As promised. xo
In November last year I had a sudden urge to get stuff done. Almost desperately. I booked in a dentist appointment (first in two and a half years), waxing, hair, optometrist (first in five years) and car servicing in the space of three days. That Sunday I found myself removing everything from the pantry for a stocktake. At this point Big Poppa looked at me closely and asked “Are you ok?” I stopped and thought about it and replied the only thing that seemed logical at the time. “I think I’d better do a pregnancy test.”
For those of you that have been following along, the year that followed our miscarriage was really tough. While grieving for our loss we tried month after month to conceive. Some months my period was up to 9 days late and I would have done 6 or 7 pregnancy tests, all negative. I hate to think over the space of a year how many of those little plastic sticks we sent into landfill.
Anyone who has experienced difficulties conceiving will know about the woes of tracking or charting your cycle (something I tried to avoid, fearing I’d get obsessive about it), forcing yourself to have exhausted sex between putting the toddler to bed and doing the dishes because IF WE DON’T DO IT RIGHT NOW IT’S ALL OVER FOR A MONTH AND WE MIGHT AS WELL GIVE UP NOW
and then the dreaded two week wait where you allow yourself to get hopeful every time you experience something vaguely different in your body (and find yourself Googling ridiculous things like “Is finger pain an early pregnancy symptom?”) and then trying to wait until the right time to take a test, then taking one early and getting a negative result but reassuring yourself that it’s just too early and then taking one at the right time and it coming out negative and convincing yourself that there is definitely a shadow and then taking another half a dozen just to be sure and then stressing yourself out so much your period ends up being late anyway, causing more angst.
Plus, crying in the doctor’s office. Crying in your boss’s office. Crying on the way to work. Crying on the way home from work. Crying in the middle of the night. Crying into your child’s hair. Changing your diet. Not drinking alcohol. No sugar! No caffeine! No additives! No fun!
Convincing yourself there is something dreadfully wrong and avoiding having your scheduled pap smear on time because you don’t want to find out and sending your husband off for tests because you’re afraid to send yourself off for tests, then three blissful months of acupuncture (if you exclude the three months of dreadful mornings and evenings of drinking foul tasting Chinese herbs) and finally you realise you can’t afford to keep that up and something has to give and…
Well – around comes October. We’ve passed the painful anniversaries of our baby’s due date and the date of our miscarriage the year before. I’ve come to an agreement with myself (and a very accommodating Big Poppa) that every new period will result in eating one full wheel of soft cheese, drinking one full bottle of red wine and booking in one full overnight, getting loose, letting it go girls’ night with my friends. We have decided to stop acupuncture and stop focusing on getting pregnant. We’ve started to think about all those other things we could plan for our future that don’t involve having another child. We have (again and again) celebrated the beautiful child we already have and have decided that’s enough. We’re thinking about working in Alice Springs and taking Little Fearse to New York and maybe even Disney Land. Our last hurdle to endure in our conception journey is a fertility appointment, booked months ago and coming up fast. After that we’ve agreed that armed with whatever knowledge we gain we will refuse any invasive tests or treatments and just get on with our lives.
And then, BAM. I’m booking a thousand appointments in a week and emptying out the pantry and taking a pregnancy test and WHAT? Two lines. Two lines. Two tests with two lines. FOUR LINES. This is more shocking than the 300 tests we’ve taken this year that were negative. Three tests, six lines. Four tests, eight lines. So we cancelled out fertility appointment and readjusted our future again.
And here we are. We’re 22 weeks along. It’s been anxious. There have been weeks of bleeding and blood tests, there have been 5 ultrasounds and 8 instances of hearing a healthy beating heart. We are at a stage now where we are finally feeling that this is something that is really happening – that come July we’ll have another Little Fearse (Mini Fearse? Tiny Fearse?) in our lives.
[Cute pic of Little Fearse and the bump to come when I’m…you know…not in my PJs and she’s…you know…not covered in Vegemite.]
I am participating in White House Black Shutter’s 40 Bags in 40 Days 2015 challenge. This challenge officially started last Wednesday, on the 18th of February. I started a day or so late – you can really do this any time. It is started on this date to coincide with Lent, but you don’t have to do it for this reason (I’m not).
