11 January 2016

Back to normal

Image courtesy of stockimages/
After the upheaval of the festive period, most of us are relieved not just to return to our usual patterns of existence, but also to reclaim our homes from beneath all the decorations, presents and leftover food.

My ordering compulsions make these temporary changes to my environment particularly hard to bear; by the New Year, I'm desperate to restore normality. 

The first Sunday of the year was dedicated to that mission - and what a mission it was. Not only did I have cards and decorations to take down, and presents to find a home for, but I was behind with all my usual chores, having been away for five nights over the holidays.

I decided to put a wash on while I did the ironing, however, the timing went awry and the wash finished before I'd completed the ironing. So I had to dump the wet clothes on the living room floor rather than hang them up straightaway, to enable me to put the next lot in the machine.

As a result, I could hardly move for the 'mess'. In addition to the clothes on the floor, there was a pile on the sofa waiting to be ironed, and those I'd already pressed were on hangers hooked up all over the room. Oh, and then there was the eyesore of the ironing board. 

Not to mention all the decorations cluttering the place: a small cardboard tree and a row of candles in decorative tins on the coffee table; a vase of hazel twigs on the floor, surrounded by fir cones and presents; and a string of fairy lights around one door and cards stuck up on both.

My heart raced as I looked around me. I suddenly felt overwhelmed: how was I ever going to excavate my flat from this chaos? The only way was finish the tasks at hand. I took a deep breath and carried on slowly - so very slowly - working through them.

It took hours to put everything back exactly where it should be, then, in reaction to this mental overload, my spartanism kicked in: now I also had to get rid of some of my belongings, to reduce my anxiety. 

I identified a few quick wins in the shape of some unread magazines, old holiday brochures and out-of-date food products. The disposal of these unimportant items meant that I avoided losing anything significant, which is a risk of spartanism.

Yet I remained edgy. It still seemed as if I had far too much stuff in my flat. Too many unworn clothes, too many unread books, too many items kept for sentimental reasons. Nothing but a full-scale clearout - drawer by drawer, and room by room - would completely alleviate that feeling, though, and I didn't have time for that.

Fortunately, a week on, that desperate urge to de-clutter has diminished, helped in part by the promise I made to myself: one day I'll move, and I'll do it then...

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