If you recall, back in the Spring I posted about some de-cluttering that I was doing around the house. I had sketched out a bigger blog post on the subject but didn’t get around to finishing it and posting it. Until now….
What motivated me to revisit the topic? First and foremost was the “giant yarn ball” pictured above. This yarn pile is the result of finishing different pieces, and if the yarns that I was using were tangled up I would set them aside in a basket to sort at a later date. Problem was, I never ended up untangling them and kept adding to the pile. My husband has now decided that from time to time he wants to tackle the pile to get it into some semblance of order. He thinks that the yarn will go to waste- which it won’t because when I need any of it I delve into the “giant yarn ball” and pluck some out. But this yarn ball and the organization that I did of my yarns earlier this year made me realize just how much yarn I really have. I unofficially pledged to not buy any more yarn unless it was a colour or texture that I really needed for a specific project. I realized that my previous approach of picking up a skein here and there if I liked the colour or if it was on sale, was leading to an unmanageable amount of yarn. I am pleased to say that I have stuck to this pledge, using only what I have in my current stash. I hope to continue this in the new year.
My second wake-up call to the excesses in life hit me recently while I was Christmas shopping. I should start by saying that this year I had already committed to buying only a few presents for the people in my life. I have long come to the realization that we don’t really need anything. And I’ve been around kids long enough now to know that within a few days of a Birthday or Christmas, the new toys are tossed to the side never to be revisted again. Even kids can o.d. on toys. So this year I bought my daughter only two toys- both of which were things that she really wanted so I am hopeful that she will actually be interested in them.
Ok, so back to what I was saying about Christmas shopping. For some reason this year it struck me just how much STUFF there is in the stores. Has that ever happened to you? Where you look around and are suddenly repulsed by the shelves and shelves of STUFF? And if you multiply each store by the number of stores around the country and around the world- that is a lot of stuff. A lof of stuff that will just end up in landfills before long. I was talking about this with my husband and he mentioned that he was struck most when looking at people’s shopping carts. People load up on STUFF because they feel they have to give a present to everyone they know. You can tell that they are running around desperately trying to find something to buy and inveitably load up on, well, junk. Junk that the receiver is unlikely to actually want. And where will it end up? Being given away or in the garbage.
This feeling of clutter and excess has stuck with me so much that this year I only put out a fraction of my Christmas decorations. And you know what? I like it much better this way! Less is definitely more.
So here, for what it is worth, are the lesons that I’ve learned along the way to de-cluttering both in everyday life and during the holidays:
1. Develop your own style and stick to it:
I think my home decor style (much like my art) has definitely evolved: from cutesy to primitive to much more contemporary. And I like a lot less clutter than ever before. Our home is by no means minimalist, but I no longer like STUFF everywhere (makes it much less of a pain to clean too!). It is ok to have a bare surface here and there.
I think I have a similar approach in my art. I am the first to admit that my pieces are not overdone with lots of detail. If I have a complex foreground then my backgrounds are much more simple, and vice versa. I don’t like a lot of clutter in my art and I guess in some ways that is a metaphor for my life.
2. Get less sentimental:
I think we all hold on to a lot of things because of the sentimental significance behind them. But if it is the memory and not the thing itself that is important to you, do you really need the thing? Take a photo, jot down the significance, and let go of the thing that is just creating clutter. Chances are you will look at the photo more than you would ever bring out the thing to look at.
3. Stop bringing things into your home:
To accomplish this you have to get rid of “But its on sale” mentality and “Maybe I’ll need it one day.” Buy things when and if you need them and leave it at that. Otherwise those purchases add up, leading to clutter. I have read too the strategy that if you bring something into the house, something else should go out.
4. If you haven’t used something since last time you de-cluttered, get rid of it:
It is ok to get rid of things. I really like the saying by William Morris that you should “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” If you don’t love something or don’t use it, why is it taking up space in your home and cluttering up your life?
5. Fill your life, not your shopping cart:
Such a strange society we have become where we try to fill our lives with STUFF instead of personal fulfillment. I like the saying “Collect moments, not things.” So much better to spend time together as a family doing something fun than to buy a bunch of STUFF. I’d rather save the money and travel to create lasting memories than to use the money to buy things. I think a lot of people like the high that shopping and getting new things can give you. But I think an even greater high comes from setting a goal and achieving it; being proud in your own accomplishments; having purpose in your life. If there is no purpose to your life, then what is the point? No amount of stuff can make up for a lack of purpose.
6. It is ok to let go:
If someone gives you something that you don’t like, or will never use, or which doesn’t coincide with your personal style it is ok to pass it on to someone that will like it or to charity. There is nothing to be gained with filling your house (and in essence your life) with clutter. It is ok to let it go.
I feel like I’ve been getting a bit deeper here on the Blog between posts like this and my Bird Series. This year I’ve been enjoying treating this more like my personal space to get a bit more insightful and share my opinions. As I discovered this year, not every piece of art will work and sharing the failures is also part of the learning process. I’m looking forward to continuing to use this space in a meaningful way in the new year. Hope you are enjoying the ride!
** After writing this, I received my first copy of “Studio” magazine and there was an article on kind of the same thing- over-consumerism and excess and how to avoid contributing to this while making art and/or how to reflect your feelings on this in your art. Much to give one pause for thought. Will have to see how or if I can incorporate how I am feeling now into future art projects.