I read thirteen books this year. I’m happy about re-establishing reading after years of total drought. Some say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. It’s taken me nearer twenty one months. At first my concentration was so poor I had to read every paragraph repeatedly, forcing myself to put down my phone for twenty minutes at a time. Then, slowly, I began relishing phone dumping; books morphing into pacifier and portal; a way to slow down time and accelerate perspectives.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
Interested? Good. More about #Clearing40 here and by following the hashtag on Twitter.
We saw Collateral Beauty. The film whisked me back ten years to a hell of a week. Mum had been admitted to hospital in Aberdeen with a DVT. My son had his sixth birthday party. I hadn’t organised a thing for Halloween.
The morning after cobbled together trick or treating, Mum called from hospital and gently explained she had terminal cancer.
The world stopped as grief started.
Who I’d been until then died with her and (slowly, painfully) a new gratitude for life was born. Heather 2.0. An unwanted, bittersweet fresh start.
2015 has been the year for highly serendipitous experiences.
No sooner have I thought one thing then related things have happened, leading my thoughts to necessary places or confirming hunches that what I was thinking was right or wrong after all.
This last fortnight I’m hit repeatedly by thoughts of mismatched perspectives. Two people can experience the exact same thing and recount it in jarringly oppositional or wonderfully eye opening ways. Our eyes have different filters, our minds apply unique emotional processing, memories and logic.
Everyone has their truth – and their stories.
This post is the very last in the 52and39 series. The first post in the series is here. Thank youso much to everyone who has commented, shared and read these posts that have given 2015 such subtle but powerful writing purpose for me. Watch this space for my new blogging series for 2016.