Five by Nine

Inspired by Dianne Sylvan, I’ve compiled a list of fives. I call it the 9×5 because I’m a little bit nerdy.

5 Items in my Bag

1 – phone
2 – MP3 player
3 – How to Practise by the Dalai Lama
4 – bottle of water
5 – purse

Titles of 5 Files in My Documents Folder

1 – Blog 2010.doc
2 – I guess I.doc
3 – poetry in motion.doc
4 – report500.doc
5 – self sufficient.doc

5 Things on my Coffee Table Desk

1 – lava lamp
2 – mug of green tea x2
3 – laptop/speakers
4 – fingerless gloves
5 – digital clock

5 Things in my Fridge/Freezer [at University]

1 – frozen spinach
2 – mixed vegetables
3 – a lemon
4 – light/space
5 – butter

5 Things by my Bed

1 – psychologies magazine
2 – The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures in the Chemistry of Consciousness
3 – pair of husband’s socks
4 – box of tissues
5 – remote for CD player

The last 5 songs I heard

1 – “Heaven Touch Me” – Eden’s Curse
2 – “Ignorance” – Paramore
3 – “A Little Piece of Heaven” – Avenged Sevenfold
4 – “The Harvest” – Sonata Arctica
5 – “Spookshow Baby” – Rammstein (Rob Zombie cover)

5 Things on my Pin-board

1 – 2010 calendar
2 – picture of myself with my husband in early 2007
3 – a poem I wrote in August
4 – a mini-dream-catcher
5 – a sketch of a horse my old best friend drew for me

5 things I can de-clutter

1 – Power Thoughts: 365 Daily Affirmations [replace in bookcase]
2 – milky way wrapper [bin it!]
3 – bowl&spoon [take downstairs and wash up]
4 – notepads [gather into one area]
5 – a dried up glue-stick [bin it!]

5 Things on my Floor

1 – two sock-cats [pictures to follow]
2 – box from University [yet to unpack]
3 – tarot cards [in their box]
4 – slippers
5 – two sewing boxes [from making the sock-creatures]

If you do one, I’d love you to leave a comment with a link to yours.

~Rose.

Simplicity: Decluttering

Simplicity is all about the essentials, about removing excess. On the physical plane, this is most commonly seen as de-cluttering.

These are just the steps I use. There are many lists and ideas out there and I’ve compiled a couple of articles at the end of this post with further information.

Step One: Rubbish

Remove all rubbish. For me this includes mugs of tea, yoghurt pots, used plates (from lunch, not from months ago, though if you have those, remove them at once!!).

Step Two: Project Materials

I’ve been making cats (URL) so my floor and desk are littered with bits of sock, cut threads, button eyes, different colour threads, different colour socks, a needle, scissors and two sewing kit boxes. Before I de-clutter, I need to set these objects aside. Similarly, the bill stating I owe the government over £6,600 already and receipts are part of my ongoing budget plan so need to be filed away or at least put on the other side of the room.  I also have the book I’m reading on my desk, so would move that to sit beside my bed or on my bookcase.

Step Three: Focal Points

Next, pick out no more than ten objects (I’m making this up) to be the focus of this area. For example, I’m working on my desk currently, so my focuses are:

Pretty clock, Inherited cat picture, old PC & keyboard, Laptop, Phone, cup, coaster, Lamp.

What else could I need? I’ve a calculator in a draw and post-it-notes on the shelf above my desk, a pen in the drawer. Obviously you can replace my “old PC or my laptop with “pen pot” or even “stationary tray” if you have a simple tray of paperclips/treasury tags/safety pins etc. My picture of cats may be a picture of your family or a calendar. You may need a dictionary or thesaurus to hand, so either find it a drawer/shelf or hold it up with a pretty picture/pen pot as a

bookend. At the moment I’ve got a lava lamp on here too; but then this isn’t a desk I use for work now I’ve half moved out, so I let that live there.

So, remove all things except for those focal objects. Those things with either simple practicality or sentimental value which make you smile. Now we can sort through the rest of the things.

