Category Archives: Pea-ce

My longstanding love affair with stress.

More than a two months ago, I was falling in love with a beautiful country – Kenya. She lured me in, made me feel like I was special, and boy was my guard down. Without my knowledge, a parasite entered my body and one increment at a time, it took over my digestive system and my sanity. I should have stayed away from the salads, but now that I know what I know, I’m glad I didn’t.

 

Cut to a week after arriving home from Kenya, and I was ill. Pain in my stomach and severe cramps. I was in a bad way.

Did I put two and two together straight away? Nope, I quickly and conveniently put it down to a bout of stress because of a particular project at work.

 

Cut to a week even later and I had an on-and-off symptoms mixed with the sweats.

Do I put two and one together? No, I put this bout purely down to stress because of a work colleague.

 

A week later and I was falling into bed at 19:00, exhausted with brain-ripping headaches, and what did I do? I calculated that three and one was still due to stress because of the intensity of bringing a Summit of international scale to South Africa.

 

Now, looking at my attitude of ‘shrug-off’ towards the severity of my situation, it is clear that I’m not the only one who just makes do with barely surviving through each day.  Some of the stats on stress online illustrate how it’s slowly crippled an entire generation as people don’t effectively cope, over long periods of time, with terrible symptoms. And the scary thing is that fright or flight is not a chosen response, it’s natural and out of our control.

 

Now, I believe that after the roller coaster of being in bed and in pjs for ten days, itchy from the welts of infection, and immensely dehydrated, I have some perspective of what a real threat to my survival is.

 

I’d like to launch out and state that I believe that it is my relationship with stress that is killing me, and not so much the stress itself. I think that perhaps for too long now, my stress has been shrouded in mysticism where it’s the big bad Medusa who will grow back another two heads as soon as I cut one off.  Because no matter how many articles I’ve read or how many pep talks I’ve been given by my folks, I didn’t quite get it… until I got it.

 

I finally can claim my belief statement:

 

Unless I’m the president of a developing country or of the USA; or the scientist responsible for the cure for Cancer; the next attorney to represent the state in a case where the husband is the wife’s suspected killer; I actually have no right what so ever to say that I am stressed because of work, more than three times a month.

 

This is not unrealistic as I’m not in any election campaigns, neither do I have a PHD nor have I written a bar exam. Here are the facts: No one has died because of a work decision that I’ve made. No one has been shot at on my watch (other than by a pretend gun on a video set for a corporate remake of the A-Team – pretty intense stuff, right?). Never has someone starved to death due to a late submission of my paperwork or my timesheets.

 

So with all of this extra insight into my own psyche, I wanted to assess what it was about stress that has had me twisted by the intestines for such a long time that I assumed a real threat was the same thing.

 

Perhaps I was using the idea of stress as a crutch?

This was my first hard thought about my relationship with the idea of being stressed. I figured that I was using one blanket to explain the general condition of my working days.

 

Perhaps, I needed to separate out a few things? Instead of being stressed because of another person’s lack of respect for a deadline – perhaps I should think about how a frustrated person deals with their frustration. Frustration and stress are two separate experiences. One is agreeing that I have capacity to change my reaction to it and the other one renders me powerless.

 

And yet again, perhaps I was ‘getting stressed’ because I was seeing the complications of other’s actions and instead of vocalizing my objectivity, I was getting swept up in having to do things the hard way or the long way, when I knew perfectly that there was an easier way of achieving the best outcome. One way celebrates my intuition and ability to communicate my concerns beforehand, the other renders me speechless.

 

And again, perhaps I was feeling stressed because I was taking other people’s notions of how to do business and reacting as if it had anything to with me. As an employee, the way that I do business is only apparent within my scope of work. The responsibility of entire departments and companies is not something that is directly connected to my emotions and therefore doesn’t require as much energy from me as one would think. Perhaps I was ‘getting stressed’ because I was handing over my emotions and reacting, instead of seeing the wood for the trees. All that need be my concern is my own output, my own reactions, my own emotions, and with any extra time or energy, I could ask a colleague if they need any assistance from a work output point of view.

