Simplify Your Life

During my Google research of slow living info this morning  I found the website simplify.de (unfortunately only German) by Werner Kuestenmacher, a protestant theologian in Bavaria, who started in 1990 as a freelance writer, cartoonist and speaker.

The cartoon with the seven-stage simplify pyramid reminded me a little bit of my own mess, so I immediately subscribed to the newsletter … and also ordered the book Simplify Your Life by Werner Kuestenmacher and Lothar J. Seiwert.

In the next few weeks I’ll tell you about my self-experiment with the implementation of the tips.  I will keep myself largely to the seven-stage simplify pyramid, but also include other sources, for example, The 7 Secrets of the turtle by Aljosha Long and Ronald Schweppe (unfortunately this book is only available in German), Cut the Clutter by Cynthia Ewer and others.

And now a brief description of the Simplify pyramid:

  • Level 1: Things
    Simplify things on your desk, in your wardrobe, in your apartment, in the garage, in your car – in that order and without separation between private and business utensils.
     
  • Level 2: Finances
    A difficult issue that is more difficult to manage than the chaos at home and in the office. We are talking about cash, account balances, debt, loans, savings, expenses and about mental blocks in dealing with money.
     
  • Level 3: Time
    Organizing the daily 24 hours, in order to get more meaningful free time. Time for your partner, children, friends, bosses, relatives, but also for the daily routines, hobbies, and especially for yourself, time to reflect, recharge your batteries, do nothing.
     
  • Level 4: Health
    Avoid diseases in the long run, achieve a healthy interaction between body and mind, and thus a healthy relationship with your own sexuality, eg. by losing weight, healthy diet, relaxation exercises.
     
  • Level 5: Relationships
    Social relationships can be complicated and often lead to intrigues, disputes, jealousy, bullying. Therefore, it is important to become free for contacts that really enrich.
     
  • Level 6: Partnership
    A partnership does not necessarily exist between spouses or partners; this can also be special friends, relatives, or other important relationships or God for religiously oriented people.
     
  • Level 7: You yourself
    The top of the pyramid. The goal is the realization of your own idea of happiness and fulfillment, the meaning of life.
     

I am looking forward to the result and to your comments.

Literature:

mandalas – balm for the soul

mandala

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amongst others the painting of mandala images is great means for deceleration and relaxation.

the word mandala means circle. and mandala images consist of geometric shapes that form around a centre point. the colouring of mandalas has some positive effects. it is especially nice to relax and to reduce stress. the flow of thoughts calms down. creativity and concentration is encouraged.

so, depending on the mood, I select a mandala from the book energie und kraft durch mandalas[i] von marion und werner küstenmacher, of which I like the shape and look. I retreat to a place where I feel comfortable and undisturbed.

particularly suitable for colouring are crayons.

the colouring of mandalas is a lot more. it is a ritual, a dance around the centre, run by crayons, which leave their colourful traces.

who colours, hits the trail …

it is advisable to create the picture from the outside to the inside. for accompaniment to the calm suits relaxation music.

mandalas stand for order and structure. the geometric shapes are familiar to us since childhood and ensure a spatial and temporal orientation while being drawn. therefore mandalas for example are ideal for use in ergotherapy. with their established form they provide assistance for patients where free painting could trigger the emotion of mental overload.

the drawing of mandalas is also a preferred meditation exercise of Tibetan monks.

and it is not a matter that the mandala must be as perfect and beautiful. the result is secondary. above all it is a matter of time with yourself. just live and paint. a great moment to win. and those who try it, will understand the magic …

mandala
mandala

my mandala shows a colourful fantasy-flower.

I can also recommend the book by ruediger dahlke mandalas der welt[ii].

Sources:

[i] Marion and Werner Tiki Küstenmacher: Energie und Kraft durch Mandalas, Bassermann Verlag, Munich 2008, ISBN-10: 3809423688, ISBN-13: 978-3809423683

[ii] Ruediger Dahlke: Mandalas der Welt, Heinrich Hugendubel Verlag, Kreuzlingen/Munich 2006, ISBN-10: 3880342652, ISBN-13: 978-3880342651

Don’t toss it – repair it

Reparatur-Café

We live in a throwaway society. Unfortunately, one of our gadgets is broken and we consider whether it is worth to have it repaired. We quickly decide that a repair is more expensive than buying a new device.  And certainly the item ends up in the waste.  Often enough in household waste, although it is actually e-waste.  Admittedly for many repairs you need a certain expert knowledge and appropriate tools.

One solution for non-amateur crafters: why not ask your friends or neighbours.  And in return offer your expertise.  Sure you can find a bulletin board somewhere in your vicinity, e.g. in the supermarket.

Repair Café

Another positive trend are Repair-Cafés, originally from Holland – initiated by Martine Postma in 2007.  Usually they are organized by local economic agents, volunteers and repair experts; you can bring your defective items to fix them and – most of all – together with the experts.  You receive valuable tips and instructions for making it yourself.

The particular benefit of this project

  • waste prevention
  • environmental protection
  • sustainablility
  • learning
  • knowledge preservation
  • contacts
  • appreciation

The required tools and materials for the repair of furniture, appliances, clothing, toys and bicycles are largely available, e. g. carpentry tools, tools for electrical appliances, sewing accessories.  Having coffee, tea and cake you can now screw, solder, cut, sew.  You may also find interesting books about repair and home improvement on a reading table.  The chance of success is actually the greatest when you bring all the cables, accessory and operating instructions.

