09. The #MinsGame

09. The #MinsGame

Hi all,

Well it has been some time since I last posted. 5 months actually. In that time, I became a mother to a beautiful baby girl, and now that I think I have enough brain cells working, I can finally slap together a few pieces of project perspective I have been dreaming on. On a side note Stuart and I just had a family day out at New Norcia here in Western Australia where it is currently home to 10 Benedict Monks. We both thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the town, but both had the biggest grin upon learning they have NO possessions! We were in awe.

I thought I would transition back into Minimalism with a new month of August and try playing the #MinsGame. If you are not familiar with this concept it was thought up by Ryan and Josh over at the minimalists.com. The two who started this whole journey for Stuart and I in the first place. Please remember that minimalism has no set rules per se and you make it suit you and your lifestyle.

Here’s the link http://www.theminimalists.com/game/

So the #MinsGame is a game where on the 1st day of the month you remove one item from your home, on the 2nd day of the month 2 items and so on until you finish the month. You can choose to chuck, sell, donate, or find homes for any items still in good use. Quite a few of the items I purged were useful and value adding to others. By the end of the month (my month had 31 days in it) I had removed 496 items from my home. In reality I removed even more, I just gave up counting. And when the new month of September rolled around, I just keep looking for more things to get rid of. It really did re-spark my minimalist ways. If you make it a game with others have a wager, like the person who lasts the longest gets dinner bought for them- Stuart owes me a dinner out as I totally won!

Mins game

I documented my daily attempts with photos on my personal Facebook page. A few people followed my journey, and tried to play too! Big props to my dear friend Alysha who managed to play the whole month! And a shout out to Bobby who is tackling the challenge this month after seeing my efforts.

I was surprised to see the same people enjoying my posts as some of the items I posted were a tad embarrassing (cue post caesarean granny undies) but I stuck with it. Some days I had to do a big haul and time it with new baby sleeping (when is that anyway) and me managing to eat at some stage, however, it is totally doable.

I was also surprised to see some people comment on me ‘cheating’ by using repetitive or small items such as old make up. Um yep those items are still ‘things’ and are no longer of use or value to me, so can totally go. I am not going to get rid of bigger items such as my couch, or even bigger items such as my cat raccoon Henry! They still bring me value and purpose. It made me feel defensive and question my choices. Sorry Judge Judys SMACK bang of perspective- it didn’t matter the size of the items as they were still taking up space, often emotional space in my house and life. For example, some of the make-up- a tantalising aqua eyeshadow I kept from my year 10 dinner dance from 2002! Also some newborn nappies that my daughter had already grown out of, sigh, they grow up so quickly! I also had so many gift bags- 28 in total and so much gift wrapping craft items- now we rarely give physical presents so why on earth did I need to hold onto it! I gave away the gift bags and have made a craft box for my nephew who loves Mr Maker!

 

So to round off this post, I thoroughly enjoyed the MinsGame! It made me spark into action about minimising our household items even more. We have been minimising for over a year now and still find peace, joy and accomplishment when we can let go of items that no longer value add to our lives. If you need any tips to get started- try your undies and sock draws, craft supplies, gift wrapping bags, stationery, bathroom cupboards! The list goes on!

Maybe have a go for October, you may just surprise yourself! If you post anything on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #MinsGame. It is a great way to start your minimalism journey and it really makes you question your belongings and their importance. They are really just items taking up space.

 

Project Perspective

Change through experience

 

08. F*ck Off Daily Clutter

08. F*ck Off Daily Clutter

When people visit our home they often say two things;

1. I love how modern your house is.

2. How do you keep your house so tidy?

Well I can say this is all a matter of perspective.

Firstly, we were fortunate enough to build our own house, and as it is only 4 years old, yes, it does look quite modern. It also won’t be in 20+ years and that’s ok, because its function will remain the same. Our house is a home.

It’s funny to think that when we go to other people’s houses we enjoy the character and ‘homeliness’ of their homes too. My family home where I spent the first 21 years of life, and built in the 1960s, still has the bright blue bathroom tiles, bright red kitchen countertop and no one who goes there will ever forget the red and green TARTAN carpet. I secretly still love it!

Secondly, our home now is tidy because we changed. We own less stuff. We have less things to find homes for. Most of our possessions are used with intent and purpose. This is what I want to focus on.

However, it wasn’t always this way. Sure we have always been clean, but our possessions completely overwhelmed us. If someone just dropped by I would inwardly scream about the tidying of daily clutter around that I wish I had time to address. Of course the house was generally clean but far from tidy. And there is a big difference to now, with less possessions how tidy our house can be at any given moment.

