Archives for the month of: February, 2014

I like a lot of pages on Facebook. Today I unliked 50 of them.

Favourite bands, big newspapers, brands, there are many reasons why we choose to like something. Now it’s so common to click that like button, that we do so without blinking an eye. The past year, I tried to apply the same routine to liking and following, as to signing up for something, or buying a new product. I ask myself the following when deciding: what will this give me?

The reason behind it is simple. You know that you’re going to check your facebook account several times every day. Then take charge over your own newsfeed. The concept isn’t new of course – you can hide and filter updates. But when liking something, you might not be aware of what you will get. Didn’t you ever end up feeling a bit stupid, when you’re being spammed by someone you actually chose to like?

I realised that I hadn’t been so strict with myself, and started getting annoyed with the spam like updates. So it was time to unlike: I unliked every page who’s stories I felt like hiding. For every product that I don’t intend to buy (helps temptation anyway!). I’m a person who likes to keep updated on the news front, but I’ve chosen to limit it to a few media now – where every post at least on an average has actual value to me.

I also realised that pages like Newsweek and Time – hey, you can create great stories like no one else, but in social media? I’m sorry, but what a load of clickable crap. I’m willing to think that you create your updates for journalists and media agencies to pick up on your stories, but I hope you’re not posting for followers like me. If I want to see cute kittens and funny infograpics, I can google it myself.

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It's hard to believe that these people are capable of selecting person of the year.

Then there’s the more tricky category – your friends’ pages. Can you unlike your best friend’s page about knitting? Well, I completely believe in supporting my friends, and staying up to date on what’s important in their lives. However, I have limited this to my closest friends, and have stopped feeling obliged to accept when acquaintances send me like suggestions. You can actually send them some friendly and encouraging words instead.

The last tip, is to not always like everything with all your accounts. I don’t follow the same things on Facebook as on Twitter, but choose the media I think is better for the cause. You could for instance keep your facebook more private, whilst Twitter is your main news feed. Similar rules can apply to the rest of your accounts – you get the picture.

My newsfeed looks much nicer now, and I can actually see what my friends are posting. Which us how I would like it to stay. How about you? Feel like your newsfeed could use some decluttering?

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My body was aching all over, but the worst about it was the feeling of complete exhaustion. The weakness. And the apathy.

nothingness-giw

I noticed it at work first. My wrists were stiff and hard to move, and every little tip and tap on the keyboard slowly became agony. My mind was foggy like I hadn’t slept for days. Like the moment when you are torn out of sleep by a fire alarm, brutally being forced to come to sense with reality, when your body is stuck in the first gear. But you are awake, and the days pass like strange dreams, but in this one you are forced to go through spreadsheets. One after the other, packed with last year’s stats and results. The fog was catching up with me.

Walking home, I could sense my weakness in every move, in my arms and legs. Lifting one leg up, I would place it in front of me, feeling my foot touch the ground. Heel to toe. It felt like my muscles had withered away, and my bones had become brittle and thin, just waiting to snap. I paid attention to my balance, my step, making sure that my leg was strong enough to carry my own weight before I attempted to lift the other one. Left, right, left, right. “Just 10 more minutes and you’ll be home. You can go to the supermarket when you feel better, today you don’t have to. Maybe get some takeaway. Indian perhaps?”. I was comforting myself. Or motivating? I don’t know really. I didn’t feel very motivated nor comforted, but I just wanted my bed, and my wonderfully soft duvet. A teleporter wouldn’t be so bad either.

My legs would amazingly enough carry my 125 lbs. up the stairs, all 86 steps. No takeaway weight included.

Actually, I was lying earlier. Mistaken. I didn’t notice it at work first. It was at home that the apathy settled and became part of my daily life. I didn’t want my bed because I was tired, but I needed to lie down. To sit, to consume, to not think. Thinking and learning were passions and my mind was like a sponge around knowledge. Now I couldn’t do it anymore. I embraced the fact that sometimes the best thing you can do is simply nothing, and I was getting good at it. But my 20 minutes of nothing turned into 40, then an hour, until my evenings were filled with foggy nothingness.

I did feel guilty about not doing anything. The kind of guilt that hides in your stomach as anxiety, gnawing on your insides, making you feel nauseous. Like the feeling before an oral exam. But my guilt was not strong enough to release me from my weakness or clear the fog. The kitchen was a mess. Stacks (well it’s generous to call them stacks, the constructive foundation of these stacks were clearly ones of the stereotype architect) of dirty plates and pots were filling the sink, and the stove had had to step up as the new kitchen work counter lately. The little stove that could. My washed clothes were hanging on the drying rack on the 3rd week now. A letter from the insurance company reminding me to send them a profile photo had been lying on the table for almost a month. Next to my laptop so I’d remember. Sure, I’ll do it tomorrow when I feel better. But I never did.

Luckily I didn’t have any new year’s resolutions. Only the general “start a new and better life” idea, with my minimalist approach to go through all my belongings, all my digital clutter, not to mention the emotional mess. The problem was that I didn’t have a plan. No passion. No motivation.

