Peanuts of biblical proportions…

I really dislike hypocrisy, and this strip tackles it really well:

peanuts

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Boys will be boys!

“Boys will be boys.” Have you ever said this? I know I have.

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And have you ever realised how degrading it is to say that?

Look, I hate it when someone calls me a “girl”. I’m a woman. I’ve had a woman’s life for the last thirty years, I’ve two kids, I’ve been married. I’m emphatically not a “girl”.

Worse still, a “good girl”. Call me a “good girl” and it’ll really annoy me!

pow

So how can it ever be okay to call a grown man a “boy” and belittle his achievements in the same way?

Our world needs women. And men. Not boys. I’m not saying that we can’t be childlike at times, or playful. I’m not saying we can’t have our toys, or be fun. But I am saying that we need our adults, with our adult viewpoints and experience and responsibilities, more than ever.

The pic at the top of this article is degrading to both men and women. On the one hand, it supports the myth that only women can manage home duties. On the other, it degrades the ability of men to care for a home and family. Neither is true.

I know incredible single dads as well as amazing dads who are married. My own ex-husband is a wonderful parent, and I’d have no doubt at all in his ability to care for our kids on his own for an extended period should he have to.

Men from all walks of life can do these things. These are adult responsibilities for an adult to do, not a child.

Likewise, women are equally capable of holding down a part-time job or a high-powered career, whichever we choose. These abilities are not tied to which genitals we possess.

It’s not the least bit empowering to women to suggest that men cannot do tasks traditionally seen as “womens”, therefore women must do them. Instead, it’s actually a sneaky undermining of the equality that we seek, to the disadvantage of everyone.

Cinderella shoes: Why I, in my oversized body, said FUCK IT to the world

I’m a big woman. Not fat, not wobbly (which would be an entirely different sin of its own).

Just big.

I’m nearly six feet tall. I’m broad-shouldered, big-boned, and long-limbed.

There was absolutely no point in my life that I was not going to be large. Genetics decided that for me.

I take up space, which apparently in our society is a crime worthy of punishment if you’re a woman.

Because, in case you hadn’t noticed, we women are supposed to be small. Underweight, taking up no space, not making any noise or having any opinions. We’re supposed to be pretty, according to a very narrow definition of pretty.

Women are not supposed to eat.
Women are not supposed to eat.

The first time I was told I was too tall I was about 12. A guy I liked said I would be pretty if I wasn’t so huge. I was about an inch taller than him. We got on well as friends but he told me he couldn’t be seen with a girl who was taller than him.

Two years later my father started calling me “buffalo butt” and laughing at the “joke” because he thought he was a wit. I was medically underweight at the time. I started my first diet about then.

When you’re meant to be big, and your frame and your bones are big, and your feet are fast getting up to size 11, there is no diet in the world that will make you smaller.

My best friend said she was embarrassed when we went shoe shopping and the shop had nothing to fit me. My mother kept saying I should be more ladylike – whatever that meant.

I think it meant “less like me”. I think it meant less everything to do with me. Less of me.

I started to realise that’s what the world wants. It wasn’t just me either, with all my size. It wasn’t personal, even though it hurt like hell.

Women were supposed to be less than men. Not just less in our achievements and our abilities, but in our size, our space that we control, our earnings, our ideas, our voices. Everything.

We were supposed to be “assistants”, not the person being assisted.
We were nurses, not doctors.
We were teachers, not Principals – unless of a primary school or kindergarten.
We were secretaries, not the boss.
We were the scenery – the eye candy – in the movies.

Not the hero.

Nothing seems to have changed. We're still the "eye candy" and the "romatic interest".
Nothing seems to have changed. We’re still the “eye candy” and the “romatic interest”.

At school I remember asking about being an engineer, and being told, “Oh, you don’t want to do that! and being steered towards a career as a nurse or a teacher. I didn’t fancy cleaning, so I opted for teaching.

There weren’t many “acceptable” options for girls to choose from, after all.

Women live in a smaller world, and we’re supposed to be smaller to fit into it. But as I grew older, something clicked. I guess I started wondering what happens when a person demands a bigger world? What happens when we’re too big for the boundaries others set for us?

