Every Night is Book Night

Oh yes it is!

Feeling a tad worn out & completely lacking inspiration for this week’s blog post, I’ve given myself permission to cheat by revisiting an old one. This time last year, I was looking at ways of parting with books… which seems particularly apt today, as we are celebrating World Book Night (I’m celebrating by staying away from any location where I might be gifted a free book!)

And so, without further ado, I shall transport you back to April 2017, where I was just starting to consider the possibility that I own too many books…

1.Bookcases     2.bookcases

though I’m not sure how many is Too Many…

4.more books

more than I could possibly read in one life time, perhaps…

5. last one

certainly, more than I can keep track of…

3.books

More than once, I’ve brought home a gem from a charity shop only to discover I already own a copy. And often I recommend something to a friend, only to discover it’s gone into hiding. A couple of bookshelves are arranged alphabetically, but the sense of order soon descends into a chaos of anonymous boxes & To-Be-Read heaps. Then there are the archives… books I read to my children, books I read as a child, some dreadfully outdated and cringeworthy, but remembered with fondness & stowed somewhere I don’t have to trip over them on too regular a basis.

Whilst I defend any bibliophile’s right to say there is most certainly no such thing as Too Many Books, I’m ready to admit I currently own far too many for me. Though I tremble to type it, I’m planning a humane cull. It’s not terribly methodical, but nor was the way I amassed this lot in the first place. I’ve started by picking a random shelf, seizing a book and asking “will I ever want to read you?” Surprisingly, I’ve answered no more often than I’d anticipated. So long as I find a new home for this book, somewhere it can feel loved and useful, I’ve found I can set it free with minimal feelings of guilt.

How do I do this?

A very popular way of getting rid of books is to sell them online. This seems a perfect solution… your unwanted volume finds a loving reader & you earn a little cash to boot.

sproutOne downside is your book could fail to sell, doubling the rejection as well as calling into question your taste in reading matter. It’s worth persevering, but after reducing the price & relisting it a few times, you’ll be ready to give the pesky thing away for free.

Donating unwanted items to charity shops is generally a great idea. You benefit from a reduction in clutter, the buyer picks up a bargain, and the charity receives much-needed funds. However, charity shops are businesses and as such aim for a high turn-over of stock. They prefer good quality mainstream fiction, or valuable rarities… nothing tatty or well-thumbed. Just be aware that books which do not sell are destined for pulping!

shoeburyness

 

Recently I’ve come across a book share shelf in my local train station. I’ve noticed that anything left here rarely hangs about for long, so I don’t feel guilty about dropping off my books and magazines & scurrying away. Sometimes book sharing shelves in stations, or even supermarkets, also have a donations box for a local charity. No threat of pulping, the book just sits patiently til it finds a new reader. Good karma all round.

Another way of passing on your unloved tomes to a more appreciative audience is to pop them in a Little Free Library.  A friendly sticker on the front invites you to Take a book, Return a book, Donate a book. If you can resist the first of this trio, well done… the net number of books in your house has diminished!

6. LFL

 

Whether you want to borrow or donate, why not check out your local Little Free Library. I’m not sure why, but there seems to be an exceptionally high number in Waltham Forest, East London.

 

Finally, if you like the idea of giving books to complete strangers, Bookcrossing bookcrossing-sample-labeltakes this one step further by adding the possibility of hearing back from the person who picks up your book. You only receive feedback from about one in ten of the books you set free & the recipients don’t always enjoy them as much as you did . I released an economics text book which was apparently used to light a BBQ!

So… in the past two weeks I have Bookcrossed, I have left novels on bookshare shelves & in Little Free Libraries & I’ve managed to sell one (of 35) listed on eBay. The overall book content of my house has gone down.

Just one small blip. I saw this on the train & I couldn’t just leave it there…

Underground

 

Live with less

Today need space. Feeling trapped by stuff. Buried underneath it all. Dismay at steady stream of new things marching into house while old resolutely fights to stay. It’s suffocating me, it’s pressing on my soul. Often feel to light a match and walk out the door. Did I really say that. Bit dark today. I’m just angry that I can’t just throw it away and start afresh. Stop the consumer merry go round or at least jump off if others enjoy the ride. I dream of calm ordered space but am still in nightmare when open my eyes. Live life less. Hmm was that slip mine or autocorrect. Live with less. ….. At this point I could suggest an external link that offers neat solutions. If only it were so simple. Maybe it is in the parallel worlds.

 

 

Tempus fugit but does anything real change. Reflecting today on words written long before started this latest leg of journey.

Surer now than  ever that consumerism is not way forward for y ersoba elightment. What! Could leave this uncorrecxed as expressionist art and development of language in an autocorrect world  but can’t as it  just reads like nonsense.

Surer now than  ever that consumerism is not way forward for my personal enlightenment.

Will continue to share what does work . Living with imperfection is on the list.

Setting time limits for tasks works for me too. alarmThere goes alarm!!!!

