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One Life is Enough

I mentioned in another blog that I read a quote on the back of a van last weekend that gave me fruit for thought. The quote said “Remember you only have one life but if you do it right, one life is enough”.

It made me wonder how much longer I can afford a way of life that I don’t like before I have completely wasted the one life that I got? I don’t like my life. I don’t like myself. I don’t even think that I am really myself most of the time. Definitely not even close to my best possible self.

This is why I decided to try an experiment. With myself as my guineapig. For the reminder of the year I want to try various things, tips and tricks to turn my life inside out. To find myself and live a life that I actually want to live. I am not talking about how to live the perfect life. Anybody who is looking for perfection in life is looking in vain. I don’t need my life to be perfect. I don’t even need to be happy all the time but I need to be okay with myself and my life.

I have 7 months left to try everything from habit stacking to organising, practicing mindfulness and meditation to bullet journaling and keeping a diary, from purging and planning to exercise and a clean diet. I might even consider going to church – who knows (not very likely but I am open to everything). I want to investigate and analyse every aspect of my life and try ways to make more manageable, easier, more interesting or fun. My idea is that I will tackle/try one tip or trick at a time for a week and post about my research and experience. I know that some things need more than a week to be properly implemented but as this is an experiment in which I try out new things not all of them will be something I want to continue and the others I will do for longer and hopefully forever.

I know it cannot continue like this and I also know that I am the only person who can change something about it. I need to take responsibility and control. I want this one life to be enough!

Header picture stolen from this page: http://theperfectjob.org/change-your-life/

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When Purging Hurts

Everybody who has ever attempted to downsize, who got into a full-blown purging frenzy because s/he couldn’t take that feeling of stuffocation anymore, knows that you will reach a point when purging gets tough. Unbearably painful to do. Usually, this happens when you get to the attic or basement, when you get to the boxes stuffed with memorabilia from the past. For me it happens each time I go through my uni paperwork. My folders full of lecture transcripts, seminar notes, copies of charters, timelines and family-trees. Uni was probably the best time of my life (or at least so far) and until problems at home started to have a negative impact on me and my concentration, I was a relatively good and organised student – never the toadying kind though.

The state of my folders, thus, mirrors the different states of mind I had during my time at uni. My early files and notes from my B.A. years are organised, complete – almost meticulous. Mid-Master the state of my papers deteriorates, like my mental state, highlighting a series of unfinished courses. I loved uni and was convinced that I would go from student to teacher to lecturer – basically from paying student to paid student – and I never imagined that I would leave the university let alone unfinished.

Going through my files now, purging like a maniac, hurts twice: it makes me relive the most painful time of my life (my mum’s cancer and death) and shows me how quickly dreams can die. I know I can still pick up and finish my studies or that nobody is ever too old to go back to uni and study something one is interested in, I am young enough to go back and change my career but let’s be frank, it gets harder and harder with each year away. I have to redefine, rewrite my dreams for my future. I have to accept that it didn’t pen out the way I imagined it to ten years ago. I have to let go to move forward like I have to let go to make room, to be able to breathe.

Considering how much it hurts to go through my uni papers (many of them were on topics and courses I wasn’t even interested in), I don’t even want to know how much it will hurt when I get to my boxes of keepsakes. I do not intend to be radical and get rid of everything – definitely not! – but I do know that I kept too much stuff like concert or cinema tickets etc that I need to discard to make room for other more important things.

InDE

Picture form this page

MiniMe – Leave out all the Rest

Box on box on carton on a box …

Yesterday I started to translate the plan to simplify my life into action. In keeping both myself and my flat clean, simple and easy I try to come a little closer to understanding myself.

There is a connection between one’s inward and outward actions, appearances and behaviour and the inner world of thoughts and feelings. It is the old two sides of one coin thing: when there is chaos or just too much stuff in your living space, you cannot find the much needed things at the right moment anymore, you become annoyed while searching for them or just forget what you were about to do because you have to tidy up first. There is no room for intuition and spontaneous creativity anymore.