I sometimes wonder if I would be the same person today if I hadn’t been born too big to fit the role society wanted me to fit?

If I’d been born the “right” size, looked the “right” way, would I have challenged the role that I couldn’t fill?

Those Cinderella shoes were never going to fit me. So I created a new fairytale with myself as its champion. Would I have done so had the glass slipper fit?

cinderella

I don’t know. I don’t have answers. But I know one thing: I, in my oversized body, said Fuck It to the world.

The world as it was didn’t fit me, so I created a new world that suits me better. That I liked better.

And, as I look around, the Ugly Sisters – all of us who never, ever could fit the shoes we were told to wear – we are all creating our own worlds, side by side.

    They told me I was too big, so I used my height and strength as an asset and began to think of myself as an amazon, proud and strong, with a heritage that goes back thousands of years.

    They told me boys were smarter than girls, so I got myself a few degrees at University.

    They told me computers were for boys (I wasn’t allowed to touch my brother’s computer when it was bought for him, in case I – less than two years his junior and a teen at the time – “broke it”). So I created the largest online community for Pagans in Australia at the time of its creation, became a WebMistress, ran webpages and online forums, and learned my way around the internet, before taking on a Software Engineering degree.

    They told me I couldn’t fight because I was a girl, so I joined the Army.

    They told me sport was for boys and that I sucked at it, so I went to the State Championships in rowing.

    They told me girls were weak, so I became a bodybuilder and weightlifter.

    They told me girls couldn’t be Leaders, so I became a Leader of several communities, transforming them and removing previous corrupt leaderships.

    They told me I couldn’t write music, so I became a choral composer whose works have been performed worldwide.

    They told me girls couldn’t change the world, so I wrote stories with new worlds in them.

Be the change you want to see in the world

I’m just an ordinary woman, with no special abilities. Except I don’t believe in boundaries and rules, and I don’t believe in Impossible.

Maybe that’s what has made my world so amazing? Because only by believing in the impossible can we make it happen.

Women can do anything.
Too long we’ve been told to keep our horizons near, and our world small.
Too often we’ve believed it when we’ve been told what we supposedly can’t do.
The combination of being told to keep ourselves small and being told to appease others is deadly.

It’s time we all said Fuck It to the world, and made some noise. Because, by doing so, we might just discover who we truly are.

Does God care about gender? Transgender people and the Divine

Everyone is talking about Bruce Jenner at the moment. So here’s an interesting thought: does God – or do the Gods – care about gender?

Do our souls – if we have them – have genders?

You know, this never really occurred to me until recently. I remember reading somewhere that hardly anyone has a transgendered friend, and it’s something that few people connect with.

I must be different, because I can’t count the number of transgendered friends I have on one hand – I think I have eight or nine, last time I stopped to think about it.

The thing that strikes me most about people who transition is how little it affects who they are, to we people on the outside. To me, perhaps the most amazing feature of the whole process is how much they remain the same. They’re still the same people.

I remember being worried, when my friends have transitioned, that I’d lose my friends. But my friends have remained the same people inside. Their souls, if that’s the right word for it, have remained the same.

I suppose it’s naive to expect that gender should make such a huge difference, but before I knew people who had become male when they’d been female before, or female when they’d become male, I guess I’d expected their innate personality – the person they are inside – to change dramatically. It didn’t; it hasn’t.

So if it doesn’t matter to me, does it matter to the Gods?

A Goddess for everyone across the spectrum of gender

My patron Goddess is Aphrodite. Of all Goddesses she’s one to have a little fun with gender. She’s the Goddess of switching forms, of hermaphrodites and androgyny, and of playing games with gender roles.

A lot of people, when they think of Aphrodite, imagine this very, very feminine Goddess. But they forget that Aphrodite is also the Goddess who was spawned, so the legend goes, from the sea foam created by the castrated genitalia of Uranus, and her children include Hermaphroditus. She governs gender fluidity and transition, and is accepting of transition and non-traditional gender roles. The Gods aren’t necessarily easy to categorize.