 

Have a nice  day

 

but ….. modern blog is not complete without a picture so here a favourite . Live with less.

IKB_191

Bags of bags

bagsHappy to follow the sublime Tim Minchin’s advice, I always take my canvas bags to the supermarket. They come in many guises; some are beautiful creations, whilst others are mere advertising spaces, two I received after running 5km and at least one was a prize. As you can see, they quickly add up. I now own 25 of them.

It’s clearly time to start saying no to any more freebies. Plus, I need to always carry some with me, so I’m not tempted to buy another. After all, these reusable bags have their own impact on the environment and need to be used LOTS to be less problematic than the plastic variety they are replacing (a UK Environmental Agency report found that a cotton bag would need to be used well over 100 times to have a lower environmental impact than a single-use plastic bag.)

So, my promise today is twofold… to take my canvas bags to the supermarket, and to acquire no more canvas bags.

If you haven’t heard Tim’s awesome anthem to the humble canvas bag, here you go (you will love it, but will possibly be singing it in your head for the next day or two.)

 

“In the beginning…….

The Pillars of Creation

 

….. there was nothing, nothing at all, but to cut a very long story short now there is stuff. Not a little more stuff, noooh, so much stuff that we are drowning in it. Now and again we come up for air and see the sky (or the floor) and then we are dragged back under until breathless we surface again.

What are we to do? Well in these times, of course, tackle our problems by blogging and hope others will help make our journey an adventure not a route march. This blog will follow our victories and defeats over the coming weeks, months, maybe even years, as we fight our way to freedom from the tyranny of stuff. We know it is not going to be plain sailing (promise to keep the references to our watery theme to a minimum!) as it’s not always clear cut to us what is good and bad stuff. After all if it were easy we wouldn’t be us.”

Hard as it is to believe it is a whole year since we wrote those words back then we knew we couldn’t “let go of stuff; stuff in the kitchen, stuff from the past, stuff on our phones and worst of all stuff in our heads.”  Little did we realise what we would learn over the coming year how true it was that “we hate waste and combine it with a sentimental attachment to the memories embedded in ‘things’.”

In today’s post we planned to look back and share with you what we have learnt as we marched, skipped, trudged, meandered along the road to unclutterment. For example, we learnt we were not alone and that others had been down the same paths whether it was tackling food waste, plastic pollution, litter or mending stuff.  We have though decided that looking back for us, is not the way forward. We already are too firmly rooted in the past surrounded by stuff. Today we plan to boldly go where Stuffoholics rarely tread. Don’t know where ‘there’  is but come along for the ride.

Frogs into Princes

FrogIt’s been a year now since we started this strange experiment in clearing our homes of needless stuff. Are both our houses significantly airier and clutter-free? Not especially so.

These days we have a far better idea of what we no longer want or need, but unfortunately we’re also hindered by a massive guilty conscience regarding what happens to this stuff when we get rid of it. Chucking it all in a skip is no longer an option, instead we try to re-home, re-purpose or re-cycle just about every item that leaves the house. Which is surely an improvement, but does prove time consuming.

So far this year, I’ve waved goodbye to 44 books. Some were sold on eBay, some Bookcrossed & others left on free reading shelves. Whilst pondering this week’s blog, a particular title leapt out at me….

frogs

 

 

I didn’t read this book before rehoming it, so Neuro-Linguistic Programming will forever remain a mystery to me. However, the title summed up our current predicament; every frog is potentially somebody’s prince…   our task is to round up each of our unwanted frogs and gift them to people who will welcome them as princes.

 

 

                                           How hard can it be?prince frog

Having trouble with a few frogs of your own? Take a look at this helpful list of Where to Donate the Tricky Stuff, c/o Sara Macnaught at Rightsize.

Gone but not forgotten

Ted Baker bag.JPG

It’s just an old bag , no longer used but ……

Today a lesson in letting go of things so I can have space and someone else (and me too) can make new memories.

So what is the bag’s story, where has it been , what has it seen?

This bag was given to my son by his uncle one Christmas, so already it’s tale laden with emotional baggage. The perfect ‘cool’ present that I never pick but my brother always does. The bag put to immediate use, and always overladen. Whenever I trip over it I know my son has returned home. Fast forward a few years and bag has done sterling service and ventured far but handle is in need of repair and the laptop it carries so expensive that it is foolish to rely on faithful bag any longer. Time for bag,  like me to step back from son’s life.

But I’m a stuffoholic, I couldn’t just let the bag go. I filled it with stuff, not because it made sense, but it gave me a reason to keep a bag , which whenever I looked at it I remembered my son. No damage then. Well yes there was. The bag took up precious space and became not a reminder of my son’s presence but of his absence. When looked at no longer a reminder he would be home soon but of need to accept he would never be coming back. The charity shop beckons. Time for this old ‘friend’ to go on adventures new.  My son knew this when he discarded the bag but I have had to go on this journey. Be careful of embedding memories in things, remember it is the memory not the thing that needs to survive. And if you decide to keep the thing make sure when you look or touch it , it still evokes good memories or it is time to send it on its way, to let it go.