 

And I hear you protest, “But Perrin, this sounds so airy fairy, what about the practical things like my bond repayments and children’s education and dealing with my interfering in-laws?”

 

The same applies: check your relationship with the stress. Once you understand the relationship and look at situations objectively, you’ll know that perhaps you need to chat to a financial advisor or get extra lessons for kids and chat to a psychologist in order to cope. I’m not saying that you need to figure it all out yourself – life’s not about that, I’m saying that you need to remember to carry around your yardstick for what it is that you are giving your power away to.

 

I’m also not saying that you can’t be stressed or (insert the name of your crutch you’re experiencing here). I’m saying that you owe it to yourself to embrace each day with an awareness of what it is that makes you tick and how you deal with stuff.  You owe it to yourself to check the signs, ask the questions, interrogate your conscious and give your unconscious time so that it too can check itself. There are a whole host of marching bands, advertising campaigns and support-your-crutch-causes that your crutch has signed you up to.

 

This is all in the name of ensuring that you carry on buying into your crutch’s apparent values. Mine was to always let something pop up that needed my ‘urgent attention’ when I’ve got to leave work on time in order to get to a family event. But not any more!

 

And if you have a crutch that you might need the universe to point out to you, I hope you find yourself in an African country, eating a salad – it might just save your life.

Thank you for this new perspective, Kenya!

 

 

 

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The future of legislature – reframed

With more and more households leaning toward a minimalist way of living, I’d like to acknowledge how we’re all going to have to make another reframe in our approach to living in society. You see – there is an urban, middle class trend of living in closed communities. This ensures safety and higher lifestyle standards, but it also almost secludes members of said community from being connected to, and accountable for anything outside of their lifestyle village.

With governments and municipalities also embracing a minimalist way of governing; they don’t replace balustrade around parks, they don’t attend to call outs to illegal tree felling; neither do they have sufficient staff to clear debris on the roads after flooding or heavy rains.

Now this might go by another name of neglect, but it really is a form of minimalism, if you use your imagination, and bear with me here. It is the responsibility of our government and municipalities to maintain standards, without spending too much money, or generating too much waste, and drawing on too many resources.

Maintaining standards is vital, what I’m saying is that maintenance is going to take a fair amount of creativity from the governors, which currently might not be something that they’ve figured out yet.

So, the ideal situation would be to have balustrades replaced, in a minimalist way that ensures resources are used sparingly, and the environment is impacted minimally and that the time of staff is efficiently used; all providing that the balustrades are in fact the best solution for an area.

But I believe that maintenance also needs input from the citizens (other than in the form of paying taxes and voting).  I believe it’s going to take a hefty step-up to the plate from citizens, where we’re going to have to give up our attitudes of existing in society at ‘arm’s length’. There’s no use in complaining about deterioration, if you actually don’t do anything for the prevention of deterioration.

The onus is on all of us, to be clearing away soil run-off in our intersections. The time for all of us to question people, on the spot, who are illegally dumping, is now. I’m not endorsing getting into fisticuffs with law breakers, I’m just saying, make time to gather other community members and hold the perps to task – as a team.

In order to truly be minimalists, we’ll need to spend a lot more time fixing, mending, assisting in areas that we never had to previously, when we were living lives of excess.

Not only do we have to figure out what to do with the waste we’ve made to date, but we have to engage with the nuances of how we’re going to make our new minimalist future work in society.

Our creativity extends to how to join forces with like-minded people from your areas and how to develop relationships with them so that they can be on your speed dial when you need back-up in an illegal dumping situation. I’m also talking about creative negotiation techniques and disaster management, so that you are properly equipped for any situation.

By being fully equipped, you are responsibly fulfilling a role that was previously occupied by an appointed authoritative figure. The point is not to try and understand why that authoritative figure is no longer doing their job (even though we feel they’re overpaid and not fulfilling their roles); nor is it to question whether the legislative position even exists anymore, I’m saying, step up to the plate.

