Archive for June, 2013

Too much minimalism?

25 June 2013

I never thought I would write this, but I do think you can have too much of a good thing, including minimalism. On Sunday night I caught the end of Grand Designs, a British reality TV show in which people display their architecture, invariably running way over budget and time, but inevitably loving the result of their labour. Now, I love clean bare surfaces and lots of white — more than most, I suspect — but even I draw the line with this. This is an über-minimalist house in the UK has lots and lots of bare surfaces, lots and lots of white, with the odd neutral wood trim. You can check out the YouTube clip here:

Start at about the 36 minute mark to see a tour of the house and see what I mean. White, white, white: it looks more like a place where scientists freeze embryos, or aeronautical engineers assemble jet engine parts than a warm and comfy home. I would really want a pop of colour (probably red), and a few crazy things that would add a bit of character: a big funky Chesterfield, a serious crystal chandelier, reindeer antlers, a piece of stibnite even — something to add colour and personality.

And it’s all a matter of taste, really. I suppose they would find my life awfully cluttered and busy. Meanwhile (I almost typed “meanwhite”; Freudian slip??? ;-)) my own decluttering continues in dribs and drabs. The boxes are mostly done and dusted and the room is almost tidy. 🙂 I plan to have my filing up to date and listed in the next few weeks, which will be a relief.

And the garden is starting to take shape. I’ve decided to focus solely on the front yard — I’m picking my battles, and the front yard is easier — but still it’s overgrown. Each individual plant, if taken alone and looked after, would be quite lovely there. However, this is not the case: roses are near succulents, holly, a yucca, ivy vines, and geranium. It’s a dog’s breakfast!

So yesterday I started with the geraniums. Out they came (and took some of the succulents with them). The plan is clear pretty much everything that is there, plant three silver birch trees (I think they look beautiful, particularly in the winter when they’re bare) and put some bark or pebbles down to prevent weeds. The lawn will remain, with a new birdbath (the old one has been broken — too much ivy climbed on it and it collapsed!).

The front yard should be easy enough. The backyard will take longer — much longer. But ideally I’d like to set up a vegetable garden in the backyard and have garden-fresh vegetables on hand — I’m a big fan of healthy eating and having fresh vegies will help. I got rid of a cold in just two days by eating fresh fruit and vegies, something that would have knocked me down for a fortnight before.

So, fresh vegetables and a clutter-free home with personality — that’s what I like! 🙂



18 June 2013

One of the most important concepts for me, as a minimalist, is the concept of “enough“. It sounds deceptively simple, but it actually isn’t.

Advice that is frequently given to people using the Law of Attraction to attract wealth is to imagine opulence: go read the Robb Report (or something similar), imagine yourself driving a Ferrari (or better), wearing $10,000 boots and watches that cost the GDP of many small nations. And for many people, that floats their boats: they imagine themselves in a large property with stables and a private jet and a helicopter and…

Is this really the best we can do? Frankly, I think this sort of thing is firmly in the realm of ego: it doesn’t consider that there are many people who go to bed hungry, many children dying of easily preventable diseases, and many — most, actually — who simply don’t have the opportunities that we take for granted.

I don’t need gold-plated this, solid platinum something else, diamond-studded whatever. I believe that you can have enough — for me, a nice place to live, a car to get around in (I don’t see the point in owning a car that can do 170km/h in a city where you can barely do 30km/h). And the last thing I really feel motivated by right now is a Ferrari parked in the garage of my penthouse, a wardrobe full of Armani and lots and lots of bling. Yes, I do want a few nice things, but here’s my list of things in order of importance:

  1. People
  2. Experiences
  3. Things

Notice that it’s the people in your life (or at least, in my life) that are the most important to me. Making those connections, I have decided, is worth much more than any stuff I can accumulate. I especially love being around like-minded people and making connections there. I’m looking at doing work that not only rewards me financially and brings me fulfilment, but makes the world a better place.

The next most important item on my list is experiences. That’s probably where most of my expense will go: I want to climb the Andes, fly over Antarctica, see geysers and glaciers in Iceland. (Yes, I do seem to be fond of cold places.) I even want to go parasailing one day!

At the bottom of the list is “things”. I do want a few nice things (right now, I’m thinking a nice pair of ruby cufflinks would be just perfect) in the apartment I want to buy. Yes, I’d like my apartment to have a bit of a view. No, I don’t need it to be too large (too hard to clean!), it’s more of a nice place to crash and drink tea in between doing fulfilling and rewarding work and flying over the Andes. Importantly, I want my environmental impact to be as minimal as I can make it — sadly, the days when the only people with carbon footprints were coal miners are long over, and we all need to think about doing our bit.

And no, there won’t be a Ferrari parked in the garage. 😉

Five easy steps: my (little) victory over procrastination

11 June 2013

Hi all,

I’ve been in the process of organising the things that are in my boxes, and organising the boxes. I’ve given a lot of valuable treasures junk away to op shops or plain threw crap out.

And I needed to re-label some of the boxes. Admittedly, a large box with the word “Stuff!” on it, even in large red letters, was not helpful. All I needed to do was cut cardboard to fit into the label holder (not difficult: two short cuts did each piece), and write in ink what each box contained. Simple, n’est-ce-pas?

