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Once more..with feeling!

Billy Idol 2013 050

A s a surprise for my friends upcoming Birthday, I took her to Casino Rama last week to see Billy Idol in concert. This guy rocked! Seeing Billy perform was on my list of things to do in life, and since he is now 57 (and in mezmerizingly great shape I might add) I figured it’s now or never.

Something other than the actual concert itself became the highlight of the entire evening for us. Although it was a fantastic show, there was a man sitting to the right of me who looked like an average 45 year old guy with probably an average job, wearing an average plaid shirt and jeans enjoying the concert like we all were; just sitting in his seat clapping and having a fun time.

As soon as Billy Idol started singing Rebel Yell, and suddenly from out of nowhere, this unassuming man catapulted out of his seat tummy jiggling, arms flailing and screaming wildly at the top of his lungs in delight like a 14 year old girl. It was absolutely spectacular to see, and my friend was so startled that she fell right out of her seat into the aisle. It was such an amazing moment to see this man in such an unbridled state and expressing himself in his purest form. Totally happy, completely being himself, and passionately present in that moment, he was swept away from his daily life into a connection and feeling that was quite special. How lucky I felt to witness his bliss, and was so happy that he enjoyed himself so very much. I had a better night because he was there. Thank you jiggly man, you helped me remember that many of the best times of my life are moments of connection and appreciation for and with others, and I look forward to experiencing something that random and special again soon.

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Failure is the starting point of success

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Everyone fails at something on a semi-regualr basis. If you don’t, I want to meet you.

Some people fail over and over and over at the same things. Some people like failing, it gives them something to focus on and feel bad about. Others use failure as a positive barometer for where they are in their thinking and doing.

I am having successes and challenges at not buying new things. Circumstances keep arising that keep me spending more than I want to. School, work, home repairs, it doesn’t stop. How do minimalists do it? How do other people own only one tube of lipstick?!?! Every day is a new chance to do it differently. Always remember that. If you screw something up, let someone down, stop short, don’t try, don’t bother to think, or don’t care, there is always a new day just a sleep away to offer another chance at doing it another way.

So many famous people in history left their mark long after they failed, and at great expense. Harland Sanders couldn’t sell his chicken cooking method for the life of him until he got a break after a long and arduous road. A man named Levi from Germany (and his brother) were having a rough time selling canvas tents to hard working miners, so they switched so selling pants which later became blue jeans. I could go on and on but the point is at the end of every failure is the beginning of another potential success and the worst fail is never trying.

One telling moment that keeps me going in my life when things get difficult is the story of my last year of high school during my math exam. I was doing terribly in math and the morning of the exam was upon me. I remember saying to myself while lying in bed: I have 10 minutes to either go back to sleep, or get up and screw this exam up completely. I know I’m going to fail it. I suck at math. I don’t want to go through the embarrassment, and complete waste of time on tanking this exam. Then, I had one split second of clarity. I said: either I go and write it and fail, or I will feel worse for not even trying. I got out of bed, went to school and wrote a really bad grade 12 math exam. A week later our class results were posted on the wall. My mark was 50%. I passed the exam, passed my course and graduated from high school only because I got that 50% pass in math.

I have always remembered that lesson, and have lived by the following 2 things in life. Choose your battles wisely, and even if you think you are going to completely fail at something, if you think there is merit in what you are doing, try anyway.

Con-sumerism

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There is something wrong with you. No, it’s me. No, it’s really you.

There is a product out there that will fix the wrongness. The wrongness was never realized by you until the mass media commercials told you about your less than perfect (insert affliction here). Someone else (who has never met you, by the way) has decided you are supposed to be something other than what you already are. This strategy has worked by the advertising industry for years with me. I once heard that anything you see advertised on television is not good for you, especially food. I have never seen a commercial for spinach, kale, onions, garlic, or even toothpaste without fluoride.

If my skin is wrinkly, dry, shiny, matte, dull, flaky, greasy, pimply, too red, too tan, too pale, too hairy, not hairy enough, then there is a product out there that will purport to remedy that. We can use the same template for almost anything. Once I got out of the stores and my nose out of the magazines I was able to take a big step back and re-examine my needs and wants. This has helped a great deal. Although I have had some slip ups in the buying department, at the end of the day the big point is being continually aware of what I bring home and letting go of things that don’t take me in the new directions I choose to go.

There actually isn’t anything wrong with you. Maybe you are simply different..and that’s the best part! Maybe that’s what people truly will love about you the most when you allow more and more of that part of you to shine. If you haven’t taken the risk already, cultivate bit by bit that part of you deep inside that is unique and your life will grow into something quite different, unexpected, and more fulfilling than you ever imagined if you set out to be more like everyone else. Once you have that, no one can take it away from you, it will never wear out, and you can’t buy it in a store.

App-o-neurosis

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I recently added some new apps to my phone.

Due to living in the real world, and interacting more with real live humans, I haven’t had the time to even look at the most popular apps of the past year that I added to my arsenal of “life improving” tools 2 weeks ago.

Just because they are the most popular, doesn’t mean they are best for me. Here’s another example of watching myself fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing due to FEAR of being left behind, or FMO: (Fear of Missing Out).

Remember the old film camera I spoke about in an earlier post? Same deal here. I’m feeling as If I am struggling to keep up on the most recent technical advances, but how many average, busy folks are doing more than just barely holding on by their fingernails during all of these lightning fast innovations and releases? If it’s free, does that mean I have to add it to my life? Free! free! free! What about being free of technological clutter as well?

