Why do I have this? (Reviews of things I already own)

“To put your things in order means to put your past in order too.”

~Marie Kondo

 

I’m heavy. Weighed down. I’m surrounded by things that I don’t know what to do with and deepest consideration is being given to storage solutions.

 

I’ve written before about the melancholia of stuff. But I’ve failed to transfer thought processes into action, again. The struggle seems silly, this is the result of my choices and sheer fortune of having the means to accumulate such an amount of things. The weight of it, however, is crushing me now. I’m looking at it all and I don’t know where to start.

 

I’m not alone though – the need to shake off stuff is now the thing. Clearing out is the new hoarding – ironically with ranges of books and yet more stuff pushed out into the market place to address it. I’ve seen Marie Kondo, she seems lovely and of light, but I’m without the energy to put things in their place all at once. There is so much I don’t understand about the things I hold on to that to sort it all would be too exhausting to do it all together.

 

I need to think about how to approach this – the books, which as a collective I love, are far too abundant and I’m looking at some of the titles with confusion. Why do I have this? A question which runs through my mind on far too many occasions. I have books, it seems, for the mere fact of existence and perhaps without having ever been read or appreciated for their content. I hold onto them, regardless of attachment. How can one be attached to a volume you’ve hardly opened, never mind read.

 

Reviews are needed and they’re coming.

Time To Sink The Cutting Snark?

We’ve now found ourselves in a time of peak satire potential, a time when the institutions, figureheads and practises have come to the point of being so ineffably ridiculous that it should be a rich breeding ground for laughter – or so you might think.

 

Comedians being the creatures they are however, find little humour in poking fun at the weak, or joy in unassailable power so blind to its own mediocrity that it wholesomely ignores being taken down a peg or two. What we’re seeing now is stand-ups becoming educators – I refer you to the super Tiernan Douieb as a prime example – in D-Day style they are bringing their vessels alongside in this increasing flotilla which is amassing to save decency, recover kindness and retrieve the remnants of democracy which bob on the waves of the seas of this god awful present.

 

We’re seeing pupils and teachers carving through high seas at the prow on climate change, firefighters fighting waves of social injustice and church members splicing the mainbrace against hunger.

 

There are no jokes to be had – there is work to be done. People are being left behind in the here and now and no amount of political posturing in the next few years will help school-kids in hole riddled shoes going to school hungry and agitated, unable to learn and move forward. All hands to the deck – we need to WORK.

 

And what of the media when we need them most? Are they pitching in and helping to right this listing ship of democracy, to fight inequality and stand for truth.

No.

Save for a few exceptions, they’re having a pop at a girl with pigtails. Creating an atmosphere against any hopeful movement so cold that it would freeze the balls on a brass monkey, then using it as a pot shot against climate change.

 

I’ve no intentions of linking to the piece by awful online myth-merchants labelling her a “millennial weirdo” in blithely ableist terms, or sniping Tweets against the “privileged daughter of Sweden’s Eurovision Star” by a man with family in the right places, who resents his peers turning on him no matter how reprehensible a git he might be.

 

This crows nest of deplorables sails atop the Cutting Snark, which offers a privileged ride to those who remain unaffected by corruption, ambition and unfairness. So separate from all of the unpleasantness to the extent they can take shots with their sarcasm cannon and ram through smaller vessels which might cross their path and question their hot-take piracy.

 

The time has come to sink the Cutting Snark, which floats on impressions, likes and shares. Let’s take the winds out of its sails – turn your back on reactionary think pieces – don’t link, don’t share, don’t comment.

 

Don’t take the click-bait me hearties. Lets show OUR true colours and sink it. For good.

Can we share some #AstonishingKindness?

The world is so bleak.

 

I’m lucky, I can make ready and prepare. I do what I can to protect hearth and home, to keep my children fed, clothed and housed. But, with what’s ahead promises a lot of suffering for a lot of people, many of them will suffer and are suffering before we will.

 

This week alone we’ve seen ahomeless man set on fire as he slept, extinction-prone sharks turning up in dishes in UK restaurants and a foodbank plundered and frozen food deliberately spoiled by the thieves. That’s just a little sample of the legion of horrors written of in the UK press. Callousness abounds, even if we ignore the likely cliff edge that approaches on March 29, and divisions are widening each day.

 

It’s enough to make you think of turning away from the world, for running away and keeping close only those things we love, for shutting the door to anything else. Preserve what you love, the rest of it can go to the wall.