What I love the most about it is the planning template and the ideas of places to declutter. I had difficulty stopping at 40. Maybe I won’t. So far I’ve chosen a mix of big and small tasks, some I’ve completed quickly, some have taken longer, some I thought I’d complete but only got half way through. I don’t think it really matters – it’s about momentum. I’m already finding stuff that I had no idea I still had and getting rid of stuff is easier than it has been in a long time.
Day 1 I cleared out the junk drawer / BP’s coin drawer and took $130 to the bank.
Day 2 I cleared out the expired medicines and returned them to the chemist. I also gave away a Little Squirt nappy hose that I bought second hand at the beginning of our BNN challenge and which never fitted our toilet properly.
Day 3 I worked on Little Fearse’s wardrobe and got rid of a large stack of old greeting cards.
Will you join me? I’m posting pretty much daily on our Facebook page, I’d love to see your progress, too.
I’m not a blank spaces kind of girl. I like to see those spaces used for their purpose. Bookshelves full to overflowing with interesting books and drawers full of pretty clothes and knickknack shelves full of (preferably vintage) thingies.Over the past two years I have learnt to love blank spaces. They show me that I have made progress. By leaving them blank they incite my imagination. All the things I could do with that space, the way I could curate it or fill it with stuff I love. And being able to imagine is enough.
Here are some of the blank spaces I have cultivated since we began our BNN year. Even though they are spaces filled with nothing, I sometimes think this is my biggest Buy Nothing achievement. Currently I am piloting an e-course for Bethany of Our Journey to Ithaca (which I will look forward to recommending to you when it’s up and running. The e-course runs alongside reading the e-book Clutterfree by Leo Babauta and Courtney Carver (full disclosure: I purchased this – but education is something I’m always willing to invest in). I haven’t read enough of the book yet to recommend it, but so far it reconfirms a lot of the things I have already learned about living a less clutter-some life, and also reminds me of some home truths I choose to forget sometimes. This quote, which I read today, is particularly relevant to this post: When you have emptiness in your home you have space to fill it with conversation, play, laughter, and silence.
I’d love to hear your tales of blank spaces! Share photos!
Recently my friend and colleague Lizzie told me that after reading our blog she was thinking about taking on a buy nothing new challenge of her own. She asked me for my top five tips for starting a journey such as ours. I told her it might take me a day or two to compile a top five, but when I pressed, this is what I came up with. I feel like this top five is the kind of list that would be completely different for every person undertaking the challenge – how it is done varies so much from person to person. I often find my passion for this project again when talking to someone new about it. So to celebrate that burst of renewed buy nothing energy for 2015, here is the Fearsian “Lizzie List”: top five (read: ten) tips for buying nothing new for a year.
1. Know your limits. Make your own rules. You can read ours here.
2. Stop going to the shops.
3: Stock up on stuff used to repair things. We used heaps of glue, electrical tape, packing tape, sticky tape, gaffa tape, nails, fabric etc. Alternatively, make this an exception. If you are going to avoid buying new things you will need to repair your old things when they break down. This is all a part of the overall philosophy. If repairing stuff becomes hard you’ll be more inclined to try and find second hand replacements, which still leaves you with the issue of ethically discarding the original. Repair, repair, remodel, redesign, repair!
4: Build up your resources. Join your local buy/swap/sell groups, join Freecycle, join your local Buy Nothing group (or start your own – I highly recommend this), lose any shame you have in asking people for their unused or unwanted goods. Interestingly this is one of the biggest criticisms I’ve read of people doing challenges like us – that they are leaning on others to resource them when they are unable to purchase something new. I find this a really narrow view point of how we work as a society and I like to think that we can be much more generous and connected to each other if we stop putting a force field over our stuff and start seeing them as resources to be shared and used, rather than symbols of who we are and what status we have in society.
5: Delay gratification. When you think you need something, put off buying it (second hand, of course), for at least a week. Nine times out of ten you find you no longer need or want it. Find a second use for all the stuff you already have and you’ll probably discover that broken / missing item is unnecessary anyway.
