Several weeks back it rained. It rained a lot. Having been caught out the previous year by the sheer volume of water pouring off the fields and into Singer Two’s bedroom we had our flood defence system in place. It was rubbish. It was the chocolate fireguard of flood defences and the muddy water took up residence in the Gin Gan, the Pantry, the Airing Cupboard and once again in Singer Two’s bedroom. Singer Two understandably did not take it well. The Dancer, on the other hand, desperate for a new carpet inquired whether she too could have a new Berber and underlay if she chucked a couple of gallons of water on her bedroom floor. The answer was no.
However, there is a bright side to every cloud. I recently read Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. I bought it thinking I might get a few tips, but I was pretty sure I was doing okay. How the mighty are fallen. I am not even scratching the tip of the iceberg. And talking of icebergs that was what our house was. A small visible area and rooms and cupboards and outbuildings full of stuff we don’t need or use.
The flood was my gift. I had to clear up and sort out so I might as well do it properly. It’s an odd process, at first you are ruthless, then a period of remorse sets in. “Do I really want to let go of this?” It is at this point that most people (often myself in the past) stop. But ride through that storm and the next stage is guilt. Guilt that we have bought so much stuff we didn’t need, didn’t use and didn’t really even want. The wastage of money, time, space, energy.
But the feelings of guilt and shame were countered by the wonderful feeling of space in our house. The feeling that the air could move, there was no stagnancy.
I am not finished, I have the outbuildings still to do and one study and the kitchen but already I have said never again. Never again will we accumulate and waste so much.
So rule one is one in one out. Yesterday we were in Glasgow for the Springsteen concert (yes he was brilliant, but did you expect anything else?) Pootling around our old haunts in the West End I found these. Green suede Bally, almost unworn, my size £20 and I got the wooden shoe trees as well! So on my return I removed one pair of black suede shoes that have seen better days and added them to out piles growing in the Gin Gan. It’s a small start but one pair of shoes at a time I will bring this house as close to Zero Waste as I can. I may never achieve the dizzy heights of Bea Johnson but if you don’t have a dream there isn’t anything to come true.
(For those of an inquisitive mind: the duvets and linen are going to the Women’s Refuge, the books are going to Borderline, the rest will go to the Hospice shop and we have sold most of the unwanted furniture. It was as easy as that.)
11 thoughts on “it began with the flood”
I am going to have to get that book — I, too, embarked on what I like to call “The Hovel Purge” — it was a New Year’s resolution that I was determined to keep! At first, I was gloriously on track! Many bags of garbage later, I am now, six months in, but I feel my resolve slipping. You have inspired me to get moving again!
The worst thing was that the house looked ok. Everything put away, everything neat and tidy it was just there was SO MUCH of it! Good Luck. Let me know how you get on.
I too have been decluttering. It’s immensely cathartic, isn’t it?!
Hugely. Now I am working on how to stop stuff I don’t want coming through the door in the first place.
Loving this new blog Gillie, as Caro says, de-cluttering has been such a great cleansing process. As for stopping packages coming through the front door? Hmmmm *stares at Caro*
Thank you Neets. Does Caro have an Amazon habit?
My husband and I have 25 plus years of accumulation at our present house, which is the most amount of time we’ve ever lived anywhere. When our neighborhood flooded in September of 2011 most of what was in the basement was ruined. But in a way, it was liberating. Did I really need (shamed face) cassette tapes I had recorded from the radio in 1977? (I’m not making this up). Only nostalgia held me back from throwing it out and now I had to. Goodbye! We also had to replace our living room floor although the water didn’t get that far and when we moved furniture out, it felt so airy. Slowly we are wading through our belongings. I wish you success in your decluttering and love your attitude.
Alana I too had cassette tapes and linen, so much linen. How many duvets and duvet covers does a girl need? But once I realised it was just stuff it was so much easier to let go. it’s good to feel the air move around your house isn’t it? Tomorrow I tackle one of the hardest rooms, the kitchen. Hoping for a strong heart and lots of fresh air! Thank you for coming by.
Wow…I am so sorry that it took a flood like this to spur you to de-clutter, but admire your attitude in turning a disaster into an opportunity, a “gift” as you said! Good luck. As we Yanks say: “Hang in there, dude!”
P.S I found your comments on Edinburough interesting!
Thank you Deb. I’m a Glasgow girl at heart. Do you know Edinburgh?
Great post! I love how you turned a distressing situation into something positive and even though I’m pretty good at having regular clearouts I still go through similar emotions before and after parting with items! 🙂