Step Four: Sorting

Across all the articles I’ve read (I’d guess close to 100 by now!) they split this task into three sections and suggest two options. So, we have Donate, Throw or Keep. Sort each into a pile.

Then, I’d suggest you go through your “keep” pile and ask yourself about every item:

Will I use this?

Does this bring me joy?

Are there ANY negative feelings towards it? (If so, get rid of it!!! If it’s uniquely useful, hide it in a drawer/cupboard when not in use.)

When did I last use it? Do I have another object which does its job?

“98. Clean out the old. Get rid of anything that reminds you of a person or time in your life that brings up unhappymemories.”   – 100 tips to simplify your life.

In fact I use this quote to determine my selections:

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” ~  William Morris.

Step Five: Your Keep Pile.

This can be split into further options. This may seem lengthy, but I fins splitting the process into this little steps can make it easier to spread the process out. If you only have 15 minutes a day to spare for de-cluttering, you can do step 4 on one night and step 5 on the next.

New Piles:

Belongs in Another Room/the Car

Belongs in someone else’s house [take to car]

Needs Fixing

Give it a home of its own.

Not sure if I need

For the latter option, it’s a common idea to place all these items in a box, seal it and write the date 6 month’s from today’s date on the lid.  If it’s unopened/the bits still in it by that date are to be donated/sold.

Step Six: The Aftermath & Routine

Looks at your suddenly tidy area/room/house and really feel the space. Open the window, light some incense or just lay on your bed for a couple of minutes and breathe in the scent of empty space. It’s so freeing and can be a major motivator for the rest of the house. Now is the time to work out some form of ritual or routine to keep it this way. A suggestion I liked is the two-minute pick-up where you put away everything not being used right now each time you get up from your desk so it’s fresh when you return.

Step Seven: Define

“Simplicity is…”

Fill in the gaps. For me, simplicity is not focusing on the things important to me; but having my entire life BE those important things. My life is truly mine and everything I do and feel is taking me where I want to go.

At Abundance Blog, simplicity is defined:

“97. Simplicity doesn’t mean going without, it means taking the time and making the effort to decide who you are and what you really want, what’s most important to you, and what you want your life to look like, so that everything in your home and in your life is a reflection of your authentic self.”100 tips to simplify

For a longer and more in-depth look at clutter I recommend:

Abundance Blog

Small Notebook

Zen Habits – Living Simply

Zen Habits – Clutter

Main themes again mention clearing visible and most-used spaces first, scheduling in de-clutter time, no matter if it takes five minutes at the end of the day or 3 solid days of it.

However, reading and writing an article on de-cluttering doesn’t work unless you de-clutter: Whoops. I better get started then!

~Rose

Simplicity: Possessions

In the end, I brought home one box (l:30xw:15xh:25cm), a suitcase, a carrier bag of shoes/fluffy toys my candle + incense burner, and an A4 zip folder full of this years lecture notes. My books are in my suitcase.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to do a quick sweep of my room today and remove things form this bedroom that I don’t use/need/want. Living at University for 12 weeks; I know that everything in my room at home isn’t being used and thus may not be necessary. Therefore, it’s a perfect opportunity to have a minimalism sweep.

I really do want that simple life, but a part of me likes/ feels bad about giving/throwing away my current possessions. And with so much to get rid of, that’s a lot to feel guilty over.

I might need an expensive medical physiotherapy type mattress when I have my own house; but I’d love sleeping on that mattress on the floor. And if I live the minimal/frugal lifestyle now; I’ll have money to buy one.

And looking at that list I made in February 2008, I’m taking basically everything from it home with me. I’ve got magazines and lecture notes, books and my music player, my make-up, jewellery and bits of my altar [I have a separate altar at home already], All I miss from that picture by going home, is the husband to snuggle with. And he’ll be there for that in a week or so. I really hope I can be moved to cut down on the clutter in my bedroom when I get home; I really want that simplicity; that knowledge that all of my possessions [minus furniture, food, cleaning supplies etc] can be fit into a car.  Some people aim for a backpack; I’m aiming for a car. It’s a personal goal for an individual purpose. I don’t wish to travel around the world [and I think I must be the only teenager I know who doesn’t], so I don’t have any need to consolidate my belongings into that small a compartment.

