Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 4) - Doesn't Matter If We Don't Make Lists

Due to recent upheaval in my personal life, I never did continue the series about the '100 Thing Challenge' but now that I am finally trying to settle back into a routine, it is time to turn my thoughts back to how Minimalism, even maybe extreme Minimalism, could better help my life and even sanity.

Suffice to say, despite my pride in being what Westerners would definitely call a Minimalist, hauling all my stuff from one home to another more than once in the same year (and knowing I need to do it all over again in some months) has made me question even the items that do remain.

So rather than, as initially planned, going into the whole 100 item list that I had promised to write, I will instead be commenting from experience as to what i actually think I would keep and what I should part with.

Though my list of 'types' of items is in no particular order, I can definitely say that clothing items (including shoes and bags) do top my list of things I am in love with. Also, for the purpose of this exercise, I do not mention electronics simply because they are part of my every day and my work and would be useless to even contemplate removing them. In fact, on the contrary, I have to say that since I switched to a smart phone only a year and a half ago (yes you read that right!) and getting 3g on my phone as of September last year (again, that is not a typo!) my life has become much easier as I can get stuff done on the go.

So here it is, my life's worth of things that remain and whether I plan to keep or not:


Clothes, Shoes, Bags, Accessories including Jewellery

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Not only do I plan to keep all I own, but this is one area where I realised I honestly don't mind adding on, simply because I love clothes and dressing well, have my own style and would never keep clothes I don't want anyway. One item I might be able to reduce on in this section is scarves. I realised when I last moved house that I hadn't really worn many of them in a year so come winter I will be ruthless with which ones I will actually keep.

Craft Items

Now this is a tough one. Realistically, I should part with practically all the items I own, simply because they rarely see the light of day! However I am fascinated by the embellishments I do own and must admit my hand-decorated candles are amazing pieces so truly, the artist in me doesn't really want to say goodbye. Unfortunately they aren't much use sitting in dark drawers in my wardrobe though!

Stationery including Wrapping Paper, Cards for all occasions and extra Office Supplies

These are all consumables so really I could just let them run out and not replace apart from a couple of spare items just in case. However I need to admit that I am one of those Minimalists who are anyway always worried of running out of something they need. Add to that, I do love a pretty wrapper and my crafty mind tricks my itchy hands into grabbing it each time at the shop.

Files

These are a category of their own as I have so many and they are full of documents. Unfortunately after I KonMari'd my bills I did get asked by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to provide a Water and Electricity bill that was 'over one year old'. Oops! Thankfully, after dejectedly confessing to my ex-husband that I don't keep bills for so long, I found one that was just above the one year old. Yippie! Thank goodness I hadn't been through my files to purge yet that month! So I am guessing these will have to stay. That said, I have multiple files with notes, research and drafts of articles that I would be working on and must find a more user-friendly solution for my messy mind and way of working. Maybe I should get used to leaning on electronics a bit more.

Decorative Items

By European and American standards, I have only a few. If I were to think in terms of Maltese standards, I have even less!! Yet from an extreme Minimalist point of view I might have a few too many. However I can honestly say that I only keep those that I truly love as a rule. Anything that causes me to think of bad memories is quickly out the door as are any items that don't really tickle my fancy. I follow the KonMari method to the letter when it comes to this type of personal item. In fact, when I packed my things from the matrimonial home I shared with my ex husband, I only chose those decorative items that brought me joy and left all else, regardless of whether I was leaving behind items that were expensive or pretty. Even in cases when I liked an item but had bad or even sad feelings attached to it, I left it behind. I have to admit adding to my total number of items in this category since I left my old home. However I make sure to buy items only if they spark joy and feel like they would be a part of 'home'.

Kitchen Items

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I listed this section right after Decorative Items purely by chance and yet it is in reality a continuation of that previous section. For as a rule and as much as possible, I try to buy kitchen items that are not only functional but also pleasing for me to look at. I've got some lovely colourful bowls but rather than keep them in the dresser I plan on using them to eat my cereal in every day once I have my own kitchen. Same goes for the vintage reproduction glasses and mugs I got. My guests won't be the only ones to drink their tea from pastel-coloured mugs and their orange juice in the colourful glasses. This means that my kitchen items, neatly tucked away not only in closed cupboards but also behind beautiful glass doors, do double duty and I have no need for pretty items that sit there doing nothing all day. That said, some kitchen items are purely functional and still have a place in my kitchen and I must say that I am very much missing the strainer that is packed away somewhere right now as the kitchen in my rental home has none and I did have to get a new peeler since it was the easier choice between buying another and having to open up all the boxes sitting in the garage to find the one I had! Then again, a second peeler is never a loss in my house as I use it all the time and have found myself at times pulling it out of the dishwasher before it has been washed.

