Monday, 27 January 2014

J to J report # 3 - & 'Stuff'

The last two weeks have been about the same. 2/7 and 1/7 No Spend Days. YTD total 5/26 or about 20% (does that make it sound better or not?). I can say though, that everything purchased was on the Nice list (fist pump).

When I set myself this challenge, and thought about the 'rules', the Naughty and Nice lists, I thought I was being quite thorough, but as I travel the path new questions keep cropping up.

Such as: How do I treat those occasions when I don't spend money, but my husband does? I don't mean when he buys something purely for himself, like a coffee on the way to work, but when he spends money on things that the family needs, like going to get the bread and the milk? If he didn't do it, I probably would (though I might delay it by an extra day & make do ;) ). Or when I didn't feel up to cooking & asked him to sort dinner (the plan was sausages & veges) and he decided to order take-away? I would really appreciate some ideas on this.

I suppose that there are two main aims of this challenge, perhaps three, and I may have mentioned them before: to save some money; to reduce our consumption and environmental footprint; and to reduce our focus on 'Stuff' as a source of happiness and fulfilment, to instil the knowledge that these come from what we do, not what we have. I highly recommend that you visit "The Story of Stuff" (after you've finished reading this of course), and start with the title video, which may have been one of the catalysts, a number of years ago, for me to think more deeply about these issues and start trying to change.

True happiness & fulfilment come from what you do, not what you have.
Part of this, for me, is also about paring back the physical clutter in my life, clearing the house of things that are unnecessary, things that no longer have any use, that just take up space and energy. Now, please don't take this to mean any item that has no practical application, I might be an Engineer by training, but this doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the importance of beauty in our lives, and that some things are valuable purely because they provide that.

However, often the 'purely ornamental' things which we keep in our lives, the pictures on our walls for example, actually provide more than just beauty to our homes. As I sit here in my bedroom and look at the pictures on the wall I am transported back to Venice, to a trip with my mother when we met a local artist whose work seemed so much more evocative of the place than any others we had seen but which, as a student, I didn't feel I could afford, and of searching for, but not finding, him in the rain the next day because I realised that his art really was worth it to me. Then of receiving a parcel from my mother months later, after she had found a dealer who sold his work in Melbourne. Of returning to Venice a number of years later with my husband, and looking for the artist again, this time finding his wife and mother instead as they manned his stall, and purchasing two more pieces to remember our trip by.

Behind me hangs a wall quilt, would have served a practical purpose in mediaeval Europe, but not here and now. But this one was made by my mother and has photographs from our wedding on the front, and messages handwritten by our guests and overseas relatives on the back.

Some things might not serve any 'practical' purpose, but do serve the dual purposes of being beautiful and reminding us of people, places and events that made us happy and fulfilled, perhaps even helping us get through those times which aren't quite so wonderful.

Then there are other things, still lovely, and still with some meaning, that still could be classed as clutter. Most of the things in my life that fall into this category have arrived in my life as gifts, and they stay in my life because they are gifts from people who I esteem highly, but they are things maybe that don't quite 'fit' my life. Actually most of these are items that are both lovely and have a practical purpose, just not to me, and therein lies the rub. What do I do? How do I stop them cluttering my home/life without feeling that I am somehow sending the message that the person who gave me the gift is also clutter, when that is not the case at all. The photographs and memories of times we have spent together mean far more to me than gifts for my birthday or Christmas. Maybe if I printed a few out and added them to our photo wall? Or moved the albums to a place where I might pick them up more often?Do you think I could then find more appreciative homes for the beautiful, but unused, gifts?

Talk to you soon,


  1. Let's try this again - Google ate my last comment.

    Don't count what your husband does. Focus on being aware of your habits first.

    As for 'stuff', if it holds a particular memory (paintings from Venice) keep it. If not, take photos from a variety of angles, load them on the computer, and out it goes. Ditto family pictures, scan them, store them on the computer (and an external backup, just in case) and you will find you not only have them, but you will look at them more.

    1. Thanks Riley, You are right about looking at photos on the computer more than the ones in boxes - I'll put that on the 'to do' list. Of course the ones I look at most are the ones on the wall :)