On the other hand, too much nonsense occupying our minds, the babbling of TV shows which make us feel numb and dull, fearful thoughts on preparing for and living in the future hold us back from listening to our inside quiet little true voice.

Step by Step…

So while I am trying to live in harmony and overcome my worries, I try to get rid of all the nasty habits that are fuelled by my subconscious fears. To support this process, I will – a little at a time – give away every object in my flat that is surplus to my true self.

Five Things Every Sunday

I read this really practical tip in Sina Jasur’s little book Minimalist – Mehr Freiheit. Mehr Geld. Mehr Glück. (Minimalist – More freedom. More Money. More Happiness. http://sina-jasur.de/minimalismus/). She got it from a man named Danny Dover, however, I think it is not really important where you get impulses like this one but to realise them immediately if they inspire you. So from now on it will be five things every Sunday.

5 Things this sunday

Photo: This Sunday’s result

Addition: The very first Thing I got rid of:

This advice is one from my own experience: Get rid of your TV! That was one of the best things I did four years ago. I wasn’t the couch-potato-watching-tv-for-hours-type but the „normal“ tv show consumer at the end of each working day.

The result of this easy action is more time, clearer thoughts, more brainpower (I mean it, I’m smarter than before because I can concentrate better) and less uncomfortable feelings about not being a 24h happy human being. TV just supports this notion, creates this fictitious flaw which we transport into our reality.

Things that remain

The beautiful light-rose pacific seashell my grandma used to have on her desk will always have a place on my windowsill.

My beloved favourite books because there is a big difference between profusion and diversity.

Things that remain

INde

Five Commom Prejudices about Adopting a Pet

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I have encountered the weirdest prejudices regarding rescue pets and thought I dispel a few myths. I am no pet professional and I do not want to convert you or make you feel bad about not adopting but I hope I can enlighten you a bit and make you reconsider some of your reservations about adopting a pet.

1. They are all damaged goods

First of all, we are talking about animals here – a life – and not a thrift store pair of jeans! Although, you will find traumatised animals at a rescue, it doesn’t mean they cannot heal and become the best companions on earth. It is amazing how many pets that went through some of the most horrific experiences want nothing more than to be near a human. They are still so full of love and trust. Just give them time and be patient. In addition, if you get them from a very good and dedicated rescue home they will have undergone assessment and/or lived in foster to check them and reintroduce them into a normal family life environment. Some of the issues that they showed when they entered the rescue might already be history when they are up for adoption. Last but not least, there are all kinds of pets that come to a rescue and not all of them come from the street or have been taken away from an abusive owner. Sadly, a lot of animals (esp cats and dogs) end up at a rescue because of life changes within the family like death, divorce, unemployment and eventual house move, and my favourite reason kids. These animals had good lives before and never experienced any trauma, so why should they be damaged goods? They still need a new home though.

2. I want a specific breed which is why I cannot get my pet from a rescue

Even as someone who grew up with a mongrel and only wants to have mixed breed dogs and horses (although my gelding officially isn’t), I get it that people are attracted to certain breeds. I, for example, love love love me a Dobermann. And if I had to choose a colour I would go for black. Never been a big fan of Terriers and couldn’t picture having a Collie as I had more than one bad experience with Collies when riding. Here I am, at my desk with my dogs next to me (we finally got our new pup – well 3 years – on Good Friday) and neither one is a Dobermann. One is definitely Collie and the other one definitely Terrier – who knows what else is in them (my guess is actually a little Staffie in both). Had I been the person to let my highly superficial attraction to certain breeds and colours guide me, I could have easily gotten a rescue dog that fits my list. There a rescues that specialise in certain breeds like Staffies, Collies, Labrador etc etc And you will certainly find a dog of whatever colour you like at a rescue as well. Just make sure that once you checked that the dog has the right colour or is the right breed that you also check that s/he has the right character. A good rescue will make sure to find the right dog for you and they will also admit that there might be things that they do not know about the dog (e.g. you live with Llamas and they’re quite simply not common in your region so the rescue cannot tell you if that’s gonna be an issue or not – my gelding, for example, gets scared shitless if he encounters a Llama or an Ostrich which makes sense as he is not only from Europe but from Scandinavia and these animals are quite simply not part of the landscape there).