Books

One of the hardest type of items to part with not just for me but for most Minimalists. Books seem to have a soul and cry out when they see that you might be putting them on the 'no' pile. I have to say that KonMari works on most of my things but when it comes to books, even the ones that give me no real joy to hold in my hands still have a habit of guilting me into putting them back on my shelves (or in my boxes currently). I should learn to become more ruthless unless I want to find myself with boxes of books even at my new home where I know that realistically library space will be limited unless I want books to take over various parts of my home. Discipline is key in everything so maybe I should listen to my heart rather than mind in this one case.

DVDs/Blu-Ray Discs

No way will I part with most of the DVDs I own and no way will I promise to not buy more! That said I have mixed feelings about holding on to movies and series that made no impression on me just because they are part of the filmography of that actor or another and I'd bought them to continue my collection. The word 'collection' here may be key and justify having some unappreciated guests in my film library.

Toiletries and Makeup

Maybe this section should have come directly after Clothes but as I said already above I
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made this list in no particular order and decided to leave it here at the bottom if only as food for thought. Why would I not even remember it till the very end? This confuses even myself as I love my makeup and do need some facial products due to very sensitive skin. I also think this section should include items such as my hair drier, my brand new straightener and my well-loved much-used epilator. The mention of these three items makes me realise this section should go at the top but maybe the reason I forgot all about it till now was that my use of makeup has dwindled over the past couple of months and I have found people find me no less attractive for it. Add to that, I actually prefer people who stick around regardless of whether I have make-up on as it says something about them after alll. That said, I do understand that deodorant is a must and I don't blame people if they left my side should I ever decide to minimise it. XD


Saturday, 4 August 2018

One Month Later

So it's been a month since I moved home. I was back then full of expectations and looking forward to a new kind of life as I'd never lived totally away from any family before, first being a child and then getting married young before having had the chance to move out of mum's and test my waters, then back to mum's after the separation and with a kid in tow. Currently can't exactly say I am living 'alone' as flat-sharing but we all do our thing, no commitment to each other or anything, just three girls sharing a kitchen, bathroom, balcony and washing machine.

A month ago I told a close friend that I intended to write a book about this year. I still think about it sometimes. But realistically I do not have the time to write the book and also keep up my other writing commitments. I might have de-stressed a bit from my previous situation but I am still quite bewildered by life and trying to keep sane. In fact, the whole point that I thought this an experimental year worthy of a book is precisely because I still seem to be learning about life and being an adult as I go along. Some of you might say that no one ever knows everything about life and how to live, but I mean it literally that I need to learn how to live as an adult. Maybe that is one reason it is never a good idea to get married young. Cocooned in a one-of-two environment you can never discover yourself and your life projections and experience life as a person totally. Whilst it is true that I cannot turn back the clock and tell my younger self to get married later (or maybe not at all?) I can still start a new chapter, even a totally new book, right now in my life. So whether I do write it down to publish or not, the as-yet-unwritten book is there in my head, its narrative unfolding in the life that I am living in my day to day.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

The 'I love' Series - Throwback to a First Fave Song

Sometimes I get a flashback and see a young version of myself, sitting on a swing at the park in my hometown, singing along to a song being blasted out of the speakers of a casual eatery close by.

I still remember the name of the song because it used to be my fave; my very first favourite song. It is Laura Pausini's La Solitudine, a ballad in Italian that talks of young love lost when a male youngster must move across the country and how the girl who remains behind misses him so.

Twenty-five years since its release, the song still gives me goosebumps and sits in my top ten favourites of all time. I don't remember been so transfixed by any other song in the same way.

Love transcends time and so did this love-song. Whoever the 'Marco' mentioned in the song was, real or imaginary, he seemed to give the singer a sense of belonging that left her both melancholy and hopeful after his departure as well as making her feel as though a part of her had been lost once he was gone.

Being a teenager in the nineties meant I heard pop love songs around me all the time and yet I will still harp on the fact that no other song from the same decade hit me as hard. It could be that Pausini's yearning for lost love mirrored my own hopeful young self as I dreamt of what love could be like.

I have since found love and lost it, more than once, and will never again be that awkward girl with dreams in her eyes as she hummed along to the Italian song that asked 'Ti prego aspettami' ('I beg you to wait for me') for now I know that in reality, no one will wait for you and you must be your own dream come true.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Fictitious Characters That Left Their Mark

We love a good story, be it to read or to watch, yet we must all admit that however good the plot, it is usually the characters that make one tale stand out above the rest. So here are companion piece articles I wrote about characters we love to love (or hate!)





