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Death of Community Sport

One thing I’ve aimed to do is to make more time for friends, not just when I need friends but also when it sounds like they need it too. Sometimes it can be a vent about life’s frustrations or to switch off and have a conversation that isn’t related to work.

During one of my regular activities with a mate involving a few cheap pints on a Thursday evening, we drifted into our usual conversation on a passionate topic. The game of cricket. But before I bore you like a mid 90’s 5-day test match. Hang around and read on.

We both have a love for the game of Cricket, it’s a gentlemen’s game that requires patience and also timing. It also requires a large space to be played. Recently I’ve been working on a proposal with the council of where my cricket team resides about making use of their space and getting a second cricket pitch installed. After much lengthy discussion on the who, what, where and when. The conversation drifted into the use of community spaces.

Given he works in property, he’s noticed that a lot of new housing developments are designed to fit as many houses in one space. Tightly packed like sardines in a tin. Rack em and stack em, but with not a lot available other than a local shopping centre and closely located small park.

Part of Australians culture is their love for sport from a small age, and we have a tendency to take the land we have for granted by building out and not up. Children will take interest in footy and cricket and want to be like their heroes. But now with recent developments packing as many houses in to get as much money as they can, they’ve neglected to have any shared community space for sports. This means as the population grows, the demand for already existing clubs will grow. I know for a fact the association that runs our cricket competition already struggles to find enough grounds and we’ve seen some turned into synthetic soccer pitches. There isn’t much left for the good old fashioned game of cricket played on turf or concrete pitches across a vast space of real grass.

If more and more developments are going to take place with a lack of open space for any local community sport, are we going to see it die out? Not only will we see sports players become scarce, we will see an incline in obesity and lack of outside activities for communities. Which is why I also think we have to protect the large open community spaces we do have, make use of them and do everything to keep them. We are currently seeing this with the surrounding areas of Glenside Hospital. A positive that it creates jobs and housing close to the city which is what people want, but we sacrifice the open space that was used by the community and also a lot of the trees in the area. Unfortunately, we are never going to end up in a perfect or reasonable world. Given most of these types of developments are run through the wheeling and dealing of the government and large companies that can line their pockets, we won’t see any extra trees planted for the ones they cut down, or spaces created for sporting. Just small community parks, Glenside is an exception given that it’s so close to the surrounding parklands of Adelaide.

No one wants a death of community sport, but it’s creeping up on us.

Stretched thin

My original plan or expectation was to write at least one article a month, and now I’ve hit a speed bump only a few months in. A lack of time and being ‘stretched thin”. So to keep up with the expectation of myself to do one post per month I thought I’d write about why I haven’t had the time and also reflect on it.

The end of financial year for work certainly increases the workload for myself, while most people would find themselves busy. They may not reflect on the consequences or a “snowball effect” of being too busy. While I’m busy keeping up with the demands and expectations of clients at work, of which can also be unrealistic and unthoughtful at times. It spills out into my personal life, the house becomes a mess, things don’t get done. The dishes and washing piles up or the clean ones sit around and don’t get put away. General cleaning doesn’t get done. Clutter starts to build up on things you haven’t dealt with, the physical health is already affected and then the mental one of all the things you need to do creeps in, and starts to stress you out. Then the stress, in turn, starts to affect you physically. The majority of my week nights and weekends have been spent finishing up small bits of work to meet others expectations or resting because I have nothing left in the tank to continue. It is also my responsibility to manage these things, and also speak out when I need to with other co-workers.

It’s upon this reflection I wonder if I should look at a career change to suit my own needs and wants for the future, something that I can achieve a manageable work and life balance, that’s not going to stress or exhaust me. There’s also continued reflection that looking after myself, on my own is becoming a struggle, and it’s not something someone in their mid 30’s wants to start to deal with or think about at an early age in the life span. When work gets so busy it affects everything around it, my health and the people around me. Of which I don’t want my illness to affect anyone.

So I guess this post is to meet that expectation of a post a month, even though there’s no real content behind it. Other than to reflect that I’ve stretched myself too thin.

Want not, waste not

As I’ve progressed to minimalise through my lifestyle, not just my possessions. I’ve seen a lot of waste. I’ve always seen waste and I try my best to reduce it where I can.

Originally my job of I.T. technician by day (and Batman by night), I’d see so many computers that would get tossed, and a lot of them still in working condition of some sort. While they still go to e-recycling, there is still some use for other computers that might be old. But, for every old computer I see go to recycling, I also see a new PC installed. They come in a box, wrapped in plastic, padded with foam which doesn’t degrade, and in Australia can’t go into recycling either.