Looks can be deceiving

Nor are people easy to categorize. Bruce Jenner, of all people, was portrayed as the stereotypical All-American male – the perfect athlete, the good-looking man who every man wanted as his friend and for his daughter as a partner. He was incredibly desirable and high-profile. Could anyone have seen this coming?

According to Jenner, it’s been here inside him all his life – inside him, waiting to come out. He started taking female hormones in the 1980s, 30 years ago. This isn’t a new thing for him.

That’s something you hear, again and again, from people who transition. The pressures to remain the gender they were born into are incredibly strong, and it is only once the pain of remaining who they are becomes too intense that they break the chains and push for the freedom to become themselves. Transitioning isn’t a kick, or a fad: it’s something they must do, and have needed to do for many years. It’s only society that has held them back.

We are all in transition

It’s both an indictment and praise to our societies that people feel such pressure to remain hidden for so long, yet are finally able to become who they feel they are meant to be. I think we’re societies in transition too, perhaps. But the signs are good that we’re becoming more tolerant, more accepting, and more positive for transgendered people.

We are transitioning too: we are learning, as a society, to be kind, open-minded, and to love unconditionally.

Do the Gods care? Personal perspectives

So – do our souls have gender? Do the Gods care? Will the transgendered be judged? Does any of it matter, apart from the happiness of the individual?

Or are the Gods, as the ancient Greeks might imagine, just playing games with us all, throwing the dice, making life more difficult for some than for others?

As a woman who, I suppose, is very gender-neutral, I’ve never felt the need to be a man. I can’t imagine what it is like. Yet I certainly fit more of a male stereotype than a female. I don’t own any skirts or dresses – at all. I wear a lot of men’s clothes. I’m a bodybuilder and weightlifter, spent time in the army, own a farm, castrate sheep and do most of the yard work around the property, work in tech, have tertiary experience in software engineering…the list goes on.

I can’t think of anything worse than knitting or sewing or quilting or wearing frilly clothes. But do I want to be a man? No. I’m just me. Somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum, I guess. I don’t feel confined by any roles. Why should I be? But my experiences are different to those of others. I have no right to judge. My right is that of support, and of friend.

If I have a soul, it’s not pink or blue. It’s probably orange, or yellow, or maybe lime green. I’m not really into the concept of souls anyway, but if the Gods care about gender, then I believe it’s a very small part of what makes a person worthwhile.

So my view is, if a person needs to transition to be complete and whole and happy, then let them. Support them. They’ll still be the same person inside. Because they always were that same person inside.

We just couldn’t see it.

Redefining marriage: Eternity or happiness?

Sometimes divorce is a good thing. And sometimes it doesn’t happen like you see in the movies.

My husband of 17 years and I are divorcing. There are no plates being hurled at each other, no tantrums, and very few harsh words. We’re not bitter, we’ve worked through the anger and the grief, and it is time to move on.

We’ve done over two years of counselling, and we’ve told our parents, our children and a few close friends. Gradually the word will get out.

It feels odd. I feel almost dreamlike at times. Marriage for us had become a habit.

When I married him, I honestly believed it would be until death. I also believed that any marriage that wasn’t forever was a failure. I know differently now.

I now view our marriage, even though it has ended, as a successful marriage.

We were happy through most of it.
We have two amazing kids.
We were good partners for each other.
We supported each other.
And we’re now going our own ways amicably.
This is joint decision.
It is what is best for both of us.
We are in agreement.
We will continue to co-parent, even though we’re separating.
I trust that he has the best interests of our kids at heart.
I trust him to be fair and honest with me in his dealings.
He trusts me to be fair and honest in my dealings with him.
We are good friends.

Redefining marriage

So what makes a marriage successful? Is it just the “till death do us part” bit? Or is it something else?

I think we need to re-assess what it means for a marriage to be successful. We must redefine it, because our current definitions, quite frankly, are making people miserable. They don’t work for a lot of people, they place unrealistic expectations on couples, and they encourage couples to stay together in situations where they would very much be better off apart.

The fact is, sometimes sticking together no matter what isn’t always the best decision.