Sunday, 15 July 2018

Gianpula Event, Another New Experience


Only last year, I got to know I actually like Trance music. I missed out on the whole partying scene back when I was young without ever even trying it out. However last year I met a music producer who would tempt me into listening to his tracks and once I did, I was hooked. Unlike what I thought, the music, despite being electronic, was melodic and its beat interesting. I would go on to listen to any new tracks from this DJ/Producer and even become interested in attending parties where such music is played.


Yesterday I had the opportunity of attending such a party. One Off Events presented Cosmic Gate on their Materia Album Tour as well as JES and Christian Burns singing Classics live. I have only one word to say: Amazing!

Makes me regret never having done this before and yet as they say, it is never too late. Maybe it had to take the quiet resolve of this one Producer to make me see sense, which is one way of putting it. Truly, the atmosphere was great and everyone's intent was one and the same: to listen to some chilling live renditions of songs we all love to hear on repeat as well as dance to the music that blasted out through the night from the main stage.


All in all, it was an experience I will never forget though I don't plan on making it my only one.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

New Home and A Resolve to Purge

It is Sunday night once again and I moved home yesterday. In an ideal world I would say I am settled in well already, all my stuff is in place and I have so much energy with which to start my week. In reality though, truth is always a little off from our original plans and therefore I find myself half asleep as I write this, with two days of hauling stuff from one place to the next behind me and boxes and bags all over the floor around me. Considering that I am a Minimalist and am finding this an ordeal, I cannot fathom how I could have made it if I'd had more physical things to move. Even as it is, I do not intend to have to move all this stuff once more. Seeing as I love all my clothes and most of the items I do own, I am not talking about pruning my belongings further unless it is because I honestly am not using some items. However in terms of things that 'get used up' in time, I will not be replacing my stockpiles any time soon, at least not before I move again and settle into what I hope will be a more permanent home. I would not part with any of my empty notebooks for example, but as I use them up (and I do throw some away after they get used, they have no sentimental value), I will ensure not to get as many new ones, however inspirational they might look. Same goes for toiletries, for example. Whilst I do love having a choice of more than one or two different shower gels at one go (and I do like stockpiling stuff I am afraid of running out of), yet I could easily do with less stock especially for this year in which I am going to be living alone rather than with a son and/or husband as in the past.

All the above said, I still anyway intend to go through the whole of my life's worth of 'stuff' other than for the clothing and KonMari'ing it all. I am sure that in the past, for having space to hoard things, I would have overlooked many items that in a proper KonMari session I should have parted with in some way or another, being through selling, giving it away else realistically needing to place it in the bin. This last reminds me of an achievement from this week. After years of hauling it from home to home and barely ever making use of it, I finally discarded my old plastic drawing board that was in most recent years being used as a base for my crafting knife needs and was therefore pretty shabby and scratched and no good as a drawing board any longer anyway. Rather than haul it to my new home 'just in case' I ever needed a cutting board (especially now that I have stopped printing and cutting my own business cards and ordered professionally made ones instead), I put it in the recycling bin from where my hoarder son obviously pulled it out as he 'might need it' and 'why was it there?'. Don't worry, in the end I put it back into the recycling bag and went about my day. Some things are best parted with despite their years of service.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Update to my Rollercoasterride Life

In the turmoil that has been my life recently, the days passed me by in a whirl and I really believed I had posted a new entry on the weekend but seems to have been the weekend before!

I have been sick for the past few days with a very strange ailment, truth be told. I suffer horribly from reactions to stress and on Sunday ended up at the ER with a severe reaction that seemed much like a horrible mouth infection but it was just from the stress. Cost me a huge bruise on the arm where I asked the doctor to try and insert a canula though he'd warned me already that the veins were too tiny where I was pointing for him to try (I couldn't open my mouth, talk or eat and drink so was all miming and writing on my phone and handing it over to receptionist, nurse and doctor. Sounds hilarious but it actually wasn't.

Anyways, now that you know how come I totally didn't realise another weekend had come and gone before I wrote a post, I will say this one thing, as it is quite big. I am moving this week. It was quite unexpected and causing me even some more stress and worry but hopefully all will be good once I settle down. One thing that has come out of the move is that it has caused me to realize just how much stuff I do have. Considering I hope to eventually move to a flat big enough for me and my son, rather than just a room in a flat share as I am going to be doing for now, I cannot remove all my stuff then have to re-buy it all when I get my own kitchen etc. However in general I am having to downsize a lot of my things and look carefully at what should remain. As a result I am for the first time even thinking more practically. Will I realistically ever reuse my son's old clothes? I am in no relationship, let alone sure I will be in one where both me and a partner will want another kid. Which might turn out to be a girl after all! The one thing is I am trying to sell rather than give away my son's old things. Well, old they aren't really. I came across so many barely worn articles that it is a lesson in itself to stick to practicality on shopping trips. Add to which not even his school books are that worn! At least the ones that were not used for writing in. So I hope to get around to photographing and posting those too for sale on Facebook.

