advice · basics · challenges · Changes · father · freedom · inspiration · Mum

What’s Behind the Fear of Parting with “Stuff”?

Yesterday I spoke about my thoughts on “Adopting the Minimalist Approach”, a subject which I feel quite strongly about for my own life, and although the concept is to “minimise” the material and emotional baggage in our lives, I have reached the conclusion that to minimise is, well, rather a complex subject.

Although we say we want to discard the unwanted material “stuff” in our homes, we don’t always actually take the action to do it…

What is it that we are so afraid of?

Let me tell you about the emotional tug o’ war I experienced myself, just this week, when sorting through the unused clothing hanging in my own wardrobe ~

Tucked away, right at the far end of the hanging rack, I had a long sleeved blouse, a gift from my mother; a short sleeved blouse, a gift from my father, and a knitted beige top, another gift from my father. When these items were newer, I wore them constantly. Each item, in its turn, had once been a much loved article of clothing.

Now, these clothes were yellowing, and smelled “musty”. Why? My mother has been gone nearly seventeen years, and my father, nearly twelve years!

“Who am I kidding”, I asked myself, “by hanging onto these clothes, will it bring my parents back??”

The truth of the matter is, if my parents were able, they would be the first to tell me to get rid of the clothes…and now I have.

What other excuses do we make to ourselves, you know, the self-talk moments we all have, when trying to justify why we can’t let go? ‘I might wear it/need it again one day’ or ‘I’ll fit into it again, when I lose weight’ or even ‘it’ll cost so much to replace it’.

I’m as guilty as the next person, I procrastinate when it comes time for the big clean out. But you know something? Once you start tossing that unwanted stuff into bags or boxes, momentum kicks in…The more you part with, the easier it gets!

Every time I get rid of more stuff, I feel liberated, and lighter. It’s like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. I keep on going back to admire the clean, neat, tidy and emptier cupboards!

Getting rid of unwanted “stuff” fills me with a sense of achievement.

Another gigantic plus to owning less clothing is…a smaller ironing pile! More time away from the ironing board! Now, you can’t complain about that, can you? I’m not! 🙂

Every action we take should be motivated by the question of how this is going to improve our life.

With less clutter in our life ~ we can breathe more easily; it lifts the burden of the “excess weight” of material possessions.

When the clutter has been removed ~ it opens up the “space” around us, both physically and emotionally, making way for fresh, new, wonderful experiences to find us.

When the clothing is minimised ~ we spend less time deciding what to wear (and the ironing pile is smaller! 🙂 )

If you are planning on minimising the “stuff” that is blocking the flow of your life, I encourage you to ask yourself what it is that is holding you back from letting go. And be honest with yourself.

And if all else fails, think about how happy dogs are. All they ask for is food, shelter, love and a kind word. They don’t need any of the “stuff” we humans accumulate, but they are happy.

How about making yourself a little happier too? 🙂

basics · challenges · Changes

Adopting the Minimalist Approach…

Yesterday, I “accidentally” finished all of my ironing…yes, that’s right…

I don’t have an ironing pile climbing up the wall anymore!

It all began a couple of days ago. I felt cold. My fingers were so cold that I’m sure they might have snapped in half, if I were to try bending them. Doing some ironing would warm my fingers up very nicely.

To cut a long and boring story short, (yes, boring…ironing is boring, believe me), I enjoyed the warmth of the iron all day, although my over-exertion, in the interests of keeping warm, created yet another problem…I ran out of coat hangers.

To every problem, there is a solution, and the solution to this one made my heart sing. I discarded more unused clothing from my wardrobe!

The periodic analysis of my life over the past couple of years has made it clearly evident to me that a huge chunk of the middle of my life, to date, has been lived to other people’s standards rather than my own.

The reality of it is ~ I’m a “closet” minimalist.

Hot on the tail of yesterday’s post, “Flicking the Labels”, I am reluctant to label myself by announcing “I am a minimalist”. But yes, living a minimalistic life does appeal to me…it “feels” right for me.

Look at what I have hung on to over the years, not wishing to discard useful items, before they were past their “use-by date”…

  • My refrigerator worked perfectly, although it had rust marks covering the doors. I buckled and purchased a new fridge, after hearing that “old fridges never die”.
  • When my washing machine did die, after hearing the painful news that there was simply no hope of resurrection, I reluctantly purchased a new machine. Lifetime of the old washing machine ~ 1988 to 2009.
  • My children nicknamed my first mobile phone “The Dinosaur”. Another hurtful name they gave it was “The Brick”. I’m here to tell you that I became rather attached to that phone. I only owned it for about eight years and it didn’t miss a beat. Initially I had resisted owning one, but the Man of the House insisted I have a mobile, giving it to me as a gift…
  • Our TV set came into our family around the same time as the washing machine, in 1988. It has served us all very well over all of these years, and continues to do so.
  • When the fabric began to fade and fray on my old favourite lounge chair, I had it recovered…simple!
  • The first car I owned, a two door, stopped being functional after I had my first two children, so after nine years, I traded it in on a four door sedan. That car served me well for ten years and was traded in for a four wheel drive after the birth of my fourth child, as I needed a six seater car. Five years later, when my eldest son had his own car I couldn’t justify hanging on to a “gas guzzler” so traded it in on another four door sedan, which I have had for four years so far.