Think about it:

  • Is a marriage successful if two people stick it out in absolute misery until death, simply because society tells them they must?
  • Is a marriage successful if a couple despise each other but stay together in a sham relationship “for the kids” when everyone around them knows the whole thing is a fake?
  • Is a marriage successful if two people stay together for no other reason than habit?
  • Is a marriage successful if two people stay together simply because they are afraid to leave? Afraid of the unknown? Of the “what if…”? Is fear a good or healthy reason for a couple to be together?
  • Is a marriage successful if it lasts a lifetime but one or both members physically or emotionally abuse each other?
  • Is a marriage successful if one or both members are cheating on the other, sleeping around, lying to their partner, yet remaining married?


I’d argue that none of the above constitute success.

If that’s how we measure “success” in our society, then society has it wrong.
If that’s the best society can do, then it’s not good enough for us.

I believe my marriage was successful because we were both strong enough and brave enough to say “Now is the time for us to end this.”
We were willing to be honest with each other.
We didn’t cheat, we didn’t lie, we didn’t sleep around behind the other’s back while pretending everything was rosy.

Instead, we saw that what we had wasn’t working, and we tried to fix it. And when we realised it couldn’t be fixed, we had the strength and honesty to say, let it go.

This is a frightening time for me. It probably is for him too. I don’t know what my life will be in a year from now, in ten years from now. Separating takes away all certainty. The thought of being a single mother in her forties is scary.

I’m scared but I will face the future with what strength I have.

strength

Why are we moving on? I can only speak for myself. I’m moving on because I have to believe that I can bring joy into someone’s life, and that someone can bring joy into mine. Life is too short to merely exist. I want my life to be rich, and full of purpose and deep satisfaction.

Maybe I’ll fail to achieve what I want, but at the end of my life if I have failed to fly, I don’t want to have failed because I was afraid to spread my wings.

bird

Strange weather…and a worried Priestess…

I’m going to talk about climate change. I guess if you’re one of those who thinks climate change is a phony stunt put on by scientists for a reason nobody can quite explain, then this post isn’t for you.


I’ve been worried about the weather.

This year is the same as last year. We had a very early warm Spring. The bulbs were up and out ridiculously early – almost a month and a half ahead of time – and apparently birds were about that much ahead of time in their nesting behaviour.

It’s not just here in New Zealand that this strange stuff was going on. Over in England, on the other side of the world from us, frogs have been spawning months ahead of time, and garden plants are budding, tricked by the unseasonal weather into thinking Spring is here.

But it isn’t. Over there it’s autumn right now.

Frogs are spawning in the UK's late autumn. Photo from the Daily Mail.
Frogs are spawning in the UK’s late autumn. Photo from the Daily Mail.

What happened next after our incredibly warm early Spring, in which we were wearing t-shirts and shorts and everything began blooming, was even stranger. The weather turned bad abruptly. For the last two months we’ve been back in very cold weather again, with fierce storms, virtually non-stop rain, and hail storms on more days than I care to count (every day this week except Tuesday, and most days last week).

The storms have blown the blossom off the trees, and the young leaves are struggling to gain a hold. We’ve lost trees, and power lines have gone down all around.

Farmers are at their wits end, wondering when to cut hay for the winter – with so much rain practically every day, the grass is too wet, and if it is cut and bailed up it will rot. So it continues to grow.

Things may be very difficult next winter if the grass isn’t dry enough to cut. The animals rely on it to get through winter when nothing grows. If there isn’t enough food in storage, they’ll starve or have to be culled.

Seeing the visible effects of climate uncertainty

As someone who lives on a farm, and as a Pagan, I feel very connected to all this.

When I see the daffodil bulbs coming up before midwinter, I don’t have to guess that something is wrong: I can see it is.

I live in Dunedin, in the south island of New Zealand, where it is cold. Some people here laugh and say if it is going to get warmer, well, bring it on!

But what is happening is chaotic; unpredictable. We get ridiculously warm early Springs and late Autumns that convince the animals and plants it’s time to breed and grow. Then things turn back to ice and hail, and everything dies in the frost.

