Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Healing Power of Decluttering

Over the winter months there are areas of my home which become clutter collectors.  The worst is the garage, which will receive attention when and if we finally have warmer weather.  The second is the Room Formerly Known as Christopher's (aka: My Study).

I read in a book about getting organized that a certain sign you have too much clutter is when you are moving one stack of items from one place to another, never really settling in any one location.

These past six weeks or so, I have been working on one decluttering project a day, starting with some drawers and ending last week in filling sacks for the thrift shop and the library sale.

After further tweaking of teacups and stacks of papers and items for future projects and books... the room is once again lovely and inviting.

I felt as if spring had arrived in spite of below zero windchills outside.   There was room to breath.

It was hard to declutter for at this point, I'm getting rid of stuff I like.  A lot.  But I don't have room for everything.  One way I know if I'm going to get rid of an item is this... am I willing to make room to be able to either store it or display it?

The dresser drawers in My Study contain fabric from my old quilting days that I want to keep, yarn for future projects, a drawer full of supplies should I decide to make teddy bears again, and a drawer that is for items I may use for future craft projects.

The drawers of the antique wash stand hold candles, scrapbooking supplies, and stationary.  The hutch holds good china and teacups but the drawers are full of items needed for showing hospitality as well as my gift drawer.  Which is not quite as full as it once was but definitely useful to have on hand.

Almost every one I know who lives with clutter finds it depresses them.  If there is too much stuff in the canvas we call home, then that which is most lovely is often buried.  Not to mention we lose items important to us, make purchases we don't need only because we cannot locate an item, or find ourselves putting off creative projects because we would have to remove clutter before beginning the process.

Everyone has their own capacity for handling clutter.  Both my husband and I have stacks of books tucked away in corners because we may want to read or re-read them someday.  They are not our very favorites which have a home on shelves... but neither are they destined at the moment for library sales.

Some would see stacks of books as clutter and others as... a thing of Beauty.

My husband and I are both neatnicks when it comes to clothing.  Our closets are organized, our drawers are organized, and when clothing needs to be washed they are placed in the laundry hamper.  Neither of us are comfortable with clothing clutter.  Although neither of our children inherited that gene... just saying.

However, there are areas throughout the years in which we disagreed on what is clutter and what is... decorating.  I love the English Country way of hanging multiple pieces of artwork on the walls.  He ummm... did not.  But through the years he has become used to them and when I once tried to take down artwork in the bedroom, he asked me to put it back.  Go figure...

It would not come as a surprise to you that I adore teacups and teapots and all things tea related.  There are teacups and/or teapots in multiple rooms of our house.  He still sees them as clutter.  But when he says something, I mention that the only room of this house which is totally his (except for when I use the desktop computer) is the home office... which is the poster child for clutter.

So he lives with pretty girly tea things around.  Probably because I also love Early American and Primitive decorating which balances out the English Country.  The longer one is married, the more one learns the meaning of the word c.o.m.p.r.o.m.i.s.e. 

We do agree that too much stuff is just plain clutter.  Which is why he appreciates the work I've been doing to go through my stuff and send on to charity those items which no longer make my heart sing.  Either of us can walk into the Study now and breath deeply.

But more importantly, it has left me with Beauty that inspires rather than clutter that has been sucking out my creativity.  For the same person who finds delight in a stack of books in the corner becomes paralyzed when there are stacks of papers and knickknacks and such sitting on desks and tables and under the tables and even in baskets.

The stacks of clutter remind me of work projects and not setting back in the cozy comfy 1980s era overstuffed chair to read or write or plan the garden.

I know it can be difficult to declutter a home, especially if you have limited energy.  But as I shared with my friend this past week, I did it one drawer and one sack for charity at a time.  For the most part, my house is now ready for some deep spring cleaning as I prepare to oil the vintage and antique furniture (I have already begun that project one piece of furniture at a time), wash floors, clean windows, etc.  Even if only one window a day gets washed.

