Mindful Creation

Mindful Creation: Closing Consumer Loops, Recycling, Reusing, Remaking, Wisdom of the Older Generations and Being a Creative Sovereign

The clothes swap is coming up and on a recent weekend trip to my in-laws, we visited grandma as we always do. Nothing is wasted there. She made these lovely little bags from old neck-ties. Probably Grandad’s old neck ties. Or Uncle’s. Living on a farm and being about 90, the idea of recycling or sustainability is inherent in daily life. You need an onion, pop into the garden. Make things from other things. The compost heap is not a plastic container on the balcony, it’s outside. She has a philosophy that when you make things with your hands, you leave a legacy in those things you create.

I have a vision for the clothes swap. I have a vision of a corner with groups of us making things from other things then giving them away. Shopping bags, bags to put your veg in to avoid getting those plastic bags, bags to line your suitcases.

A few years ago my friends Tracey and Kristen went on a mega-project making ‘Mobags’. This was an initiative where the patterns for cloth shopping bags were made available and you could make bags from old bits of cloth like bedcovers or old bed sheets or throws. Bag handles of different lengths. This is different to getting a cloth bag free from a magazine, an event or from your favourite shop (although at swaps I’ll always pick up a funky cloth bag – I like them for shopping). We could make handkerchiefs, phone holders, makeup bags, all kinds of things; get a little workgroup going creating things from other things. Useful things. Dusters and cloths. Even sanitary towels – for ourselves. I already cut up old towels for kitchen cloths and have used reusable sanitary towels at home for the past 12 years.


I have a vision that someone can bring a sewing machine or needle and thread and sit making and playing together. Fun things, lovely fabrics. Not buying things and making more stuff but taking existing stuff and turning it into other stuff. Useful stuff.

I have another little vision. That next year I will devote to not purchasing anything. I’m not quite committed to it yet. It will be for a more mindful way of living. I love clothes and colours and shoes and jewellery and makeup but I need literally ZERO new things. I have looked. I have, as a result of clothes swaps and purchases, enough shoes for every season. Of course I would repair shoes and buy new laces to make them look good, but I would not replace them. This is more mindful. Also I love to go shopping at certain times when my energy is especially buzzy or certain times in my cycle I get crazy about getting a new thing! I would be more mindful about this.

I am planning next year. I am planning ways to close loops and adjust my mindset and be more mindful in my consumption.

This does not mean I’ll be buying the latest water bottle technology. Or a trendy coffee cup. It means I’ll be using what I already have. It means looking on Mottainai for fun purchases. It means Tokyo Garage Sale. Swaps. Giving things away. Not replacing the glasses I smashed recently unless I find 2nd hand ones. No scented candles or more essential oils. I will buy gifts but will attempt to go to the shop to buy books. I ordered Ecover washing liquid from Amazon and it came boxed and wrapped in plastic. How I giggled at the irony. And rolled my eyes. I will continue paying for my cleaner and my trainer and dental work because these are things that put money back into the community and that feels good. Feeling good is good. I’m not here to be a saint, a martyr or be admired for my selfless sustainable lifestyle. Nope. I’m here to be thrill and to create a better more truthful experience of life and work.

Mindful Creation

I will make more food but I’m not going to be cray about that. And I’ll try and purchase mindfully. I’ll only eat vitamins that I inherit or that are given to me. I’ll drink tap water. I will never buy a drink from a vending machine unless in abject danger.

I will attempt to grow food in my garden, but I won’t hold myself to too high a standard on that one. I will continue to grow my plants as they and even the weeds put oxygen into my little concrete playground in central Tokyo.

As much as I’d like to fantasise about being that girl who rides her bike everywhere like the Bill Cunningham or the Tziporah Salamon of Tokyo, I know that will not happen as it’s just not in my nature.

