For about the last 6 to 12 months I’ve been feeling increasingly frustrated with my life and my space. Being bedridden so much of the time means I lie here staring at the contents of my bedroom. It has slowly dawned in me that my frustration and discomfort at being in my bed is not simply because I’m forced to be here, but because I actively dislike a lot of the things I own. Looking at these 3 walls (the 4th is behind me) makes me unhappy because I don’t like what they house.
That may sound harsh, but looking around my room, I see a lot of items that I own because they were what was available, not because I loved them and chose them. There are things that I love too, many of which I didn’t buy, but I have a lot of things that don’t function like I’d like, that are falling apart, are not of any use to me, or are ugly etc.
I have a jewelry box that my now-ex-boyfriend gave me for Christmas about 12 years ago. I never particularly liked it. He did try to chose the right one, and was so proud of himself, but somewhere in that exhausting day at the mall where we looked at different designs and discussed what I wanted in a jewelry box he got my likes and dislikes around the wrong way… so it is a perfect example of the kind of thing I didn’t want. I kept it, and tried to use it, but its lack of functionality meant that I just stopped wearing it’s contents. Every time I see it, it annoys me a little because it doesn’t work.
I have a desk in my sewing room that I bought in 2010, along with a mobile file drawer, for $2 in a no reserve auction. It never quite worked how I wanted it to, because the cupboard doesn’t have a shelf and is on the wrong side for how I work.
My library and wardrobe are extensive. Most of the clothes do get worn, but there are many things that don’t fit as well as I’d like, are wearing out, or that don’t suit me as much as I’d like. I’m not a fashionista, so going out of style is never a concern to me so much as fit and fabric.
I have hundreds of books. Some I loved, some I’m never going to revisit, some I have because I couldn’t bear to see them thrown away.
My bookcases are predominantly cheap particle board flatpack shelves, designed for students. They have folding cardboard and non-woven fabric boxes that fit them. The shelves themselves aren’t bad, for the most part, but those box drawers don’t really work how I want them to. I want to look at my bookshelves and feel inspired to read.
My chest of drawers I have had for about 20 years now, but they aren’t the ones I wanted. I was going to buy a Scotch chest, but got talked into a lowboy instead. They are quite functional for the space, but not so great for my clothes. I’m torn… maybe if I address my clothes they’ll become more functional… but right now I still think a scotch chest would have been better.
My pots and saucepans were cheap house brand pots purchased from a budget department store because we needed something to cook in. They do the job, but they don’t make me happy like the heavy red iron casserole dish I was given by a friend. One day I want to get a couple of really nice pots, with heavy bottoms and easy to lift lids, but for now my pots work. They don’t make me unhappy, but I would like something a bit better.
I have a lot of hand me down items. Furniture, clothes, books, kitchen stuff. It serves a purpose but there’s not a lot I would have chosen for myself. My bed is the exception to that. I was given this bed by a friend when she upgraded. She was given it when she moved into a house with stairs too narrow and twisty for her existing base. I had always wanted a bed like this one, so I was very happy to be able to ‘inherit’ it.
Late last year I bought a writing desk and a cocktail cabinet. The intention was to make a wee “hotel kitchenette” in the bedroom so I could have a cup of tea without going too far. We have a fridge and jug, t-spoons, teas of various kinds, and dishwashing supplies (although keep forgetting, and taking the cups to the kitchen…we’ll get there). It’s great! I love these pieces. I chose them because I liked them. I may yet decide to get another wall unit for this instead and use these for other things, because the kitchen set up isn’t quite right as it is, but they are items that I chose, deliberately and I like them. They weren’t $1 reserve auctions that were good enough, they were sought out and selected and bought for more than lose change.
My red pot, my wood and wrought iron bed, my writing desk and cocktail cabinet, my art works, my blue bedroom kettle, my bedroom breakfast nook, my ukuleles, my stand mixer, my wedding dress and long black evening dress … these spark joy. So many of my other things extinguish it.
This all sounded familar to me, from a book that was popular a couple of years ago, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. When it came out, I watched Marie Kondo’s Netflix series. I also bought her book (on kindle – no clutter) and have even read it! It’s resonating with me because I’m already in that mental space. Why am I trying to store and sort a bunch of s*** I don’t want? Why am I holding onto things that not only don’t work, but make my already challenging life more difficult?
I want my ukuleles to be where I see them and want to play them. I want my jewelry to be stored in a functional and accessible manor. I want the old papers and ‘to do’ pile to be accessible but not front and center in my vision when I wake up. I want my things to be deliberate.
So I’ve made a decision… in the next week or so, once I’ve recovered from a busy week of gigs and flat inspection cleaning, I’m going to start sorting through my cr*p. Kondo says it can/should take up to 6 months to go through the process, a category at a time. I think I can manage that. I can break her bigger categories down to make them easier on my body, and I will get my husband in on it (because he needs to do the same, even if just to work out which shirts need replacing). Hopefully it makes me happier in the space in which I spend so much of my time.
Do you find that your possessions and space affect how you feel?