Fighting the urge

‘The Urge’

It’s the weird thing and I don’t know how to describe it any other way. It’s like a self soothing habits based… thing?

When bad things happen, we have habits. Hard worn paths that have helped us cope in the past – or they may not have helped, but we do them over and over believing they do help. It’s like an animal path in the bush – worn down by repeated use. We don’t even know if those things actually do help us cope – but we do them anyway out of habit.

This year I’m trying to break away from the well worn path of my habits and create new ones. When bad times happen in the past I would shop to make myself feel better. Not much, but still I would buy a new dress to feel pretty, or perhaps a book to read or an album to listen to, new make up or ordering take out. Now I’m trying to not do those things. I am however giving myself some particular times when it’s ok to indulge:

  • I got a hair cut yesterday and I always feel good after the shampoo head massage
  • If I want to get a regular massage that’s ok too
  • Films, gigs, and other experiences
  • Bushwalking and going to the beach
  • Lying around at home. Allowing yourself time to rest during times of stress is important. My ‘urge’ is to push through, but I need rest in order to function and resting more during stressful times is also important

Bushwalking is the new one on that list. I’ve done variations of all the other things before, but not really used the bush as a healing remedy. Hopefully that is the thing that can help pull me out of the funk… Along with one other: time

I’m also trying to raise personal awareness of these feelings. Why do I want new things when I feel sad? Does it really help? What am I trying to achieve with these urges? Then I sit with the feeling, the awareness. I think by pausing and contemplating why we really want to do something we can create real internal change in ourselves.

Planned Obsolescence

Few things make me as irrationally angry as Planned Obsolescence. Or perhaps it’s not irrational, but totally rational that it infuriates me so.

Planned Obsolescence is a concept that came about in the 50’s as people were repairing and looking after their possessions so well that companies weren’t making a profit. So they planned in a time when the object would break. Or more recently, when the software updates would stop working on the tech because you need to buy a new phone etc.

If I buy something, that thing is mine and I should be able to edit/alter/amend/repair and just do whatever the bloody hell I like to it! Companies will have you believe that you cannot. Warranties etc. Don’t want to go messing with things you don’t know…

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I got my computer repaired and people were surprised about it. I always was happy to either buy a new one (whatever that ‘one’ might be) or take it to someone else to repair. But now, I’m beginning to rethink that approach.

There’s a lot of power in being able to repair something. I once helped a friend put the chain back on the gears of her bicycle and she was convinced I was some sort of wizard. I then showed her how to oil and clean her chain. My Grandpa taught me how to do this as he was a big believer in repairing what you had (the depression will do that to a man I guess) and so he wanted me to respect and care for my possessions. I was lucky to have that in my life and I so rarely have an opportunity to use it.

I often have opted out of computer repair saying I’m not interested in that skill and that’s partially true, but what is possibly more true is that I find it intimidating. That’s just something I’ve been reflecting on anyway. Computers freak me out as I don’t understand them, but that’s not the fault of the computers!

Then I found this website: ifixit. Ifixit is what I view as a democratic (or possibly even socialist?) website that provides instructional videos and help to repair broken technology to give it a new life. These are not things that should be beyond the everyday person and yet we are often intimidated out of the skills to repair when they used to be so vital.

I also think that the next thing that breaks or stops working of mine I am going to try and repair myself. The other great thing about the internet (besides cat gifs obvs) is actually how nice people are if you ask respectfully about things. Reddit has had a number of subreddits where people have been quite friendly and supportive and provided loads of free advice to me personally. Ifixit has forums where I imagine the same to be true. How much can you find out via google? This challenge would have been totally beyond me even 15 years ago without the support and advice of other people on the internet.

I feel like this is a monumental shift in how I think about my possessions. If I truly believe make do and mend, well then I should have a crack at it myself and not just assume that something is beyond me.

I’m going to a wheeler centre lecture in a few weeks with the ifixit website creator to hear how he speaks about these things. I’ll take notes and report back on any big ideas I learn from the session.

 

Glitter Grief

I went to a roller disco last night which is as hilarious and as fun as it sounds. To prepare, my friend and I coated ourselves with body paint, glitter and knee high socks and headed out the door.

It was only once home and removing the glitter did it actually cross my mind: this stuff is probably all plastic and you’ve totally ruined another day of low to zero plastic by doing this.

So I googled it this morning and I was right. Not only is it made of plastic, due to its size it also never goes away and ends up in the tummies of fish, much like those beads in facial cleansers

Glitter seems so innocuous, so fun and associated with silliness and parties. I wear it at music festivals and parties. Dress ups and play.

Saying no to plastic means saying no to glitter. I can already hear how weird this sounds to others since glitter is so meaningless, I feel like a wowser and a downer. No Fun Fiona ruining something else… But now I’m thinking about it and my glitter moments will be here forever and never go away… It just seems like I can’t do it anymore.

I’ll give away my glitter supplies to friends at an upcoming music festival – if the glitter is already here it should be enjoyed by those around me. I won’t partake, I’ll just request the containers back when they’re done so I can make my own make up products in them when they’re empty.

Sigh. Sometimes this feels weird and hard.