Give, serve and utilise your time, skills, money, energy, resources all for the benefit of the community, even if it seems like you’re the only one giving and all the rest are taking. Get involved at municipality meetings, join a party and rally people, use your rake and spade on that piece of municipal land, be active in the movement for the cause for greater good.

Guaranteed, if you exemplify your desires for your neighbours, community, city and country; your deeds will have a ripple effect.  Let’s all be responsible for legislature – because if we aren’t, it means we might only be complaining about it from the comfort of our industrial-styled lounges.

 

 

 

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What I learned on a year-long Neuro-Linguistic Practitioner’s course

Last year, I attended a course to understand just how heavily entwined our language is to our behavior and how deeply we affect the people we surround, just with our thoughts.

No, we didn’t sit around listening to David Whyte tapes, eating deliciously decadent organic snacks and lighting intention candles… That was only part of it. We did a lot of crying and trying of new methods that are massively uncomfortable. We journeyed down our own timelines and discovered the vastness of our futures, and that was only the half of it.

 

I learned to appreciate my point of view.

The deep appreciation that I garnered for my point of view was surprising. Surprising because the NLP course only partly helped me define what that point of view is. The fact that I now unconditionally celebrate a point of view that I don’t fully understand, is liberating. It’s liberating because I showed myself that I love the very essence of myself, even though I don’t 100% get what that essence is. It’s pure magic – it’s my high, and it’s mine all mine, but I know how to share it because it’s abundant.

 

I learned to think thoughts that enrich my experience of the now.

If it doesn’t serve me, then it has to go. I still regularly find myself being mentally harsh on myself but I am now equipped on how to gently steer the conversation in a more productive direction. I’m elegant in the dealings of inner chatter and I’m very aware of external sources that lead me to fall into a mindset that is unfriendly toward myself.

 

I learned to be ok with not knowing what it is that makes me happy.

And isn’t it fun to explore, realizing that there’s pleasure at every turn and tumble?

I am the fun person that I’ve always been chasing, I just didn’t know that my particular brand of fun was so acceptable to me. Now I know that wearing pink and red every week day, accompanied by glitter lipstick, doesn’t make me a crappy product of the nineties, it simply makes me feel closer to the me that I am. And if someone doesn’t like it, then that’s not really my business. And on that note…

 

I learned where I’ve been allowing my energy to fizzle out.

All the things that I haven’t been able to control: colleagues that are rude by continuously handing over work late, thereby creating a knock-on effect; people who swear at me in traffic, even the ones that I want to swear at in traffic; worrying about all of the homeless kitties in squatter camps and business parks; anxiety over things that are not my business, because the whole world is important to me, but it’s not all MY business… these were the vampires that drained me and left me without energy to do what it is that I felt compelled to do.

I am only one me, the difference that I can make, is only the difference that I can make, and THAT IS ENOUGH, that is my business.

This lesson was particularly fierce in my relationship with my husband and his weight-, debt-, lack of self-respect-‘issues’ (and I use the inverted commas because I now know that there is no failure, only feedback). All of those things I previously perceived him to be struggling with, are not actually my business. I learned that I can be supportive of his causes, by preserving my energy to be the best wife that I can possibly be.

 

I learned that I make up the technicolour of my experiences.

It’s not about the people I’m hanging around with, it’s not about the car that I drive nor is it about my salary. It’s about having a bright and authentic idea and allowing my system the freedom to explode that idea into the manifestation that it needs to take in my life. It’s not about dreaming up something and then pinning pressure on myself in order to achieve. It’s more about allowing myself to be there now, and see if it still suits me as it does manifest in the physical.

 

I learned that I am made up of many parts and that those parts are seemingly in disagreement with each other, most of the time.

Sneakily though, all of my parts actually want the same thing – the most dazzling outcome for Perrin. Each and every single fibre of my being wants me to be ecstatic, and I realise now that I don’t need to be anxious about this sense of dissonance because I get to the Emerald City, no matter what. I get there because I celebrate the rhinestones on my clothing, the numerous disco balls in my home, I play with glitter and dabble in the semi-precious stones in a Zulu meat dish on my coffee-table – all of these little ways remind my neurons that this life of mine is shiny, shiny, shiny.

