A few weeks ago, I started my journey to become a domestic goddess. This was mostly aided by 3 exciting new toys. A carpet cleaner, a steam cleaner and a humble little book (the life changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo, or KM) intended to inspire me to declutter the house.
Never did I imagine that my domestic goddess journey, although still really in its foetal stage would declutter so much more than just my home.
I also joined a KM specific Facebook page, mainly to get help with the new folding technique, but also because photos of other people’s progress are inspiring!
It took me some time to open the book as I was absorbed in a Jack Reacher novel (or 3) but one Wednesday afternoon, as I waited to see the obstetrics consultant, I settled down with Kon Mari in an attempt to wile away the endless minutes I would be waiting for.
This time though, the hospital was running on time, and I was barely 30 pages in before being called through to my appointment. It took me about a week to finish the book, which is an anomaly for me. Most books are usually read within a day or two.
The book is very different to any lifestyle book I have read before. KonMari approaches things in an entirely new way! She explains that your home should be decluttered in a set order of categories rather than by room or “space” (ie “that cupboard in the hall etc) You approach each category with the intent not to “get rid” of things but instead to keep only items that spark joy.
The categories start in order of ease, so you begin with your clothes, then move from clothes to books to paper to Komono and finishing with items that are the most sentimental, therefore technically the most difficult to sort through. (Please note this is a crude annotation, and there are many sub categories in between which I will list in detail once I have finished KM’ing!) I am still really only at the clothes category, with a little bit done on books!
Whilst going through this process, I have also had a van full of items delivered to me from my late father’s home. Now my Dearest Darling Daddy died suddenly in his sleep in September 2013, just a few weeks before my husband and I were married. I cannot begin to explain the all consuming grief that ensued, but since his death, his house with its Aladdin’s cave like amount of clutter has borne heavily on my shoulders.
I had made some progress at clearing his house, notably 3 industrial sized skips of rubbish just a few weeks before our son was born. Whilst I was there sorting through things, I gathered many many items together that held massive sentimental value, including Dad’s old Cd’s, photos, cards, books and some carefully chosen t-shirts that smelt most strongly of him which I carefully wrapped to preserve his “scent”.
For the past 20 months, those items have moved house with us, been shoved in cupboards, and on really bad days, retrieved from the backs of drawers so I could sob in to them for hours on end.
Now. I am no where near ready to tackle sentimental items, but the method of keeping only items that “spark joy” has resonated greatly with me. It was whilst all my clothes were in a huge pile on the bed (as per KM instructions) that I laid my hands on Dad’s old Tshirts. My immediate reaction was of course to put them in the keep pile, but as I did I felt myself starting to cry. I could still smell dad on the Tshirt, and this physical reminder filled me with an overwhelming sorrow. That’s when I realised that rather than spark joy the Tshirt was causing pain and sadness. It never made me happy to hold his Tshirt. It made me sad. So very very sad. This was a huge realisation. I started to think of all the items in the house that belonged to Dad. As I rattled them all off in my head, I came to realise that rather than joy, these items would bring immense sadness, I would pull his Tshirt out of the drawer and sob for hours on end. There is nothing joyful In grief. No happy memories are held in physical items. Memories are in your heart, not in the “stuff” that once belonged to the person you have lost.
Just like that. In one overwhelming and cathartic moment, I was able to let go of all of it. The books and CD’s all scanned on the Ziffit App and delivered to the drop off point, (and it brought me joy thinking of Dad nodding in approval as Ziffit paid me £40+ for the items I sent them!) the Tshirts bundled up and binned. The cards recycled. With every single item that left the house I felt the weight on my shoulders and in my heart lift a little more.
It is thanks to the KM method that I have been able to let go of these items. Every single one. I feel so so free now, so much happier. It has also helped me for when I’m ready to move on to my own sentimental categories, such as wedding cards, diaries and photos. Would I really want my husband or children sifting through all of these items when I’m gone? I don’t want to be the preachy person that raves on about how one simple book has changed my life, but the 15+ bin bags of items ready to leave the house, and the freedom I feel from the physical (and metaphorical) space this has created has made me much much happier.
Marie Kondo-The life changing magic of tidying. It really is!
Have you been inspired by a book or method?