I often think of when TV shows like Ellen rock up on people’s door steps to give away prizes. Previously my house would be a mess. And for 2 people and a cat (raccoon) to be living in a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, one can really overestimate the ‘stuff’ required for living. Now that we have changed our ways, I would be more inclined to worry about my usual state of personal preparedness should Ellen ever turn up on my doorstep!

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Looking so glam in my onion cutting glasses a student gifted to me…I re-homed them.
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Henry and I after waking up. Come at us Ellen!

So that’s the what, and now the why…

We changed because we were suffocating under small and meaningless items clogging up our mental view of our home space and demanding more of us. That’s right, everything you bring into a space will take up more than space; often time, effort, money and attention.

Think of even the things in your handbag, or even your wallet. Cards needs safekeeping, updating and accessibility, cash needs a space to be secure, sunglasses need a case to not be scratched, keys need a place and on a key ring too, a phone perhaps with a charger, a pen perhaps for those ‘just in case moments’ (I don’t think we will ever see a world pen shortage), painkillers, tissues, medicine, snacks, chargers, makeup… the list goes on. Now think of this scale of effort and requirement for your entire house! Smack bang of perspective. Hmm do I need 4 tissue boxes around my house? Do I need 4 sets of sheets for one bed? Do I need 3 scented candles on my bench top? Do I need ornaments all around every space? Am I going to use this onion chopper every time I cut and onion? I could bore you with more, but I won’t. Onto the good stuff… the how.

Now we believe in equal sharing of roles within our household. It doesn’t matter to us if you are partnered, single, married, divorced, live in a share house, female, male, don’t identify with gender, have kids, don’t have kids, have fur babies or are the town hermit who never leaves your house; these are just some of the things that can help you.

For us it has been trial and error so give a few a shot. Remember, the only rule to minimalism is that there are no rules, you make it work for you. I will say that if you are living with other people, it is vital to have this discussion with everyone. Compromises may need to be discussed and everyone’s input assists to make these changes daily habits!

A side note; because in retrospect I can say this. Ladies and gents if you are a nagger (the force is strong in some of us), this should help you to stop and for your partner/housemate/cat to form habits both of you will benefit from.

Ok the how; Guidelines and tips for what has worked for us. Public Disclaimer- depending on your personality, you may wish to rip the band aid off (like us) and implement all of these at once, or take one or a few at a time to ease them into forming habits that stick.

Daily Declutter:

  1. Have less stuff– the less you have, the easier it is to manage. This is the main reason for clutter. Duh. If it is useful and you actually USE it (a scary grey area) find it a ‘home’ where everyone knows it belongs. If you find it too time consuming, focus on a small space or room and gradually reduce.

  1. Bedroom– whoever is last out of the bed needs to make it. Well that’s easy. Don’t be a lump, make yo bed!
  1. Clothing: As you have a shower etc or go to bed, put away all clothes- laundry basket should be nearby, make it easy for yourself. Ours is in our wardrobe. The floor is not an option.
  1. Bench Space: In any space that has a bench or counter top- leave it as clutter-free as possible. The more you can see the clean and clear space- the less likely you will be tempted to leave crap out on it.
  1. Bathroom & Kitchen: We have handy little notes we wrote in chalk pen to remind us both to clean up after. They work brilliantly. Naggers take note!IMG_4868IMG_4869
  1. Nagging & Expectations: If you or someone you live with struggles to clean up, well instead of always doing it for them, or hounding them, you need to have a discussion. Because you know, adult. We struggled a lot for years with Stuart not putting things away or not where they belong, or not wiping down the bench etc. you can hear my nagging voice even as you read. So once we started decluttering we discussed the expectations of each other. Once we decided on our guidelines things were such smooth sailing.
  1. Nightly whip around: Just before we head to sleep we do a quick whip around. Left our keys out, just put them away. A few dishes on the sink, just put them away. Really small things. It sounds excessive, and obsessive, but it really does work.

We are thankful that we don’t have to madly clean before people come over, and who would want to, people come to see you and your cat, not your untidy home.

If you have a completely cluttered house and need a bit of a change, try to remove some items. Clear the space. Clear the effort and time required for the upkeep of stuff.

Before bringing more into your home consciously decide what value it will bring, the intent and purpose, and the effort and space it will require of you and your home.

And if it all piles up once in a while. No biggie. Because life. Happens to us all.

And for those naggers (like me) who think it will never change, you need to first. Stop nagging, have discussions. Set expectations, work towards goals.

Happy decluttering.

Project Perspective

Change through experience

07. Minimalism, Money & Debt- How I saved 10k in 6 months

07. Minimalism, Money & Debt- How I saved 10k in 6 months

 

So I have been meaning to write this post for some time. I have been mulling it over in my head on how best to approach the topic. It just bugged me I hadn’t written the words yet, so apologies for the wait and also for the lack of continuity in this post. I am hoping it will make some sense.

