Just Empty the Bins

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

We all know that what we do on a Sunday can hugely influence
the week that follows.  Dedicate some
time to preparing for Monday and we often reap the rewards all week, everything
from time and money saved to stress avoided.
Have a Sunday where that kind of preparative work isn’t possible and we
can feel the ripples for days, whether it’s because we have to buy our lunches
out or because by Wednesday we find ourselves rummaging in the laundry basket
for a pair of socks that we can reasonably wear again.  

Trouble is, those Sundays when we don’t have time to calmly
do weekday prep are often the best ones!
Part of the joy of weekends is being able to step away from to do lists
and schedules – having the freedom to be out for the day on a whim, anything
from a last-minute trip to lunch with friends that runs on into the
evening.  No-one wants to be the person
who leaves early or forgoes an invitation because they have to do their ironing
on a Sunday night.  

Even if we don’t go out or have anything in particular
planned for our Sunday, that doesn’t mean we want to dedicate all the time to
gearing up for the week ahead.
Relaxation and downtime is hugely important.  I truly believe Albert Schweitzer’s statement
that ‘If
your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan
’ – although I also believe
that this kind of Sunday nourishment for the soul can take many forms, whether
it’s going to church or playing with your kids or curling up with a cup of tea
in bed in the morning.  Sundays often
give us the chance to take time in a way that feels impossible on the other six
days of the week.  We don’t want to
sacrifice that at the altar of ‘getting organised’, which is probably why even
when we have the opportunity on a quiet Sunday evening to prepare for the week
ahead we don’t do so.  

So we face a dilemma: we want the benefits of time spent
preparing for the week without feeling like we’re surrendering a precious day
of the weekend in order to do so.  How do
we get around this?  I think I have found
an answer…

I have read enough women’s magazine and self-help advice
over the years, and seen innumerable Instagram and blog posts on this topic, to
be able to create a ‘Fifty Ways to Prepare for Your Week’ article off the top
of my head.  Actually, I could probably
list one hundred actions you could take.
All would no doubt be useful in some way, but the list would make you
either want to punch me or simply refuse to do anything next Sunday except lie
on the sofa watching repeats of Storage
Hunters.  

My solution?  Just
empty the bin(s) in your kitchen.

Emptying the kitchen bins is a small, discrete task that
doesn’t take long but somehow gives you a sense of huge satisfaction.  Let’s face it, there’s nothing more depressing
on a Monday morning than going to chuck something away only to discover that
you can’t cram anything else in there – and it smells – and suddenly you’ve got
bin juice on your clothes – and that’s it, the most hellish start to the week
imaginable.  

So if you do nothing else, just empty your kitchen
bins.  

Feel calm, in control and like some kind of domestic goddess
for the absolute minimum effort possible.
Then if you feel energised into doing some other preparative bits too,
then go ahead.  You know what would work
well.  You know the kinds of actions that
make your week run more smoothly, whether it’s time to write in your journal or
complete your planner, making a batch of dinners to freezer for the evenings
ahead, or ensuring that the kids have done their homework before 6pm so there’s
time to chill before bed.  I like to make
sure there’s no ironing lingering.

But if not, then at least you’ve got nice empty bins to
start the week.  And tell me that doesn’t
feel a little bit good?

What about you?  Do
you have a routine for preparing for the week ahead – or do you just take it as
it comes?  If the latter, is that a
conscious choice or would you prefer to take a different approach?  If you’d like to share with me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

Why You Should Always Carry Stamps

This post is part of my
‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read the first post in the series, you can click
here
.

Today I will be taking a walk up to the Post Office to
purchase postage for a large letter.  I
don’t quite know what size qualifies as ‘large’ for Royal Mail in the UK as
this is a fairly new category, but I think it’s some combination of size and
weight.  Anyhow, I know that my A4
envelope requires a different kind of stamp than is usual.  I don’t really mind making a special trip but
it is a bit irksome when I have four perfectly good regular stamps in my wallet
already.

I always carry stamps.
As with yesterday’s favourite
mug habit
, I’m not exactly sure when this began.  It goes back at least to 2008.  It was around that time a friend lent me a
book (I think it was Sam Gosling’s Snoop: What Your Stuff Says about You)
where the author asserts that the world is divided into two kinds of people:
those who always carry stamps and those who don’t understand why anyone
would.  I definitely identified with the
former.  

My teeny tiny A Life
Of One’s Own
tip for today is therefore the suggestion that you get
yourself a book of stamps and carry them in your wallet.  As there’s no expiry date with postage, it
doesn’t matter how long it takes for you to use them, but when you’re
eventually down to one, buy another book before you run out.  Then repeat.

Why?  

