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
This is heart breaking.
This is the truth of how and why grief can come.
God bless you my friend
and thank you for your brave post
Grief is a funny thing, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. You might think it is the big days – the anniversaries, Christmas, birthdays – that are the worst. That is not the case for me. I am expecting those, I can prepare myself, brace myself, the sadness comes, but I’m prepared and its manageable.
It’s the other days that are worse. The ones where it takes me by surprise and, because I’m unprepared, my defences are down and it takes me over completely. It can be an innocuous thing that starts it; something on the TV, a throwaway comment, a magazine article. A song on the radio. Sometimes there is no discernible reason. On those days, the grief can engulf me and render me completely immobile.
Today is one of those days. I feel completely bereft today. Worse than last Wednesday, when it was his…
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Things can seem so desperate, but when you release the grip a little, it becomes more obvious where to hold.
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
Have you ever noticed that while in holiday mode, you cope surprisingly well on only 8% of your worldly goods?
For example, I have minimal make up here in Spain with me – my daughter and I travelled hand-luggage – and I’m managing perfectly well to look half human. So, why do I possess (back home in the cupboard at the top of the stairs) fifty four other lipsticks I’ve rarely worn but keep for that occasion I remain convinced will come?
And why does the vision of me tipping the lipsticks and further examples of hastily bought eye-enhancing but now out-of-date offerings in the grey basket (£3.99 for a set of two from somewhere I can’t recall) into a bin fill me with panic? FOMO?
I am beginning to see why some folks sell their houses, and backpack around the world to gorge themselves on experiences while still alive, as opposed to filling their homes with gadgets and paraphernalia over the decades which need insuring or cleaning, only to be leaving the planet one day without them.
I read a post this morning which got me thinking… love it when other blogger’s words do that to me. Pop over and take a look at why this writer travels.
My wanderlust for exploration started relatively recently and I think the coincidence that my children arrived at adulthood in fact makes it no coincidence at all.
A huge chunk of their smaller years we stayed put on the farm, save the annual pilgrimage to Cornwall. What more did they need? Wildlife at our fingertips, trucks and tractors for them to steer across stubble fields while sat on my or Man of the Woods’ knees, a pony in the rather large back garden meaning no livery fees, a local primary school with friends living nearby. Perfection personified.
But there was one animal lurking beneath the surface of my union with Man of the Woods, hibernating. Wanderlust.
I’d holidayed abroad a few times before I met him; Tunisia (there’s a short story, right there!), Romania, Miami, Scotland (I know that one is not abroad but him it may as well be). Once we were married and living on the farm, the next generation to maintain the 500 acres, a rather busy schedule ensured there were no weekends off, no finishing at 6pm, no even remote possibility of pre-booking holidays (‘have to wait and see if I’m still spraying, see what the weather does that month’), no accepting weekend barbq offers at the school gates from other 9-5 parents (eventually the invites stopped coming) and no vague hopes of even a cinema trip on a random Tuesday evening if thought about at 3pm (‘gotta finish this field before tomorrow’s rain’ – those bastards who developed tractor lights so efficient you could illuminate a small village from the front of a John Deere).
It’s out. And there’s no forcing it back either. Wanderlust, with it’s searching eyes and natural inquisitive nature backed up by a steely determination.
The last few months I’ve rediscovered my love of reading fiction, I’ve re-awakened an old habit of writing diaries but call it blogging (I must show you one soon, they are embarrassingly hilarious and self illustrated too 😱🙈). I’ve embarked on the adventure that is writing a first draft of a novel with a very vague notion that I might self-publish if agents and publishers politely ask me to move to one side having witnessed its early pages.
I’ve also left the homestead more frequently.
I love my home, don’t get me wrong. I love Man of the Woods too, we share twenty four years of together history.
But God, I love travel. And he doesn’t, or hasn’t. I admire his often repeated mantra that the farm; the trees and hedges he walks so often, the soil in the fields he turns annually and knows so well, is his world. He feels secure that his surroundings remain constant. He needs nothing more he says, though he adds that he needs me and the kids around him when possible.
(May I add here that I love driving different hire cars – they’re so clean!).
The excitement tingles through me when I see the unmade road, the unknown territory, the visions which await my eyes around every corner (ps I made a U-turn here, don’t panic!)
Wildlife new to my senses, geographical rock formations which question my sparse engineering mind, sounds which can only be heard at that moment in time in a place far away from home, smells to tantalise your taste buds.
Man of the Woods enjoys simple pleasures. He does not have a smartphone, despises FB. Hates with a passion materialist people, or folks who move to the countryside from the cities because, he feels, they want to somehow become country people yet he claims they wouldn’t know a birch tree from a foxglove. He airs his opinions, often over open pages of the Telegraph at the kitchen table, and I listen because my counselling taught me everyone is entitled to their opinion. Some I don’t agree with, but that’s ok too.
Last year I was here in this very apartment with the very same daughter (that’s a relief as I only have the one daughter) and I was reading a book that weekend called ‘Get Your Shit Together‘ by Sarah Knight. It’s funny as hell, and rather poignant. In fact, if you’re human and breathing and living any sort of life, I’d recommend any or all of her books – and no, she’s not paying me. Here, in fact, is proof I was reading it last September on the roof terrace while devouring pizza,
And here’s her first in the series which I rushed off to buy when I returned from that weekend. These are books that genuinely made me look at life differently. For the much better 💫
What a difference a year makes.
I’m here. MoW is there. But he’s happy, not jealous or making me feel guilty with manipulative wording, but on the phone showing genuine pleasure that we are still in bed doing what we want at midday!
Looks like I’m getting my shit together so let’s drink to that coz also I’m a thousand words up on my wordcount 💫
Borrowed from daily calm because their pictures always inspire me