 

I am going to jump into my pre-minimalist life. Now I know calling myself a minimalist and talking about saving 10k is completely steeped in irony, however, there is no better way to explain what moving to a more minimalist, and meaningful life has done for me.

 

Without getting into too many specifics, I come from a middle class working family in Australia. From the time I can remember both of my dear parents worked hard to provide for my sister and I. Things weren’t always easy, but my parents worked their guts out, and taught me a lot about money. They are still working hard, too hard for my liking. Both in physical jobs. Retirement and superannuation can be a lot easier for our generation, if we are smart about it.

 

Firstly, my parents never had credit cards. My first lesson I learned about money was to only spend the money I had. When I wanted a toy, clothes, newest fandangle thing- yep I saved for it. Chores, pocket money, birthday money, you name it- I was good at saving for it. As I grew older and needed a car to learn how to drive my parents helped me out with my first run around car. My sister and I both worked from 15 years old and that taught us early how to save and spend money. When the time came to upgrade my car, at 19 years old, my parents showed me how to get a loan and make successful payments until I owned a vehicle. Pretty good for a full time university student with two part-time jobs. When it came to moving out of home, I found it easy to manage my money and pay rent, living costs whilst still enjoying myself and travelling.

 

Fast forward to July 2016, just before we happened upon minimalism. As I have previously mentioned, my husband and I had a bender of an amazing trip in the US- no expense was spared, no cheaper clothing item left unpurchased and all experiences were of exceptional value. Except for when we came home, I was really worried about my finances. You see, I have a steady income of a teacher salary, but really no savings to show for it.

 

I often hear “Oh but you have a house and two cars, and your husband has a good job.” You will be fine. And yes, they are right, we will, but I wanted to do better, because we had those things.

 

So here’s how minimalism hit me with that smack of perspective. Everything I didn’t fully own yet I changed and considered as debt. Our house- still paying that mortgage= DEBT, One of our cars on our loan= DEBT. All the useless items things that I was buying; for my house, my wardrobe, general crap and the huge amount of money I’d spend for my classroom each year was sucking my bank account dry=DEBT.

 

Now the irony part comes in here. I have a lot of friends talk about money=happiness. I don’t think they really mean to, but they do, I too am guilty of this. Wanting better, newer, shinier things that make a statement of success, situation etc. But now I don’t want those things. It took me a long time- a few years in this job to realise that I had money but even with my earnings, my bank account always stayed the same. I was spending everything that I earned. Not more than my means, but unwisely.

 

I guess some of you are wondering how I saved 10k in 6 months. Well here goes. My salary didn’t change, I did.

 

My husband and I manage our money a little differently to most. We have always done this and it really does work for us. Maybe we were smart about a few things in the beginning. If it doesn’t work for you, all good, we are not financial advisors and everyone’s situation is different.

 

Step 1. Work out a budget with your salary and expected spending. I went through my tax receipts and was shocked to see how much meaningless stuff and items I had bought over the last few years.

 

Step 2. Stuart and I keep our bank accounts separate. Shock Horror. We do have shared accounts where we automatically put x amount of money in to 3 accounts weekly/fortnightly- bills, holiday and emergency money. So when we have bills they are paid for= No debt, when we go on a holiday= No debt and if there is an emergency like our cat who ate a Lily flower costing over 2k at once- we had the money- No debt and no stress involved! (Well a lot of stress that our cat ate a bloody Lily but thankfully he survived, and we no longer have any flowers in the house).

 

Step 3. I put money into an account automatically every fortnight- and this became my savings. I don’t touch it. This is where my 10k belongs and it grows in interest. It started as $0 and I watch it grow. My other income account has actually increased too, even with this additional money removed.

 

What made us change? It was the waste. We would rather have worked hard for our dollars and enjoy them. To us money can buy happiness as if well managed, it can reduce so many stressors. We use it to share experiences, travel, see friends and family, go to shows, concerts and splurge on nights out without too much hesitation at all. We have enriched our lives and will continue to do so.

 

Here are some good tips we are implementing or working towards:

  • A loan or mortgage is debt- only buy within your means and actual needs, not perceived wants or needs.
  • Create accounts that you automatically have your salary go in to like bills- very helpful at stress reducing and plan to add extra in when car rego or house rates come in. You really can’t act too surprised- they arrive the same time every year. Quit whinging, start getting organised.
  • Choose what is important for you to spend your money on. Don’t buy that new car if you are happy with your old one that works. If you love travelling, then make the account to save for your adventures. Only you can choose what you will gain meaning from.
  • Where you can, contribute extra to your superannuation. Here in Australia, this is so easy to do. A little goes a long way. Check out the interest with your HR or employer and start adding- hello early retirement!
  • Make small changes in cutting spending by starting a different savings account. Best to create an online account without a card, so it is harder for you to access the money. Personally I am never tempted to use my savings account as I love seeing it grow. Each fortnight when the money transferred over I enjoy logging on to see my pennies saved, not wasted.
  • Get rid of credit cards, unless they are paid automatically and you have a small limit- I still won’t ever have one. Credit isn’t earned money.

