No Buy Year

I’m having a No Buy Year. A spending freeze.

What do I mean by that? It means I am buying necessities, food and toilet paper and things to help the home function. Insurance, rates, power, internet, water, petrol and phone bills are part of the necessities. Netflix is staying. Not a necessity but an exception.

What I won’t be doing is retail therapy or online shopping. No book shopping. No clothing shopping. No random items just because it’s on sale. Nada. No eating out. No gadgets.

There will be two exceptions. A book festival and the paving stones need changing. Correction: I think that the old paving stones are looking shabby and new ones will look better. It is a want rather than a need. So and the Netflix makes three. Make that four. Paint. When
I run out of paint for my art I will buy more.

This means hopefully I will become better at planning meals. I will appreciate what we already have. Spend more time following creative pursuits, reading, writing, getting dirty in the garden, cooking and walking.

I am doing this as a fun challenge. I’m looking forward to this. I’m not depriving myself of joy. I am focussing on what I have today.

Join me.

And the first job I have is decluttering the house. This will help me with an inventory of what we have and what we don’t need, what we can sell, what we can give away and what needs to go out in the bin. I have started. I can’t say the method is orderly but the first room is the bathroom. I decided that the bathtub needed to be a place of calm. Then after that the bedroom. I have started decluttering so many times over the years but never finished. I gave up part way through because it was overwhelming. I am determined this time. I want to be organised. The declutter will allow me to be so.

Sober as. A rubbish bag.

Fumbling, Star Gazer, Springer and Wiggly

Who is doing better?

Fumbling is at 100% of 30% energy. She got out of bed.

Star Gazer is at 30% of 100% energy. She is star gazing at lunchtime.

Springer is at 110% of 100% energy. She is multitasking everything.

Wiggly is at 80% of 50%. She is having a nap.

Decided?

Can’t decide between one or another?

Fumbling, Star Gazer, Springer and Wiggly are all doing just fine. There is no need to compare. Each is doing their own thing. If you must compare, then compare Springer today to yesterday, Wiggly today to yesterday, not Springer to Wiggly.

Fumbling is doing amazingly well. She pushed herself.

Star Gazer is taking time out. Resting her body.

Springer will burn out if she tries to maintain 110%. She needs to give herself time to rest.

Wiggly is making great effort. And has energy to spare.

I cannot perform at peak 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I need to pace myself. I also have to ask myself how I’m doing. Some days or moments I can push myself and other times I cut myself some slack.

Rest is as important as Action.

This past year, or to be more truthful, the past several years I have not pushed myself. I have rested. Soooo rested I have found it difficult to spring to action. There is no springing. More of a rolling into action.

On the days I am at 100% of 30% is a great day. On the days I am at 50% of 100% is a good day. I am learning to pace myself. Any day can be a great day.

I am learning to (cough) moderate my energy. Up till now it has been flat tack and then burn out. Nothing in between. Rest was burn out. That’s not how rest is supposed to be. I get that. I have relearnt that so many times. Stupid I know. But I will keep at it.

Cleaning, tidying up, putting things away and decluttering. Just writing that makes me want to have a rest. Those things. I am learning to do those things at 30%, 50% and 80% and be okay with it. It doesn’t have to be perfectly done. It really doesn’t. I am relearning to make an attempt. Be fine with the attempt and live with it.

I used to be so tidy until I overwhelmed myself. So overwhelmed I stopped caring. I have made it hard on myself. I am ready to face the clutter and mess. There will not be before and after photos. One swipe of a cloth at a time, one item discarded, recycled or donated at a time. I cleared a third of the kitchen bench yesterday. That’s a good start. I wiped out one shelf and the front of the fridge. I wiped down the bathroom sink. Don’t worry I won’t be detailing everything.

Wellbeing, well-being, well being, however you spell it involves just about everything. My environment where I live affects my wellbeing so it needs work. My wellbeing project began yesterday. I have made it a year of wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be all done by tomorrow. I have time. Action, rest, plan and repeat.

Space: Physical 02

I love good design. To see something both functional and designed beautifully is a winning combination.

PART 1: TINY HOMES

I have been an avid fan of the tiny house movement for some time. I love the layouts and the efficient use of the space, the pop out walls and their use of light and energy. As time goes on the designs are becoming more and more inventive. It is not just the millennials opting for the nomadic lifestyle the grey birds are choosing them too.

In bed I don’t want to hit my head on the ceiling in the middle of the night or in the morning when getting out of bed. I don’t want to have to climb over someone to get out of bed. I don’t want to have to manoeuvre myself to the end of the end to get out of bed. The bed is a sacred spot. I love my sleep. The idea of sleeping in a loft area of a small enclosed space does not appeal at all. Sure if you have good ventilation the heat and air flow can be solved but so many that I have seen have what amounts to crawl space only in the bedroom.

