Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I Couldn't Live Without...

   I'm one of the lucky ones, believe it or not. I don't have a smartphone, and I keep my laptop unplugged from the internet for the sake of my writing, so when I shut down my PC in the evening, I'm offline for at least 12 hours. I'm also a full-time carer for my mum, which helps me to keep things in perspective a little.
   That said, we live in the age of consumerism, and there are a great many things I do still consider personal necessities, things I think I 'can't live without'. A weekly deep hair conditioning, video games, my laptop, a daily cup of matcha, my sports bras, my Tunnock's teacake cushion - the mismatched list goes on.

   When we went to Texel last October, however, I learned something.
   I'd brought my laptop with me, knowing there was wifi, and I'd brought my plug adaptor so I could actually use it in the Netherlands. I wanted to be able to get online to keep an eye on my shop and answer any messages, so close to the start of the Christmas rush, and I wanted to get some work done on my book and try to work through some writer's block.
   This plan failed immediately. The wifi wouldn't connect, so I ended up without the internet for the week. Not the end of the world, just a minor nuisance, but I quickly embraced the idea that that meant I was forced into having a week away from shop stress and constant refreshing of Etsy shop stats and my inbox.
   But I'd also brought the wrong adaptor - I brought the UK to EU, not EU to UK - so I couldn't charge my tiny netbook, meaning I only had 8 hours of battery life to last me a week.
   While I was happy to do without the internet, I found myself freaking out about not being able to write. I don't consider working on my book as 'work', you see, I love it so much, and even though it was a week, that was something I couldn't do without, and very much didn't want to try. I bought a paper notebook and a pack of pens at the first opportunity.
   I also shattered my writer's block and made amazing progress.
   Since then I've also noticed that I need a laptop or notebook in front of me whenever I'm not working on my shop. No matter what else I'm doing, I must have the ability to make notes or actually work on the story. The only time that doesn't happen - forcefully - is movie night with Seeg.

   Living in the age of consumerism, I'm actually quite surprised by how simple my needs are, but even then I could do with shifting my priorities back into place. Like many people, if there's something I want, I'm quick to buy it, but if there's something I need, I put it off, and a number of things I 'couldn't live without', I very probably could. Regardless of its intent, I'm reminded of this whenever I watch Dad's Army. If everything were to suddenly go on ration, we wouldn't 'keep calm and carry on', as was Britain's slogan in the second world war, we would probably riot and rampage and expect the circumstances to change to suit our personal desires.

   That said, after my most recent rewatch of Dad's Army, I started to really consider what I and most other people would need, today, in order to live contentedly.

Heating - keep warm and well
   I'm the kind of girl who likes to layer up - jumpers, thick socks, leggings and so on - but if you are ill or you're having guests, heating your home to a comfortable degree is important. It's true that it gets expensive, which is part of the reason I layer up - my parents taught me well - but you don't need to keep your heating on constantly, and if you're worried about cost, gas cylinders and bottles can be rationed and, by paying up front, at least you can keep on top of it, avoiding surprise bills.

Paper and a pencil - replace mindless internet usage
   Make notes, write a story, try origami. It might sound silly, but paper and a pencil provides any number of endless entertainment which actually encourages creativity as well as providing mental exercises, keeping you off of mindless websites on your phone or work PC which only dilute your intelligence. It's also a form of blogging - diaries existed first, after all.
   Paper and pencils are, truly, something I can't live without. Even if the TV is on, I'm not comfortable without my laptop or a notebook on my lap, even if I'm not writing - it's just in case. When we went to Texel and I discovered I'd brought the wrong plug adaptor, my laptop was useless, and I rushed out to buy a notebook and pen to replace it. I got amazing work done on my book that week - a serious break through - and I had some amazing walks, too.

Simple Food - use herbs, spices and a variety of cooking methods to keep the easy interesting.
   You don't need fancy ingredients to keep food interesting. Sometimes herbs, spices and the method of cooking alone can completely change a dish that otherwise consists of the same basic ingredients. Go to a local farm or farmer's market for your meat, grow your own simple veg and herbs and experiment with roasting, grilling, frying, stewing and baking with the same ingredients. Locally sourced food is also more likely to be nutritious as it won't have been processed or treated to death like mass-produced flour, which has been bleached and thinned.

Books - escape!
   Despite being a writer, video games are actually my preferred form of entertainment. I love to play them, and I love to watch Seeg play them. In fact, I like the latter the most because I can write at the same time, while being provided what amounts, really, to a movie several days long and immensely more enrapturing, or a visual book. Because only books and video games have the attention of the audience for long enough to create a deep world with deep characters.
   Which is why books are on this list. They're much cheaper than video games, don't require any kind of internet connection, they look nice and won't affect your sleep (in a bad way) and encourage your imagination to build and picture things without any visual cues. Also they look nice. Did I say that already?

Soap - good, clean fun.
   I have a ridiculous shower gel collection. My bathroom cupboard looks like a Superdrug shelf. But though I love the stuff, even I can attest to the power of the humble bar of soap. It cleans skin and hair and, with the right ingredients like shea butter and the like, it can truly nourish. You can also make it yourself, and if you experiment with scents and oils it can outmatch store-bought stuff. You don't need overflowing bathroom shelves, you don't need to spend a fortune. You need a bar of soap.


Post a Comment

I do read every single comment, and I will try to respond where I can. If you have an important question about my blog or my shop, however, then you might be better off contacting me directly by email. Thanks so much for reading my blog!