 

But this world will not heal if we only reach within ourselves, within our smallest possible groupings. We have to reach out beyond this, make our worlds large, our knowledge wide and our generosity a way of life. The world will not stay away and to ignore it is as good as to condone it.

 

I’ve always loved the words of Maya Angelou. Her writing offers comfort, direction and above all an understanding that vulnerability is at the core of humanity, that mistakes are the mother of opportunities to improve. When I came across this excerpt from a poem titled “Continue”, a piece she wrote for her “daughter” and friend Oprah Winfrey, I found a sentiment that is so very needed at this time.

 

My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Maya Angelou

 

Astonishing a mean world with kindness is so very much needed. Again and again until it gets boring, until it becomes commonplace, until kindness is the norm.

 

So, to do my little bit, in the month of love, I’ll be using the hashtag #AstonishingKindness throughout February to do a daily blast of five tweets to bring more beauty, truth and love into the darkness.

 

Tweet 1. Highlighting foodbanks in the UK who have the highest demand in the lead up to Brexit in March and putting aside an item a day that I’ll contribute to MK Foodbank at the end of the month.

 

Tweet 2. Promoting a social enterprise which is doing real good in communities here in the UK.

 

Tweet 3. Identifying community projects in the UK who are bringing people together and making change for those in most need.

 

Tweet 4. Recommendations for brilliant and beautifuls reads – poetry, fiction, essays – anything that brings beauty, truth and love into the world.

 

Tweet 5. A story of real kindness – with a beautiful image to inspire hope for the day.

 

Of course I’ll need suggestions and contributions – most of all I’ll need your support. That’s what’s needed right now – support for each other in taking steps to draw people together, to push forward the idea that the world should be full of kindness, honesty and love, to prove that we can be better.

 

I’ll leave you with more words from Maya Angelou, words spoken as eulogy to Coretta Scott King:

 

“I pledge to you, my sister, I will never cease. I mean to say, I want to see a better world. I mean to say, I want to see some peace somewhere. I mean to say, I want to see some honesty, some fair play. I want to see kindness and justice. This is what I want to see.”

The Home Front: War On Plastics

Plastic bottles are driving me to distraction.

In our family of seven we get through far too many items of plastic – shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles, spray bottles, food trays – the list is endless and depressing. I cast my eyes upon the recycling basket with a sense of woe. It endlessly refills and is not empty for long after I’ve skipped it out into the recycling bin. I’ve watched the Attenborough documentaries, I’ve seen news reports about the energy required to produce plastic goods, the scientific advice around how long they take to decompose, and it paints an increasingly bleak picture. We’re suffocating the earth with our plastic habit. This is about more than just my sanity viz clutter, it is about giving our children a fighting chance.

As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so I’m starting small on my attempts to change. I know that I have the ability to do this – apart from a small slip involving a particularly pretty yellow blouse (in my defence I was having a particularly bad few weeks around my post-twins shape) – I remain committed after two years to avoiding fast fashion by being a devout recycler and sourcing second hand clothes exclusively in charity and thrift stores.

In my new campaign to improve my habits, my small start is around my biggest bugbears – the number of bottles we take into the shower and deodorant.

Shower gel is an irritant to my sensibilities. It hardly seems to last, it is too easy to use more than is necessary (usually with a considerable globule plopping straight down the drain) and we always seem to have about eight different flavours on the go at once. I decide this needs to be replaced by soap. Happily, I received a Christmas gift of a selection of Bomb Cosmetics, from an incredibly lovely friend (hence free to me!), including a Festive Ginger Soap Cake.

In considering the shampoo and conditioner conundrum, which means elimination of two plastic bottles, I considered an array of solid shampoo bars, ultimately opting for a Funky Soap Butter Bar Shampoo. Helpfully this bar includes advice on natural alternatives to conditioner and recommends using one part of apple cider vinegar to two parts of water.

Finally my plastic free solution to deodorant comes in the way of an ammonium alum crystal – from Puro Mineral bought as a set of three via Amazon. To use you moisten the crystal and rub it on the underarms.

So, with myself and the other half as willing guinea pigs, I have started my experimental war on plastic.

Report on how we go to follow…

* For note the items I have chosen have NOT been provided by the makers or any other company. Unless otherwise stated I buy the items myself so that there is no obligation to be positive about any products.