 

 

I am really proud of the way we manage our money. We can enjoy ourselves. We live comfortably, and now within our means. We don’t have 3 mortgages, fancy new cars, and we probably never will. We have lived off one income whilst renting and building a house, then one income when we planned our wedding and went travelling.

 

If you have loads of debt, the best you can do is sort out the finances you do have and cut what you don’t need. Spend on experiences that make meaning for you.

 

Money might not buy happiness, but it can make you unhappy.

 

Thanks for reading this monetary waffle.

 

Project Perspective

 

Change through experience

 

 

 

 

 

06. Capsule Wardrobe

06. Capsule Wardrobe

 

So this post is more of the what, why and how process of minimising something very close to many hearts…my wardrobe.

 

Before I delve into this one, as per my previous hoarding abilities, I am probably the WORST at letting go of clothing, shoes and accessories. Sure every year I think I am doing better and purge bags of clothes and shoes to donate or re-home, however, it really just gave me more room to buy extra and fill the spaces. *Sigh* A tragic cycle of over-consumption and clothing items that really aren’t needed or don’t have a purpose.  Unfortunately, being a minimalist, everything is steeped in irony. It isn’t about deprivation, but purposeful awareness.

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A friend and I were talking just after the new year about minimising and what I had been up to, and she bought up the Capsule Wardrobe. I had read about it before, and really just hadn’t committed, until I had that conversation. I was unhappy with my full wardrobe and ‘no clothes to wear!’ That night I went home and couldn’t sleep as I was already researching capsule wardrobes and how I was going to create it. (Thanks Jess!!!) I am the kind of person that once my mind is made up, that’s it, I need to achieve it, like NOW!

 

If you have never heard of a capsule wardrobe, the general idea is that you have a certain number of clothing pieces that you can mix and match throughout a season and keep the other seasonal clothing packed up and out of sight. Here are some links to a few good introductory articles I read to get me started.

 

  1. http://theeverygirl.com/how-to-create-a-capsule-wardrobe
  2. http://bemorewithless.com/how-to-build-a-capsule-wardrobe/
  3. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CapsuleWardrobeAustralia/

 

Back to my capsule wardrobe experience…I woke up at 5:30am the next day and messaged Jess to tell her that this was all her fault that I was on this purging mission, but I am so glad I was.

 

5:30am Wake up bleary eyed and load every single piece of clothing from my wardrobe and shoe rack onto my bed. Almost die in the process of moving so many clothes. Ok, a bit melodramatic, but you get the idea!

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6:00am F*cking massive smack of perspective- I only have one body, two legs, two arms and two feet! Holy fish sticks I have wayyyyy too many clothes! I started to sort into piles; Donate, Throw away, Maybe and Definite pile.

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6:30am Cuddle Henry the cat because he thinks this is all amusing. Keep sorting.

 

7:30am After trying on almost EVERYTHING I made the decision to then remove the donate pile away from sight so I wouldn’t be tempted to reclaim anything. I put the rubbish bags outside and turned back to my Definite pile to sort through. I packed up my Maybe pile and have put it out of sight until the next season to see if I love the clothes or can let them go.

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8:00am Ate a slice of chocolate cake because a girl needs snacks.

 

8:02am Henry thought it would be funny to claw at my Wedding dress. Cheers for that.

 

8:03am With Henry exiled to the cat tree, I was free to really sort what I had left. It is currently summer here in Australia so automatically I sorted my outfits into warm weather and cool weather- I say cool as Australia doesn’t really get too cold. I then divided up the clothes into Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring. However, you could really just do a warm weather and cooler weather if that suits.

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8:30am I had been through all of my clothes left, sorted them and hung them up. For the clothes in different seasons and those I was still unsure about I put them into my draws, out of sight and will reassess when the season changes. I then found $140 in one of my draws- bonus! I then freaked out at my over 70 coat hangers I had spare. RIP coat hangers- well I re-homed them to someone who needed them so that is a positive.

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8:45am Another chocolate cake stop.

 

9:00am I had finished. I counted 10 pairs of shoes including work shoes. I only have 22 Items of clothing currently. I felt elated, exhausted and mildly sick from the chocolate cake. I messaged Jess to celebrate!

