“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris
Last night I did something truly extraordinary. I picked up an A4 envelope folder overflowing with delicious-looking recipes torn from magazines – and I threw the damn thing into the recycling.
Then, just to make sure, I threw in several recently rinsed tins and plastic bottles, so it would get soggy and there would be no temptation to take it out for ‘just one more little look’ in case there was something I did ‘need’ to keep.
That folder has been a dust-gathering toxic ‘should’ (I was always going to file them in sections in a binder…) in my life for ten years.
I keep looking at the corner on the floor next to the cookbook shelves where it used to sit and doing a little mental jig of happiness that I’ve finally unburdened myself of it.
Inspired by that, I then picked up ‘The Taste of Italy’. This is a loose leaf folder of a series of articles which appeared in the Sunday Times in the late 1980s – which I have been shifting from home to home and continent to continent ever since without ever cooking anything from it.
That is now in the box of books ready for the school book sale. And breath…
These two bold gestures are some of the signs that I am really moving on to a new stage with my crap clearing (clutter’s too dainty a word, I’ve decided).
One of the things which is has really helped me to do this was a link given to me by one of you – the only problem is that despite scrolling through all the comments and my Twitter feed, I can’t find that person to credit and thank.
So if you were the person who told me about The Happiness Project – here’s a massive thank you and can you please get in touch so I can credit you on here?
Grethen Rubin has put together a truly brilliant website about all the small changes we can make in our daily lives to be more happy, with a whole section on decluttering. Reading this post, entitle Don’t Get Organized was one of the major life bulb moments of my life – and I urge you to take a look.
I then went on to read this one, which is also life changingly wise.
I now feel I’m making real progress in my house, which I’m achieving by doing one little bit at a time. Rather than overwhelming myself with the notion that my WHOLE HOUSE needs decluttering – which it does – I just do one cupboard, one shelf, or one corner, whenever I have a spare 15 minutes.
In this way I’ve now done a kitchen cupboard of great horribleness – throwing out some cornflour that was past its sell by in 2004, along with other treats. It’s now clean, half empty and I can see exactly what I’ve got.
I’ve also done my spice shelf and the top level of my fridge, which was a graveyard of half used bottles of pickles etc.
Every time I look at one of these cleared and ordered areas, it fills me energy and excitement to get on with the next one – which is why I’ve used the picture at the top there.
This is my spare loo and it was the first room I got sorted when we moved into this house. Every time I felt panic setting in that we would never get it all unpacked, I’d go and sit in there with the door shut and remind myself that one day the whole house would look like that.
Sure enough it did, it’s just in the intervening years, that it’s got overfull and is making me panicky again.
I’ve now re-done the loo (throwing away several years of World of Interiors magazines in the process, which was hard, but necessary…) and once again it’s serving that calming, encouraging purpose.
Another on line treat that’s helping me keep the faith was shown to me in comment by Rachel. Sorry if the language upsets you but it’s called Unfuck Your Habitat, which may be coarse, but it really makes me laugh.
It’s a tumblr blog with a the irreverent attitude the title suggests, full of good advice and encouraging pictures which readers have posted of their home transformations (don’t be put off by the less than fabulous décor in some of them – they still look better cleared up…)
It also made me laugh by introducing me to the concepts of the ‘floordrobe’ and the Room of Doom. I have a room which combines these attributes. It’s the long term aim of my declutter and it was so comforting to know I’m not alone in having a relatively OK house, with one disaster area in it.
Mine contains the area where we hang up our coats and the room is such a hog pen we all just throw them on the floor – the floordrobe.
Clearly this has to change – and now I believe it will.