This list could go on; however I think you get the picture. I loathe the idea of discarding useful items. I refuse to get sucked in by all of the glitzy marketing of buying the “latest and greatest, you’ve simply got to have it” fashionable items.

Don’t the consumers realise it ~ everything goes out of fashion!

My discarding of useless items, especially clothing, is so liberating! The clothes I have hanging in my wardrobe now have air flowing around them; no longer are they all squashed up together to fit them all onto the hanging rail. The clothes I’m parting company with, I never wear anyway, and the charity shop will make good use of them. Not to mention the fact that I finished my ironing…and had enough coat hangers for everything…win/win!

Becoming a genuine minimalist would entail selling household furniture and appliances, only hanging onto the barest minimum. It would also involve downsizing my home and perhaps selling my car in favour of riding a bike, which would, in turn, create more problems…

1 ~ All of the furniture in my home is enjoyed and used every day.

2 ~ We actually need a home the size of ours, to accommodate our family.

3 ~ (Don’t laugh)…I don’t know how to ride a bike, never owned one. Besides which,

we live way too far from the town for it to be practical.

So where does that all leave me? This year especially, I have upgraded my desire to part company with all material item which are no longer of any use to me. I now purchase only the essentials in food and clothing, reverting back to my own old ways of growing food in the garden and making my own clothes.

Actually, “back to basics” is perhaps the more apt expression for how I prefer to live. Although you could also say I’m a minimalist…basically! 🙂

Let me know what you think about this topic. Are there any more “closet” minimalists out there?

advice · freedom · spiritual

Flicking Off the Labels

There’s no doubt about it, labels are a necessity of life. Can you imagine your kitchen cupboards, packed to the rafters, with unlabelled jars and canisters of goodness-knows-what?

Imagine mistaking the salt for sugar; your morning cup of coffee would hardly taste appealing with a dose of two teaspoons of salt, not to mention a sprinkling of salt on your cereal!

Hypothetically, if labels were banned en masse, surely our other senses would kick in, particularly our sense of smell. And surely our eyes would train themselves into analysing the appearance of the contents of the jars, rather than merely reading the name written on the label.

Indeed, labels ensure we clean our teeth with a tube of toothpaste, rather than a tube of glue and there is never any danger of mistakenly topping the oil up in our car with a bottle of cordial!

Society as we know it would suffer a tremendous loss, without the use of fashion labels. Imagine, if you will, the dent in the economy without labels on the clothing of the fashion high-flyers. Isn’t it common knowledge that an impressive “name” label, when attached to an item of clothing, increases its value no end?

I have begun to suspect that the populous of the world’s nations have become so engrossed in the utilising of labels that we are under threat of a brand new, world- wide epidemic, namely ~ “Label Overkill”; a disease  which appears to be sweeping across the entire human race.

As it is with all contagious diseases, “Label Overkill” would have had quite simple origins, perhaps just the harmless placing of a label such as “daughter” or “son”. This, in turn, would have produced the likes of other labels; mother, father, husband, wife, auntie, uncle, grandmother, cousin, all extremely harmless in themselves. In fact, aren’t these the very labels we proudly flaunt to the multitudes?

But it doesn’t stop there. Labelling continues with boss, employee, neighbour, acquaintance, friend, foe, boyfriend, girlfriend…

Websites such as My Space and Facebook have a lot to answer for. Such sites are guilty of spreading this epidemic of label overkill. The information page on Facebook requests you choose from the following labels, to describe your situation; single, in a relationship, married, engaged, it’s complicated, widowed and (can you believe this?), in an open relationship. :/

Why isn’t “none of the above” included?  Or “does it matter?” And really, whose business is it anyway? Oh, that’s right, Facebook are doing their “bit” to encourage “label overkill”, further spreading this epidemic.

In the interests of containing this disease I would like to suggest the following three points, as an alternative to labelling people.

  • Upon first meeting a new person, expect the best from them. Whether the meeting is in person, over the telephone, by email, Facebook, Twitter or anywhere on the World Wide Web, assume they will be pleasant and friendly towards you, right from the get-go. What you are expecting is always what you get!
  • Do not, under any circumstances, begin the immediate and endless process of mentally labelling people. Take your observations beyond the necessity of labels; see who the person really is ~ minus any form of labelling.
  • Display yourself to the world as an approachable, open, friendly, easy-to-get-along-with kind of soul, minus the necessity of any self-inflicted labels.

When first meeting a new person and if your two souls make a connection, as time progresses you will gradually learn more about your new friend.

What I find to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of meeting new people in any other manner than the regular “face to face” way is that quite often the personal communication begins long before you even know what the person looks like, therefore the ability to place a mental label upon someone, especially regarding age, race, marital status or looks, is not available to them, or you.

You actually have the opportunity to get to know a person, before any labelling process begins…the first connection being with their soul!