Soon most of what can be accomplished on the inside will be finished so when the weather turns nice... the lawn and garden work can begin.  Oh yes, and the garage when the weather warms up. 

Does it every get completely done?  Never.  And there is always a small project to do. Such as when I decided to reorganize what is contained in the drawers of the hutch in the living room.

But when I don't let a room go as I did with the Study (and always do with the garage over the winter), then it is a process of daily upkeep instead of a huge decluttering.  I can handle a little hard work at a time.

So if you are like me and find yourself between seasons with clutter that is affecting your ability to create... not to mention your mood... then pull out one box or one paper grocery bag and start with those items you have no desire to keep.  When you finish with those, keep going.

Then put them in your car or ask someone else to put them in their car and take them to charity.  Or if you are the type who really does have a garage sale (and you really DO actually set up a sale and sell things)... then set the bags and boxes aside for the sale.

But give them to charity if you only think of having a sale and never really do.

Then like me, you will walk into each room and feel that healing power of decluttering.  As if someone gifted you with so many helium balloons, you could fly.  But even if your feet stay on the ground, now your imagination can take wings.

Artwork:  Her Office by Kay Lamb Shannon


Ann said...

Oh I so agree with you. When my space -- whether it be inside or outside -- gets messy with too much stuff, my spirit gets antsy and I feel unsettled. De-cluttering is good for the soul!

Anonymous said...

So true! Clutter annoys and stresses me. How I love not having it! I do keep daily influx sorted (mail, laundry, etc.) every day. My pantry, fridge and all my supplies are "filed" on shelves like grocery store shelves.
Organization is a blessing. As is work.

Cheri said...

Wise words, Brenda. Decluttering has become my new hobby. :)

And when I tell myself, I should keep that or I might use that someday, I re-read this blogpost:

Simply Shelley said...

I have been,what I call weeding my home for more than two years,and still....I fill a few boxes every other month to go to charity. I don't know if I will ever reach a stopping point,as you is ongoing, but I have so much less than before...the more I weed...the more I realize just how little I truly need. Blessings

Simply Shelley said...

I have been,what I call weeding my home for more than two years,and still....I fill a few boxes every other month to go to charity. I don't know if I will ever reach a stopping point,as you is ongoing, but I have so much less than before...the more I weed...the more I realize just how little I truly need. Blessings

Vee said...

Every time I return to leap through the portal to Amazon, I'm reading a little more of this post. Oh my. Yes, well, my excuse has been that I can't get rid of this or that, it's followed by I don't feel well enough to tackle all the hauling and toting involved. Fact is, a little at a time is how I accomplish most things and this is a chore that never ends and it especially never ends if one never does it. Sigh. I'm redoubling my "efforts." =D

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
You are so ambitious! What an incentive to start clutter! I have already dona a little in the kitchen, it really does look better! Have a great day and keep warm! Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

Well, if you could see my "craft room" you'd probably faint! It really needs a major over-haul! But you are so right about squelching creativity. I haven't done much creating in there lately, because I'd have to rearrange all my piles to make room to work! Ok, you've inspired me to really do some serious Spring cleaning! This could take a while!
Now, I just need the energy! Thanks for the inspiration.
Laura C. from WA

Deborah Montgomery said...

I have a craft room that has just been gathering piles of stuff since Christmas, when it was neat and clean for guests. We have guests coming next week again, so I need to organize it pronto. I agree, clutter is depressing. When I'm feeling overwhelmed I set a timer for say, a half hour, and just do some every day. It's manageable then, and before you know it, you've accomplished a lot.

The Journey said...

Lately- I pass things at resale shop- telling my self- you really don't need that- no place for it. Only exception if it is used to organize or it's a book- fiction- all but my favorites get passed along.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is so timely!

With Lindsay married, we are all moving bedrooms. It's a real (fun for me) project that we are going to do later this week hopefully! So we will take this opportunity to declutter, and pare down.

I'm excited. I love that feeling of peace when a room has well, room to breathe!