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For those of you interested there are so many resources for you to get started, but here are my Do’s and Don’ts to creating a capsule wardrobe or what to expect.

 

Do

  • Have cake or snacks ready
  • Sort piles into Definite, Throw, Donate, Maybe
  • Have large garbage bags to help sort
  • Try on everything- I know it can be time consuming, but seriously, if it doesn’t suit your style- and really work out what that is, then away it goes, even if it cost you x amount of dollars or you wished it looked good. Sorry babes.
  • Let go of clothes that are in good condition but don’t suit your body or purpose.
  • Let go of duplicates- I had 6 pairs of jeans, all shades of blue- only one that fitted my style and body great!
  • Phone a friend for support if you need
  • Work out what your style is- Mine is preppy chic. I had pieces in there that were too young and old for me and definitely not my style. Know what fits well, is good quality and be willing to reassess your sentimental but useless items.

 

Don’t

  • Don’t get stuck on having a certain number of clothing items, if you find use and it complements the other pieces, then add.
  • Don’t worry about your different needs. Have a separate work wardrobe if you require it.
  • Don’t go over-researching, Pinterest is only sometimes your friend, and can get in the way of be productive.
  • Don’t worry about underwear, pyjamas or sporting attire- unless there is too much! I put away my winter gear and will swap them over when the weather cools.

 

The point of a capsule wardrobe is to find and choose clothes with ease. Everything in my wardrobe has now been purposefully chosen. I have to love the item, style and how it fits. I know when I put it on that I feel good in it. I can walk past clothing shops and not need an instant gratification buy of a cute shirt or new dress I won’t ever wear, or get little value from. I only have one body. I am still learning and will make mistakes along the way, but my wardrobe is enjoyable, my washing pile is smaller and getting ready for my day is a breeze!

 

Happy Capsuling and I hope you enjoyed the photos.

 

Change through experience

Project Perspective

 

05. Expectations- How to ruin your own day

05. Expectations- How to ruin your own day

 

Greetings all and Happy New Year. Today is my second wedding anniversary and my husband and I get read our 365 day journal we wrote for the last year of marriage. Hopefully we haven’t consumed as much pizza as our first anniversary, or if we did, hopefully it is only documented on our bodies instead of in the diary.

 

Today I want to write about expectations. Expectations are a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. So they are based on a belief, a feeling…

 

Now I am a very strong willed person with high expectations. I have high expectations of others, but especially myself. And this ladies and gentleman, is how, without a little perspective, you can completely ruin your own day. Cue life experiences on my own expectations…

 

The majority of my expectation let downs usually happen around something I have formed in my head. How I see things playing out. For example, I can teach an amazing lesson and a group of kids love it and eat off the palm of my hand and you see light bulbs flashing and dazzling glints of understanding. Then you can teach the same lesson to another class and they look at you like you are a chicken wearing a clown hat trying to cook spaghetti made from rubber. And it is me that feels let down at their reaction. Because I EXPECTED them to be the same as the previous class. Here’s that whack of expectation- no two people are the same. So no two whole classes will learn the same. Duh. All reactions and experiences are also circumstantial and no two moments will be exactly the same.

 

Another example is my birthday. I always have very low expectations for birthday celebrations. Being so close to Christmas my birthday is often not a party or anything, even a BBQ is too hard for everyone to be free. So one year I planned nothing, had no expectations, and the best thing happened. My friends planned a party for me. I was taken to a friend’s house to eat, be merry and swim in the pool. They even set up an under the water theme as they know I love anything with H2O. Due to my diet restrictions they made sure I could eat everything and another friend even baked a cake for me I could eat. Mind blown, tummy full and heart bursting. Little expectations led to extreme joy. This year I took my birthday date off Facebook. It is an interesting guide to see who really knows your birthday. I had little expectations that other than my immediate family, that I would receive any calls or texts, however I was pleasantly surprised so many of my dearest friends had remembered. And for those who didn’t, no big deal. It was actually really refreshing to not have a heap of posts from people I barely or never see in person all over my profile.

 

Sometimes expectations can be great, they make us strive for what is most important to us, build the foundations of personal successes and freedoms, however they can also cause negative perspectives. The difference is how you choose what is important. And what is important to you, might not be to the next person.

 

For me, I now practise not having certain expectations of how people will react to news, information or excitement. I am often let down, only for a fraction, but I allow it nonetheless. So don’t. Learn from it. If you see through your expectations that they are stuffing up your mood, outlook or experiences then you need to change them. After all, it is a set of beliefs about something that will happen. Why don’t you focus all of that energy instead on how that experience is once it has happened? Surely there is more to be gained from that.