Back around 2008, Hewlett-Packard released a laptop that came with 97% less packaging as a challenge from Wal-mart and Dell has a half decent recycling program with their packaging before it even makes it to your home. HP’s packaging never really took off, which is a bit of a shame. I’ve noticed every cable at work for a monitor is excessively packaged, even the old analogue style cables which we no longer use and toss into recycling. Plastic cables on each end with foam padding, rubber bands and cable ties to hold it all together neatly. Given the cables cost no more than a dollar it’s not going to break the bank if they send another every now and then.

Many Australians would have seen a tv show recently called the War on Waste. While a lot of this I already had good knowledge of, it was still opening my eyes to better ways to handle my waste, but also limit it by being more thoughtful with my consumption and purchases. If I buy something now I think about where it’s going to end up.

There’s also a lot of supermarkets pushing the perfect looking product. Your fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Leading to a lot of waste at the farmer’s end, when it should be on our shelves or in the hands of charities like Food Bank who make use of it for the needy.
I hadn’t finished watching the three-part series yet. But I’m sure it will bring more to the front of my mind.

I already try to eliminate what goes into my general waste, anything that’s biodegradable was going in will now go into recycling or composting (pending my purchase for a compost bin and worms).

In the past, I’ve read articles which have given me more thought into my waste but hadn’t actioned them so much. But like I’ve said before “It’s a process”. The inventor of the coffee capsule (K-Cups), noted for its convenience, consistency and cleanliness. But makes shitty coffee. Went on to say later in life he regretted the invention because of the landfill with plastic it created, billions of plastic pods that aren’t biodegradable and are killing our planet.

Another article I read was about a woman who lived a zero-waste lifestyle and was able to fit a year of her general waste into a mason jar. Recycled materials were low, food scraps were composted. It takes some serious thought and commitment, and I can bet it was a long process to get to that point too.

It’s one process to sort your recycling and compost your food scraps, but have you thought as to where your general waste is going? If it’s going to the right places?

At the moment, this is just a solution to an already existing problem. But I think we also need prevention, but fewer things in plastic, or is there an alternative to using plastic like recycled paper bags or no plastic at all?

My brain kept ticking over with these thoughts, which is funny as it rarely doesn’t tick over at all. But I had more after watching Mission Blue on Netflix. The Coral Sea is dying due to “bleaching” caused by global warming, and recently the Great Barrier Reef was declared irreparable. In the 1970’s there was one oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico. There are now over 30,000, our need for oil to make fuel and other by-products are seeing us suck the planet dry of every resource we can get, and resources are limited. We all saw what happened with that big oil leak didn’t week? A nice big ol’ clusterfuck that was. Big enough to get Mark Wahlberg in on it.

Most of the plastic found in the ocean would break down over time, but never degrade and become natural matter again. It will end up at the bottom of the ocean, floating in the water, or ingested by our marine life. Including the many fish we consume every year, that’s right. You’re eating that coke bottle you tossed out the car window in 1998. You wouldn’t eat plastic, so why leave it around to go into our waters and harm marine life?

Having seen all this, I’m looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes into my house, but also the amount that comes in as well. I’m intending to be more thoughtful at the source. Fewer plastics and waste in my kitchen, and my bathroom. But also fewer chemicals used to clean kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, and fewer processed foods and packaging into my refrigerator and my body.

I now have a commitment to look at ways of reducing waste, both in and out of the house. Using or buying less that will end up as waste, to be more sustainable and nicer on the environment. I don’t see this as a hard task, just committing, researching and staying focused.

I guess towards the end of the year I’ll update on the progress and see if I got anywhere with my findings. Right, I’m off to Bunnings for a snag and a compost bin.

Junk Drunk Minimalist

I hate IKEA. There I said it. Well, maybe I have a weak spot for the dollar hot dogs.

But I hate IKEA, hate is probably a strong word. Ikea is a heaven for those who like a well organised and decluttered home (Sorry Rebecca!). But I dislike IKEA along with a lot of other retailers.

Each time a catalogue comes out it will contain the latest in fashion and home décor trends. Destined to be donated, sold, given away and become landfill before you’ve even got it out of the packaging. It is marketing driven consumerism at its finest, exploiting a person’s needs to feel accepted by others.