This isn’t healthy warmth. This is a challenge that nature is not equipped to deal with, brought on by us.

I know I can’t do anything significant about all of this, and you might say if one person can’t make a difference what’s the point of worrying? But what I can do is talk about the changes I’m seeing, and express the genuine fear I’m feeling inside.

This isn’t something that we should be debating and laughing about. This is something real, and we need to make widespread changes to the way we all live in order to deal with it. Changing a light globe or two won’t cut it. I’m convinced that downsizing and simplifying our lives, and moving altogether away from consumer culture is the only way forward.

To what? Something better, I think. Because – let’s face it – consumer culture, working 50 hours a week, being in lifelong debt, buying cheap plastic crap made by people in slave conditions and envying the Joneses aren’t all great cultural wonders I particularly want to keep for eternity anyway. Do you?

Thanks for reading and, if you can, spare a thought for those poor little English frogs. I think they’ll be in for a rough time when the weather turns.

2_6_2010_frozenrose

Paganism and simplicity

When a lot of Pagans start out, they get a bit of the “gear witch” vibe about them.

They buy stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff.

In the Pagan community, there’s so much stuff to be had, so many fabulous tools and toys. It can all be a bit overwhelming. And if you like to spend and possess and have lovely things, it can be real easy to start collecting a lot of stuff.

I went through this, and a lot of my friends did too. Tarot sounds interesting, so you collect a few tarot decks plus some books on the subject. Runes sound great too, so before you know it you have a few sets of rune stones and some books about them too.

You figure you must have a Wand (everyone knows a you’re not a Real Pagan[TM] unless you have a Wand!!!) and you must have a Blade (because they’re cool too, and a Blade has different energy).

Before you know it, you’re eyeing off those fancy swords online and wondering which you can afford. Or how many. Maybe a collection. Yeah…a collection would be great.

It all adds up, and builds up, and when you add the candles and bells and Tibetan singing bowls and God and Goddess figurines and chalices and cauldrons to the collection, no wonder so many Pagans are drowning in stuff! Plus the clothes – you feel like, as a newbie, the right ritual robes and capes will give you pagan “street cred”.

So you buy, buy, buy.

It’s all very addictive. And very, very easy to do.

And very, very wrong.

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Paganism comes from within

All the stuff in the world won’t make a person a Pagan. Which is a good thing. We’re a bit selective like that! Likewise, I’d argue that any path that encourages you to buy and own lots of stuff is a fool’s path.

You’ll find lots of Pagans with lots of fancy stuff all around the world…and they’re usually the silliest Pagans of the lot. They’ve forgotten that the Divine is immanent. Within us. It can’t be bought or sold.

The more stuff you collect, the harder it is to focus on the inner self, your connection with the Divine, and what really matters. Fancy stuff is just a temptation; a lure. A diversion from the truth.

A diversion from the truth.

prince

We all know that of course. It’s written clearly in one of the most valued early texts in modern Paganism, which is the Charge of the Goddess:

    “…If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.

    For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

You won’t find Paganism in stuff, and you certainly won’t find Divinity. All the tools, and toys, and robes are just props.

You could even call them diversions for the weak-minded. They help set the scene for those who can’t focus without them. They hold no real power by themselves. Only living matter can do that: living energy.

That’s what we Pagans do: channel energy; create energy; focus energy. A wand in the end is just a stick. A blade in the end is just a hunk of metal. This is the real truth. Connection to the Divine comes from within, not from these lifeless things.

If you want to find the Divine, get rid of everything that isn’t essential. Then you will find what you truly seek.

aphrodite4

Preparing your online estate for your death…

I’ve been busy clearing out my online clutter…and thinking about how to organise it all not just for now, but in case the worst happens.

I got my first email address when I was 19, waaaaay back in 1988, when the internet was just in its infancy. My first real website dated from 1995, from memory. I’ve been online a long time.

Since then I’ve moderated countless forums, yahoo groups (remember those?), you name it…and I’ve left a huge trail behind me in my wake.

