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Showing posts from November, 2015

The unexpected emptiness of minimalism

Minimalism has been emotional for me. I didn't expect that at all when I started on my journey to simplicity. As I was letting go of the extra stuff, I was confronted by the reasons why I held on to it all for so long. The hopes, dreams, guilt, expectations, demands, ambitions... It's exciting and difficult. It’s liberating and a little scary.

But after that extra stuff is gone, now what? How do I spend that free time and energy that used to go to my stuff – maintaining it, acquiring it, storing it?... I can't use my stuff as an excuse not to live my life. "Oh, I can't possibly go, I have cleaning to do." "I can't possibly invite people over, I have cleaning to do." "I can't take on this new project, I have so many other unfinished projects already... *long pause*... and I have cleaning to do." etc... And it's not like I would actually do anything about it. It was almost crippling.

You see, before all of this freedom I never r…

Highlighting flaws

Have you ever watched reality TV shows on hoarders? I'm fascinated by these people. They ruin their homes and their lives hoarding stuff. According to the shows, it always seems to stem from some tragic event that made something "go off" (for lack of a better term) in these people's mind and they just gave up on cleaning and started keeping everything because they felt they needed it or that these things were precious. They can't even let go of items that are damaged beyond use.

Years of hoarding has a serious impact on these people's lives in more ways than one. All the stuff eats away at their home damaging the structure - literally and figuratively. I've seen shows where the situation was so bad that they actually had to condemn the house.

Now I've said it before and I'll say it again, I was nowhere near to qualifying as a hoarder. I just had a lot of stuff. Since embarking on my minimalism journey, something's been going on. I have less st…

Downward trend of moving costs

I like concrete facts and figures that show me my progress in any aspect of my life, whether it's tracking the distance I cover when I go for a walk, to the money I've spent in a day. I was reading an article by James Clear in which he wrote: "Data improves awareness and awareness is the first step to behavior change"[1]. So I think that this particular aspect of my personality can serve me well, as long as it doesn't become an obsession of course... which I doubt it would.

I was sorting through my personal paperwork the other day and came across my 2013 and 2015 moving bills. I hired the same company for both moves. In 2013, I paid the company a little over $1,200 for their moving services. In 2015, I paid them a little less than $500. A bit of a difference, no?

It shocked me to see how significant a change I made since February. I knew it was less for this year's move than it had been for the previous one, but this was a bigger variance than I remembered. …

Timeless wisdom

Have you ever heard of Seneca? I discovered him because I had seen a few quotes while reading minimalism writings that were followed by his name. At first, I didn’t realize it was a name. One day I decided to finally look it up. Turns out he really was a person. According to Amazon: Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BC. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in AD 39 and Claudius in AD 41), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligula’s sister. Recalled in AD 49, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in AD 54, the emperor Nero. On Nero’s succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered a…

The missing photograph

Well, it seems I have to come to terms with the fact that I no longer have that photograph I was looking for. I went through everything I have left, which isn't much, and I can't find it. I must have given it away in one of the boxes I dropped off at the Salvation Army. Pity. I would have wanted it to complete my set.

It's a little disappointing and a little annoying, but it's definitely not the end of the world. I can reconfigure the remaining photographs, or I can get something else for the wall I was going to hang them on.

It's funny but I expect that I'll remember that missing photograph for as long as I have the others. But if I got rid of them all, the memory would eventually fade away.

I guess it's similar to when we hold on to other things or feelings or relationships that just remind us of disappointments or missed opportunities or guilt or whatever other bad feeling. Letting go, even just the thought of it, can be scary. But once we finally do, …

When I was your age...

This past Wednesday, my daughter and I were invited out to a restaurant in honour of one of her friend's 16th birthday. This friend's mom (who also now happens to be my friend) asked the adults to write words of wisdom for her daughter along the lines of "When I was your age, I wish I knew..." What a great idea for a birthday gift!

I didn't have room in the card for everything I wanted to write, so I'm sharing it all here.
When I was your age...

I wish I knew that life rarely goes as planned, but it can be better than you had ever imagined;


I wish I knew that the meanest people are often the ones who are hurting the most;


I wish I knew that people are way more interesting than they may appear to be at first (the cleaning lady may have led a more interesting life than the Prime Minister);


I wish I knew and really understood that every day, every minute, every second is a new beginning - you can make it what you want;


I wish I knew how quickly time goes by and not t…

That homey feeling

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This past weekend was a quiet one binging on Netflix and walking around downtown. I felt somewhat at peace.If you've been reading, you know I've been struggling with feeling at home in the condo. Well I did something else this past weekend that helped a little with that. I hung artwork.
A print of the Rideau Canal by Theo's father that Theo gave to me when I turned 17. A city scene my daughter made in school a few years ago combining painting and sculpture. An old painting from my dad's grand-father. (I've never met him, but it makes me feel connected to him to know that he also loved art. There was a time I wanted to be a painter also.) And a wooden frame type sculpture my daughter did in tech class last year.

I'll also hang up photos taken by a friend about ten years ago in the neighbourhood I grew up in. There are six of them in total, but I can't seem to find one of them. I remember seeing it during the move, but for some reason I can't find it ri…

Urbanite chronicles - Two

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Weekdays, I listen to the Radio Canada morning news show on my cellphone before getting out of bed. One morning, the traffic report said there were two accidents on a street I'd drive down every day when I lived in Orleans. I felt so happy and relieved that I didn't have to drive through that to get to work that morning, even though I felt bad for the people who had their day start out with an accident...

After, I thought of a comment a fellow urbanite co-worker said to me: "You'll see, you'll also fall in love with winter again!" No more shovelling snow before leaving for work in the morning, or before parking my car after a long drive coming home from work in the evening. No more sitting in traffic because of bad weather conditions. Winter in Canada really is beautiful when you don't have to fight against it.

Speaking of driving, I spent a whopping $35.33 in gas in October. And I still had some left over taking me through the first week of November. Mu…

To settle or not to settle?

That is the question. Whether tis better to settle for "good enough for now" or hold out for what we really want can sometimes be a very difficult choice.

For instance, there are certain elements I like having in my home to make it a comfortable environment for me. In my living room that would be a couch, chairs, an area rug, a coffee table, end-tables, a TV (but that’s mostly for my daughter), something to put the TV on, a couple of lamps and curtains. Those are my basic elements.

However, I’m somewhat particular in the style I want. This makes finding the items that will please me a little difficult. And often, when I do find something that really pleases me, it’s way out of my price range. So, I often settle. I get the nicest thing I can find that my money can buy.

Unfortunately, that’s led to some disappointments. I don’t particularly like the couch I chose, even though I went into many different stores until I found one that seemed like a good choice. It’s not as com…