How I slayed the hoarding monsters and became an alchemist!

— By Yasmeen Iqbal Degenaar

One morning I woke up wanting a simpler life.

This one morning business happens to me a lot of times, with a lot of things. So this one morning I looked around me and I realised that this simplification had to start with clearing the physical space around me. A conversation with a friend in Holland came floating back to me – she had told me about an exercise where we consciously give away one thing each day for 30 days, as a way of creating miracles in one’s life. “You don’t have to give away a ‘thing’, it could even be a smile or a hug”, she had said. “You could either set a specific intention or just let a miracle happen in your life”.

So I thought, “Hmm, smiles and hugs I can give away pretty easily, no problem there, so let me see if I can do this exercise with a little bit of a twist and make it just a wee bit more challenging for myself. Let me see if I can give away one item from my house, something which I don’t really have use for but am hanging onto ‘just because’. And since I don’t want to add to my list of expectations, let me see if I can give these things away without expecting anything in return.”

Here are some examples of the ‘hanging onto just because’ things.

Hanging onto that gift because it was a gift,
Hanging onto those craft items because I still hope to make time for that craft, Hanging onto that dress just because ‘It still fits me so well’
Hanging onto that piece of embroidery because it took me weeks to finish it, Hanging onto those files because I haven’t had the time to clear up my filing rack, and so on…

In other words you could say things I am part hoarding, part undecided about, part attached to and part lazy to get rid of and then some more. So I looked around me and bravely gathered up a first lot of items to give away. This lot of items was rather easy to find, easy to photograph and easy to give away. It felt good to just have some unexpected space created in the house!

So I went for the second lot, but now everytime I pulled out stuff to photograph

and give away, a little monster would rear his head and ask, ‘Why don’t you do a charity sale instead, because you could atleast ask a 100 bucks for that and 100 x 30 items would raise a 3000 bucks and that would at least be useful for one child’ and if I pacified this monster with some power-reasoning, other more vicious ones would raise their heads ‘Do you think people really care about your exercise, could it be that you are saying you don’t want anything from this, but you are just looking for attention?’ ‘Do you know that all this daily give away business could end up giving people the impression that you are totally jobless?’ ‘And hey, should you really be giving these things to people, who can easily afford these items – what are you trying to prove here, huh?’ ‘Yasmeen! Darling, I just cant believe you are spending so much time on this exercise! Why don’t you just go drop them off to an NGO or something, instead of wasting so much time and effort?!’ And then there were some other varieties of monsters too ‘ Hey you could make a nice bag out of that, no?’ or ‘ If I were you I would keep that for an emergency’. And I would be like, ‘What! Keep an extra micro-wave bowl for an emergency!? – You gotta be kidding me, monster!’

So now is the time ya’ll can pat my back, because I battled all of these monsters and then some more and ensured I dug out and gave away 30 items ranging from ‘not difficult to give away’, ‘somewhat difficult to give away’ to ‘oh no! I can’t really give this away!’

What I learnt in general:

1) Committing to a 30 day project in a forum of about 10,000 people really helped a lot. I couldn’t risk not keeping my word and losing face! No I am not kidding and the point I want to make is that when we give our word in a community, we are more likely to follow through in keeping our word. And monster slaying requires the power of community – to egg you on and to help you understand.

2) Listening to the monsters very patiently each day helped me understand and unravel a lot of the underlying psychology relating to our attachment to material. In this case more specifically to ‘my’ attachment to ‘my’ material!

3) I realised that when it comes to things/material, it doesn’t matter that it might be just some useless scrap of metal or fabric – If you are attached to it for some reason, then you are attached to it. Period! And all attachment has a monster attached to it, that is best slayed the moment it sticks its head out.

4) I saw that if I have put more energy into something then I am more attached to that particular item, as it was for me with the puzzle that I gave away. So when I saw this phenomena, I gave away more items from this category, both within my 30 day exercise on 220 and outside it!

5) This exercise reiterated my learning that the fundamental reason we hold onto something is because we live and believe in a world of lack and in having to hold- on in order to survive. Instead of realising that there is enough for everyone and there is an abundance of possibility all around us.

