Monday, 31 January 2011

Zen and the Art of Simplicity (and motorcycle maintenance)

I find the website to be incredibly helpful. There are lots of good articles about decluttering and living simply. It has to do with time and outlook on life as well as stuff.

I found the articles about possessions really intriguing. When we moved to the UK we had to really prioritise what we thought was worth keeping. What books make the cut? What trinkets and ornaments? What stuff? I think we got everything we thought that was worth it into something like 11 boxes. This included our childrens books (both the books themselves and ones about the authors/illustrators), reference books (like Masterplots), books about the Pre-Raphaelites, my Oz collection, a few theatre books, fairy tales, books about Star Trek and The Prisoner (those were Spidermans), books about spiders (obviously)  plus a handful of fiction that we turn to again and again like Watership Down or the short stories of Jack Finney. We had lots of mini collections but we narrowed it down to hedgehogs, rocks and minerals, spiders and Oz (as far as having lots of items under one theme) as well as autographs. Oh and glass bottles. We  like to collect old unusual shaped bottles with glass stoppers and fill them with coloured water. They really brighten up a room. But the rest of it--gone. There was no way I was giving up my Oz Barbie Dolls. Have I ever mentioned that I own Oz Barbie dolls???? Well I do. Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion and Glinda plus 3 munchkins. And Dorothys ruby slippers light up and says Ive a feeling were not in Kansas any more! and Theres no place like home! These are possessions I treasure and would never part with.

Since weve moved here weve added here and there to collections. And books. Weve bought more books. Hundreds of books--but all within the above guidelines. Not just any book. Any book that looks interesting is borrowed through the library or from a friend to try it out first and the rule is As long as there is shelf space it can be bought. When the space runs out, the choice is to get rid of something else to make room or do without it. In the past we would have just bought another bookshelf. The same goes for CDs and DVDs. When the storage containers are full--they are full. When you want something, it is time to get rid of something you dont need to make room. Simple.

I find 99% of the time we really only buy what we need. My first question is always Do we actually need it? If the answer is yes then I ask Can I make it myself? This has worked when I need a backpack and a new key chain and when both Spiderman and I needed new wallets. This also works if I need new clothes.  Then I try to look second hand first to see if I can find it that way. Ive found all sorts of useful containers for less than £1. We are working hard to have a place for everything and everything in its place. If it doesnt have a place, then it doesnt belong. We have just bought 2 more sets of shelves--one each--to be for storage for ongoing projects and craft materials. 

How cluttered are you? Are you weighed down with stuff? We have been conditioned to believe that luxuries are a necessity, that we need things that most of the world doesnt even dream of having. Theyd be happy with clean water, shelter, some food. How much do we really need to be happy? See my next post about the 100 things challenge!  

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