Declutter Your Home, Declutter Your Life
Updated: Sep 6, 2019
I took the tidying plunge half-heartedly about three years ago, when we moved to our current house. I had just had my son and read Spark Joy, Marie Kondo's second book because the library didn't have the first. It didn't all quite sink in yet but I did discard a lot before moving and my husband loved all her folding diagrams. This year, I decided would be the year: the one time tidying special event that she explains in her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo explains that once you have this special event you will not have to have another one. You will learn to discard and organize right away and not have to revisit this process again. I am in my third month, and about to enter the sentimental portion (the last) in the process. As of today, I have donated three carloads full to Goodwill (we have an SUV and a pick-up truck), filled up our dumpster every week, traded in and sold media, have a closet full of items I am ready to sell, have another donation of books and komono ready to go, and have inspired my family to join in.
But when she says there is magic involved...she isn't giving false advertisement. Here are the side effects I did not expect:
1. I enjoy tidying and cleaning and understand the difference.
2. I lost my last ten pounds.
3. My house and myself both feel lighter.
4. I am a better shopper.
5. I am better at making decisions, in general.
6. I feel less guilt for letting go of things and people that do not fit into my life.
7. I find myself smiling when I open cabinets or drawers at how pretty it looks.
8. My children are more tidy because everything now has a place.
9. I have many empty boxes and organizers.
10. I don't mind laundry.
But what is most amazing, is this process gave me the courage to resign from teaching and pursue writing--which has been my true bliss.
It is as if when you discard items and tidy the ones you have, you do the same in your life.
Now, I didn't do things exactly as Kondo has outlined because I didn't read both of her books until the end of month two but I think it was good to work on my own and follow my own intuition, and most of the time it lined up with her process. The best part of this whole process for me was releasing the guilt. I have held on to many items for the following reasons: It was a gift, I spent money on it, I might use it/need it some day, my kids might want it, I could use it for Halloween, I might use it for crafts, I don't want to waste, etc. I felt such joy to release these items and many of them were not thrown in the the trash but donated to the right places. Releasing these items helped me also release people in my life that have been toxic; people I held onto out of guilt.
Decluttering helped me realize that I was allowed to make decisions based on my opinion, not based on what others would think.
I truly ask myself if something will spark joy when making decisions. This process has made me eat less. I ask myself if the snack will give joy to my body and if the answer is no then I don't consume it. I use the question while shopping, which has made me purchase much less and really only buy things we need and that truly spark joy in our home. I gave up other exercising that I did for other people's approval of my body and only stick to yoga, which truly gives me joy. I only talk to the people in my life that share joy with me on a daily basis and do not feel guilt for talking to others less. Basically, it helped me end a life time of people pleasing.
And of course this process has made me more mindful. Kondo's teachings go nicely with those of Thich Nhat Hanh. Kondo emphasizes the appreciation of all things in your life. I also have to think about where an item is stored or remember to get shampoo to bring in the shower since it is no longer stored there. All of these changes force me into a state of being in the present moment.
"The greatest change that occurs when tidying is that you will learn to like yourself" (Marie Kondo).
Finally, what Kondo says is true. I like myself better. I have already been working on the self-esteem process since really learning to surrender and creating Broken-Better but the process of deciding what to keep and what to discard showed myself the respect I needed. I learned to trust my intuition even more and honor my own decisions. I have recently bought a new pair of jeans for $75, an amount I have never spent before on pants but they fit like a glove and were exactly what I wanted (my other jeans were all too big). When I saw the total at the register, I realized in the past I would have had a higher receipt total with clothes I didn't like as much but were on discount. Buying these jeans were a gift to myself. If you are reading this, I encourage you to start this process...you have nothing to lose but stuff you do not want, need or like.
If you need more encouragement remember this: I have two children one of which is 3, I have never been a tidy person before this process, I have never enjoyed cleaning and I am a low energy person, if I can do this, so can you (I know it's cheesy but it sparks joy to write it).