Stuff

Some of you may think I have a hate on for stuff and to some degree you are right. I recently went to Australia on a vacation and traveling from Ottawa to Melbourne and back is a fairly simple complicated 33,000km journey involving checking, re-checking, re-re-checking luggage, endless queues, security checks and answering questions from various country’s border services after being awake for 30+ hours. The only reason I did not lose my passport, wallet, boarding passes, luggage slips and customs paperwork was because of dumb luck.

I recently did a purge of unnecessary items and it felt great. I am a bit of a minimalist *, but lately  I started collecting stuff and instead of bringing joy to me, the stuff began to feel like clutter so I pared down.

Compared to many people (The Minimalists, Colin Wright and Adam Baker) I am a rank amateur in the world of minimalism but I believe I have accomplished a comfortable balance of stuff that is interesting yet brings a the sense of calm to my home.

That being said, I am not a ruthless bitch when it comes to stuff. Really. To prove this point, here are some items I have kept over the years for sentimental reasons.

Ping pong paddle I used in grade 12 gym class. A high school friend and I were UNDEFEATED in doubles ping ping. We destroyed our opponents with ruthlessness of a lion pouncing on the wounded gazelle. Granted, it was not because we were ping pong prodigies but because everyone else sucked at ping pong.  But still, UNDEFEATED.

A cordless drill with a dead battery. The battery is built in and has run dry and cannot be replaced with another battery. My brother gave me this drill for my birthday 12 years ago and it was one of the best birthday gifts I ever got. I used it on a ton of projects around the house. It lives a happy retired life in my mini workshop. One day I will turn it into a book end.

My childhood softball glove. I got this softball glove in 1975 when my mother finally (sort of) gave up on making me a proper lady and allowed me to play softball in a neighborhood league. The glove does not really fit anymore but I keep it because the glove represents many life lessons. I played softball in this league for six years and only played on two winning teams. Lots of life lessons like:

  • Kids sign up for softball without first learning how to catch a ball.
  • It’s a LOT of fun to make a diving catch.
  • Sometimes your team will completely and utterly choke and give up 7 runs in the first inning and lose the championship game. I cried for an hour after the game.

A scrub brush my sister-in-law gave me. I have a scrub brush so in theory I do not need a second one, but this one is so adorable I cannot possibly use it to scrub pots and pans. It sits on a shelf for no reason except it’s fun to look at.

stuff1

While I can afford to move to a bigger place and fill it with stylish furniture, I chose to live in a small space with less stuff because it’s cheaper and, for me, less stressful. Not accumulating stuff, is one of the reasons I was able to afford to go to Australia. Not adding to the clutter is one of the reasons I’ll be able to afford to GO BACK to Australia.
*My friends and family members who helped me move 4 years ago might disagree as the move went on and on and on.

Purge

Today I did a purge of unnecessary items in my apartment. I live in a small space by choice and not necessity. I earn enough money to upgrade to a two bedroom apartment or buy a modest condo, but I choose to rent.

I am usually pretty ruthless about clutter because to me it’s visual noise. It makes me anxious. I grew up listening to stories about my family’s life during The Depression and I think that is why clutter was a constant growing up.  The lessons about The Depression were lost on me for a very long time because the recurring theme was never throw anything out.  Now as an adult living in a global economy, I’ve had the opportunity to  re-evaluate those lessons, and I now know the value of understanding that anyone can be a victim of an economic meltdown. It’s not about hanging onto things, but making sure that those things, in good and bad times, don’t create an unsustainable lifestyle.

Today I went through stuff and ditched and donated stuff that I was holding onto for no reason. I still have a lot of things that I keep that are silly sentimental items like a ping pong paddle I used in high school gym class, a puppet I got when I was 5 and a (now broken from overuse) cordless drill my brother gave me for my birthday years ago.

But there was one household item I was holding onto that was neither sentimental or necessary.

bankbooksTwelve bank books.

With online banking there is little reason to use bank books, let alone keep 12 full bank books. I hung on to them for years for only one reason. They were an archive of the time in my life when I went from  debt  to  no debt.

There is a story behind this but it’s a story so painful that I can barely talk to myself about it let alone post it for my seven fans. I think the presence of the bankbooks reminded me more of the dark times rather than the times when I got my shit together and erased my debt.

So tomorrow into the Shred It bin they go.

Malaise

ImageI have been experiencing a horrible case of malaise since returning from Australia.  I’ve never truly been anywhere really warm  hot in February so naturally one would think it’s because I had a slice of summer and then returned to frosty Canada  and THAT would be the cause of my gloomy mood.

It’s more than that.

I realized when I was away, I had a technology fast. I did have Facebook and email and my digital camera, but I was not immersed in technology all day. Technology accounted for about an hour a day.

The problem with so much technology is that it can take over your life. Technology is starting to take over my life.

My technology use is different  than the average user. I actually don’t use much technology, but instead I fix broken technology. Much of my day is dealing with:

a) broken technology
b) broken people trying to use technology
c) broken technology + broken people using technology.

It’s a recipe for exhaustion. Mentally and spiritually. One of the problems with technology is the human factor. Humans who use technology  become people  who exhibit  human characteristics like anger, frustration, impatience and self sabotage when trying to get help. Broken + broken = more broken.

I fear my sanity is on its way towards my own private broken.

While technology is supposed to bring people together, it’s driving me more and more into seclusion. I am turning into an angry, short-tempered, intolerant person who spends their leisure time surfing (yeah I know, irony) a website called Cabin Porn.

It’s time to change. But how to do it is not something one can Google to find the answer. What I need is time to reflect and patience to find the answer, something that technology cannot provide. I have to figure it out on my own.