You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2012.

Something New: Tena koe. That’s the formal greeting we learnt at my Te Ara Reo course. Most of learning is done by singing or chanting. And there are lots of games, running around and free coffee – making it the ideal night class as it’d probably fall asleep if it wasn’t so interactive.

Something Old: My neck is also aching and I can barely lift my arms. That’s from my first rugby training. I haven’t played proper rugby since high school. Whether my body can stand up two intense sessions of beatings a week, followed by an even more intense match will be another matter – but the experimenting continues. It’s just an under-85kg team, and so I’m only 10kgs lighter than most of the guys. But it’s the fitness which is killing me already. I’m probably one of the fitter guys on a team run, but being able to hit rucks, make tackles and get back into a defensive line – is where I’m really struggling. It’s like an all-around fitness that I’ve never needed for any other sport, except maybe surfing. Getting through at least half of season of games before an injury would be my goal. I love watching rugby and talking about it and loved coaching it last year, so to actually play for a team which is highly motivated, well-coached as this one seems to be is just so cool and hopefully I can achieve a life-long ambition to smash someone in a Eroni Clarke-style tackle.

Something Borrowed: Last weekend we had dinner with friends and did a book and clothes swap. Managed to get a mean Al Green CD and a book I’ve been coveting for many a year. Totally loving the whole book swap thing, as I probably spend $50 to $100 a year at bookshops, but as it turns out my friends have pretty similar tastes as me, so swapping books is a way cheaper way to freshen up the shelves.

Something blue: Jo would like to get rid of a vase – similar to this one. Any takers?

E noho ra.

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Here’s our shop’s deal of the week.

Each item is $5 each, but if you buy the whole emsemble its just $15. And we’ll pay for the P&H:

Check it out:

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I’m sitting here, in our church’s op shop, on a warm Wednesday afternoon and its so quiet. I’m a volunteer at this fine little store. We are the only second-hand clothes shop in the suburb, situated in a side room, adjoining the church. One of the hardest things I find with volunteering for things like this, is being okay with the slowness. For much of my adult life I have managed to a lot tasks to every hour of the day. Whether it be a gym session, or a coffee with friends, or a blitz of study or work. Busyness is such a culturally acceptable to avoid engaging in relationships and helping with things. And when I do help, I generally prefer it to be a task which has a clear black and white result. Sitting in an op shop for a few hours each day on the other hand can be pretty mind-numbing if there are no customers. But don’t mistake this post for a whinge. I’m just learning to adjust to a different pace of life. One which is providing me the time to do the things I hoped it would. I guess I just didn’t realise how addicted I’ve become to the hectic, task-orientated, ego-massaging approach to living.
Here’s a picture of our op shop – ain’t it pretty.

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Here are some recent observations about the differences between full time and part time work.
1. Less money
2. No one is in the park when I go for run at 2pm.
3. If you don’t have washing machine, you can’t just go buy new one. And you’re pretty stoked when a friend offers you a free one.
4. I’m drinking less beer and eating less pizza from Sal’s.
5. I have more time for reflection, but also Good Morning television too.
6. I still don’t have more time for cleaning the house?
7. I have more conversations with neighbours.
8. I don’t have after work drinks on a Friday.
9. I get to read more.

Something that has been on my mind for a while is how far is too far for a government to go before its citizens must make a stand. When does a government’s actions go beyond what’s reasonable and become untenable? When must people rise up and protest if necessary? I’ll post more on this later but you’re thoughts on when one should act would be most appreciated.

One of the fun things about living the simple life is the joy of discovery, namely discovering sweet bargains or getting cool stuff for nada.

Here’s a wee collection of our recent and past unearthed gems…

School Desks

old school desks: Jo found these on side of road. they are perfect for a small house, and gives the room that lovely school room feel.

New World Tea Box

Maybe you can share your own discoveries?

I’m sure there’s a song about it ain’t being easy trying to do something new … so here’s a few of my recent failures.