Time to cut the cheese

When, did I, as an adult human lose the ability to cut cheese? The thought struck me as I was making a breakfast cheese toasty and pulled a slice of cheese out of the packet. My cheese comes in a pack of 10 slices packaged with a shell plastic base and a resealable thinner plastic top.

I looked in the fridge. When did I become unable to grate cheese? Why did I need my cheese to arrive in neat packaging and ready to use? How much time had I saved by buying grated or sliced cheese? Will the time saved add years to my life? Is it enough to create some sort of sliding doors moment in my life in which happiness will arrive because I bought the packaged cheese and was able to get out the door faster?

All of these things create more waste, more packaging and more environmental harm. I’m keen on having lessons to learn to make mozzarella, but from now on, I might choose to buy my hard cheese from the market and build some upper body strength and cut it myself.

I keep having these moments where I look around and realise that the emperor wears no clothes… I am doing things because I’ve always done them, but that doesn’t make them right or sensible.

For starters, I bet buying a block of cheese and slicing/grating it myself is a lot cheaper than what I’ve been doing my whole life. That alone should make the difference when thinking about my food choices.

 

Pens

So this is a weird topic, but I found myself thinking about pens this morning. Seems niche, but I realised I’ve never used up a whole pen: and then when you use it up, there’s still left over plastic.

I’ve never really thought about pens before. Where they come from, where they go, why are they so disposable?

I got given 2 pens for christmas – just the standard uniball needle fine point kind of pen. Nothing too fancy and loads of plastic. But I decided to make a committed effort to not buying any new pens until I use up these 2.

It’s weird to suddenly be so conscious of pens when I never have been before. Suddenly fountain pens are looking super interesting to me.

Something like this or even the real old fashion types are looking like something I might invest in eventually. Once I use up my current ones and any others that may be floating round the house.

Why buy new cheap plastic pens constantly when I could have 1 pen that I treat with respect, look after and keep for a long time? Why did pens become a disposable crappy item when writing and ink were such privileges for so long?

I bet after the initial investment it works out cheaper too.

My worst habit

I’ve given up soft drink, I don’t really drink booze much and I eat ok too. My worst habit is arguably… Biting my nails.

I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember a time where I haven’t done it.

I’ve only been able to quit under very specific circumstances: fake nails (which are plastic) or applying nail hardener or nail polish (which is also kind of plastic tbh).

So now I’m trying to quit biting my nails, but without my usual methods I’m not doing so well. From the reading I’ve done it’s all about the smooth edges and my compulsion to create them. Which based on my own innate sense of annoyance with a rough edge, sounds correct to me. I also do it when I’m anxious or feeling nervous, but that’s not necessarily serious – I often do it in films when there’s a surprise – so it’s not just related to ‘serious’ issues.

One thing that I need to come to terms with is natural nails. I love the look of colour nail polish, of the gloss, the shine and the perfection of nice nails. If I do manage to grow them, I love the feel of the gloss on them and often admire my hands on my own when I manage to stop biting – but I only ever quit when there’s something on top of the nail: a fake nail or continuous polish and never bare nails.

That’s not reality though – that’s fake. Beyonce’s nails at the Grammys today were long, pointy and gold. That is not real. She looked amazing, she looked like a goddess, but certainly not human because she looked so beautiful.

One of the biggest things that will manifest through this year is building contentment. It’s ok that my nails aren’t long and gold, it’s ok that I don’t have new clothes, it’s ok that I don’t have the newest computer or gadget. I can learn to be content with what I have. It’s also ok that this can be hard: changing habits ain’t easy and marketing works super duper well with me.

Once uni starts up again I’ll report back on the nails with an update. At the moment they’re quite short and stumpy, but they’re longer than last week and I’m sure next week they’ll be longer again.

What next?

So I mentioned a while back that I read The Rogue Ginger quite a bit. I’m treading a path she (and many others online) have already broken in. I’m currently at a weird point as I’ve almost done all the first step suggestions made by people online.

  1. Take away coffee: well I don’t drink it and if I get a tea out, I take my cup with me or drink in house. From now on, I’ll only order tea if it’s loose leaf due to the plastic in teabags and I’ll make sure to ask first. Generally, I don’t order tea out as I find it quite expensive for something that is so cheap to buy.
  2. Saying no to straws: I have a metal straw, but I don’t tend to use it because I don’t care or don’t really need it. It’s a rare situation when I feel the need, so I no longer get straws out and always ask for drinks without them in bars
  3. food packaging: Pretty much down to nothing here too. Besides cheese, bread and a few other things, I’m done with that.
  4. Take my own bag: I always do this and have done so for the last 5 years or so
  5. No bottled water: I have a number of refillable water bottles: one at work, one at home and a spare that tends to sit in my car for car rides. I no longer buy bottled water or soft drink and seem to be well on way for kicking my coca cola habit

So besides the food packaging I’m well on the way to being done with no more plastic being in my life. It’s the next part that’s less clear and more vague about what to do and where to travel with it.

Plastic is everywhere. It’s in everything – the horror I felt when I read about the teabags was intense, but now I have to begin to work out my own way to do things. As things begin to run out, I’ll find another way to replace them or change them. The main guide points I’m already done with, so now we’re entering the big leagues – especially when I finish the food waste segment…