Maybe going to university is the ultimate “I’m not my stuff” experience. A lot of the people I’ve met haven’t seen my room here, nor at home; and I’m still me.

Actually, my friend Ant came over yesterday to say goodbye – we’ve become quite close since July and I noticed him looking at my collage. It’s a collection of 14 pictures of me and my closest friends at some of our happiest times: Marie and I at the druid festival, Ant and I in Pav Tav, the husband with me in Ireland; meeting C, my first Esbat with Emerald, my best friends Malin and Kami.  What would I rather portray to the people who come into my home: someone who is rich enough to buy the most expensive gadget, or that I’ve friends who love me and who I have a wonderful time and experience life with?

What’s worth more, money or love? Which is those is true wealth?

I think we all know.

I know when I visit facebook and look at people’s photo albums of them volunteering in Nambia and seeing them holding Koala bears in Australia; seeing them looking out over the Hong Kong sky; I think “wow, these people have experienced life; I respect them and want to know more”. If happiness isn’t enough of a reason, it’s almost seen as a sign of knowledge and wisdom.

I’m giving a lot of photos away for Christmas, photos and “experience vouchers” are my main gifts; because this term especially, I’ve learnt that experiences are so much more powerful, less cluttering and bring more vibrancy to my heart than any possessions.

Related:  Part 1 – Finances

~Rose

Simplicity: Finances

I love having a budget. When I say I have a budget, I mean I write down everything I spend. In the 12 weeks I’ve been here; having to spend over £120 on bus tickets, buy Christmas/Yule presents and materials for my cloak, get my ears pierced, nights out, visits to the beach, attend rituals and circles, workshops and dance classes, and of course, buy food and toilet rolls, cleaning supplies and pay bills; I’ve managed to spend just £465, which makes £38.75 a week.

Without the bus alone, that’s £28.79 a week.

Now, I’ve not included my rent; because to allow this to apply to most readers; you’ve all got houses and it’s likely your food/going out/clubs money is in a different place/separately measured to your mortgage/rent money.

Oh, I need to point out that £26 of that £120 is 3 weeks of bus tickets for January when I return (they come in packs of four; I’ve only used on from that pack this term). So for the money spend this term, my average comes to:

£36.62

Can you beat that? As you can see from my updates; I get my five a day, make smoothies and spend a good £10 a week on tea alone. I buy any food that I need more often than once a fortnight (milk, fruit, veg and bread) from the co-op on campus.

I also need to point out I went out drinking for both a friend’s birthday and Halloween, I attended three taster dance classes, a make-up tutorial, a wild foods day, three singing workshop opportunities, a druid circle, Handfasting and a wiccan circle. When I did my Yule shopping I bought chocolate seashells and macaroons “just because” and let myself buy expensive organic cucumbers. I didn’t scrimp and save and live in misery to do this. I didn’t hide in my room and only buy milk, bread and pasta.

I shopped around. I wanted two diaries – a small, week to view one and a larger, day to page one. In places like W H Smiths and Rymans (used to be partners), they wanted over £15 for both.

I paid £2.99 for both. The large, day to page diary from Poundland and a £1.99 cat week-to-view diary, with pen and the moon phases in it (added bonus!) from The Works.

It took me perhaps an extra ten minutes to go to those shops and compare the prices in my head. And is ten minutes worth a saving of £10?

It is when you’re a student.

How do you live simply? How do you sort your finances? What would you love to learn most about money? How can I improve on my own finances? I’d love to, by the end of the academic year, be down to an average weekly spending of £20. That would be amazing. Any tips?

~Rose.

Edit: Today I got a bill for last year’s student loan.

Current Debt:  £ 6678.24

Due to enter Repayment: 06/04/2012

Any tips on money-making for a student who can’t find a part time job? Current ideas include publishing my book of poetry online, selling the plants of Sussex guide I’ve started from the Wild Plants Day, or allowing adverts here.