1. I knew Jo wanted a hair straightener so whilst watching tv in the morning ( since I don’t have a job to rush off to every morning) I saw the InStyler on sale for only $14.95!

So I rang up and ordered one. However when the wonderful new product arrived in the mail, I realised it was in fact $250, which I would need to pay off in five installments of $50 over five months. My intial payment was simply to cover the postage. Thankfully this item can be returned. But the first lesson of the simple life is : do not let your spare time be monopolised by telecomercials.

2. Some friends of mine told me about all the amazing things they have found on the curbs around the streets of London. And so feeling industrious I decided to drive around the streets of Epsom and Mt Eden and see if I too could find a breadmaker, sewing machine or funky coffee table, rather than buying one. One fruitless hour later, which included a quick rummage through a big skip resulted in my finding only one daggy couch, which I left on the grass verge. Maybe Londoners are more generous with their ‘junk’.

3. Living simply also means eating simply. But on this one particular day I thought I would just sneak into McDonalds to grab a small fries. Nek minute… I came out with a Bacon Cheeseburger Combo and a terrible guilty feeling for destroying my body, and also contributing to this awful multi-nationals’ profits. Woe is me, my primal urges are too great sometimes!

4. Trying to sell a car. Well we put our sleek, cheap to run Pulsar on trade me hoping for a quick deal. But after an hour of calls from car dealers wanting to buy it, I realised that our sedan was probably too good to give up, and we withdrew the sale and put our other 7 seater on trade me instead.However we’ve had no bites as yet so I’m not sure what the lesson is here but perhaps being a bit more decisive would help.

Those are just a few of my stumbling attempts and failures at trying to do things a bit more ‘simply’. I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.

My friend Mark raised a good question about whether living simply means not buying a house.

This is a tough issue to make a call on, as there are lots of good reasons to own a house and lots of reasons against it too. And everyone has their own context with which to decide in.

For us right now we have decided owning property isn’t a priority.

We prioritised an overseas trip, which we took over January and February. The reason was that we felt the experiences we could have travelling was more valuable than committing to a mortgage.

But what about your retirement you might ask? The government won’t be paying pensions out forever, so how will you support yourself?

That’s a pertinent question and my answer is simply that life is in session and we have to be present, as the alternative could be straining for a future that may never eventuate.

When I was a reporter for a community newspaper I interviewed countless couples who had the same story, of working hard all their adult lives and reaching their 60s only to be struck down with a terminal disease or to have their investments ruined by a variety of things out of their control.

So by living in the present we hopefully will have less regrets in the future.

The second reason is that a mortgage requires a commitment to an area, a job, and a lifestyle for at least 15 to 20 years.

Choosing the area is the easy part, but deciding on a career for such a long period of time is not something I’m prepared to do at this stage. One of my thoughts since moving to Mangere is that I’d like the place I’m living in to choose what I should do, rather than I choose what I think it needs me to do. And if that means trying out some different things, to see where I can fit and what needs there are that I can fill then so be it.

Thirdly, there is a lot of anectdotal evidence out there ( which is obviously not enough to form a thesis on but still somewhat relevant) that being tied into a hefty mortgage is detrimental; to a healthy marriage, to recreation and to being able to contribute to community projects as the priority is in paying off this monumental debt. But I’d like to add we have also seen many couples who are able to organise their mortgage in such a way that isn’t so taxing.

Fourthly, I’d like to think there are other ways to save for retirement, eg the stock market and in your own skills. So another part of the plan is to be skilled in a variety of areas. Instead of locking myself into one career path, I think using my 20s and 30s to gain experience in a number of areas will mean I’m useful in a variety of ways which should prolong my employ-ability in an age where medical science is able to prolong our work lives. I guess I also don’t intend to hang up my work clothes at 60 and play golf for the rest of my days, as I’d like to think I can still contribute to society into my 70s and possibly longer.

So while i’m aiming to be present in the now, I also plan to be just as present in whatever endeavour I take up in the future, and if the need arises to buy a house then we will do it, but not as a necessity to ensure our retirement is comfortable but to serve our needs at that time if that is the requirement.