Before Covid came into our lives, the buzzwords were ‘declutter’ and ‘downsize’.
Friends who were looking for ‘lock-up and leave’ properties to be able to follow the temptation of the advertised ‘overseas’ experiences and to be able to travel to far-reaching destinations, have decided to stay put. Some wanted to cross things off their ‘bucket lists’, others read books which stirred their curiosity.
And then Covid hit.
The reality of being in a safe country, where life is more or less normal, where we can go about our ordinary day to day pursuits; made people revisit their desire to downsize. In some cases they re-engaged with hobbies from the past that required some space and are travelling locally and enjoying what they have.
Downsizing to an environment with less maintenance is one thing. Decluttering and making choices of how we fill the space around us is another story.
Personally, I have a variety of hobbies, which all come with a necessary amount of stuff – or at least that is what I tell myself. The reality is that we accumulate stuff and more stuff, with the excuse that we don’t know when we may need it. As a dressmaker, I have collected materials that have become rather international, as they have travelled the world with me in their respective boxes! I wonder if it is time to have an honest and thorough sorting out session. The same applies to books and magazines and yes, everything else! Am I kidding myself that with all the leftover scraps, one day I will make a scrap quilt?
So declutter is about stuff that fills our spaces and might make us happy or not. Maria Kondo was very popular at some stage, she is not a minimalist, although she favours tidying up. Her criteria is around joy. If something makes you happy, it has a place in your house or room, if not it needs to be tossed or repurposed.
I find that my need to declutter is not merely focused on ‘stuff’, it includes what is going on in my head. Too many thoughts, too many projects and too many books to read, and then there is the possible social media overload. Work, volunteering, goals etc., all take up a lot of mental space.
Decluttering is not something we do lightly, most of us have an emotional attachment to things, and many things have special memories. I sometimes wonder if we need objects to remind us, or will the memory be the same without a tangible item?
What are we telling ourselves if we keep objects, or if we throw everything out? How will that affect us? In the past I have thrown a lot of books out, which I regretted later, knowing I had a book on ‘such and so’ where did I put it… to realise I had donated it. The idea with books might be that you put them on a less reachable shelf for a couple of months before chucking them out.
So my starting point is to establish what is essential in my life, how would I like to spend my time and what do I need for that. Relationships, health, spirituality and creativity are crucial for my well-being, and that is where my focus is.
Decluttering living space and headspace, requires a certain amount of ruthlessness. Decluttering relationships is far more challenging; to surround yourself with people who are like-minded and have similar values to health, spirituality and creativity is vital for our well-being. Gentle suggestions in changing behaviour may well be necessary.
I have started the process. Out with theology that is no longer life-giving, out with material that no longer suits me, out with linen that might be good as a ‘drop-sheet’ for painting the house.
Decluttering my head includes minimising screen time, more time spend on bible study/journaling and writing.
May you be free from the desire of acquiring and content with what you have stored away.
Seek Peace. Find it within.