Being grateful

October 29, 2011 - 2 Responses

  I would love to work part-time, or for myself…or for an organisation that I feel passionate about. I’m working toward this but meanwhile I work for a government organisation whose practices leave me with a strong sense of unease in my stomach and heart. Where managers and leaders are seemingly randomly promoted on the whim of some other manager whose motive is most likely securing their own position not enhancing the work of the organisation. Where accountability and transparency are espoused but not acted on in reality. It can get you down.

I have a good friend who works for the same organisation, but in a different area to me in the same building. We were talking earlier in the week about our jobs and how much it seems to be getting us down. We both agreed that we knew the limitations of the job and were working toward change so why were we both so down and discontent, negative even, when really we each have so much to be thankful for. My friend, like me, knows that negativity is toxic, that it sabotages action and advancement.

We decided to undertake an experiment in gratitude. Everyday we sent each other an email listing 3 things we were grateful for.

And it works! By the end of the week we were both so much more positive, more mellow and accepting, and feeling more content. We both noticed that in sending each other our little list of gratitudes our thought patterns turned to noticing things that we glad about instead of focusing on the things that were bothering us.

And it was lovely to read her list of things she is grateful for. My favourite was this one:

I’m grateful that I could feel the breeze on my face this morning.

It’s such a simple thing but since she wrote that I’ve become more aware of the breeze on my face as well…

                      …and I am also grateful to feel it!


The power of the written blog

October 25, 2011 - Leave a Response

My nineteen year old neice asked, via Facebook – should I start a blog?

My answer? GO FOR IT!

I’m really quite surprised by the impact this blog has had on me. I’ve noticed that I’m more aware of anything I’ve blogged about and  I think already it has helped me to stay committed and focused on my goals.

I’ve always known about the power of writing, but there is a different power behind the ‘Publish’ button.

So if anyone were to ask me if they should write a blog, my answer would be

absolutely go for it, whatever the motives, whatever topic!

Uylsses butterfly

De-cluttering. Week 2

October 23, 2011 - One Response

I was going to attempt a neat experiment I found on the blog Project 333 which proposes that for 3 months at a time you scale your wardrobe down to 33 items of clothing. The rest get packed away and at the end of the 3 months you do it all again (I’m guessing to allow for changes in season).

Great idea, I really love it.

Just think of the time saved in washing, folding, ironing, deciding!

Yep I was going to give it a go but, for me, at the moment, it was a little overwhelming. Instead I did a good clear out of my clothes. Falling apart clothes got ditched, and clothes I just don’t wear for whatever reason went into a bag for charity. Just going through my clothes after having read up on Project 333 I was amazed at how many of the same thing I have – mulitple same colour t-shirts/singlets; identical pairs of shorts…

I know there is still room to cull further and I will be consciously watching my wearing patterns so that when I do decide to take on the Project 333 experiment I’ll have a better feel for what to keep and what to leave out.

Uylsses butterfly

Un-cluttering the junk in my head

October 22, 2011 - Leave a Response

I’m probably not a good minimalist. But really, what is a minimalist? What is minimalism?

Like everything else in our society it’s a concept, a construct, that has been invented/named by someone and evolved over time to become something with specific rules, guidelines, expectations…and has become a label that can be neatly and conveniently applied to a person in order to define them.

Activist, communist, lesbian, feminist, racist, black, minimalist, consumer, capitalist, white, fat, junky, bachelor, student, sexist, allergic, bulimic, diabetic, intellectual, gay, alcoholic, workaholic, cleanaholic, dole bludger, artist, professional, animal lover, greenie, slut, home-maker, musician, parkie, muslim, protestant, hippy, stoner, foreigner, baby boomer, immigrant, refugee, socialist, gen x-er, punk, evangelist…

Labels suck.

Defining a person by a label is lazy and ignorant. People are more than one word –  people are complex, changeable, and complicated. It’s what makes getting to know someone fun and the study of psychology so interesting.

