Aaaargh! No wonder people are stressed.
(Marie Kondo the world needs you.)
Aaaargh! No wonder people are stressed.
(Marie Kondo the world needs you.)
I keep finding more!
The thing is I feel I have to read everything before I throw it away. Why? In case I miss something I suppose...I am enjoying finding notes on some things I had forgotten, and there are some gems among the diary type notes I seem to have made over many years....
Andrew aged 3, to his father John I'm Ronnie's son
John No you're not, you're my son. And who is Ronnie?
The nursery bus driver
And what makes you think you're his son?
He says 'Good morning, son' when I get on the bus
This lead to discussions about relationships and sitting beside his Mum in the car Andrew said I'm Daddy's son.
Yes, said Laura, and what are you to me?
A star! he said.
Do you read through all the old stuff before you part with it? Since reading Fly Lady I try to go through paperwork every October now, but I could be more ruthless, and the current pile is years old. I am inspired by Madeleine who lost lots of archived papers in a fire and calls it a blessing!
It's April and I plan to eat outside as often as possible - one of my favourite simple pleasures.
There must be an end to this Kondoing lark, surely! After all the amount of stuff I have is finite, and I am being very careful about not accumulating more.
Has anyone out there actually got to the end of it?
This wet day it is some old files of garden designs. Yesterday it was hundreds of slides. The miscellaneous and sentimental categories seem to have combined....
I watched a very moving programme about grief on iPlayer. Rio Ferdinand is a brave man.
Someone described grief as 'love with nowhere to go'.
Later - I sought more wisdom from Marie Kondo's Spark Joy. She asks Are you enjoying your tidying festival? And yes, I am really. I'd just forgotten to notice I was actually enjoying it! She also adds Even if you fail, don't worry. Your house won't blow up.
Maybe i should have stopped at having all the books in the one room, all on the shelves, and only one deep, but my other aim was that they should be easy for find, so it was logical to try to organise them into categories as after all the shuffling around I couldn't be sure of finding anything!
But I have to say it's quite exciting. I love our books and it is becoming easier to know which spark joy so the giveaway pile in the hall is getting higher and higher...
It's taking hours and hours but it's becoming a room I want to be in, and work in. I am so lucky to have the space.
Does anyone still use the lovely old reference books which have been a much loved and much used part of our book collections for so long?
For International Womens Day I'd like to send you over to read Lotta's poem Challenging Assumptions...
Chester is a favourite piece of furniture (so called because my daughter when she was little misheard chest of drawers and called it a chester drawers). It's 16 drawers hold a lot of stuff!
And the bookshelves in the study now hold a few less books. Books are now all in the one room, and all on the shelves (none on the floor).
Do you ever wonder where 'there' is, and what you would do in the unlikely event of reaching it? Maybe it's the click point and you just sit with a beatific smile on your face....
The last few days have flowed, for which I credit Alex Beauchamp's Do Manifesto as I call it. (See this recent post.)
Another favourite mentor, Marie Kondo, has me thinking about the click point. She says -
As you reduce your belongings...you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. (Page 144 and 145 in my copy of The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying.)
Have you experienced that point? That click point? It's a magical feeling! Stressfree and calm. It makes you smile and also feel rather proud of yourself because it's an awful lot of work getting there! (Well it has been for me..)
I experience it now in some parts of my home and I want and need to get to that point with the whole house and with the garden.
That's this year's work, and what I will focus on in the next few posts.
Meanwhile the kitchen looks like a harvest festival every day since I bought a juicer.
I made the mistake of starting at 10.30pm and didn't get to bed till 1.30. But I slept well (the sleep of the righteous?) and am pleased with a good job done before Christmas starts in earnest with a lunch for eight coming up soon..
I began by getting rid of everything past its sell by date, then putting like with like. I now know what I have got which is a good start, and can reach everything I need regularly.
When I once had a problem with my shoulder and was getting physiotherapy I deliberately put tea, coffee and all the things I used most often at a slight reach or bend....better than the gym! I still do this.
