Every once in a blue moon I will read a book that truly transforms my life and moves me to another place. That is how I feel about "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of delcuttering and organizing" by Marie Kondo.
First of all, I am not and have never been a very neat person. I think it's genetic. It feels as if I am always cleaning yet the disheveld mound on my butler pantry and the random items that fall out of my storage closet are forever present. My natural tendency is to put things in piles. And I usually have a lot of piles. A clean home feels so light and refreshing yet I could not understand how anyone can maintain order for long.
THEN, I got this book. Marie has a very unique approach which is in alignment with my beliefs on self care. She suggests that you go through your things category by category instead of room by room since you may have the same items in many rooms. You start with one category, such as clothes. She suggests that you put all of your clothes on the bed and floor. You hold each item in your hands and ask yourself one question: "Does this bring me joy?". It doesn't matter if it still has the tags, if your sister got it for you, or if it was really expensive and is in perfect condition. If it doesn't bring you joy, you pass it along to someone else. You thank it for the joy you had when you bought it and send it on its way. Personally, I had to do more than just hold pants and dresses in my hands. I had to try some on but as soon as I put the item on my body, I knew which pile it belonged in. I got rid of 14 bags of clothes from my closet. And believe it or not, I felt like I got a new wardrobe! For the first time, I could see all of my clothes. There were items I had buried and forgotten about. I no longer had the "yuck" reaction when I looked in my closet since those items were gone. I could throw together new outfits now that I could see what my selection was and by purchasing just a few new things, I transformed my entire closet.
The feeling was much more than just excitement about liking my clothes. I felt lighter. I felt like I could breath a little easier and I wanted more of that. Next, I turned to books. I still had my favorite novels from college in case I wanted to read them again one day. Really?? I had cook books occupying all my storage space off the side of my kitchen yet now, I mainly use my recipe box and the internet. Bit by bit, I have been transforming my house. For mother's day, my request was that my husband and kids join me in the basement to get rid of all the toys and "things" taking up space. A truck is coming next Monday to pick up all our donations that I am sure others will enjoy. I have completed all but a few categories, one storage closet and the garage.
Besides having a nicer home, this has been an incredible act of letting go of what no longer serves me. This is a metaphor for what I have been doing on a deeper level. I never thought of cleaning as self care but it is so empowering to choose to say goodbye to things that weigh me down. I feel happier. I am laughing more with my family. Oh, and I have lost four pounds since I started this process. Whether the excess weight we feel is from clutter, body fat, anxiety, or whatever else we hold on to, it really is life changing magic to let go of what we no longer want or need.