The Breathe Project (An Introduction)

img_6497There’s a lot competing for my bandwidth on a day to day basis. The most obvious and non-negotiable being my family, myself (health-wise), my work, my students in order of priority. But the past few months have seen me really just grasping at the straws and just struggling on a day to day basis, then crashing to sleep at night.

Everyday I rush to get my daughter onto her school bus, rush to work, rush from class to research/writing, home, speed-cook, rush my daughter to shower, rush through a bedtime story and then lay in bed feeling anxious and hoping I am able to steel myself to wake up after my daughter had fallen asleep. I hate this rushing about. My home is in a perpetual mess from my study to my closet to my kitchen and even my daughter’s toys. Naturally, when things are like this, my heart and head feels claustrophobic, it is a miracle that I even get papers written for conferences, let alone complete my Master’s dissertation.

The teaching semester will wind down in a few weeks and I hope to catch my breath then. There’s so much I want to do before I fall into another cycle of research-teach-write. But to ensure that hectic cycle goes smoothly, I feel that there’s a lot I can do in my life to help it and I’ve nicknamed this the Breathe Project.


The whole minimalist movement has been gathering momentum in recent years in Japan. And it’s also connected with the Danshari 断捨離 movement (the art of discarding things), and Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Objectives of the Breathe Project

What this project is for me, is to de-clutter, minimalise and streamline my home and life, so that I will be able to create time and bring the focus back to what’s important– for me to breathe again.

I’m not sure if I will describe this as an exercise in minimalism although I am very much inspired by the movement. I think mine is a combination of all the different philosophies around danshari. I would also like to include my own health management here as I find it so hard to schedule in time to work out. But without that, I’m not able to perform better in other aspects of my life. So I will need to work on that.

The areas I would have to work on include:

  • Wardrobe
  • Kitchen
  • R’s clothes, toys and books
  • Stationery and Art/ Craft Supplies
  • Books and Research Materials
  • Paperwork for my home
  • Electronic gadgets and miscellaneous
  • Toiletries and Beauty products
  • Kitchen, Living room and Dining room de-clutter, discard, re-style
  • Personal Health, Stress Management and Exercise


From the preliminary research that I’ve done, while decluttering can happen quickly (discard almost everything in sight) but to streamline and make things a habit will take a little longer. Hopefully with the shuttling in between countries that I do, this will be completed by Spring 2017.

I hope that by documenting my process here will motivate me to keep up with it. I’m also looking to learn from others. Please share with me if you are doing something similar in your lives!

Further Reading

Miss Minimalism on Danshari 

Video on Tidying Up (Japanology NHK)

Spending time inside a Minimalist’s Home (Beat Takeshi Variety Show) in Japanese

Photo spread inside Minimalist’s Homes

Minimalist in the City (a recent favourite of mine; a small family living in Singapore)


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