For me, this whole project began with a desire to clean out and de-clutter. Step 1 was room-by-room purging. If you haven’t done it in awhile, donating or throwing away old stuff isn’t that difficult. Once we begin, most of us know immediately what isn’t of use to us any more, and those things are easy to part with. After an initial few rounds of this sort of de-cluttering, countless trips to both Goodwill and the garbage bin, I was struck by how much was left. Despite carefully choosing which things to get rid of, every drawer, shelf and closet was still full (albeit organized BEAUTIFULLY).
I was also pretty surprised that after taking the time to do all this purging, I honestly couldn’t really remember what I had given away. It’s as if all the things I parted with had never been there or were invisible somehow. I knew I wasn’t done.
Around this time, two of my friends (independently of each other) told me about a little book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by a Japanese woman named Marie Kondo. It sounded interesting enough, but it wasn’t until months and months later that I actually purchased this book on my Nook and started to read it.
The main idea of the book is that the “secret” to “tidying up for good” is to keep only those things that bring you joy. The book also describes the best ways to fold/store things in your home so that everything has a place and looks appealing. Once I started reading, I was hooked. Partly because I am a neat freak, but also because this was a much different approach than I had been taking.
In all my efforts to de-clutter before, I had certainly made a LOT of progress and became infinitely more appreciative of how much we are blessed with. I am thankful for that process. But as I went room to room, I was making decisions about what to get rid of. In her book, “KonMari” (as she’s called), says that in deciding which items in your home spark joy, you are making decisions about what to keep. It was a subtle but intriguing difference to me. I excitedly thought: perhaps going through our things using her methods could alleviate some (or all of) the stress I felt about how much stuff we still had.
KonMari has a very specific sequence for how you tidy the things in your home. For each category of items (which include: clothing, books, papers, etc), you gather EVERYTHING in that category into a huge pile, touch each item one-by-one and decide if it sparks joy or gives you a little thrill. If it doesn’t, it goes into your discard pile. This might sound time consuming. And it is. But I have found that the time I’ve spent on this project thus-far has been very rewarding.
As luck would have it, Marie Kondo recently released a follow-up, more detailed book on her process called “Spark Joy.” I am in the middle of reading it now, and am using it as a guide of sorts as I make my way through each category.
I should note that while I am very excited about these methods, her books are very distinctly “Eastern”. For example, that socks ought to be folded and stored a certain way because they work hard on your feet all day and thus deserve a nice resting place while not in use. It is not my aim to criticize these things, but rather view them through a more Christian lense. I don’t believe my socks have feelings, but I do believe that if I fold them a certain way because they will last longer, I am being a good steward.
For items you don’t keep, she suggests thanking them for their service before parting with them. Again, I don’t think I need to speak to the things I give away, but I DEFINITELY believe in cultivating a thankful attitude and that is what’s important here. I’ll be thinking of the ways in which I can thank the Lord for something before I send it off to it’s new owner (or the trash!).
First category: Clothing.
Until next time,