Let it go, let it GO!!!! For copyright reasons I can’t feature a picture of a certain white haired heroine at this point, but I can guarantee she is currently belting out a certain catchy anthem inside your head. So sorry.
Today I am pondering why, the best part of a year after starting this blog, my house is still filled to the brim with all the clutter I resolved to clear away. Why can’t I just Let It Go? Let me see…
- Toys. My children are in their twenties now. They’ve moved on from Sylvanian Families, cuddly animals and the endless pieces of plastic nonsense they once coveted every birthday… but I haven’t. OK, I don’t feel any particular attachment to the Matchbox cars or DS games, but how can I say goodbye to the toys we gave names? The ones who shared our triumphs and disasters? They are like members of my family. I’m coming to terms with my daughter leaving home, but can’t let go of the cuddlies whose lumpy shapes betray their loyalty to the little girl who once loved them so very much.
- Art. Well, my children’s art. I’m starting to see a pattern here. The smudgy hand prints, the huge-headed portraits of family members, the once-upon-a-time stories in such careful handwriting… the evolution of their world view, laid out on paper. In the attic, there are still some of my own drawings; aged seven, when bunny rabbits still wore fancy hats and had afternoon tea with endless cream buns. Are these my children’s inheritance?
- Photos. In those pre-digital camera days, I amassed hundreds (nay thousands?) of photos of (you guessed it) my growing family. Ten albums full, then shoe boxes of loose pics waiting to be albumed-up. I know I should cull these, or scan them, or reduce them to a carefully selected album for each of my offspring. But it’s such a gargantuan task.
- Calendars & diaries going back years, which I’ll be needing when I label all those loose photos. Was that holiday in Folkestone or Felixstowe? Just dig out the appointment diary from 1994 to find out!
- Words. I used to write lots. It kept me sane, scribbling oddments in exercise books. Journals, daily pages, stream of consciousness, ideas for books, short stories… it’s all stashed in a big metal box & I never want it read by anyone else. I’m not sure I want to read any of it either, as it’ll only stir up sleeping demons. But I can’t just shred it. I need to look at it all one last time before I Let It Go. I’m just waiting for the right moment <looks down at shoes>
I could go on, but I think you’ve got the picture. So much stuff to clear out, but every day I’m finding excuses. The truth is, I’m too attached to these things to see them clearly. I’ve given each of these fluffy toys, scraps of paper & unlabelled photos an emotional value. Which makes it an even greater wrench to clear this stuff from my house. Maybe recognising the problem is the first step.
And every long journey starts with a single step…
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
H. L. Mencken
Today the title might have meant you expected a picture of a cupboard or wardrobe. From the outside no issue but once drawer or door opened it clear that we are drowning in stuff. Amazed at how much can be crammed into such a tiny space but in so doing making it impossible to access anything, each time door opened. Once opened door quickly shut again till have time to deal with all that stuff. Mixture of usual suspects that plague our cluttered lives – things that need to be kept, let go, repaired, rehomed, recycled, remembered, forgotten…….
But all of that is for another day. No, today we return to that desk of mine. The slightly out of focus picture a deliberate photographic device to symbolise loss of decluttering way. The desk suffering from the opposite of ‘out of sight,out of mind’ syndrome. Not the spot the difference desk game but more jenga should I need to retrieve something from it. Why? The fear that a task will be forgotten if put away, so left in open view so it will get done. Now if the task is to take something somewhere on the morrow then putting it by the door is an excellent device. But here’s the rub if it is to take it somewhere at time unspecified then it will fail. After 48hrs an item placed somewhere to remind you to deal with it becomes invisible at best and at worst something else is put on top of it and it becomes a new permanent table!
So what do I propose doing to tackle the pile that is perilously perched on desk and I need to be reminded to do.
A box and a list
- Each task that is not going to be done TODAY (I don’t mean early tomorrow I mean today !!) will be put on list and a time set by when it must be done. Associated paper and stuff will be put in box.
- Each morning, before open lid to waken sleeping laptop, must look at list and take from box stuff whose expiry date has been reached. If there is nothing about to create a crisis then I can tackle task(s) of choice.
- Almost forgot, at end of day , task(s) not done get put on list and in box. Experience suggests this step could prove trickier than step 1 as one always thinks it’s not worth doing because you’ll deal with them tomorrow!
As ever wish me luck and a Happy #cleardeskday to you too!
ps Ok those of you who are sticklers for detail it’s not officially Clear your desk day today but why wait it could be.
This blog began back in May with the direct aim of helping us tackle the mountains of clutter which were threatening to engulf us. In the past seven months we’ve had some small successes, interspersed with the odd relapse. After decades of gathering this stuff around us, it was never going to be easy to get rid of it all.
Well, on Sunday a whole heap of stuff left my house; boxes of kitchenware, bags of clothes, books, bedding, electrical equipment, a guitar… all headed out the front door for good. There’s a huge empty space this clutter once occupied. It’s strange to see, like the gap left by a pulled tooth.
I stand on my newly claimed floor space with confused emotions. Yes, it’s great to see floorboards again, but I’m not really celebrating. The clutter has gone, but so has my daughter… off to make her way in the big wide world. It’s true I wanted the clutter gone, but not the clutterer.
Given time, I’m sure I’ll start feeling better about all this.
But right now, I really miss that clutter.
Last December, on one of those surreal days ‘twixt Christmas and the New Year, I found myself wide awake at 6:30am in a house full of gently snoring relatives. I felt as excited as an Enid Blyton character on a quest for adventure as I leapt from bed, into my clothes and out of the sleeping house.
Shrouded in freezing fog and sparkling with frost, the deserted streets were magical. A pale sun was just making its appearance as I alighted from the train and went in search of a particularly lovely river view.
I searched in vain. There was nothing to see but fog; a blank wall denying the existence of any river. It was eerie and enchanting, but also disconcerting. Peering into the whiteness, I could no longer imagine the familiar scenery.
Today I find myself equally befogged, staring hopelessly at a blank screen which refuses obstinately to reveal what I’m struggling to find. I have no questions to answer, no quirky theme to explore or axe to grind.
But life’s like that… some days the sun shines, others we’re lost in the fog