..that Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time.
I like this fact - it's like a relief to know this!
And I think that I do cherish the things that are left more.
But firstly the shed! (I know you must be fed up hearing about my shed but these will be the last photographs. Promise!)
Whew! There are a few things I hope to sell, a good neighbour carted away a sizeable load for the village hall Pound Sale including a set of metal shelves, another load awaits picking up to take to the dump and the old tools which will be made into sculptures will soon be uplifted.
As for Little Altars Everywhere (has anyone read the book of that name?) I've been reading Stephanie Bennett Vog on the subject of creating 'altars' about the house. I do it all the time in creating small still lifes of objects I love and it seems such a coincidence that I was reading about them just now in her book A Year To Clear. I read a little of it every day.
Here is today's little altar. I hadn't appreciated the possible symbolism of the one object from the shed which sparked joy being a spirit level until you pointed it out. Thank you so much for that! I also found the tiny key - no idea what it ever locked and unlocked....but it may have something to do with hearts.
Do you have 'altars' around your home?
Shall I write a bit more about altars? I find it very interesting
The shed was Barry's domain. He was the patient fixer of things, he mowed the lawns, replaced the lightbulbs, made the gates both red and yellow, cut the hedges, climbed the ladders into the loft, dealt with the mice, mended the fence, chopped the wood, and more. He also kept all the leftover bits and pieces from every job he did and hoarded sets of tools for cars and bikes long gone and collected more jars of rusty nails than can be imagined! Just in case.
In a fair world women would not be left to clear out their mens sheds.
But what a support team I have behind me! I loved all your suggestions - I will adopt the explorer/playful/inner child mindset, I will whistle up the courage, I will probably sigh and swear and laugh (my helper has a great sense of fun). Bribery is a great idea, and I am already thinking up ways to celebrate....
When I have Kondoed the shed I will have gone through every single item I own.
I have to confess it has been quite exhausting at times, both physically and emotionally.
And the sentimental is by far the hardest (I have corralled all the photographs and letters), though there is little of sentimental value in the dreaded shed!
Since my laptop came back this afternoon I cannot find anything!!
It all looks different and it may take me some time to re-orientate myself and make sure everything I need and want is still here somewhere. I lost my purse today - that was enough stress for one day thank you. (I did find it again thankfully.)
So where was I? Ah yes, I still have piles of stuff around the guest room but I have now sorted it into categories as follows..
Things to try to sell on eBay
Things to sell at the village hall fundraiser
Things to offer to family and friends (one gone already)
Things to donate to charity shops
Things to keep - just because.
I have found more treasures I had forgotten about - a lovely piece of old fabric and a favourite sundress. When I locate my photos I will show you them :-)
I was going to post the song The Last Rose of Summer but it was too too sad!
The invasion of the mice meant I had to get into the cupboard under the eaves, so while I was in there I pulled out the boxes to investigate exactly what was in them. The contents are currently spread all over the guest room - but it was the final cupboard in the house - nearly there!
And I've just had an offer of help with clearing the shed. Yay!
I titled a recent post about the pace of my life fast and slow. It could equally apply to my computer!
Not yet at the repair shop for various reasons, I decided to try a little self help. I watched a couple of tutorials and I managed to refresh my browser and delete cookies and some documents and downloads and the effect was amazing. Much faster.
I confess I am lazy about learning about the computer, and so embarrassed about my ignorance I avoid asking for help when I need it! How foolish is that?
I am finding this site helpful. Hate to be sexist but the fact that it is written by a woman shows - it's in English! I took the laptop to a repair shop once where the guy only talked computer-speak and preferred to talk to men. Barry had gone to park the car so he was forced to speak with me but when Barry walked in he turned - in mid sentence - and spoke to Barry (who wasn't much more computer literate than me, if truth be told and didn't know what the problem was with my computer.). I still feel so indignant!
Despite my best efforts however there are still problems, so if I suddenly go quiet.....
I do like lists.
