I’ve been interested in Feng Shui for a long time, over 20 years. I even got into practising it in my home at one point in my life, but somehow, when I moved house (now almost 11 years ago) that all went by the wayside. Feng Shui was pushed to one side whilst I was decorating and renovating and now, I am ashamed to admit, my house is a mess. Not the way the people on the television programmes’ houses are – I can sleep in my bed and there is space on the floor, but I am not naturally tidy and I have too much “stuff.”
I made a decision at the end of last year to do something about it and since December, I have been trying to de-clutter, without much success, if I’m honest.
One of the things I’d known intuitively was that, in order to clear up my mess, I needed more storage space. The only way I was going to get more storage space was to clear out my cupboards… I started but then realised that although all my hard work was good, I still had a mess in my “high traffic areas.” So I started on the mess in the high traffic areas, and, in fact, by the time my friend, Kate, came to stay in April, the house looked pretty good. But then real life took over again and things started getting messy again. So I decided I needed help and have, so far, read three books on the subject and am halfway through a fourth. (I wholeheartedly recommend all of them; they are all useful in different ways.)
The one I’m reading at the moment, by Sheila Chandra, agrees with me that I need to make space first of all and the high traffic areas might have to stay a mess for a bit longer. Sheila also says that it didn’t get like this overnight so I have to learn patience.
They all make it clear that I have to actually part with some of my possessions. What? Get rid of some of my beautiful (and expensive!) shoes? So what if I can’t wear them anymore because they are no longer comfortable? The clothes that don’t suit me or don’t fit me anymore? Or I just don’t wear them, but there is nothing wrong with them? What about my books? How can I possibly part with any of the books that my Mum owned? Forget the fact that I can give the British Library a run for its money…
It is hard for an inveterate hoarder like me to come to terms with clearing out, but reading these books has started to make it easier, and to understand why I’ve hoarded so much (poverty consciousness, the Second World War attitude that you might need it someday, how can you throw away something that is perfectly serviceable, etc, etc).
I made a HUGE breakthrough last week – I gave away some books (ones that I’d already read) including one that had been my Mum’s. (What you have to understand about my Mum is that she didn’t start reading books until she was over 50 years old. Magazines, yes. Books, no. So the ones she did read are special.) What I am coming to terms with is that the things that belonged to my Mum (or my Dad) are not them. And I can’t possibly keep everything that they owned and my own things as well.
Declutter Extreme says only do 15 minutes a day, and an hour one day a week, broken down into 15 minute chunks. That is just about do-able during the week, as I work full-time and just about do-able at the weekend. (Actually, I do try to do a bit more at weekends, but realistically, not much more. I plan on doing more when I have a week off the week after next, though.) The week before last, my recycling bin (the one that the council collects) was full for the first time ever!
I’m not following the instructions in any of the books slavishly at the moment so it is slow going, but my pact with myself at the moment is that I will get rid of at least one item every day. (And I don’t mean normal household waste; I mean something that has been sorted out, in addition to any household waste or recycling.) It doesn’t matter whether it goes in the bin or in the recycling bag or is given to someone else, as long as I don’t have it any longer.
I have agreed with myself that I will read all the books I haven’t read before I part with them, and have started doing this. (It’s a good job I enjoy reading and have a train journey to and from work every day!) I have signed up for one of Karen Kingston’s online courses – Taming the Paper Tiger – because one of my big problems is all the paperwork (letters, magazines, etc) even though my banking is done on line and signed up for all manner of Feng Shui newsletters, etc.
It will be many months before my decluttering is anywhere near completion, and before I am in a position to start on any Feng Shui cures, but I will update you as I go. Wish me luck!
In the meantime, these are the books that I have read so far:
Banish Clutter Forever by Sheila Chandra
Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston
Declutter Extreme by DeliriousIdeas.com
Your Space for Success by Stephanie McWilliams
©Susan Shirley 2013