Ah February, you seemed to disappear in a haze of busyness and an associated earnest pursuit of outdoor escape to counteract it. A few of the things that have spurred me on through the month have been:
Contemplating this article on ‘effective altruism’, a movement advocating the people ensure that the action, money and time dedicated to making a difference makes the biggest difference possible. I’m not totally on board with all of it, and neither is this article, but it does have five tips on how to genuinely make a difference.
I suspect the life I aspire to is not attainable. That is to say, it isn’t a destination; it’s the journey of a lifetime. Constantly trying to better understand my impact on the lives of others, on this planet we call home. Taking steps to make that impact more positive, loving and kind. Exploring the creativity I didn’t know dwelt within me – with words, with fabrics, with bookshelves, with… I don’t know what else – that’s the point. I don’t live in the expectation that one day I’ll have ‘arrived’. If we achieve ‘one planet living’ (when our impact is not greater than the planet can sustain), then there will always be opportunities to actively have a positive impact, not just minimising the negative. For every word written and shared, scrap of furniture upcycled and fabric sewn, there will remain the possibility of more.
When catching up on the Downton Abbey Christmas special, the post-festive season adverts told me it was time to start getting fit, redecorating the house and booking holidays. These themes did arise in our New Year’s Eve reflections on the year past and the days ahead, but they weren’t the only features of our discussion. We are content with the framework we have established for our lives, prioritising sustainable living, fostering community, exploring creativity and honouring God. In 2016 we hope to continue on this trajectory, which means making more incremental steps to thread these throughout the fabric of our lives.
I don’t enjoy shopping. Saturday afternoon in a shopping centre is my idea of time poorly and stressfully spent. I do however love an hour spent pottering around a street lined with charity shops, taking the time to hunt for bargains and to marvel at some of the stranger donations that have arrived onto the shop shelves. I’ve written in the past about second-hand wares in the home (read ‘the why’ and ‘the how’) but I’m immensely satisfied that most of my clothes are secondhand. Without the opportunity to pick the version of your desired item in any colour or size, shopping second-hand can be more challenging, but more rewarding for it.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years to help make the most of secondhand shopping: Continue reading
Friday evening had arrived. The work was done, or at least paused with sufficient peace to leave it for the weekend. It was an evening marked by early autumn – just enough light in the sky, warm enough to begin in a jumper; jackets would be pulled on later. The day’s stories would have to wait for when darkness came. For now we hastily found out high vis jackets, lights, shedding to-do lists and perceived obligations, and got on the bikes before any more light slipped below the horizon.
Once we’d turned right instead of the usual left, that feeling set in. Continue reading
We bought a strawberry plant. We watered it. We repotted it once. Pollinators came and went. Strawberries flourished, taunting us with their green state until they gradually blushed red. I am absurdly proud of this achievement. Continue reading
With the exception of a couple of emergency bookcases (too many books!), all of the furniture in our home is second-hand. In Part 1 I considered why we’ve made the choice to source our furniture second-hand; Part 2 looks at how we’ve managed to do this, from a combination of free sources and some requiring us to spend a little money: Continue reading
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A month. The act of leaving one home and starting to make another has taken over five weeks and left room for little else. Having cleared the items deemed surplus, life outside of work has become packing, moving, unpacking, arranging and rearranging that which survived the cull. It hasn’t been particularly stressful, just tiring and demanding of our time. It has also been enjoyable; a season when we have tangibly experienced the joy of community as our friends gathered to help pack boxes, move furniture and even clean our old oven (a sign of real friendship, if ever you needed one). Continue reading
This May is mostly about moving house. We came to this home as newlyweds, so there is a definite sadness in leaving it. It has its imperfections (shabby around the edges, an awkward staircase for negotiating a bike up, a distinct lack of cupboards), but it is the first place we made ours, and it will always be special for it. It’s time for a new adventure though, and it seemed a good moment to start decluttering our lives. Continue reading
I grew up describing myself as ‘not creative’. I had great ideas that I was incapable of bringing to life in art class. Apart from a weekend of book-related inspiration when I was nine, I never chose to paint or draw. I was reasonably content that this was not part of my skill set. Continue reading