Archive for February, 2013

Wouldn’t it be nice?

26 February 2013

If you know the Abraham Hicks material, there’s a game called “Wouldn’t it be nice?”. Basically it releases resistance, as you ask “wouldn’t it be nice if [insert desired manifestation]?”.

And I’ve been planning to have surgery for over a year, but the timing for me to have it right now is impeccable. Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to miss any work to have this procedure? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t cause my students to have a gap in my teaching schedule?

And then there’s the procedure itself: wouldn’t it be nice if it was painless? Wouldn’t it be nice if I recovered so quickly that the doctors were amazed?

Well here I am typing less than 24 hours after surgery, which was longer and bigger than I expected. Yet here I am, firing on all eight cylinders, pain-free with just a bit of congestion.

Wouldn’t it be nice is much more powerful than I thought. Isn’t that nice? 🙂


Soul on wheels

19 February 2013

Just a short post this week (and next week will be even shorter; I’ll be in hospital). This you can file under the “live with more” heading, not the minimalist “live with less”.

I live in Melbourne, Australia, not to be confused with Melbourne, Florida or Melbourne, Kentucky or any of the other Melbournes that are pretenders to the throne. 🙂  One of the delights of living in Melbourne is the tram network.

Originally in Australia Melbourne was hardly alone in having trams: Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Hobart and Launceston all had tram networks, among others. But over the decades in the mid 20th century, these all closed down (save Adelaide, which kept one tramline) as in the 1950s and 1960s the car assumed dominance. Why wait for trams when everyone could own a car? The car had another unfortunate impact on urban planning: people moved way out to the burbs and built McMansions, where two people live in a house with six bedrooms and four bathrooms that get cluttered with junk and… </rant>

But back to Melbourne. There was a concerted push to eliminate trams here, just as they had been eliminated in all the other cities — they were progressive. But Robert Risson, chairman of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board, was having none of it. And Melbourne, with its wide boulevards and grid plan, kept its trams. (Robert Risson now has a tram terminus — in Elizabeth Street next to Flinders Street Station — named in his honour). Not only that, Melbourne’s tram network kept expanding, until now, Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world. Not just the Southern Hemisphere, but the whole planet.

And what I love about trams is that trams are convenient, more so than trains. You get on and off a tram from the middle of the street — no going to an entrance like a railway station and possibly using stairs to access a platform. But more importantly, trams have soul. There’s something utterly charming about riding around in a tram, even the sleek modern ones, that is hard to explain. And the scale is human, too; getting off the tram you can personally thank the driver, which you can’t do on a train.

If I was looking for things to appreciate — going on a “rampage of appreciation” as Abraham Hicks would put it — trams would appear somewhere on the list. And that can only be a good thing.


Delicious Unfolding

12 February 2013

I’ve discovered a new metaphor for my minimalist journey — indeed, my life — with the term delicious unfolding. I’m not sure where I got it from (did I accidentally steal it from Abraham Hicks?), but I don’t care. I like it, and it’s staying. At the moment it’s easy for me to get unhappy with a lot of things in my life.

  • I’m not happy about my finances.
  • I’m not happy about my accommodation.
  • I’m not happy about my clutter
  • I’m not happy about my lack of relationship.
  • I’m not happy about my lack of work.
  • I’m not happy about my inability to travel the world due to financial constraints, etc. etc.

You can see where this is taking me, and it’s not to a happy place. Not only that, but from that unhappy place it’s hard to get to a happy one. So, it’s time for a reframe. And this is where the metaphor “delicious unfolding” really comes to play.

I don’t have to be “there” yet; indeed, I’ll never have “arrived”. So I’m looking at the improvement that’s taking me towards where I want to be, as evidence of the delicious unfolding.

  • I’m so happy that my finances are improving, and I have a financial counsellor onside.
  • I’m so happy that I have a stable roof over my head.
  • I’m so happy that I live in Zone 1, near a train and a tram.
  • I’m so happy that I’m free to improve where I live.
  • I’m so happy that I can grow vegetables here.
  • I’m so happy that most of my clutter is sorted.
  • I’m so happy that I’m taking the time to optimise my health.
  • I’m so happy that my diet has worked brilliantly and I’ve lost 10 kilograms.
  • I’m so happy that I can say “no” to sugar, red meat, dairy, etc. easily.
  • I’m so happy that I’ve been exercising regularly all year (and some of last year, too).
  • I’m so happy that I found a free way to exercise on the internet (onehundred pushups) that I like to do.
  • I’m so happy that I’ve joined the local library and can read great books for free.