I wonder just how much of the glorified paper mache made at IKEA goes into landfill each year? Either broken or just out of fashion for the years or seasons trends. The same for clothing, did you know the average American throws out 30 kilograms of clothing into landfill each year? That pans out to 14 million tonnes of clothing waste.

As I look around my house, I can see the ethical choices I’ve made. I don’t “buy” things anymore. I “rescue” them, those that were destined to be landfill. As I pen this article to paper, on a bureau desk I bought off eBay for 30 dollars. Dry, brittle and out of shape. It was a process, I slowly brought it back to life as a functional piece of furniture. But also something nice to look at and value its journey, to know it didn’t become landfill, scrapped timber or burnt because it’s old. My three-seater and two recliner couch, Gumtree, and the same for my bookcase and much more other things around my house.

Last year my IKEA tallboy bit the dust, the bottoms fell through, the drawers wouldn’t come out. A few hundred dollars spent on something with a limited lifespan. Destined to become a freebie on the curb. I spent a bit of time looking around on Gumtree for solid timber tallboys, they were all close to what I wanted but still didn’t appeal to me. A little bit impractical here and there or a bit over the budget.

Luckily, a long time mate from high school was firing up a new business making furniture again. We both had the same set of morals on waste, especially when it came to timber. So I set him to work with a short design brief, replicate my great grandmother’s tallboy. The now 110-year-old French polish solid timber tallboy had outseen two world wars, multiple countries and countless moves. A few weeks later, a tallboy made from Oregon was ready for me. The timber sourced from an 80-year-old house demolished in the Adelaide Hills, with exposed dovetail joints and handcrafted handles from recycled steel. His signature finish, and a stunning piece of furniture.

Why am I a junk drunk minimalist though? I just don’t like waste. Why send an old computer to landfill or e-recycling because it doesn’t do what you want to anymore? I’m sure that old clunker can be a great learning tool for a child, or for grandparents wanting to get on the internet.
Old clothes or furniture, anything can be sold or donated, given away or re-purposed. It doesn’t have to end up in landfill. Getting rid of stuff is easy, it’s making a conscious choice about the next purchase is where the hard stuff starts. Buy something that won’t break, buy something that won’t become landfill or out of fashion.

Have you ever seen American Pickers? A couple of guys going through the back roads of America. Saving things before they rust or become landfill. I love old stuff, it’s got a story, it’s had an adventure. It’s been loved, appreciated and admired. Save something like that and it can have that adventure all over again. American Pickers coined the phrase “junk drunk”, getting drunk over all the fantastic stuff you can find.

Nothing in my house really matches, it’s not a bright white, clean “minimalist interior design” environment. It is lived in, about the only bright white things are my washer and dryer. But I only have the necessities so that I can live comfortably. My house is not a minimalist design, but of minimalist intentions. To live comfortably, with enough.

Chronically Minimalist

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labours of life reduce themselves.” – Edwin Way Teale

The quote above couldn’t ring true anymore as I write this post.

I’ve always had some fascination with minimalism, and with minimalism you’ll find different interpretations. Minimalist interior design, advertising and graphic design, architecture, and fashion design.

If you look at minimalist interior design, you’ll see a lot of white and not much else. But minimalism isn’t about having nothing, it may be for those “extremists” but for most people it’s about having enough, not less. Valuing the things you have, rather than things that are of value. Make sense? Good.

I don’t call myself a minimalist yet, maybe “practising minimalist”. I have a lot to learn and still a long way to go. In the movie Moneyball, Brad Pitt plays a character who says a line ‘it’s a process, it’s a process, it’s a process”, and that to me is what minimalism is. It’s not something that will happen overnight. To me, minimalism is about valuing the things you have, and “reducing the needless wants of life”.

“Being” a minimalist became more of forethought during 2016 when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, called Fibromyalgia (call this a “coming out” party for a raging illness). While I’d already begun on my journey to having less, it fell into place more with a life changing diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness of widespread muscle and joint pain, accompanied with fatigue, cognitive disturbance and responses to emotions. This is the pain pathways in the brain saying “everything hurts”, it’s also a lengthy diagnosis and not found by a simple blood test, or X-ray.

During the time it took for a diagnosis (approx. 2 years), I continued that process of minimising. I culled my wardrobe, books, kitchen utensils, and in my cupboard. Seriously, why do I need 25 coffee cups?