6: (Because all top 5s should have a 6??) Really look at what you have. Pare back – use this as an opportunity to get rid of all the excess stuff in your life that you don’t need. Find the best new home for stuff, not just any new home.
7: If you buy new, buy the best. I’m not talking the most expensive here (though sometimes it’s the case). Find it made locally, or artist designed, or super durable, or ethically sourced, or buy it from a charity. Find a way to buy stuff that also helps another individual, not just a corporation.
(Ok…it’s going to be ten.)
8: Don’t beat yourself up. If you buy something new, or you find you have to, learn from the situation. Last week we bought a new litter tray for our kitten because we were disorganised and didn’t seek out one second hand early enough. Shit happens.
9: Enjoy what you have. Stop bemoaning what you don’t have. Having that stuff won’t make you complete. There will always be other stuff you don’t have.
10: Be open and tell others what you’re doing. It helps explain why gifts might be a little different for now on, or that you can’t go shopping with mates any more. It also helps keep you accountable. Allow others to have an opinion about your philosophy (you can’t prevent it!) but don’t let people bully you. You make your own rules. Make your life your own.
I hope that Lizzie will take up the challenge. If she blogs about it, I’ll let you know.
Since I pared down my wardrobe I have only had one pair of jeans to wear. I am beginning to re-think how I went about removing items from my wardrobe, mainly because I wear my jeans and tees so often and so hard. I definitely need more of these than I previously thought. A month ago my favorite (read: only) pair of jeans tore at one of the knees. I planned to patch them, but in the meantime I bought another pair of jeans (which are passable but nowhere near as good as the torn ones). This morning I woke up and went to put on my jeans only to discover they were dirty. It was totally a jeans kind of day, so I immediately set about planning my patch. I’d seen Monster Knee Patch tutorials before (most notably when my gorgeous friend patched her farmer husband’s work pants in this way… He wasn’t happy but I thought it was great) and was eyeing them for my repair. I perused a few this morning and then set to. I used left over placemat material from the tool belt I made, plus a bit of t-shirt left over from a baby sleeping bag I made years ago and some vintage buttons. It took about 45 minutes including toddler wrangling, bobbin winding and machine unsnarling. You know that’s pretty good for me. You could probably make this in about 10 minutes. Here is my take on the monster patch (previously thought to be appropriate only for kids).
When Big Poppa and I first met we spent many, many hours lying around watching Scrubs. We’d hang out for every new season, buy it on DVD and watch it until the discs wore out (I mean this quite literally). When we met we used to joke that all we had in common was a mutual love of Bill Murray, but the thing that probably kept us together was our common brand of humour. We loved the crap out of Scrubs and both of us were pretty fond of Zach Braff. We didn’t write this song, but we probably would have if we’d thought of it first.
So, years ago, when I discovered this t-shirt available for sale of course I bought it for BP. Of course I did. BP was leaner then (okay, if I’m going to be fair we were both so much leaner then), but he’s always been particular about the shape of his shirts and he prefers black, so he never wore it much. With all the decluttering and shifting of stuff, I just haven’t been able to pass this one on. It doesn’t fit BP and it doesn’t fit me, but maybe one day…?
Today a post that promised 25 minute sewing projects came up in my feed. I’m always looking for 25 minute sewing projects, because then I am absolutely certain they won’t take me more than 8 hours. Waking today and realising that no one had any plans (an oasis in a storm of activity) we decided to have a pyjama day. Big Poppa has been working on a mixtape for someone special, so I figured I had time for a mini project. This DIY kids nightie caught my eye. Even better – it boasts that it’s a 15 minute project. That’s only about 4 hours in Mama time. Super!
I rummaged through the sewing box and found the vending machine t-shirt. At men’s size XL I knew I was stretching being able to do this in just 15 minutes, but I figured I could probably get something to work. Even if it just kind of worked. Little Fearse is never particularly critical of my sewing adventures, so I reckoned it was a safe bet.
It took me about 2 hours in the end. Due to the size of the t-shirt I also had to cut out and reset the sleeves. I only knew this was a possibility from reading other t-shirt up-cycle tutorials previously and I’m sure that if anyone who actually knew anything about sewing checked this out they’d be horrified. It works, anyway, and Little Fearse (although very grumpy for these photos) seems wiling to wear it. And I reckon she looks just as spiffy as Zach Braff.
Despite my best efforts I have let winter get the better of me again this year. I have really felt the oppression of the grey skies and the claustrophobia of day after day hiding from the rain. Even when outside I’m wrapped in so many layers that I don’t feel fully free. The first signs of spring have appeared here and there and I can already feel myself breathing a little easier. September 1st is the unofficial first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere and it is my absolute favourite day of the year. Spring brings hope and restoration and rejuvenation.
Little Fearse has been asking me lately if she can plant something. They have been talking about gardens a lot on Play School and I think she has got the green thumb bug from there. I’m still stalling over that veggie patch and am not a confident gardener, but I felt as though maybe I could manage a small succulent garden. Of course, I did already have a small succulent garden in the bathroom which I managed to kill, so time will only tell whether I do any better with this one.
I took her to the nursery to choose some pretty succulents and then we took some cuttings from a couple of plants at home. At the op shop she chose a little shell, a miniature bird bath, a tiny little gentleman bear and an old Christmas angel to decorate her little fairy garden. She was super excited and kept saying things like “This is fun! This is a good day!
The three of us made it together. Little Fearse got a kick out of throwing dirt around with the trowel and BP got a kick out of teaching her how to squeeze the pot to get the plants out and I got a kick out of being outside.
When her garden was finished I made the most of the sunshine and set up a couch my Mum picked up from hard rubbish and restored for us. We always intended to paint the cane coffee table (something Mum’s cousin picked up from hard rubbish for us) the same colour, but I’m tired of waiting for it to happen. There are enough different greens in our yard for it to not really matter anyway. I added a few more potted plants and created a little oasis, ready for some yard fun during the spring and summer.
I’m feeling really excited about the change in seasons. How much are you influenced by the weather? Do you enjoy all seasons, or have a preference for one?
For the past two weeks I have taken part in a Joyfully Green online photography course. It has been such a lovely step outside my day-to-day life. I can even say that I love some of the photographs I’ve taken. The wonderful thing about the course was that I could do it using any camera at all. My own camera broke (and then broke some more when I attempted to fix it) a few weeks before the class started, so I was left with only my phone camera to use. I found that this was pretty good for taking nature photographs (though, of course, there are things I’d like to do but can’t really) and I even learned about some cool features on the camera just by playing around with it on a daily basis.
I love that now when I’m out and about in the wintery weater I’m looking for something unusual or beautiful to photograph, rather than bemoaning the grey skies and constant drizzle.I’m so grateful to Joy for giving me the confidence to explore photography in this way.
I look forward to sharing more of my artistic endeavours with you in the future.
Last week I cut off over 35 centimetres of my hair. I didn’t do it to simplify my life, but ohmigosh. It takes about a minute to wash, uses so little shampoo and conditioner and about 5 minutes to dry. It barely needs brushing and it needs no styling. I had completely overlooked how much time I was spending (without ever doing much at all) on maintaining and then, mostly, hiding (in a bun) my hair. I’m so relieved. If you want a truly simple life, cut your hair. (Better, shave it all off.)
I was prompted to cut off my hair to donate to a company that then uses the hair to create wigs for cancer patients. I did this in honour of a beautiful, passionate woman who I both respected and admired. We lost her on June 27th, too soon. I don’t doubt for a second that if I had offered her my hair during her 9 month battle with cancer she would have said “Hell no!” Nevertheless, if someone out there can use my hair, I’m happy for them to have it. I didn’t even know that it was possible to donate hair until my gorgeous cousin posted about doing the same thing on FB last year. I thought this was a good opportunity to share this info with our readers and spread the word a little (although, to counteract advertising for a hair product company I will be entirely forthright – I would never put their products anywhere near my hair).
I don’t miss my hair. I had the choice of keeping it or cutting it. Other’s don’t.