I am off now as it is close to midnight and with my sick leave over, I return tomorrow to a full day's work, therefore needing an early start to the day. I leave you with a promise that I will update you all about my move and what I learn from it throughout this coming year of flat-sharing and having most of my life packed into one room. Till next time, good night.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 3) - Not Exactly 100 Things

I have not yet finished my list of a hundred items for The 100 Thing Challenge. Yet even though I am not counting, the idea has sparked in me a sense of awareness of any single item I use or think of buying. I am sure that if I were to take the challenge seriously, many items would easily get left out of the list if I needed to reduce on my total amount of things. Then again, I am not writing a book about the subject nor would I get any monetary compensation out of it (let's face it, Dave Bruno knew he would get a sum for his book so it was not such a big deal for him to part with things and then have to re-buy them later). As a single mum on a reduced hours pay I need to watch out for those items I might actually need in the future, despite being a Minimalist at heart. The twenty/twenty rule advocated by The Minimalists isn't very much in keeping with a budget containing one pay and two people. And so whilst I do plan on eventually finishing my list, if only out of curiosity and to be able to share it with my readers, I feel that even without such a list my outlook on things has already changed since starting Bruno's book. Furthermore, I do believe that regardless of that I won't be confining myself to a certain number of things in my life, I am anyway reducing always further the amount of things I actually care about. Now in my case I must admit I would never limit my wardrobe to x number of items (truth be told, I hated Project 333 so so badly even though I was totally fine later on KonMari-ing my wardrobe and probably dwindling my clothing items to less than the 132 it could encompass over 4 seasons of the Project.) I would also never keep my walls bare (I actually always wish I have more walls to put fave pieces on). That said, I feel that I am finding my footing very well with the whole idea of dwindling my number of possessions to as close to hundred as I comfortably can. Some of you might think that 'comfortably' is very much contrary to the very term Minimalism but Minimalism is about finding your own way and peace after all, hence why I call it comfortably, rather than taking it to mean abundance as some might think.

I end my short update here today, hoping you find my ideas and links useful, till next time.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Hope - A Blessing or A Curse?

I tend to hope a lot. I dream a lot too. One word is enough to set me off on a daydream to a whole fantasy story about what could or couldn’t, might or mightn’t, happen. The problem is that more often than not, my hopeful character tends to think that ‘could’ is more possible than ‘couldn’t’ once I put something in my head. Variables tend to get forgotten as I excitedly focus on possibilities I prefer and overlook the fact that nothing ever goes exactly to plan.

It’s happened to me with small things and bigger things, things I brushed off once they failed and experiences that conditioned the rest of my life. And yet I never learn.


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Meanwhile, I have a friend who is just the opposite. When asked a few days ago how come he is always in a good mood and frame of mind, his answer was a simple ‘I expect nothing’.  His reasoning was that, in expecting nothing, anything positive at all that happens is a gain and not just a part of an expectation or maybe even something that causes the feeling that the gain falls short of expectation.

So the real question is, should I hope or should I not? Hope, like money, is a good friend but an evil master. As with anything else, it is good in moderation. Then again, I am never moderate, in love, in life, in passion and compassion. For me everything is an all-or-nothing and I find it hardest to be something other than high on happiness else “in the depths of despair” as Anne of Green Gables would say.

This morning, as I lay in bed taking a last rest before starting my long day, my mind wandered to something that means a lot to me and about which I keep hoping and hoping for a positive outcome despite knowing it is the trickiest unlikeliest thing that could happen. Immediately I remembered my friend’s words. Never expect anything, I tried to convince myself. I reasoned it was the best I could do in order to avoid getting hurt. Only for a minute though, till my mind again fled to that secret place that is Wonderful Dreams Come True land, totally inexistent yet a source of everlasting carrots on a stick… you know, the kind you can never actually reach and eat. So I forced myself a second time to think that I should not expect anything. For a minute or so. Then it stopped working. My mind whirled round and round, the minutes kept ticking by to that nauseous time when I would have to get out of bed and still I kept hoping, and not expecting, hoping again then not expecting again. Round and round, over and over, very much like the pendulum of a clock as it slowly ticks away the seconds, minutes, hours and days of our life as I struggle still with the question - should I hope or should I not?