Simplicity

Saturday Seven:

* I am so grateful that even without an income, I’m doing okay on living on the money I’ve saved from 19 birthdays and Christmases.

* I value my lecturers, who make an effort to connect with us and make the most boring statistics (Mixed Analysis of Variance [ANOVA]) interesting by dressing up as Santa and working out that faeries are light-weights compared to elves.

* I am grateful that I have health. Although I’ve got a cold, my knees are hurting this week and I’ve stomach cramps, I know they’ll pass and I am still able to walk and dance and sing.

* I fully treasure the fact that I have both the access to and healthy hearing to listen to music which brings me such joy.

* I truly appreciate my husband, for his patience, strength and his selflessness. We’ve each had tough weeks and still we’re together; strong, compassionate and in love as always. I’m so blessed to have that in my life.

* I am so thankful that I have a wonderful, supportive family of friends who expect nothing more of me, than to be myself.

* I’m happy that I have a housemate who’ll do some of the dirty work when it comes to cleaning, who’ll share his rice with me.

* I am thankful that I have healthy eyesight and hearing so that I may learn, read and experience the world.

* I appreciate that I have access to safe and fresh food and water.

* I am blessed with a roof over my head and a lock on my door, so I can find solitude when I feel I need it.

* I really value the opportunities I have to live, love, laugh and learn: To try new things, to learn about Mother Earth and to meet the communities of like-minded people.

* I’m so happy that I have enough hot water. Something about the shower or splashing it on my face from the tap just brings me back to my core; centring me.

* I’m utterly blessed to have access to Karasu at the Creative Meditation and Buddhism Society; where I can learn, enquire, discuss, open up and express emotions and problems. I’m blessed to have access to his thoughts and wisdom; to his compliments and to see how he sees me. He’s truly a gift in my life.

* I treasure my body, even though I’ve fed it more chocolate and cherry coke than vegetables this week, it still dances, walks, talks and thinks; though the latter isn’t up to it’s usual standard. I value its strength and flexibility to work even when it gets less nutrients.

I am utterly blessed with this life and I have everything to be thankful for. [And that’s double seven, but you can never express enough gratitude]. I also want to thank all of you who read my blog and my twitter; thank you for putting up with me as I hit depression for the first time since 2006. You’ve been fantastic.


Simplicity

I began to pack Thursday night and realised how little I need to take home. The make-up I use weekly, clothes, my belt and jewellery. Umm.. Uh.. Lecture notes, diary, magazines I’ve yet to read and a text book. My laptop and speakers… vitamin tablets, tarot cards.

My “handbag” items – camera, phone, mp3 player, book, purse.  And my cuddly toys from my bed?

And I look at all the crap in this room and think that that’s not much. My make-up collection is basically two eye showers, an eyeliner and a tube of mascara. I guess I should take my earrings home now I have my ears pierced… My favourite nail polish too.

That’s not much to survive a month. And to be honest; if I left my make-up, jewellery, magazines, diary and earrings here for the holiday; I likely wouldn’t notice.

I need to take the incense and candles home as it’s technically not allowed in our house.  But otherwise, I don’t need anything. I’m not sure if that’s a change of attitude or perspective or I have less stuff or.. what. But it made me smile.

To live on just the stuff I take daily (handbag items), the fluffy toys my husband gave me to keep a part of him close, my laptop for communication and notes/books/magazines to revise for exams/write up my essays and lab report/learn/experience fictional worlds.  It made me really happy as I realised I might be getting close to that ideal I saw when I first began this blog.

Today, I am grateful to just be.

Stars Bless,
~Rose.

Closing

So, it’s the final day; the end of my first autumn term of Second-Year University Courses. I thought now was a good time to update on my University experience.

