Thursday, March 13, 2014

when less is still more

Have you read this blog?

This is truly a woman after my own heart - not because I too have stopped shopping for clothes (in fact far from it) but I like her philosophy about STUFF.

The problem for me I think, is more that I am addicted to the decluttering exercise.  In fact I have moved to the computer NOW because I can feel a 'chuck out session'' coming on, and there really isn't much left for me to get rid of around here!  Yesterday I worked through the kids wardrobes and pulled out all the too small clothes. I did my own wardrobe the day before.  I'm currently working on the pantry and the bathroom again, using up all the things that end up relegated to bottom shelves.

I'm planning to move house soon (anyone want to buy mine), and so figure the less stuff I have to move the better.  And yet despite selling/dumping/giving away more things than I care to imagine in the past few weeks (but hazard a guess it's about 3 trailer loads worth) I still feel like I have too much.  It's all those things that are put away for rainy days, or are in ''storage'' and only used a couple of times a year. Those things get me down.  I wonder why I keep them.  After all, how many table cloths/plastic bags/ garden implements/ kitchen appliances/pairs of gumboots/sleeping bags/blankets/pillow cases/candles/chilly bins/extra photo frames does one person actually need?  Only one or two I would have thought...and still these are the very things I find I just can't get rid of.

If you visited my house, you'd probably wonder what I was on about. It's a pretty spacious, uncluttered kind of place.   But it has storage.  Lots and lots of storage.  And I make the most of it.

I wonder how people who have LOTS of stuff get by.  Maybe they don't mind? Are you like that? Do you mind having a lot of stuff?  For me, it makes me stressed.  I'd rather give it away than try and sell it, rather recycle than repair.  

I'm no saint - I buy lots of clothes for examples, but do my best to replace rather than add to, my wardrobe. I use the library rather than buy books. I have very little in the way of camping gear, or exercise equipment, or any of those other things that only get used occasionally, but there's still enough to fill some shelves in the garage.

Right now that's where my energy is focused. I have enough garden stakes to plant out an orchard I am sure.  A few broken bits of technology. Some tired old crockery from the kitchen.  Some raggedy towels.  Tomorrow it all goes to the dump.  Can't wait.

Monday, March 10, 2014

In praise of volunteerism

I have heard it said that if it wasn't for the volunteers who willingly and generously give up so much of their own time and resources, this country would grind to a halt.

I can well believe it.  Just here in, in a village of barely a thousand people, I'd hazard that aside from one or two organisations that have (a couple of) paid staff, most of the hard work is completed by people passionate about their sport, interest or that of their child's.  School PTA, the  coaches and referees at the Rugby Club, Playcentre, Soccer, preschool activities, tourism, community events, the group who work on restoration of the Mountain, the ones who look after the Historic Centre, Guide and Scout leaders, Golf Club trustees, Kapa Haka leaders, Plunket leaders, parent helpers for camps, St John ambulance staff, fire fighters....the list goes on. And on. And on.

How lucky we are to have these people! And how especially fortunate I feel to have directly benefited from the hard work of so many of them.  And, to be fair, to have been - and continue to be - one of the people who gladly 'mucks in'' when I can.  Despite my occasional inward groans of ''another working bee/donation box/half an hour on a stall'' I am usually pretty happy to do my bit towards helping out - after all, these are the things that make the culture of the village what it is.

There are annual awards of course, that acknowledge and honour many of the volunteers in our communities, but by far and away, the majority simply get on with their work, largely unnoticed (until they resign from their posts!), but absolutely necessary to the smooth running of their organisation and the good work they all do in our towns.  Its not everyones cup of tea, to give up a weekend or evening for the ''love of the job'', I acknowledge that.  But there are many many unsung heroes in our communities, that do give up their spare time - and  allow us to get on with enjoying that cup of tea.

And as well as personal satisfaction, the reality is that ''volunteering'' is a great addition to a CV.  As an employer, I value the work done by a potential employee in their own time.  As well as learning all kinds of valuable and transferable skills, there is the added, unwritten,  dimension that tells me that this person cares about their community.

 As we head into our seventh year of publication, The Village Voice (my baby...)remains completely reliant on the goodwill of the team of people who contribute, compile and deliver each issue, and for this I am especially grateful.

So next time you are asked to give some time, or money, to one of these groups, do so with a generous heart. And if you are the beneficiary of such kindness, take a minute to thank the person giving up their own time to make your life a little better.