Reviewing my word lighter for 2012 I didn't mention the amount of decluttering I have done which has certainly left me lighter!
Things which have been sitting around unused for years have gone, multiples of things have gone, broken things have gone, and clothes which don't fit. Things forgotten in the loft have gone, lots of paper information (which I would now look up on the internet) has gone. Things unloved, un-needed, unwanted. So much of it when I really looked at it made me wonder why I had kept it for so long! So here's to more decluttering in 2013! Life is short. I really don't have time and energy for stuff. Life is simpler for me without it. I could call it unburdening, of crystallizing, or distilling - as in Keep The Best And Throw The Rest....The more I do the easier it gets.
All this work has made me feel lighter. I know it's not for everyone, but it works for me (and running the house is a breeze). More time for other things - to be that free spirit I've always fancied being (now that would be a good word!)
Lightly has been a very good word, and 2012 has been a very good year.
I'd love to know if Feel, Awareness, Experiences, Endeavour, Not-Struggling and Real were helpful to you in 2012.
I'm all excited now about Free-spirit as my word for 2013. Will decide tomorrow.
FIVE.. In his lecture The Beauty Of Life, given in 1880, William Morris said
Believe me....we must clear our houses of troublesome superfluities that are forever in our way..
If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it. Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful .
He continued: ..and if we apply that rule strictly....we shall surely have more money to pay for decent houses. (I like that last point, and I had not heard this part of the quotation before.)
So, is it useful? Is it beautiful?
If yes, keep it, if no, let it go. After all, why would you want to keep things which are useless and ugly!
In the same lecture Morris stated 'If I were to say what is at once the most important production of art and the thing most longed for, I should answer, a beautiful house.'
..tomorrow Making Winter again....
FOUR..Pick each item up, one at a time and ask -
Does it fill you with joy when you look at it?
Does it give you energy or drain your energy when you look at it and/or use it?
Pause a moment. You will know!
..tomorrow....ask the classic William Morris question..
THREE.. Ask yourself : would you keep it in your dream home? If the answer is no, consider getting rid of it.
'You can't afford the house of your dreams. That is why it is the house of your dreams. If you had everything you ever wanted you wouldn't have a reason to get up in the morning. Be satisfied with dissatisfaction.'
So says Paul Arden. His small book It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be (The World's Best-selling Book By Paul Arden) is original and amusing.
..tomorrow..Does it fill you with joy?....
PS After 17 days we are reconnected to phone and internet - Hurrah!
TWO..it's stuff remember, not people, so try to keep your emotions out of it. Especially fear. But what if there is a disaster and I've thrown away those extra blankets?....But what if there isn't, and you have carried them from house to house, cleaned them, insured them, agonised over the decision to keep them or not, and had your cupboards stuffed with them for all those years? Disasters do happen, but thankfully are very rare and besides, where do you stop with this kind of thinking - do you keep everything in case there is a disaster, or in case your children's children might like them, or in case your dead relatives who gave you that chair are watching to see that you keep it forever? (I really don't think they worry about that kind of thing in Heaven)....it gets ridiculous.
Take a chance, live dangerously - get rid of it!
..tomorrow....your dream home..
The title of a new book on finance and investment caught my eye. It is by Carl Richards and is called The Behaviour Gap. Simple Ways To Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money. I think I will take on board some of his critical thinking for Simple Ways To Stop Doing Dumb Things With STUFF!
As far as I can see from a brief look, he talks about emotion, and how inappropriate it can be to make decisions about money based on emotions, especially fear. He has inspired me to come up with - wait for it -
Five Simple Ways To Stop Doing Dumb Things With Stuff.
ONE : The most effective of all. Don't buy it in the first place. Look at the item you have just taken from the shelf in the shop. Is it conceivable that in a few hour's/day's/week's time you will not be as thrilled by it as you are now? Be honest, and if in doubt, put it back. (If it helps earmark the money you would have spent for something which will thrill you..but seems beyond your means. You may be surprised how quickly you can save this way for something you really want. I have the 'visit Japan' fund growing. Slowly, but growing....)
..tomorrow ....it's only stuff..
I'm trying to be detached and analytical about the remaining clutter and calling in Rudyard Kipling's Six Honest Serving Men to help - What, Why, When, How, Where and Who.
Take the aforementioned table for example (16 Jan 2012) :
What is it? A table for use in the garden. I have six garden tables!
Why did I buy it? It was a bargain, I couldn't afford anything else at the time and I enjoyed using it for a few years.
Why am I keeping it? I got kind of fond of it....Hmm..
When did I buy it? About ten years ago before I got nicer and larger ones.
How do I use it? I don't.
Where is it? Hanging off the end of the garden shed, because it is rusty and unsightly.
Who bought it in the first place? Me. So who should decide if it goes? Me.
Are any of the above answers reasons to keep it?
What a relief!
I have a Simply Bin It category, and a Simply Get Rid category - and have to think of the difference. Freecycle, as Liz says is a brilliant way to Get Rid to someone who can use the things. Look at www.paulgraham.com/stuff.html for a wider view of the modern day problems with stuff. Thanks Julia. I like his line Hardly anyone is so poor that they can't afford a front yard full of old cars....
Make do and mend seems to belong to another generation. I don't do it much, but as a hangover from my childhood, I keep the means to do it, and have a bad conscience about not doing it. But neither did I ever feel really comfortable about disposable goods, and inbuilt obsolescence always seemed wrong....
