Taking Control

I have been mulling this post over for some time, and events over the last couple of weeks pushed me to start writing a few days ago. I then saw that the prompt for this week’s Wicked Wednesday is ‘Control’. This is not a post about anything sexy, although it is about taking control.

We all have possessions in our homes, some we have had all of our lives; others are recent acquisitions. Some are presents; some we buy ourselves. Some we are attached to; others we aren’t. Sometimes, the belongings we have become too much and take over our home.

I keep my home tidy and free from clutter. I like things to be put away, and everything to have a place. Inevitably, some items don’t get put away, or don’t have a proper home and end up shoved in the nearest available space. A drawer for homeless objects. A drawer that one day will reach capacity, thus making it impossible to find anything. This is the point at which I get frustrated and end up having a ruthless sort-out.

I do keep on top of getting rid of surplus/unwanted possessions. I take decent clothes and bric-a-brac to a charity shop. Occasionally, I list things on eBay, but I often don’t feel it’s worth my time and effort, so prefer to donate them to a charity shop. I enthusiastically recycle household waste each week. I even recently took some unwanted sex toys to the tip for correct disposal.  I actually enjoy sorting through things  – I find it cathartic and get a sense of achievement. I love to use my shredder, and regularly clear the filing cabinet of unwanted paperwork. Recently, I got rid of all the video and audio cassettes in the house, along with the VCR.

Yet, even after a good clear-out, the house is still filled with stuff. Even the loft is full. Not all the belongings in the house are mine, certainly less than half, but having too much stuff makes me slightly anxious.

The house has needed decorating throughout for some time. It’s not in a terrible state: it just needs freshening up with a new coat of paint. I’ve been putting it off, as I didn’t want the disruption.  However, I’ve had to face up to the inevitable, and next week is when the work will commence. This means I have been busy sorting out the rooms that are to be painted,  and putting books and other visible items in boxes.

I keep questioning how much stuff do I actually need, and would I really notice if some of it wasn’t there anymore?

Over the years, I have been quite sentimental with greetings’ cards: birthday, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s; thank you; anniversary; etc. I used to keep the cards from people that mattered. But a huge pile or cards built up, which obviously needed to be stored somewhere. Actually, I should say piles, as I didn’t have a proper place for them all. I would slip them onto the bookcase, in drawers, in s boxes, or under the bed, One day. I realised that it was ridiculous, and I put most in the recycling. Then, of course, more occasions arose, and the cycle of keeping some cards started again. I thought I had got rid of them all, until I emptied the bookshelves. A couple of piles of cards had escaped me. I brutally went through them. But among the cards, were some from relatives that have since died. So, I now have a plastic bag of cards because I feel I should keep them. But I didn’t know they were there, and certainly hadn’t given them a thought for many years.

Old photos are a particular issue for me. I have a huge box of old packets of photos under my bed. I haven’t looked at them during the 14 years I have lived in this house. I have decided to sort through them, with a view to keeping a small number. I know there will be many similar images, out-of-focus images and some memories that I will not want to be reminded of. These photos will be shredded.

Although I do sort through clothes, I have a few items that I can’t seem to get rid of, even though they no longer fit me and are never likely to. I have three striped jersey tops that I bought from Old Navy in America, while on holiday. They weren’t expensive, but they are a bit different to anything I have seen in the UK. For over a year, they have been sitting in a carrier bag ready to go to a charity shop, yet I can’t bring myself to take them.

I have a number of items from childhood that are in the loft and in a cupboard.  Some are toys that have sentimental value. Among other items, there is  a couple of pieces of memorabilia from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.  I question why I kept them, as they have been boxed away for decades. Of course, I kept them because I thought I should, not because I wanted to have them on display. I have a few books left from childhood, which I cherish. When my dad moved to a new house, he dumped a load of childhood stuff on me. I was ruthless and got rid of a considerable amount. Included were a number of comic annuals, as in Jackie, Bunty and Mandy, along with Pony, and House and Hound magazines. After deciding that I did not want space taken up with these items,  I sold them on eBay for a good sum of money.  Other things I kept, as I thought I should. These items, which include a dolls’ house are now taking up room in the loft.

My mum died ten years ago, and it  was left to me to sort her house, which I pushed for, as I knew my sister would become too emotional over my mum’s belongings. My mum lived in a small, rented bungalow in a different area of the country. I had to be incredibly ruthless with her belongings, as the clearance had to be completed in one day. With three pairs of hands, we managed it. Most of her stuff went into a skip – it was upsetting to see her life being disposed of in this way – but I had no option.

We did keep several of her possessions, which actually filled a van. All of these items had to come  back to my house to be stored and sorted. Some went to a charity shop, and some eventually went to other family members.

I have a few of my mum’s wildlife ornaments dotted around the house, which are not my ornaments of choice. I’m not a big lover of too many things on display and prefer an uncluttered environment. I have a few knick-knacks, but these are particular things of interest to me, including fir cones and unusual stones and pebbles I have collected from beaches.  Yet, I feel I have to keep my mum’s objects on show.

Another reason why possessions have been on my mind recently is because I have a good friend, whose wife is a bit of a hoarder. A few weeks ago, I saw the extent of the problem for myself. The house is small, with four adults living there. It is impossible to move around safely due to being knee-deep in boxes and junk. Piles of documents are mixed in with clothes, cushions, coat hangers, gym equipment, blankets, DVDs, washing, books and numerous other items of junk.  The surface of the dining table can’t be seen, as it is literally a sea of jumble. That was just the living room. The bedrooms and kitchen were a similar story. I feel so sorry for my friend, as his wife refuses to get rid of anything. If he attempts to tidy up, he gets into trouble. His two adult children have been bought up to think this is normal, which makes it even more difficult. It’s not a healthy environment to live in, and I wish I could help him in some way; I would dearly love to get the opportunity to blitz his house. Seeing this environment prompted me to have a good sort-out and subsequently organise the painting to be done.

I am trying to get in the habit of sorting something in the house on a daily basis. Even if it’s just shredding some documents.  I want to take more control of my environment. But I still ask myself,  ‘do I really need all of these possessions, and why do I hold on to them?’.

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