I have to confess to not doing very well on the cooking front. I'm needing to look afresh at Simply Eat soon....
How did your country do in the PISA tests? I have always been interested in why the Finns do so well and this blog has an interesting and thoughtful explanation.
..to tie up.
I never did see these oystercatchers eggs hatch although I watched them every morning for 20 odd days. I had to be in the city one whole day and the next morning there was no sign of eggs, shells, adults or chicks. I can only hope....
I did find this book worth reading although the author who 'looks behind the quackery' considers some things, like homeopathy, quackery and is relentless in his outright condemnation....he does a thought-provoking Ted Talk too.
I reckon I lost 3 lbs on my self imposed 30 day challenge, and I did lose one and half inches from my waist and get into the new trousers - on the right trajectory and worth doing. I hope you all had some success too and thank you for all the encouraging comments which really did help!
Here is another challenge for those who are missing one.
l'll pass, thank you.
No, it's not about how few things we have on our tables!
It is about making our tables a real pleasure to look at and finding the number (approximately - let's not get fixated on the numbers!) of items that feels right to each of us.
I am temperamentally inclined towards minimalism, so one beautiful item on my table is enough to lift my spirits, sustain me and satisfy my need for calm.
I can think of past tables covered in children's drawings, homework, musical instruments, craft projects, packed lunches, newspapers, leftovers to be nibbled at - there is clutter and there is clutter! Life is for living and tables are for using after all. I once ran a business from my kitchen table.
A friend always has a little stack of the latest books by her favourite authors on her table, another, an excellent cook, has recipe books and shopping lists spread out. An artist friend has more objects per square inch than anyone I know, but each group is a potential still life painting.
(In the name of research I looked up tablescapes on Pinterest. Aaaaaaaaargh. Too much stuff! I lasted about 15 seconds.) I think of Kaffe Fassett-like tables, little collections on side tables, folding tables or nests of tables that are never folded or nested, stools that act as tables, tables that act as stools. I have four tables in the garden....
Then there are bedside tables. If you need lots of things by your bed do you have a table with a drawer? Wouldn't it be lovely if the first thing you saw when you opened your eyes in the morning delighted you? A posy, a card, a photograph - done in a moment.
Timetables, times tables, periodic tables, bird tables....
I am so grateful to Fly Lady. During these last few difficult months she has kept my house clean and me sane.
Her website is fussy, dated-looking, over complicated and sometimes confusing, and you could spend hours on it, but here is my tip -
One - Go to FlyLady.net
Two - Click on Launch Pad, then Flight Plan
Three - Do what it says
Don't question it, alter it, postpone it, think you can improve on it, just do what it says and over a few months you will find running your home is easier than it has ever been. You don't need to spring clean any more, you don't need to think any more!
Just doing what I am told is unusual for me! (But it does depend who is doing the telling...)
This is filed under Simply Organise and Simply Routine and I apologise for forgetting to put posts into categories lately....(must get more organised?)
Since Kondoing my home last year I would say that the difference is that it is more spacious and peaceful, and, more importantly so is the inside of my head, so I was happy to buy the new book Spark Joy by Marie Kondo.
She prompted me to look for photographs of my ideal/dream lifestyle and I took a fresh look at my two favourite books on interior design, which motivated me to go that bit further. For me, this was worth the price of the book, which I will now gift to my sister...
I picked up a few little tips about storage, admired that she touched upon the difficult topic of other people's stuff (learn to ignore basically) and that she acknowledged that some people are quite happily untidy, and I was interested in a few small insights into Shinto and Japan - about which I will probably read more elsewhere now.
I would say this is a gentler version of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying with more stories, anecdotes, detail etc. It's also a very attractive book to look at and hold. I would say it is the gift version - but I prefer the more rigorous, punchy, straight-to-the-point and, to me at least, funny first version which I still LOVE!
We changed the Swedish Christmas candles in the apex window of the roof back to the moon today, and I'm tempted to have this for summer nights....
