier for busy educators like you.
You can find them at classtechtips. com. Be sure to join Tammy and Christine and guests for more episodes of the Minimalist Educator Podcast. They would love to hear about your journey with minimalism. Connect with them at PlanZPLS on Twitter or Instagram. The music for the podcast has been written and performed by I am ready.