I know I’ll never lose affection

#TheBeatles

As you may know, I’ve taken on the task of decluttering my teenage room while I’m staying at my parents’ until the end of June (I’m in between moving countries).

One of the things I loved as a child – and when I say loved, I mean LOVED – was stuffed animals. Until now, my room’s been covered in stuffed animals, big and small. Some of them I’ve had since I was a 2 year-old!

As I emptied my shelves of DVD cases and CDs and my room started to look emptier, I finally noticed the extent of stuffed animals I had in my room.

It reminded me of the time my aunt (who’s 15 years younger than me, long story) was visiting. She must’ve been 3 or 4 at the time, and when I told her that we could go to my room and play with my stuffed animals, she looked at me wide-eyed and said:

“But old people don’t have toys.”

Arrow through the heart.

This was a good 10 years ago.

I grabbed some bags, climbed onto a chair and threw all of my stuffed animals down onto the floor. I filled three large bags and gave them all to a neighbour who’s part of a church group and she distributed them to those who couldn’t afford toys for their children.

In the end, I didn’t feel remorse or anything of the sort. I kept a few stuffed animals, of course, I’m still not over my obsession – especially after spending a year in Japan, land of cute stuffed animals – but they all fit in a little corner of my room.

I’m not sleeping in the middle of a stuffed animal petting zoo anymore.

I know that if I told hardcore minimalists that I kept some because I might want to give them to my children one day, they would have told me to just man up and throw them all away. That keeping things just because of what might happen is idiotic. But hey, to each his own, right?

Here’s a sketch of Chat Noir. Anyone familiar with Miraculous Ladybug? Really cool children’s cartoon. When you feel an artist’s block coming, it’s good to draw in someone else’s style to get past it.

chat noir pencil

 

The Sardine

 

 

 

 

And I’m feeling good

#NinaSimone

Clearing all the crap out of my humongous desk hasn’t been easy.

My desk is really long. It can even open up so it can be even longer. My parents bought it for me because I was very enthusiastic about art and wanted a lot of space for drawing.

My desk has cabinets both under and over it. They’re completely full of stuff. I couldn’t tell you what they have inside them with certainty if you asked me. But I can assure you that most of it I’ve kept for sentimental reasons.

My desk is the centre of my life. It’s where I work, where I write, where I draw, where I leave everything that’s important and where I dump all my trash. Clearing out my desk means clearing out my entire room.

It was daunting just to start.

But I rolled my sleeves up one morning and got to work.

The first thing I did, as I’ve mentioned before (check it out here), was to clear out all of my old sketchbooks and unused art materials, which was a heart-wrenching experience. But at the same time, getting rid of my past so-called achievements was something I think was nevessary for me to move on.

Then I tackled the mountains of paper, receipts and documents that I’d left on top of it. Now they’re all sitting neatly inside a folder on the bookshelf or have been dumped in the nearest recycling bin.

I then tackled my stationery, computer wires, old chargers, loose CDs, DVDs, notebooks, etc.

I leave a lot of crap on my desk.

But the thing is that, when tackling the stuff on my desk I either had to find a new and better place for it or to throw it away. And as I threw away a DVD case that was on my desk I just had to do the same with all my other DVDs. So I did.

Then I copied a CD to my external drive, which gave me the idea of giving all my CDs away as well. So I copied all my music to my external drive.

All of this was very time consuming.

It made me wonder if it would it ever end?

This decluttering of my teenage room has left me feeling both raw and light.

Ripping the posters off the walls and emptying the shelves of old books, DVDs and CDs has been sentimental, but it has also given my room a new look. A look that feels more creative and liberating. Like I’m shedding layers of the past and growing a new, albeit fragile, skin.

It’s been difficult, but worth it.

Here’s a very time consuming sketch.

スキャン0001

The Sardine

 

 

Any colour you like

#PinkFloyd

The more I throw away, the better I feel.

However, I’ve found that finding a new home for my things feels more rewarding than throwing them in the bin. Of course, not everything can be given or donated, some things do belong in the trash, but if you can make people happy with the stuff you don’t need, that’s a victory in itself isn’t it? After all, someone’s “trash” can add value to someone else’s life.

Yet, with all this decluttering we tend to forget that that isn’t what’s going to solve our problems. Having a less cluttered house will definitely help with getting you more time and reducing stress, but if you don’t do anything with that extra time then you’ll still feel like there’s something missing.

More important than decluttering your home is prioritizing your life. What do you want to do with your time? What are you passionate about? What are the healthy habits you want to adopt? What habits do you want to lose?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself. We keep thinking that when we finish a certain task or buy a certain thing that we’ll finally be happy. That also includes thinking that when I have a decluttered house I’ll be happy.

The thing is that we do feel happy, but that feeling won’t last. We’ll always want to do more, to get to the next level, to conquer the next challenge. But we have to accept that happiness isn’t only about achieving goal after goal. We need to learn to appreciate the small things and to make choices that work for us.

I’m not a minimalist, I’m not an all-together person, far from it. But as long as you keep trying to grow and be a better, more present person, then I think you’ll be happy in your own personal way.