I’ll book the beach house well in advance and be there as much as possible and buy as much food as possible in advance but also order pizza because that is delicious and such a great communal way to eat – pulling from the same pie, passing slices to one another, laughing and saying how filthy and delicious it is! Waiting in anticipation of the arrival. Pizza delivery is thrilling. I’ll drink water out of old wine bottles and jars, not because I think it’s cool but because it’s thrilling and I don’t need to buy a jug. I’ll have friends round for simple food.

I’ll do everything I can to support small businesses and people who’s businesses I LOVE. Especially if they are mindful and thrilling and peddle beauty and delights and help and loving business. I’ll highlight people who are living a life less ordinary.

I will wear pyjamas to yoga if my lycra fails me. I’ll laugh at the urges I’ll have to run to Cos and buy something in that lovely shade of yellow I like so much.

I’ll look for entirely closed-loop products as gifts like the bottle holder picture above. That is from a sake shop that we LOVE in Hyogoken called ‘Sen’. They grow the rice that makes the sake then they make these lovely bottle holders. I used it in National Azabu last week for my mayonnaise. (I will not be making mayonnaise. Or ‘going organic’ although I may start ordering veg from Nagano naturally). I will not purchase more books (eek) but read the ones I already have OR put a shout out for a loan of any titles I want. But I also will not be militant about this as I think books are a nice purchase. I will however try and go to Kinokuniya to buy my titles rather than reflex-buying from Amazon.

I will enjoy my life deeply while discovering what lies underneath the urges and impulses of consumption that is so much part of my daily life. I will invest in coaching and yoga and Gyrotonic and good dental work and a lovely comfy bed and things that will add value to our lives rather than adding stuff. I will invest in a home by the beach so we can understand home ownership and the decay and maintenance of materials and the joy of painting a wall or planning a deck or building a balcony. Of wandering to the beach and observing the daily changes of the sea and sky.

These are my visions. Some may happen, none may happen. Everything started as an imagining. I have visions and dreams and ideas that nourish me deeply so that I may also better nourish others and more mindfully coach and love and connect. I will continue to make the Tokyo Mega Swaps as rich and rewarding and fun as possible. For everybody involved.

This weekend we go to the beach to stay with friends with wines purchased from Corvino in Hyogoken (pictured below) and I imagine us sitting around and eating and drinking and making merry. Next weekend we go to the beach to celebrate my husband. We lie around on tatami, swim, sit in tents, watch the beach, take naps, go for walks, eat the local soba, buy the local edamame visit family mart about ten times a day for this and that. Let off fireworks, create rituals, play with babies and let nature dictate the pace. No schedule, no pressure just follow the rhythm of babies and the heat and the sea and the weather and our own city-programmed bodies. And I will breathe into it all and be delighted. Delighted like today. Taking time out to write this.


I’m already into my 2019 imagining and this is the kind of thing that is falling onto my planner, my sweet container of post-it notes and boxes that I encourage my clients to play with. It’s been spilling out of me the ideas, the imaginings the shaping of the months and year. Not planning exactly but imagining, shaping and placing into a container. I am delighted and inspired right now by the rhythms and the plans and the possibilities. And the people who are already leading lives that connect so closely to nature and are crafting a way to be in the world that is mindful and full and fulfilling. For them and others. It can happen here, it can happen there. It can happen today. But I am so exciting that the small voice inside is calling me to Mindmap and populate post-it notes with this and that and the other and this is only one little project, this deliberate consumption and inspiration and mindful creation. The business plans for FNJ19 are flooding out and the storytelling projects are forming and plans for a trip to the UK that will have a project element to it! I’m so excited. This has come about because I have given myself a lot of time and space to sit around and do very very little over that past few weeks. I firmly believe we should slow down in Summer, if we are able (and willing). My Gyro teacher, Maya said that’s what artists do – have lots and lots of time doing nothing until something emerges. It makes sense for my heart is pouring it all forth and my mind is generating so many imaginings and ideas. I might do none of this. That’s OK – I am the sovereign adult of my life and I am totally in charge. (thanks Max Daniels for that one)

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Sarah Furuya