When the inevitable labels begin to appear, what would you have your label say about you? Would you prefer a list of all of your physical attributes, along with who you are to everyone else in your life? Or would your “label” be more of a personal encompassing of “who you really are”, emitting the rays of light and caring from your soul?

I know which one I would prefer. 🙂

cakes · cooking · recipe

A Homemade Treat for The Family

“Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life. You must never miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you”. ~ Author unknown.

Is it just me, or are the weeks disappearing faster than ever these days? The more I spend my time enjoying my days and the busier I become, the faster the weeks are over.

It’s official ~ time really does fly when you’re having fun!

When the weekend arrives and my family have the opportunity to spend more time relaxing at home, without the pressure of work or school, I like to bake a treat for them to enjoy.

Last Sunday afternoon I baked the most delicious carrot cake ever! My family devoured it in no time at all, firstly whilst still warm from the oven, taking slices to work and school, as a snack when arriving home and it has even been enjoyed as a ‘dessert’ after dinner!

You’d be hard pushed to find a cake more popular than that!

So, here is the recipe for my most popular cake of all time, as voted by my family…

Carrot Cake

3 cups of flour

2 cups of caster sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 cup of undrained, canned crushed pineapple

2 cups of grated carrot

4 eggs

1 ½ cups of salad oil

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup of chopped walnuts

Sift the flour, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl, add the crushed pineapple, grated carrot eggs, oil and vanilla essence. Beat all ingredients together until well combined.

Stir in the chopped walnuts. Spoon the mixture into either one large square cake tin, or two loaf tins (it is quite a large cake, so can be divided into two).

Bake in a pre-heated 180 degrees C oven. One large cake will take around 2 hours to cook, and the two loaf tins will cook in about 1¼ hours. Check the cake with a cake tester to make sure it is cooked through.

Although the recipe calls for walnuts, I used pecan nuts, from my own garden. We still have a bucket full to use of this year’s bumper crop.

Treat your family, and enjoy! 🙂

advice · birthdays · challenges · Changes · daughter · happiness · knowledge

Happy Birthday…18 Year Old

One of my children will turn eighteen this year. Being born in the year 1992, by the time the day of her birthday arrives, the law of the land will pronounce she has permission to legally vote, purchase cigarettes, tobacco and lottery tickets, purchase and drink alcohol, enter clubs and bars, get married without parental permission and sign legal contracts.

To put it simply, at the age of seventeen years and three-hundred-and-sixty-four-days, she will be regarded as a dependent child. The very next day, she will have apparently made an overnight transformation into an adult.

Long gone are the days of “Coming of Age”, when the proud parents of the birthday boy or girl would ceremoniously present their “new adult” with the “Key to the Door” ~ when turning the age of twenty-one.

What exactly is the point of all of this grand-standing, pomp and ceremony, presented to the newly turned eighteen year old?

Did the magical fairy from “The Land of Eighteen” wave her magic wand over this child, whilst they slept, bestowing said child with all of the knowledge, wisdom and acumen they will need to carry them through this magical journey they are about to embark upon…called adulthood?

According to the law, the answer is yes…I, however, would beg to differ.

To all of my daughter’s friends, whether your birthday is today…tomorrow…this month…or this year, I wish you the absolute best of everything you could ever imagine, even in your wildest dreams, for the most magical life of your own creation…but don’t let any law fool you into believing your life begins today!

For your magical journey actually began eighteen years ago. And there is no final destination to this journey.

Did you realise that you were born with your very own in-built sense of knowledge, wisdom and adventure? Next time you meet a baby or a young child, look deeply into their eyes…there you will find the clarity and wisdom that us mere adults can only dream about!

The eyes are the window to the soul, and within a babies untainted eyes you will find all the wisdom of “knowing”.

You may not realise this, but you still have the very same natural wisdom you were born with, that same wisdom you see in the eyes of babies. But you may have forgotten that it was there all along.  You’ve probably just misplaced it somewhere, lost amongst the millions of words embedded inside your brain by family, friends, teachers, classmates, movies and TV shows.

In actual fact, the advice you give yourself is the best advice you will ever receive. Only you know what is best for you.

For your birthday, I wish you an abundance of realised wisdom, which will carry you safely along the Magical Road of Life.

All of the best advice ever given to me has been of a spiritual nature. If your spirit is well, the material side of life falls into place all on its own, without too much assistance from you. Therefore ~

  • Keep clarity of mind; stay focussed on the things you know are right for you.
  • Show kindness to others; even a simple smile goes a long way. 🙂
  • Show kindness to yourself; love for others begins with love for you.
  • Have a healthy strength of will; don’t be swayed by peer pressure.
  • Follow your own intuition; listen to your inner voice, it won’t lead you astray.
  • Follow you own dreams, not the dreams that others have for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; there are lessons to be learned, even in adversity.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff; when you grow older, you realise that the hassles in life are really all small stuff.
  • Learn how to say no. Ultimately, you don’t do either yourself, or anyone else any favours by saying “yes” when you really mean “no”.
  • Be true to yourself; decide what is right for you and make no compromises.

“I hope your Birthday gently breezes into your life all of the choicest of things and all that your heart holds dear”.