So when I refer to being ‘minimalist’ don’t get me wrong – I don’t subscribe to any set dogma.

Rather, I’m referring to the concept of minimalism (in so far as I can be bothered to research it) and applying my understanding of this concept to my life in a way that suits me and only me. Any rules that I follow have been set by me because they work for me, not because someone else has said that this is what I have to do if I  want to live a minimalist life.

For me, not taking on the labels / the expectations / or the apparent “givens” of our society is part of what I call my minimalist thinking. I’m un-cluttering the junk in my head by questioning if I want to follow or keep believing a particular societal construct just as much as I’m un-cluttering my house by questioning if I want to buy or keep a particular item.

I’m trying to be more mindful

and less thoughtless…

Uylsses butterfly

Nothing comes for free.

October 19, 2011 - Leave a Response

Or does it?

I remember a conversation I had, several years ago, with an old bloke who challenged me to name one thing that is free in this world. He didn’t mean philosophical things like laughter, thoughts, the sun, the breeze… he meant when you get some thing for nothing.

I suggested that library’s were free. I don’t think he expected me to have an answer. “Yeah, well,” he said, “really you pay for the library with your taxes… but you can’t you think of anything else can you?”

I admitted I couldn’t and he hit me with his trump card. “Air in your tyres at a Petrol Station, that is free”. I was suitably impressed!

I often think about that conversation and wonder why Petrol Stations haven’t put some kind of price on this. After all you don’t even have to buy any petrol to be able to use the device to pump up your tyres. Not that I think they should, but it is so rare to get something for nothing these days.

Book Chaos

Image by Sharon Drummond via Flickr

I once used library’s all the time. When I was broke. And, really, it was rarely free for me due to the overdue fees… That’s probably the main reason I stopped using the library once I started to earn a decent wage. Buying a book meant I wasn’t under a time frame to get it read.

But if I’m honest, buying a book meant much more to me than that – it was a status symbol to have a bookcase full of books, even if I had never read the book, having it there on my shelf said something important about me. About who I was, what I stood for.

Going into a house and perusing the titles in the bookcase was a way of summing up any perceived connections, or potential disconnection, with the owner. Oh, they have Women Who Run With The Wolves, tick. Ah, Pride and Prejudice, tick. Eww, a stack of Mills and Boons, black mark against them.

I’m not interested in that kind of superficial judgement anymore.

I still love to buy books. New books smell nice, and they feel nice!

But in reality I don’t need to buy new books anymore, and I certainly don’t need the clutter they create. I can use the library (goal before Christmas – to join my local library), I can go to a secondhand bookshop, I can borrow from someone, or I can buy e-books if I can’t find what I need elsewhere.

It’s got me thinking about other things that are still free these days…  a glass of water at a cafe, rubbish removal… What else?

Uylsses butterfly

Why I want tomato soup…but can’t have it

October 18, 2011 - 2 Responses
Tomatsuppe med karry og rejer

Image via Wikipedia

I am sick today.

With a stomach bug, thanks to all my colleagues who keep coming to work despite having recurring bouts of gastro go through their families.

Why people feel such pressure to come to work when sick is a bug-bear of mine, and the subject for another post…

So now I have succumbed to their bug and I’m home sick.

And all I want to eat is tomato soup.

Despite its high acidity and the general recommendation to avoid tomato based products with gastro-type illnesses, it is the one thing I always crave when I have a stomach virus. Tomato soup and toast…

Sadly, I can’t indulge.

5 months ago I saw an immunologist for issues I was having with multiple food . Turns out I have allergy to several types of grass, dust mites, dogs, cats, mould, wheat – the usual suspects. But it seems the grass allergy cross reacts with many foods, particularly fruit, veges and nuts and causes a non-life threatening allergic reaction in me if I eat them – tingling in my mouth, sores in my gums and teeth, nausea at times – it’s called “Oral Allergy Syndrome”. The recommendation is that if the food is cooked, unripe, or peeled I can most likely tolerate it and, as I said, it’s unlikely to be life-threatening, more uncomfortable and annoying.