 

Thank you Universe for my dazzling life and thank you Sue Corbett for being an elegant NLP Sensei.

 

 

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I believe that water is our future.

I am an extreme worrier. I worry about the fate of stray animals; construction vehicles parked next to rivers for long periods of time; the evidence of an area’s decay; where moles and hedgehogs live because there is so much ground cement these days; and what is going to happen to us all when we run out of water? With age, I’ve realised that worrying about things doesn’t actually make the issues better. So I have started to occasionally do something other than simply shed the tears. Occasionally, I stop and let the stray animal into my car and drive it to a place of safety. Occasionally I strongly voice my opinion to colleagues who have plans to ‘gas out’ the moles who decorate their garden. With regards to the water shortage, however, I’ve really upped my game. I decided that it was time for me to rid myself of a practice that had been deeply ingrained in me, a practice of ‘one wear, one wash’. I could never possibly tell my mother that I was rebelling against her extreme cleanliness, but I’ll tell cyberspace and then run with it should she find out.

I have started wearing clothes more than once, before putting them into the quick wash cycle. Socks, bras, pants, skirts, stockings, jackets and jerseys, they are all pretty much re-wearable provided your place of work is not a sweat lodge. Which mine isn’t, so score! So in order to change the world, I’ve changed myself. And no-one has really commented about me wearing the same clothes over and over. And why should they? I smell and look fine, and my rotation system is pretty sneaky.

Here are the other ways that I am trying to preserve this precious element of ours:

1)      I use the water from the cat’s water bowls, to water my plants (the water from my hot water bottle shares the same fate).

2)      I shower as quickly as possible. I also brush my teeth in the shower so as to avoid the water wastage that occurs when one waits for the basin tap water to warm up before rinsing the old ‘pearlys’.

3)      I use a pot of water to boil eggs for breakfast, and that same water steams veggies at night.

4)      I don’t always need to flush the toilet, not every time.

5)      When I run a bath for my husband (who loves to wallow in a filled-to-the-brim-bath), I run them as low as I possibly can without him noticing. If, however, I fill the bath too low, then he cottons onto the fact that it’s low and fills it right up. It’s a psychological trick of the mind for me to get this point right but so far, I’m reigning champ.

I know there are loads more ways to preserve our water; I’ve only scratched on the surface. The point is that we all need to start thinking of the small habits we can change to make a big difference in the long run. What will you do today, to make sure that water is available tomorrow?

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30 days of minimalism

The after effects of six months of thirty days before thirty were rather enlightening, if I had to sum it up in one word.  Enlightening; because I learnt even more about myself as I planned one of the milestones of my adult life.  My wedding.  Thirty days of deprivation and addition was the build-up to my thirtieth birthday, the aftermath was the build-up to my character.  You see, I don’t think that anything can quite prepare you for a day that has had much weight added to it by everyone other than the bride and groom.  I mean, when one decides to commit to one person ‘til death does one part, it is a big deal.  But the act of getting married should be as natural and relaxed as a butterfly on a gentle breeze.  Yet, it isn’t.  The mother of the bride wants three pairs of shoes (for the bride, on the day), the gran of the groom has great ideas but is just a little out dated on pricing and purchasing, the groom wants an elephant cake, and the bride just wants world peace.  It gets hairy, like at a beauty spa hairy.  From an angle that you don’t want to see hair from.

Being the bride, only the most important person at the wedding (other than the groom, of course) there were a few times when I wanted to scream: “Are you sure you want to be complaining and tantrum-ing when it’s not even your big day?”  And yet, there I quietly sat gnawing on my tongue whilst soothing and pulling the divas in for hugs.

So I did learn that the strength within Perrin is far mightier than her imagination.  I thought not eating meat for 30 days made me a little cooked in the head. Nay, it was the mother of the bride who nearly did my head in.  I suspected that 30days of meditation would put me on the same plain as the meditative greats – one times day of matrimony and I could easily be called a saint for smiling the entire time and not punching a bridesmaid, whiny guest, bossy aunt in the face, with my bouquet tambourine.

