If someone gave you forty eight hours notice to leave your home with only two large cases of possessions, where would you start?
Would you be filled with panic at the realisation that up in the attic were those boxes of trinkets from your own university days which you’ve simply never had time to go through but which you dare not leave behind because in one of them is a gift from your first love and your heart will break if it doesn’t accompany you to your own grave because that’s what you’d always pictured you’d do with it? (In which case why has it spent the last twenty three years in a dark box? Oh yeah, coz you married someone else and have a life.)
Would you anguish over which set of crockery you might carefully place amongst the jumpers, because it belonged to great Aunt Lucy and you’d hate to think of it falling into just anybody’s hands, such as those of a house-clearer who might, if he was having a bad day, chuck it all higgledy piggledy in a cardboard box, then cart it off in a van like refugees being torn from their family homes?
And what exactly is in that cupboard at the bottom of the stairs, behind the vacuum cleaner, and all the out-of-season coats? That’s a job you’ve been wanting to attack for months, no years, but always found a reason not to start; need to peel those spuds, ought really to wash the windows – do people actually do that – sit amongst the tat and type that novel you’ve been thinking about for fifteen years.
The fact of the matter is this. There will come a time when we need to take a big deep breath, go armed with some bags (one for the charity shop, one for the bin-men or whatever they are called these days) and bite the bullet. The pleasure gained from Aunt Lucy when you took on her 58-piece dining service (which may in turn have been her own grandmother’s) just before she moved out of her bungalow to go into the home was evident on the day. She was delighted and so were you.
Even as you swooned over the rose leaf patterned gold-edged sauces that you knew you’d never use, there was an element of mutual appreciation, respect, love. (Or was it that she was just relieved that you’d relieved her of a mental guilt she’d been burdened with fifty years earlier when her grandmother handed down the family heirloom? No, no, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she genuinely wanted you to have and enjoy it.)
You served Christmas Day tea on it once fourteen years ago, and swore because it couldn’t go in the dishwasher, and cursed your six year old when he flew the supposedly indoor remote-control helicopter around the living room and it landed on a side plate which your father had balanced on the arm of the sofa. When it tinkled to the floor, landing in three pieces because it made contact the £2.99 Asda mug you’d left there, everyone went into over-drive. “Oh, God! So sorry! I’ve got some araldite somewhere, it’ll fix that. Here, let me get it ….” and as you scrabble to find the tiny triangle which competes the jigsaw, you realise Aunt Lucy’s gift no longer brings you pleasure.
For me, this is the key. If something no longer brings me pleasure, it has no place in my home. Or life. Simples. Matsu (I’ve never forgotten him). We don’t need to be surrounded by our past to be happy. In fact, I went one stage further than that. A few years ago I created a guide by which I was going to maintain my home and I named it the WULE RULE, which basically translates into the following:
If you don’t WEAR it, USE it, LIKE it or EAT it, then it goes. Before you panic again, think about that. All the clothes you never wear at the bottom of the drawer? Why keep them under some false sense of ‘I’m sure I’ll fit into that again one day,’ or ‘I might need a red T-shirt for a fancy dress party and I can make it into a Wonder Woman outfit.’ Tip all your drawers on your bed, treat them to new liners and spend an hour (one measly hour) picking up each item and be really ruthless. I bet you only put back 70%. The rest go into the charity bag.
Everything in the home should have a use. The whisk in the utensils pot you use quite regularly yes? Ok, that can stay. How about that bucket behind the vacuum cleaner – why are there two? Because one has a hole so won’t hold water and you keep it for dry matter? BIN IT!
If you don’t actively like Aunt Lucy’s dinner service and she passed away eight years ago, please don’t feel guilty about moving it on to someone else who may actually adore it. Or the antiques shop in that town you drove through last week. This is your life, a time for your stamp on the things around you. Don’t live through the items of people past. The photo above shows one tiny area in my otherwise cluttered home. It is a sideboard I bought about two years ago and I adore the clean wooden top and the soft green painted drawer fronts. Matsu, my Bonsai, sits there proud – and my longterm followers will recall why I bought him. On this sideboard I only allow my two candles, Matsu (who’s name was initially Gail, but quite right when Ortensia – very entertaining blog – suggested it be called the star of the novel), the heart my daughter bought me for Mothers Day and, oh, look there’s space for these flowers she thoughtfully sent us from London this week to mark Man of the Woods and my 24th wedding anniversary!
Oh, this wasn’t us – this was my dream after Daniel Craig swept me off my feet! (You can make jokes like that when you’ve been married as long as I have.)