 

All in all, everyone has expectations. They are all different. They change. They can be motivating. They can cause self-loathing. A take away to remember is that they are only beliefs about something that hasn’t happened yet. So when it does, take it for what it truly is and build a better perspective for next time.

 

Project Perspective

Experience through change

 

 

 

 

04 New Year, New You

04. New Year, New You

 

So 2016 has come to an end and what do you have to show for it? Are you celebrating successes, looking forward to achieving new goals or perhaps reflecting on the year that was?

Now here’s my spin on a new year. Again a little change in perspective, a sharing of opinions and values. As always, fluid and take from this what you will.

The new year provides time for new opportunities, fresh starts and new goals to be set. But does it really? Personally I have always been one to set New Year’s resolutions. I am a goal setter and extremely self-motivated. Each year I set three new resolutions and aim to reach them. Usually I would remember these off the top off my head because they pave the way for me own personal torment success. Low and behold I often reach my goals because failing myself is well just failing what I set out to do for a whole year. How ridiculous it is now.

Now the year of 2016 that was. I have recently viewed a lot of people on social media saying things like “2016 can hurry up and be done!” or “2016 are you done with me yet?” Now I don’t have privy into everyone’s daily lives, but here’s a smack of perspective for you. Things might not always go your way, people hurt you and love ones leave us, you might not have received the promotion you thought you deserved or that Christmas bonus or your health is up to shit (not good), however, and there is a big HOWEVER… It is not the passing of time or confining these things to a year that defines how we cope and react.

Perhaps instead of viewing the bad things in 2016, view the positive. What actually went right for you? What personal goals small or large did you battle? When did you feel most content and what were you doing? Who supported you?

I know the new year is so fitting to wipe the slate clean and move on to bigger and better things, and please keep on doing that, but please remember how fortunate you are to have experienced all of 2016, whatever the year included for you. Just think, it was a leap year so you even got a whole extra day to live in that year.

I’ve gone back to my 2016 new year’s resolutions to show you who I am. I am a list maker so of course I had written them down.

They are as follows:

Actually, I lied. I didn’t write any at the start of this year. Instead, when my husband and I got married in 2015 we bought a diary of 365 pages. We actually begin our new year on our wedding anniversary, January 10th, helpful that it is so close to a new year. Every day in the diary we write in 3 positive things that happened in the day and 1 not so fabulous thing in there. Life isn’t always sunshine and daisies.

We have just bought our third diary as we get ready for our 2nd anniversary. We don’t exchange gifts but re-read with each other our previous year of marriage, remembering amazing experiences, highs and lows and dull everyday life happenings that we felt important to write about. Once we had reached our first year it was amazing to see how much we had accomplished in this book. We also realised we both loved eating pizza way too much as that was recorded more than occasionally. This year will hold a whole new set of experiences and the joke is on us with the 366-day leap year- we will just have to write on the back inside cover for that one!

Whatever you do to ring in the new year and any goals or resolutions you make for yourself, if any at all, please be kind to yourself, realistic and please don’t feel pressured to give yourself a whole year (365- sometimes long ass days) to complete them. You may need more time, less time or over time realise that your goal needs to be change or is no longer going to bring you value and that is totally fine!

We aren’t all given the same amount of time in our lives so make sure you remember the great moments, build and re-build and make all the days in the year you are given something to cherish.

Happy New Year!

 

Project Perspective

Change through experience

 

 

 

03. Christmas

03. Christmas

 

So this post is going to be a tricky one. Lots of love, laughter and changing ‘traditions.’

 

Here’s a snapshot of a typical Aussie Christmas. Waking up at sparrows (early) to open loads of pressies with loved ones. Having 40kg of prawns, 10000 kg of delicious ham, loads of salads- because it is damn hot and don’t forget Aunt Lorraine’s famous trifle for dessert.

 

Fun times are had, food is shared, drinks are enjoyed and all in all, most go home tired, with full hearts and full bellies.

 

What’s not to like? I couldn’t see anything wrong with the picture I have painted above? Except for now I can. My perspective has changed. And here is the story to show my change through experience.

 

I always go back to growing up, as my future is still going to happen and let’s face it, the past is really everything any of us have to go off. My sister and I used to wake up to a HUGE stocking full of presents. Some said they were from Santa in Mum’s writing and some said “Love Mum & Dad.” Us two girls are close in age and generally like similar things. To not avoid disappointment, we would often sit back to back to open our presents as lots would be the same only in the colours we preferred. “Santa” always bought us useful gifts and some things we just simply wanted. It was a great start to the day!

 

Next it would be off Nanna Millar’s to see the Millar clan. Lots of present opening, lots of Prawns (thanks Uncle Clay) and the best part was playing Twister with everyone. Sometimes we would even camp out at Clay and Andy’s and stay in a tent! After our fun-filled times it was back in the car again for our next stop.