If that weren’t enough to contend with, it seems I also have what is called “Food Chemical Sensitivity”. And it turns out this has more impact on me than the allergies.

What is Food Chemical Sensitivity?

In a nutshell it’s a sensitivity or intolerance to naturally occurring chemicals in nearly all foods. It’s a relatively new area of medical research and very difficult to get your head around as it seems illogical and opposite all the advice on healthy eating. There have been three chemicals identified in the make-up of foods – salicylates, amines, glutamate – that can cause sensitive people multiple issues. A reaction to any or all of these chemicals is difficult to identify because it doesn’t occur, like an allergy, immediately after eating the offending food but builds up over time and is dependent on each individual’s tolerance level (commonly called “the  threshold”). The only way to identify an intolerance is undergo an Elimination Diet and carefully and systematically challenge chemical food groups to determine if it causes issues.

I’ve been undergoing this process for several months now and have identified that I have a sensitivity to salicylates. Thankfully I seem to be able to tolerate amines and glutamates. Sensitive people usually have to avoid most preservatives, additives and colours as these seem to somehow be linked to the food intolerance.

Salicylates are a naturally occurring pesticide in many foods. They occur in so many foods that it would be easier to tell you what I can eat rather than what I can’t, but suffice to say – the more flavour-some the food, the more likely it is to have salicylates, for (very limited) example, things like mushrooms, pepper, spices, chilli, capsicum, lemon, carrot, pumkin, avocado, strawberry, mint and, of course, tomato…

Unfortunately there is not yet a pill or medicine you can take to alter the effects of food chemical sensitivity. The only current “cure” is to slowly re-build your tolerance by adding increasing amounts of the foods back into your diet. I can have an anti-histamine for my allergic reactions but nothing for my food sensitivities. I hope that eventually I will be able to tolerate more foods containing salicylates but at the moment the impact of them on me keeps me well away from temptation.

My reactions can last for days and include – bloating, reflux, wind, nausea, stomach cramping, headaches, lethargy. These alone I could handle, but there is more.

Astoundingly I also react emotionally  –

– my mood drops, depression kicks in, I feel socially-phobic, I lose all energy or interest in doing anything, I feel I have so much to do and no time to do it so I do nothing, I can’t prioritise, I get teary over nothing, I overreact and can’t see the reality of a situation, I can feel hopeless and that my life if pointless.

It is, to put it simply, hell.

So I’ll stick to my minimalist low-chem diet and languish in the bliss of feeling calm, energised, enthused, in control, and even happy…

That is why, despite the strength of my craving, there will be no tomato soup for me today, and that’s ok!

Links for information on Food Chemical Sensitivity:

Uylsses butterfly

Is one enough?

October 17, 2011 - Leave a Response

A lot of the advice and discussion on minimalism revolves around having only one of a particular thing, or at least only as many as are needed. For example – only enough cutlery for the household, or only one sauce pan, or one couch that doubles as the bed… seems very restrictive and perhaps even a bit dull…

…but I’m starting to realise the benefits…

I have ten mugs.

And I live on my own.

For some reason it feels like luxury to me to be able to be able to use a new mug (not to mention a new teaspoon) every time I have a cuppa throughout the day, but in reality I’m creating drudgery for myself. I have to wash the damn things. For one person I always have an awful lot of dishes to wash… and it’s starting to dawn on me that if I did reduce things like my mugs (and teaspoons) I would rinse and re-use throughout the day and have less dishes to wash at the end of it!

Given that I hate washing dishes this seems like a logical, time-saving, thing to do.

I had a similar realisation about my shower curtain today. I noticed that it is starting to get a little mouldy at the bottom. Believe it or not my first thought was – I should buy a new one.


Somewhere in my mind I believe this will be the easy option and, bonus, I’ll get a new look for the bathroom. Another example of the deeply embedded belief that buying things, even when I don’t need to, is the way I have to go, the only option there is.

