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I don’t really need my Inflight Toiletries Ziplock Bag anymore. I used to fly a lot. All my university years were focused on saving enough money to travel to South Africa for summer breaks and before that I was living in the UK and flying to all sorts of fun locations with the super cheap flights available. Then last year I went on an epic journey with my fiancé to Colombia and then a whole bunch of other great countries which totalled many flights in a matter of weeks. The ziplock bag of goodies made all these flights more bearable.

I’ve realised that holding onto this bag equals holding onto that lifestyle. It’s like a little glimmer of hope in my vanity that I’ll be travelling the world again. But the reality is that lifestyle is not the lifestyle I now live. I’ve traded meeting new people and visiting new places for getting to know my own family and building my own home.

Of course I’ll still travel, but it will be a lot less frequently, and I think I’ll manage just fine without it.

Items: 208

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Currently the Simple Living Forum has a thread on; “If you only had 3…” Of course many of the women have written about if they only had three make up items what they’d be. Lots of foundation, mascara and lipgloss featured.

 So I had new resolve over the weekend to see if I could decide what my 3 makeup items would be.

 I had a play around and decided that foundation would be my first item. I had kinda given up wearing foundation especially since cycling to and from work but I realised it really does give a polished look.

 Next item was mascara, I like this because it draws attention to the eyes and best of all it doesn’t need reapplying during the day.

 But the third choice was much harder. I’ve already given up my lipsticks so that wasn’t it, I love lip pencils but they aren’t very versatile, then there are eyeshadows to highlight the ‘windows of the soul’ but it ended up as a toss-up between eyeliner and lip & cheek tint.

 I went with the tint because a girl needs some glow, especially one who spends 8 hours a day in an office under fluro lighting and only one hour a week dancing. Plus this is a cheat product; I use one tint compact on lips, cheeks and eyes – awesome.

 So for the experiment, and this is a bit lame, I did up one half of my face with each ‘look’ and guess what? No real difference. And it was at this point that I had a realisation. You know when people do the grade thing? Like she’s a 10/10 or a 7/10 or maybe even a 3/10 god forbid? Well, I think I get out of bed a 6 and after showering and blow drying my hair I probably get to a 7 and then once I put on some foundation I can make it to 8/10. But I realised no amount of eyeshadow, bronzer, lipstick etc was really going to move me ‘up’ much more. I think everyone has a plateau, it’s genetics. For example, I just dyed my hair from blond (for 27 years) to brunette, I had lunch with my Mum today and she didn’t even notice. This really made me realise that you just look how you look and some extra highlighting cream or lip pencil really isn’t going to do anything!

Anyway, in the end I decided that my three things will be;

1. Liquid foundation
2. Brown mascara
3. Pink lip and cheek tint
And today I left the house without bronzer for the first time in, my god like, 9 years! And guess what, not one person exclaimed – Oh my, are you sick? You look SO pale.

Items: 209

What would your 3 make up items be? Feel free to add your list to the comments section.

Distinguishing what is essential

I know the main mantra of decluttering is ‘keep only what you need or use’ the problem is I have developed a lot of needs. 

Already I can see the improvement in my life from doing this challenge. Last night I started a Latin Dance class! I first took dance classes at the beginning of 2008 (that was where I meet mi amor) unfortunately we didn’t keep going, ‘life got in the way’. From that time I had a pair of pretty black satin dance shoes that had never been worn. This challenge brought them out of the cupboard and reminded me that dance is really something I want in my life. I’m so happy.

Zen Habits wrote today about the difference between simplicity and minimalism. Pretty much, minimalism goes all the way. And I’d call living with only 100 things very minimal so I am taking his definition to heart:

…how is minimalism different? It’s basically an extension of simplicity — not only do you take things from complex to simple, but you try to get rid of anything that’s unnecessary. All but the essential.

So I’ve discovered on this journey that dance is essential, now I have to resift my list of 211 things and purge anything that’s unnecessary – find the gold – find my essentials.

Out:

– baking soda face scrub (I can always use the kitchen stash if I want an at-home spa treatment)

– brown thongs (I don’t need two pairs and Mum was desperate for these)

– a detox book and an exercise book (I still like these books; they pass the smile test, but a friend at work is keen to get healthy and I don’t use them i.e they’re not essential, so I’m gifting them to her.)

Items: 211

This week as been rainy and overcast, which is very unusual for Australia in summer and more unusual for my town which has been in drought for the last 15years. The rain is welcomed by the dry soils and welcomed by my solemn mood.