It's all very complicated - that is my thinking is all very complicated. Consciously and subconsciously I am giving myself a very hard time every single time I throw something away.
I'm caught in a kind of discomfort zone between the make-do-and-mend generation and the throw-away generation. And now that the throw-away generation are thinking twice about the wisdom of their ways it complicates decision making about 'stuff' even further.
The responsibility to save the planet weighs heavily!
For a clever, crude and very funny look at 'stuff' watch George Carlin here www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac (or Google You Tube George Carlin Stuff)
I try to keep the top of this cupboard clear of everything else except the bowl....and I keep the bowl empty. Very zen..
First - phone report. On the 11th on the way into town to use the internet I passed a man from BT standing at the bottom of the telegraph pole looking up. Today, 5 days later, there was an engineer at the top of the pole, with cable in his hand. Progress?
I am genuinely puzzled that I am still clutter clearing almost two years since I started the blog (Simply Get Rid/Simply Bin It, Mar). When I think about it, the current clearing is from the attic and the shed, so I guess that is progress. I didn't think of myself as a real hoarder, or a particularly keen shopper.
So I thought I'd look at exactly what went to the recycling depot yesterday. An old garden table which I had intended to repaint. If I had needed somewhere to put my cup of coffee I would have painted it, but I clearly didn't need another table. So why did I keep it....
A great big bag of plant trays and plant pots. Served me well in the past (they've been used and reused many times) but I don't grow and sell on the scale that I used to, and everyone has trouble getting rid of them - so if I ever need more....A box of shabby old files and folders. With the advent of the internet I'm not quite paperless, but I've discarded all the contents, so why keep the files?
A huge bag of offcuts of bubble wrap that had got soaked - I've no idea how. And where could I spread it out to dry at this time of year and am I really going to save it till a sunny windless day and spread it all around the garden? A broken box I kept my seeds in. Kind of cute, and it could have been fixed....with patience and wood glue, but we don't tend to fix things these days, do we. But in the meantime I keep it, just in case one day I get the urge to fix it! some incense sticks I've never liked the smell of. I've kept them for about three years!
A big bag of assorted coat hangers, because I replaced them with new ones and straight away got rid of the old - Ah! there's a clue, and a key. It's that old something in, something out rule, which I always think is such a sensible idea, but don't actually follow.
It might just make the difference if I did....
Is it possible do you think?
On April 19 this year I wrote that I sometimes wondered if all this clearing of stuff was, perhaps subconsciously, preparing me to make changes in my life.
Julie Morgenstern in her book Shed Your Stuff and Change Your Life asks quite an interesting question - 'Who are you without your stuff?'
Interestingly by 'stuff' she means not just material goods, but unfinished projects, to-do items, and unfulfilled obligations. By shedding a lot of this, she says, you can gain clarity and energy to move forward to a new place in your life. She describes it as freeing, fuelling and liberating. I'm beginning to feel some of that the more I get rid of things.
And Roy Strong's assertion that you should do something completely new every ten years keeps drifting into mind.
After nearly a year and a half of thinking about and blogging about simplifying my life, I find that this time round clearing the loft is easier - so much easier!
I remember trying to do it a while ago, and giving up before the job was done. My frantic imagination used to go into overdrive. What if I really need that....one day? I imagined apocalyptic scenes of war, and tsunami visions where I am desperate for another old electric fire - it would save my life and I've thrown it away! Did I once say I didn't think I had any stories in me? My head can easily become full of stories like this one. Emergencies and disasters....
I've taken charge of my head! No longer fantasising about desperate scenarios, I am calmer, and relaxed about getting rid of the stuff I no longer need, or really want.
I am distilling, or crystallising as someone put it. Looking through all the nice things and picking out the best to keep - those which still have real meaning for me. (Some things were meaningful in the past, but I just think 'Well, that was then, and this is now' and smile as I let them go. A quick photo perhaps....as a reminder, should I ever feel the need to remember.)
Between times I go out for another look at today's fabulous Shirley poppies....
I went back and bought the teaset, the glass and the decanter!
Do I need them? No.
Will they make my life simpler? No.
But on the way home yesterday it occurred to me I could borrow them, or as it were hire them, use them for Christmas and give them back to Oxfam - who can sell them again.
Took bags and bags of books to Oxfam and managed not to buy a really pretty 1940's teaset complete with sugar bowl, cream jug and cake plates, a glass engraved with the most delicate design, and a decanter!
Actually I think I'll go back for the decanter..
Bruno Bettelheim's studies of kibbutz raised children led him to believe that the lack of private possessions had a negative effect on the ability to make personal relationships.
Sherry Turkle in Evocative Objects:Things We Like talks of 'objects as companions to our emotional lives' and 'objects that connect us to ideas and people'. Which reminds me how interesting it was to do Janet Luhr's exercise (see 14 Nov). Have you tried that? How useful did you find it? I wonder if it would help with decisions about which books to keep?
I find there is nothing simple about getting rid of books.....
Ouch, that was hard to do - it's the give away/throw away bit that hurts. Thrift is in my DNA and I'm thinking of ways of making do.........but you know what? I'm going to stop beating myself up about it and I'm going to allow myself a bit of a fresh start! Why ever not?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)