This year I have vowed to make more clothes than I buy. I have quite a stash of fabric sitting waiting to be turned into something fabulous and many patterns ready to be the tool to do just that. My wardrobe and drawers are filled with things I hardly wear for various reasons so I feel like I have nothing to wear. Nothing inspiring at any rate. So now I want to flex my sewing muscles and get down to business creating some new items for my wardrobe so I can feel inspired every time I open it instead of bored or defeated!
But before I can get started there is something I have to do…
I moved house last month. I had to move back home for health reasons, but anyone (healthy or otherwise) who has ever moved house can agree; it is a massive undertaking.
As I was doing it I realised I had WAY too much stuff and my clothing storage capacity would be somewhat reduced in my new-old location! I had stuff that hadn’t been used in ages but had been held onto. Stuff I probably didn’t need. Stuff I had more than one of. Stuff I had conveniently left behind at mum’s when I moved out that was once again my problem. Stuff I was sentimentally attached to. Stuff that was completely useless. Stuff I had bought in some strange trance (brain fog and shopping don’t mix!) thinking it would be useful but hadn’t used and probably wouldn’t but didn’t want to throw away because I’d spent money on it and hadn’t used it yet – yeah, you know the things I’m talking about, everyone has them! Basically I just had too much stuff and needed to do something about it.
It seemed many people were in a decluttering mood at the same time – new year’s resolutions perhaps? Motivated by a post by Candice DeVille on Vintage Current about de-cluttering I decided to give it a proper go, starting with my bedroom. And not just de-clutter like I have done before – in small increments but actually keeping most things in storage tubs in various places. But a massive de-clutter, more like a cull of uselessness and stagnation from my life.
My first goal, phase one, was to reclaim my bedroom – it is not an office, it is not a store room, it’s not a lounge room, craft room or multimedia room. To do this I would have to cull clothing, books and other unnecessary possessions so I could:
- Fit all my clothing in my bedroom and the spare wardrobe but leave room for future additions.
- Fit all the books on the bookshelves
- Find things…
To do this I would have to be more ruthless in my culling than I had ever been. The thought was a little scary!
I had a think about the things that could be potential barriers to de-cluttering. Because of chronic illness, particularly the unpredictable nature of Dysautonomia, fatigue and pain, the main ones for me are:
- I’m not good at ‘pacing’ and try to do too much at once
- I get tired easily and run out of steam
- I need to have regular breaks for a day or two and sometimes struggle to get started again
- I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the task and my physical barriers to completing it
- I get sick or injured and have to stop
Any significant undertaking has an extra layer of difficulty when you add in chronic pain and fatigue, it has been one of my biggest hurdles in the past and would have to be worked around. Fortunately this time was a little different. This time the junk wasn’t all in my room from the start, I was bringing it in slowly, box by box, and unpacking and sorting as I went. I could unpack one box per day or five depending on how I was feeling. It made the process a LOT easier!
Other than that I think my barriers to decluttering are pretty standard for most people:
- I spent money on something and haven’t worn/used it
- It was a present so I can’t give it away
- I haven’t worn it for a while, but I might!
- I’ve kept it for so long without using it it seems silly to get rid of it now – I almost feel obliged to hang onto it to prove a point to myself!
- It belonged to someone I care about who is gone, even though I don’t use it it feels like I’m betraying them to give it away.
Once I started it was hard to stop. I was in a mindset I hadn’t been in before, ruthless, cold, unsentimental. Every time I thought I had finished I had another look in my cupboards, shelves and drawers and found more I could bear to part with. I felt like I was becoming lighter. I sorted through all my belongings and filled garbage bags with things I no longer wanted in my life.
My size or shape changes often for various reasons so in the past I have kept hold of clothes that fit me well and look good on so I feel comfortable at different sizes. If you’re like me in that, you’re more likely to keep things to ‘grow or shrink into’. And that’s fine – if you have somewhere to keep them when you’re not wearing them. Be realistic, if you haven’t worn it for a few years it might be worth moving it on and then when the time comes buy or make a whole new wardrobe! It meant letting go of a few fantasy items that I bought when I was well and slimmer and losing weight, with the intention of losing more weight to fit into – but that’s ok. It’s more important to have things that I feel good in now than things that remind me of what my life goals were and make me feel like I’m not good enough the way I am. Who needs that in their life!
By the time I felt like I was really done, some 6 weeks after I had started, I had 7 garbage bags of things to get rid of – 1 bag of things that were too ratty to find new homes so went to the bin, 2 bags to go straight to the op shop, 1 of things to give to friends and 3 of new, barely used or vintage items to try and sell online. Due to a mix up 2 of the bags I was keeping aside to sell and give away to friends accidentally went to the op shop so some lucky people are going to get some great bargains!
There is now space in my wardrobe for new clothes! All the ones I have kept are hanging freely instead of being crammed in like toes in too-small shoes. I’ve never been one to ‘let my clothes breathe’ (most likely because I didn’t have the room) but it’s kinda nice to feel like they are!
I love the feeling of being de-cluttered and organised but right after finishing phase 1 I injured my hand and have had to put a hold on my plans for further clearing. I still can’t find things on occasion but at least there is less to search through! The rest of the process will happen slowly over the next few months but I feel more free now I have cleared out my more personal space, my inner sanctum. It needs a bit of redecorating, or at least new curtains and lampshade, as it hasn’t changed since the early 90’s when it was built. But it’s lightyears from where it was. I can’t wait for the final stages of decluttering and compeltion of my work studio!
I guess now is as good a time as any to come out as a huge Disney fan, but I guess you got that already from Cory Jensen’s fabulous image above (seriously, check out her tumblr page if you’re similarly disney obsessed!). But Let it Go doesn’t quite fit the mood musically. Housework requires something boppy, fun and motivating so here’s Pharrell and some minions to help get you going