Yes, the six months leading up to my thirtieth was preparative for me, because I was so immature when it came to getting married (you see, I’d never actually gotten married before so how does one really know) that I really did need all the mental and physical stamina I could muster.

The fact that I abruptly stopped doing all forms of meditation, art and meat free-ness once I’d hit the dirty decade, didn’t bother me too much, I had a December wedding to plan.  Luckily I did keep up the exercise and I did mentally chide myself every time I ate meat – but that doesn’t really count.  But something did infiltrate my very being and I’m convinced (with hindsight) that something in me was practicing 30 days of minimalism during the month leading up to our wedding.  I suspect this because I detested the idea of anyone going bankrupt in order to pay for one day in my life.  I digress, but I understood my mom’s point of view and everyone else in the “It’s the most important day of your life and it has to be perfect for you” camp.  I understood it, and detested it too because sometimes it felt more like “It’s the most important day of your life and it has to be perfect for me.”  This sucked a bit.  And the more I experienced, the more I understood how it all worked.  You see, people don’t get married to show each other that they are committed to, and love each other.  People get married for everyone else’s sake.  For granny who can’t bear the idea of a couple living together out of wedlock, for aunty who really still likes the ex-girlfriend and is convinced that he still will get back together with her, for brothers who still think their little sister is a kid, for father who hopes that he did right by his son and really taught him how to be a man, for friends who feel like their group needs to progress to the next level as a whole, and so the list goes on.  And as we got closer to our ‘big day’ I grew calmer in all this new-found knowledge.  But Baby, unfortunately, Baby got more irritated with the interferences, which made it even harder for me to stay calm (the movies always portray an edgy bride; you can only imagine what a testosterone laden edgy bridegroom is like).  But back to my actual point at hand – the minimalism.

You see, with all the heated, loaded conversations, the more I tried to explain that I desired simple, minimal table décor, dress and accessories, the more my mom suggested three pairs of shoes, two wedding cakes (so that we could all have our own way), and tons of cut flowers (because you can’t only have live lollipop trees on the tables) the more I realised that the idea of minimalism needs to be trained at a mass institute.

With all that in mind, I feel that thirty days of anything must be darn easy in comparison and so, I have decided to continue in that line of thinking and continue with an endless supply of thirty days.   I think that my first achievement will be thirty days of true minimalism.  Here, I will endeavour to not let food go to waste, not even the crusts from the bread.  Water must be considered too, along with rethinking how to reuse my bath water for our washing.  No more bag lady for me (truly I walk into the office and people call me bag lady due to the fact that I have a laptop rucksack, portfolio bag, handbag, and lunch bag on my person).

And even though I was spoilt by rocking up to my wedding in a limo, courtesy of my brother who wanted to surprise me in a big way, and even though we had plenty cut flowers, cake and food that ashamedly went to waste after the fact, I know that some part of my being will one day be capable of achieving minimalism even though I loved every single minute of my sort of over the top wedding day.  I loved it because I too got sucked into the excess and hand wrapped tissues and tied them with bows for the ladies in the front rows, I also bought in to the craze by purchasing fifty rolls of ribbon which means I will have to wrap every single birthday present I give with my wedding colours, and we have enough sequins fabric (that I don’t really know how we will re-use) but I’ll be damned if I let it go to waste.  Perhaps I will have a “thirty days of using all the stuff I horded”, right after I celebrate “thirty days of minimalism” again.  But I will only start that when I get back from my honeymoon because packing lightly for an unknown beach destination is a hard thing to do when one has so many scarves and sun hats in one’s possession.

More than just a bunch of moments.