All the food in the cupboards can stay. Pardon? There’s a tin of what in the back of the cupboard? Refried beans because you thought you were going to do fajitas, but never did? BIN IT!
I took two old heaters to the recycling centre yesterday amongst other things, a carful let’s be honest, and do I feel remorse or guilt? No, I feel lighter. Excited even, about the space it left behind.
So, be my guest and borrow the rule, shall we make a hashtag? You saw it here first, OK?! #wulerule
For some really sensible suggestions about Fengsui and how it can help the flow of energy through our homes, check out an expert, Mabel Kwong, here. I discovered her recently and enjoy reading about her knowledge on the subject.
Have a great Friday folks xx
I’ve been given a challenge – to post a photo daily on my instagram page, linked to Author Jennifer Gilmour – link below.
I did not realise October is domestic awareness month, but Jennifer has brought it her friends’ attention by creating the following positivity challenge;
Jennifer Gilmour who is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, has decided to do something different to bring awareness this month.
Here is what she had to say:
“Not only is it the publication day of Isolation Junction (second edition) on the 22nd but I am doing this Instagram Challenge. I am sure you have noticed it says positive challenge and this is because I felt personally I needed to bring some positivity to the month. It can be quite overwhelming when each year bringing awareness brings back memories I would rather lock away and I felt that if I feel this I am sure that others feel this way as well. I have to remember that my life now is that of a happy one and that I have managed to build a positive life after the abusive relationship I experienced. So… I thought we could have a month to recognise the positives and still bring awareness to domestic abuse”
So for a month, I shall be taking part in Jennifer’s challenge.
It’s not just women who suffer… many men can be helped to come to terms with past manipulations from dominating characters in their lives if only they can find the strength to talk about it.
This photo I decided to share with you guys here in blogosphere as I know you all love a cuppa xxx
Borrowed from daily calm because their pictures always inspire me
Mother’s coming. For a visit. Don’t think she imposed herself upon me; far from it. I invited her via a text yesterday, suggesting she and dad pop over for a mid-morning coffee as it’s been over two weeks since I last saw them. They live eight miles away and since she came home from hospital, I’ve tried to go over weekly, but it’s getting harder because I am frantic with the day job, and you’ve noticed I’ve made sure recently that I’ve continued my literary enjoyment/research. That, after all, is me doing me and Sarah Knight would be so proud!
In theory, with her new diabetes-control mechanics in place, mother should take a sausage roll as opposed to a jam doughnut. But we’ll see, won’t we? I’ll add a PS at the bottom here after they’ve departed 🤣 … oooh dear, is that like setting a trap? Am I verging on the edges of Entrapment? (Only if you’re planning on using the evidence against her). It’s her life, her choices. I’m merely observing.
My eight year old self is busy tidying the kitchen, washing the garden table surface, placing the ashtray on it for her inevitable use when she ventures outside for her cigarettes. Why am I doing this? An eternal need to please her? Guilt because I don’t generally have time for housework and yet I hate her peering into rooms and watching the disproval spread across her face? I know it shouldn’t matter, but it does.
She has not driven a car since her fall on 20 May. This is a woman who drove somewhere, anywhere, every day of her life ‘or I get cabin fever’. Well, dad (76) has given up his part time job to … look after her. That’s what he calls it. He buys her 40 a day. He drives her where she so desires. He feigns an amused ‘I give up’ expression when she eats something she shouldn’t. He hovers while she takes her blood sugar tests before injecting. Last I heard the readings were all between 8 and 14 (better than the 57 she had on her deathbed six weeks ago 😱).
Is he complaint to a bully? Or is he genuinely spending each day happily as he would choose to, ensuring her happiness is met as he so nearly lost her? I can only imagine what it must be like to have been married to the same person for over fifty years. We’ve done half of that. To date!
I see no old classic car being done up which he spent his entire working life declaring he was excited to start, I see no golf or snooker club being attended (in fact he did join a village snooker club once and after a few weeks, mother quietly announced across the table one day “Your father’s left. The members were common, dreadful people.”)
He used to walk their golden retriever on a nearby heath and meet up with two other local husbands who walked dogs. The three of them sat on the same bench and chewed the fat. Man of the Woods and I thought this was cute, a nice break for him from the house after he retired.
One of them made the fatal mistake of calling at the house one day to see if dad was in. Mother answered and didn’t like the look of the beer belly and flat cap.