If you still decide to get an animal from a breeder, please do your homework. Depending on the breed and the breeder’s morals and virtues, you might unknowingly support what is commonly known as torture breeding. Certain “desired” features of certain breeds lead to a lot of suffering, like flat noses or deformed skulls. Also decades of inbreeding leads to an increase of various organ defects or joint problems. In addition, some breeders treat the mothers like breeding machines and they are pregnant seconds after they gave birth and never see the light of day. By not caring where you get you pooch or kittie you financially support torture and cause you and your pet so much suffering.

3. You only get old pets at a rescue

Short answer: Utter nonsense!

You can get a lot of kitties and pups as well as other baby pets from a rescue – at certain times of the year more than the rescues can handle. I chose not to as the thought of having a pup overwhelmed me but I also didn’t get an old dog. The latter not because I generally only want young dogs. I chose reasonably young dogs as I had a shitty year 2014 with lots of losses and I just couldn’t cope with the idea of maybe just having 2-3 years before my next heartbreak. Of course, an animal’s young age is no guarantee as it might develop health issues (btw a lot more common in pedigrees and thoroughbreds) or have an accident but statistically a young pet means more years together. My hubby and I said that we will rescue older dogs and horses when we are older ourselves. I think while we are young and fit we should use our mobility to give pets the chance to exercise with us. When we are old and less mobile it wouldn’t be fair to get a pup that we cannot keep up with.

4. Getting and animal from a rescue is expensive

Well, it is soooo worth the money!

Let’s be honest here, again we are talking about a life! A family member – you wouldn’t sell your grandma for a dime, would you? Jokes aside: Almost all rescues are charities and run by volunteers. The amount you pay is actually a donation and none of it goes into the staff’s pockets but right back into their efforts of rescuing and treating animals in need. A part of what we paid goes directly into neutering another dog. When you adopt, you are actually saving 2 animals at the same time. Isn’t this worth the amount of a few hundreds? BTW getting a pedigree from a breeder can be so much more expensive. Getting your dog via a classified means you are buying your proverbial pig in a poke. You might save a dime on the purchase but who knows how much money you have to spend on health care, various standard treatments, training etc etc (Obviously, this can happen with any pet but your chances are higher if you get a pet online – let’s face it why do you think they put the pet on sale?).

5. Rescue animals are no family pets

Although more and more rescues opt against giving dogs to families with small children, this is not because the dogs are all kid-eating-monsters. It is a precaution after too many incidents with fighting dogs and small children have occurred. In most cases, these dogs did not come from a rescue. Not all rescues exercise this precautionary measure and you will find dogs that have been tested with small children. As I said before, they might know the history of the dog or have tested the dog at a foster home with children. If you have no children but might want some in a few years’ time, a rescue is as good a family pet as any. Most dogs, for example, will see the baby instantly as a new pup in the pack and they are actually wired to protect and care. My grandma’s dog once attacked my mum when she came home and took baby me in her arms. I simply woke up and started crying and my granny’s dog thought my mum caused me harm, so she ended up in her arm. Let me tell you, this is not the norm and it never happened again but it shows you that they usually protect the babies not attack them. Dogs and cats can also overcome their baby anxiety with training. Again, we are talking about a family member, try counselling before you opt for divorce.

So, this is it. Keep your fingers crossed that my dogs become BFFs soon. So far they get along. No love at first sight but who really believes in it? We only had a little grrr here and there if the new very bouncy dog got an my other rather shy dog’s nerves. My baby is suffering from a bout of jealousy but she started coming back to me for a cuddle, so I hope this won’t last.

InDE

Why Wait Procrastinate Now!

I thought I share some of my favourite YouTube channels to watch for procrastination. This ranking is random and has nothing to do with preferences.

