Changing the story of our belongings by Jasmine Sleigh

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Jasmine joined us in Exeter for our monthly support session. You can catch her again when she joins us in Newton Abbot on 22nd March.

 

“Wow what an amazing fur coat.” I say as I am sorting out a client’s wardrobe.

 “It was my mums.”

A pause.

“I always hated it.” She comments.

The fur coat goes into my blue bag for charitable donation. The client has a third of her wardrobe available.

I have spent the last 5 years assisting people to carefully review their belongings. I have been into over 200 homes and heard countless stories of change, loss, adjustment and reframing their lives by changing their personal space.

Often, I am the neutral and positive person that gives permission for the client to make previously delayed decisions, like the lady in the story above. But mainly I am greatly cheered when people have found mislaid treasures that reconnect them with a perhaps previously lost sense of self.

Yes, I do spend a lot of time in cupboards, retrieving items, and assisting them to be considered, and I have transported over 600 sacks of charitable donations, rehomed unusual belongings, and facilitated huge volumes to recycling, and waste disposal.

But I do not like the word declutter, as these are your belongings we are looking through, an insight to who you are, where you have been and I am very conscious that our belongings play a significant part in telling our stories. It takes courage to go to those cupboards, and perhaps start to change the story of where we have come from and where we are going.

My top 3 tips for starting out:

  1. Start positive by creating an area or a box to keep things that are special to you. You are a unique person with a unique journey and have interests to hold onto and shape for the future. By keeping those things safe, you can feel more prepared for what you can let go of, and it starts to disentangle the associations with other items.
  2. Set parameters for your sort. Book the time out, say 30 minutes at first, and tackle one cupboard armed with black bin bag, charity donation bag and your box for keepsakes. Or one type of item such as books or clothing. It is OK to start small but know when you have got to the end of that task so you can pat yourself on the back for completing it. Take items out of your home that you no longer require as quickly as possible.
  3. Be prepared to find something you thought was lost. This will keep you encouraged to keep going. So many of our belongings are about joyous times so take time to reconnect with that. But also, be prepared to be emotional, so know when you need to have someone with you.

 

Jasmine Sleigh, owner of Change Your Space (www.changeyourspace.co.uk) in the South West of England.  jasmine@changeyourspace.co.uk, 07739455310

Accredited with the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers UK