Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Un-cluttering the junk in my head
October 22, 2011

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

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Nothing comes for free.
October 19, 2011

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

Is one enough?
October 17, 2011

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.

Why?

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

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

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:   http://youtu.be/m8ZTAflfcM4 

Uylsses butterfly

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