1. Exploring Alternatives

A very nice channel about alternative living produced by Mat and Danielle. Always a treat to watch. Unfortunately, a lot of the forms of alternative living presented on their channel are illegal in Europe or at least in densely populated parts of Europe like Germany and the UK.

2. Off Grid with Doug and Stacy

I just stumbled across their channel via Dirtpatcheaven and I fell in love instantly. I love that they include a lot of foraging and canning tips. We want to do a foraging course this summer with a colleague from work and are so excited – can’t wait.

And Dirtpatcheaven: https://www.youtube.com/user/dirtpatcheaven

3. Zero Waste Channels

Johnson and Singer – The queens of Zero-Waste! Unfortunately, neither one uploads a lot of new content but their old videos are worth watching. Girl Gone Green is an active Zero-Waste Youtuber and also worth checking out.

Bea Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl4jHrJ3G0yE5Al525YOL-Q

Lauren Singer’s Trash is for Tossers: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgjw6tZNyjR_8zIFDsIPpww

GirlGoneGreen

4. FitnessBlender

We are truely in love with Kelli & Daniel from Fitnessblender.com Unfortunately, I can be sooo lazy and my doggies lose it if I work out in their presence, so I can only work out in the evening. As I am still in hibernation mode – don’t ask me why we already have over 14 hours of daylight here in the south of Scotland – so my body still wants to go to bed at 5pm which is when my hubby returns and the only time I can work out without canine interruptions. Anyways, if you are interested in great workouts, food and health tips, check out their channel and webpage. I’ve never met people from the fitness industry that are so open-minded and free of prejudice. They want you to feel good, no matter what shape or form your body comes in.

Their website: fitnessblender.com

5. TED

Do I have to say more? Watch a talk on whatever interests you and you will immediately feel more enlightened.

TED: https://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

TEDx: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsT0YIqwnpJCM-mx7-gSA4QTEDx

My favourite talk of 2017 (well, so far):

Happy procrastination!

InDE

A Time When We Can No Longer Afford Our Wastefulness

But now I have been though hundreds of towns and cities in every climate and against every kind of scenery, and of course they’re all different, and the people have points of difference, but in some ways they are alike. American cities are like badger holes, ringed with trash – all of them – surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish. Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountains of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use. In this, if in no other way, we can see the wild and reckless exuberance of our production, and waste seems to be the index. Driving along I thought how in France or Italy every item of these thrown-out things would have been saved and used for something. This is not said in criticism of one system or the other but I wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness – chemical waste in rivers, metal waste everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in sea. When an Indian village became too deep in its own filth, the inhabitants moved. And we have  no place to which to move.

John Stein, Travels with Charley – In Search of America

When I sat down this morning and started reading Travels with Charley while having my breakfast, I did not think it would insprire me to write another blog post. I had read this book many years ago and I decided to read it again as inspiration for a different project I have in mind but I didn’t think it would inspire me to write about waste.

Reading Steinbeck’s observations about the environmental effects of consumerism – visible to him back in the early 60s – had something uncanny about it. How everything he describes in his little gloss is true and has been true for a few decades. Considering that he could see where it was heading makes all those claims void saying that we couldn’t have known the effects back then and that the issues only now become clear to us.

Today there would also be no need to say “[t]his is not said in criticism of one system or the other” as all the big (and small) European countries lost their thriftiness and all contribute to the problem. His observations are true for the countries on both sides of the pond although the degree of waste and pollution is undeniably bigger in the US – sorry there is no way of sugar-coating this. Still, we are all to blame when “an Indian village [becomes] to deep in [our] filth”.

Just this week I read some shocking articles about the effects of our waste dumping in Africa, about who is responsible for removing nuclear waste in Germany and that an EU lab considered Gylophosat as non-carcinogenic and that it might be allowed to be used. We cannot afford our wastefulness and still – like the brainwashed zombies that we are- we consume, buy new, throw away, want more and cheaper. We don’t care where is comes from, how it is produced and certainly don’t give a f*** what happens to our stuff once we decide we no longer want it.

John Steinbeck was a prophet in the saddest sense.