I removed myself from half of my newsletter subscriptions online, only to add different ones that I thought I wanted to read a mere few weeks later. It’s challenging to keep up on all the interesting blogs and newsletters I want to read. I am not ready to be interested in less things, but I also want to spend more time with people face to face as opposed to having my nose buried in my laptop. Later this month I’ll be taking in my computer for some repairs. This is a perfect time to take a break on anything computer related, and since my phone is not the method I prefer for reading or researching, I will choose to take a few days off from my regular routine. I am hoping it inspires me to be more selective on how I spend my alone time.

30 Days “on the wagon”

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Well, it’s been an interesting 30 days.

I got a little stressed the first week without the absolute freedom to buy anything I wanted or needed, but then realized after about week 3 it wasn’t so bad after all. I actually forgot (truly an accident) at one point I wasn’t buying anything and bought some replacement wine glasses for a friend that had broken one of his favorite polka dot wine glasses. Oops.

Other than that I have been getting rid of more objects and haven’t bought any clothes. I sold my coffee table, so now I have no living room furniture.

I needed a new pair of shoes for running (mandatory) and some fitness materials, but nothing I could have substituted in its place, so now I can see how this can be tricky and will inspire me to become even more creative as the year goes by. I found out that when I go to most stores I just have to leave because I’m not buying anything anyway, so it’s pointless to go into my usual stores now. The places I would have gone to for sure, but haven’t so far:

Clothing stores

Liquor store

Online jewellery store

One of the side effects of this project so far is unsubscribing to about six different newsletters I used to read. I didn’t expect that. I’ve already been thinking about having another garage sale in April or May as well, so we will see how things play out between now and then. One bonus is that my floor is a lot easier to clean, and I can already picture all the objects I had here being used by other people that ow them now. That part makes me feel really great.

 

Own less, buy less

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Pointing a finger at over-consuming.

This year I have decided to try a little project. Others have done the same, which has inspired me to take the leap on January 1, 2013. I’m going one year without buying anything but food and personal care products.

No clothes, accessories, household items, cards, gifts..nothing but personal consumables for necessity.

Let’s see how many days I can go without buying anything. I think I have everything I need or want already. That’s a success right there in my books, who is genuinely satisfied with exactly what they have? The tricky part will be birthdays and Christmas. I have no idea how I will get through those events yet. I guess that is where massive creativity comes in.

Wish me luck, I can feel a bit of withdrawal symptoms happening already 😦

Gifts made easy

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During the holidays, retailers sometimes remind us it’s important to keep gifts personal. (I don’t know about you, but I have never given anyone a Kotex Christmas gift).

I try to keep the holidays simple and personal, but in a different way.

Since I grew up during the heyday of excess, I still can feel the sneaky magnetic pull of consumerism. Working on ignoring all the consumer hype is similar to working out in the gym. You get stronger the more you work at it. I am finding myself stopping and questioning my options much more now, as opposed to thoughtlessly purchasing things and not thinking how it will affect my life in the future, and where the money has gone along with that.

Taking a step back from consuming, especially during the holidays takes some time and conscious effort in the beginning. I can feel the gripping feeling to buy stuff loosen, as I steer clear of stores and remind myself that these stores are designed to take my money. The people who own these stores where I used to shop frequently don’t care if I can afford it, nor will they admit that 80% of the stuff out there isn’t really needed by the average consumer. I am realizing I am not lacking for not owning these extra things, not inadequate, and not excluded from any social groups that I desire to be in, nor treated differently from the groups I currently belong to. I find this interesting because some of the people I know make bags and bags more money than I do, yet we all hang out together and I am treated like a peer.

People used to laugh at my small old-style television until a close friend bought me a huge flat screen one Christmas. (I actually missed my dinky TV for almost a year until I got used to the bigger one, but I still feel it takes up too much room in my place. I then gave the old dinky TV to a friend that needed it). I had a small 35mm film camera with a built in flash for the longest time until I needed to upload photos for work, and had to purchase a digital camera last year.

People (including a couple of friends) tried to poke fun of my old, outdated stuff but I didn’t care. Those things I owned came into my life with wonderful stories attached. A former boyfriend ended a relationship, and didn’t have the guts to pick up the dinky TV he left at my place. (I subsequently gave away all the really cool DVDs he left behind, including a Family Guy box set which I used to listen to in French and Spanish for fun as the discs had a language option). As for the camera with film? One of my clients purchased the 35 mm film camera for me for my birthday in 2001. It was a great surprise for me at the time, it meant a lot, and I needed a camera. My camera before that was given to me by my Uncle Nick as a kid and I couldn’t find places that sold flash cubes after a few years. Wow, time flies doesn’t it? Those things reminded me of those people. My new camera is just that. A new thing, no story attached. Just a boring new thing that works extremely well. Sometimes gifts are great because they were given by great people, not because the gift itself was mind-blowingly unique or personal.

One Valentine’s day I gave one of my boyfriends shit because he bought me a pizza cutter for Valentine’s day. I suggested we go out and get a pair of earrings to “romanticize” the occasion. He conceded, and we went out the next day and bought earrings. I don’t wear the earrings anymore, but guess what I still use to cut my pizza?

Exactly. The man was right after all.