So Many Mugs, So Little Time

I’ve been a whirling dervish of clearing productivity.  I’ve been thinking of the future and where we might be in five years time when, in all likelihood, the kids will be doing a lot more of their own things and none of us will need to live near school anymore.  I’ve also been thinking about not getting too fixated on the future as well, lest I forget that actually, today’s the day we’re guaranteed so the happiness of now is much more important than perceived ideas of what might yet come.  Tricky, isn’t it?  You don’t want to take actions which scupper future choices but equally, a life lived in fear of hindsight is hellishly restrictive.

Anxiety  about trying to control known and unknown variables kicking your arse as you move forward is never a great progress companion, I’ve found.  As with most things, maybe the best approach is just to find a balance between planning and the now and maintain that as joyfully as possible, deleting unnecessary positivity-sucking-crap wherever it lurks and factoring generous margins for spontaneity into adaptable plans for the longer term.

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One thing I am sure about for the future, however, is I want to own less.  My first ten years of coupledom & parenthood had a definite theme of accumulation.  By contrast, these last ten have moved onto a mind trajectory of simplification.  That said, god knows we’ve individually and unitedly self sabotaged along the way  – a new dog the size of a small horse, anyone?  Old house at the very outer reaches of our budget to renovate rather than new house to simply enjoy and branch out from?  Oh yes.  Hello to you, contradictions.

An upside I didn’t see coming a few years back and have found out through daftness, I guess, is necessity really is the mother of invention.   Too skint to buy a garden trellis that would mean more flowers to look at in summer?  That’s a thought that lead me to up-cycle an old bunk bed step ladder I found behind a shed.  Neither the looking nor the thought would have happened without the need.  With cash for the trellis I’d have gone to the garden centre and bought one with decidedly less quirk.  I know which trellis feels more like me.

[Side bonus: one less thing for landfill, too.] 

   Creativity’s like blowing into a Fairy liquid bubble cluster with a straw – each breath pops more bubbles up, sometimes huge, sometimes small.  All that’s required is energy, space,  inclination and wonder; the willingness and the audaciously human playfulness to still see a bubble and all its irridescent, cheap-as-chips-lustre as wonderful.  If you can do that in the face of a world telling you to be serious, scared and reactive I say you’re winning because it certainly makes me feel like I am.

But back to the clearing.  In the last seven days I’ve battled and won in the following cupboards;

  • Ovenware.  Turns out that as we are not bakers we do not need 5 loaf tins, 16 muffin trays or 42 different shaped cake tins.  Revelations!
  • Mugs – two varieties, only one of which was in a cupboard.  Firstly, the corporate logo emblazoned type of coffee mug husband brings home from work promos and sticks in the cupboard till they’re all jostling like a cuppy version of a coin spilling machine at an arcade.  Secondly, the facial type of mug.  I’ve pretty much removed myself from Instagram for now – my feed suddenly seemed to become more faces than places and things and, lovely as faces are, it was the places and things that hooked me and inspired good work.  So, for the moment I’ve jettisoned the app and am pondering what (if anything) needs to come back.  While I ponder it’s probably also responsible to note the time gifted back from temporarily ditching a social media app: by my reckoning it’s between 60 and 90 minutes in 24hrs and this feels good.  Of all the commodities in my life, it’s time I adore and lust after the most so I’ve no excuse for wasting it. 

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      • Aprons.  For all the ‘we are not bakers’ reasons stated above.  The kitchen hooks are dancing in the space and Mount Washmore will shrink as we focus on filthying just one apron, rather than a five-a-side football team of them.  Hurrah!
      • Books, CDs and DVDs.  Cheerie bye, redundant media and word collections.  I’ve downloaded two apps that are helping me with this – Music Magpie and We Buy Books.  The thought that I can transform stuff into cash as well as space is a handy motivator.  Also, I like playing shoppies with the scanning in barcodes malarky.
      • Craft stuff.  Yes, more of it.  It seems I’m letting this collection go bit by tiny bit; jam jar of google eyes by jam jar of polystyrene eggs.  What can I tell you?  I’m shedding an old skin scale by scale, some months.  There’s yet more to go. I’m sorry.
      • Games we don’t play.  Like most of the above they’re on their way to a local charity shop.  Farewell Cluedo & KerPlunk, time for you to go off and give other folk a shot of yourself and your luck based shenanigans.

       

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      Behold the Letting Go of Never-Used-Shite

      As well as thoughts of the future and how I can’t be arsed cleaning stuff in the meantime, I’ve been super inspired by two programmes on Netflix, first off The Minimalist’s documentary is fricking ace.  Its message is basically, live a deliberate life.  That’s a phrase that just oozes appeal, freedom and sense to me because it reminds me succinctly not to get caught up in stuff – metaphysical or literal – that isn’t teaching me, aiding me or making me smile.  Secondly, The Happy Movie, another documentary about how our accumulating behaviours mostly go haywire and can wreck things we thought they’d create.  Both programmes are truly excellent brain fodder and left me totally uplifted and ready to chuck more, invent more and buy less.

      There’d be no light without dark too though, would there?  In case you’re hating me for being a smug, swotty Kim & Aggie-esque-clear-minded-bastard, know that I epically failed in the pared back Xmas department. Not only did I buy MORE decorations I also bought more cheap plasticky shit for stocking fillers.  Watch this space for how ace I am for clearing them out sometime in 2017 when they’re tripping me up all over bedroom floors and never being used anyway (#anotherkindofmug).  I’ve also bought a ton more books as I’ve managed to finally get my reading mojo on and, if they’re shit, I can sell them all afterwards on one of the above named apps too – HA!