What I learnt in relationship to people:

1) In the beginning I just gave away items on a first come first take basis but later realised that who was taking them and why was an important aspect to take note of, because here lay a huge treasure – the gift of finding meaning, satisfaction and experiencing contribution. And contradictorily I also learnt that it doesn’t matter who took what, because in giving there is no need for judging.

2) In interacting with a lot of people I was hit very hard by the realisation that many of us are dealing with tough problems – sometimes financial, sometimes relating to our health and so many other areas and we all are trying very hard to put up a brave front, face our problems the best we can, not wanting to show what we are actually going through. So the importance of my exercise was not in the monetary value of what I was giving away but in the happiness my giving gave to someone, in the love it brought in someone’s life or the temporary respite in offered!

3) I realised that it is most difficult for people who believe that they have their life sorted, to receive a free item. Not realising that receiving requires more courage and is more difficult than giving. I have learnt that there can be no giving in this world, if no one would be willing to receive.

4) I was very moved to see a loving husband pick up books to make his wife happy. Delighted to hear that a dhurrie was now the favourite hang out spot for someone’s toddler. Thrilled to hear that a student’s room now has some color because of a décor item I passed on and so on and so on and so on…!

What I learnt about the ‘Energy of Things’

1) I saw that there are things we keep that are down-right ‘draining’ our energy right now, even though the whole idea why you got them into your house is with the expectation that they would ‘give’ you energy. Like a box of paints and craft supplies for instance – they were purchases that at one time gave me lot of joy but now only tend to remind me of my laziness or inability to finish yet another ‘some-day’, ‘one-day’ project! Let these things go asap!

2) And then there are things that carry a positive association for you. Like a skirt you liked or a game you enjoyed playing as a child. Giving these away seems to multiply the positive vibrations manifold, no questions asked!

3) I saw that every item has an energy attached to it. And often when we keep things we don’t need, then the energy these things carry is distinctly stale, so guess what this energy can do to us? And the real magic is in seeing that the only way you can change the energy and vibration of these things is by giving them away to those who want them/need them. And so every now and then I’d like to do this without expecting anything in return.

4) Furthermore, I have felt that when I gave away these things and the vibrations of these things changed, the transformed energy somehow came back to bring me good things in interesting ways. I now know for sure that this is what people call miracles, because I’ve serendipitously experienced them in these 30 days. Miracles both seen and unseen!

What miracles? Big ones!

The shattering of a multi-year, heart-breaking creative block! A date to paint with one of my favorite artists!
Our investments/markets turning in our favour!

‘Alchemy! This is what I believe I have practiced in these 30 days!’ Now the question is…Who’s going to take on this exercise next?

Register – April 28, 2013 flea market

THIS FORM IS ONLY FOR SELLERS AT THE 220 FLEA MARKET

Please read through carefully before you fill out the form and submit it.

ONLY USED / SECOND HAND / RECYCLED / UPCYCLED PRODUCTS.

NO NEW HAND MADE, CRAFTS, OTHER PRODUCTS. 

 

Space: ROCOCO GALLERY, Rest House Road, Off Brigade Road, Bangalore.

220 will support up to 40 sellers.

Please pick from:

11 AM to 1 PM or

2 PM to 6 PM or

Whole day

Depending on the number of sellers and the takers for slots, Second to None will facilitate the slots and inform you.

Registration: Please provide all the information asked for and submit. You will receive an e-mail at the ID you specify, to confirm your participation.

Infra: In the spirit of an open market, while we will arrange tables for displaying goods, please bring mats / sheets of about 4 feet x 6 feet to cover the tables OR display your goods. Chairs will be made available.

Time: If you have the morning slot of 11 AM to 1 PM, please arrive at the venue by 10.30 AM. If you have the 2 PM to 6 PM slot, please arrive by 1 PM.

Fee: No registration fee for selling.

We may update the forum with new information, so please do stay in touch.

Jan 26th, 2013, market roundup

Rococo Gallery played a charming, verdant, host to the 7th 220 flea market. With each market, we grow, we learn.. and this was no different. All our upcycler stars were there and some new friends as well, with their unused things finding their way into new homes.

jan26_2013

Beanie babies, bum bags, lamps, tees, jewellery from plastic bottles, cookware, jerry can planters… and more, added so much colour!

