When the purging is done.

When I started this blog over two years ago, I was very enthusiastic about shedding my belongings. In my first year as a self-proclaimed minimalist, I made some huge changes in my life. My second year has also come with change, both around me and inside me.

I have, once again, moved to a smaller apartment, shedding many of my belongings during that move and after. I have also used much of this year for soul searching, thinking about who I am and what I am supposed to do with my life. I’m not sure I have come up with an answer, but at least I’ve started something on the inside too.

As a minimalist I think that my focus is shifting, from purging and decluttering my life of both things and time consuming activities, as well as people, to wanting to actually enjoy what I have accomplished. I think it’s inevitable to change ones focus from “decluttering” to the actual “living” part, because if you don’t, sooner or later the decluttering is just an obsession. Does that make sense?

I could continue on in this blog, writing about what I have thrown away and why, but I would just be repeating myself, and this blog wouldn’t feel meaningful to me anymore. I don’t have much more to say about that part of my journey, instead it’s time to start living the life I have created for myself and my family.

Being really depressed this holiday season made me think of a quote from my inspirational heroes The Minimalists, about how you can purge all that you have, sit in an empty room, and still be unhappy. The real challenge isn’t getting rid of your things, it’s what you do with all that space, afterwards. And I had lost sight of that, so caught up in shedding that I couldn’t appreciate how far I’d come.

I don’t want this blog to die on me, so this is a heads up – I do want to change it up a bit and the main topic won’t be minimalism and simplifying.

A wordy entry for: things are gonna change.

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Feeling empowered

I am on a high right now and I just need to shout it out! 

I just had a presentation about customs and imports at a very fancy conference center, and let me tell you – I rocked it! Man, being a teacher, speaking in front of people… I didn’t know I missed it so much. I didn’t think I had it in me anymore and I was literally shaking from fear and nerves. And then, finally feeling like I knew what I was speaking about, was such a relief. 

I am freaking proud of myself!   

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Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 

I have read three books previous to Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind and it’s prequels, and I have liked them all well enough. Zafón has a way of writing that makes his books feel mysterious and dark, like something bad is going to happen at any time. I often don’t know wether the endings are good or bad, and I often don’t know if I really liked the book either.   

All the above is also true for Marina. This book is considered to be categorized as YA-fiction, which I didn’t get until now as I was about to write about it. It does make sense though, because it’s much shorter than the other books and the main characters are both teenagers. I didn’t read it as a YA-book though, Zafón’s style of writing doesn’t differ in that way.

Did I like it? It was quick (I read it in 1,5 days) and in this case that’s a bonus because I really wanted to know what’d happen, but it’s not a book that will stay with me forever. 

Marina, 3/5.

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January – my no-buy-month

I decided to not buy anything in January. It’s not because I don’t have the money, because somehow January is always a better financial month than November and December is, so it had nothing to do with saving money. I guess it was just a whim. No eating out at lunch at work, and no buying stuff.

I was feeling like I did well, hadn’t eaten out since I got back from my Christmas vacation (then again, I’ve only been at work for seven days…), and hadn’t bought anything even though I felt like I needed both new seeds for the allotment and a shelf for my son’s room (it’s funny how you need to buy stuff when you can’t, and then when you can, you don’t really need to).

Then yesterday happened. No left over food at home so I only brought some yoghurt to work for lunch, and then my best friend asked if I wanted to meet for lunch. No biggie, I’ll just try and do better for the rest of the month. And then my contacts started to act up and I realized I’ve had this pair for just under three months and that I should probably change them… So, I bought new contacts. And then I remembered that I needed solution for the contacts too. I also panicked because I had to buy new training shoes yesterday. Me and my husband started a course in line dancing last night. Yes, you heard me, line dancing! Since I was so down this holiday, we came to the conclusion that we need to do something together which make us laugh, and what better than to learn how to dance? So, I bought new shoes and off we went. And we had fun! Sure, we felt silly, and sure, everyone was at least 15 years older than us, but we did it together, and it made us laugh and we decided to do it again next week.

It would be so funny to get a sign like this for my husband, who still is in shock from yesterday. The things he does for love!

 

All I can say is that so far my no-buy month is going so-so. But I’m happy, and that’s something!

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The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

My first book by Marchetta was Jellicoe Road, two years ago. I loved it but didn’t read anything else by Marchetta that year. Last year I read both Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi, loving them both. I didn’t want to read The Piper’s Son too soon after, because I was afraid I would tire of Marchetta, and I also didn’t want to have nothing left by her to read. But then she wrote a post on her blog, and I just needed to read TPS at once!

 The Piper’s Son is about Tom who was one of the characters in Savig Francesca. His life has down spiraled since we last met him two years ago, and in this book we get to know him better, as well as his aunt Georgie. We also get to meet (almost) the whole gang again, and it’s a story about love and betrayal and friendships and forgiveness. (again, someone else will give you a better summary of the book. I’m sorry I suck at doing that.)