My life seems to be governed by a bunch of moments. Sometimes the moments flow quickly into each other and sometimes there is a waiting period before the next one arrives.  Whether it be from one event to another, from party to party, meeting to meeting, meal to meal, the significance can fall by the way side and it simply becomes from one end to another.  Unfortunately, I find myself wondering aimlessly once A to B has occurred, and the next B to C is nowhere in sight.  You see, it’s the in between moments that render me, well, daft. I feel purposeless and unsure of my place when there isn’t ‘a something’ to anticipate.

Now, everyone knows you cannot live for the next week-end / holiday / pay raise / grandchild / whatever, and so my mission for this year is to learn to appreciate the in between.  My goal is to make something more of the interim – not to create more drama in my life, simply to acknowledge everything (and the everytime) that makes up my life.

It was when I was I was recently chatting to my babe’s younger brother, Davey, that I stumbled on a potential action plan.  You see,  Davey is an exceptionally talented graphic designer, potjie chef, and a striving minimalist, so he rates highly in my book.  He explained the method that effectively banished cigarettes from his life.  This method was nothing other than that of mind trickery, if you will.  He practiced installations of 30 days of deprivation.  The first 30 days he practised the art of not shaving.  While his beard grew bushy, I am sure he learned tolerance for that itch.  The second 30 was meat free and the third set of 30 was smoke free.  He has mostly maintained his cleaner habit even though he now religiously shaves and eats plenty of meat – the point he proved to himself is that he could do without.

His method was extremely personal but it got me thinking that perhaps this could be my method too.  My chance to enjoy my in betweens could start with a challenge of deprivation or even take on good habits in a challenge of provision.  What if I was to challenge myself to 6 types of deprivation or provision before my 30th birthday in July? They say you can’t change too much too soon so I think that the only way to handle such a large assignment would be to treat these installations as one long in between moment.  As if, by denying it any sort of identity (for example, the Great-Pre-Thirties-Mind-Control-If-You-Will-Challenge) I will numb the fact that I am doing something outrageous and I will just get on with it.  Furthermore, if I do set these challenges for myself, I will also learn to appreciate the me that I am, even in the seemingly aimless in between moments.

I began to strategise and came up with a plan:

 ·        In January, I decided to take on a good habit – to exercise for thirty minutes every single day.  Now for some people, this practice is not out of the ordinary or even that big a deal.  For me, who considers a walk from the parking lot to the shops as a way of getting my heart rate up, this would be a (ahem) hefty challenge.  January came and went and even though I didn’t stick to 30 days straight, I was blessed with a new sense of energy and purpose.

·        In February, I decided to tackle my neglected spirit and meditate every single day. Child’s pose, hanging upside down, lying in the bath, it doesn’t matter, so long as some sort of mental quietness engulfs me, it’s all good. (you’ll be pleased to know that I am achieving my 30 days, even though it is bringing up a huge anger issue that I wasn’t aware of).

·        In March, I will have to release my creativity in a manner that is out of my comfort zone.  Sketching, drawing, painting and sculpting etc.  Every single day, come hell or high water, a creation needs to be unleashed in a big way, regardless of my insecurities of it being ‘good enough.’

·        April, I will up the ante with deprivation, meat free all the way.

·        May is reserved for the toughest challenge – wheat free.  This extends from white breads, sauces, Italian breads, crumbed anything, seed loaves, biscuits, French loaves, baked experiments, did I mention the breads? One of the aspects of this challenge that I am excited about is the joy of finding an alternative baking outlet.  A very dear friend, Jess who is also Davey’s girlfriend, showed me how to make cupcakes from beetroot and while they might look like baked faces of old men, they sure don’t taste like the faces of old men.  For other alternative recipes, follow Jess’ blog here: http://www.intolerantkitchen.com/index.html

·        June is reserved for a large once-off challenge.  I will have to perform one task that scares me to smithereens.  I’m still undecided because pathetically, I’m petrified of everything.

 And so, I have started a series of moments that will be on-going during the course of my life’s other moments.  And, if I accomplish this mind trickery (if you will), then the result will be that I won’t focus too heavily on the challenges and I won’t mind the emptiness too much either because there won’t really be any.

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Toss It!