I could go on, but you get the drift. There’s improvement happening, and I’m driving that improvement; I’m finding what’s immediately in front of me and do the next step. And of course, as I declare my life to be a delicious unfolding, that’s what is now showing up. I’m actually looking forward to the rest of 2013 instead of dreading what may be around the corner.

So my life’s a delicious unfolding. Drop me a line in the comments if your life is too, or feel free to add another metaphor.

French-speaking Vikings (and why pink really isn’t a colour)

5 February 2013

The blog is called Live with Less, Live with More for a reason: it’s not just about minimalism and its benefits (which are manifold), but also more — what you can add to your life instead of acquiring a whole lot of stuff. And the “more” that I’m talking about — I’ll get to that at some point. Hopefully before the end of this blog post.

One of the things I like to do is learn languages. I’m fortunate enough to have learnt French at school. At first blush, my French lessons seem like a very inefficient use of my time; I spent three years in French class at school, and I have spent a grand total of two days in Paris. Yes, I shall rectify this situation when I can. But two days divided by three years is not very much — the return on investment (ROI) is appallingly low.

Or so it would seem.

Several years ago I flew to Argentina for three days (as you do). I hadn’t expected to go there, it was an emergency last-minute frantic call from my boss — could I please go to Buenos Aires? Sure. You pay, I fly.

It’s a long flight from Melbourne to Buenos Aires (actually, it was four flights — Melbourne –> Sydney –> Auckland –> Santiago –> Buenos Aires). You fly over the nether regions of the South Pacific; there’s a big chunk of Antarctica nearby that no nation has bothered to claim because it’s too far from anything, and you hope to God that nothing happens to the plane, because you are south of everything and they will never recover the wreckage. Chilean merlot is wonderful for alleviating any anxiety.

And on the last flight, with a head full of jetlag, after I’d seen the Andes in all their grandeur and talked with my new friend, I decided to learn some Spanish. This was the first flight of the four I’d taken with Spanish lessons. Two hours later, I could make basic conversation in Spanish, courtesy of my French lessons. Thus, when I got lost walking from Calle Florida to Calle Murrijo (don’t! — it’s longer than it looks on the map) I could decipher the number of blocks I had to walk and the direction to go.

Perhaps it helps that English is such a screwy language. You just have to go back to 1066 to understand that; England was invaded by French-speaking Vikings. That’s right, French-speaking Vikings. French. Speaking. Vikings.

If being invaded by French-speaking Vikings won’t screw up your language completely, what will?

But learning French and Spanish (and along the way some Japanese, and eventually some Danish) opened me to new ways of thinking. If you only speak English, you can only think English-language thoughts. Case in point: in Denmark in the winter, it is perfectly natural and normal to find a lake or body of water (usually covered in ice), take off all your clothes (yes, get naked) and go for a short swim. Yes, Danes often like to go skinny dipping in a lake covered with ice.

For most English speakers, this is an alien idea. For starters, being naked in a public place shocks and upsets a lot of people in the English language world; I can’t see the fuss, but I understand where people are coming from. Secondly, most of us have had mothers who would insist we would die of pneumonia if we were out in the cold for too long; to subject yourself deliberately to cold weather is unthinkable. For us, cold is the enemy; for Danes, they’re familiar with its beneficial effects.

Learning Danish was wonderful while I lived there. Yes, nearly all Danes speak excellent English; but addressing them in their own language opened doors that wouldn’t have opened had I only spoke English. One fascinating piece of trivia: there is no word for “pink” in Danish (the word is lyserød, which means “light red”). The whole concept of “pink” as a separate colour to “red” is an alien one for Danish, and a lot of other languages. Pink is just an idea we made up. “Light blue” and “light green” don’t need separate words, why “light red”?

So what have I gained from learning languages? Firstly, I’ve gained new ways of thinking: I can challenge fixed ideas more easily, such as the existence of pink or the dangers of skinny dipping in icy waters. And I’ve also gained some small measure of understanding and appreciation for other cultures; what is “obvious” to us may be not at all obvious to others.

And that was worth my three year investment in French classes. 🙂