Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Finding the balance...



I've just read an article about how human hair is "harvested" in china for extensions (for those interested: here is the link http://www.nzherald.co.nz/indepth/national/black-gold/?#_=_)
and it made me think a lot about Western "civilisation" and our goals and values and of course I felt really bad about all the consumerism around me and the big part I play in it. Because let's be honest, even if you don't have hair extensions, you will be, like myself, a small cog in the big machinery of consumerism. It really tormented me, especially as I am really trying not to be part of it. Which sometimes just doesn't seem to work. And then I stopped and looked around myself (because I happened to be on a walk with my oldest daughter today, too).

Today is a really cold and quiet day. We have about -1°Celsius and it is really foggy. The fog crystallized on leaves, gras, bushes, cobwebs and everything was encrusted in this layer of ice crystals. It looked as if somebody had put a thick layer of castor sugar over everything. It is beautiful and full of magic.

I feel grateful that I was there that moment with my daughter and we enjoyed that magical weather together. Through all the pressure of everyday life and work (and still trying to  move in properly...) I could feel that no matter what is happening around the world, the only real impact on life I can make is right here where I am with my family. Where we live, how we live and how we treat each other. And that's what really counts.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Learning to wait and I am still tidying up...



We've moved into our new home 4 months ago and I am still tidying up. I am fascinated (and also quite shocked) how long it takes to settle into a new home. But I've also noticed, I am approaching things a lot different this time.
While I am still unpacking boxes (most of our possessions went into the cellar upon moving in, only the most necessary items went into the actual room), I am again sorting through. And I get annoyed and grumpy. And I am sometimes surprised about what I find.

The amount of stuff we also had to get rid of after moving in, is shocking. Why did we take it wih us alltogether? Well, the answer is because I am becoming more picky in what we own.

I also noticed I am becoming more patient when it comes to purchasing something - unless it is perfect, I am not buying it. And that's it.

Of course the term "perfect" is meant in a relative way. It is always the balance of what we need (and making the difference between want and need is difficult enough sometimes...), what we like and what we can afford.

Apart from the fact that we need surprisingly little and have surprisingly lot of stuff even AFTER I thought I sorted through the attic thoroughly (you live and learn...), I also noticed that the few things we eventually DO buy, really contribute to our daily life. It's great to see and use the stuff you have daily. Rather than getting a bargain here and there just because it is cheap, I am determining strictly what we actually use (e.g. kitchen utensils) and then get just that in good quality. I actually have the impression that we own less and spend less and what we've got is of far better quality than before. And it is so much easier to live like that.

One sore spot is still the cellar, but I'll go with that now. It's always good to have a project. :)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Has everything been said?



Now after about 6 months of regular (and sometimes quite long) posts about miminalism, about how I understand it and what it means to me, I find I've come to a point where I've covered the "basics" of what I think it is.

I've changed and am still changing, and every week it is the small things that I notice, not the big fundamental theories behind it.

Sombody saying "I get sick of my pillow covers regularly, then I just go to a shop and get new ones. That's just the way I am."  And somebody else remarking "So you are not shopping anymore for fun? How strange, I really enjoy consuming."

And I wonder. 


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Jeans - Make and Mend

from google picture http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0131/6922/files/patch-camera-web.jpg?307


It is such a sad thing when your favourite pair of jeans has a hole at the knee (or wherever...), isn't it.
I've come across this blogpost and I just love what she's done to the jeans.

http://mymakedoandmendlife.com/2016/05/23/mend-it-may-how-to-sashiko/

You can also search the internet for sashiko and find a lot more inspiration!

Another option would be to cut them apart and take the pattern in order to make your own jeans from them. And use the rest as cleaning cloth...