I also don’t want to have to clamber down a ladder or awkward steps to get to the loo in the night without turning on the lights and waking everyone up.

I have slept in a loft bedroom and it was hot in winter because the log fire heat naturally travelled upwards, and in the summer it was also hot because again heat rising and the summer sunlight streaming in. Admittedly the ventilation could have been better. There was a fan but that didn’t fix all the issues.

I have also slept in a motor home in the loft area above the driver’s seat. It was fun for four nights. The head space was limited. There was a ladder to get up and down. You had to skirt around another body to get to the end of the bed and then over the edge to get to the ladder.

I love a soak in a hot bath. Lately I have seen tiny homes with bathtubs. They have been a relief for me to see. I feel that to live without a bath is like going without licorice. Not an option.

I love the seating nooks that they create in the tiny homes. Places to sit , places to lie down, to read, to write, to draw, to paint. The multi functioning bed that transforms into a desk. The painting that flips into a screen. The loft steps that double as a bookshelf or a shoe box.

The kitchens are incredible and I drool over the cuteness of it all. THe pull out pantries, the full size fridge freezers. I love seeing all sorts of layouts and necessities and differ for each family. Those that include children and cats and dogs. The walking away from stuff to make more time for family.

Less space, less to clean.

Less space, less to fill.

As I lie in bed with my foot in a cast I wonder how I would manage in a tiny house with a broken ankle. My knee scooter wouldn’t fit in the space. In reality it would fit, it just wouldn’t be able to turn around. So that means crutches to gad about. More effort required and certainly doable. The bed would need to be on the one level as everywhere else. I would be able to reach and carry things from one place to the next because everywhere is nearby. I could even make a cup of tea and pivot the tea cup to the other side of the walk space. It might even be easier than if I was at home here where I am now.

Not moving to a tiny house anytime soon, probably never but I love following people’s journeys and seeing how they plan out their spaces. Tiny homes can be beautifully designed, functional and efficient. I look forward to the future when councils will see the benefit of tiny homes and include them into our communities.

Must haves for my tiny home:

Queen bed with access on three sides, on the ground level
Fully functioning kitchen
Breakfast nook style eating area
Full size bath tub
Two writing spaces (breakfast nook can be one)
Fully off-grid capability, solar panels,…
High speed internet
Full size fridge
Couches where you can lay down comfortably
Cat friendly
Good security
Good storage

I have thought about this a lot!

PART 2: HOARDING

Living in any size house making it comfortable for ourselves is paramount. What does that mean though? Comfortable? Your style? Minimalist? Cottage? Retro? Big couches? Petit furniture? Books? Records? Plants? Cat friendly? Lots of colour? One colour: white? Lots of paintings on the walls? Floor lamps?

Even if you are renting you can still create your comfortable space that is your own. You can hang pictures that leave no trace. I suppose it depends on how long you intend to stay, doesn’t it? No it doesn’t. You can create your stamp on a space and make it your own even if you stay a night. When you stay at a hotel you change the space to make it your own just for one night. Your presence alone makes it your space.

As I write this I look around the room thinking of the whole house and wonder how can I make our home more comfortable. The one thing that jumps out is the clutter. Again with a broken ankle and not being able to put weight on one leg leaves you stuck on one level. Every rug, rubbish bin becomes an obstacle. The fewer the obstacles the easier to navigate the house on a knee scooter.

Personal belongings, stuff, clutter, junk, memories, are an accumulation. When the amount becomes too much for the space it becomes clutter. When the clutter becomes an access hazard the house becomes a hoarder’s castle.

A hoarder doesn’t necessarily live on their own collecting old newspapers and lining the halls and stairways with piles of paper. Hoarders come from all walks of life. Collections of stuff are hobbies. When hobbies or habits get out of control and become extreme they don’t develop into hoarding. Hoarding and obsessive stamp collecting is not the same. Hoarding doesn’t happen overnight. The hoarding is not the cause of the problem, It is the manifestation of the problem. Hoarding now is a class of disorder all on its own. It used to be tacked onto OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Hoarding does not discriminate, regardless of the size of your house, a hoarder will fill it, whether it be a one bedroom apartment or a five bedroom farmhouse, a hoarder will fill it.

Hoarders are ashamed of their living conditions and do not want people entering their space and passing comment or judgement.

