Absolutely…everything, it turns out.
Three days ago I started a post all about clutter and how the heck I managed to get so much of it in a relatively small amount of time (two months shy of four years). Anyway, in between writing the post and finishing it I actually got around to gathering up a lot of the clutter in my flat and throwing it away (well, throwing it onto the balcony to be thrown away this weekend), and I realised that it’s not really clutter; what it actually is, is the result of many years as my mother’s daughter and a large number of years as my grandmother’s carer.
Years ago it used to be that you would have to keep the box something came in (be it a toaster or a desktop computer) as well as the receipt, in order to take it back if something went wrong within the warranty period. My grandmother ALWAYS stressed how important it was that the box our toaster/kettle/microwave/whatever came in went into the loft or the cupboard under the stairs until said appliance was over a year old. For whatever reason, I kept up this habit; I’d buy a new appliance (the newest one being a kettle last April when my last one decided to start leaking water onto the electric base) and stick the boxes in the airing cupboard or the cupboard in the hall. Of course, me being the way I am (not lazy, but if I can’t see it then it doesn’t exist) I just kept on adding and adding to this pile of boxes, and never threw any of them away. When I went through my cupboard of boxes I discovered the box that my six-year-old blender came in, and the box that contained a radiator a friend bought for me about eight years ago when we had a particularly cold winter and I was living in a home with no carpets or laminate (seriously, this place had painted floorboards complete with gaps and nothing else). I must have used all these boxes to pack the items in when I moved and just automatically shoved the boxes in a cupboard (out of sight out of mind) until this week when I realised that I really don’t need them anymore.
I am relieved that I have managed to get rid of these things (well, put them on the balcony until tomorrow – Saturday) and I know that tonight when I get home I will be doing even more in my efforts to become a little bit more organised. I fully intend to start putting away my clothes after they’ve been laundered (I do them, so why I have this awful habit of just piling them sky-high in a basket I will never know).
What I need to be doing now, not only for the good of storage space, but also for the good health of my mind, is throwing out things that I have been keeping for decades ‘just in case’. I have no doubt that many of you do the very same thing, keep stuff that you’ve had for years just because you never know if you’re going to need it. Well, I have news for you; the dried-up biro, book on astrology for 1983 by Russell Grant, sheet of paper with notes from a lecture you attended in your last year of uni in 1998, are NEVER going to be needed again! Throw them out
It’s taken me a very long time to reach this point, but I am now looking at things more objectively. I kept things just because I held a fondness for something they represent, but I have pictures of myself wearing the fairy costume my nan made me for my niece’s third birthday (she’s now nearly 17), and I have signed photos and an autograph book of the event that I still have the train and cinema tickets for. WHY did I keep all this stuff just to fill up drawers that could be used for storing things like…oh I don’t know, clothes maybe?
The older I get the more conscious I become that everything I leave in drawers and cupboards will, at some point in the hopefully not too near, future, need to be sorted through and cleared out by my family. Do I REALLY want them to get the impression that I am a hoarder, keeping things that are just dust collectors? Whisper: do I really want them to find my Ann Summers collection?
I am not doing this clear-out for anyone but me, I think that a minimalist life is never going to be something that I either enjoy or have (books are too much of my life for that) BUT at the same time I don’t think that I am living in a practical or logical way, I have letters that were sent years ago, I have payslips from a company I haven’t worked for since 2007, I have been filing rather than throwing letters from my TV company promoting things I will never buy! This has got to stop, and I have to be the one to stop it.
Next week a cleaning company is coming around to my flat to do a thorough spring cleanse, carpets, cooker, windows, bathroom, cupboards, the lot, and I can’t wait. The promise of this clean (which I am paying through the nose for, but have been wanting a really long time), is what has pushed me into gear. The thought that strangers will be wandering around my flat looking in drawers and cleaning the surfaces in my cupboards is both amazing and terrifying at the same time, I need to ensure that they aren’t going to be cleaning AROUND stuff that should have been thrown out forever ago. I guess booking this was my prompt and my wake-up call.
I know that a lot of you will read this and think huh? WTF is she going on about? But then of course, a lot of you will say things like “OMG this is me? I have that poster of Bros in a tube to keep it clean, it’s not signed or anything so why am I keeping it?” If you are, like me, one of the latter, then welcome to the revolution. Spring 2017 is the year that my junk gets tossed out and I start a new more clutter-free life, will you join me?