..and the tree is back in its corner in the garden. My favourite ornament is wrapped in tissue in the box with the Christmas fairy
and I've managed to reduce it all to two boxes!
I will always love Christmas. I don't think I will sign up to this all the same (but it did make me laugh!)
Have you got Christmas 2015 all tucked away in some far corner cupboard?
..30 day challenge. Which was to spend at least 30 minutes a day on doing something that I had been putting off!
It's been hard work and I managed 22 days - which does represent a lot of things getting done. Of course the list is long and is always getting added to...
I won't bore you with the details as it is of course the most boring things that I put off. (Appointments/enquiries/energy comparison sites/setting up the new printer etc).
Having said that it has been a satisfying achievement and I do feel better for getting some of the long standing tasks off my mind.
Are you trying a 30 day challenge? I am continuing with the exercise video (here), once or twice a week and the Italian programme (here) most days for just 10 or 15 minutes. These were my last two self-imposed challenges and I will keep up the latest one until at least the 30 days.
It's really just about focus. Leo Babauta, from whom the idea came (here) says being accountable to someone is a great motivator, and committing myself publicly here on the blog to doing these things did help me stick to them.
For September I plan to do something a little fun every day, push myself out of my comfort zone in some way, be a little daring, follow a whim, have a giggle, be a little silly..
You could start with a wee laugh over at Lucille's.
..for sharing your thoughts and insights on Kondoing over the months!
I have so enjoyed your company and your conversation on this journey. It has helped me along to know, through your comments that you were having fun with it/finding it difficult/getting stuck at times/flying through it/plodding on doggedly - whatever.
Each time I look at the book I find something I had not noticed before and this evening I came across -
The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
I feel I know myself (and some of you) better for having done this work. There have been some quite profound changes - not bad for a book about tidying!
Hurrah for Marie Kondo!
For quite some time now I have been posting on Fridays about the process of what has come to be known (not just by me) as Kondoing.
I have faithfully followed the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying and yes, it has changed my life! Truly. Lighter, freer and more buoyant (those swimming metaphors again).
I'd like to say I've finished Tah Dah, but I still have the category photographs to do and I'm saving it for dark winter nights. Instead of dreading the task which I did at the beginning of the process, I am looking forward to it. I have bought a rather nice picture frame in anticipation....
It has been a brilliant experience.
I know some of you are doing it too!
Has it changed your life in any way?
So what will I write about on Fridays?
Venice I think (see this post)
..to be doing my own thing!
I can't tell you the surge of energy and excitement I'm feeling since I decided to just do my own thing.
The studio will be blitzed (Kondo method!) as I prepare to make it look fabulous for opening on Saturdays and Sundays from Easter till October - these will be my fixed working days. If visitors come - wonderful - if not, I have work to do.
I am painting a sign to put up, will ask people to spread the word, hope that some of the (admittedly few) tourists who use our single track road will stop by and ..see how it goes! The coffee pot will be on and I'll welcome anyone who is interested in what I do to have a leisurely browse through my paintings and collages.
Among the papers in the studio i found a pile of cuttings and cards and decided it was high time I refreshed my pinboards. Some of the things have been up there for years and years and....it's not that I stopped seeing them as can happen, it's that I really liked the items and the composition, but it's good to stir things up every ten years, don't you think!!
Have you refreshed your pinboards lately?
I'm starting on the studio which I'm treating as a separate enterprise from the house, and I'm doing it by the book. That's Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. Love it. First clothes. As the studio is at the back door there are waterproofs and outdoor jackets and boots and shoes there, but that didn't take long. Then books - only about a dozen art book here, all keepers. Easy peasy. Then PAPERS!!!! Years and years worth of papers. A whole plan chest full, and 8 box files (this is before I start on the art....)
Do they spark joy? That is the question!
There will need to be more than one pass here - but I've got rid of a huge bagful already.
How is your Kondo process going?
I am reminding myself that this is a six month project...
Today was International Day Of Happiness. Well, why ever not? Three cheers for this initiative!
What made you happy today?
