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Posts Tagged ‘possessions’

I’m an artist. I know it, I can feel it in my bones.

My soft spot is paintings, especially colourful acrylic ones and my favourite styles are contemporary Australian aboriginal and Cuban naïve style. (See below)

When I was studying for my business degree in Melbourne, Australia, I was luckily enough to work for  Sotheby’s International, one of the world’s premium art auction houses. There my eye quickly became tuned to beautiful pieces and excellent technique.

My eye also quickly picked up that I sux as a painter, I can’t really put it any more eloquently than that. This is unfortunate but its just the way it is. I guess I could practice for years until I can produce something of quality but the journey would be a painful one. I learnt to see the freedom and joy of the artist visible in the brushstrokes of their work, I learnt to see when a painting was forced or painted without soul (often occurs when an artist keeps repainting a popular work). It was a hard lesson, but then I came to see art in many other mediums; gardening, sewing, cooking the list is endless when it is work with passion and I opened my eyes to other pursuits;

One of these is cheese making, another is Spanish.

My 100 thing list has made me see that these passions are important enough to rank high on the list, but like most people, I often don’t make time for them. But what is life about if not for doing the things you love? Why own these things if I’m not going to use them, and use them often? So this morning when I woke up I raced to the kitchen and make two batches of Italian Ricotta cheese. Watching the milk curdle into whey is astonding – it’s magic. It makes me happy to create something, and then it makes me happier still when I get to eat it.

So I’ve decided to make space (and free up the guilt of not using these things) by gifting my paint sets and paint brushes to my Mum. She has just taken some art classes while on holiday in Cyprus and loves it. Again, it feels great that these resources are going to someone who wants and needs them and not sitting in my cupboard.

What hobbies are you holding onto that don’t suit your current lifestyle? How can you free up your life (physical and mental) so you have space for the things you truly are passionate about?

Items: 293

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One annoying thing I owned was a financial folder from my financial planner. Blue leather-bound with an engraved name plaque on the front and the year engraved on the spine. I can see the idea is for clients to line these folders up in a regal line along the shelf of a study bookcase. It is also a great marketing tool to make people feel better about spending $1500 on an annual service fee when you get a ‘free’ folder. Obviously I abide this kind of thing. What a waste of resources.

So today as part of my mini challenge to break into the 200 list zone I threw out the folder. Not ideal as it will go to landfill, but better than taking up space in my home. I have taken out the paper work to scan and keep as an electronic file (online backup) for reference. I will then shred the original.

I have cancelled my annual reviews with this financial advisor, and in the future when I do go for meetings I’ll ask them to hold the ‘glamour file’ and just show me the presentation on the overhead projector (which they already do) and email me the file in soft form.

Also out – 2 childhood books which I passed on to my sister.

Items: 397 (I had accidently listed the finance folder twice in my 100 thing list so it has reduced by a total of 4)

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I’m finding the hardest part of this challenge is getting the things out of my house. It hasn’t been too difficult choosing items that should or should not make the final 100 list but finding new homes for the things that don’t cut it is hard.

I’ve discovered its even harder because I have the following traits; I care about the environment so I don’t just want to send stuff to the tip, nor do I want to create more consumption my re purchasing things in the future that I already own. I’m frugal, so I get uncomfortable about parting with things I haven’t gotten value for money with – like the part of shoes I’ve only worn once. Also, I’m too tight just to give it all to goodwill. My friend who moved cities a few weeks ago just sent boxes and boxes of things to St Vinnies, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe in the last few days of this challenge I’ll get desperate and finally give it all away for free. It really is a nice thing to do.  Finally, I’m lazy. Because I ‘can’t’ giveaway the stuff to goodwill I now have to try and sell it. I know I should be taking photos of everything and putting it on eBay, thereby making some cash and finding a good home for my things. But I keep procrastinating. Is it really worth the effort to take photos of all my old necklace pendants and upload them online?

The options I have to get rid of my possessions include (in order from easiest);

  • Recycling bin
  • Rubbish bin
  • Goodwill bin
  • Friends and family giveaway
  • Friends and family regift
  • Secondhand stores
  • Ebay

I’ve used the first five strategies and I’m planning to use a second-hand store to sell some clothes, shoes, bags etc soon.

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It kind of bugs me to have excess stuff. I guess you could even say it overwhelms me. I don’t know if it’s from guilt or a need to be organised. But when I see a dress discarded at the back of my wardrobe, or an old Christmas card from a loved one in a draw or a pair of flippers and a tennis racket in the garage and a basket of tangled necklaces on my dresser, I feel a bit suffocated. Seeing these things day in and day out but not using them, but not being able to let them go, is claustrophobic.

You know the saying: “You don’t own things, they own you”? Well I never got it, it seemed a bit stupid. But then one day I bought a car, and after that a 3m long dining table, and then, and then, and then. Before I knew it I owned all these wonderful things, but each wonderful thing needs a little love and care. And then, somehow it goes from love-at-first site in a shop to the responsibility of insuring, upkeep and making time to use these wonderful things. Also, things hold you in one place. Want to live in Africa for a year? What about all my stuff? You get the picture.

It was about the time of all this accumulation that  I was lying on the couch at my grandparents house, staring up at the wall of books I had always admired. When it hit me that all these books in a decade would be old. Not vintage or special edition old. Just old and dusty and mostly unloved. At that time I had a growing collection, a little library of my very own.

Now I have a library card and that was the beginning of my journey towards a more simply lifestyle, a lifestyle with fewer possessions. A lifestyle where less things own me.

I hope this 100 day challenge brings me to the simple lifestyle I want. I want clarity over the possessions I own and the benefit they give my life. And I look forward to the peace, contentment and freedom this will bring.

To see how I’m going visit my 100 thing list.

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