Locations

There are now Repair-Cafés in 15 countries worldwide, e. g. the Netherlands, Germany, France, USA, Australia.  Here you will find a list of cafés near you.  By the way, if you want to open your own Repair-Café, you receive a lot of support and information – and all at a very reasonable price.

What do you prefer? Repair it or toss it? Please tell me your experiences?

Get rid of old and odd things

declutter 15 minutes

In a previous post I have already written about decluttering.  Our goal is to lead a “simpler” life with more time for ourselves and our loved ones.

Let us look around.  Do the files pile up on your desk? What is the appearance of your apartment?  The garden? You hope to get a better overview? Too many knick-knacks in the way.  The stunted plant on the windowsill is not motivating, too.  Piles of documents, all waiting to be read.  And then the kitchen, the wardrobe, the nursery, the garage, the attic …  Pretty much ballast …  And this ballast blocks us.

The first important discovery:  Clutter cannot be organised.

 

With what do we start?

Everything visible.

 

Where do we start?

Everyone needs to find out for oneself.  I start in the living room and work my way from there to the other rooms. The garden follows later.  It’s winter now … (At least in the Northern Hemisphere)

 

How do we start?

I set a timer to 15 minutes, take a garbage bag and a box or more bags and grab a duster and a damp cloth.  Anything can be done for 15 minutes.  For each part, I now have to make a tough decision:

  • waste or not repairable – into the garbage bag
  • seasonal items – in a labelled box
  • keep it – clean it

    I take pictures of valuable items and file them with purchase date and price (ideally with proof of purchase) in an inventory folder

  • items with emotional value that don’t match the furnishings – in a labelled box
  • items that you do not like, but are too good or too valuable for waste – give away or sell

    Books to the public library, dresses for second-hand shop, tableware and decoration to the flea market

You will see, in 15 minutes you can accomplish a lot.  And now have fun with decluttering.  Important: throw the filled garbage bag immediately in the bin!

And now we repeat this every day!

How do you declutter?  Do you have any other suggestions? Just write me.  The best ideas will be published here?

Decluttering

Entrümpeln

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The last articles were mainly theoretical views of  Slow Living. Now the time has come to put our ideas into action.

Our goal is a happy, satisfied life. A simplification and deceleration of everyday life. Unfortunately, most of us carry unnecessary ballast along. These may be things that make our homes burst at the seams, but also thoughts that may block us.

So it happened to me a few years ago. The result: both professional and personal disasters. My new home was suddenly too small for all the things burdened with unpleasant associations. To get back to breathe, there was only one remedy – decluttering. First I picked out the date of the next garbage collection and disposed the big stuff. I packed the car and drove to a nearby recycling center. The first step was done … I plan to write several posts about the methods of decluttering the rest of the home and the workspace. So check back again from time to time 😉

Mind-decluttering

It is more difficult to clear your mind. Sleepless nights because of meandering thoughts. Missed deadlines because memory doesn’t work flawlessly any longer. There is only one thing, get organized by mind-decluttering.

Gedanken entrümpeln mit Notizbüchern.

I’m using a notebook that I always carry with me. On the left book page I write down EVERYTHING which seems important enough to keep it in mind. At home I transfer appointments to my calendar then; and on the right page of the notebook I build up a todo list. More information on notebooks and todo lists in an upcoming article.

This method works very well for me. Falling asleep without trouble any more. By the way, the notebook lies on the bedside table in case I wake up and want to note something, what would have vanished out of memory in the morning … for certain.

Decluttering is one of my favorite subjects. Therefore, I am very interested in your experiences. So please send me your comments or emails which methods you prefer?

Slow Living and Work and Leisure

Slow Living und Arbeit - Geschäftsreisen

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For most of us the adult life before retirement (also often the life of children) splits up into the time in which we work (study) and the time “away from work”. But the latter is not only leisure, because there are still things which need to be done, which we consider to be essential (shopping, household, school work …), the “duties”.

For the relationship between work and leisure perceived as “balanced” by an individual, the term work-life balance is commonly used; we will deal a lot with this category of our blog.

Philosophy interprets work as consciously creative human action; but we want to understand work as the activities that put us in the substantive position to meet our livelihood. Our influence on these activities is often limited, and therefore they are extra worth to be subjected to an intensive evaluation.

Not least, the rigid rules, the fast pace, the inevitable requirements, the “rat race” in everyday working life are the things that make us think of the necessity of a deceleration of our lives.

Thus the goal should be to make this part of our lives, we can hardly escape entirely, as efficient as possible, while efficiency here refers to the ratio of invested power, lost nerves and sometimes under the exertion of  health in relation to a best possible output. If something like “work satisfaction” comes into play … wonderful!

So let’s try to transform together our everyday work within the meaning of Slow Living  …

Slow Living und FreizeitNow let us have look at the second part, leisure, and ensure better quality of life through more enjoyment in home, garden or holidays. After all you (hopefully !?) spend much more time in your home or garden, on a beautiful terrace or a balcony than at work, if you are not just on vacation. And that time belongs to you – to you and your family, your social environment, your friends. Start here, you don’t have a greater scope than in the leisure part!

We are going to support you in many ways, with witty, philosophical, but usually very practical considerations and tips, progress reports or references to products that can contribute to slowing down your leisure life.

Remember: The goal is a full life, not the waiver itself in the sense of asceticism, but the increase of your vitality and please do not forget to think of sustainability, the long-term importance of your leisure behaviour!