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Why You Should Become A Minimalist

In simple terms, Minimalism is about what makes you happier in life. So go ahead and fill your closet with shoes if they truly make you happy, but limit them if all they do is overwhelm you or hurt your feet.

Here are ten reasons to embrace Minimalism, in my latest article on eve.com.mt:

Monday, 4 June 2018

Twenty-Two Pairs of Shoes

I was talking to a friend from work and proudly said that I am a Minimalist. "Except for the clothes, handbags and shoes," I said. To which my friend asked just how many pairs of shoes I owned. I'd never counted. Yet seeing as someone asked, I then just had to count! Twenty-two pairs. However out of all those pairs I did own, there was not one pair of comfy sandals that I could safely wear whilst driving or when my knees hurt too much for heels. Unless you counted the one pair with the soles coming off. I admitted as much to my colleague who said there would soon be twenty-three pairs of shoes in my room then.

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No way! How could I let another pair sneak in when I was trying so hard to put down my number of possessions?! And so I did what I should have done sooner. I grabbed a pair of boots that cause me pain even to look at. Truth be told, these boots caused me no pain at all when I wore them. Last year. Before the summer. Before my make-over too. They were boots that made me feel goofy, unfashionable, with laces that kept coming undone, which made them a hazard. The new me argued that I could pull off those boots with the confidence I have now and they were still perfectly fine unless you counted the broken elastic on the back which was anyway hidden by the laces. Those laces. They came undone all the time. Repeatedly, I would squat to reach the back of my ankle boots in order to tie them up again. The image came to my mind, together with the one where once at work the COO actually pointed out that my laces were undone. Which was around the day I'd gone to work looking almost green as I was very sick. Around the time when some very personal trouble started in my life. That same time when I was so self-conscious of how little those boots did to make me confident, look good, desirable.

Those boots had no room in my new life, to be worn by my new self, a reminder as they were of what I would call darker ages. I didn't want the constant reminder that they belonged to an era when my outfits screamed despair. I'll keep my better-loved, still-worn, broken-zip knee highs instead.

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 2) - And So The List Begins

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I started on my list for The 100 Thing Challenge. Not that I am going to try it out or rather, not planning to necessarily do so. However as I mentioned last time, it will give me a clear picture of what I count as truly invaluable and what items do I forget about unless they are in plain sight. My list began with one of my most-prized possessions and which is the MacBookPro I am writing this post on. Second on my list is the iPhone SE that’s become invaluable for me to catch up with everything on the go. Although my car wasn’t the third entry, it should have been. It might be a little big to count as a personal possession and my son and mum do ride in it often, which might cause me to reconsider whether it is actually a personal item. However deep down I know that it is and not only that, I even know that I wouldn’t be myself without it. It’s a lovely wine colour with a rounded shape as well as having a steering wheel cover with embroidered flowers and leaves on it and I could go on and on about how much I love it and how I even gave it a name and talk to it almost every day. But truly none of that matters in this case as it is in my list for the more practical reason that I am a single mother who works far from home in a country where the public transport is so bad that no one could be patriotic enough to make me feel ashamed for saying this! (Read more about public transport experiences here: http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/11/12/all-in-a-bus-ride/)

Just like Dave Bruno did when he did the original challenge, I needed to set some rules if I was really going through with making this list. Not only would the items in the list be my personal ones and exclude immobile items such as the bed, but I would also allow for like items to be grouped together. After all, there was no way I was parting with any of my clothes or shoes just for the sake of the challenge and they alone would definitely reach a hundred items without leaving space for anything else! That said, my clothes got KonMari’d more than once and I can very proudly say I do only keep things that I love and wear and no extra items at all. Now shoes are a different story that get tackled in another article I plan on publishing after this one so keep tuned!

Having determined that my clothes were going to be counted as one item, I decided to group certain ‘like’ items together for the purpose of my list yet fairly list each type on its own. Therefore my clothes, shoes and handbags all got a separate line in my list as did make up, hair accessories and a category for accessories ‘excluding handbags’ as I have too many of those to fairly group with my scarves and belts.

