It is probably not surprising that the “Simple Living” journey started as the first buds of spring started to raise their little heads. That new lease of life that spring brings (peculiar little phrase) gave me the perfect excuse or sub-conscious momentum to look anew at my personal little world.
And what did I see? Stuff. Everywhere. Every nook and cranny of our house was packed full of it. Some useful, some not. Some used, some not. Just stuff: old handbags with broken zips or handles kept for little reason other than it being a waste to get rid of them if there was even a remote possibility they could be fixed; trousers that no longer fit but that should really be kept for future use in the probable event that I gain weight and the other pair that I have no chance in cat hell of ever squeezing myself into again (even if by some miracle the trousers ever made it over the top of my thighs I would look less attractive than a killer whale stuffed into a wetsuit); mugs that had lost their design thanks to modern dishwashing power on poorly glazed china; and the excess ten vases that have never been used but were gifts so I didn’t have the heart to throw them out. The list extended to CDs, books, DVDs, more clothes, dishes, saucepans, out of date tinned food, the list goes on…I am not putting it too strongly to say that the clutter was quite simply horrendous.
Now, I am not one of those lovely people who fill their houses with stacks of books, newspapers or magazines in hundreds of piles all over the floor. No, my stuff is more subtle than that. Mostly packed away into boxes and cupboards it is in the main tidy stuff, but stuff nevertheless. And in the cupboards it is stacked as high as possible in mini-leaning towers. And I am a sufferer of the disease more commonly known as “tendency to horde” (of course meant in the loosest sense of the word “tendency” – this doesn’t really express the full extent of the problem!). Humorous as it sounds, this endless clutter was dragging my heart, my soul and my mind down and starting to cripple my ability to take action.
The point of realisation happened just before Ash Wednesday (the start of the Christian season of Lent). Now for years I’d given up something during Lent; often chocolate. But year after year I felt challenged to give up something more (in part to stop myself replacing one thing with another; crisps instead of chocolate for example). Last year I had given up: chocolate, crisps, sweets, fizzy drinks, alcohol, cakes – in fact there was very little I was allowing myself to eat or drink. In short, I decided that it wasn’t really helping me to reflect on the Lent season or achieve anything at all. In reality it just meant I focussed on all the things I wasn’t having anymore which, quite frankly, was making me miserable. This year I decided I had to DO something POSITIVE instead. And so it came to pass that I made a Lenten promise to myself to throw something out for each day of Lent (technically 40 days although there is some debate about whether Lent actually ends on Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday – that is perhaps one for another day).
And so I did. Some days it was only one book. One day I charity-shopped a whole batch of the aforementioned wiped clean china mugs. Another day it was a strange red tin we had accumulated and never used. Just getting started on clearing the clutter gave me a new fresh look on things and that in turn spurred me on to the next day and so on until I realised I was actually looking forward to what the next day’s inspirational clearance would be.
It transpires that regaining control over the physical space in my home and my possessions has given me the emotional and mental space to de-clutter my own self, my soul. More on that later.
So today’s challenge? Fix yourself a short period of time, say 40 days, and start TODAY to throw out one item every day for the whole period. It can be a category of things one day and a single item the next – the only important thing is that you keep at it. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a chance one day, just clear out two things the next day. Don’t get caught up in a massive clear out either – this is a “quick win” idea to get you thinking along the right lines. It gets easier every day and you should feel more able to clear out more the further along you go.
Do consider donating these items to charity shops, fetes, jumble sales, etc then you can help others as well as yourself (and recycle empty jars/tins of food if you can).
Oh, and one last thing – enjoy the process! This is time for you, to give you the space and freedom to think and enjoy life so remember to live and enjoy the moment too.
Good luck – let me know how it goes!