Except the procrastination bug bit. Hard. For some reason, I kept putting off this simple little task.

Why? I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that it forced me in a way to assess the things that were actually in the boxes, and sorting stuff is mentally exhausting.

Even writing this blog post about procrastination I, would you believe, procrastinated. Seriously. So even when I get this blog post completed (and I will), that in and of itself will be a victory over procrastination.

So, how to beat procrastination? Here goes:

  1. Schedule. If you have a task that needs doing, clear a space in your diary to do it in. And don’t fill it with other stuff (for most of us, surfing the net. Even this website.).
  2. Break it down. You don’t need to do all of it right away: set milestone targets instead. Make them easy enough to do in one step. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself — even mapping out the task could be a milestone, in and of itself.
  3. Build a momentum. If you have a long list of to-dos, start with a few quick wins: you then build momentum to do harder, more complicated ones.
  4. Start. This is the big one. If you never start you’ll never finish. In fact, starting is usually the hardest part of all. Often after starting a task (like with my labelling boxes I described) it was over in a few minutes. And that, after procrastinating about it for months.
  5. Tell others about it. You’re setting up an accountability structure here — so, how is your swimming / yoga / healthy eating plan going (I’ve been swimming last week, finally!).

It’s not rocket science. It’s not stuff you can’t find from somewhere else. It’s not particularly profound. But if you follow these five easy steps, it’ll go a long way to eliminating procrastination.

And I just eliminated my procrastination about writing a blog post. 🙂

How to completely suck at life

4 June 2013

If you want your life to be completely sucky, I strongly recommend you do all of the following:

1. Blame: If your life isn’t where you want it to be, it’s not your fault. Instead, you should blame your parents, your teachers, your spouse(s), your children, the government, the economy, your astrological birth chart (damn you, Saturn!), or whatever you can think of. Get creative here! You are an amazing talent, the likes of which the world rarely sees: how nasty of those Australian Idol/X Factory/Voice/[insert reality TV show] judges to say you have a voice that sounds like a cat is being trodden on! You are an artiste, and if you don’t get your big break, it’s all their fault. Your health, finances and career are all a victim of circumstances beyond your control, and the very best thing you can do is blame everybody else for them.

2. Hoard: You kind of expect me to say that on a minimalist blog, don’t you? The golden rule here is never throw anything out. Ever! You might need that thingummyjig or whatsit some day! And even if you don’t, you still paid good money for it. Or even if it was a gift, it’s worth something, and someday you’ll be able to sell it on eBay for quite a lot of money. So you should absolutely hold on to your collection of tacky t-shirts (most of which are faded, stained, don’t fit properly, or are in ghastly shades of mustard), pile them in a corner somewhere, and get very upset if anyone touches your stuff. Oh, and you don’t actually need to know where anything actually is: you just need to have it stashed somewhere. Oh, and you won’t have many visitors dropping by given the state of your house, so it gives you a nice sense of isolation.

3. YOLO: You only live once is the motto you should absolutely live by under all and any circumstances. Don’t bother eating nutritious food and exercising — YOLO! Instead, have as much greasy fried food and sugary soda as you like — it’s fun! Don’t worry about being 50kg overweight, your soulmate should recognise you through all your layers, and if he/she doesn’t, they were never your soulmate anyway. Also, you should take up lots of dangerous sports — base jumping comes to mind here — because YOLO! Don’t worry about other people saying that jumping off cliffs without a parachute open till the last minute is dangerous — they’re just the fun police! Oh, and drugs? Party time! You should take as many drugs as often as you like — remember, you only live once (and if you’re taking lots of drugs, it probably won’t be for that long, either).

4. Whine and complain: apart from the good, happy feelings that invariably follow a good bitch and moan session, it makes you irresistably attractive. Who can resist the allure of someone complaining about the weather, or saying their boss is a jerk. And when they start talking about all their aches and pains, hold me back! Whining and complaining is also a wonderful remedy to actually doing something — instead, you get to blame someone else, and that’s infinitely more fun!

5. Misery loves company: and you should set out to be miserable as often as you can. Those people who tell you if life hands you lemons, make lemonade — don’t you just want to slap them? Hard? Remember, every silver lining has a dark cloud right behind it: you need to point out all the things that can possibly go wrong, and even a few unlikely things that may, just possibly, go wrong, so that you and everyone else around you lives under a dark cloud of fear and suspicion. That way, when things do go wrong (as they invariably do!), you’re mentally prepared the way with pessimism. Remember: not only is the glass half-empty, but there’s a chip in the side of the glass, there could be a glass fragment in the water, and it’s probably carrying cholera.

6. Don’t set goals: Most important of all. You are not captain of your fate, and master of your destiny, despite what those annoying Doris Day types will tell you (point #5). Instead, you should drift along in a cloud of misery (point #4), whine and complain about circumstances (#3), avoid any long-term planning (#2), and blame everyone else for the mess you’re in (#1).

There you go: 6 foolproof steps to completely sucking at life. Enjoy! (or, not…)