When I was very young, perhaps 4 or 5, I got into trouble my first
week in school. My vice was an overactive imagination and a love for story books.
When Mrs. Greene told us it was time for our 'naps', I would gather up my pink, wool, Hudson's Bay Blanket that my Mother had embroidered my name on, and settle down on the waxed, linoleum floor as close as I could to the bookshelf. Then I would lay co-operatively down and half-close my eyes as I feigned sleep, while keeping one eye slightly open as I watched for Mrs. Greene to turn her back on us.
As soon as she made her way back to her desk and appeared to be engrossed in her piles of paperwork, I would begin my journey.
One inch at a time, I would slide my blanket silently over to the bookshelf, keeping an eye on Mrs. Greene the whole time, until I could reach out and remove my favourite book off the shelf.
That book was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
I would lay on my kindergarten, pink blanket and read my favourite parts of the book silently to myself. This worked for a number of days, or at least I thought it was working.
Then one day Mrs. Greene stood towering above me and with an angry voice told me to put the book away and go back to my spot and have my nap. I was devastated; not so much at her admonishment, but that my favourite world of Mr. Tumnus and his cosy little cave and Lucy and her adventures in Narnia had been closed off to me.
My parents told me I would have to do what the other children did and even though I couldn't sleep, would have to pretend that I was resting. They also gave me some books to bring with my blanket and Mrs. Greene agreed to let me read them quietly while the rest of the class napped.
Mr. Tumnus, for those of you not familiar with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is a faun in the story and has a wonderful little home, a cave really, filled with the things he loves. Ever since I fell in love with Mr. Tumnus and his homey little cave, I have wanted to have just such a place myself. I think I have finally achieved that, however it doesn't fit in with today's modern decorating ideas.
Brian Schulman wrote a post a couple of days ago called 'Is Your Life Cluttered?' and it spurred me forward into looking once again at all of the things that surround me in EVERY room of my home. I've been meaning to pack a lot of them away as I'm rapidly running out of horizontal space to put all this stuff.
I have one BIG problem though; most of these 'things' are far more than just objects. They have great and deep sentimental value and each one tells a story and reminds me of someone I care for deeply. What do you do about stuff like that?
I started to prioritize a month or so ago when I read my friend Carole Provenzale, the feng shui expert extraordinnaire's post about clutter and how it can drain your energy and your life. Brian's post was a reminder to get back in gear.
As I said to Brian, I can easily pack away the myriad stuffed animals I have received from former romantic interests (for some reason the men in my life, starting with my Grannyda who gave me
my first Teddy Bear, love giving me flowers, jewelry, books AND stuffed animals, however the flowers, which I love, have a half-life that is rather short so they're not an issue when it comes to clutter.
The jewelry, well, it comes in small packages so can easily be tucked away in the backs of drawers and such; the books find their way to the overflowing shelves, however what to do about the teddy bears and elephants and rabbits ? Yes, I LOVE stuffed animals.
I started this love affair at a young age as you can see by the picture of me with all of my friends.
I STILL have many of those friends. Not only do I still have them, they sit on my cedar chest and my wash stand and my antique chairs with all of the latest additions and I look fondly on all of them every day.
However, there comes a time when one has to begin prioritizing and deciding which items are expendable. I guess that means all of my teddy bears and rabbits and my beloved elephant need to be packed up and sent off to a new home. Maybe.....then again, perhaps there are other things I can send away instead.
What about all of the gifts clients give me, some of them handmade, like
a beautiful scrollwork moose clock
and a beautiful 'outstanding in your field' framed needlepoint
and lovely handpainted flower vases and dill pickles (well they'll get eaten so they're not an issue)
and chili sauce
and tons of garden produce and flower bouquets (again, they all get eaten or eventually die)
and plants (they're not an issue because they add to the 'energy' of my little abode
and antique books (which I collect and clients so thoughtfully give me when they find out about my collection)
and little pins (well, they're small, so they don't take up any space and look cute sitting on my desk)
and keys to their cottage (yes, some dear clients of mine whom I sold a beautiful waterfront cottage to, have offered me over and over the keys to their cottage for any weekend they are not using it, or any time through the week that I want to go up there and spend a few days ....I was so completely touched with warmth by this very generous and kind gesture of thanks from them , and as of yet have not had time to take them up on it )
I'm totally grateful to all of my wonderful and kind, thoughtful clients and I cherish each and every one of their gifts, just as I cherish them and would never EVER remove any item they gave me with appreciation and caring in their hearts , from my home...in fact, every time I gaze upon something that came from a client, I feel a sense of warmth and happiness inside....so none of these items can possibly be classified as clutter.
That leads me back to just what is the clutter in my home ??
Is it the furnishings that were given to me by family members, family
heirlooms ?? Most definitely not !!!
I cherish my Granny Smith's tea wagon and her linen bureau and my Dad's funky art deco kitchen set and his old blue carpenter's chest and all of the other things given lovingly to me by family....so definitely all of that HAS to stay !
Hmmm......What about the tons of family photos I have everywhere?
Even some of ancestors who lived over a hundred years
ago ? Everytime they catch my eye I feel a sense of connection and of belonging and am reminded of those who sacrificed for me so that I could have the life I have today....so definitely all of those have to stay...
Perhaps I'm supposed to get rid of some books.....
OUCH! Just the thought of that rips at my very soul...
...I HAVE to keep each and every one of my almost 600 books...they all have personal meaning to me....
Oh dear, this is rapidly turning into a lesson in frustration and a sentimental journey down memory lane.
I can see there's really nothing that I am able to give up and yet, I want to clear up my living space and perhaps parts of my life along with it...
Perhaps someone can write a post on just what exactly is clutter and how do we differentiate between what should go and what can stay ? And please don't tell me to get rid of anything that has personal meaning to me....I just can't do it. That being said, I do need some help with this one....
What would you give up to de-clutter your living area ? What SHOULD you give up but maybe can't bear to part
with ? I hope there are some wise souls out there who are able to help out with the answers to these questions.
Just please don't ask me to part with any of my 'friends'; I'm afraid I just can't do it.
To quote C.S. Lewis, at the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe, "Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again".
For me, that time is now....and yes, I still have my pink blanket.