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?