Sunday, 20 May 2012

Getting our shit together

People often say to me that I have a lovely home. It feels really nice when people say "Your home is so lovely!" "I love all your nick-nacks" "Your house is really quirky". I love an eclectic home. I love a jumble. I avoid anything beige or generic. I hate B&Q. I despise the whole concept of having a show home that looks like something hundreds of other people might have. Like an MFI catalogue. Bleugh! having a small budget is no excuse for blandness - charity shops or flea-market style is more my bag.

For years I have secretly sneered at people who are too neat and tidy. Who have a home for everything. Who could lay their hand to anything in their home within a couple of minutes. My philosophy has always been that the most interesting people always live in a right mess. Being organised always seemed a bit ...naff. An eclectic, arty mess, that's what I've always loved. And so I have proudly cultivated what has become in actual fact, more like a total sh*t tip!!!

And for the first time in my adult life, I want to organise my drawers. I'm tired of looking for everything. Of not knowing where stuff is. Of not being able to fully enjoy my stuff because so much of it is inaccessible under piles and piles of other stuff! I'm wondering if it really is so naff to know where your stuff is. At least to the nearest metre. Or two.

I am also coming to the conclusion that in order to support who the kids actually are, I need to let go of what I had hoped they would be...who I've been benignly trying to steer them to be. Part of that is addressing the issue of their stuff. By issue, I mean my issue.

I am finally realising that the sooner I make peace with the fact that we do not live in a 1950's idyll, the better.  The boys like Pokemon. And pirates. And , well, BOYISH stuff.  They are interested in their own things that I had not foreseen. They belong to their own age, they are forging their own way, they have their own unique likes and dislikes. They are not clones of us. They dream their own dreams. These writings by Kahlil Gibran keep coming into my mind....

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, 
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, 
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, 
and He bends you with His might 
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

So within the context of clearing things out and getting with the programme of where my kids are really at , I turned my attention to the children's bedroom. It's hard to accept that there are some things they are just not interested in. That they quite possibly will never be interested in. Books that seem so lovely. Toys that look like they ought to be loved. Expensive toys and gifts. So much guilt attached to them, an emotional bunch of 'shoulds' and regrets. They should read this, they should like this, they should cherish this. And yet they don't. They cherish quite different things. They have their own currency. They get off on different things. The toys and books they get a high from are not necessarily the same as the books and toys I get high from looking at, owning, having in the house. 

So with a deep breath and a positive outlook, this weekend I decided to do them a favour and free them of all this stuff. After months of having two bookshelves in their bedroom, one buckled and broken under the weight of all the books - I reduced all their books by about half,  asking myself each time "who is this book really for - them or me?" If the answer was 'me', or in fact, anyone else other than them, out it went. Going round the house, I've systematically started to look at everything from this angle.

In turn, each room is being reduced to what we really really want to keep. It was hard to begin with but I knew I had to change the old internal dialogue if I wanted to really let go. I've packed up literally dozens of bags of stuff to be sold/given away. It's amazing how liberated I feel - instead of thinking what we are losing, what a shame/waste etc... I'm enjoying the empty spaces that are being left behind and thinking how much some other person will love this stuff! How it might be exactly what somebody out there needs or wants. Someone who will love and cherish this stuff. I am happy for them, and us!

As well as clearing out the living room of toys that the kids have outgrown, I moved the coffee table outside onto the decking, throwing open the space and making the room emptier. I loved what we could do in this newfound openness - Alf rode his little bike around...we did an exercise routine on the wii, with room to move freely... the floor has been a place of movement, of freedom, of open-ended use.

I am saying YES! to less. I am saying YES to getting our sh*t together.
I am choosing to be free and more me.
I am feeling fine with re-invention, evolution, feeling emptier, dreaming new dreams never dreamed before.
I am opening myself up to new possibilities.
I am re-writing the script I keep telling myself about what I 'need' to be happy.
Becoming more aware that I need to embrace who the kids truly are instead of who I wish them to be.
Ditto myself.
Ditto everyone else.
Re-examining my old ideas and prejudices.
Giving my head a spring clean.
Letting go.
Clearing the space for new things to happen.
I am embracing the flow and going with it.
Woooohoooo - it feels grand!!!!



  1. Sounds amazing, I wish I had the strength to clear out ours like that! I'm pretty sure I will always live in chaos. :-)

    1. Nothing wrong with that if it makes you happy! :-)

  2. Yipppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Go you.

    ps/ can I come round and learn to rollerskate on that new floorspace?