 

Off to Nanna Shepherd’s with the Shepherd clan. Again as I have mentioned in my previous post that this was off the chain on presents! It was most loved for Pop’s amazing cooking, Nanna’s chicken wings and Aunty Re’s famous potato salad (I ate some yesterday and it is still the best thing ever!) There was also lots of cartwheels on grass and lots of playing games with cousins.

 

We would go home exhausted kidlets, with a car fullllll of presents and a desire to do it all again in a year. So when did it all change?

 

I think this was a series of events and time. Over time all our families saw the over consumption and financial stress that is involved at Christmas. Not just the economic stress but also having to buy for so many people. Trying to buy something useful for people who generally can provide for themselves is actually a very hard task. And growing up, it has become even harder. We tried secret Santa and this did assist to ease the burden of gift buying.

 

As a child I definitely enjoyed opening a zillion presents and playing, and as I grew older I realised I really just loved hanging out with my family more. One Christmas when my Nanny Shepherd was unwell, and we knew it would be our last Christmas with her, she didn’t buy as many presents, but instead wrapped up her beloved possessions and gifted them to us all. I now own the most beautiful crystal bowl that I am too scared to use because it has more worth to me and I couldn’t suffer seeing it broken.  And once she left us, we were just that. Broken.

 

Family tradition fell apart, the spirit of getting together as a unit fell apart and it looked like it would never be the same again.

 

Until this year. I realised traditions can be fluid, expectations can be changed- and that’s ok. In fact, we started new ones without even noticing.

 

So here is my Christmas this year…

We continued the tradition a neighbour started last year of a Neighbour Xmas BBQ catchup. We offered to host this time and every single person invited came. It was a lovely night of healthy conversation and laughter over a meal. Tradition continued to grow.

 

On Christmas day Stuart and I got up early and cooked a BBQ breakfast and headed to the beach. We have been doing this for three years now and can’t see it stopping. Like others, we wore our Santa hats to the beach and enjoyed a swim in the sun- ahhhh the great Aussie Christmas Sun! Tradition continued to grow.

 

We then made our way up the hill to see the Shepherd clan who this year rebuilt our old traditions. Sure it wasn’t the same without Nanny, but it never will be, and that’s ok too, because we were all together once more. Not Broken. Tradition continued to grow.

 

Then tired and weary and extremely full, we headed off to our last stop, my Parents in Law- the Holloways. Now I really don’t know why I never clicked to this tradition before, however, I have also been welcomed into this amazing family for the last 8 years. A tradition of their Christmas dinner I never even acknowledged. Sure I always loved it, I now truly appreciate the catch up, swim in the pool and delicious food. A tradition that has continued to grow.

 

Funnily enough, I didn’t get to see my sister, her partner,  niece and nephew on Christmas day, or my Dad, or the Millars. I am not broken as I know how many other opportunities for happiness I was given on that day, and for those I am thankful.

 

My post of my past and current Christmas talked of the amazing theme of food, catching up and seeing loved ones. However, they differ. Can you spot it?

 

Well…In my current Christmas I didn’t mention presents.

Go back have a re-read if you need.

 

Stuart and I didn’t exchange gifts. Actually the only gifts I gave were books and experiences to my Niece and Nephew, 1 book each and a trip to the beach (as requested) with an ice cream and fish n chips for lunch. I also was part of Secret Santa at the Holloways which always makes Christmas there very enjoyable. One useful gift at a set price, easy!

 

For anyone that bought me a gift, all thought of great presents for a minimalist. All experiences or all consumables. A minimalist’s dream present. Not much ‘stuff’ to find homes for on Boxing day.
As a tip if you are trying to cut back on ‘stuff’ Christmas can be a hard time. Take from my experience. For kids, buy them clothes they need, books to read or get them to tell you something they really want to do! I get to have the experience of frolicking in the ocean with my nephew. Surprisingly I didn’t bribe him with this choice, he just has impeccable taste like his Aunty.

 

Go for the experience of Christmas and not the presents, because the greatest gift is truly your presence not the presents.

 

Project Perspective

Change through experience

 

 

02. How minimalism found us and changed everything

My husband and I come from middle working class families in Australia. Growing up our parents worked hard to provide for us and we lived a childhood that was well provided for.

 

Some of my fondest memories when I was younger were hanging out with my family and extended family. My Nanna Shepherd was a lovely woman and the glue that held mum’s family together. Every Christmas she showered all of us grandchildren with gifts and we were beyond spoilt!