Over time I learned the benefit of controlling my online identity, of course, and of clearing up after myself, but I still needed to do a big tidy up of my online presence, as I’m now heading back to work and I won’t have time to deal with a lot of it any more.

So over the last few days I’ve been closing down old defunct blogs, archiving old articles, cleaning up folders of digital photographs dating back decades (we bought our first digital camera in 1998), and generally clearing up.

It’s been quite a job.

A lot of the time people don’t think of our online presence as clutter. But it is. One of the big problems people are starting to face is dealing with online content after the death of loved ones.

Facebook in particular has been…difficult in releasing pages to relatives and partners, and they’re not alone. Some companies simply refuse to hand over any account without a password.

And a lot of partners and relatives simply don’t know what their loves ones even have online, let alone how to access it all or what their loved ones would want them to do with it all in the event of death.

Planning ahead: Creating an “in the event of” journal

I’m pretty organised, but not as well as I’d like to be. My husband knows most of my passwords, and could probably get in to most of my accounts. However, he probably wouldn’t know what my wishes were regarding their closure or continuance.

So…I’m going to write down my passwords in my paper journal I keep in my bedside drawer, together with a list of what and where everything is.

Yes, I know we’re all told this is bad form. Writing down passwords! Shock! Horror! But think about it for a moment. Unless there is money involved that the password accounts can access, writing down account details in a safe place is far more secure than writing them online.

By writing down what accounts (online diaries, facebook accounts, blogs etc.) you have, where they are, your usernames and your passwords for the accounts (making sure you keep the password information up to date), together with clear instructions of how you would like the accounts handled should anything happen to you, you are saving the people you care about a massive headache.

They can then tackle each account when they are ready, follow your instructions, and the job is done. Easy. If you wish, you can even write a short piece in advance that you’d like them to post in the event of your death. It’s up to you.

I think this makes sense. I’d like my readers to be informed if anything happened to me. I like loose ends to be closed. And I like to think it is kinder to give our relatives a more orderly estate to deal with than a headache and a disaster area, right when they are grieving.

It’s thoughtful to be organised, even though it sounds grisly.

These are just my views on the matter, of course. But when I think of friends who have died recently, and the chaos and cleanup they have left behind for their partners, I know it is the right path for me. I don’t want my loved ones to curse me when I’m gone, because I was too thoughtless to get things sorted while I was alive.

What do you think?

graveyard

Simplicity, me and Project 333…

I’ve started doing Project 333.

Project 333 is a minimalist wardrobe project. In its own words,

“Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.”

You start by going through your entire wardrobe. For me, that was a lot – about 45 coathagers full, plus five full drawers in a tallboy, plus about 12 pairs of shoes.

You choose 33 items (or less) that fit you and your current lifestyle and season, and box the rest and seal them, then put them out of sight.

Then you work with those 33 items for the next three months.

The 33 items includes: raincoats, jackets, shoes, belts, accesories etc. It does not include nightwear, gym wear (but you can only wear gym wear to the gym) and “lounge wear” (which I take to mean home-only clothing).

What I found

First of all, I found a whole lot of clothes in my wardrobe that I haven’t worn in ages. There were some that I was emotionally attached to, but still haven’t worn in years. I loved the image of myself in those clothes, and the memories I had of myself wearing them, but they didn’t fit who I am here and now any more.

Or the clothes simply didn’t fit any more. There was a lot of that. This has been a rough year emotionally for me, and I’m currently weighing in at my heaviest ever – about 20 kgs up on my usual weight.

Then there were the clothes I’d bought when shopping with friends. I’ve realised now that shopping with friends is a bad idea. They influence me, and I’m tempted to buy things that they like on me but that I won’t necessarily wear.

Then there were the accessories. Fashion magazines tell us to accesorize, but the truth is, I’m a basic kind of woman. Fashion might want us to wear scarves, pins, hats, gloves…but I don’t feel comfortable in them. I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. Always have been, probably always will be.

What I discovered about myself

I’ve always found style hard. I always thought others had it, and I didn’t. But clearing away the clutter – which was the stuff I didn’t wear, won’t wear, haven’t worn, and will never wear despite fashion telling me I should – helped me realise the blatantly obvious.