So I decided to stay at home and do nothing. The planned kind of nothing, based on my wish instead of my apathy. The doctor agreed. Sometimes doing nothing is just what you need. Sometimes doing nothing gives you more than any activity can. The good nothingness. Not the boring kind, not the exiting kind, and it’s definitely not bliss. But just right anyway.

For one month, do the following:

On day one, you get rid of 1 item.

On the second day, 2 things.

The third day, 3 items – and so on. You get the picture.

There are various games and challenges that you can play to jump-start a life of living with less. What I just mentioned is called the minimalism game, and you can check out #MinsGame for inspiration and to see what other people are up to (or even share your progress). You can read more about it on the Minimalists’ blog.

I already know that I won’t do it that way myself, simply because I know I will fail at do it consistently. However, I think it’s a very nice idea! And for many people it seems to work well, especially for the more competitive ones of you.

For years I have had my belongings stored in various places due to my frequent moving, but now I have most of it in one place. For a flat the size of mine, well – let’s just say that it’s pretty intimate. And I love having space! So I thought it would be a good idea to go through my stuff, especially my wardrobe. I already know that I don’t wear half of the clothes, so March will definitely be a month of selling and donating.

How about you? If you want to play, March is right around the corner!

Well, it technically it didn’t break down. But the power supply did. It started squeeking like a mouse and refused to charge my laptop.
“Nooooooooooooo”, was pretty much my initial thought. My laptop has been dead ever since.

So here I am. Waiting for my newly ordered adapter. I pretty much hate using my phone to order things, check my bank etc., and this week there seemed to be  a lot of it. Sigh. On the bright side, I have spent far less time on social media and mindless browsing around online.

My computer free evenings have forced me to do something else, so I try to organise things around the house. Or should I say room.

Remember the story of how I lost half of my belongings? Well, the other half is more than enough for 30-something sq.metres. Half of it is still in boxes and piles in the middle of my living room.

So here’s my first little project:

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My coffee table. It came in a horrible lime green. It was rusty and dirty. When I saved it from the street (yes, the STREET. We do that where I live), I was confident that I could bring it back to life. You know, one of those renovation projects you never actually do, but just store for years.

The rust was superficial and I’ve been sanding and painting the boards white. White and shiny. Happy white (yes, I do love white).

I’m quite happy about the outcome so far. So happy that I wish I had a good “before” picture to show you. It turns out that a dead computer isn’t as bad as first feared. It’s not the end if the world. It has forced me to get up and do those things far down on my to-do-list. And I quite like doing them too.

Awareness, mindfulness – many people encourage being more aware of what we experience on a daily basis. We sense the world through our bodies, yet in a hectic everyday life, a lot of us rarely find time to do so.

CC Valerie Rosen (flickr)

CC Valerie Rosen (flickr)

With our bodies, we confront our surroundings. In “The Eyes of the Skin. Architecture and the senses”, Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa discusses architecture and it’s role as something that helps us settle ourselves in the world, to “recognise and remember who we are”. My favourite chapter is that of touch, which gave me the idea for this post.

“The door handle is the handshake of the building. The tactile sense connects us with time and tradition: through impressions of touch we shake the hands of countless generations. A pebble polished by waves is pleasurable to the hand, not only because of its soothing shape, but because it expresses the slow process of it’s formation; a perfect pebble on the palm materialises duration, it is time turned into shape.”

Pallasmaa, J. (2005). The Eyes of the Skin.

Through touch, we experience being near, we caress and can show affection. Feeling connected to time and place, through touch, smell, vision, hearing and taste. However, it is no longer a given in our lives. When was the last time you ever stopped to just listen? Or when did you sit down, smell the air and let your hand glide across the bench or rock you were sitting on?

Many will perhaps find that this is best done on holidays. When we are not distracted by e-mails and work calls. When the beautiful, yet peculiarly unimpressive imagery from google’s picture search comes alive through scenery of calm oceans or wild forests. Or when walking down the narrow streets twisting through a medival town. The smells and sounds, whether of freshness, calmness or passionate conversation with a hint of cinnamon in the air – we become aware of time and place, and our own position in this world.

Yet it is easy to limit the everyday touch to, well sadly, the screen of our phones. In beautiful scenery or not. The typing on keyboards. When am I most aware? When the “t” on my phone isn’t work properly. Or when my wrists ache from hour after hour of typing. At least the keyboard offers a tactile experience beyond the tips of my fingers. Being touched as well – try touching your hand and see: How is the sensation of your left hand different from the right hand? The hand that touches from the one being touched? Or when you walk with bare feet across the room? Pallasmaa continues:

“Gravity is measured by the bottom of the foot; we trace the density and texture of the ground through our soles. Standing barefoot on a smooth glacial rock by the sea at sunset, and sensing the warmth og the sun-heated stone through one’s soles, is an extraordinary healing ecperience, making one part of the eternal cycle of nature. One senses the slow breathing of earth.”

My experience so far? It’s like finding a lost art. I have found that it is not always easy to be more aware, it requires practice and focus. Nor is the purpose to do so all the time. How do different textures and temperatures feel, or the weight and densities of things?  Start small (I am trying right now as I’m typing). To pay better attention to the sensation of touch, as well as the feelings and memories that arise from doing so, can actually be giving and somehow also very soothing. Perhaps because it makes you aware of what is now. So slow down and feel.