Firstly to help yourself.
Now that electronic communication has reduced levels of mail, we may not
use stamps as much as we used to, but often when we do need them it is for
something urgent or important: the birthday card that needs to be in today’s
collection, the bank form that has to be with them by tomorrow.  Now think about the nearest pillar box in
relation to your home or workplace.
Wouldn’t it be easier if, rather than having to go to a shop that sells stamps
first, you could lay your hands easily on what you need and pop the item
straight into the post?

If that alone doesn’t convince you (and why wouldn’t it?!),
a second reason to always carry stamps is in order to connect with others.  There are two aspects to this.  It is in part about communication via
mail.  Maybe you’re out somewhere and see
a funny postcard that instantly makes you think of a particular friend or
family member; if you have a stamp on you then sending it to them seems much more
straightforward than if you have to factor in getting postage too.  Likewise when you hear some big news or an
announcement.  Whether it’s passing an
important exam, an engagement, a birth or a death (or remembering a birthday at
the last minute!), having one less step in the process makes buying/sending less
hassle.  Carrying stamps opens up more
opportunities for you to connect with those you care about, recognising and
celebrating the important moments in their life.

The other aspect of connecting with others is the giving of
stamps.  We’ve all said to people around
us ‘I need to get a stamp’, and we’ve probably all asked or been asked if we
have a stamp.  It’s up there with the ‘Do
you have a light?’ appeal between smokers.
In a way, the two function similarly, albeit stamps posing less risk to
your health.  If the request can be
fulfilled, a moment of connection is forged.  The person receiving is grateful because
without that, their object (the cigarette or the piece of mail) is
useless.  It cannot function without the
other element, be it the light or the stamp.
In the case of the latter, you’ve also saved them time and possibly hassle.  

As the giver of the stamp, you’ve just helped someone out
for very little cost (in fact no direct outlay, as you’d bought them anyway)
and no inconvenience at all – they were already in your wallet.  You’ve done them a favour, made their day a
little easier.  That’s a good
feeling.  It may only be fleeting but
aren’t most experiences in this life?  

Grab opportunities to connect as much as you can.  Buy stamps.

What about you?  Do
you carry stamps?  If you don’t then has
this post encouraged you to buy some?
Who knows what opportunities it will facilitate!  If you’d like to share with me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of my
‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read the first post in the series, you can click
here
.

My Favourite Mug

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week – to read how that began, you can click
here
for the opening post.

I’m not sure when the ‘favourite mug’ thing started but it
was certainly a thing by the time I worked in an office aged twenty-one.  In that instance, I became particularly
attached to a red McVities mug designed to look like a packet of their
digestive biscuits.  I didn’t realise how
attached a colleague proudly placed it on my desk after it was her turn to make
the tea one afternoon: ‘I like that mug’, I said; ‘I’d noticed’, she
replied.  

Some years later, a counsellor asked me to tell her
something about myself and the first thing that came to mind was that I like to
have a favourite mug.  I elaborated
somewhat and she said it was one of the most lovely things anyone had ever
shared with her.  This perhaps overplays
it somewhat as there’s nothing elaborate or particularly special about it.  What it is: wherever you regularly have hot drinks
(home, work, round a friend’s), select which of the available mugs that you
like the best.  Whenever you are there,
try to use that mug or request your drink in it.  Not even any need to go out and buy a new one.  You could if you wanted but it’s by no means
necessary (I haven’t purchased a mug myself since the mid-1990s; it was from The
Body Shop, purple with a yellow elephant and the slogan ‘Now you see us – soon you
won’t’).  

What’s the point of this?
There’s no great mystery or power to it.
All you are doing is drinking from a mug that you have decided is your
favourite amongst those available.  Yet
strangely that becomes almost talismanic: there you are with your favourite mug
again…and again…and again.  Like slim
golden thread weaving its way through your life, there’s a sense of continuity
but also of valuing your own preferences and idiosyncratic choices.  For many of us, particularly women, asserting
our desires can be difficult in a world where we don’t always trust that we
have the right to choose.  This can be
visible at the most profound level (abortion) to the most mundane (to have
dessert or not?).  Favouring a particular
mug is like practising using a muscle, testing it out so it gets stronger –
strong enough to face tougher choices too.

Even if not, you have an inanimate but intimate friend to
accompany your days.  Back when I worked
in that office, the cherry red McVities mug sat beside me on the boring days
and good days too; the day we read from the book box and the one where we had
an over-catered (and overwatered!) Christmas party; on the day we were made redundant
and many forgettable days in between.   I remember it as fondly as I remember the
colleague who placed in on my desk that maybe-Wednesday afternoon.  And that is why, my friends, having a
favourite mug is a small but beautiful thing to have in your life.    

What about you?  Do
you have a favourite mug?  If you haven’t
then has this encouraged you to adopt one?
It could be the start of a whole new relationship!  If you’d like to share with me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

To read how the ‘This
is my real life’ week began, click
here
.