To-do lists, tah-dah! lists, shopping lists, the Absolute No list (of more later) and now there is the Kon Mari list -SO helpful!
Google Kon Mari lists for various options (thanks Julia).
And just to be controversial....Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist which I liked, has just brought out this...Tee Hee
It's true that my studio is very tidy but I'm not actually painting...
But the Kondoing is giving me such clarity and so much energy and headspace that I know it is opening up possibilities for my creative side and I'm seeing it through.
Plan to be done by Christmas (including the dreaded shed!).
..to easy clearing - especially of papers, is to keep it simple and make only one decision on your first pass of each category
KEEP / DON'T KEEP.
I don't engage with the item in question other than to make that one decision.
Once you have discarded all you want then you can deal with the more manageable amount that's left - put like with like, arrange in date order,decide whether action is required (but don't stop now to take the action!,move to where you will store it etc etc etc
Have ticked off Clothing, Books and Papers. Am now on Kimono (Miscellaneous) and have done DVD's and CD's, cords and remotes, coins and toys, having skipped video games, craft supplies, sports equipment and pet supplies as I don't have any of these - well one bag of wild bird seed....
Also toys, boardgames and puzzles, and office supplies. Yay!
Thank you Lotta for the gold stars (they were mentioned in my very first blog post).
Still trying with all my little heart!
Friends for dinner, sorting my books, being in the study.
This is the first house I have lived in with a study/library. (I've lived in 23 houses.)
I do have a lot of books and sorting them was an easy task this time round as it just involved cleaning, re-arranging a bit and discarding a few i no longer want to keep. (See previous posts here and here).
There is such a comfort in books. In some ways they reflect who I was but there is now built in space for the new, for who I am becoming, and a new feature is space for a few special things - vases and photographs which were until now inside cupboards. There was a time when the books in here were three deep on these shelves!
One of the comforts, which I have mentioned before, is knowing that when I take a book down the information I want will be in the same position on the same page and nothing will pop up in front of what I am reading! Neither will it close itself if I walk away for half an hour. Just saying..
Do your books bring you comfort and joy?
(Ticked off bills, greetings cards, wrapping paper, chequebooks, business cards, recipes and - big one - study notes. Yay!)
Tired but happy.
If you are near enough don't miss Cowal Open Studios - on NOW. (I'm not taking part this year.)
Getting wrapped up in warm and waterproof clothes and walking in the wind and the rain, putting on a thick jacket and breakfasting outside (or in the greenhouse if it's wet), having a winter picnic, an autumn paddle (thank you Cath), a campfire - hygge is not just candlelight and sitting by the woodburner, though I plan to have plenty of that too.
If you're new to the concept here is a nice introduction, and if you are not yet familiar with Kondoing there is a new 7 minute video to explain the philosophy.
I've completely Kondoed my clothes and books these last three wild and rainy days with the help of lists suggested by Julia, and am powering through papers which is the category I most want to have sorted. I've ticked off coupons and receipts, the one-drawer filing cabinet, warranties and instruction manuals, and important documents....whew.
to the ridiculous on this blog!
From ancient artifacts and heavenly gardens to my linen cupboard..
A question. Have any Marie Kondo fans reading this actually completed their 'tidying festival' as per the book? I'm considering trying and would really like to hear from anyone who has actually done it!
Is this a bit mad?
Is this just toooo boring?
While the chimney was being swept I found myself starting to clear the linen cupboard (thinking of you Mary and being careful of my back!). A day later the job is nearly done. How did I come to have so much surplus linen? Who needs 19 tea towels? I think I find fabric almost as hard to part with as books..
And why do I invest so much emotion in an old faded towel?
Marie kondo says that Japanese people have treated material things with reverence since ancient times and that there are three facets to the spirit that dwells in material things: the spirit of the materials from which it is made, the spirit of the person who made them and the spirit of the person who uses them.
I find this fascinating.
And I'm keeping that one.
But parting with this lot!