Hoarders don’t want to live like they do. They also do not know how to get help either. A lot of times too the help offered makes the attempt way too stressful and it is easier to stay living as is. They do find comfort with their possessions with them. For just in case. The problem is that they no longer remember where each item is and so duplicates abound. This is not the several cork screws in the junk drawer, multiple Christmas cracker boxes. I mean tens to hundreds of items the same. Yet they don’t appear the same to the hoarder. If someone has suffered a time of impoverishment, a loss or some traumatic event, the hoarder may be appearing to be ‘stocking up’ for what if. The items are not the issue. The accumulation of stuff is the side affect of the hoarder’s condition.

Getting a skip or a portable waste bin and dumping all the possessions does not solve the problem. The hoarder will never trust you again. Their compulsion to hoard hasn’t gone away, over time the property will revert back to what it was like. It’s a lose-lose situation. The hoarder needs to handle each and every item in order to make a decision on what to do with the item. Hoarding has taken years to accumulate. You cannot expect someone to deal with an entire household over a weekend. Just because the person, a daughter, son, parent or friend is willing to help for a weekend doesn’t mean that the hoarder can process the items at the pace you might. To you it is all junk and should be dumped. To the hoarder each item was carefully brought into the house. To just give it no thought at all is upsetting the balance of the house.

The pile of stuff in a hoarders home becomes overwhelming for all living under the same roof. The new normal changes slowly over time and the issue becomes so enormous it is not faced and becomes a hazard to health and can lead to death in extreme cases.

I understand the desire to handle each and every item before deciding on the fate of each piece. I also understand the ‘undecided’ pile being high as well. Marie Kondo talks about ‘sparking joy’ as the entire world now knows. She also talks about handling each item and thanking it before deciding it doesn’t spark joy.

Binge watching the Marie Kondo series and you would think that to declutter an entire house takes only half an hour. Marie Kondo appears, blesses the house, chats with the homeowners and then starts them off in one room, sets them homework and returns to a magically clutter free home at the end of half an hour. Life is not like that.

I have some decluttering to do to make my life freer. I think about the clutter all the time. I want to free my mind of the stupid thoughts. It is literally time wasted.

I start and I stop with the decluttering. I have done a lot already. There is more to go. Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. It is the ideal time to do it, right? Now is the best time to declutter. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next weekend. Now

I do not have a hoarding problem yet I do feel embarrassed to have anyone over because of the clutter. I am determined to tackle the clutter once my leg is out of the cast and I can put weight on both legs.

I cannot run before I can walk. At the moment I cannot do either. I sure do value being able to go for a walk, just to the letterbox to check the mail. To walk barefoot on the grassed lawn. I have gotten sidetracked.

PART 3: CONCLUSION

Space is important to us all. How we use space is as different as there are people. Don’t judge others for how they use their spaces. Have a little understanding. Everyone has a story to tell. Take time to listen.

Ramp light Green

Driving in heavy traffic is a breeze for me. I have driven all over the world and Auckland traffic is nothing compared to Tokyo, Barcelona, LA or London. In New Zealand when getting onto the motorway there is a traffic light and during peak times the lights are working, a sign say “Ramp light on.” The lights alternate between green and red to stagger the merging cars and make the motorway flow smoothly.

I feel like my ramp light is green. Green for ‘go.’

Made the bed. Had brunch. Went to the gym. Went to the supermarket. Bought fruit and vegetables. Bought one sweet item. Haribo gummy bears. They have already been consumed. Told you the ramp light was green. I did lots of little jobs that I had planned to do last week but didn’t. They are now done. Told you I like Mondays.

I am starting a digital declutter this May. Let me explain what I mean. I am going to stop mindlessly scrolling on my phone or on the computer or any device and better use my time for non-connected pursuits and time for solitude. I read the book Digital Minimalism and I am going to try it for the month long declutter. It doesn’t mean 100% not touching an app, a phone or looking at a website. You get to choose what you give up. You write it down and ideally stick to it. And at the end of the month hiatus you introduce back into your life what you deem beneficial to your life.

One example is streaming services such as Netflix, HBO or Amazon. I watch too much. Binge watching is a thing. I am not cutting it out completely I am making it a social time. If I watch a streaming service it must be with someone else, not alone. Also in one sitting I will limit myself to 2 episodes if a series or to 1 film.

I have written out a list of what I will not use, what I can use with caveats. I’m sure some tweaking will need to be done as situations arise. The point is to continue with important digital aids that allow you to work, function without losing your job, your life. This is not Extreme Digital Declutter in the Wilds with no cellphone service. I am not holing up in a cabin in the woods for the month. I am home and giving myself the freedom to choose or not choose.

I am treating this as a fun exercise. It is done by choice. It should get me back to pursuits that I ‘don’t have time for’ when really I do. Wish me luck.

I have started already by removing notifications from my phone. I have unsubscribed to mailing lists. I have banned myself from various websites that I glance at and then wonder why I am still there half an hour later.