People hold on to objects for three basic reasons:Taken from https://www.domain.com.au/living/i-was-getting-buried-in-clutter-heres-how-i-finally-got-free-20180119-h0kafq/
I am caught on all three of these reasons!!! Reflecting on why, I realised that I have another reason: it's the sense of 'home' that I have attached to my stuff. 'Home' to me is feeling peaceful, fulfilled and living in a sense of order. (Yes, my clutter is very ordered!) 'Home' for me is emotional fulfillment.
I like to surround myself with beauty and memories of love as a buffer against the stress of negative emotions. My childhood wasn't easy, moving to over 20 schools in new places, never having lasting friendships, living on isolated farms. A couple of traumatic events in later life, including going through a severe bushfire have left their impact.
When I left home at 16 (while still finishing school - my parents moved on again!), I took my single bed and my chest of drawers with me. It made me feel at home to have these childhood 'friends' as I began to rent a room, study, work and then gradually buy my own furniture and decor. Almost everything I owned was second-hand (still is!). The worn, aged patina of something well-made always appealed to me over the plain, cheapness of mass-produced stuff. I couldn't afford new things that were fine quality, so I re-covered, repainted, remodeled, or just enjoyed the patina as it was.
Living alone for so many years while waiting and hoping to meet a partner to start my own family, moving from place to place at least every six months, meant no stable home for me. So I had to create that sense of home in other ways.
As I moved from rented group (shared) houses to flats and bedsitters over 15 years of being single, I'd unpack my stuff, set it up around me to create my 'home space'. Being alone, without family nearby, I invested a sense of emotional security and homeliness in my stuff. I enjoyed how I could set my things up creatively and change them around yet still I'd feel a sense of home. Unlike much of life, my stuff was within my control. Gradually I developed a sense of style that brought me much happiness - the joy of rearranging, of presenting it to tell its story... just playing.
My family on both sides have a history of being hoarders of one kind or another, and the few possessions that have been saved and passed down the generations to me are solid memories of the people who have gone before me in my family tree. I cherish my Nana's Singer treadle sewing machine with the drawers still full of her things - like the huge needle she used to sew up bales of wool in the shearing shed on their sheep farm. I have half of my paternal grandmother's tea cups of fine bone china (my sister has the other half), her old postcard collection (shared between me and my sister), diaries, family bibles, photographs and mementos going back several generations. Since I was the one grandchild who showed interest in the family tree, I became the Keeper of a cupboard full of old photos, ephemera, and memories.
I've always loved to ask my parents and grandparents about the 'olden days' of their childhoods. Old things always fascinated me - their character, their worn sense of story. Somehow there seemed to be some sense of connection for me to the past, or an understanding that perhaps there was more social connection in the past - because there had to be, for survival.
My mum learned to be extremely frugal. Her early childhood was lived in the shadow of the Great Depression of the 1930's - things were still difficult in Australia in the 1940's. Having lived in a slab hut with six brothers and a sister who shared a double bed, she knew about surviving on very little. Luckily hers was a family of great love and resourcefulness.
The hut had a bare dirt floor, and a huge open fireplace which was limed to make it look white. Mum told us stories about how she and her brothers and sister would lie in the bed together, throwing their shoes at the rats whose feet they could see running across the hessian bag ceiling lining. The children only had a few simple toys, mostly home-made, and all of them had to help out - fetching water from the creek, weeding the vegetable garden, carrying the dead rabbits my Grandad trapped so he could sell their skins, pegging them out on the makeshift clothesline. They ate rabbit stew, and trout that my Grandad caught.
This is Mum's old 1940's family home 'Glen Abbey' from different angles, photos taken in the 70's and earlier, after Mum's family moved out. It has since fallen down...
Mum brought her own childhood frugal experience into our family. She was a talented seamstress, and made many of our childhood clothes. She recycled my dad's old trousers into overalls for her four kids - good sturdy country play clothes, and she knitted and crocheted in any spare time she had. We rarely threw anything out, as there was usually another child who could use it, or there might be...so I too learned to keep things for repurposing, or until someone needs them.
There wasn't much spare money, but we had what we needed and never went hungry growing up. Dad's vegetable garden supplied the pantry (wherever we moved, he would start another!) There was the time when my father served us beetroot (from his garden) sandwiches with brown sugar and cream ( from the cow), because Mum was away having another baby...and his famous 'critters' - deep fried leftovers in flour, which he could never replicate!
My father collected rocks wherever we went, labeling them carefully with initials of where he found them. He knew what kind of rocks they were and what was special about them. We moved house over 20 times in my childhood, and his rock collection always came with us.
'Functional' is the way I'd describe the furniture of my childhood. There was no extra money to replace things that were still serving well, no matter how ugly. The same fake leather lounge suite that we all sweated on in Summer came with us on the trailer to each house we moved to, along with the shiny laminated fake wood buffet cabinet, the matching kitchen table and chairs, our double bunks and beds that served us year after year, with the same matching bedspreads.
It wasn't until her later years that my Mum could afford her own personal collections - porcelain dolls, craft supplies and pretty china were her favourites.
Once I became independent, it was a pleasure to choose my own style, even if it was second-hand. By the time I met my partner I had enough furniture to begin to set up our house. In my mothering years, being early at garage sales and checking charity shops regularly meant I could get plenty of great toys, books and clothes for my young children (they're too fussy now!), and the odd ornament or what-not to re-purpose, all on a small budget.
It's especially hard for me to part with things that cost my time, talent and effort, particularly those things I made in the small spaces of 'me time' while my children were occupied nearby, or asleep. This became apparent to me in my panic when police ordered us to evacuate during the Canberra Bushfire of 2003. I had to quickly decide what to save - limited to what I could fit in the car with two young children in child restraints.
That traumatic event is a tale too long for this post, but after fearing for our lives and our home, we were lucky that Terry stayed to defend our home from spot fires while I evacuated with our boys, one a baby aged 10 months and the other a frightened five year old clinging to my leg. Luckily our home was spared, but six houses were burned down in our street. I found out later that the explosions I heard were actually the ducted gas heating systems exploding into flame, and not the water-bombing helicopter saving houses as I had thought! We had the same gas heating system, but luckily Terry put out the spot fires that started in our yard before they got to the gas pipes.
This quote sums up my attitude to my 'clutter':
'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.'William Morris
Well, there's my problem - I see beauty everywhere! I cherish stories and memories, and maybe I'm just not yet in that spiritual place that some people grow into, to be able to let go of 'stuff' ... maybe when I'm older?In the mean time, I do so LOVE treasure-hunting, with all its potential fun creating or re-purposing something!
I'm joining Wen over at her blog for...
Have a happy day,