We left Trini with eight suitcases filled with the essentials and a few keepsakes. So when we were moving to the desert, Mum exhorted me to take as much of our stuff as we could. I’m glad we did as it made it easier to settle in with familiar things around us. If you bought us crockery, cutlery, or a chopping board for a wedding present or placemats or towels for our anniversary or a picture or a candle holder for our birthday – know we use them every day out here.
However, we’ve lived here for over six years and have accumulated a lot more possessions. An abundance of space and an absence of charity shops have meant that I haven’t decluttered as often as I used to do in the UK.
The trip to Ghana was a great motivator and I sorted through our clothes and shoes and sent enough stuff to open a pre-loved stuff boutique. Once I had the house to myself, I tackled other areas. From experience, I know that sorting out stuff can be emotional as a child’s drawing or a ticket stub can so swiftly return you to that space and time that you experience whiplash. So I took my time and didn’t try to do it all.
I went through all of Kwame’s school work from nursery to present day, choosing a few examples to keep in a folder for each year. I also chose a few to display on his bedroom wall. I’ve got them framed or laminated and now just need to mount them – much cheaper and more original alternative to the norm. I shredded photocopies of documents, ditched plastic containers with no lids and re-purposed bags and bottles for storage and display.
Sometimes challenging, sometimes fun, totally carthatic. When in doubt I asked myself 3 questions:
Would I want to pay to ship this back home?
Would I want to pay to store this in the UK?
Why am I keeping this?
Usually the answer to the first two was no but the answers to the third were insightful – evidence that I or we had had a certain experience or someone had thought of us usually at a special occasion. And that led to other questions such as ‘Do I need physical proof of love or a time well spent?’, ‘Is the memory not enough?’.’
This process helped me be more ruthless in dispatching many a black bin liner of stuff. Yet some items stirred such strong sentiments that I was unable to detach myself. Maybe next time, maybe under duress or maybe never.
I couldn’t let decluttering get in the way of all that reading so there are books, cds and toys still left to sort. But the boys will be back soon and in a couple weeks, we’ll have ten days off for Eid Al Adha and we can do some of it then and they can help.
It’s not like where planning on moving any time soon but it is good to know that I won’t have to deal with the full flow of emotions of immigrating and sifting through our life as I’ve witnessed happen to a few people whose contracts were terminated suddenly earlier this year.
Also, it now means that now that I’ve begun, I’m more motivated to complete it and more likely to maintain a low level of buildup. Minimalism isn’t my ideal but I like the lightness of our home and in my spirit.
Is there a project you need to start?