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A life with meaning or the pure pursuit of happiness



I stumbled across this article in the internet. It is about the difference of a life with meaning and the pure pursuit of happiness. I thought it was really interesting. I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.businessinsider.com/a-lesson-about-happiness-from-a-holocaust-survivor-2014-10?IR=T

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

"Green Growth" or "Degrowth"


For those of you who understand German this speech by Nico Paech is really intersting.
He is talking about which direction we might be going in the future.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeb3h9sBm0Y

Those of you who don't understand German -> there is video on Youtube in English.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Get a hobby! - Hobbies and Minimalism



As you might have seen from my blogposts and pages, my hobbies include making things. I am sewing, crocheting, and other DIY... I like to make things with my hands.

Other things I really enjoy doing is listening to classical music, going for walks, climbing, reading, talking to my husband (as in "discussing an interesting topic" not as in "have you put the rubbish out yet, darling?"), listening to the radio (I particularly enjoy this on my way to and from work), ...

Having a hobby has a lot of positive effects:

You learn a skill that you otherwise possibly wouldn't use (e.g. I don't do any sewing at work), and you might even preserve techniques that otherwise might get lost because traditional crafts play only a minor role in modern production (e.g. old handstitches).
You meet people or get in touch with people with the same interest online and expand your circle of friends. Or just have a bit more social life. ;)
If you create something you get the incredible feeling of satisfaction when you have achieved your goal. Same with sports - challenge yourself and you will get gratification. Not instantly, but even more so when you get there. Try it!

Wikepedia offers a list of hobbies (interesting in itself), maybe it can serve as inspiration  (it does contain a few things I will definitely try in the future!!)?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hobbies

And some more on the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobby

Beware: Shopping and surfing aimlessley on the internet as well as watching tv are NOT really good hobbies. No. Not really. Honest. Scrap that.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Pack your bag! - The suitcase game.

The Suitcase Game.
 
As I've mentionned a few times before, we have moved to a new home in November 2016. Because we were really busy we didn't find time to put up our wardrobe in the first 2 months really and lived out of a suitcase for that time. (At least it was a suitcase each...) :)

I found it was really really good and a great lesson in seeing how well you can actually live from only a limited amount of clothes. It was super easy after all, the hardest bit being how to choose the clothes.

I invite you to join "The Suitcase Game". 

What you need:

  • 1 suitcase - the size should be small enough so you are actually able to carry it around on your own.  My suitcase had about 90litres. (Vaude Tobago)
  • Only a fraction of the content of your usual wardrobe :)

How to do it:

  1. Imagine you are going on a 2 week trip. You will go to a place that has the same climate that awaits you in your home in the next 8 weeks. You will have washing and drying facilities. And you will also have to do the same stuff you do at home. So you will be away and home at the same time, sort of. :)
  2. Choose things from your wardrobe that coordinate well and that you really like. 
  3. Close your wardrobe and put the suitcase in front of it (or in any other suitable place)
  4. Ignore your wardrobe for the next 8 weeks. 
  5. Yes. Really. Be drastic. 
(you can include bathroom stuff if you have issues with excessive quantities there and include that). 

You can try the list in the blogpost https://hertzwerk-freiburg.blogspot.de/2016/09/how-many-clothes-do-i-really-need.html for inspiration on what to pack. :)

Go for it! :)  

If you like the idea, share it! 

Why not blog about it? (Feel free to share the above image with it)

Have fun!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

True Cost - Documentary




I've stumbled across this link to a film more or less by coincidence and although I've only watched the trailer, the images are haunting me (I am still wondering about the child in min 1:32 - I hope it is just asleep or so ...).

http://truecostmovie.com/

With every bargain we make, every cheap piece of clothing, we should know, that somebody else is paying for it.



https://aeon.co/videos/this-is-the-final-resting-place-of-your-cast-off-clothing

I remember from years ago an ad with a woman running after a shoelace from a shoe she so wanted and finding the other end in a slum in India. I can't seem to find it at the moment, but it also was meant to remind us under which circumstances clothes, shoes etc are made. Also fabrics.

What can we do?

