Sunday, January 29, 2012

Clutterly brilliant

I love my stuff. I have trinkets from my travels, books by the bucketload, collections comprising teacups, vintage glassware and buttons. I love our stuff – the hundreds of mismatched CDs and records (thrown together when Indie Kid met Happy House Raver) that somehow, over time have bridged the distance so that now Andy can be found navel gazing with Teenage Fanclub while I practice my running man to K-Klass. I love all of Agatha’s stuff, simply because it belongs to her.

Needless to say, my study is a storeroom. Boxes full of very important paperwork (neither of us know exactly what’s in there but it must be important if we kept it all this time). Bookcases chock full of books I have read and will never re-read and those that I will never read at all. Cupboards bursting with clothes that no longer fit us (but they might, one day) and drawers swimming in bits and bobs that may come in useful, if only we knew what they were for. It’s starting to feel uncomfortable, all this stuff. I’m not a hoarder but I am overly sentimental and loathe to hurt any feelings; “we can’t give that away, our old neighbour brought it back from Malaysia for us… Yes I know it’s a Petronas Towers money box wrought large in plastic but it was a gift!”

So, what to do? Celia Barbour (writer and contributing editor at O, the Oprah Magazine) says “a home is a place to do things, not store things. It’s not meant to house your possessions but your life.” This really speaks to me – especially the bit about a home not housing your possessions but your life. Part of my quest to do more of the things that make me happy is to live by the motto that less stuff = more life. So I am going to declutter. I’m going to have a huge garage sale and the proceeds are going into our Hawaii account. I’m going to donate much to charity. I’m going to recycle and, as a last resort, throw away. When I am done I will look around my home and actually SEE the things that are special to me. I am going to try and live by William Morris’ exhortation to not have anything in my house that I do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

Anyone want a money box from Malaysia?

Friday, January 27, 2012

A damp squib?

I had intended to write another blog post before now, especially given the amount of time I have spent indoors with all this water falling from the sky (and running down the street and coming through the roof…) but this week I have been mostly doing things that make me UNhappy. Like vomiting. The entire household was hit by some outrageous bug hell-bent on sending us all to our beds. Before disaster struck I did manage to take Agatha to music classes. They were fun but not something either of us loved so we’re on the hunt for another activity we can do together – swimming is on the list but other suggestions gratefully received.

So, on the face of it, an unsuccessful week in my campaign to do more of what makes me happy. And yet, sometimes finding out what we don’t want can be as useful as finding out what we do. Some are blindingly obvious; I don’t want to be unwell, some are surprising; I thought we’d love music classes and some are just a bit painful; I need to better manage my finances or find a suitcase full of cash to pay for roof repairs.

Although I’m dedicated to my “happiness project”, I’m no Pollyanna. Sometimes bad stuff just happens and in weeks where the weather, ill-health or unexpected financial issues crop up, I’m content with just doing less of what makes me unhappy. To this end I am eating well in order to better fight off any would-be viral marauders, I am working on a budget to future-proof us against further financial surprises and I’m taking the crazy weather as an opportunity to lie on the living room rug with my beautiful baby and be right in the moment with her. And that last one makes me very happy indeed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do more of what makes you happy

I recently returned from a most excellent holiday in Tasmania. It was my first visit and I was blown away by its natural beauty, groovy towns and cities, tasty food, friendly inhabitants and cute creatures. It’s now my joint-favourite state. I brought home lots of cool things; a wooden melon slice that grabbed Agatha’s attention, gifts for friends, a clock made from paper and some fantastic memories. But I brought something else back with me too, a resolve to do more of what makes me happy.

I was waiting outside a rather nice but pram unfriendly coffee shop in Hobart while Andy (my coffee-addicted husband) procured his latest skinny cappuccino and I spotted this:

I had already been feeling that I wanted to do more of the things I was doing in Tasmania: having fun with my two favourite people, visiting different places, trying new things, living more spontaneously, getting lots of fresh air, being active, shopping in independent shops and leaving myself open to a little serendipity. The sweet street art seemed perfectly placed and in that instant I decided to do more of what makes me happy and to blog about it, as a journal for me and perhaps to inspire (and in turn learn from) others about what makes them happy.

I’m starting small with baby music classes on Monday. I suspect Agatha and I will have a blast.