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I would bore you to go into the details of each of my items that made the list although I do plan on eventually posting the whole list once I am done. So I will be finishing this entry now with one ironic twist. My hairdryer I’d quickly scribbled into my list as the fifth item, sitting higher up than even my car and DVDs in my original list that’s in the order in which I thought of the items in my head (and that says a lot about the indispensability of my hairdryer!) So what happens next? I diligently write it down on the Friday, only to have it break down the very following day. So much for indispensable, it left me with half a head of straight dry hair and the rest still in a frizzy wet mess. Geez, thanks dear pearly pink and white pretty item, I need a working pretty item!! I was already panicking about what to do when I remembered mum has a hairdryer and I am currently living with her so off I went to get my saving item and continued drying my hair. Only afterwards did I think there might be something wrong with the fuse rather than the drier and lo and behold, changing the adaptor made it work again. Phew. My number five item still works and now I even learnt just how much I want it in my list. Truly worth a place in my 100 things list.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Girl Before - The Best-Written Book Ever IMO

Here's the link to the review I wrote for eve.com.mt about what I now consider to be the best-written book ever from a technical side. As always, a thank you to my sponsor Agenda Bookshop.



Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Dave Bruno 100 Thing Challenge (Part 1) - Should I take the challenge?

When I first came across a mention of the book The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno, I thought he must be one of those extreme minimalists who had put me off Minimalism in the first place. Then I stumbled across another mention of the book when I was well into my journey into Minimalism and was looking for inspiration to downsize more in a bid to clear more of my life and mind of all the accumulated stuff and commitments that were still bogging me down. This time round, I was interested in buying the book but solely as motivation to living with even less and definitely never with the idea that I would try the challenge myself.

However, with book in hand and around the fifth chapter, I started thinking it might be an interesting challenge to try out and learn from after all. Still skeptical that a 100 personal items might not cover all that I considered to be ‘needs’, I finally had an eureka moment this morning and thought I might still benefit from the challenge even without trying it out myself.
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My idea is a simple one and involves no personal sacrifice unless I decide at the end that I do want to go for it after all. I decided to put to good use one of the many pretty but still empty journals that I can’t get myself to part with. I would start listing from memory the personal items I would definitely not want to part with and see to what number that would get me, even before I start going through my things one by one in a bid to not only remove the excess but also get an idea of how many personal items I actually do own.

Waste of time? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I know myself enough to feel that this exercise would actually help me not just literally quantify my belongings but also make me more mindful of what possessions I do consider indispensable. Most probably most of these will be in the first list I mentioned - the one I can list from memory - which might help push me into reducing more of what isn’t, after all, something I consider a need.

I am not expecting to become the next Leo Babauta after this challenge. I am not sure I will even get to the point where I am willing to take on the challenge myself. Whatever difference this exercise will make, however, I am sure that it will help me learn something more about myself and my interaction and relationship with ‘things’.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Seven Bags Full

I live in Marsaskala, which used to be a fishing village but has now grown into a town that gets inundated with outsiders every Sunday in the winters and all through the week in the summer.

As a result, the restaurants in my town are always full of business. This translates into massive amounts of garbage for the truck to pick up, daily in our case, as the schedule in Marsaskala is for 'normal' garbage pick-up to occur on every day of the week including Sundays and most feasts. By 'normal' I mean non-recyclable here.

In some towns and villages a pilot program started quite a while ago asking residents to separate not only recyclables from the rest of the garbage but also to put compostable material in a third bag that would be picked up on allotted days. Unfortunately this new program is yet to reach my town. Which makes me wonder why wouldn't a town that generates so much in compostable garbage through restaurants and take-aways not be considered for the pilot program, if only to avoid more years of throwing the material away rather than try to minimise waste.

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I decided to write this article only tonight when, out for a walk with my family, we passed by one of the restaurants close to the beach and I noticed seven huge garbage bags on the pavement just outside it, waiting to be picked up by the truck tomorrow morning. I can definitely understand that such a business would generate an amount of garbage and also the fact that Sundays are busy days for the restaurant. What I cannot fathom is how come there were SEVEN mountainous bags of garbage.

I can only gather that the restaurant might not even separate the recyclable stuff from the rest of it, especially since I did glimpse a white plate through one of the semi-transparent bags that was most definitely a paper or plastic one.

This kind of thing worries me for two reasons. Firstly, are people still so uneducated about the repercussions of not taking care of our environment? And secondly, recyclable or not, why are businesses even still using disposable items to such an extent?