What kind of changes would you make to your life if you could? If nothing could stop you?

Stop saying you’ll do them someday and do them now.

Here’s a sketch.

Little_Girl

The Sardine

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

And good riddance to bad luck! #AC/DC

There’s a cupboard in my room that I very rarely open.

It’s full of all the sketchbooks that I filled when at university, final projects, art materials and fancy drawing paper. Just looking at it made me feel a little bit nervous. Like something evil was going to pop out of it.

With all these changes I’ve been making in order to get back into drawing, I felt that it was going to be necessary to open the doors and pull out all those reminders of how I’m not an artist like I thought I would be.

And so I did. I flipped through all my old sketchbooks and only kept the ones that I really liked and felt would inspire me, as well as the ones that were barely used so I could rip out the old doodles and maybe start getting back into sketching. Out of 20 sketchbooks I kept 3.

I asked around to see if anyone wanted the almost unused art materials that I know I won’t use: oils, acrylics, pastels, huge paintbrushes and old pots of ink. It took me 2 hours to find a home for everything.

The day after, I loaded my car with everything I was going to throw away and drove to the big bins up the road.

The more sketchbooks I threw in the bin, the more anxious I felt. Instead of relieved, I felt the way you feel when you’re exercising and you know you only have to hold on for another 15 seconds to finish the set. Do it, do it, keep going, just a bit longer!

When I threw the last one away I didn’t feel I’d been freed from the shackles of my past. I felt like I was going to cry.

Now I realise that I was mourning. Mourning for what could have been. For all those dreams and expectations that were left disappointed in the past.

I needed a minute to say goodbye to the hope that I was still clinging onto, even now, 6 years later. I’ll never be the artist I was. I don’t want to be the artist I was.

I want a fresh start.

And now I feel capable of doing just that.

And good riddance!

Here’s a sketch.

Sitting

The Sardine

 

The Minimalism Game

#theMinimalists

So, in an effort to get rid of some stuff, I’ve decided to do the Minimalism Game. Here are the rules:

  • Grab a friend / family member and have them join the game (or join one of the many Facebook groups the Minimalists have if you don’t have anyone willing to do it with you, like me).
  • On day 1, you get rid of 1 thing. On day 2 you get rid of 2 things, and so on and so forth, until the 31st when you get rid of 31 things. The items must be out of your house by midnight each day.
  • Whoever can keep it up the longest wins. If you both do it until the end you both win.

Let’s see how far I can keep it up, bit worried about the daily deadline, especially on my busy work days, but I think I’ll just take it easy and get rid of the stuff when I can.

Interested? Why not give it a go?

If you do, share it! If you want to do it this May, look up the Declutter Squad on Facebook, that’s where I’m sharing the experience with a few more people online. We’re going to post photos of everything we get rid of, so why not join us?

Here’s a sketch of an old character, because this blog was about overcoming my fear of drawing and I want to show you my progress. It’s been tricky but I think that decluttering my life has been playing a bit part in getting back into doodling.

Hao

The Sardine

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

#DavidBowie

A few months ago I watched a documentary on Netflix on Minimalism. This introduced me to the Minimalists. At first, minimalism didn’t really resonate with me. I thought I should get rid of some stuff and that I should think more before I make a purchase, but that was pretty much it.

Later on I taught a lesson on consumerism (I’m an English teacher) and decided to play the intro of the documentary in class to spark some debate. I then ended up watching the rest of it again and something clicked. I’d been feeling down and a bit lost. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Rewatching the documentary made me wonder why these people looked so damn happy.

So, I looked the Minimalists up, as well as others, and am now reading one of their books (Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life) and, even though I don’t really like the way they express themselves in the book – sounds a bit forceful – but they make a lot of good points. I decided to try it out.

Now, I’m not going to say that I’ve become a minimalist, or that I’m on my minimalist journey, but it definitely was an eye opener to how I was living me life. It made me change the way things were going.

The first thing I set out to do was to get rid of most of my stuff, or at least anything that didn’t add value to my life. I’ve started with my books and am still organizing things (a week later)! I’ve written a list of all the books I want to get rid of and have given it to all my friends, family members and acquaintances to see if they want them. At the end of May I’ll donate the remaining books at my mom’s friend’s secondhand bookshop.

I’ve also bet myself that I couldn’t go a week without chocolate, biscuits or sweets. It’s day 6 and I’m still going strong. That’s a big victory for me, as I was eating them nonstop, and it’s given me confidence.

“I can tackle anything I put my mind to.”

I’ve also started exercising in the morning, and in a way that I enjoy. It doesn’t feel like work at all. I feel more energectic and this has in turn given me the confidence to dig out my coloured pencils out of the cupboard of old art materials and sketchbooks that I never open and try them out. Here’s the result:

DSC_3650jhjhj

It isn’t much but it’s something.

And I actually had fun!

I’ve been making small changes and they’ve really helped with my self-esteem. Change isn’t easy but it works wonders.

When you feel down in the dumps, how do you crawl back out into the sunshine? It’s only by taking action that we can better ourselves.

Don’t be scared, take that jump.

The Sardine