 

My birthday is two weeks before Christmas and it was like winning the present lottery. One year my parents, aunties and uncles banned her and told her she could only give all of us grandchildren ONE gift to open! Not to be outdone, she bought us all ONE big container and filled it brimming with toys, cosmetics and jewellery. She was also the most generous and frugal woman I have ever met- an interesting mix I know. We used to go shopping religiously on Saturday mornings and she would buy us a toy or whatever it was on special. She used to take us to swap meets to sell our wares and clothes when we no longer found value in them…More to come on this and I will get to it later.

 

My Nanna Millar on the other hand, is equally generous and equally the glue of Dad’s family. She holds a certain prestige with her knowledge and I can listen to her stories for days. Instead of only presents her gifts were those of experiences. Cooking, going to plays, books, organised holiday activities and going to the wave pool. Again more to come on the perspective part…

 

Now roll on 20 odd years to 2016 and my husband and I are going on our belated honeymoon to the U.S. We have both been there before and knew mainly what to expect. On the travel itinerary was LA, Florida, Vegas, Yosemite, Sacramento, Napa and San Fran. We packed really overboard and had some ‘just in case items’ for all weather conditions, because, you know, it is hard to find things you need on every corner, at any time of day in a developed country…what I wish I knew then!

 

We had an awesome time of excess everything, the trip was great and we shopped up a storm! Our suitcases were full and our wallets lighter but we were honeymooning like we should- I mean YOLO! Excess, Excess oh and EXCESS!!!

 

Except there was a problem, a big one! When we got home the glitz and glamour and excitement of the holiday was gone. We had to squish clothes and items into our house and closets and we went back to reality.

 

Here comes the big hit of Perspective- the ‘things’ weren’t making us happy, they weren’t what caused the euphoria of our trip. We did that; all by ourselves. The experiences we had far outweighed anything we could hold in our hands, wear on our backs or store somewhere in a box. Hiking through Yosemite with no hat, no sunscreen, no food and only one bottle of water each (delinquent we know) for 21km in a day was the best day of our entire honeymoon, and really all we had were the clothes on our back! An equally amazing part of our trip was meeting our long-time friends and going out and having a good meal, wine and hiking in the Napa Valley. Talk about hit of the old perspective.

 

One night, shortly after arriving home being overwhelmed with STUFF, storage and overspending we sat down and watched the Minimalist’s documentary Minimalism- How to live a meaningful life.

 

This documentary literally changed us forever. We did all of the things The Minimalist’s said not to do straight away. We actually got a skip bin and threw out a lot of our belongings. We sold whatever didn’t bring us joy, value or purpose and let it go! We re-gifted, re-homed and gave away items we no longer needed that someone else would find value you in. We purged. We gained control and we worked out a way that we could see value in everything.

 

This takes me back to both of my darling Nannas. Nanna Millar was previously a librarian and man I can see the value in the books and experiences she gave us. Out of all of the presents and physical gifts my Nanna Shepherd gave me, even as a child, I never valued the ‘things’ she had given as much as I valued seeing her face as we opened them, or tricking the family that she had just given us all only ONE present for Christmas. Or sneaking into her closet to see if we could find them because we knew she would chase us around the house and that was way more fun. They both taught me generosity and love beyond measure and I find a greater perspective in those qualities than anything else.

 

So jump forward to now. We are still working together on minimising our ‘stuff’ and not building more and more storage to house things we never use or find need for.

 

A few friends and relatives are noticing our life is becoming more valuable and less cluttered. There is still so much to say and minimise, but if you are interested in any form of decluttering your life, I highly suggest heading over to http://www.theminimalists.com/ and onto Netflix or Vimeo to watch their documentary. They also release a podcast every week which we thoroughly enjoy.

 

Our way of minimalism may not suit you and that’s ok too. There isn’t a right or wrong way to start or a set of ‘must do’ rules. Its fluidity is in the eye of the beholder and that perspective is surely more important for change.

 

Project Perspective

Change through experience.

 

 

01. Introduction to Project Perspective

Project Perspective came about from an interesting few years of life. As it happens, we are not all given the same opportunities or time that is so precious. We arrive into this world and all have our place, whatever that may be.

Over the last few years I have begun to notice myself challenging the way I live and what truly makes me happy, relecting on social norms and my upbringing. Sure, we are all different- that’s the point, however, this blog is a medium for me to be creative, share my experiences, and through that, create some change and understanding.

These posts may not be articulate, funny or useful for you all the time, but they will offer something we can all relate to- Perspective. You may not agree at all with my words and that’s totally great you have your own project perspective you have been working on.

Perspective by definition (and there are a lot of them in the good old Oxford), but for this blog’s purpose I have gone with;

A particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view.

So here I go, some semi-okish writing on a topic once per week from a near 30ish someone looking to explain and make a little change. I give you…

Project Perspective

Change Through Experience