Challenges Undertaken:

  • 5-a-day-for-14-days

And for a week after I did this without thinking twice about it! 5/5

  • Daily Meditation

Find weekly meditation easier to feel effects of now I do it each evening too (four weeks of daily practise and counting). 4/5

  • Daily Physiotherapy

Mixed results here; but I agree doing any form of exercise daily is good. 4/5

  • No chocolate [3 days]

No real difference noticed except by day 3 it was actually EASY to do [but hard as HELL on day 2]… Only ate it day 4 to celebrate anniversary with husband and forgot to get back into it. 3/5

General Health Lessons Learnt:

  • Use a MUG for ALL drinks – instead of PLASTIC cups [water actually DOES taste different]
  • Rice isn’t THAT hard to cook; not worth microwaving
  • Pasta Bake, Frozen vegetables and Potatoes CAN be re-heated in a microwave
  • Some days soup and toast really is the healthiest/best option
  • Fresh fruit is surprisingly easy to consume
  • Missing my daily iron tablet DOES have an effect
  • Five-a-day is EASIER with Fresh vegetables than frozen
    • Because I bother to cook; I get a variety: That bag of beans/peas/sweetcorn/carrots are getting on my nerves now.
  • Sometimes cucumber tastes bad no matter what price you pay [time of year maybe?]
  • I do CHOOSE healthy food sometimes
    • When I’m aware that the junk will still be there after a healthy meal; I feel no pressure to eat it now and often don’t have it after the healthy option in the end. Knowing I can eat junk whenever I want means I eat less of it.
  • Even healthy habits are hard to break; so make them.
    • Kept getting at least 4-a-day from habit.
  • There’s no such thing as “too many leftovers”
  • I never get sick of tea, so need to learn to limit it
    • Been having up to 26 cups on some days! This brings our energy/water bill up due to toilet trips thus MUST cut down.
  • Eating apple cores/the dry end of a cucumber won’t kill you
    • I was brought up with crusts cut off my bread, apples already cored and only the smoothest breast of chicken… I now find it VERY difficult to eat certain foods and am deliberately pushing myself to eat a bit more of the apple/the exposed to air end of a cucumber that’s been freshly cut/food I drop on the counter (if raw – just a rinse and cooking it will kill the germs)
  • Being too clean harms my skin
    • Found this with my ears and now with my hands too.
  • How to measure dry foods
    • Place raw portions of rice/pasta/vegetables to ½ fill your plate/bowl (water will increase it’s size)
  • Canned sweetcorn beats frozen
  • Breaded Chicken Breast tastes nicer than chicken nuggets; but turkey dinosaurs still beat turkey mince
  • Trying to be simple/healthy/clean/environmentally-friendly in a house with students is difficult!

Speaking of the environment,  I need to update you on my Green Goals for 2009: and plan some goals for 2010.

So, let’s begin.

Halloween Intentions:

Daily Spiritual Practise [or at least weekly] –ticks-
* 30,000 words by 30 November –ticks-
* Blog Weekly –ticks-
* Ritual for each festival  –In Progress-
* Cut down on junk food
* Keep taking 5-a-day -In Progress-
* Some for of weekly movement [dance, free-weights ]  -Bellydance, Hillwalking & Nia tried-

GREEN GOALS:

The enboldened are completed, the italic in process.

In 2009:

* Cook more from scratch
* Eat more fruit and vegetables
* Increase my hand washing load as it dries on my radiator.
* Continue to recycle [re-use spare cardboard box to house it all between emptying].
* Use my re-useable bags more often.
* In the summer I want to grow some herbs

* Keep my radiator off at certain times/wear more clothes.

* Knit myself a scarf.
* Find a fitness routine and STICK TO IT.
* Use the Lemon Bus – this is an amazing phenomena. It’s CHEAPER if you want more than a one-way bus trip and runs on chip fat.
* Donate bric-a-brac and clothes to charities twice.
* Be diligent about electric and water usage – bottle/use cooked water in tea.
* MAKE SOME SMOOTHIES (or ANY food) with my whizzer.
* Keep room organised/clean/tidy. (never going to happen but I still aim for it)
* Re-use glass jars. (Good idea from TopHat; so Thanks to You)
* Get re-usable cloth Sanitary pads.

So I get 8/16 which is exactly 50% which was my aim.

Shall work on some 2010 goals and let you know; thanks for being so supportive and I’d love some new ideas for simple but effective green goals/changes.

~Rose