Do not read

Don’t you hate it when someone you follow stops writing for a while and then writes a long apologetic post explaining their domestic tragedies/personal stuff or life events of some sort, and those turn out to be rather trivial? Or worse, they use it as an opening for a sales pitch?

I do.

So I won’t do the same to you.

In my case, as I was saying in one blog post not too long ago, I’ve been bitten by the DIY bug.

empty wall

empty wall

Those empty walls in my lounge were a pain to live with, and once they got sorted (to welcome back my photographs and paintings!) they made the rest of my home feel … unloved. Dull. Tired.

the finished wall

the finished wall

Seeing the new pictures on the lounge wall made me notice my hall looked knackered. It was time to get it updated.

I decided to sand some doors too. Using an electric sander that laid idle for 10 years.  The mess was colossal. Paint dust can take weeks to settle. Thus I chose not to take pics on the worse days.

It took me quite a while to find the right colour for the hallway. I tried shades of red.. but they looked too sombre in the evenings. I looked around for inspiration.

shades of red

shades of red

shades of bright

shades of bright

I chose a much brighter colour, to make the winter evenings sunnier.

And this is how my hallway changed:

Before

Before

During

During

After

After

tired but happy with my new walls

tired but happy with my new walls

The timing seemed serendipitous, as the book I’m reading (The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron) also inspired me to change my domestic environment.

The work on that wall in the lounge, my local arts class and a particular chapter in the book combined to take my mind off life -and business- as usual for a few weeks.

This particular chapter instructed me to stop reading for a week -emails, news, blog posts, books or magazines of any sort- and of course no watching TV or listening to radio programs.

I was nervous about the challenge of not reading: On the one hand I was worried about missing out on emails, news, TV programs I like, even updates about business, marketing or self-development… On the other hand, I felt it would be liberating not to have to carry in my head new information, courses, the news or any problems… quite a challenge.

To my surprise, it was the best week ever.

It felt like being on a time machine: everyday I woke up in a good mood, full of anticipation despite not knowing what I’d do with my day… and the answer presented itself each morning:

It kicked off with the loss of an old cardigan running for a bus. Not a big problem, as I was planning to take it to recycle one day. It saved me the trip.

That was the day before my week of not reading started.

And so it was:

  • The first day I felt an irresistible impulse to paint the inside of my wardrobe (I had spare paint from my landing). I also tested a couple of colours on my bathroom walls. And I looked at my photo albums, noticing how life has changed over the years (time to get rid of some stuff, too)
  • wardrobe

    freshly painted wardrobe wall

  • The second day I threw away a decrepit old cupboard that I had kept for 15 years under my TV. I bought a book with techniques for using pastels (I saved reading it for later). I bought scented oils. I rearranged a few tables in my lounge. I  noticed some of the grouting in my bathroom looked damaged.
Why did I not chuck out this thing sooner?

Why did I not chuck out this thing sooner?

  • The third day I mended a bookrest that had the hinges screwed the wrong way around (I can now use all 4 positions, not only 2). I practised self-portraits with my camera, and I took pics of some furniture to be moved on.
  • coffee table on castors

    coffee table looking for a new owner

    once a TV table

    Once a TV table, looking for new owner

self portrait

self portrait on mirror

 

  • The fourth day I moved a bookcase from my office to the lounge. I noticed a small mould stain on the wall behind it (shared with the bathroom). I rearranged the bookcases in my lounge. I took a bag with items (shelving bits, old clothes) for recycling. And I bought myself new shoes.
  • bookcase moved to lounge

    bookcase moved to lounge

  • The fifth day I tried a cleaning tip for my washing machine, washing old towels and cloths  at 90 degrees with a glass of bleach.
  • The sixth day I bought a paint tester pot for my bedroom. I created a makeshift easel for painting. I practised painting self-portraits. I thought about the week.
  • improvised artist's easel

    an improvised artist’s easel

  • self portrait in pastels

    self portrait in pastels

  • The seventh day I cleaned the airing cupboard and noticed items I had stored for 15 years. I took them to the recycling site. I bought another paint tester pot. And I reflected about the week some more, realising that much of what I read I do out of habit, as a way to pass time, and is depriving me of thinking my own thoughts, choosing my own mood.
  • the colour of chocolate

    The colour of chocolate

On reflection, it was a fantastic week.

I wish I had tried something like this years ago:
The emails that were waiting for me were not urgent. The social media updates seemed mundane. The news seemed  similar to other news throughout the year. And I was surprised how energised I felt all week and how quickly I found myself things to do. Things that I had planned to do one day…

I was able to focus better and complete the tasks I set off to do.

I would recommend a week like mine to anybody.

I now see reading similar to being a guest in someone else’s head: listening to their thoughts, hearing their rants and grievances, their opinions on often trivial or personal matters. All along, leaving our thoughts, our own ideas, our own music die neglected among the cacophony of noises we choose to listen to.

I’ve noticed that some readings, however brief, affect my mood. I’m determined to be more selective about who, what and when I choose to read.

The non-reading week felt like a holiday retreat.

Random reads, I feel, robbed me of a part of myself (a happy, energetic, organised and creative person) far too often.

Time to take heed and make changes.

And one effect I forgot to mention: when you don’t keep up with reading and gossip and news you find yourself talking less, writing less, caring less about other people’s affairs and thinking more, observing more, enjoying the present moment more.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil... and read no evil?

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil… and read no evil?

….

So this is why I haven’t updated you lately. I felt that getting clarity in my head and doing things for myself was more important than keeping you updated on stuff you may or not find that compelling.

PS: My brother referred to my blog posts as philosophical ruminations. Maybe he was right…

PSS: Thanks for reading this. I feel as if you’ve accepted an invitation to be guests in my head for a little while. I hope you enjoyed your visit.