I was happy starting to declutter my studio, and I was happy planting some of the 180 primroses I grew from seed into Coronation Wood. I would have been happy to see the eclipse, but it was very cloudy here. Jessica at Rusty Duck got a unique image, by unique means.
I also enjoyed watching this which celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. And this enchanting Japanese trailer for The Tale of Princess Kaguya (not the American version!)
I hope you are happy tomorrow too!
The Friday Fling..(real blog-speak that isn't it!)
This is a rewrite. I deleted my long post by mistake!
Also two posts today to get Friday Fling actually on Friday. (Hello brain?)
I thought it would be fun to write an update each Friday about my efforts to declutter my house 'once and for all' using Marie Kondo's book. I know that some of you are also doing it and getting results, and I also knew that making a commitment to blog about it would motivate me (not sure if that is a stick or a carrot!)
I'm intruiged by what she calls the 'click point'. This is the stage at which you have whittled down your stuff to the point where you can handle it all comfortably (see also this recent post).
The 'click point' will be different for everyone of course, but I'm interested that you probably have to be quite sensitve to and aware of your home environment to know when that point is - that in itself will be a challenge if you have a worklife and children at home, and pets and hobbies. In other words if you lead a busy life....
I think I've almost got there in our sitting/dining room, so because I want to know what it feels like to reach that point I'm going to just work in there this week. I know! I know! 'Don't change the method to suit your personality' This means I am deviating from Marie's method, which I admire as very well thought through, before I am properly started. I never could just do what I was told!
I will however tackle it in the order that she suggests - clothes (N/A) books (N/A) papers, miscellaneous, sentimental items last.
Chester is full of papers, some of them definitely under the heading 'sentimental'. Start with the ones which give you no thrill at all, she says....
How are you progressing?
Are you following the rules?
And did you 'visualise your destination' first? This I found really useful - it taught me something about myself - and I'll post about it next Friday....
The Box of Nice Things giveaway went down very well! I forewarned family by email that I would be giving away nice things (so that they could brace themselves to say no thanks if they didn't want anything - I made it clear there was no obligation!).
They took about half, including two sets of ancestor's wedding china.
While we were doing this in the study I noticed that the lit shelf in the bookshelf wall had gradually filled with books..
I still find books a bit hard to do, so I revisited my own Simply Organise blog posts and (though I immodestly say so myself!) I found some good ideas there, which motivated me to get on with the task. I roasted some chestnuts, poured a glass of wine, and tried out the 'Does It Spark Joy' test.
It takes time.
But it does work.
Have you tried it?
One thing I like to do with old photos is to use them as bookmarks. I often have several books on the go at once, and it makes me smile to find my bookmark of a loved child or a beautiful flower.
But back to organising. I decided to buy some sturdy boxes and file cards with tabs. Excuse for a visit to Paperchase, one of my favourite shops. I bought two boxes which take standard photos and I measured the biggest photo I have and bought one for that and any others that are not standard. My photograph of them is so boring I'm showing you a picture of Poppy instead...isn't she a darling?
Then I collected all the photographs from the three main places I keep them. (Some are already in albums, and I'm leaving them there for now.) My first pass was to file them into the boxes, mainly under the place we were living at the time they were taken. I didn't thin out at this stage other than very obvious throw-outs.
Organising my old photographs (prints that is..digital is a whole other task) is something I have been putting off for a long, long time.
It's such an emotional thing looking through old photgraphs, isn't it.
And there are so many of them!
They record the passing of time and change over time. Photos of how we used to look (younger!), of people who died too young, of events which will never happen again, of places I loved which no longer exist....it would be easy to be overwhelmed by this job. But I've decided that a collection of beautiful and happy memories of loving times, friends and family, laughter and achievements will be a joy to have. Most of the photographs are happy. We casual, non professional photographers tend only to take photographs on happy occasions thankfully! They record the people, places and moments in time that mean most to us.
That thought gave me a starting point - if a photograph doesn't evoke any feeling, I can let it go.
If I don't recognise who is in it, or where it is, I can let it go.
If it makes me feel unhappy to look at it, I can let it go.