Buy only what you need.
Buy locally from local producers.
Pay the price it is worth.

You will probably ask: Are you doing that? 100%? All of the time? No. I am not. I am not a superhuman. But I am really trying. And the more I try, the better I get.

It also reminded me of my trip to India in 2009 (work experience thing) and that trip was a real shock to my system. Not only was I reminded daily of how little women are worth there (I was ignored or not served or transported in a riksha, on a daily basis really, sometimes I didn't know whether it was because I was white or a woman or both). But you see on a daily basis around you how little a humans life is worth in India. The contrasts are overpowering and hard to understand for a person that grew up in a sheltered middle class household in Germany. - In the parallel street to a superposh hotel - people dying in the street. People living under bridges near a river that is really a big open sewer.  Children begging, living in the dirt. And nobody cares. On the contrary, it seems the people in power want to maintain the conditions the way they are. And then the images of the film - they are not exaggerated. This is real. It is happening. And not just in one place, but in an entire subcontinent. And more.




Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Magic and Minimalism and Kondo. Tidying up.


If you have trouble with "having" things and tidying up (like I have), you probably have read pages on minimalism and you've read or heard about the new best selling "Kondo" Method. Which apparently is magic (...I've heard...). You want to sort thought your things and get them in a nice order. For a decluttered life and mind. For more breathing space.

So do I.

Because I am interested in Magic and tidying up, I've had a look at Marie Kondo and just as an example, here's a video of her folding underwear to make it "more tidy" or so. (from youtube.com)




Let me be very clear about this. I don't like it. I find her joy of having folded these items this way weird. I wouldn't want my underwear and socks in a box like that, I don't like it, I don't like them rolled and folded like that. And I don't believe it is the only way.

I do understand that the idea behind folding them away like that is to be able to see everything you have. And I think it is absolutely right, if you open your drawers or your closet you should see all of your clothes easily. But do they have to be folded up like that? if you live in a 8m2 flat in Tokyo, maybe. Because even for the littlest amount of clothes you have hardly any space there. But I dare to say, that most of us have wardrobes of a reasonable size and we just tend to... overfill them. And then we are so decadent, we forget about the clothing we don't see. (And if you think about it, that's just another way of saying "I don't need this" and "I don't really like this, it's out of my mind" - so I dare ask: why do you own it?).

First of all, I would like to underline: I understand all of you out there that hear the word "Minimalism" and cringe. Because it sounds more like "asceticism"  and not like "enjoying life". It sounds like an awful lot of "NO". And no leeway. And that's not right. It scares us away, because it seems so unforgiving and harsh. I personally don't like the word minimalism at all. Not at all.

The Kondo magic is a lot kinder that way in allowing us to keep everything we truly love. Even if that would mean throwing away sensible things (like a hammer). And keeping 101 little cuddly teddybears and storing them in an ingenious way. Because we have an inner connection with them. And that's not right, either. Because  while it is perfectly fine to love what we own, it allows us to continue overconsumption if we just say we love things enough (like "I really NEED this, because I LOVE it - although it has absolutely NO purpose, I am NOT going to use it and it's going to collect dust and although I already have the same thing already"). And it encourages a disposable society ("I don't LOVE this anymore. This item serves its purpose perfectly well, it is not broken - I will throw it away and get a new similar item that I feel more love for now"). No trace of thoughts about sustainability here.

So, what to do? 
As usual, the middle way is best. With a bit of common sense. Knowing, that sometimes one clear "NO" can be more honest and better than 100 hypocritical "yes". 