To some this is a rude retort, an expressive outlet of frustration.  In this blog, however, it is to unlock sanity (not that cussing doesn’t sometimes ensure that the offender feels better after an outburst). In this context, it is meant as an inspiration and neither rude nor offensive.  Here, I endorse ‘dispose of’, ‘chuck it out’, ‘bin it’!

I endorse this, because I have had the realisation that I cannot continue in the manner that I do, do.  You see, one of my psychological issues is that I am particularly clingy.  I simply cannot throw anything away.  A chunk of wood for instance, cannot be chucked just in case I happen to learn impressive carving skills and am able to craft that hunk into a fancy foot stool or something equally unnecessary.  This extends to empty wood glue containers (you never know when you’ll need that nozzle shape again), buckled chipboard, palettes, old bread boards, used bubble wrap, chicken mesh wire, etc.

Where do I find said items, you ask? Well it doesn’t really matter.  I take things (with permission)  from my friend’s “to-go” piles next to their dustbins, I scavenge the left over-anythings from gigs, the side of the road, and my mom’s house.  I do not have one power tool to my name, but  one day I feel I would like to create all my furniture from scrap.  Never mind the fact that I will then need to re-repurpose my current furniture.

My wardrobe also takes up a helluva lot of space.  Not because I’m a fashionista, but because I still have t-shirts, skirts, belts and shorts from my youth.  Impressive that a ‘bordering-on-30-year-old’ can still wear clothes from her mid-teens?  Only slightly.  But maybe not so impressive is the fact that a ‘bordering-on-30-year-old’ is still rocking up in the atrocities and fashion crimes of the entire 90s era.  I’m experiencing true enlightenment here, bear with me.

Other clothing that I hoard includes items that I cannot actually fit into any more and perhaps it’s because I hang onto a time when I didn’t have to suck-it-in/lie down/safety pin myself into certain lower sizes.  Let’s face it, these hips have never lied and the chances of them shrinking at this stage of my life are absolutely impossible.

Socks and jerseys with holes also stay safe just in case my slumbering darner awakes.  I don’t yet even know the ins and outs of darning and to be fair there is a very blurred space in my head when I think of the borders between sewing, crocheting and darning.

This “maybe one day I will…” mentality extends to my urge to be an up-cycling ambassador.  If I could transform my stuff into working and pretty goodies, then I would be one happy, green camper.  The problem is that it takes me a lengthy amount of time to conceptualise a ‘new-old item’ from an ‘old-old item’.

Only once in a very blue moon do I take the metal scraps from the bottom of a fridge and transform them into a mounted filing system.

It is also rare when I actually use the kept empty coffee jars and create a magnificent gift holder.

The fact of the matter is that I collect junk at a faster rate than I transform it.

Deep down inside I’ve always known the answer to my problem, but for the time being I will present one final case for pro-hoarding.

Every time I do bring myself to trash an item, the very next day I find myself in the situation when I need that same blasted what’sit.

Anyway, the bits and bobs that make up my fantastic cabinet of clutter, have actually started to bother me and this mentally outweighs any of my reasons for keeping the junk.

It became so clear to me the other day (and I’m not the first person to say something like this):

“What if I never came across another awesome skirt that I could customise with a beautiful piece of lace (from my mom’s cabinet of clutter) because I could not let my now tattered skirt, that was awesome-of-yesteryear, go?”

 

And it was this dropped penny that caused me to finally gather up:

  • the two dilapidated couches on the patio (dilapidated because I had ripped off the fabric and taken off the arms, lost momentum and left the single-seaters to rot in the rain)
  • the clothes I had not worn for more than a year
  • all my skew-soled shoes
  • the semi working egg whisk
  • the wonky can opener
  • the computer keys
  • the milligrams of all my hand creams
  • the left over candle wax (clearly I was never going to melt it down and make one huge candle)

I threw away what needed to be thrown and I gave away what someone less fortunate would use.

The point is, I released myself from an annoying (mostly for baby because he also tries to live in this house with me) and insecure habit.

I tossed it!

Being free from unnecessary clutter beat the anxiety and that is where I found some Ohm.

