Siobhan Emma

Learning to Live a Life of Less

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Other Ways I Aim To Consume Less

Over the past week I’ve spoken a lot about consumerism in the sense of purchasing, but there are other ways I consume that need working on as well.

I’ve developed many habits that involve me consuming in order to distract my mind from the bad stuff.  The worse of a place my head is in, the more I consume.  It’s a form of escaping, and something, again, as much as I don’t want to admit, is a habit I’ve developed from watching my Mum act in a similar way.

I’ve spoken briefly about my Mum’s addiction to alcohol in this post, but that wasn’t the only thing in my eyes that she was addicted to.  My Mum spent many, many hours playing online games.  She was deeply depressed in the last few years of her life, and those games were a form of escapism for her.

On the one hand I can see the pros of this.  She made friends all over the world who she had total control over what they did and didn’t know about her.  She didn’t have to tell them the horrible stuff if she didn’t want to, but the huge negative, and the one that affected me massively was that I felt like her online life and her online friends were becoming more important than her real life and the people who loved her most and who were right in front of her; her daughters.

The moment I realised it was becoming a problem was when I got home from work one evening at around 7:00pm.  My Mum was on her game, and I went about my business for the evening and went to bed at 10:00pm ready to get a 6:30am bus to work the next day.  When I came downstairs to get my bus at around 6:20am, there was my Mum, still on her game from the previous night.  She’d not been to bed, and not eaten anything from what I could see.

It was a tough time for us, and being a younger me, I was hurt and angry with her.  However, as unfortunate as it is, I realise now she’s gone that she was human too, and she was hurting and doing the best she could.  I know this now because I’m doing the best I can, and I don’t always get it right either.

Although I don’t get lost in online games, I do get lost in social media a lot.  I know when my anxiety is at an all-time high because before I know it I’ve been scrolling mindlessly through Facebook for an hour, which then makes me angry with myself because I’ve wasted an hour of my time where I could have been far more productive on reading updates from people I haven’t spoken to in over a decade.

This is something I’ve really been working on already, before I started this year long challenge.  Just by doing little things like keeping my phone downstairs at night so I’m not losing out on sleep to Instagram, and by having my phone out of sight I get ready in the morning so much quicker than I did when it was by my side.

I’ve also started keeping it out of my way when I’m watching TV, blogging or reading.  For years I’ve been saying I want to do more of these things, but saying I don’t have the time to, but that was all because I wasn’t giving myself the time.  My phone was getting all of my attention  This has improved a great deal over time though, and I'm hoping to kick the habit completely come the new year.

my biggest vice right up there next to shopping is food. Oh my goodness I love food so much!  So much so that over the years I've eaten more and more food and gained more and more weight.

I'm definitely an emotional eater.  Found out some good news?  Let's eat to celebrate.  Found out some bad news or just had a bad day in general?  Let's eat to commiserate.

When it comes to food I'm my own worst enemy, but this is a habit I want to kick as well.  It's time I took control over my weight and my bank balance.  So much so that come the beginning of next week I'm going to set myself a challenge to eat cleaner.

For a whole working week I'm going to scrap the chocolate, sweets and crisps and instead eat lots of fruit and veg.  I'm going to weigh myself at the beginning and end of the week, as well as keep track of how I'm feeling each day, and build up my healthier lifestyle more and more over time.

As I'm sure you've guessed by this point over the past week consumerism as a whole is a major issue for me.  It's going to take me a long time to kick the habits I've perfected over the years, but I feel so ready for it.


Friday, 5 October 2018

Reducing My Clutter

The Year of Less isn't just about consuming less.  It's also about reducing the amount of clutter in my life.

I look around my home, and all I see is stuff.  There are a few items that I truly treasure and that make me feel so happy when I look at them, but I would say the majority of it was a novelty to buy at the time, yet holds little to no value to me now.

This is where my impulse purchases have clearly become an issue for me over the years.  Mix an emotional spender with a person who is drawn to pretty, shiny, new things and this equals a very cluttered home...

It's become apparent to me over recent months - partly through my own reflections, and partly from Spencer pointing it out to me - that the amount of clutter in my home is having an affect on my mental health.  I've noticed this past year when I'm in a particularly bad head space, that all I want to do is declutter and clean.

I suppose it's true when they say "tidy house, tidy mind".

Much like my urge to spend grows when I home in on something, so does my urge to clean.  Now, I'm no domestic Goddess, so for me to get to the point where I feel like I can't possibly carry on with life until I've decluttered a room is a pretty strong indication that I'm not doing too good mentally.

I'm not the nicest person to be around when I get like this.  I want to be left alone to completely gut out the room and get rid of all of the rubbish that's sat in their forgotten about.

I'd like to make these days few and far between, and I think the only way I'm going to be able to do this is by spending the next year slowly reducing my clutter.  By taking on one room at a time, I want to bring order and organisation in to my immediate surroundings.

I've spent the past five years almost avoiding being in my house as much as possible, because being outside and away from the house means I don't have to deal with the chaos going on inside.

It's time for me to stop running away from it, and start dealing with it.

Inspired by "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo (I read this last year), I'm going to go through every item in my possession one by one, and consider how much value (Or in Marie's word's, 'joy') each item brings to my life.  If I feel an item brings me little to no value, it will be added to one of three piles.  "To Sell", "To Donate" or "To Bin".

All of this will be minus talking to my possessions though, no matter how much Marie Kondo encourages you to.  I don't think my socks really care how much I appreciate them keeping my feet warm...

Thursday, 4 October 2018

So Why Am I Doing This To Myself?

We're four days in to the challenge now, and I'm pretty sure some of you who have read so far are thinking "Why on Earth would anybody do this to themselves for an entire year!?".

Honestly?  I'm still not entirely sure what I've gotten myself in to here, but what I do know is I have good reason to.

Two of the most important things to me in life are music and travel.  Music has helped me get through some tough times in life, and one of my favourite past times is seeing my favourite bands live.  There is nothing quite like the atmosphere of being in a venue with thousands of people who share the love of their favourite band.

The last time I saw AC/DC at Wembley Stadium I cried when they ended the show with "For Those About to Rock..." as always; not because it's an emotional song, but because I was overwhelmed with emotion from seeing my all time favourite band live, potentially for the very last time (Never a feeling I get over a pair of shoes that are coming towards the end of their life, no matter how much I love them!).

Travel is something I've wanted to incorporate more of in to my life for such a long time.  I'm lucky to have visited some amazing places (Including a dream trip to Walt Disney World), but there's still so much world out there that I want to explore.  While ever I'm spending the way I am though, I'm going to make this virtually impossible for myself.

Do you want to know just how warped my thinking is when it comes to spending?

When I'm looking up a potential travel destination and I see the overall cost of the trip; more often than not I talk myself out of it because I can't justify the cost.

Yet if I review my bank statement a couple of months later, I'll have spent practically the same amount on material possessions that I don't actually need.  For some reason if I spend the same amount in smaller instalments, then it doesn't feel as daunting to me, yet I'm switching out life long memories for unnecessary items I don't need in my life.

I know my challenge seems drastic, but I've reached a point in my life where I feel like if I want to see drastic changes, then I need to take drastic action.  At some point over this next year, I want to prove to myself that swapping out clothes, shoes, accessories, the latest technology and take out lattes for opportunities to see more of my favourite bands live and reach areas of the world I've yet to discover will be worth going without the latest pair of Vans.

I want to own less clutter, and gain more memories.


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