There is nothing wrong with the old shower curtain, I actually still like it’s pattern so I don’t need or want a new one, and to chuck it in the washing machine will take less time than getting in my car, going to the shops, searching around to find the shower curtain section, musing over the designs, waiting in line, buying it, driving back home again, opening it, removing the old one and putting the new one up!

      AND there is the added bonus of money still in my pocket so that I can afford to buy something I actually do love!

I reckon that more often than not I’m going to find that, yes, one is enough….                                                           …except when it comes to cats!

Uylsses butterfly

I’m not anti-consumerism, but…

October 15, 2011 - 2 Responses

I realise that, like almost everyone I know, I have fallen victim to the myth that having (and more importantly buying) things will make you happy.

Early in my net searching for information and advice on how to live a  minimalist life I came across Joshua Becker’s blog Becoming Minimalist. He has a great quote at the top of his blog:

The best things in life

are not things.

This really resonated with me, I thought of all the times I had been shopping just to cheer myself up, to make myself happy. My sister-in-law and I even had a deal with each other where every fortnight we would go shopping with a limited amount of money we could spend. Off we would go with our $40 bucks (or whatever the amount was – we changed it regularly…) and we would buy things we didn’t need just to buy them. More often than not we bought things we didn’t need or even want. Just to buy something.

So on my journey to minimalism I’m questioning my buying habits using the basic of rule of:

Is it something I need, or is it something I love?

If the answer is ‘no’ then don’t buy it.

Simple really! I tried it earlier this week while I was killing some time waiting for an appointment. There was nothing in the shop that I needed or loved, so I walked out without buying anything. And  not only did I feel like I had some control back in my life, but I also felt happy! Ironic, really.

I’m definitely not anti-consumerist. If I need something, or if I really love something, then I will buy it. But I’m not going to be a sucker to advertising myths anymore.

Uylsses butterfly

I’m feeling funny and free!

October 15, 2011 - Leave a Response

This is my first blog.

I’ve created it for two reasons – to keep myself accountable to the goals I’ve made for myself; and, well, just to write!

I’ve recently ‘discovered’ minimalism. By discovered I mean that I’ve discovered it for myself. I’m sick sick sick of all the clutter in my life! A chance encounter with a fabulous minimalist cooking blog Stonesoup (by fellow Australian Jules Clancy) got me thinking about minimalism. The more I thought about it, the more appealing it was.

I decided I wanted a less cluttered life.

I’ve trawled the net reading up on minimalism. There is heaps of information and advice out there. At first it was a little overwhelming – people living with the bare minimum. Could I do that? I have clutter everywhere and have decided on a plan for myself. It’s a plan to not only de-clutter, but to lose the guilt that hangs over me. I’m starting very small, with the hope that in doing so I will be creating a lifestyle that is sustainable for me.

My plan is two-fold:

  • to throw away/give away/or sell at least one of the un-needed items in my house every week (if I manage to get rid of more stuff than that it will be a bonus);

  •  and every week to make one area of my house clutter-free and keep it that way.

I started today.

I have two bowls that I keep for my cats to have their nightly drink of cat-milk from. The thing is, more often than not I just use their regular bowls. So there are two sets of bowls sitting there on the floor. Two bowls that have to be cleaned, and have to be moved when I sweep and mop. Not any more – I threw out the ‘milk’  bowls (I doubt anyone would want bowls that cats have been drinking out of…).

Also I cleared my coffee table of all the junk that just seems to accumulate (and multiply). I kept a small basket to put in the little things I use regularly (remote controls, nail file, pen and notebook). I will have to be careful to make sure this basket doesn’t get overloaded with clutter… and my aim, eventually, is to have a place other than the top of my coffee table for these things as well…

But it’s a start!


…and I drove out of there, with no-one behind me, feeling funny and free…

Indigo Girls, Reunion

Check it out at: 

Uylsses butterfly

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