Decluttering

I was very happy to see the Jan-Mar 2017 issue of Time of Your Life available at the Esplanade Library.  Knowing that articles are being written for the 50plus reaffirms my belief that we are an important enough group for the government to take notice of.  For the 50plus out there, let’s stand tall and proud.

The first article focused on our home.  For someone like me who had the good fortune of buying an apartment of choice and having it renovated exactly the way I want it, my home is definitely my safe haven — a place I look forward to go back to every day (and after every trip) to rest physically, mentally and emotionally.  It is just the right size for me, giving me space to put all my things, and not needing me to spend a lot of time cleaning it.  I had planned to replace some old furniture that I had moved from my previous apartment but these have ceased to be important as I settled comfortably into my home.

The article talked about redesigning our home for more conducive living.  Aesthetics aside, we should also strive for simplicity and clutter-free.  Most of us inadvertently collect all sorts of things over time, perhaps for sentimental reasons or just in case there is a future use.  When I first moved in 6 years ago, I definitely have much less things and now, as I look around, I have indeed amass more things.  The apartment doesn’t look cluttered because with 915 square feet of space for one person, and with storage space built in when I renovated, I could always find space to keep things out of sight.

The article referenced a best-selling author Marie Kondo who advised that one method to declutter is to discard things that no longer “spark joy”.  So rather than focus on what to throw, focus on keeping things that give you joy.  In her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising”, she wrote, “By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past.  If you just stow these things away in a drawer or cardboard box, before you realise it, your past will become a wright that holds your back and keeps you from living in the here and now”.  I think the concept is very interesting, although I am not sure if everything I own gives me joy.  Some things are just needed, especially those in the kitchen!  I wanted to borrow this book but it was either out on loan at all libraries or reserved.  And if it was “in transit”, it was being reserved.  This attest to the popularity of the book.  And it also goes to show that a lot of people have picked up “Time of Your Life”.  So if you haven’t, go get yourself a copy at any national library.  It is given out FOC.

Decluttering reminded me of an old movie I watched recently, Hello, My Name is Doris, played by Sally Field.  I have always loved her movies and I find her a great actress.  If you haven’t watched the movie, I strongly encourage you to borrow it from the library.  “After a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, Doris (Sally Field) finds her world turned upside down by a handsome co-worker and a self-help guru that inspires her to take a chance on love…. The movie is a witty and compassionate late-life coming-of-age story that will make you cheer and want to say “I’m Possible!”.”  What does this have to do with decluttering, you ask?  In the movie, Doris lived her whole life in the house she shared with her mom whom she had cared for who died at the start of the movie.  There was so much clutter in the house that her brother hired a psychiatrist to try and help Doris declutter with the intention of finally selling the house so that the proceeds can be split.  There was this scene where the psychiatrist was suggesting that she throw away a ski because only one half rather than a pair was left.  But Doris didn’t want to let go of it and her sister-in-law in exasperation asked what in the world would one do with only 1 ski.  Doris retorted that a one-legged skier might come looking for it!  It was absolutely hilarious but it goes to show how strong Doris held on to her past and all the things she had amassed in her house.  It was junk to everyone else but her.  I highly recommend this movie.

A friend of mine believed that there was demand for decluttering services in space-constrained Singapore and she felt I had what it took to offer such a service.  I am not so sure myself.  I looked at my house and while it is neat, I know I have things which are of no use anymore that could probably be thrown or given away.  So how can I declutter for someone when I myself need to declutter?

I had once thought about buying a 1 bedroom apartment with a small study room to be within walking distance from my aging mom.  Even if I were to custom-make those space-saving furniture that could fold away and free up space, there wouldn’t be space to build enough storage.  To make it work, I had to throw away one-third of my current things, store another third and take only the remaining third with me to live in the smaller apartment.  I have no confidence I could make it work.

For now, I will continue to keep my home clutter-free so that it is safe for me, and I have room to move around and I do not need to spend a lot of time cleaning as things gather dust.  Decluttering service as a business….. that can wait.

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