Putting It In Its Place

Some of you may be feeling somewhat disheartened by the amount of stuff that stares you in the face on a daily basis and flattens your soul whenever you think about doing a spot of pruning. I know I’ve certainly been there.

The stuff may be inhibiting your movements, as you walk crab-wise around the room to avoid it. It may be eliminating your options, as you can’t use the space it’s taking up. It may even be making you feel guilty for not being in control of it, like a large badly-behaved dog that insists on piddling indoors, in front of your guests.

Bully Free ZoneAre you going to let a bunch of inanimate objects treat you like that? No, you are not! Today is the day, my friends, when we begin to put that stuff in its place.

That place may be one of five:
here (it does happen),
somewhere else (put it away),
a charity shop,
a recycling bin,
or the famous circular file, aka the rubbish bin.

Ready? Slow and steady wins the race, remember. Every bit is progress.

I decided to adapt FlyLady’s marathon cleaning approach, making it rather less marathon but using her maxim that “you can do anything for fifteen minutes.” Use a timer – it beats looking at a clock, or forgetting to. Let’s begin with fifteen minutes of going through our clothing and biffing out the things we don’t wear. I looked in my wardrobe, chest of drawers, bandanna bowl, coat stand and hallway shelf. I didn’t bother looking through the laundry basket, since by definition it only contains the things I actually wear.

Pile of ClothesSince I had a clothing prune in June, there isn’t much deadwood left to be removed. Interesting horticultural note: pruning live wood often results in a more fruitful plant. You don’t have to wait for it to start rotting to whack it off. If it doesn’t fit, doesn’t suit, or you just don’t wear it, move it on! Don’t worry about where it’s going just yet, just haul it out and put it aside.

Set your timer, and off you go! Good hunting!

Despite the recent prune, I managed to bag a couple of elderly undergarments and a rain jacket which does not suit me, does not fit me, and consequently is never worn. Why I had this is anyone’s guess. Total: 3. How did you do?

Set your timer again, and this time focus on your bedside table and/or dressing-table. Accessories, things in pottles or tubes, collections of bedside books you haven’t got around to reading… whatever’s there, interrogate it!

A despondent woman sitting at her dressing table in a room w Wellcome V0019917
What did you bag?

I disinterred an old perfume, a lipstick (the only makeup I own, but I fear it has passed the statute of limitations), an assortment of pins etc for the long hair I haven’t had in years, and a hairbrush (ditto). Also a book of exercises which I don’t do. 5 items; running total 8. And that’s not counting the things which should have been somewhere else, or the random bits of paper for the recycle bin.

How are you feeling? One more, and we’ll stop for a cuppa. This could be a big one, but panic not! Fifteen minutes attacking a big job doesn’t take any longer than fifteen minutes of a small one. We now turn our attention to our hobby stuff – sewing, knitting, stamp-collecting, woodwork; whatever it is, spend fifteen minutes pruning out any unnecessary stuff. (If you have no hobby that involves stuff, you can spend these fifteen minutes doing whatever it is you do in your hobbyless free time, and feeling smug.)

I went through the yarn stash in July (one shopping bag purged full of little remnants and itchy acrylics) so I will be having a go at the sewing stuff this time. Attack!

craft-371818_640In fifteen minutes of quick assessment, I pulled out a variety of cords and beads from the trim box (not sure what they are intended for, so v. unlikely to use them) as well as a couple of buckles and two historical sewing patterns which I’ve had for years and never used. Time for them to move on, I’d say. Also a large number of pieces of unrequired paper and odd bits of fabric. Call it five items; running total 13.

Now make yourself a nice cup of tea (or beverage of your choice) and congratulate yourself on your achievement thus far. Once you’ve had your cup of tea, you can put the ‘somewhere else’ items back where they belong and sort the remainder into the three outer destinations: charity, bin or recycle. If you fear you will become distracted, set a timer for this too.

Look at the list/number/photo of things you’ve pruned out of your life in less than an hour. Well done! Feel free to leave it at that for now, or to give these areas another pruning during the week, in as many fifteen-minuteses as you like. Let us know how you go, and do join us again next week!

Are You An Eccentric?

We’ve had Ethic, we’ve had Æsthetic; now we’re back to the Eccentric, viz. Are you an eccentric? If not, why not? Are you sure?

The Mad Hatter cosplayer
To save you expending your little all on proper certification from suitably qualified psyche-specialists, allow me to proffer the following quiz, based on the work of David Weeks (author of The Gifts of Eccentrics and co-author with Jamie James of Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness). Loosely based on. Inspired by. Which is to say, extrapolated from an article which refers to his work, without actually quoting him.*

Consider the following statements, and give yourself one point for each you agree with – two if you agree strongly.

  • I refuse to let the world squeeze me into its own mould (as Paul recommended to the Romans). I don’t conform to the expectations of others, or society at large. (Sorry, no extra points for being a Nonconformist.)
  • I enjoy indulging and exercising my creativity.
  • I am insatiably curious: I just have to know. (Famous last words: I wonder what happens if I-)
  • People sometimes call me idealistic – apparently not meaning it as a compliment. As Brooke Fraser so memorably put it, “It could be fun to try / I think that I’ll save the world… as a fun afternoon activity.”
  • I love my hobbies! You call it obsession; I call it passion. And why limit myself to only one? (Weeks suggests five or six is the usual score.)

Crazy Frickin Lady
Speaking of scores, how are you doing so far? Most eccentrics have all five of these traits. But don’t worry, we haven’t finished yet. Moving on!

  • I have always known that I was different, even when I was just a little kiddy.
  • I have an above average intelligence (say, IQ over 110).
  • I hold strong opinions and I don’t have a problem expressing them. Other people disagree, but that’s their problem. Lots of people believing something doesn’t make it true.
  • I can’t be bothered competing with other people – I don’t need to compare myself with others to know where I stand.
  • It has been suggested that the way I live (or eat, or dress…) is weird. Whatever.

Mosnier - Portrait of a Lady

  • I don’t particularly care what other people think, although obviously it would be better if they all agreed with me. I don’t even need their company: I’m happy by myself.
  • My sense of humour could be described as puckish or mischievous.
  • I am not married, in law or any other way you care to look at it.
  • I am the eldest child of my parents/an only child.
  • I’m rubish at spalling.

How did you go? If you scored 30, you may well be the most eccentric person now living on the face of this planet. If you scored 20-30, you’re pretty darn eccentric. 10-20, you’re fairly eccentric; 5-10, you’re a little odd. Under 5, you’re not really an eccentric, but we’re happy to have you here anyway. If you scored 0, you scare me.

I myself scored 17: fairly eccentric. Well, that’s fine by me. I don’t need to compete 🙂

*Disclaimer: credit for the identification of the fifteen traits of a healthy eccentric** goes to Weeks; the expression thereof and the extremely unscientific scoring system are all mine.

** Contrary to popular belief, eccentrics are less prone to mental health issues than the average person. Weeks also notes that people with mental health issues actually suffer from them, whereas eccentrics are having a ball. Eccentrics: Odd, But Not Insane.

Weird is a Side Effect of Awesome

A Worker and their Tools

Simm Stickerin

Most people have hobbies of one sort or another – cycling, cooking, whittling, crochet… And unless you are the Caped Gooseberry (hobby: thinking) your hobby quite likely involves some kind of equipment.
What’s your favourite piece of equipment and why?

The bobbin of the British type