      So there you are, confessions and achievements done.  I’ll leave you with this (possibly paraphrased) quote from The Minimalists, because I thought it so staggeringly brilliant, ‘Use things, love people. Not the other way round’.

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      Interested?  Good.  More about #Clearing40 here and by following the hashtag on Twitter.

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      Justification

       

      I’m calling great big dirty bullshit on the word *just*

       

      I put it to you the word just is a bullshit signifier; that whatever words come before or after it need to come under immediate suspicion because the fact that just is in the air means the integrity of the other words have, I believe, been compromised.

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      Test it out.  Think of the times that you say just.  Listen out for other people saying it.  Is just justified for anything other than deliberate obfuscation to smooth over the cracks of something that isn’t as simple as the person saying it would like to convey?

      I heard myself using just as a great big crock of smoothing over shit recently.  I was explaining to a friend how to set the alarm in our house in prep for her checking in on the dog one day soon afterwards.  I kept saying things like, ‘you just put in the code, then press one, then you run out that door and shut it before ten seconds has passed, then you just listen for a beep’.  Then I really looked at her face and thought again of a quote I first heard through an Open University course, I think it was Gregory Bateson who said it first;

       

      The meaning of your communication is the response you get.

       

      The response I was getting was one of confusion and anxiety on the face of a very smart friend.  The problem was not hers – it was mine.  I was using the word just to cover up the fact that, deep down, I felt a bit shit about asking a favour that contained complicated instructions and no small amount of responsibility.   We restarted with a new framing that went something like, ‘this alarm is a prick. I’m sorry. I’m writing everything about it down and I don’t want you to worry about it if it doesn’t go smoothly, it’s not your fault and you’re a bloody star for giving it a go – thank you’.

      So I’m clearing just from my 2017.  It’s hoodwinked me and got in the way of the open, more meaningful conversation I’m working to create by contaminating exchanges with a toxicity that works against the intention I have.

      Just, I hear you knocking but you can’t come in.

      Happy new year all.  x

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      Take A Seat

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      My Mum’s best friend phoned at the start of the week and we had a fantastic chat about self-esteem, conflicting truths and lessons learned.  At the end of the call I said a too dramatic thank you.  I gushingly told her she was wonderful and amazing.  True to form she answered firstly with a considering silence and secondly with a request to take her off the pedestal.

      Even before she’d finished the word, I got her.  I got it.

      Being on a pedestal is crap.  Being on a pedestal pushes you up and away from the group – from the place you were learning and growing.  Being on a pedestal holds you apart, with a mic at your gob waiting for only your wisdom.  Pedestals are monuments to the false idol of perfectionism.  Pedestals are isolating.  Pedestals mean that the people who stand looking up at them lean back a bit from being their own best because they have someone to follow rather than to walk beside.  And, as my Mum’s pal said, pedestals don’t allow for mistakes and mistakes are inevitable.  There’s an important point about ego here too, I think. My Mum’s pal didn’t need or want her ego-stroked.  She called for connection, not vanity, and she wasn’t going to let me re-route it otherwise.

      So I’m clearing the pedestal thing and assuming better than vanity of people I connect with who are fully engaged in living.  I rephrased my thanks and admiration and got specific instead: thank you for positively influencing how I understand things.  I’m grateful that you stay in touch, that we laugh and that what you know is teaching me more about honesty and assertiveness.

      Note to self: hyperbole is hilarious in hilarity and disingenuous in connection.

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      I’ve cleared quite a bit from the house too, including;  5 kitchen chairs, 1 dead laptop, 3 obsolete docking stations, 6 million cardboard boxes, a large bin bag of clothes and a broken DVD player.

      Having 5 chairs around that were impractical due to vast weight & damage was a drain.  One of the chairs cost a fiver years ago from a charity warehouse.  I’d always planned to re-cover it.  The other four chairs were expensive but old and their covers were wrecked – torn, stained beyond chemical intervention and looking totally ravaged.  I planned to re-cover them too but I’ve now got honest about the fact that I won’t spend the necessary time or money learning skills & buying material to fulfill those plans.  I want to spend my time writing, being with folk I love, being healthy, creative and laughing.  Sewing machine time will not meet those ends, for me.  So the chairs have all been replaced with these replica Eames chairs, at £25 each from Amazon.

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      They’re lightweight, you can lean back and sit in them all night and the white brings big shots of freshness into the room where once there was dark beige cotton and burned orange velour.  Also, no rips, tears, missing chunks, upholstery for dog hair to stick to and no previous owner fag burns make a pleasant change. clearing40 support logoWould you like more info on Clearing 40?  It’s here.   

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      52and39/50 Changed Days

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      Years ago I read that the things we struggle with in other people are usually the things we most need to work on in ourselves.

      I think we all have a thing or two that we do which doesn’t serve us well, is easy for others to spot and yet rarely (if ever) bleeps on our own radar.

      I spend regular time trying to see what’s in my blind spot.  When my mood is balanced and objective, with energy for the exertion of the mental trip, I dare to go there.

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      52and39/35 Back of the Net

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      I’m thinking a LOT about self sabotage.

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      I’m thinking about how I’ve elaborately protected myself from failure by subtlely self- sabotaging goals to such an extent that, it seemed, they just weren’t meant to be.

      *sigh*

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      I guess it’s my age.  I’ll be 39 tomorrow.  If I’m lucky I’m a little under the halfway point in my life.  I have some big dreams to make come true between here and the elegant in repose (with CostCo truffles) death-bed scene.  So I have to be really honest with myself.

      What are the blocks?

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