As I’ve slowly got myself to a stage where I don’t have a lot of possessions (I’m not an extremist though). I find I make less mess, I spend less time cleaning. I spend less time doing those time-consuming chores when we all want to be reading a book and having a cup of coffee. Things are organised, I can find what I’m looking for, and I don’t lose things either.

Everything I now have, I value. I still have the same creature comforts as any house will have. But what do you do with all that excess stuff though? Recycle, donate, give it away, sell it. Use the money and take yourself on a holiday!

Dedicate some time now to it, and you’ll have more time do doing things you want to do rather than need or must do. For me, this expends an already limited energy supply. So, if I spend less time cleaning and doing all those chores, I won’t need to worry about them so much when I have a flare-up with my illness.

Have you ever noticed when your house is clean and tidy, your mind is at ease? You’re not distracted by anything you need to do. Like the vacuuming or the dishes, washing the clothes or seeing the light hit the dust on a shelf.

You’ll find your headspace is well improved and you’ll be more productive.

Minimalism, give it a try. You might just like it.

Minimalism is the new black

After I sent out my first draft, I was told I needed an obnoxious and funny introduction, and I can’t seem to think of anything really. The only thing that comes to mind is that at some stage we’re all going to feel like Luke and Han Solo in the trash compactor after we’ve saved Princess Leia. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… knee deep in shit, although we’ll be minus the laser guns and 7-foot hairy monster… maybe.

Less is more, it’s the new thing. You can search the internet on Minimalism and find hundreds of articles by anyone who’s had some kind of interest. Give it long enough and this will be one of those articles too.

People in their droves are looking into decluttering, minimalism and downsizing. Now seeing the benefits of having fewer possessions and more space, it gives more time to themselves and the people around them.

Minimalism isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to your problems, and if you’re interested in making more time for yourself you’re going to have to do some research. Minimalism isn’t also about having nothing or having less, it’s about having “enough” and it’s also valuing what you have.

My first step into minimalism was after I moved house, I moved a whole truckload from the garage at one house and directly into the garage to the next, and thought to myself “why do I have so much shit?”. Do I need a second, three seater couch and two chairs? Do I need a second computer desk? Clearly, the answer was no, why have it when it’s not going to be used?

From there, the ever long process of downsizing and decluttering began. It stemmed further, and in some very harsh ways. From the clothes I own and wear, the things I use in my kitchen, to even people. I decluttered, minimalised and looked for value in everything I owned, used, or included in my life.

It’s been about 6 or 7 years that this process has been taking place, but I’m almost at that stage where I could call myself a minimalist, maybe. For some people, there will always be a quest to find more value in the less that you have.

Minimalism can be a morbid thought, but an honest one. Are the possessions in your house something you will remember lying your deathbed? Did that car you bought bring joy to your life? That huge book collection might look impressive, but how often do you read all those books?

A push for consumerism drives everyone to buy more, the bragging rights to having the most expensive, the newest, the rare or the unique. It all comes down to a practical and valuable use for your possessions. The practicality and value will depend on the person, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise what you should and shouldn’t keep.

If you look at a possession, ask yourself “does this make me happy? Do I have any use for it? How long has it been since I used it?”. It is around these questions that you will start to find what is and isn’t useful for you.

If you’re interested in finding out more, I highly suggest checking out “The Minimalists” documentary. Available on Netflix now and also their website, they also have a podcast. Both Joshua and Ryan of the Minimalists have books available. For a no-bullshit approach, try and get hold of the ebook “You have too much shit” at, and of course, Rebecca and her organising and decluttering skills that are available at Clearspace.

A New Hope

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I had several other blogs. Blogs that ended up dormant and never used. Maybe third time is a charm?

My other blogs had failed, they were never content driven or had much to keep myself motivated. The past few years I’ve let domain names expire, closed old blogs off and then left it to do nothing.

I’m more motivated now with a little more time on my hands. I got myself a new blog as I’d been speaking to Rebecca at Clearspace about doing some posts on Minimalism, my Chronic Illness and how they’ve kind of meshed together. So I thought I’d repost them here, and also anything else I feel like talking about. We’ve also talked about a podcast at some stage, she was wanting someone obnoxious and that’s probably right up my alley.

I’ve got quite a few things already done, stashed away in a Word document and post them up eventually. There will be no post schedules, or expectations. Just posting what I want when I want, I have more of a process though and that’s to write out a post on paper with pen before I put it into a Word document, it creates distraction free writing.

So here’s to a new adventure.