The backdrop to my 2017 is the year long art project, TWELVTY, where each month has its own color. An unexpected side benefit to this is I’ve got this clear delineation in my time. Each month is visibly new. A month is a manageable sized lump of time, and I’m relishing month-sized projects this year.
It all began in February.
On the evening of January 31st, full of pending-new-month-enthusiasm, I happened to be listening to an episode of The Slow Home Podcast talking about #minsgame – the minimalist’s month long decluttering challenge.
Now, I’m not seeking minimalism, but the place I want to be is in that direction from here…
This is the way it works:
Day 1 – get rid/recycle/donate/throw away one item of clutter.
Day 2 – two items,
Day 3 – three items – you get the idea…. for a month.
February, having 28 days, equates to 406 things. Just 406 things. No problem…
Did I stick to it all month?
No. No, I didn’t.
The first few days were hard. Because singling out just one/two/three things means resisting gathering up more than today’s allotted number… but that’s why it’s called a challenge, right? Through week one, as I made my coffee in the morning, I’d find the thing/s to put in the donations box. Odd things that don’t get used… bits and bobs. Easy. Fun. Yay!
By the end of week one there was a box of assorted junk/treasure to donate: 28 things.
In week two I was distracted by the fact that in week 3 I was going away for few days, which meant either before or after my trip I’d have to collect up an extra 63 things in order to keep up.
Suddenly this felt weightier than the actual living amid clutter.
I’m really averse to rules and structure. And precise counting.
My inner adolescent was stomping about in my head ‘I don’t need to be told how to get my shit together…’ (and my inner adult was surveying the clutter and shaking her head.)
But y’know what? – that first voice was right.
All I’d needed was the nudge into action. To convince myself it was a game. By mid-week two I’d built up so much momentum I couldn’t limit myself (or be bothered to keep count), so I went with the flow and box after box of stuff has found its way out of my house.
Bags and bags of ‘just in case’ material for projects that haven’t manifested, boxes of ‘holy cow that’s a bargain I’d be crazy not to’ excess quantities of *way more than I could ever use* plus all those things that were someone else’s sentimental memories. Memories of people long gone.
I sailed past the 406-thing-mark and didn’t look back.
As are the ripples. I’ve also deleted swathes of old emails. Documented trivia from over a decade ago: gone. Conversations long dead: gone. I’ve unsubscribed and I’ve unbookmarked, and with every unchecked box and each ‘Are you sure?’ — YES, there’s a bit more brightness.
The relief is tangible. I actually felt lighter.
But what I came to discover next was the sorting and choosing, the bagging and boxing, the discriminating between hasty enthusiasm I might later regret and misplaced sentimentalism, all that choosing and deciding, that wasn’t the final act.
My car contained the bags of stuff to donate, but there wasn’t a parking spot close enough to the charity shop. For longer than I expected.
The bags of textiles sat next to the door awaiting their final journey to the recycling centre for longer than I planned.
It’s like there’s an energy around these things, having a sticky quality to them. Their energy is so entangled with my own, the process became multi-layered, and it’s not over yet. I’ve cleared out round one and now as I survey my surroundings it’s with a different eye.
There’s a new hierarchy and the filters are finer.
I am a work in progress.
And I’m learning more about being me all the while.
If you’re tempted to haul yourself from the mire of accumulated years of clutter, I can really recommend Rachel, the Messy Minimalist, on Youtube. She’s fab. My mantra in moments of doubt was: If Rachel can do this, so can I. I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book, but I’ve got the gist of it and used some of her principles too. There are countless Youtubes on folks Konmari-ing their homes and lives too.
Good luck! X