I do have a style. My style is jeans, funky vintage shirts, leather jackets, cool t-shirts with clever sayings on them, knee high riding boots…yes, I definitely have a style. It was just lost beneath all the stuff I felt I was supposed to have to match other people’s goals for me.

I also discovered I don’t need many clothes. The clothes I love – and that I wear over and over – aren’t very numerous.
I wear about four shirts constantly.
I wear the same number of t-shirts over and over.
I live in one pair of riding boots practically every day.
And I have two summer dresses – no more – that I love.

My decluttered wardrobe. Everything is wearable, suits me, and fits.
My decluttered wardrobe. Everything is wearable, suits me, and fits.

This isn’t simplicity, it’s clarity

What I’m finding is that Project 333 is not a project in simplicity for me, althought I suppose it is. It’s a project in clarity. It’s helping me see who I am, more clearly.

By clearing away the clutter, I’m able to see what I like and don’t like more clearly, more directly. I don’t have to guess at who I am and what I like, because when I reduce myself to the necessities, it all becomes crystal clear.

Boxes of stuff I don’t need or want

And all that stuff in boxes? Well, at the end of three months, I do an assessment of what I’ve been wearing, cull anything I didn’t wear, go through the boxes and grab anything I want to wear – taking the number up to no more than 33 – and the process starts over.

Feeling better

I can find everything I need. Everything fits. Everything is something I love and want to wear. I’m feeling better. If this is minimalism, why didn’t I do this years ago?

Maybe sometimes we lose the truth among the clutter.

The ME project: grokking minimalism

I’ve always been attracted to minimalism.

mini

I’m sure many of my friends, having visited my home, would never believe me.

Being attracted to it doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with it. Sure, you see people online who literally have 100 possessions, or own one single red chair or whatever, but I have kids! They have toys! Lego! Stuff!

That single red chair person could never be me.

It was only when I read the post on Raptitude titled I don’t want any more stuff, only things that I grokked minimalism for the first time.

That lightglobe came on over my head.

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Here’s how minimalism really works

Minimalism isn’t a race. It’s not a competition. It’s not “she who owns the least, wins.”

We all have possessions. Most of us have too many. But all our possessions can be easily classified into two categories:

Things: Useful items that we use, which have a purpose, or an intrinsic value or beauty that we use and appreciate regularly. Items we take time over. Items that belong in our lives daily, or at least weekly.

Stuff: Purposeless items that we do not use, which do not have an immediate use to us, which may be pretty but do not “sing to our soul”. Items we do not have on display, which do not have a keeping-place or home, which detract from our life, and take up time, space or effort. Items we seldom or never use.

The key to minimalism isn’t about reducing to less than your neighbour has, or some guy or woman on a blog somewhere claims to have.

The key to minimalism is eliminating the stuff, and having only things in your life, thereby enriching it.

“But maybe I’ll use it someday…maybe…”

My life was filled with “maybe” stuff. Things that were “too good” to throw away or pass on, and items that I might use, or would surely use…some time soon.

They’re stuff. They’re not things.

Minimalism is also about living in the present. Planning for the future is wise, depending on how you plan. So safety mechanisms to prepare for emergencies is good, but 27 cans of soup for the Zombie Apocalypse, probably not so much. Being prudent and having good judgement is part of the picture too.

Gifts can also be a problem. What if the person asks after the items they gave you? What if they expect to see you use it and it’s long since been donated or sold?

Firstly, people never ask.
Second, get into the habit of asking people NOT to give gifts. If they insist, ask for perishables instead – a nice bottle of wine, some good quality cheese to share, some fresh flowers.

I’m grokking minimalism. Already, clearing the clutter away, I find my mental state happier and I feel more at ease since clearing my surroundings. And I’m going to continue clearing the clutter.

Find your own minimalism

Understanding what minimalism is about helps me to find my own level of comfort with the concept. I’m not going to end up with one chair, one shirt, one glass. But I will, hopefully, find freedom in owning and feeling the need to own much, much less.

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