InDE

Sources:

Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley – In Search of America. London: Penguin Group. 1986. Print. p.26.

I stole the picture from this website.

Let’s talk about Lent

Before you roll your eyes or immediately click away, I want to assure you that this is not going to be a sermon on how to properly prepare for the most important event in the Christian calender. Exclamations like “heresy!” and “burn that witch” are more likely to be made in connection with me than “pious” or “what a good Christian”. But simply based on my upbringing I do consider myself a Christian and this upbringing does, indeed, impact on my values and moral standards. Still, I am neither church-going (only if I can’t help it – like funerals or weddings – or if the church is considered a historic site) nor do I ever read the Book (unless I need it to better understand a medieval text, so purely out of scholarly interest).

Despite my lack of love for the institution and most of the traditions, I do like the idea of lent. Not necessarily the whole prayer, penance and atonement part but the fasting bit. Please, don’t confuse lent fasting with juice fasting! Why observing lent (well, I try each year but don’t always succeed) appeals to me is that it gives me a chance to reflect on my lifestyle and my habits (both negative and positive) and to realise in what an abundance I actually live. Denying myself certain things that I consume – and I don’t just mean eat – makes me see that I have enough even though I am anything but rich (in a monetary sense). It is a great opportunity to break out of bad habits as abundance can cause you pain and worry.

So, I do a combination of things: I reduce stuff that I think I cannot live without, I cut out senseless spending (i.e. anything I don’t need for “modern day” survival), I stay away from some unhealthy habits and foods that I overconsume and I try to be more in the present, grateful and conscientious in my daily actions. Realising how much we have and consume without reflection not only helps me understand how blessed I am and how little others have. It is not that I am not aware of the fact that there is poverty, hunger and exploitation in this world (and I also don’t actually think that the rather marginal restrictions I impose on my life can ever be considered a sacrifice) but I am definitely not aware of the fact how much I actually have. In fact, you will hear me complain about the shortage of money and the fact that I cannot afford this or that most of the time. I am a very whiny person and unable to ever anwer the question “How are you doing” with fine or great. If you lucky you will get a “so-so” from me.

As I’m already trying to downsize my stuff, minimise waste and reduce my consumption (with varying degrees of success but then again I just started and all of these things need time), I decided not to overdo it with my lent resolutions and just do really small, achievable things.

So, here are my lent resolutions

I want to drastically reduce the time I spend on my tablet, especially watching YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly watch inspirational videos on healty and/or alternative living but I don’t do it in moderation. I am obsessed with the lives of others and as we all know our “keeping up with the Joneses” voyeurism is one of the most powerful driving forces behind consumerism. It not only makes us want more, better, newer but it is the perfect distraction from our own lives and it is a great excuse not to improve as we will never be as successful/healthy/happy/smart/tidy as them, am I right? Why try? So, I decided to cut out YouTube Mon-Sat and only allow myself 1,5 hours on Sunday (lent breaking yeah) to get some inspiration.

Speaking of juice fasting, I actually need to reduce my juice consumption as it is next to imposssible to get juice in glass around here. So, goodbye 0,5l of apple juice each day. I will only have my glass of orange juice in the morning.

I want to reduce the amount of dairy in my life (maybe go 75% vegan over time – love cheese and eggs too much to be 100%) as it is not only not really healthy but that the stuff is usually individually packed in plastic (I won’t even talk about the living condition of most of the animals as it is simply too depressing). If I reduce my overall dairy intake, I can reduce my waste and use the extra cash on organic products. I will start with creme, sour creme and creme fraiche as I am not prepared yet to cut down my yoghurt and cheese (baby steps!).

I will not buy any books for 6 weeks. This is going to be so hard. I have enough books that I haven’t read or finished and for everything else, I will use the library.

By the way, I am one of those crazy people who does lent twice a year. Easter lent (Ash Wednesday to Easter) and Martinmas fasting (St. Martin’s Day to Christmas).

InDE

This picture is a collage of cards from this website: http://www.someecards.com/ecards/lent/