Sometimes you seek change, and sometimes it is gifted to you like that package of wool socks you got for Christmas when you were eight; you really wanted a cool toy or maybe a bike, but instead you got underwear. For me, I find a lot of deep, lasting change is like the latter: an unpleasant gift that is thrust upon me whether I like it or not, from which I derive a significant benefit that I couldn't see when the gift arrived. After all, those childhood socks were pretty warm, and I appreciated them on a cold winter's day.
As it so happens, a few weeks ago, the Universe sent me a "present" in the form of water - three inches in my basement, that is. You may recall reading about the 100-year floods that occurred in New England recently. Well, our formally dry basement was dry no more. After a few hours of pumping and wet-vacuuming, we abandoned ship when the water started coming in faster than we could remove it. We quickly began moving the contents of the basement upstairs, leaving whatever heavy items that couldn't be lifted suspended on top of paint cans and out of the small lake that was then forming. Needless to say, the first floor of the house was filling with furniture, drums, boxes, computer equipment, pictures, fabric, cushions, tools, and things we hadn't see in a long time. A few years ago, I had done what I thought was an extensive basement clean out, but I guess I was not thorough enough. Or maybe we had since accumulated more things. Whatever the case, it soon became obvious that a lot of the items that came up from storage could not go back down; residual moisture in the basement and the threat of mold would prevent wood items and cardboard boxes from making their home below ground level. It was time, once again, to sort and get rid of a lot of things.
I admit I felt a sense of panic at the time of the initial flood, some depression about the mess, and a lot of nervousness thinking about all the work that was ahead of us. But most of all, I felt overwhelmed by the scale of the sorting task, and the emotions that would be dredged up by deciding which things to keep and which to give away. After all, like many people, I often had difficulty separating memories from their associated objects; the kids items were the hardest to see go since they brought back feelings of happy times that were now past tense. I had also kept a few furniture and household items that had sentimental value because they came from my mother's house after she passed away. In the mix were a couple of toys from my youth which I had saved (who knows why!), that I was ready to release. And then there were four cabinets of fabric, squirreled away during my former life as a fabric store employee, that really needed to be moved to a dry environment to avoid mildew. Ugh! I dreaded going through that stash and letting go of all those lovely textiles.
I waffled over some things - keep or not - for days, but generally I was ruthless in my divestiture. Fueled by a sudden internal drive to be free of the past and to live more lightly, I started Freecycling like crazy. I have mentioned Freecycle in previous posts, but it is worth giving the link again. Freecycle, http://www.freecycle.org/, is "a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free." Go to the Freecycle website and look for a group in your area to join. You can post items you want to give away, and sometimes receive items which you need - all free. I like Freecycle because items go directly to people who want and need them, and they stay out of the trash. It is amazing what I have given away. If you think that nobody would want your "junk" then think again; you never know what someone else can use. Although I was sad to see some things leave, I was comforted that they went to homes where they would be used and loved, as opposed to sitting in a box in my basement or closet for years.
It soon became evident that, what started as a little water in the basement, was turning into a whole-house reorganization. Since we decided that we wanted to keep the basement fairly empty (in case of future water issues), what wasn't given or thrown away had to find a home in some other part of the house. This was a challenge. Like pieces in a life-sized puzzle game, we moved furniture, fabric, photos, and other items from one room to the next until we achieved a clear space; when one thing came into a room, often something else had to come out. I have built a lot of arm muscles lifting stuff up and down stairs, though this hasn't helped my back all that much!
As each room clears and gets rearranged, I do feel lighter somehow, and better about letting go of the past. I hadn't intended to tackle all this internal change right now, but life evidently had other plans for me. I probably really needed that kick in the pants that our flood provided, or I never would have been inspired to take on such a huge and emotionally draining project. Like any major life-changing event (eg: getting married or having children), there's never a perfect time to turn over the moss-covered rock called "life" and examine what's living underneath it. Most likely, I have to trip over the rock and fall flat on my face before I will investigate what needs changing. Skinned knees and all, I am working my way back from this latest eye-opening, purging fall, hopefully to a place of less baggage and more contentment.
The last stage of our reorganization is to rearrange my craft room. Since I am going to be moving things around anyway, I decided I would try to beautify the space to be more inspirational and less bland. I have always admired (and drooled over) the lovely art and craft spaces I've seen online and in magazines, but somehow my odds and ends of furniture never mesh in a pleasing way. Functional, maybe, pretty, no. So I am going to try adding a little color in the form of floral valances, painted storage cubes (repurposed from my son's room), decorative storage tins (a childhood collection), and a repainted sewing cabinet (picked up at a thrift store). I'll let you know how it goes!
In the meantime, have a look at some BBEST items that would make any craft room a more inspiring place to work!
Vintage Metal Wire Napkin Holder
from Sweet Rice
This Vintage Bicentennial Canister Set from the 1970s,
This Antique Winchester Ammo Box from Nonnie's Treasures
would make a unique place to stash books or tools.
Mini Treasure Chest, Little Box of Dreams, Tin with Polymer Clay