Ruminations on moving to Europe, Minimalism etc.



I’ve spent the last, say, three weeks selling all my stuff because I am moving to the other side of the world in a month’s time. I knew that downsizing was going to be a great time anyway because (like most people from the ages of 20-30) I had accrued way too much stuff thinking that I needed it. To no-one’s surprise it turns out I really didn’t.

The biggest offender for me was undoubtedly makeup. I mean, who can blame me? It’s awesome! There’s something almost pornographic in the act of applying lipstick (Tim Minchin – lipstick is for making your lips look more like the lips of a happy vagina, am I right?). It happened towards the end of last year when I purchased one of those holiday season gift set doobies from M.A.C. Cosmetics. I love the brand and the quality of those products – they perform very well on stage as well as in normal life – but I felt so physically sick after I had purchased them. I realised it had to stop there. I knew there was a Colourpop order of about 16 lipsticks coming to me soon as well. Way too much. Who the hell needs that much lipstick? I thought I did, but after a year of not buying makeup at all I realised that I really don’t.

So the first thing worth noting is that I have saved $1,289.00 in 2018 not buying makeup. Thats the cost of my one way ticket overseas. Incredible. The second thing worth noting is that I still have a total over supply of everything makeup related. I’m not going to need anything new any time soon. The only thing I purchased was cream concealer when I ran out. I damn well purchased two of them because they were half price, and then of course I got home and found both my Kryolan and my Ben Nye colour wheels… I mean really! This particular concealer can double as foundation though so that’s good. I’ll forgive myself that one mistake.

The next thing I observed in this purge was how much plastic I was wasting. Of course I recycle all of my containers when they’re used up, and am faithfully enjoying the ‘back to M.A.C.’ campaign, but so much of my makeup was recycled before I had finished it because I had opened it, swatched it, worn it a couple of times and then not continued to do so for whatever reason. It sat on my vanity and wasted away. Literally. Wasted. A crying shame, actually, when I think about it too hard. That’s me contributing to the plastic pollution problem by succumbing to capitalism and vanity. Sigh.

Needless to say I will not be letting myself get back to that state ever again. I’d say it will take about 3 years to get through all my stuff, as long as it doesn’t expire first.

I’d always thought I needed this much makeup because of the stage. WRONG. Probably to no-one’s surprise, I realised that once I found a look I liked I just recreated it every time. The act of putting on makeup before performing is something I enjoy enormously. It centres me and helps me to become zen. While focussing on my words etc I don’t have the brain space to also try a new look/ attempt that cut crease I’ve always wanted to. This lead me to creating a custom palette, which was such a spectacular move. It also started my minimalism journey – but I shall elaborate on that later.

So while in Florence this July, I wandered into a Wycon store. It’s. A brand of makeup which is very affordable, and I have thus far only come across it in Italy. I had time on my hands and I still love swatching red lipstick, even though I am not allowed to buy any. What I found there, though, was an empty palette that I could buy for €5. I grabbed it immediately, knowing this was the answer to many of my desires in terms of downsizing my makeup. (Does anyone else find that packing a face palette as well as an eye palette along with heels and what not is just way too much to face when you’re already going to an audition?) I had this beaten up, much loved Kat von D shade and light face contour palette which I LOVED, but had totally used up all of the lighter setting powders, and only used one pan of the contour shades, so why was I lugging around this A5 sized thing everywhere with me?

The Wycon palette changed my life. I de-potted my contour shade and chucked/ recycled the rest (mere scrapings left, don’t worry), and proceeded to de-pot my Limecrime Venus palette as well, my NARS ‘orgasm’ blush and a couple of single shadows I had from around the place. Placing all of that in the one palette and re designing the layout was one of the most satisfying things, and I felt so liberated afterwards. I will never, ever buy a palette again (unless I know I will use ABSOLUTELY EVERY SINGLE SHADOW IN THERE). The beauty of using the ‘build your own’ system is that when I run out of my any shade I can replace it with the same or similar without having to purchase an entire palette. I cannot begin to tell you how much joy this gives me – eternally surprising given how delighted and inspired I used to be with buying new makeup. If you want to get in on this idea the clear winner according to the YouTube beauty community is the ‘Z Palette’, but INGLOT also do one, and obviously Wycon too.

