I love my home—and I’m grateful for everything in it—but some days the clutter piles up and feels like it is smothering me. I just can’t seem to keep it looking “blog photo ready” for more than a day or two at a time!
Japanese home organization expert Marie Kondo claims that once clients complete her KonMari method of decluttering, they never relapse into their old messy ways. Her bestselling book is titled The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Kondo lays out a specific order for decluttering starting with easy items like clothing and working up to harder-to-get-rid-of things like mementos and old letters. She starts by dumping everything in the closet onto the floor and goes through each item individually keeping only things that “spark joy.”
This “all at once” method probably is more effective than half-heartedly going through your closet a shelf here, a shoe rack there (which is how I tend to do it.)
But to be honest, I just didn’t have a big block of time to devote to closet cleaning. Not when I had fun things to do in January like …
… paint this 1940’s era chifferobe.
(That stunning color is called Mason Dixon Gray by Dixie Belle Paints.)
… sled down our super-steep driveway after the blizzard…
(Volunteer “elves” from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter delivered her to our house on Christmas morning!)
(Pretty nice—except for the ugly old carpet I need to replace.)
This is why! The room looks so much NICER when the bed is made… and that makes me feel good every time I walk into the room. It also makes me more likely to hang up my clothes instead of tossing them on the floor because I don’t want to mess up the pretty space.
As I was arranging throw pillow after throw pillow on the newly made bed, I realized all of those darn pillows were part of the reason why I never make the bed. It’s kind of a pain to get them all to look just right—especially when you are in a hurry in the morning.
After rearranging the pillows about three different ways, I started thinking about the KonMari method.
Specifically, did any of these pillows actually “spark joy” for me? (They definitely DO NOT spark joy for my husband. He always makes fun of my pile of pillows.)
Does it spark joy?
It seems like a hokey new-agey kind of question. How can a frilly pillow spark joy?
I held each pillow in my hands per Kondo’s instructions. This one is shabby. This one doesn’t match the new bedspread. It was easy to find non-joy-sparking pillows, but the bed was looking really bare.
Then I came to my last pillow: Spark! Joy!
I remember buying it on a shopping trip with my mom. I remember it was on sale. I remember when Joey was a baby, we would place him in the middle of the bed and tickle his nose with this pillow. He would laugh and reach up for it. Something so simple as a pillow can offer hours of entertainment for an infant—and his parents.
Yep. This pillow sparked joy all right.
And it matched the new bedspread.
I’ll admit the bed looked really bare to me at first with just one lonely little throw pillow, but the new pared-down look is growing on me. Maybe less is more.
It is certainly much easier to make the bed in the morning.
* * *
I think it is important to note that you don’t owe anybody a detailed explanation about WHY an object sparks joy in you. You don’t even owe YOURSELF an explanation. If you really like something, keep it. If you are on the fence, discard it. It’s that simple. No need to overanalyze it.
The pillow I kept reminded me of happy memories. However, I think memories and objects can get tangled up, which can make it really hard to discard things. Your memories will always be with you—whether you keep the object or not. I happen to really like this pillow. The round shape, the colors and the quirky texture appeal to me. For whatever reason, it sparks joy in me.
The happy memories are just a bonus, not a reason to hold onto it forever.
I’ve been thinking a lot about clutter and my relationship with my “stuff”. As I work to declutter my home this year, I will share my “lessons learned” with you along the way. I would love to hear from you.
What holds you back from discarding something? What “sparks joy”?
Please let me know in the comments.