I can understand the limitations of the venue in providing certain items in reusable materials. It is definitely unhygienic to provide non-disposable straws to customers and dangerous to give little children metal forks and glass or ceramic plates and glasses. I am also a fan of the doggie bag over throwing leftovers away so I excuse a certain amount of disposable packaging items if they help reduce on food waste. However I am sure there are some items that could easily be replaced by restaurants with more environment-friendly options. Add to this, I am sure that the patrons themselves could easily help the effort in small ways such as by carrying their own stainless steel straw and refusing to take a plastic one provided by the venue. In the same way, one can easily carry a warmth-retaining lidded cup and ask that it be filled up at the coffee shop rather than accepting a polystyrene one. The list of ways in which we can not only recycle, but preferably even reduce the amount of recyclable material we use up, is next to endless. So whilst I will stop my post here for today, I will definitely be back with more about how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The 'I love' Series - Poetry

I am a writer. I guess I could say I've always been. The very first story I wrote was called The Dance; I must have been somewhere between nine and eleven years old at the time.

The poetry came later; I only discovered my love for it after the tedious years of studying The Dragon Book of Verse with its multiple themes and the nauseating hours spent trying to figure out why I was meant to study it at all.
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I was sixteen years old when I feel in love with Wilfred Owen's poetry. Somehow it spoke to me. Images of blown-up bodies and mental cases do not connote much with long-haired girls wearing pretty skirts and in love with nail polish. Yet those pararhymes - half-rhymes if you will - spoke to the realist in me as nothing else ever had, awakening a sense of beauty in the mundane and sensible that finally could be expressed in accurate terms.

Prose can say a lot of things we wouldn't dare to speak. Yet it is limited in its ability to tackle any subject as accurately as poetry does. Moreover, poetry allows for playing around with words to help clear the mind of the jumble of thoughts and imagery that freely roam the otherwise restricted and rigid confines of the brain. Maybe that's why we are told we should lead with the heart but follow with the mind. For sensibility does need to somehow prevail even in the life of an artist, but only once the heart and so the poetry has first had its say.

I should admit, I don't just write whole poems. At times, I write a few simple lines to describe just about anything, real and surreal, especially that which will torture the mind if left unsaid. Because that's what poetry is really there for now, isn't it?

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Would You Like To Join... A Case of Cabaret?

For the past couple of years, I have had the pleasure of liasing with the team behind theatre company DLS Productions in order to give my readers information about some of their upcoming plays.

Theirs is an assortment of productions that border on the experimental at times and on the superb always. This time, six actors take to the stage or rather, the café, to present an immersive show that will no doubt live up to the theatre company’s record of fabulous interpretations.

For ladies and gentlemen, The Undercroft Cafe in Old Theatre Street, Valletta (Malta) has been turned into the seedy nightclub The Black Alley, where amid the wine, song and dance, the characters go through a series of events, including one death, as the seated audience try to guess whodunnit.

A live music show filled with popular classics awaits the audience of A Case of Cabaret. Starring an all-professional cast of actors/singers/dancers that have in the past brought us the likes of Carmen: The Rock Musical and Belliegha Rockin’ The Underworld, this musical murder mystery is an interactive show for audiences aged fourteen and over.



Starring
Sean Borg; Nikki Vella; Stefania Grech Vella; James Camilleri; Yandrick Agius; Rachel Vella

Script and Artistic Direction
Lucienne Camilleri; Edited by Maria Agius

Music Direction
Norbert Borg


At: The Undercroft Cafe, St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral, Old Theatre Street, Valletta
Time: Doors open at 19:00; Show starts at 20:00
Tickets from: ticketline.com.mt

Further info:

Audience will be seated at tables for 4 people. Multiple ticket sales within the same booking will be automatically grouped together. Tables may be shared with third parties.


Access to the venue is through a staircase (around 10 steps) on Old Theatre Street, Valletta


                     

Friday, 20 April 2018

The Perfect Selfie

I started out writing about selfies a couple weeks ago, sharing with my readers an assortment of badly taken photos and ranting about how I can never get it right. You may read about it here if you missed it: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2018/04/selfies-galore-but-any-good-ones.html

Fast forward one week and two helpful comments from a reader, I wrote an unplanned follow-up post about the subject in which I shared some better if still unprofessional pics together with some observations I made. Here's a link to this second post: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2018/04/selfies-galore-continued.html

Once again my reader commented on my updated pics and musings. I must thank him for after reading through that third comment I finally managed one single, in my opinion 'perfect' photo so here I am sharing it:



Sunday, 15 April 2018

Selfies Galore... Continued

Following my rant last time about never getting selfies quite right, as well as the lovely informative comments from one of my readers, I am now back with some selfies that are much better than the previous ones, if I may say it myself.

For those who missed last week's post, here it is again: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2018/04/selfies-galore-but-any-good-ones.html

As my reader advised, it does seem like it is mostly about getting the right angle as well as being confident in front of the camera. I have not yet exactly mastered smiling in self-taken photos but I think I've come a long way, again because of said confidence. Once I decided that my face was looking good in the selfies, however, I started noting all the other mistakes I make in taking the photos, this time a problem with background, particular items or even the lighting.