Resolutions Revisited

2018On the first day of 2018, I listed some Stuffoholic plans for the year to come. Not resolutions, so much as Good Intentions. Two months down the line, I thought it was time to revisit my list and see how I’m doing…

  1. My first good intention- and one of the reasons for starting this blog a year ago-  was to finally take control of my book-amassing habit. I’ve made a little progress, leaving them on free book shelves & selling some on eBay. My house now contains 42 fewer books. It’s a start.
  2. I’m glad to say I’ve not bought a single magazine this year. I’m even resisting the free ones given away at train stations. Sixteen have been left on the free book shelf or given to a children’s art group. The space below my bed still looks like a newsagent’s, but it’s a work in progress.
  3. Next, I intended to tackle those boxes filled to bursting with a weird & wonderful array of old paperwork. I’ve not touched a single one of them. It’s a case of Out of Sight, Out of Mind. I need to refine this intention, maybe aim to sort a box a month?
  4. The first family birthday of the year came along & I baked my first ever carrot cake. It was tasty, cheaper than a shop-bought cake & didn’t enter the house wrapped in cellophane, cardboard & pointless plastic. Result!
  5. Spontaneous litter-picking has become a habit now, as demonstrated by our Litterati total: 819
  6. It’s still a bit too cold for a second community street clean, but it’s on the books. Meanwhile, I’m planning to join a local litter pick to mark #GBSpringClean, though this may be postponed due to the current bad weather.
    Also, I do my bit whenever I get the chance; a walk along the Thames Path at the weekend led to an impromptu beach clean:

    straws
    And finally, I threw myself the somewhat rash challenge to rid my home of 2018 items this year. I didn’t really mean it. And I’ll never manage it. Even so, I have been counting…
    I’ve re-homed 114 items in the first two months of this year. So overall, it’s not been a bad start, but I could definitely Try Harder.

Time to Stop

autumn park shot

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare. 

             

Leisure by W.H Davies

Last week we were busy, picking up litter. This week we were going to turn our attention to #plasticfolly but on way paused,  not to smell the coffee (after all, can now only enjoy if sustainable and plastic free ) but to take time to stop (some of us cannot stand)  and stare.

Will this (in)action help us tackle the clutter in our lives. Maybe, maybe not but a few minutes away from life’s coalface will surely leave us better placed to soldier on. Sometimes just doing nothing is doing something … sometimes it is not!  We leave you to decide but know what we plan to do with our time today.

Mount Fugi

Disappointed? I was too, which is why the original title  ‘Stop and Stare’ was changed to ‘Time to Stop’ . On reading was going to need to edit and re-edit to try to capture more positive take on pausing to reflect. But then Aha moment, as realised today’s tip was to remember to stop, and then move on. Spend a finite time each day decluttering and be satisfied with what you have achieved .. for now.

That really is enough for today .. Time to Stop!

#DoItForManuela

teasels

This week’s blog was inspired by Manuela, whose litter-picking adventures I’ve been following on twitter. Please take a look at her tweets & blogs, give her a follow, say hello. Hopefully her passion for saving the environment will rub off on you and you’ll find yourself grabbing some bags and heading off on your own journey…

There and Back Again

My destination was a short stretch of the River Roding which links two incredibly busy roundabouts in East London. Walking along the bank of this river, you are never quite out of earshot of the roaring traffic. The landscape is somewhat industrial, with towering electricity pylons & concrete flyovers. And yet the Roding has a quiet dignity as it makes its way down to the Thames.

Armed with empty bags, my faithful Litterati app and the enthusiasm of someone determined to make a difference, I headed off to the bus stop. Of course, I couldn’t just walk past the litter en route and by the time I reached Roding Valley Park, I’d already picked up and binned 76 pieces of rubbish.

Once at the river, the enormity of the task sank in. Where graffiti-decorated pillars rose to support the concrete flyovers, there was a huge abundance of rubbish. I spent a while collecting bagfuls of glass bottles and dragging them back to a litter bin at the nearest bus stop. Alas, this was a task I could never complete. I decided instead to concentrate on plastic litter which was far more likely to blow into the water or trap & choke wildlife.

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After a couple of hours, I’d picked up 150 or so pieces of rubbish & the bags were getting too heavy to carry much further. It hadn’t been a difficult task, I’d enjoyed a pleasant walk along the river and I’d spotted 3 of my favourite birds (wren, teal & cormorant.)  My point being, anyone can do this. YOU can do this. Grab a bag and pick up some litter… in a park, on a beach, by a river, on your street… and collectively, we will make a difference.

Strolling back down my street, in dire need of a sit down and a cuppa, I picked up a final carrier bag full of rubbish. My own little corner of the world looked slightly less messy than it had that morning. And though I realise my own contribution can have little impact on a world full of rubbish, I also know it takes just one small spark to start a massive chain reaction.

Let’s stop complaining about all the litter and start picking it up.

#DoItForManuela