A look back at 2017 and a look forward to 2018

As I sit in front of my desk on the eve of a new year it’s time to take a pause and reflect on what has come and gone and what lies ahead. I started this blog only nine weeks ago and am amazed that I have managed to keep it going this long as I notoriously have a short attention span. One of the things that has kept the ball rolling is that when I started I created a plan for the posts I was going to write up until the new year which helped take away a lot of the guesswork of what to post; It also helped me think about the direction I was going to take, both metaphorically and physically. Having spent a lifetime trying to avoid order I now find myself embracing it in a some what zealot like fashion and stumbling across GTD some years ago just fuelled the fire. But looking around the internet at what others have done the successful ones are usually the most organised, or maybe that’s just my perception. I’m just rambling now and can easily slip down a rabbit hole that I may not reappear from so maybe I will save this all for another day. But coming back round I do feel that having a plan will help me concentrate on next year.

This last year has seen progress although not as much as I had hoped for but any progress is good and I have achieved a lot in starting to dispose of the clutter. Starting off with a very cautious approach where I didn’t really want to to get rid of anything to by the end of the year everything must go attitude. Having got rid of a lot of things that I never thought I would do I find a feeling of lightening and freeing from the weight of sentiment and possession. One realises that really things don’t matter. Now don’t get me wrong there are many things that I treasure and wont dispose of as they are of value to me or to the family. A recent conversation with a far off relative made me think about the meaning of items handed down and the need to curate and conserve these items as an important record of history. I am not talking about the garden gnome collection of the boxes of dusty annuals in lofts but the things that have an antique value. For generations to come I feel that it is just as important to protect this history in the same way that we can look back now at our ancestors. In this day and age of digital what artefacts will be preserved? So I am trying to be careful about what I will pass on.

So far I have been accumulating a wealth of information to incorporate it into my own journey and there have been many people I have learnt from remotely without ever meeting. There are so many interesting stories to follow and although one is usually seeing a sanitised and editing form it still is amazing to see that anyone with a camera can tell a story that can be read around the world. The main problem is finding them as it feels increasingly like walking on a sandy beach looking for that penny one dropped. I have been inspired to start this blog from the people I have been following and some more directly than others. I have been inspired to think about goals and aspirations, challenged in the way I think and have found all sorts of motivational sources out there with just a click of a button. Much of next year is going to act on the info I have picked up from 2017 not just in adventures but also in personal development. Getting better at things requires consistency and that will be the mantra of 2018. For the first time in some years I am positive about the following year and am excited to see where the blog takes me. I will of course document the successes and failures and my ongoing thoughts to the wider world even if no one listens it is still a diary for me to look back on.

Wishing you the reader a very happy and healthy 2018.

Intentional Living – A guide to life not a blueprint

I have been gathering my thoughts about minimal living and minimalism over the last couple of years and trying to clarify what feels best for me. I certainly don’t want to live in a white room with only a chair in it nor do I want to be carrying around decades of detritus under the guise it has some kind of value. One of the hardest things to get ones head around is what is actually important. Now I know that there is a a huge spectrum of what that means to each person but guess there is a happy medium for all of us that sit somewhere in the middle of utter chaos and extreme simplicity.

Looking into this world of downsizing and minimalism it seems to attract a kind of people that have a somewhat nomadic way of life and I have no evidence to back this up but it would be interesting to see a study of the socio-economic demographics of this group. They are probably out there and I should have done some homework. But it would seem to me that this compact living allows for and encourages a more mobile life.

I guess what really switched me on to the whole ‘thing’ was stumbling across a podcast of the Minimalists around 2013. I was already aware of the tiny house movement and many other forms of smaller living before but I really started to explore the possibility of living life with less when an enforced move lead me to question the things that owned due to the cost of moving and storing them. Now as I said I really am not about ditching all the things that I hold dear for the sake of some doctrine that decrees that possessions are bad but I am trying to get to a point where the things I do own have meaning to me beyond any sentimental or monetary value, i.e. the cost of replacing them. Somethings are irreplaceable like Mum’s hand made quilt, the family photos of the parts of the family no longer with us, from a time when there were very records of people and places unlike now where a phone can hold a multitude of history. Everything can be replace expect me, or should I say people, so with that mantra most of the stuff strewn around me is mainly junk. However that then brings into questions the methods of disposing of it or recycling it. The old me would have just taken it all to the dump. I know they can strip out a load of stuff, pulp and generally reuse quite a bit now but even so the idea of land filling a bunch of plastic etc is not appealing and I would rather someone get some more use out of it that it end up in a landfill site. It’s not that long ago that “we” did naturally recycle and I have strong memories of being taken skip diving and dump hunting when I was a little boy. It was certainly a lot more acceptable then and my parents parents generation made do with even less.

So that led me on to how can I give it away? Easy, there are now more ways than ever to donate unused and unloved things and I have started asking anyone in my immediate social sphere if I can give it away. On top of that I have started to Freecycle things too, yes there are other sites available but thats the one I ran into first. Once you get into the swing of thinning out and overcoming the anxiety of not having more. It is amazing the freeing feeling one gets when the layers of lifes detritus are lifted away and slowly one feels like one can breath again not weighed down both psychically and metaphorically crap. The act of giving is also a affirming experience and although I have made minimal efforts on that front through my life I feel that this is something I want to continue. Giving back I believe is the phrase. Someone once said something about “doing something for nothing is good for the soul” and I would heartily agree. What does all of this have to do with intentional living? Well in my view it is bound up in the premise of trying to live intentionally. What does that really mean? we hear so much about trying to live this ways in its many guises but for me I think it just boils down to thinking about the consequences of my decisions and actions when it comes to pretty much any avenue of life not just the things we buy. I was pointed to this post over on twitter and it really struck a cord with how I see and think of all ‘this’. It’s not about a badge or being of a clan it just living a happier life.

I’m not sure to about becoming a fully paid up member to the minimalist way of life as I like to pick and choose far too much but I have certainly benefited mentally from the idea that less is more. I guess we all do this in our own ways but it is very interesting to see others view points and learning about these patterns is fascinating to me. I also realise that the things that I once thought I “needed” are really just a distraction from working out what is important in life and to me. If only I had worked this out sooner. But like the cliché `says hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Now is the time to jettison the junk. Another lot has just sold on the famous auction site and more to go on. I really am getting into the ebaying thing and am thinking what happens when my junk comes to an end? I need to find more hahaha! But thats another thing. I am also taking sporadic pictures to remind me how I am doing with the offloading and as a reminder for the future me not to return to the bad ol’ ways. But progress is starting to get some momentum and one of the nice offshoots of selling the clutter is that when I am ready to by something new I really need, I know I will be paying cash for it, no credit will have been sought and that is such a great feeling. One that I think a lot of people have long forgotten.

Till next time..