Being stuck in the low 200s with still 100+ possessions to part with I need inspiration. I’ve given myself a bit of breathing space from the challenge over the last few days, asking myself if I really want to continue, and the answer has been yes. Even with my rather low 214 things I still feel cramped and overwhelmed, I feel like I need to continue. So I’ve opened my eyes to inspiration and found;

Down to Earth, a beautiful blog written by an accomplished ‘simple liver’, Rhonda. This blog has a wonderful embracing community spirit, lots of good practical advice and what seems to be a love story – of two people living contently – running through it. It has reminded me of the bigger picture of a simple life. It has made me feel that while my challenge is useful for what I personally need, it is just one step in the long and fulfilling journey of Simple Living.

So with this in my mind I made a little time last night to work towards my goal. As Katy taught me a few days ago as The Non-Consumer Advocate (my favourite blog); No effort is ever wasted. So I approached my wardrobe with a big sigh and held clearly in my mind the end result as I pushed more and more unnecessary clothes into my large Indian duffle bag. This has definitely been the hardest part of the challenge so far.

Items: 214

Countdown: 39 days left

1st Dec – 31st Dec 09 = 31 days

1st Jan – 30th Jan 10 = 30 days

So today I have 39 days left and still 121 items to purge before I reach my goal.

I’m starting to wonder if I’ll actually make it. 100 things isn’t many in our western society, if I didn’t have to look pretty and dress well this would be so much easier! (horrifically I have over 30 beauty products!). I have tried the hippy thing in the past but for all its simplicity and wonderfulness it just wasn’t ‘me’ in the end. I like lip and cheek tint. I need deodorant. 

So today with only 39 days to go I’m feeling a bit stalemate. But this is also probably ‘the point’. This is the part where I will either drop out and this blog will become yet another abandoned site in the www. Or – I will force myself to make some serious lifestyle changes and actually achieve a lifestyle of minimal possession. But today, I don’t know which way I’ll go.

From Flicker

Many people talk about the one in – one out rule. But how many people really do it?  Especially as things come into our homes so easily. For example, a few days ago I donated blood with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Here in Australia our blood bank is a not for profit organisation and members of the public donate as a community service. It was only my second time and as the nurse was checking my medicals he handed me a key ring, my own Give Blood key ring with A+ on it. Most people love free things so he didn’t even think to ask me if I was interested, he just passed it over with a big smile. Thanks. I knew I’d never use it. I don’t even own keys (keyless car, only use remote to get into house etc) but at the same time I couldn’t just hand it back, that would have been rude. So another thing enters our lives. This also happens a lot with free cosmetic gifts and free things at trade shows. And of course things flood our homes during birthday and christmas celebrations. With the one-in-one-out rule, if something comes through your front door, something should also go out. Stella from SimpleLiving.net keeps a charity box by her front door for this.

Today I did my first one-in-one-out. I bought a new dress so I passed in a top. At the moment this is easy because I have an excess of clothing. I’m sure it will get much harder when I’m down to 100 and one new thing will mean parting with something pretty good. Of course I could just bend the rules, but the general theory is a good one to live by.

I also sent some farm working pants, a shirt and some other tops plus my new (but not well made) bikini to goodwill.

Items: 221

As I work my way through my list I’ve been more aware of the saying, “things own you”. The prospect of only having 100 personal items has made me want to care for these items more. They are precious enough to have on my list, so they’re precious enough to keep in excellent condition. I’ve noticed that my handbag is starting to unstitch, that I’ll need more cultures for my cheesemaking kit, that the tyres on my car need pumping up, that I should clean my satin ballet flats. Things need a little taking care of.

Just today and yesterday these are the activities I did to look after my things;

  • I went to the jewellers to get my antique engagement ring fixed (a pearl fell out)
  • I wiped down my bicycle and cleaned the lights
  • I washed my car and filled it up
  • I washed our clothes and hung them out to dry
  • I downloaded photos from my iPhone to make more space
  • I made some more face toner

It’s these little day-to-day maintainance activities, which are only a few minutes per item, that really start adding up when you have hundreds and hundreds of things. In our first world society, we have access to great luxuries. I see the six activities I did as essential, but really only one of them is – washing clothes. It’s something to keep in mind; how much time we spend on up keeping our things and our lifestyle.

Is your upkeep worth it?

Items: 226