Any suggestions as to other criteria for keeping or letting go?
I'm on an organising roll!
A comment from Elaine led to a refinement in my CD organisation (see yesterday's post). For the occasions when I don't have time - or can't be bothered - to put a CD back in it's right place, I have a space on the bottom shelf to stack them horizontally until such time as I get around to it.
I found inspiration on this site Declutter Your Home in 15 Minutes a Day, it says, and do you know, you could. Gone are my days of the all or nothing approach, of exhausting myself by blitzing huge tasks. Since I began doing things slowly, taking baby steps, and 5 or 15 minutes at a time, life is definitely easier.
Less mess, less stress.
Do browse Simply Routine and Simply Organise if you have time....
All week the beautiful voice of The Queen Of The Night has been floating over the village as the opera company Aria Alba - Opera For All have rehearsed The Magic Flute in the nearby adventure centre, in preparation for their Fringe perfomance at the Edinburgh Festival. In this production the setting is a hospital ward in the 1950's and Sarastro is the consultant psychiatrist! They put on a dress rehearsal in a local village hall - it was wonderful. It is rather like attending a masterclass - you get insights you don't get from a regular performance.
I came home with my head full of Mozart and was frustrated that I couldn't easily find the Mozart CD's I know I have, so what better way to spend a wet Sunday (yes, it's raining) than organise our collection.
Found some Mozart, put it on very loud, and set to....
Where to start? Gathered together all CD's.
Then I found a few tips -
Tip one. Make tabs with the letters of the alphabet. I used post it notes for now.
I decided to organise by composer mainly..
But also for example C is for Chopin, but I made another tab for Compilations, and another for Christmas. I will also have E for Elgar and for Early Music, J for Janacek and a tab for Jazz and so on. You need to work out what will work for you...
We have a tall CD shelving unit (Ikea - brilliant) in the study and Tip two is to leave a couple of spaces on each shelf for new additions otherwise you have to move everything when you buy a new CD or find some in the car, and, although I'm enjoying doing this task, I don't want to do it again anytime soon.
Current favourites are on this little holder, which my husband made for me, which sits in the sitting room.
Tip three is if you want to think something through properly - decide to write a blog post about it! I have done a much better job of this than I would have had I not been writing about it - an incentive to get it right. But not perfect. Tip four is don't aim for perfect - this is about making finding the music I want simpler and quicker! When it's good enough I'm stopping.
Meanwhile I've found CD's I'd forgotten I had and listened to some great music.
Playing now? The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Listen here. Hope you like..
Once I got over my indignant resistance to it ('But I'm not a baby!') I found this approach so useful! You will all have heard of it before, but have you actually tried it?
When I use it I get through tasks faster and with a lot less stress. A friend once cut out baby sized footprints from paper and laid them on the floor to remind herself...
Cath wants to organise her writing things (see comments on this post). Now if she is like me she'll want it all done NOW. Actually she is more sensible and talks of taking a month over the job, which tells me she probably knows all about and practices baby steps already - but just to use her task as an example -
In the past I would set to with great energy and enthusiasm, pull everything out - the stationery, cards, stamps, diaries, writings finished and unfinished, poems, books about writing - while making a vague sort of plan, then discover, you know how it is, that I can't put them all in one place until I've moved other things from the shelf and to do that I need to sort the said things into keep and find a place for, give away, throw away, put aside to return to owner, and ..all these decisions soon tire me out and now I have twice as much stuff to deal with, and I feel overwhelmed and want to give up!
If I baby step it, I break the job down into tiny parts. The first part might be to collect together all my stationery from around the house into an empty cardboard box - and then, and this is the important bit for me - I STOP.
I've completed my task.
I've achieved something.
I feel satisfied.
I go and do something else.
When I come back maybe 10 minutes later, maybe next day, I have a little bit of a handle on the scale of the task and can decide the next baby step, and before I know it the job is done and , to my surprise, I've enjoyed doing it.
If you've never tried baby stepping you might try it on something you've been putting off....
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)