Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Peace [and Quiet] on Earth

"Communion" © 1992 Cynthia Friedlob [hand-colored photograph]

I've been thinking a lot about how my need for uncluttered, open space includes the need for quiet space. Emptiness allows room for reflection, but the reflection won't come easily unless there's also quiet. Kaid Benfield wrote an article for The Atlantic in which this idea is pondered on a larger scale, that of a city:

"I have a theory that, the busier and livelier a city is, the more it needs places of retreat, places where one can get away and be quiet and still."

Parks, gardens, libraries, museums, and places of worship can offer quiet relief from the pressures and fast pace of city life, but what do you do when you're home? Where do you go for relief from your busy and lively day? If you're surrounded by clutter, there's nowhere to go, and that's very unfortunate for both your mental and physical well-being.

During the holiday season, it's common to hear expressions of hope for peace on Earth. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have our basic needs well met, in fact, to have much more than we need, it might be time to acknowledge that uncluttering is not just an aesthetic issue, or even a basic stress-reducer; it's also an important part of finding a deeper, personal peace. And there's no chance for peace on Earth until we can find peace within ourselves.

Best wishes to you for peace, now and in the coming New Year.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chris Jordan's Three-Second Visual Meditation for Shoppers

This artwork from Chris Jordan offers a reminder about how our consumer society has run amok. Click here, then click on the artwork to zoom in and see the details of the composition: 9,960 mail order catalogs, equal to the average number of pieces of junk mail that are printed, shipped, delivered, and disposed of in the U.S. every three seconds.

Three Second Meditation, 2011

Friday, November 08, 2013

Perspective: Clutter vs. Collecting and What's Really Important to You?

Did you think I'd disappeared? I took a hiatus that lasted longer than expected. Thanks for waiting for "The Thoughtful Consumer" to return. I've saved a long list of links about some favorite topics that I hope you'll find interesting. Let's start with these:

Clutter vs. Collecting: A New Kind of More:  '"More-ing' is what it sounds like; it's for people who want more, but the giddy surprise is what More-ists want more of. Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, famously filled her closets with shoes, but good More-ists are sly, cleverer than Imelda. They crave more subtly, choosing to hoard what nobody normal has thought to hoard ... for example, bicycle locks ..." Story on NPR's Krulwich Wonders.

What's really important to you? "If your house suddenly caught on fire, what would you grab as you fled out the door? That’s precisely the question Foster Huntington asked himself, so he gathered the belongings he himself would take and photographed them, then asked a few friends to do the same. Then, on May 10 of 2011, he launched The Burning House with 10 such photographs." The project subsequently expanded: "The results — rich, surprising, refreshingly human, from people separated by 80 years and spanning six continents — are now gathered in The Burning House: What Would You Take? (public library)." Read more and see more photos on Brain Pickings.

The Principals of Minimalism: One doesn't have to be a minimalist to live an uncluttered life, but some of these principals in Grant Snider's drawing are useful for everyone. From  Incidental Comics, where you can learn the source of the artwork used in each panel and order a poster. You can also see many more drawings by Grant Snider.

 Image Credit: Shireen Gonzaga.

Clutter and Your Workspace: A study at the University of Minnesota concluded: "Working in a neat or untidy office might affect the way you function, according to the findings of experiments conducted by University of Minnesota researchers. They showed that people working at a neat organized office tended to be more conventional, generous, and inclined towards healthy foods. A messy office, on the other hand, appears to stimulate creativity and a willingness to try new things." Hmm. What do you think?

A neglected record warehouse.

The World's Largest Record Collection: What happens when you try to sell the world's largest record collection? Timing is everything. Fortunately, Paul Mawhinney's gigantic collection didn't meet the fate in the photograph. In fact, the end of his story has a bit of a twist. Click here to go to MessyNessyChic to read more and watch a 7:36 documentary by Sean Dunne.

The Collyer brothers home in NYC (1947)

Selling a Hoarder's Home: "The one-bedroom condo on Park Avenue was described by the broker, Jeffrey Tanenbaum of Halstead Property, as a 'hoarder’s paradise, with seven cats, one dog and 12 armoires packed to the brim.'. . . For brokers, showing and marketing a true hoarder property can require considerable creativity." Read a fascinating article in the New York Times.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Video Portrait of American Life: Cluttered

This blog recently marked its seventh anniversary, so I wanted something special to post. I found a short video (12:17) from SoCal Connected, a KCET-TV magazine, that could be exactly what you need to break through whatever barriers are preventing you from tackling your clutter.

Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors, a photo-laden book published in 2012, was the result of a ten-year UCLA study that used "archaeological approaches to human material culture." The families, who were anonymous and considered "typical," gave full access (including video) to the researchers who gathered data that showed how many of us live: with far more stuff than we need.

This segment from the KCET show examines the book and, significantly, two families who decided to go public now, years after they had been subjects in the study. The differences are fascinating, as is the information discovered by the research. Take a look! (E-mail subscribers: click on the title of this post to go to the blog and view the video.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

George Carlin Talks about Stuff

Awareness of the absurdity of how much stuff most of us accumulate permeated the mainstream quite awhile ago, but it's always heartening to see George Carlin's classic stuff routine trotted out as a reminder. This time, a stuff-struggling writer for the Huffington Post acknowledged the issue and marked George Carlin's passing on this date in 2008. If only we could remember that our homes are just our "stuff with a cover on it!" Click here to read the article and see the famous routine. (In case anyone is sensitive about this: it does contain profanity.)