Thursday, 7 August 2014

Goals for 2014: Be Kinder

This was a trickier update to write than my own less post. Which I guess makes sense; the act of clearing out excess material things has a nice, tangible feel to it. The process - sorting, dividing, giving away, throwing out or recycling – is physical, your success made evident by the resulting extra space. Measuring whether or not you’ve managed to ‘be kinder’ is a bit more difficult. Even with the best intentions of being nicer to those around you, life can get in the way – I don’t think I’ve been too successful at leaving my work stresses at the door when I come home, for example. I have tried to make a conscious effort to really listen to people when they’re talking to me, rather than simply thinking about my next response (a bad habit that I bet we all fall into sometimes – listening well is a skill, and takes practise). I’m sure I’ve got some way to go on this though. 

The one tangible thing I can think to count towards my ‘being kinder’ goal is becoming a Centrepoint Mentor this year – although due to circumstances out of my control, I haven’t been able to do as much mentoring as I’d hoped (fingers crossed this will change in the second half of the year). 

Anyway, I’m going to make a conscious effort to be kinder as 2014 rolls on. I think for me, being kinder often comes down to being gentler - with others and with yourself. Think the best of people – if a stranger, or even a colleague or friend, is a dick to you, assume they’re having a bad day. Most people are dealing with worries of some kind. Forgive easily. You don’t need to be a pushover, but find little ways to make other people’s lives easier - just because.

Kindness seems to be somewhat of a theme this year. Over the last few months I’ve come across lots of posts on the subject. Here are some of my favourites:

>> One women's mission to give elaborate cakes to complete strangers is pretty sweet.

>> Sarah gives lots of great advice, and I particularly enjoyed these 19 tiny things you can do to make the world a (slightly) better place.

>> I loved Elena's 7 simple ways to radiate kindness.

>> Important, but often over looked: don't forget to be kind to yourself.

>> I found a lovely short animation on this Brain Pickings article, George Saunders and the Power of Kindness:

Image: Glenn Fleishman, Flickr CC

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Goals For 2014: Own Less

In my last post I talked about getting organised, finding clever storage solutions and my new found love for minimal, low impact, tiny houses. I've actually been trying to thin out my possessions since January, when I resolved to own less. As well as parting ways with as many books and DVDs as I could bear to, and saying goodbye to several pairs of shoes that my giant flipper feet could never really cope with, I've spent some time going through all my clothes and having a GOOD clear out. 

Jess's Super-Duper Fail-Proof Take-No-Prisoners Clothes Clear-Out Method 

1. First, break your clothes down into manageable chunks. Ever gone at some spring cleaning really hard, that realised half way thorough (when EVERYTHING YOU OWN is on the bed) that you'd really rather not? Yeah, we're trying to avoid that.

2. Pick ONE place that you store clothes, e.g. a wardrobe, shelves or a chest of drawers - if it's a big chest of drawers, I recommend just picking one to start with. (That way, if you get bored after one drawer...freedom is yours!).

3. Lay the contents out and take a good look at each item. Set aside any piece that you're absolutely certain you love and don't want to part with. Be honest - don't put anything in this pile that's a maybe.

4. Next, go through and pick out anything that is embarrassingly tatty. You know what I'm talking about. That jumper that's more bobbles than...not bobbles. The horribly misshapen cardigan. Those pants that may, in some past life, have been a colour other than grey-ish. (My personal exception to this - a few crappy old t-shirts for decorating and hair-dying - always room for a few of those in your collection). Old t-shirts that you don't need can be cut up and used as dusters, if you're that way inclined. If you have access to a textile recycling bin/bank which will take clothes in any condition (for turning into loft installation and such), you can pop the rest in there.

5. Now, you should be left with the clothes you don't love but which still function nicely as clothes - if not on you, then on somebody else. Try each of them on and assess, honestly, if they make you feel and/or look good - preferably both. If they do neither, stick them in a pile for the charity shop (or freecycle, our your relatives or pals, as you prefer). Be RUTHLESS. That top that is unflattering now is not going to magically become more flattering with age. Those jeans that squish you to the point of light-headedness are not going to get any looser.Get rid! Clothes are meant to fit YOU, not the other way around.

6. Rinse and repeat steps 1-5 until you've gone through all your clothes. Et voilĂ ! Your lean, mean streamlined wardrobe is good to go. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Getting Organised

At the weekend we watched a documentary about tiny houses. I like the ethos behind this movement - a return to living simply in houses of around 100-400 sq feet. In a way I've inadvertently become a tiny-houser myself; our flat has basically three rooms, and I doubt it's more than 500 sq feet in size.

When you have two people living in a petite flat, it's pretty essential to keep it as organised as possible. Unfortunately the work I do means that I often have various piles of paper - reports, documents, books - taking up space on the coffee table. Not ideal! 

My solution was this cute fold-able storage box. Picked up for a fiver from Tiger's new-ish store on Tottenham Court Road (which, dangerously for my wallet, is walking distance from where I work) it's just the right size for chucking in those bits and bobs that don't quite have a proper place to be. As well as the fruity pattern, my favourite feature is that the box is held together by press studs - so when not in use, the body of the box can be folded down and fitted inside the lid. Neat, no? 
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