What does this mean in the world of tidying up? 
Before I start, let me say: It's a great thing you are going through your possessions and get order into them. That's so good! Now let's get started, here's what I try to stick to:
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Think about what you want to achieve - do you want to keep everything and just sort it through because it is higgeldy-piggeldy? Or do you want to size down your wardrobe and declutter? Do you want to concentrate on what you really like and just keep that? Or a bit of it all? There is no wrong or right. Just focus on what you want. 
  • Be persistent. Nothing that´s worth something is easy. Tidying up is an awful lot of work
  • Before you are sorting through your possessions, have 3 boxes ready labelled "keep", "donate" and "rubbish".
  • Choose only a small and manageable area to go through per day. Maybe one shelf.  Or one drawer at the time.
  • Take each item out of the cupboard, drawer, wardrobe, shelf - whatever you are sorting through. Look at it, touch it, turn it. Feel it.
  • Ask yourself these questions:  
  • 1. What purpose does this item serve?
    2. How often do I use it?
    3. Have I got something at home that serves the same purpose?
    4. Do I really like this item?
    5. If I get rid of this item, will it make my life difficult? 
  • 6. Will it make my life difficult if I keep it?  
  • Don't loose a sense of humour
I found sorting through and out incredibly difficult, especially in the beginning. I just wanted to keep everything. Because I felt so emotionally attached to so many things. Or because one day I might use it, maybe... But let's be serious: If you've not used something in 3 years, wouldn't you agree it is rather unlikely you will use it in the next 3 years? And that's 6 years of useless standing around, collecting dust and taking up space. And if this item is in good condition: why not donate it and somebody else can really get some use out of it?! And if you love it so much - ask yourself why. 

It's okay to keep sentimental things - just not a truckload full of it. Because that doesn't help anybody. You could take a picture of it. Or you make a painting. Or you hand it on to somebody who you really like and who can get some use out of it. And would that someone you are linking it with think any less of you if you don't keep the item? If you own a lot of things that are emotionally attached to feelings, people, situations - and they start cluttering your life... try to find out why. 

When I tidied up before we moved house last year, I had days where I just felt like ordering a skip and throwing nearly everything away. But that's also not the right way to go. Because in between so many weird things I also own useful things. I was trying to go the Middle Way - keeping what makes sense and getting rid of what is just cluttering my life. Because I didn't want to overdo it, when in doubt I kept it. Which filled quite a few boxes. Which didn't make me feel particularly happy. So when I unpacked the boxes again in the new place, I gave a away a lot of things again. If somethings doesn't have a designated purpose and I don't know when I will use it and I don't have positive feelings about it - why keep it? 

Another thing that really helps is "Assign every thing a place". No matter whether you prefer open storage (that can be so decorative, but is also hard to keep clean and tidy) or storage behind closed doors - everything has to have its place. If you can't find a place for an item, that is a clear indicator that there is no inner order. If you don't know what to do with it - why have it? If you have something else that serves the same purpose - why have both? I believe that outer order reflects inner order. Everything must have its place. And the floor, surfaces and the ceiling do not count. Otherwise space will be cluttered and taken over by things, that creep about and mess things up (ok, this sounds very much like my children, children are obviously excluded here, because they are not things, I'm talking about things only, like thing one and thing two in The Cat in the Hat, no, sorry, that's more like my children again...).

I'm trying not to loose my sense of humour over all this stuff and tidying up, but sometimes it's hard. :)

So anyway, accumulating stuff feels a bit like this, just different:

Der Süsse Brei, Brüder Grimm

And this is what my children feel like. :)

The Cat in the Hat


Back to the topic: Things and stuff aren't your life, YOU lead your life. Teapots don't reflect who you are, they are items that have to do their job. Own only what you need, love what you own and assign everything its place. Sometimes it helps to make mental "tags" on shelves. I made real ones with sellotape for the first few weeks in the new flat. That really helped, too. :)

Oh, and tidying up is not magic no matter with what method I've tried it. It is hard work, it's about being honest with yourself and also about self-discipline. To get to where you want to be.

Oh, and this is magic. And the way to go:




Maybe you'd like to read a bit more about what Minimalism is for me and why I don't consider myself a minimalist 

Or have a look at your wardrobe and think about how many clothes you really need?