My project 333, and a few other animals.

My Project 333 capsule wardrobe experiment started on Wednesday, January 29th 2020. That’s less than three weeks before we were displaced by the flood.

A few days after the flood and I’m naturally down to 30. Maybe that’s my arbitrary number. I do have workout gear for running, motorcycling and a few watersports, so, ’karma’. Plus, I’ve decided I’m not going to buy any more clothes for a year, that’ll be February the 1st 2020. There, I’ve said it. Challenge set!

Does it take something like this; to have to carry round your possessions like Daddy tortoise to make you realise what’s important to you, or right now, to me? I’m shedding as I go.

Over the past few weeks as I’ve paired down I retained so many things that are falling by the wayside this week. THINGS, capitol, on purpose. That’s just what they are. Nonsense, stuff, trappings to weigh me down. I’m only realising that as I go; day by day I’m back at the house picking up important things, only to discard them with a ’what the hell was I thinking’ notion the following day as each now non-essential item is discarded.

At each new hotel destination or even new day, looking at the unpacked ’stuff’! Nope, gotta go, don’t need that, have three of those. Ooh, not getting rid of that though (happens occasionally).

You know what, it’s cathartic, dropping each thing is like dropping a problem. I have enough of those right now. Will I regret any shredded items? Who knows.

I love the minimalist 20/20 rule. I extend it as I need to. Maybe 40/40, maybe more. Can I replace it for £40 in 40 minutes. For the most part, out it goes! I don’t want to carry it anymore. What’s the point? It’s removing value now.

Did I mention the flood? It’s quite stressful. I met some friends over a cuppa last night. A few people shared their week. I listened, I put their and my week into perspective. I judged them, and myself. Sometimes in some situations that’s particularly unhealthy! I have a lot of unhealthy this week. Maybe this is all just me ’reacting’, cleansing. How many stages of grief are there? The conversation and distraction helped for a while. Then I spoke about my week, over a few tears. Is it surprising that right now I’ll do anything I can to reduce some of this pain and seek the freedom of getting lighter and letting go. If this is what this is, do I mind, will I have material regrets?

Bugger, I’ve reinstalled a few previously deleted apps on my phone. Partially to write this, some work, though there’s not much of that going on this week. (head in the shed, or maybe down the river). Does reinstalling work the same with that Rubik’s cube, those cuff links or those jeans. Wait, I may use those trainers in Spring. Nobody’s perfect. Another day tomorrow. Progress…..

Stepping into minimalism

For years I’ve thrown around the term minimalist, not until recently really understanding its meaning. This year I set upon a journey, like so many before me, seeking to turn something or a few somethings around. Frequent and excessive consumerism; unnecessary car and motorcycle changes, 3 pushbikes, 8 helmets, 4 bike jackets, countless gadgets, (all the latest models). Running (gear and trainer) obsessions, diet adventures and more roller skates, skateboards, longboards, surf skates and belly boards than a single mid 40’s man should rightly own. Don’t think of all the freediving stuff or every sport wetsuits. Then there’s the wardrobe. A bag, perfect for each specific activity. Wouldn’t one bag have done the job? Any of this sounds familiar? Maybe just another lightsaber, another exclusive Lego starship or maybe another tattoo to fill that void. Physically and metaphorically!

Increasing debt to match the increasing salary, to match the increasing amount of drawers filled with essential items I just had to have to complete that package of items that would make a certain scenario just right. The bigger house.

I knew it was getting out of hand. Lots of shiny new apparent value items all the time, distractions rather than focusing on addressing a mounting pile of problems. I have always been great at paying off debt but surely the time was now to stop starting any new ones. But how?

I hate cleaning, but boy I love tidying. Everything has its place etc.. The feeling of calm a good tidy brings up is almost addictive. I have enough history in that area, though free from all but a few food bad habits, oh for the sweet stuff, I know and recognise bad behaviour. It’s not a fair weather friend I want to keep playing out with. So with a counterweight attitude I have for acquiring shiny objects, balanced with a desire to put it all away safe I needed to nip one in the bud and use the other to achieve it. It was time to start pairing down. I would buy some books to learn how!

Heard of @TheMinimalists ?

Heard of the ‘Project 333’ by Courtney Carver Surviving with 33 items of clothing for three months?

Heard of Leo Babauta, Joshua Becker, Patrick Rhone?

Kindle app and podcast app in hand I started to read and listen.

The identification, particularly with The Minimalists was extraordinary. Two men having experienced a staggering amount of similar life experience to myself had found a way to change their lives to address similar problems, who collated and posed a number of reasons to go minimal that spoke to each of my base concerns, the things I was seeking to address. Guess what they were advising; so many things I had been playing around with for years.

Shortly after my minimalist eureka moment, preparing my mother-in-law to never buy me presents again, I told her I had become a minimalist. She laughed out loud and said ‘becoming?!’ Clearly I had started a long time ago, just never putting a label to it. Well now I have, I’ve become a minimalist. It’s time to pair down. I just didn’t expect the flood and I didn’t expect to have my new methods tested to the extreme, quite so soon. More to come after I describe how I began, then accelerated the pairing down process.

A scene Set – to hopefully bring value and joy.

This blog documents a minimalists journey with his somewhat maximalist family through, and hopefully beyond this life changing experience. It’ll hope to test some theories and prove some points, firstly to myself and hopefully to the reader; maybe even to my maximalists.

Join me as I see if I really am a minimalist, or, something else.

I don’t know how this will pan out, in terms of our house or my success in practicing some of the minimalism practices, and, hopefully we get to enjoy some of the accompanying benefits experienced through the process. I’ll diary or essay what I can, in terms of how a minimalist, a maximalist and our crazy seven year old whirlwind daughter face and overcome the same challenges.  Join us, let’s see where this goes.

I hope this brings value as you read and we reflect, and, I hope there is joy to be had for us all.

Displaced by Storm Dennis

February 16th, twenty months after we moved into our dream home, we were displaced by Storm Dennis.

We were alerted to potential danger by a neighbour knocking on our front door at 6am this morning. They told us to come outside, and we saw the bank slowly collapsing, We were aware of the river breaking down the bank on the opposite side before, but not our side. I even commented on a social media post saying: ‘it won’t happen over here’.

We lost roughly 25 feet of land to the river, as well as part of our garden. The river bank has just gone, right down to the foundations. It took some of the patio, a substantial tree, most of the hedge. Also scaffolding, which had been put up as we were due to have our solar panels put in later the same day. The scaffolding went off down the river, narrowly missing neighbours that had come to offer help.

I rushed, in a haze, in a state of shock’ to get my seven-year-old daughter and Wife out of the house as I watched the ground crumble towards the back door. I told her and my wife, who hadn’t realised the damage and the speed it was happening ‘we have to get out now’, I was petrified.

It was obviously distressing, we are all in a state of shock.

I can’t praise the community spirit of our neighbours, who had “rallied around in true British fashion”. It was cold, wet and still raining, there was a lot of hot coffee, small mercies, large gratitude.

My Wife has received calls, text messages and social media messages almost constantly since the news had spread throughout the neighbourhood and had been inundated with offers of help.

I knew immediately that we won’t be moving the family back until a professional survey has taken place. We stayed with a friend that night as the shock set in, we’re now booked into a hotel going forward as we assess the next steps.