So after posing for the perfect photo wearing a new top and on the way to an important meeting, I found myself looking at a snapshot that had one minor flaw, a clothes hanger left in the background! Try as I might, I couldn't reproduce that shot after I removed said offending hanger. Same type of issue appeared when I wore my photochromic specs in a pic. They were dark enough not to let my eyes show properly, yet not dark enough to conceal them, leaving me with a picture that attracted attention to that very fact more than anything else in the composition. Another frustrating thing I've noticed is that sometimes, the background is too similar to my hair colour or that of my clothes and seems to cause an anti-climatic effect. Again, trust my camera skills to fall short once I move a few steps to take the same picture on a different background.

I noted other small details like how it is difficult to make my blowdried hair appear perfect in pics whilst with curly locks I am able to get decent pics every time. The reason is probably that curls are in themselves unruly, imperfect, asymmetrical, whilst straight hair can very easily look out of place.

However, I still find that the most important detail in a selfie seems to be the lips and therefore the smile. I am smiling in most of the best pictures whilst those pictures that seem otherwise perfect always fall short of perfection when I am not smiling in them.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

Selfies Galore... But Any Good Ones?!

I have a friend who takes amazing selfies. Yeah I actually did ask once or twice would he please tell me how can a selfie turn out that good.

There is something called being photogenic apparently. Ok I knew that existed but never before did I know that being photogenic is totally unrelated to being pretty or handsome. You read that right. The most beautiful girl in the world might actually not be photogenic at all!! It is all about the contours of the face and how they will 'flatten' out in a 2D pic. Maybe that is why I always think about another friend's pics that they don't do him justice whilst his videos make him look totally different to the pics.

I have a roundish face and most of my selfies look pudgy to me. Erm, I think my version is actually better than 'nerdy', which I got told as well. People comment I look nothing like my pics and I never could figure that one out as to me I look just like, well, me!

Given I have a round face, that I always seem to choose the wrong angle (or so I get told!) and that I tend to look too serious when I am taking my own pic (I'm trying to concentrate on that angle, right?!) I do look quite not up to scratch in pics. To be fair, the back camera of a phone seems to magnify facial blemishes too, have you ever noticed that?! On the other hand I have also noticed that when I am not the only one in the pic, I tend to look better. You could argue that I might be standing next to someone who looks worse than me in the pics but given most of the time that other person is my dear gorgeous son, I rather think it's a matter of holding the camera far enough to fit both of us in the photo that does the trick.

I won't be sharing any pics of myself with my son as I have some self-made privacy rules on here but I am going to share a few of my selfies. Maybe you can judge for yourself how badly I can take them. Feel free to post your comments below.


Top Left - pudgy face (taken face up on bed)
Bottom Left - actual smile (taken with Photo Booth which makes it easier to take good selfies)
PS - No, I am NOT naked in the bottom left pic, my hair is covering the straps of my top!!



Saturday, 31 March 2018

Love and Hate - Makeup

I once wrote a blog post about some fave makeup items and mentioned budget-friendly brand essence as one of my go-to brands. However today my post is more particular and is a bad review I guess you could say. Sometimes, even good brands get it wrong. So here are two items I suggest you leave out of your shopping cart and what to replace them with.


1 - the get BIG! LASHES volume-boost waterproof mascara by essence.

When my 'normal' waterproof mascara finished, also from essence, I decided to go bolder and try this one. Bigger lashes? More like clumpy ones and ruined my own lovely long ones in the process!!

My solution: back to basics, bought my trusty essence 'all eyes on me' waterproof version once again.

2 - heart-shaped essence lipstick.

It was a special edition, a truly delectable colour and suited me so so well, especially as it is in a violet tint that matches a lot of summer clothes I love as well as looks good on me, unlike some other hues. So truly, there was nothing wrong with this lipstick except for one very important detail... heart-shaped might look cute but truly, it is a nightmare to paint my lips the right shape with it!

My solution: In the end I gave up, stopped using it and now bought the closest colour I could to it in a not-special-edition with 'normal' tip-shape.


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Reviewing '36 Questions that changed my mind about You.

They say love comes along when you least expect it to and it may well be true. However just like there have been experiments about a zillion other emotions and conditions, there have been studies conducted about love too and it seems that given the right scenario, any two people are more likely to fall in love when they answer the '36 Questions'. Vicki Grant used these experimental questions as the basis for her novel and has us wondering up to the last, will they cause her subjects to truly fall in love?

Read my review, now on EVE: