Less is more

Possessions definitely weigh you down.

I’m not entirely sure why, but when I moved in with my other half I went a little mad. If we’re being entirely honest, I think she did too. We bought loads of stuff. We both love books and enjoy films. We both like crafty things (for her, knitting, crochet and a bit of cross-stitch, for me painting and models as you may have seen from the blog in the past). Neither of us like to see things go to waste, but she has the misfortune to have a somewhat profligate sister of similar size, so significant volumes of clothes have appeared here that would otherwise be in landfill after only a couple of wearings. The house, a two-bedroom mid-terrace affair, soon filled up and this year I have reached a tipping point. I want fewer things.

It has started with the books. I have two large bookshelves full of books (some shelves double-depth), two big boxes under my side of the bed and a similar number up in the loft. If I’m honest about it, it is unlikely I will re-read most of them. I’m slowly but surely trimming this down. The charity shops around me have been the main beneficiaries of this and my visits there have only reinforced my determination to get rid of as many as I can. Even as a book lover, I can see that there are simply too many books in the world. Or at least, in this part of the world. It’s perhaps a debate for another time, but I think that the world would benefit from fewer books (in terms of the range of titles) being published, and then fewer copies of those fewer titles being printed.

Many of the DVDs have also gone. I’ve sold what I can but the rest have followed the paperbacks to the charity shops. We’ve agreed to spend some time watching those in our collection and ditching any we won’t watch again. (Similar comments apply here to the books.)

Clothes which no longer fit are making their way to an Oxfam bin where they will either be sold on as they are, or if not fit for resale, they will be recycled into car seat stuffing among other things.

The recurring theme in all of this is the overproduction of stuff, and I am now determined to no longer be an over-consumer of stuff.

One of the other issues that my previous attitude has created (and I’ve only recently realised this) is that it made things difficult for my family at Christmas and birthdays. I earn my own money and I live in a society based on instant gratification, so by the time the big days rolled around I’d probably bought myself most of the things I would have liked. This year, this has changed. This last month or so has seen half a dozen of my favourite artists release new albums and in the past I would have pre-ordered them, but this year I have simply made a note and will suggest them to family when Christmas comes around. By which time, hopefully, there will be space to store them!

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Movember

For reasons which remain a mystery even to myself, I agreed to join in with some of the other blokes at work and grow a moustache for Movember.

I’ve never managed to grow facial hair properly before, partly because I find that after about a week, my jawline itches like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, and so I immediately shave off that week’s growth and go back to a clean-shaven look. I have never noticed my upper lip itching though, so this effort might be more successful.

As the month goes on, I will post a couple of photos charting the progress of my ‘mo’.

Charity

As sometimes happens, motive and opportunity collided last night. As I’ve mentioned before, I want to travel around Northern Europe, particularly Scandinavia. I also like to do things for charity, so when Cystic Fibrosis wrote to my mum with details of their fundraising ideas, and included was a trek around Iceland, I thought things were coming together brilliantly.

However, things are never that simple, or so it seems. In order to do this charity trek, I would have to pay an entry fee of £299, and pledge to raise at least £2,800 for the charity.

I understand that they don’t want people going along for a cheap holiday. I also understand that obviously they need a reasonable amount of money for administrative costs (I guess they arrange campsites etc for you), but it seems a little extreme to charge £299 just to enter, and then expect you to raise nearly ten times that amount as a minimum. I have requested more information from them just in case I have missed something important.

The thing that I want to know is what happens if I pay my entrance fee, and then fail to meet the fundraising pledge? Suppose I only raise £1,500 – would they refund my fee and then open my space to someone else, who now has less time to raise the much-needed money? By doing so, they would lose out on the £1,800 I had secured them, and risk my replacement similarly being unable to meet the target. Or do they only want people who can guarantee to raise that sort of money?

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I could get that sort of money raised. I know this isn’t an accurate measure, but I only have about 170 Facebook friends. Add about a dozen relatives into the mix, and then a couple of dozen more co-workers who aren’t on Facebook, and even the most optimistic estimates would suggest that these 200-ish people would each need to sponsor me £14. Clearly, that’s if everyone sponsors me. I think when I did my 10k run last autumn, I had somewhere in the region of 40-50 people (at a generous estimate) sponsoring me. Given that I’m fishing in pretty much the same pool, that’s 1 in 4 people, meaning that in order to hit my target, I would need each of them to sponsor me about £60.

There are ways in which I could try to increase the proportion of people I know who will sponsor me. However, I am reluctant to pester people until they give in. I think charity should (quite literally) be something you do voluntarily, and because you want to, not because someone you know is twisting your arm and you don’t want to offend them by saying no. Too many charities try to bully you into giving through persistent requests either by post or clipboard-wielding people on your local high street. I don’t want to become like that, and I don’t want people to feel guilty for not giving – there are plenty of charities that I recognise as worthy causes that I don’t give to for one reason or another, be it a lack of ready cash, or the fact that I have charities I rank higher on my own list.

In the end, I think charities shoot themselves in the foot by demanding so much. It reduces the number of people who are able, and – more importantly – willing to give their time and money to the cause.

Up And Running

In my first post, I mentioned that I wanted to get fitter and lose some weight. Until yesterday, I had done nothing about it, as always. However, yesterday evening, I pulled on my trainers and ran two miles. It took me nearly twenty-five minutes – almost half the time I needed to complete my 10k (or 6.25 miles) last October – so I’m clearly some way short of where I was ten months ago, but I was very pleased that I managed to do it all in one go.

I hope to be able to report more frequent and regular running over the coming weeks. Onwards and downwards (as far as my weight goes)!