It’s been just a little over a month now since I announced I am eliminating half my belongings in 2017. I’ve set this plan in motion to finish within a 6 month time frame. I can already say this is having a profound effect on me. Not only in wonderful ways, but in sort of painful ways.
I wasn’t sure exactly where or how to begin. I made a list of rooms, spaces and closets, then assigned each to a weekend from January through June, accounting for blocks of time when I will be out of town. I gave closets their own day because purging closets seem to require their own status; plus, when I consider cleaning out the master bedroom, for example, it feels easier when I don’t have to consider the closet.
Next, I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, also known as the Konmari Method. I read this book in two days, discovering that Kondo has the unique system of decluttering by categories rather than by location.
She says cleaning out by location is actually a fatal mistake, arguing, for example, when we go to purge our closet, we’re not taking all our garments into account because we have the same type of items stored in various places in our home (e.g., the coat closet, summer storage, hanging on a line in your laundry room, accessory drawers, ect). She says we all have such excess and storing it in multiple places in the home hinders us from grasping the sheer volume of what we really have, therefore we are not dealing with it all at once, causing us to repeat the same work over and over again, locking us into the vicious cycle of purging, or as she refers to it...tidying.
Hmmm...this hits a nerve. As I’m purging my kitchen cupboards this morning, I realize I just did this 6 months ago.
To ensure we tidy once and for all, she recommends first imagining your ideal lifestyle, allowing every step you take after to be in the direction of your vision. The process is pretty straight forward, starting with the easiest categories (clothing) and progressing to the more challenging.
Kondo’s approach suggests pulling all items from each category out of their containers and onto the floor in one communal spot, holding each item and keeping only those that “spark joy”, setting aside the rest for giving away, selling, recycling or discarding. So, in essence, we are deciding what to keep versus deciding what to get rid of.
As soon as I finished the book I got to work. I actually started with my Christmas decorations, a deviation from the system right off the bat. In my house, Christmas decorations had seemingly grown into its own category and with the timing of the season, it just made sense to start there.
I worked through my clothing in record time, and building some momentum, tackled the books and magazines. The books tugged at my heart a bit, many of them were purchased when I was going through a challenging time or struggle. At once, you could look at all my books and come to the conclusion the owner of the collection had been searching her entire life for something. I thanked them all (another aspect of the Konmari method) for encouraging and facilitating my growth and packed them up to discard.
Papers. Yeah... this is where I stalled out.
I’m actually preparing myself to re-read this chapter because I haven’t retained the information, really. When I think of my massive filing cabinet, binders of bank statements, report cards and school schedules, bill statements, manuals, receipts, legal documents... I start to feel woozy inside and the walls seems to close in. Ugg.
Bookmarking that category, I revisit my calendar and start going room by room. Now this feels easier because I’ve already tackled clothing and books, both of which showed up in many areas of my home, for whatever reason.
So far I’ve purged my dining room, sunroom, living room, den and am currently halfway through the kitchen, which I’m sailing through because ...er...I just did it 6 months ago.
Side bar. I keep bumping up against those sentimental items that threaten the success of what I’m trying to accomplish here. Some of them I’m placing in a pile to sort out last, as the Konmari method suggests. Scribbled notes of love or apology with backward letters and misspelled words our little girls have written...Ugh! I can’t bare the thought of parting with them! My great-grandmother’s antique teapot and sugar bowl, given to me by my mother when Tom and I were first married and hadn’t yet acquired those special items. They're beautiful, and I love them and have felt honored all these years she entrusted them to my care...and I do drink tea regularly, but I have never once used them.
With love, I return them to my mother, who does have this incredible apt and talent for using her various assortment of intricately patterned china and heirloom pieces regularly for her own pleasure or while entertaining guests.
So here’s what I’m noticing in these checked-off spaces of my home. There is a sense of peace and calm (zen?) when entering. Kind of like when you cross the threshold of your hotel room after checking in. Nothing out of place, horizontal spaces are clear of clutter, neutral… a sense of order and ease, I guess. Like the hotel room, my living room sort of beckons me to come in, put my feet up and relax, rather than cueing me to get to work.
I might have to fluff a pillow or refold a blanket, satisfying my OCD twinge; I still need to vacuum and dust from time to time, but generally I’m starting to experience the freedom that comes with having less...asking myself now what? As in, what should I do now...this afternoon? Which begs the question...what do I want to do now...this afternoon?
I’d like to take a nap, that’s what.
My dining room and living room have been purged. I plan to sell my dining room furniture, piano and will have the television hauled away soon!
I kept 1/8 of my book collection
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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