I had a roommate years ago and we both liked to watch HGTV – especially the decorating shows. We had a drinking game (Diet Coke for her, and chocolate milk for me), that included the phrases “mid-century modern,” and “clear the space.” Needless to say, we went through a lot of Diet Coke and chocolate milk.
Clearing the space is a lot easier when you work for a television network and are provided with a moving crew and storage space for all of the stuff you need to “clear.” They always make it look so simple, don’t they? Re-decorating an entire room in the span of 30 minutes or an hour.
In real life, as we all know, it’s a lot more complicated. For example, I live in a 550 square foot apartment, which was downsized from a much more spacious living arrangement. Every closet and cabinet is crammed full, and I have utilized every “smart-storage” tip I can find on the Internet. There is barely room to walk around, much less move anything. Simply doing laundry or beginning a craft project feels much like working a life-sized Rubik’s cube.
I need to stay where I am right now for a variety of reasons, but I really want to update the look of my home from something sort of like “shabby chic” to something more like, well…mid-century modern (then I’ll have to buy some Diet Coke and invite my old room mate over).
Well, get out the chocolate milk, because I’m getting ready to clear the space!
My strategy? I’ve rented a booth at a local antique mall. (For anyone reading this in Tulsa or Broken Arrow, OK, My Pappa’s Barn just moved to a new location. The rent is reasonable, the space is great, and the people are fantastic. I highly recommend it. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…) My plan is to take everything that does not have a lot of sentimental value there, one storage-bin per week over the next several months. The stuff that doesn’t sell will be donated to charity.
I figure by Summer time, I might actually have a place to display some of my own artwork.
This last weekend I started by moving two book shelves and an armoire into the booth to use for displaying items for sale. Of course I also had to sort, pack and move all of the stuff that was ON the book shelves and in the armoire. That process took about twelve hours, which gave me plenty of time to think…about how in the world I ended up with all of this stuff in the first place, and why, and about how this overwhelming mess I’ve created for myself creates a tangible representation of what sometimes happens our lives.
Essentially, I’ve been accumulating all of this “stuff” to fill voids and distract from unattractive elements…both of my apartment space and in my life. Much of what I now own was purchased from garage sales, antique malls, and flea markets…it was originally other people’s stuff, and I took it on to enjoy it and care for it for awhile. Likewise, much of the mental and emotional turmoil I often find myself in actually belongs to other people. I’ve just taken it on out of a sense of obligation, compassion, empathy, or sympathy. Like the flea-market finds, this emotional baggage is meant to be shouldered only as long as necessary, then unloaded in an appropriate manner. While some antiques hold precious memories that I want to keep forever, many of the others are associated with memories that I’m ready to let go, so I can make room for new ones.
How about you? Do you have any good advise for “clearing the space,” in your world, either literally or figuratively?