A few months ago Andy came home with a bundle of books, “they are your sort of books” he said. One of them was The Life-Changing Art of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knightand the other The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying by Marie Kondo. At the time I had no idea why he thought I might need them but life moves in mysterious ways and so I knew it was only a matter of time. Until then I opened my bedside drawer and shoved them in with the rest of the mess.
At the time of this unexpected gift I was knee deep in builder’s clutter; every surface and floor area had piles of stuff and the renovation that had promised to take six months was still ongoing two years later. I didn’t have a bloody clue where anything was and it was driving me batty. Normally I would sit and meditate which would do the trick but I couldn’t just find the right spot and so I was in a perpetual state of stress, confusion and forgetfulness. I was caught in a vicious circle of sleepless nights, coffee cravings and I was cuddling that red wine bottle a bit earlier every night. I had also acquired a strange fetish for red chillies, consuming four or five of the big ones each day. My research on this strange affliction revealed that they trigger a rush of stress-relieving endorphins so that explained that. Andy asked me why I was so hot and was I was pregnant? WTF!
As the snagging list shortened and the builders no longer appeared at my window or were letting themselves in at the front door I got a little bit of myself back and the privacy I craved. They were no longer blocking my driveway with their vans or leaving the toilet lid up in the bathroom and I wasn’t finding Maverick our dog buried in their sandwiches. Clawing back some control of my home started some sort of mid-life crisis and I opened that drawer. I had had enough of the jumble in my head and in my home. Those books were tempting me to read them, like that chocolate in the fridge that was supposed to be for the kids. First of all I started onThe Life- Changing Art of Not Giving a F**K which I know sounds terrible but gosh it was good and I couldn’t put it down. It made me realize that if we are not careful we spend our whole lives worrying about everything, whether it has happened or not. And if we aren’t doing that we are draining our energy supplies thinking about other people’s problems. Getting older has made me better at separating the wheat from the chaff, the gold nuggets from the bits of coal and now I am way more comfortable in my own skin. And so reading it was the next stage of moving forward and part of the process of an invisible poke between the shoulder blades. Gosh it felt like my filthy windscreen had finally got its wipers back and I could see the road again. Take a read of it and feel the blocks and obstacles roll away, as for me I am going back in for a second read and to find more things to roll off my shoulders.
Messy house messy life
It was definitely the start of some magic when I opened that bedside drawer and started on the compelling book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying. It promised me “to feel more confident, more successful, to have the energy and motivation to create the life I was ready to start anew,” but I just wanted to know where everything was. In many ways the opening of that first page was a catalyst to change and one I needed. I am a great believer in keeping your eyes open to the signs that you need to change and certainly I was having plenty of them. In the depths of my despair when I couldn’t think why I had moved here and why oh why had I started this renovation my friend Kali had said, “Nikki there are no mistakes only reasons.” I felt like I had the wrong contact lenses in each eye and I just couldn’t see where I was going.
Since we started the Reno two years ago what didn’t fit in the house got put in the shed. During our first winter we were battered by storms and black outs which added to my misery. Next door a house of massive proportions was being constructed; it soared above our shed casting us in its shadow. As the rains lashed down one night the entire contents of their garden washed through the fence, mud poured down the walls and under the shed and running water ran down the steep drive under the heavy roller door which saturated and ruined photos, books and special memories still stored in their removal boxes. It was if Adelaide was trying to tell me something as no sooner had we mopped it out and chucked out our precious things then another storm would do the same thing all over again. It reduced me to tears to see ruined those things which meant home to me, but remembering those words “there is only reasons” I was sure it was a sign I needed to change, that things needed to go and the clear out that the book was going to encourage me to do was inevitable. When I was in Bali earlier in the year the founder of Ishta yoga Alun Finger had told me ‘home is inside you.’ His observations that I was “carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders” made sense as I was plagued by chronic shoulder pain and back troubles. I knew I was being pushed to let go and move on.
We were still in chaos when the neighbour’s house finished in one short year. Each time I pushed the controller and the shed door trundled slowly up (and when I say shed it’s the size of the average UK house) my heart would sink at the sight of so much stuff and the weight of depression just sank on top of me. My brother said to me “if you haven’t used this stuff for two years do you really need it?” I had to admit he had a point but it was only after reading this book and feeling something click that I managed to ditch the emotion and do something about it. “If you pick it up and you don’t love it, it goes” says the author. “Do all the same objects like books all at once and don’t stop or think just feel it in your hands.” I worked thorough the sections, clothes, books, photos, furniture; selling the dining room table, sideboard, book case and matching cabinet all to one person. I followed my heart and the weight on my shoulders started to lift, the cloud in my head cleared and the back and shoulder pained that had plagued me since we moved here disappeared. Everything left was put in its own place and returned back there each time. Voila! A tidy house which stays that way. The method works and I was filled with renewed energy and a lightness I hadn’t felt in years. I intend to re-read it and go through the house and shed again and who knows what creativity will follow. The biggest thing I learnt was if the path is smooth and the doors open one by one then stay in the car and keep driving in the same direction.
Now the problem was the other members of the family, they hadn’t read the book; the mess didn’t bother them as much as me, and they didn’t have a clue what the heck had come over me. Mum’s having a mid-life crisis they said, Mum has gone all weird was another and Andy kept looking for things that had either gone in the bin or gone to charity. I kept finding plastic containers of ‘things’ that he had hung onto ‘just because ’ and all unworn for years and with no reason to keep them apart from sentimental reasons. Once he got the estimate for relocating back to Perth in December (which we had decided to do by our own choice/cost) he soon got into the swing of it. We sold things, we put things out on the street for pick up which is a great system in Australia, we gave things away to friends and the local tip held a parking space for us. The removals company dropped off charity boxes and I filled ten of them. So now the kids have their beds, bedside lights and a picture above their heads and only the clothes they like in their wardrobes and there is nothing under the bed. They love it and it’s easier to hoover as I can now see the floor. Andy is now by my side and holding my hand; he is no longer in the rear view mirror running to catch up. What a journey we have had but such a necessary process and thanks Kali I have found my reason. These transitions are a tool to growth, which is necessary to move forward and change and it feels good. Would I do a renovation again? Absolutely not! But I do have an urge to build a house one day; in a funny way I am missing creating something and the satisfaction of getting to the finish line. I feel like it’s time to write that book now this chapter is finally over, and enjoy falling in love with my husband and my life again.