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ART – a busy mind’s ritalin

The countdown to my sojourn to London has accelerated.  In 15 days time I will be heading out to conquer a city that is rather different to the one I was brought up in.  For one, I am looking forward to feeling safe whilst walking along the sidewalk or through the parks.  You see, bad things sometimes happen to good people and unfortunately here in Johannesburg, some of us have become a little bit set in an “us and them” mentality.  Them being people who hurt others and are therefore feared.  The other thing about London I’m excited to explore is English architecture, which is older than that of Johannesburg.  I’ve heard that their newer designs are also phenomenal.

Not that Johannesburg doesn’t have marvelous structures, old and new.  Expeditions throughout Jozi have left me breathless – in a good way. A recent Johannesburg-ian  find of mine is the new Wits Art Museum.  It is situated on University Corner, Corner Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue) and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.  The exterior is pristine with darkly glossed tiles and ceiling to floor windows that draw you in.  The gallery has been created by merging three separate buildings.  This conjoined vessel makes for a pleasant canvas on which each piece is allowed to breathe.  The play of light (natural and artificial) is as much a talking point as the works are.  There are a couple of strategically placed ottomans that invite one to contemplate art, life (although some will argue that art is the meaning of life but anyway) and anything else that might be troubling you.  I type this with conviction as we landed on the Wits Art Museum’s doorstep with trouble on our minds.

We had been ‘on edge’ for a full month due to the fact that my partner’s uncle had been tragically murdered at a store in one of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.  In one month our base point for emotional stability had reached rock bottom.  We were weary and insecure.  Being out of our comfort zones seemed to be risky and all strangers had become a threat.  Our nervousness had not deteriorated on this particular afternoon.  We had first attempted to visit the Kingston Frost Park in the heart of Brixton.

Now some people might think that milling around Brixton is probably not a good idea with regards to safety.  Others would see Brixton as a town that is being reclaimed by its residents.  The people of Brixton have become vocal in how they want their town to be run, they are attempting to stamp out crime and vandalism and decay.  It was onto this string of hope that I was clinging and had initiated this experience.

Upon arrival at the Kingston Frost Park, we started the hunt for the community-made wall mosaic.  My partner’s nervousness immediately escalated one, because of our preconceived notions surrounding Brixton and two, because of the sheer amount of people that were present.  In an attempt to break the stereotypical barrier, and trying to overcome our own recent experience with the murder of a close family member, I explained to him that there was no need to be on edge, that in fact we were the outsiders and that the members of this community were probably more wary of us than us of them.

It was too much, too soon, and he was not convinced.  I urged him down the well-kept path, past a beautifully maintained succulent patch, and towards the general, relaxed masses.  The point that made me realise that I had to turn back was when two young boys bolted towards us.  In hindsight, they were young mischievous boys who were going to run up behind their friend (who was walking ahead of us) and give her a fright.  The fright, instead, was placed upon us.  I guided my stumbling and rambling partner (who is actually a hulk of a man) back to the car and just drove and drove until we pulled up to the just-over-a-month-old Wits Art Museum.  I was so anxious that my strong man was hurting and clearly had so much to work through with regards to the trauma of his uncle’s death.  I suggested that we just pop into the gallery in an attempt to quiet our souls.

And the Wits Art Museum did just that.

The curators quietly introduced themselves to us and recommended the best route around the gallery.  We quietly ambled, taking in the magnificent works.

Just a short time in the gallery made a world of difference to our dispositions.  It was one of those gifts that helps you get through a trying minute, and as long as you can survive a minute at a time, you’re going to be ok.

No flash photography is allowed in the gallery, but you are allowed to take pictures.  I have a couple of my favorites to share with you.

Some of the works pictured here are from:

Gerhard Marx, Michael MacGarry, David Goldblatt and Jackson Hlungwane.

For more information http://www.wits.ac.za/witsartmuseum/15930/home.html

Visit the Wits Art Museum, it might just be exactly what your busy mind needs.

Art = Ha’pea-ness

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