The next time MoW and I visited, she told us (again, quietly and out of dad’s earshot) “Well, that Colin, he started coming to the house would you believe? I’ve put a stop to that and even started walking the dog. They’ll soon learn they can’t manipulate your father. I’m not having my business all over the heath.”
Just popped some mascara on so she doesn’t claim I look ‘tired’ (which I may be) yet inside I feel like I’m still twenty and can take on the world 😂🙄
oooh, look at the time – they’ll be here soon!
What an amazingly honest and heartfelt post.
Inspiring to hear of a writer questioning their
own ability, when those around them know
and feel the quality. Icarus in your mind did not
hang around long enough to lose you completely ..
not into the depths of the ocean.
Just perhaps wandering along the sands
of the shore for a few weeks.
Welcome back to blogosphere.
Keep entertaining us.
Greek mythology tells story of Icarus, son of the great Athenian craftsman Daedalus, who built the Labyrinth for King Minos of Crete. The story goes that Daedalus, imprisoned in his own creation by the King, fashioned two sets of wings from feathers and wax so that he and his son could escape. Before taking to the skies, Daedalus warned his son not fly too close to the sea, where dampness would clog his wings, nor too close to the sun, but to follow his path of flight.
But Icarus, overcome with the thrill of flying, ignored his father’s warning, soaring ever higher until the sun melted his wings, and he was left flapping his bare arms. Falling to the sea beneath him, Icarus drowned.
The story of Icarus is one of over-ambition. The Athenian’s failure to recognize the separation between his desire to soar closer to the sun, and his…
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I’ve been quiet for a few days haven’t I? I’m still here but focusing on me and The Book!
I’ve been mulling over something I studied a while back and fancied sharing it with you 🌸
I recall a test in which we participated during our 12-week self-esteem course (I say ‘we’ .. that’s myself and seven other women who had qualified for this course having done the Freedom Programme at my local Womens Aid centre).
The amazing volunteer leader who stood at the front had six sheets of different coloured A4 paper. She held up the white sheet.
‘This represents me; my self esteem, which is extremely good.’
(immediately she said this, I curled my toes with embarrassment – how could anyone be that self assured … but I hadn’t completed the course had I)
‘This red piece of paper represents my husband – and when you do this, I want you to imagine it represents the person, partner, parent, child who has bullied you. I carry no worries about my husband’s connection to me; we love each other as equals, respect each other and hence he causes me no negative self–esteem issues and I can therefore place this piece of red paper next to my white one. Close to it, but not covering up or hiding any of the white… like that.‘ and she placed it on the table in front of her, touching the white piece down the long side, and as we watched, one of the more mature women suddenly spoke up,
‘Like it compliments your piece?’
‘Exactly!’ enthused the leader. Next she took a green piece and held it up.
‘This represents my children. I have two teenagers, one doing GCSEs later this summer, so right now I am giving her all the extra time she needs me to, in order that she feels supported. There is an undercurrent of concern but no negativity. I, we chose to have the children and knew there would be times when more attention would be needed from us for them, so for now, I shall place this green sheet covering … oooh … about 20% of the white. Like that.’ We watched.
Then a purple piece ..
‘This represents my work here, so my job. I know what is expected of me in my hours of work and my self esteem is so good, that if I am given more than I can cope with, I inform the boss that I need extra time or extra help, immediately alleviating the worries and stresses which might build if I elected not to say anything. So this piece also takes nothing negative from me, only the effort required that the hours I am obliged to give it… therefore I place it also next to this white sheet … let’s pop it along the top here.’
She did the same with orange for friends, explaining that if a friendship had become negative, one-sided, or toxic, she now walked away from them. Life was too short to surround herself with negative people, just because they’ve been friends ‘for years’. The same with a yellow piece for parents and extended family members and the task was complete.
It was the most inspiring demonstration I’d ever witnessed. Then it was our turn.
On finishing, I realised I was one of the luckier ones.
I still had a third of my white paper showing. One girl, whose leg was broken when her partner stamped on it when she fell on the staircase when he pushed her, and who had not spoken for the first four weeks of the Freedom Programme meetings, had her white covered almost entirely by the red sheet, so scared was she of her partner’s imminent release from prison.
Another women, whose adult daughter bullies her and prevents her from seeing her grandchildren had over half of her white sheet covered by green.
And so it went on….
Now YOU do it!
A year on, I can honestly say if I did the experiment again, I would have 95% of my white sheet visible. I can’t explain the difference I feel about so many things. The counselling was a lifeline out of a quietly building depression and I am so grateful to the volunteers of the Womens Aid groups … and most towns have them, so if you feel overwhelmed by events in your life, seek their help. xx