First of all. I love Melina Marchetta. I am scared of reading her fantasy books though, because her YA fiction is SO good, so I’m a bit sad that I’ve read “all” her non-fantasy books. Has anyone read the Lumatere chronicals? Are they as good as the other books?

As I read TPS I understood why I disliked The Fifth Wave so much. Sometimes you just read without reflecting on what you read, and it’s not until you read a great book that you notice why something else isn’t  good. When I read The Fifth Wave I didn’t get it, but, enter Marchetta and I saw it in an instant. The characters lacked depth, it wasn’t believable – and that is something you could never accuse Marchetta’s books of. Her characters are real, they’re complex, you care about them and they stay with you for a long time. 

I love Marchetta and I love The Piper’s Son. 5/5. 

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The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

I started to write a review on Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave about five times, and it is killing me that I suck so bad at summarizing a plot without giving out too much or too little information. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are so many people out there who does this better than me, – please google what this book is about, and I’ll just give you my opinion on it instead!

But to get my opinion you kinda need to know the plot, so here it goes.

Earth is invaded by aliens, who tries to eradicate all humans. 16 year old Cassie and her little brother survive. Brother is brought to safety  by other survivors and Cassie promises to follow him there, but of course there are obstacles, like getting shot, and being nursed back to health by a hot guy. Also, Cassies high school crush is alive and turns up in the same place as her brother.

  
There. Now, opinions.

If earth is invaded by aliens, who are far more evolved and intelligent than humans, why is there even a book about it? You’d think they’d outsmart us pretty fast… 

When the main character is named Cassie after Cassiopeia the star constellation, it kind of irritates me because of the obvious connection to space – the home of aliens. Couldn’t she just be called Sarah, or something less forced?

Also, if everyone around you is dying and your one goal in is collecting your brother, why are you so losing focus so easily and think that much about hot guys? 

That’s a few of the issues I have with this book, which I started reading for two reasons. 1) My husband was reading it and said it was okay, 2) I plan to see the movie and I always want to read the book first. Hubby never finished the book, by the way, whereas I almost alway finish books I start, no matter how bad I think they are. Not sure that’s a good thing, but that’s another discussion.

When I look it up, this book is said to be in the Sci-fi genre, so that’s the category I’m putting this book in on my 2016 Reading Challenge list. But really, to me, this is just another dystopian book for teenagers, and not a good one at that, I truly can’t understand what the hype and praise is all about. 

I give it 2/5. 

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Looking back at the books

I set a goal in 2015 to read 52 books. Because I have a tendency to read the same kind of literature over and over again, mainly young adult fiction and preferably dystopias, I wanted to make it a bit more difficult for myself, otherwise I’d probably read just that kind of books. So I found a list and tried to read books that fit into the categories on it.

Did I reach my goal? Nope. I managed to tick off 36 (out of 50) categories on my list, and in total during 2015 I read 41 books. I’m a slow reader and sometimes I don’t read for weeks on end. Last year I had two major dips in my reading, each lasted five weeks. It’s easy to do the math – if I read about one book a week, I lost ten books on those dips.

The good news in all this is that I read books that I probably wouldn’t have read, hadn’t they been in the categories on my list. For example The Trial by Franz Kafka. I had started it before and started it again (and hated it again), but finished it to be able to tick it off my list. I also hated Four: A Divergent story collection by Veronica Roth, but I finished it anyways. To be honest I usually do finish everything I start to read, just in case it gets better towards the end.

Reading through the list of books I read last year to pick my three favorites, I see a definite pattern. Not that I haven’t read different kinds of books, but… Look at these, my three favorites from last year, in no particular order: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, I’ll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson, and Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. Should I be embarrassed by the fact that I am not a 16 year old girl but rather a 37 year old woman? Let’s just say I am a young woman at heart… (And that Marchetta is a new favorite!)

book

Picture borrowed.

Now this year I have a new reading goal. I do have a list that I found, but that list only has 26 books on it. My goal though is to read more than I did during 2015, and so I hope to read 45 books. I think the freedom of not always having to fit my books into a category will make it easier for me to read more, but having the list makes it more of a challenge.

Here’s the list now:

A – a book with an APOCALYPTICAL theme
B – a BEST selling novel
C – a book with a CAT on the cover
D – a DIARY E – a book with an ELEMENT in the title
F – a book you got for FREE
G – a GHOST story
H – a book set in a HOT country
I – a book with an INDUSTRIAL theme
J – a JUNIOR novel
K – a book where noone gets KILLED
L – a book from a LIST
M – a book with a MONTH in the title
N – a book with your NAME in the title
O – a book with an ORANGE cover
P – a POETRY book
Q – a book with a QUESTION in the title
R – a RARE book
S – a SCI-FI book
T – a book with TRAVELLING in it
U – a book with an UNHAPPY ending
V – a VIOLENT book
W – a book with a lot of WATER in it
X – a book whose author has an X in their name
Y – a book by an author YOUNGER than you
Z – a book about ZOMBIES

Plus 19 “free” books.