    Mwah xxxx

  3. Am loving the space, the red colours, the stripey colours on the sofa, the coloured tiles, the clear wooden floor. What about rain on the furniture outside? Can you get one of those fab weather shield/tent wind sail type thingies? I just flipping love moving furniture around and changing the space up - I find it massively therapeutic. You go girl, carry on reinventing, decluttering and opening those doors wide open for so many new possibilities. BTW your home when I came to visit made me miss my own home that I have been without for way too long. Mine too was always so full of nick nacks and colour and my own stamp and you know what this post of yours has done me the world of good right now so a massive THANK YOU x

  4. Ah glad to hear it!

    I've put an oiled tablecloth on the table and pushed it so it sits under the overhang of that bush you can e in the pic. The other furniture comes in overnight. Otherwise it'd get wet like you say! :-)

  5. I can feel one of these purges coming on round my place too. Just trying to etch out a bit of time for it!
    There's been a few things like that in my kids rooms that I realised were so very much for me that I actually put them into my room and now everyone is happy!

    1. There are some books I couldn't get rid of - however much the boys glaze over when I get them out.... The root children books, the sun egg, oh a whole bunch.... They shall sit in my room too! Great idea.

  6. "I let go of who I was in order to be who I am." ;)

    Clearing space for new things to enter our lives is always good. :) I got rid of six sacks to the charity shop a couple of weeks ago and we have so much more to go still. I am loving letting go of it all and feling so much lighter!

    Love your gorgeous living room!

    Can't wait to hear of your exciting plans! :) xx

  7. Great post. I got rid of a load of ladybird and Famous Five books a while back because I finally realised I was trying to recreate my childhood and my kids WERE NOT INTERESTED. These were books for me, not for them.

    But I do so hate it when they want to get rid of the educational stuff and their hand-made creations that I love, instead of the plastic c**p that I would love to see the back of.

    1. I hear ya! What constitutes the best thing ever is very much in the heart of the beholder I guess....

  8. p.s. I think your room is the size of our house. Am having room envy.

  9. What a wonderful post, I love 'stuff' but am also struggling with the annoying feeling when you cant find anything and YES, I have lots of toys and books for ME...erm, time to re think..thanks for the inspiration x

  10. You're welcome - It's only taken me ten years and four kids to work this stuff out.... ;-)

  11. Wahoo for you! We have been doing much clearing and dumping here too. Hurray! So excited to hear your big plans. Please know your painting ...and a friend.... Are on their way very soon. I cannot begin to list the complicating factors we are experiencing here. But they are on my mind every day.

    Love your sofa!

  12. No worries about the painting Lucy, it can wait, I can wait!! And that sofa looks nicer than it is, the webbings buggered so once you fall into it, you can't get out again!!!! Change is all good my lovely X

  13. What a great post - although after seeing your room and feel I live in a dump and I haven't got the excuse of little children! :) x

    1. Oh Ross the beauty of blogging is you take a pic and nobody sees that same room just half an hour later - with all the socks, orange peel, roller skates, discarded pants and trousers, spills and stains!!!!! Hehehe x

  14. I also have been dumping and clearing up my act and enjoying it :) isn't it wild and glorious that there are so many crossovers for us all - so many comments from others who are having really similar pulls! And your first couple of paragraphs haha!! so similar to what I thought I was creating for the last year, really letting things build up and feel homely, my husband called it cocooning as our rooms started to curve in at the corners as stuff built up and then bam I look around and yes its a total tip . Excellent. Lovely to share these cycles and rhythms :)

  15. Yes - I think it's more than just spring cleaning, it's a skin shedding on a soul level! Uncomfortable in some ways but oh so worth it once wee've wriggled free of our old skins! :-)

  16. Loving this!! And your home... it's so beautiful! I too hate the perfect, utilitarian and obsessively clean, unlived-in look but every-single-day I seem to be battling against a typhoon of mess and stuff and shit (quite literally) so that our home is a continual bomb site - meets farmyard, only made worse because it's such a tiny space!

    When we first downsized I LOVED how it felt to let go of things, of stuff, and now I can let go of almost anything (almost!). It's SO liberating when you realise your things are NOT YOU, and you are NOT YOUR THINGS :)

    But then, I am a natural born hobo!


  17. You must have felt me thinking of you across the country as I almost reposted my interview kinky to give an earthly last night. Will do it v soon! Hobo hug X