Calling in the professionals- by Val

Free Your Space client Val writes about her experience of getting professional help.

getting professional help placing vintage photos

“For many years, my things and I have coexisted, travelling passively together towards an imaginary future lifestyle.

In that life, I would be dressed in vintage every day. I would wear my 1940s silk dressing gown and sip (rather than gulp) my morning tea. Out of one of those unused china cups. Following the publication of my first novel, photographers from glossy Saturday supplements would take close-ups of my things and praise my ‘quirky’ tastes. I couldn’t wait!

But I never arrived in that world. Instead, gradually and imperceptibly, my relationship with my things began to change. They stopped being aspirational and fun. They started to berate me for my lack of achievement. They began to represent things undone, unaffordable and unachievable.

This included wardrobes – full of vintage clothes I could no longer fit into, shelves loaded with university books I hadn’t re-read in decades. There were cupboards so dangerously full of things, that I didn’t dare even open the doors. There was a LOT of stuff.

For two years, I told friends I was ‘decluttering’. This involved selling a few items at a car boot sale and free-cycling bits and bobs. I decided to implement a “one item in, two items out” principle. But nothing seemed to change. It became clear that my things and I needed professional help.

Calling in the professionals

Two years ago, I redecorated the lounge and hallway. And for two years, I never rehung the pictures and mirrors. I was stuck, incapable of deciding what to put where and what I should get rid of. I reached out for help because I knew that correct placement would breathe life into my eclectic objects.

I published a call for help on a neighbourhood Facebook group, and someone suggested Sarah. We spoke on the phone, and within five minutes Sarah described the conflicting urges that had kept me stuck. The desire to collect and preserve, and the desire to bring order to collections. I am a librarian after all.

After that conversation, I just knew I had the right person. A great consultant knows the right questions to ask, listens to the responses and isn’t afraid to guide you when you get stuck. Within three hours of Sarah arriving, I had made the decisions and her colleague Paul had hung everything on the wall. Now it was clear which objects I needed to recycle, donate or sell. Half a day’s collaboration with professional help had unblocked me after two years of inability to move.

An ongoing project

Everyone’s relationship with their stuff is different. I was willing to let things go, but I needed help in deciding which things. What worked for me was choosing one blockage in my life, finding the right person to counsel me through a process and feeling the pleasure of one task, well done.

The work continues. My plan to simplify my life by streamlining my possessions is an ongoing process. But it’s actually become an enjoyable one.”


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