Good luck to me, and a happy new book year to you all!

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Ugh. Back to work.

Man it was hard motivating myself yesterday to go to work today. I have said this before, and again – my main complaint for not liking my job is that it is very soul-less and boring (compared to my former life as a teacher which had perhaps too much soul and was never boring). It doesn’t really bother me as much to do boring stuff as long as I have things to do. But when the boring stuff also aren’t enough to fill the day, that’s when it gets extremely difficult for me to motivate myself to go to work. I like being productive and making a difference, or at least feel like I earn my pay. Also – having a full day at work gets the energy level up, and thus I am more productive when I get home too, whereas the opposite is also true.

The other thing about work is the very uninspiring office building, where “they” for some reason haven’t had any heat on what so ever during fall and December, so we’ve been freezing our butts off, wearing hats and even gloves (well, me, anyway) while working. Those two things were my main concern avout starting work again after the holidays. But of course I got up and went like the responsible adult person that I am.

So coming to work today felt a bit uninspired, knowing I was going to be chilled to the bones as usual, but – surprise! – someone has turned the heat up and now it’s actually pretty cozy in the office. Turnes out I did have quite a few things to do too, even though I didn’t think I did, which means time has flown by (up until the last hour or so).

What I wanted to say is that getting out of my own head is sometimes (often) necessary for me to feel good about life and myself. The dream of being independent and spending my time freely might not be the thing that suits me the best. 

That, my friends, is the important insight that I take with me as I crawl up from the black hole I spent the holidays in. 

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A happy new year?

There’s nothing like a new year to start fresh and get a kick in the butt to get things done, is there?

Too bad then that so far I can’t feel any joy at all when it comes to starting this new year off. If you like cheery blog entries with happy and encouraging messages, you probably should stop reading right about now.

I wonder if it is all a myth, you know? Being happy. Am I buying into a lie, is there really anyone out there who is truly happy? And if there is, how the hell do you do it?!

I won’t lie, I’m in a black hole right now, having one of my depressions where “feeling” anything isn’t really on the map. I am trying to live though it, trying not to think too much, trying to find anything that will make me feel something again. I’m not sure I’m doing too well.

I have cencured myself already in this post, now I’m just writing because I think I need to. I actually cried twenty minutes ago, and I am happy I did. I haven’t cried in a long time. I used to cry all the time, before my soul went numb. I actually used to be very emotional – happy, sad, excited, enthusiastic… Lately I’ve just felt — blank. Nothing. So when I actually cried (for about 20 seconds), I felt a bit of hope – although I cried from feeling hopeless, I think. Mixed emotions, huh? Hope because perhaps it is just a phase (again, like every year), and perhaps I won’t feel completely blank towards my husband and my kids? And perhaps I will find going to work on Monday totally okay? And perhaps being me isn’t the suckiest thing in the whole world?

Some people believe in some god or other, and I kind of envy that – having faith that we have a purpose in life. Me, I’m just fighting to try and figure out what my purpose is. The thing is I think most people in my life would do fine without me. I don’t think I add anything, really. I guess that feeling should be the reason to act, to commit and give back. It’s a viscious circle though, because I feel empty so I don’t have it in me to get involved, and not being involved makes me feel empty. Round and round it goes.

Man, being depressed is really depressing. I’ll try to heave myself out of this hole before writing again, wouldn’t want people being dragged down with me…
Happy new 2016.

 

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Minsgame day 27 (some) and 28 (most)

I didn’t throw (or give) away 27 things yesterday, instead I just had a nice day with my husband. I wouldn’t say I’m out of the game because of that, I’m just 20 items behind, which means 48 to throw away today. 

I went down to our storage room in the basement and found a couple of more things, but really, I will also post a picture of what our storage looks like, just to show why this is getting so hard right now.

First this: Twelve random paper things, a hat, nine rolls of old wallpaper, eight letters, three birthday cards, a paint can that broke when we moved, two parts of a shelf, three parts of another shelf, a desk (that’s 40)… 

…I’m pretty sure I can come up with eight more today, but then there’s 90 more before this month is up. And these posts are getting really boring too! Ha! I don’t want to quit, but I think I will anyway. I think I did a good job and I’m happy with how this worked out. 

Here’s the picture of our storage room. Does it look like it’s a lot in there still? Then keep in mind that this is ALL the storage space we (a family of four) have, which means this is all the things we now own, except what has a place in our apartment. In the storage we keep camping stuff, a box for Christmas decorations, some tools, stuff for the car, an extra bed for when the cousins visits…)

 

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