Apologies for the temporary silence. I am on holiday with my family. Normal service will be resumed at the end of July. Meanwhile happy Summer holidays to the Northern Hemisphere and Enjoy the Winter to the Southern 🙂
You would have to be fully certified hermit not to know at least a couple of lines of “that” song from Frozen. Personally, I think “Would you like to build a snowman” is considerably more poignant and reminds me of “Slipping through my fingers” by Abba. Moments promised and lost forever.
However, this is not a maudlin blog. I am not one for living in the past!
But as hoarders, isn’t that just what we do? I was introduced to Thich Nhat Hanh some ten years ago. Today, at last, the concept of mindfulness is becoming more commonplace. From The Miracle of Mindfulness I moved on to many other books (list of links at the bottom of this post) and I have benefited hugely. I have long ago lost any need to bear a grudge, to cry over spilt milk or to worry about what if. I have let go of past hurts and forgiven those who hurt me. The last was the hardest.
I have kept a diary on and off since I was about 6. At today’s date that is 44 years of diary keeping. The early stuff is sweet. The teen years are embarrassing. The early twenties are painful. We have a lovely big wood burning stove. I took my diaries, took out the childhood ones, those of my year living in the Transkei and offered the rest to the fire.
Why? Because they were, for the most part, a cathartic exercise of a young woman who was hurt and upset. The act of writing them was helpful at the time but by keeping them I was holding on to that pain. Every time I went into the study I knew they were there. Remember Eyeore and the black rain cloud
That was how it felt.
So I burned them. And that rain cloud disappeared.
How many personal rain clouds are you hoarding?
Some books I have found helpful
- Timeless Simplicity by John Lane
- Anam Cara by John O’Donohue
- Finding Sanctuary by Abbot Christopher Jamison
- Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Being Home by Gunilla Brodde Norris
I have never been one to plan. I like to dive in head first and worry about the mess later. Sometimes it works, sometimes the mess is a little messier than I had anticipated and sometimes I just put my head under the covers and pretend it isn’t there. On the other hand there are opportunities and experiences that I would not have missed for the world that had been of a more cautious bent I would have missed.
Even my decluttering style is an all or nothing one. I empty whole cupboards at once and have never subscribed to the “one bit at a time”. Frankly I would have died of boredom and we would still be flailing under a mountain of clutter. But each to his own and in devising my workshops that is something I have had to take into account.
However it is the “how far do I want to go?” question that is currently taxing me. Don’t get me wrong, I like my luxury and full self-sufficiency would terrify me, it’s illegal to distill my own gin, my sewing and knitting skills do not meet my sartorial needs and whilst I am happy to (and have) killed and gutted my own meat and fish I do like variety in our diet and I really can’t see us keeping cows, I am never going to keep pigs again and unless the Boss gets off his backside fish would be off the menu too.
I have been following Deep Green Resistance on Facebook. Some, if not all, of their views are one step beyond for many people. Indeed some are for me. But many countries gained their independence through guerilla action. For some it has led to growth and relative prosperity – the United States, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, for some it has been a more circuitous and painful route, Indonesia, Burma, South East Asia, Ireland (north and south). I am not an historian nor a politician, my point is that if guerilla action was necessary to enable a country to prosper then perhaps it is for the entire planet to be saved and prosper.
We almost all eschew plastic carrier bags and recycle. Some of us reuse before we recycle and don’t shop in supermarkets. Some of us will only buy local. Some of us will only buy fairtrade. Some of us have tiny wardrobes and repair and upcycle every item of clothing. Some of us grow our own food. Some of us make our own cleaning and toiletries (but still have to buy the ingredients 🙂 )
All of that is good and is better than nothing. But is it enough? Do we have to radically rethink HOW we live our lives in order for all of us to be able to live on this planet. If that is the case then how far are we prepared to go to make those changes happen?
I don’t have the answer, and as I type I am sitting in a comfortable house, with a glass of wine. I am going away on holiday next week. I am a hypocrite, I am not walking the walk. I want to. But I don’t know how far I am prepared to go and how far my family are prepared to come with me. Buying free range chicken and taking part in plastic free July is good, but it isn’t enough.
I tried really hard to find a picture to go with today’s post. But nothing really fitted.
One year on. Remember this?
Well now it looks like this.
In fact that is a mere fraction of what has gone. As I write I have six more bags to go to charity and the Singers have been dispatching some of the Boss’s clothes on Ebay. So what next? What have I learned?
What next? Well there is still a huge amount to go. The Boss is slowly working through his wardrobe and I will have to work at his pace. The study still has far too much in it and there are a few black holes around the house to which we have been turning a blind eye. The videos and CDs are a case in point. But as the house has emptied we have begun to turn our attention towards the garden. I have plans to turn our garden into a mainly physic garden where all the plants are either medicinal, edible or have other practical uses. Meanwhile the Boss has finally got on top of the meadow and is planning the wild flower border around it. Currently it’s mainly vetch, poppies and cornflowers, but give him time.
What have I learned? How long do you want me to go on?
Don’t give up Like learning to play a musical instrument it is hard at first. You can see other people knocking off a snazzy sounding concerto whilst you are still struggling to coordinate your left and right hand sufficiently to get three notes out in the correct order. But everybody has to start at the beginning. Everybody has to practice, practice, practice before they are a master of the art. Decluttering is no different.
It does become easier. Trust me, you will come to a point when you are instinctively picking up things that you don’t want or need and putting them in the charity bag or recycling.
Let go of guilt. Just because it was a gift or a family heirloom does not mean that you have to keep it. Offer the latter to somebody else in the family to caretake if it will cause a ruction. So you bought a dress and have never worn it but keep it because you feel you must. Don’t. Let it go. Sell it on eBay BNWT!
Space is beautiful. The things you love can shine when they are bordered by space, space in itself is something to love and cherish.
Don’t clutter it up the space. My entire summer wardrobe fits in less space than my shirts used to take up. My bookshelves contain books I want to read. I know every shoe I possess, I no longer open a shoe box and look at the contents with surprise.
As I decluttered my belongings I decluttered my mind. Now I can’t promise that this is true for everyone or that the two were actually connected. I suffer from acute and severe depression, the kind where all is well and suddenly for no apparent reason the lights are all turned off. I made an active decision after a particularly nasty attack that I was going to think differently. Thus it is quite possible that my mind declutter is down to that. Either way. This year I have gone from unsure what to do with my life stay at home mum to published author with a second book in the works; professional tarot reader; workshop facilitator and have plans for a small handmade toiletry collection. As I decluttered I became more focused. The things I focussed on were not those that I had expected but I am loving life and have big plans for the future.
Not everyone likes it. A bit like losing weight and discovering that not all your friends are as keen on the new you. I have been told all sorts of reasons why “they” can’t do it; why “they” could never let go of books (heaven forbid!) and so forth. Maybe they really can’t or maybe they are jealous. Whatever the reason it has nothing to do with me so I shall continue my path.
I have discovered my own style. As I have let go of things that I didn’t like, need or want I have discovered a style that is mine and I like it.
I have made some amazing friends and some incredible business contacts. I have discovered crossovers and potential joint projects with people I probably would never have met had I not started, and gone public with this journey.
I have more time. I can’t explain this one, I still live in the same house, I still have the same family. Perhaps it is more that I am more mindful of my time, I don’t fritter it away. As I am only keeping things I cherish I am learning to cherish my time as well.
And finally, I did it because I wanted to. You have to want to.