Sketchbooks and notebooks. First I divided them into used/unused. I have a stack to give away and I have almost finished looking through the used ones and am throwing most of them away but for a few sketches I like. I have assimilated most of the ideas in the notebooks, and the shredder is red hot!
Quite a big bag of old artwork for the recycling bin. It wasn't hard to decide what to keep and what to throw, but it took a while and I was getting very weary of it.
Then about 5pm I just felt this wash of energy come over me.
It can only be because of all this clearing :-)
And yesterday's paradise moment still makes me glow when I think of it.
No more boring photos of my clutter.
..to stop at this point.
The studio feels like a nice place to be again, I know where everything is. it's clean and organised and I'm a bit tired!
But...i know I haven't done the real work. The work that will move me on.
I am pausing to celebrate the happy things I've found, the good memories I have unearthed.
Every sale a little thrill and a little pang goodbye.
A lot of solo shows and some great supportive and enthusiastic gallery owners.
Photocopy of a very early flower painting bought by the framer before he even framed it.
I took four more collages to a local gallery yesterday as they had sold the previous four.
So back to it Freda!
Here are some of the inspirational quotes that keep me going.....
Outer order contributes to inner calm. Gretchen Rubin. I believe she is writing a book with this title.
The following are from Marie Kondo -
When you tidy you get your affairs and past in order too
Tidying is conversing with myself through the medium of my possessions
The whole point in both discarding and in keeping things is to be happy
when your room is clean and uncluttered you have no choice but to examine your inner state
clean up your psychological space
the moment you start you reset your life
the true goal is to establish what you want
Do any of these motivate you? Or do you have any to add that might motivate me?
The plan chest turns out to be a treasure chest.
Well the mice thought so too. A mouse/mice have been in the back of the drawers of the plan chest and have shredded a lot of paper! How do they get in there? It's a pretty solid piece of furniture nearly a metre deep.
So far I have cleared out two of the six drawers - I have not yet counted the number of sketchbooks and notebooks I have found (there are more in other drawers) but I also found a few things I had almost forgotten, like this beautiful little poster for a Ben Nicholsom exhibition.
And this joyful flower painting which I always intended for my daughter whose flowers they were. It reminds me of a very happy series I did. All sold except this one which I knew I had kept for her but didn't know quite where.
I am so glad the mice didn't get them. I will have them both framed asap.
I wonder what else I will find?
Have you had this experience when doing some clearing out?
..and gently does it.
As long as I concentrated on just putting like with like and designating a place for each category, binning only the obvious rubbish, I got on really well with clearing the studio.
I went in there this morning and my heart lifted! That has not happened for a long time.
At the end of day three it looks ordered and calm but that's very superficial! A good start though. The next step is to go through each category making decisions about what to discard and what to keep.
This is where it gets difficult.
All those boxes, files and drawers are stuffed full of my history as an artist. I am reviewing my career here so this may be a time to remember the joy I've had (and hopefully given).
Marie Kondo suggests you start with the easiest things, so I may begin with empty sketchbooks and notebooks - the empty ones have least emotional charge and I may put some on Freecycle. A young art student was thrilled with some supplies and old frames which I gave away through Freecycle once and that felt good, and freed up a lot of space.
What are you currently clearing? And how are you going about it?
I really appreciate your support, insight and humour - you are helping me see this through.
I do believe I am beginning to enjoy it!
Before I could tackle the chaotic studio it was important to me that the rest of the house was calm and orderly. This took no time at all as thanks to Fly Lady routines which are second nature now, and my previous Kondoing, my house is, on the whole, a calm place - that 'click point' has been reached and I love it!
I have had a major block about my painting and unblocking is proving difficult. I've lost direction. Maybe I should write rather than paint. I've been a painter for twenty years. I've painted and sold several hundred works. Maybe I'm 'painted out'. I am hoping that clearing the studio will clear my way forward.