So now let me address part two, or perhaps the crux of this essay: Minimalism. I never, ever thought I would become this person, but I am rushing towards this lifestyle with every fibre of my being. Everything changed for me when I was in Europe for 2 months this year, living out of a suitcase (doing the opera singer thing, yo). I thought, initially, that it would be a really difficult time not having all my clothes and my STUFF with me, but it was the easiest thing ever. I took five lipsticks with me and I finished two while I was away. Recycling those containers felt like such an achievement! The only thing I missed was my laptop, but I managed to do all I needed with the iPad (but I had to pay for microsoft word for a couple of months and stuff – so will be avoiding that this time around).

When I moved house at the beginning of this year I had to downsize by two thirds – an enormous job. It literally took me weeks. I thought I would never recover. Did I miss my stuff? Not even a little bit. I couldn’t even tell you what I used to own and why I had it.

Never. Again.

I’m downsizing again at the moment because I’m moving to Germany soon, and I can’t take all my stuff with me, obviously. A friend of mine came to pick up some books from me the other day and he said “You have so much stuff! What are you going to do with all your stuff?!” And I realised he was absolutely on the money. So I have been donating and selling pretty much everything I own, or don’t think will be useful for me in the next three years or so. I had a pretty fab collection of second hand classics in my bookshelf, but someone else is going to now be able to buy them for $2 a pop at Vinnies, and enjoy their wonders. That is a fantastic thing. Likewise I am donating my musical instruments to the ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ project – so a child somewhere in this vast country will have a guitar to play on. That’s awesome. Absolutely awesome.

I’m keeping my Bärenreiter editions of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas, Zauberflöte, Trovatore, Traviata and Maria Stuarda because these are things I need to study, and I know I’ll sing all of these roles in my career (obviously waiting a couple more years for the Verdi, but we all knew that). Everything else is going to dear friends who I know will love and use them. This makes me incandescently happy.

Three boxes only will be going to storage. Three 52 litre containers, and that’s it.

The goal is to get all my stuff down to one large suitcase if I can manage it (might be hard given I invested in two couture dresses this year – no regrets, by the way). I’ll have to wear my ski jacket to the airport, but that’s gonna be ok. Totally worth it, I reckon.

My other goals are:

  • Gradually making my tax a paperless affair and entirely digital.
  • When I need (and only when I NEED) a new dress or piece of clothing I will make an effort to invest in something tailored beautifully which will last ages. Fast fashion and I have never really been friends, but I think I owe it to the planet I get to live on and make art on to do my part. I also owe it to myself to dress properly, you know?
  • Never buying things on a whim. Sometimes I think about how people during WWII couldn’t even have butter, and they managed fine. I think I’ll be right without mountains of stationary and lipstick, you know?

So this whole exercise has been more than worth it. It has been life changing, actually, and I am so thrilled to have done it. I feel much lighter as a human being and so excited to not have to think about all of my stuff everywhere. What a joy. Funny how this sort of sifting process totally frees up your creativity too… you’ll be interested to know that my practicing is much more focussed. Thank goodness.

Contact me if you would like some ideas on de-cluttering, but if you want something you can watch while you chop your vegetables just type ‘minimalism and decluttering’ into YouTube. There’s a plethora of interesting advice there.


Jess xx

One thought on “Ruminations on moving to Europe, Minimalism etc.

  1. Fantastic!! All of this. The best bit is your donation to Don’t Stop the Music. Love what he’s doing- good on you As to make up I’m allergic to 99% of all makeup- sigh. So needless to say I own hardly anything☹️ Take care and travel well. Look forward to updates. Xxxx Leith Ps happy Christmas to you and your family🎄💥🎄

    Sent from my iPad



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