About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

December 17, 2010

Ro's Reviews: The Radical Minimalist, by Nina Yau

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

E.E. Cummings

I am fascinated by persons who can live with less than 100 items, work for themselves, from anywhere in the world, move at whim, etc., like Everett Bogue - whom you can learn more about by reading his blog Far Beyond the Stars.    I would like to draw your attention now, to Ms. Nina Yau and her minimalist blog, Castles in the Air.  Best described as a radical minimalist with some mad ninja moves, she has an awesome e-book out, appropriately entitled The Radical Minimalist, and I am awarding her the honor of one of Ro's Reviews. Woot woot, insert drum roll here honey!

Yau warns you off the bat "this book is dangerous", which of course inspired Auntie Ro to jump in feet first much to the horror of the kids (I would have gone head first, except I donated my crash helmet back when I gave up extreme dirt biking).  She goes on to explain how "living a radical life means changing the fundamental belief systems you once had adopted as your own without thinking."  As humans we all have the enormous potential to improve - no matter how set we are in our ways - and when considering radical minimalism, I encourage the reader to keep an open mind and keep on reading - minimalism is good minus the stuff. 

She also says that "there will never be the perfect time."     In my opinion, Yau provides you with a kind service in that statement - think about it!  Think of all of the sweet awesomeness you as a human being have missed out on by waiting for the perfect time - whether its the perfect time to embrace radical minimalism or the perfect time to learn to play the ukeleleActually, how many of you waited for the perfect time to have a baby only to learn that there is no perfect time to have a baby and went ahead and had one anyways - raising a child is a far greater responsibility than anything I can think of.   The time to conceive your dream child is now.  The BIG biological clock is ticking away - time to cave in to the Sensual Seduction of Simplicity

Speaking of the wee ones, I particularly appreciate when Yau refers, in the chapter entitled What it Means to be Radical, to the dreams we have as children . . . dreams that our elders often indulge and encourage us in, only to later discourage and warn us away from out of their own icy cold fear of what they believe to be true. "Call me an optimist, call me a dreamer.  Call me unrealistic, even.  But I firmly believe that discovering your dreams again as an adult and then working towards it is something we have got to do" says Yau.    All of my readers understand, she is preaching to the choir where good old Ro is concerned.   And personally, I do not consider Ms. Yau to be unrealistic in that regard at all.   I consider her to be optimistically realistic, much as I rediscovered my own youthful dreams, and have spent the past twelve years of my life playing bass guitar and/or keyboards in various rock n' roll bands, composing and recording my own music, doing session work, and together with my husband, built  Quail Studios. 

The chapter What it Means to Be Radical also has a contribution by Joel Runyon of Blog of Impossible Things who says that being radical strictly in and of itself is kind of like being a guest on Jerry Springer - the criteria seemingly that one be loud, annoying and in my opinion just plain gross.  Nothing special there.   Runyon encourages you to be radical with a purpose and affirms  " . . . radical people with purpose are the ones that do impossible things and they're the ones that change the world."  I was not familiar with Runyon's blog previously, but he seems to have it going on and I plan on checking it out!

Yau is a Chinese American, who finding herself torn between the consumerism and individuality of Western culture and the honorable traditions and co-dependency of Eastern culture, " . . . selected choice characteristics from both sides and melded them into one in which I've individualized, conceptualized, and have ultimately realized."   Part of the process involved her slamming the breaks on mindless consumption in all of its forms.  She provides you with helpful advice in her chapter What it Means to Be a Minimalist, offers you a list of things that you can get rid of now, how to start over with what you really do need, provides a 4-step process of elimination, shares some amusing anecdotes and the eye opening experiences of her pre-minimalist travels, and includes some contributions by some of my own favorite minimalist bloggers, Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars and Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.  There are also some good tips on what I often refer to as digitally disconnecting or digitally detoxing, the subject of quality over quantity, etc. 

In the final chapter Yau discusses What it Means to Be a Radical Minimalist and includes contributions by some other awesome minimalist bloggers, namely:  Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle, Francine Jay of Miss Minimalist (read this couple's story - this will blow your mind) and Leo Babauta of Zen Habits whom ya'll know I like a lot.  Yau states "When it comes to your passionate pursuits, you can certainly dabble in a variety of activities that interest you . . ." but warns that if you do too many things at once you may become so exhausted that you lose your passion and interest.  She recommends limiting your pursuits to three, and focusing on what is "most important to you now."  I am all over this one in that I believe it to be true.  She provides simple tips to help you to so focus, among other things.

Yau quit her day job in 2010 and is now fervently living her dreams - recently in Chicago, Illinois and Taipei, Taiwan in true radical minimalist fashion.  Bravo!  I am presently quite content with the comfort of my modest, cozy home in the burbs, and working a part time job that still allows me plenty of time to pursue my passions, being more of a suburban minimalist - more like  Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist who likewise lives with his family in the burbs.  Personally, as a musician, the convenience of having my own recording/rehearsal studio on premises has a lot to do with it, and with all of my minimalist heart, where I am right now is where want to be - together with my beloved husband, youngest daughter (now 19), cats, dog, and the poor (now blind alas!) bunny.  Yau in her own words even says:  Even if you don't adopt a minimalist lifestyle (it's not for everyone), do choose to live a radical life on your own terms.  You deserve not just a good life, but a great life."  

So, keep building those Castles in the Air Ms. Yau.     What's the good in being grounded I say!   I give The Radical Minimalist two thumbs up.


Ro's Notes:   
If you would like to purchase Ms. Yau's book, you can do so by clicking on the link in the right side bar of this blog under "Ro's Recommendations".  I would insert it here, but I seem to be having trouble with my affiliate links when I place them within the text of my posts, go figure!    There is also a free companion book Inspirations from the Radical Minimalist that you can go to Yau's site and download for free!  Free is good, I like free.  Don't you?  Go for it dudes!

Also please remember that during the month of December I am donating any affiliate commissions earned by me on books recommended in the right side bar of this blog to various charitable organizations, namely:  St. Jude Children's Research HospitalAnimal Welfare Institute, and Greenpeace.  All of these charities give me hope for a better tomorrow!   That is my way of saying thanks to my readers and to all of those bloggers out there who have been so inspirational to me.

Now go out and live your extraordinary life, knowing that I love you!

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