A huge shout out, thank you, to all our sellers. Star volunteers Prrethi Prabhu, Saarus Nirhali, Aiyisha Razeek, and Chinanshu Sharma, for so untiringly managing the entry and registration desk!

Thank you also to those who gave to the 220 fund; Poornima Bhola, Shylin David, Swapna N, Mamma’s Kitchen, Shwetha Mathew, Rabi Rathnakar, My Sunny Balcony, Vaishak, and Nirmala for supporting us with contributions, which will go into getting some PR material done for our next market.

We had so many conversations about taking the market to new venues. And while we work on that… keep recycling!

Register – Jan 26, 2013 flea market

THIS FORM IS ONLY FOR SELLERS AT THE 220 FLEA MARKET

Please read through carefully before you fill out the form and submit it.

ONLY USED / SECOND HAND / RECYCLED / UPCYCLED PRODUCTS.

NO NEW HAND MADE, CRAFTS, OTHER PRODUCTS. 

 

Space: ROCOCO GALLERY, Rest House Road, Off Brigade Road, Bangalore.

220 will support up to 40 sellers.

Please pick from:

11 AM to 1 PM or

2 PM to 6 PM or

Whole day

Depending on the number of sellers and the takers for slots, Second to None will facilitate the slots and inform you.

Registration: Please provide all the information asked for and submit. You will receive an e-mail at the ID you specify, to confirm your participation.

Infra: In the spirit of an open market, while we will arrange tables for displaying goods, please bring mats / sheets of about 4 feet x 6 feet to cover the tables OR display your goods. Chairs will be made available.

Time: If you have the morning slot of 11 AM to 1 PM, please arrive at the venue by 10.30 AM. If you have the 2 PM to 6 PM slot, please arrive by 1 PM.

Fee: No registration fee for selling.

We may update the forum with new information, so please do stay in touch.

Some great ideas to conserve, recycle, reuse

Collated from the many many practical ideas shared by the members of the group on Facebook! (edited)

  • Use old toothbrushes for cleaning stuff. Toothbrushes are great for cleaning around faucets and sinks, light fixture plates, windowsills, etc.
  • Take your own bag while shopping. Always keep  cloth bags in your vehicle. If any plastic covers come in – collect them (the unmarked ones) & give them back to your local grocery shop / vegetable shop.
  • Store printouts/papers which are blank on one side to make grocery/vegetable lists and list of things to do while going out on a shopping trip.
  • While refilling the RO, the ‘waste water’ is stored and used for watering house plants, mopping floors and cleaning the car etc.
  • Have all appliances at 4* or 5* rating, well maintained so that the efficiency is high. Have a 9kg washing machine which means no waste of energy/water doing small loads. Try to keep some of the appliances in off mode, rather than standby.
  • Do away with wrapping papers for the unending num of birthday parties kids attend. We colour newspaper using crayons (kids do it) and wrap gifts in those. We also sometimes write save trees all over for thick skulls who think we are cheap!!
  • For the potlucks in our community, we ask people to bring their own plate or get the donne and green plate and their own water bottle.
  • Trying to keep our belongings to a minimum by trying to reduce the storage in our house. Since the house has a lot of inbuilt storage, we try to keep one shelf in every room empty so we know as soon as we feel the itch to fill up space. Less time spent searching for things, less maintenance across the house, and we know exactly when a new thing has enetered the house.
  • Plastic boxes used to parcel food used for small plants. Use fish-tank water for my garden. Collect rain water for my fish-tank.
  • If you know beforehand that you are going to pack food, carry your own containers to the hotel, this way you can avoid using plastic containers. If its a regular order in, I actually return the cleaned box next time they deliver.
  • When your bathing soap comes to an end, do not throw it away, for you can smudge it up with your next fresh soap on the spot where the brand name is embossed!
  • Resuse old sarees/dupattas, dress material to turn into curtains, cushion covers, use newspaper gift wraps, newspaper decorations.
  • Water plants with water used for sterilizing bottles, etc.
  • Recycle both plastic bottles and newspapers to make accessories, can paint on plastic bottles and use as decor or pen/brush holders.
  • Plastic carry bags can also be recycled to make accessories or home decor.
  • Buy recycled products ONLY!
  • Collect the soap water from washed clothes and use it to swab the house and clean the staircase outside. The soap helps remove all the grit and grime and at the same time we save on precious water.