I will put that decision aside and deal with the practicalities of the physical stuff. Firstly I have created categories::
Saleable finished work large, medium and small
Finished works I want to keep (I may move these to another room)
Work on paper which I will put in the plan chest (a major clearing task in itself)
Sketches, notebooks, cuttings, postcards etc - masses of this!
Materials - oil paints/watercolour paints/inks/pastels/brushes/pens/paper/sketchpads
Packaging (takes up a lot of space)
Related paperwork (I have not been good at keeping records)
Quite a lot to accomodate in a space just under 3 x 4 metres.
One of the things I love about the studio is that I can play music there as loud as I like! Oscar Peterson helped me on my cleaning/clearing way - it seems to take up part of the anxiety area of my brain....
I was going to spend half and hour.
I spent more than half a day.
..on a major project.
I can't tell you how many times I have headed purposefully to the studio to declutter and organise it, stood looking at it and turned back and walked out, simply not knowing where to start, overwhelmed by nearly two decades of stuff....
I did the same again this morning.
The weather has changed to cool and rainy so I wasn't going to be gardening, and I have to say I felt somewhat invigorated by the change in temperature and humidity, but still I couldn't start, so I went to Marie Kondo's Spark Joy for some inspiration and found it on page 31 under When You Feel Like Quitting.
That woman is brilliant.
The photographs are taken after I had already removed a large seed propagator, the large glass bowl of a broken lamp, a bag of recycling, an old fire extinguisher, a pair of leaky wellies and a large tin of paint!
The recent anniversary of my husband's funeral has prompted me to write this post. I wrote here about wills and thought I shouldn't shy away from this subject either. I put Margareta Magnusson's video under the heading Facing Mortality and this post could also come under that heading.
When I think back to Barry's funeral I feel sadness of course, but I also remember the comfort it gave me that so very many people who loved and respected him came. (If you are in doubt about whether or not you should attend a funeral I would urge you to go if you possibly can). I felt so supported.
I was also comforted by the knowledge that we had arranged a funeral that Barry would have liked. I only knew what he would like because as chance would have it we attended the funeral of a friend not many weeks before. It was unusual - a humanist service with readings, poetry and music and as we left Barry said That was beautiful. That's what I would want my funeral to be like. We had never discussed the subject and had no inkling that Barry's own funeral was a few short weeks away. (Barry died three weeks after a diagnosis of cancer.)
I now think It's good to talk about the subject and in my case even that brief remark brought comfort to me when I needed it most.
I will tell you a little more about it tomorrow.
Meanwhile it is snowing in the sunshine here...
What do you do with papers going back years?
I can handle the bank statements, bills etc (I mostly follow Marie Kondo's advice to get rid of them) but cannot decide about more personal papers - morning pages, diary pages, letters and cards, random notes and thoughts - I seem to have a lot of this kind of thing. Notes I made for my dissertation for example. I look at them and remember how much I enjoyed the many quiet hours of research in the libraries, the academic life. I listed the books I hoped to go back to for another read...
But what should I do with them?
I've just discovered The Sweetness Of Things Half Remembered.
Perspective that is..
'Micri y megali? a nurseryman once asked me in Cyprus. He was offering me a free plant and having an all but empty garden I replied 'Megali, parakalo' and he dug up a geranium which totally filled the boot of the car!
I am moving from megali to micri in my perspective on things with a look at a Marie Kondo habit I have really liked. She described how when she came home she emptied her bag into a storage space then when she was going out again collected only the things she needed for that trip into her chosen bag.
It works a treat for me and is second nature to me now. I rarely forget anything, don't end up carrying extra things and everything has it's place on the shelf so I can select in moments what I need. On this shelf are the bags I use most, spare folding bags in different colours, purse, phone, pens, notebook, timetables, Su Doku puzzles torn from a book, discount cards and vouchers. tissues, glasses case and sunglasses, umbrellas, hats, gloves - all stored to be visible in boxes I already had.
Do you have a favourite tip from Marie Kondo that has become a useful habit?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)