I read a review a while ago on the KonMari method of tidying. Not the most exciting topic, obviously, but having wanted for a while to get my house in order, both physically and metaphorically speaking, I ordered the book from the library for further investigation.
Marie Kondo, http://konmari.com/, I discovered, (who came up with the KonMari method: the name comes from the mixture of her two names), advocates clearing the space you live in in order to feel less cluttered mentally and emotionally. She asks you to question whether the possessions you own bring you joy or serve a purpose in your life. Some of her ideas are kind of wacky, (she suggests ‘thanking’ your handbag for working hard for you all day, and allowing it to rest for the evening, for example), but some of what she was saying made sense.
Living in a fairly small house, with two growing daughters, I was in desperate need of clearing some long held clutter. I began to look at having a clear-out, starting with my clothes and assorted accessories; the many creams and perfumes I get bought every year that I never use; the dresses I kept ‘just in case’; that handbag I only bought for a wedding.
Despite me previously holding the conception that I am not a very active consumer (most of mine and my family’s belongings come from local charity shops, and we hardly buy anything), I quickly filled around 4 large bin bags of stuff just from my own wardrobe.
Moving on to books, as Kondo suggests, was more difficult. There are some I love because they remind me of a special time or place I first read them. Some are ones I will read when I’m in the right mood. Some were gifts that feel wrong to give away. After some debate, I managed to sift a few out.
When it came to the personal stuff though, things got a bit more tricky. Kondo advocates throwing out excessive photographs, old letters, greetings cards, personal mementos. I did throw out an astonishing 3 bags worth of old papers; bank letters and that kind of thing. This has made more space, keeping just one small box that is only around one quarter full of necessary documents. This has made it much easier to find stuff when necessary.
But the old cards, photos, mementos… I have to admit, I completely failed.
Pulling out several boxes, I found my 16 year olds first pair of shoes. While she was reading up on which University to apply to, I was pulling out her first mother’s day card to me. I found love notes my husband sent me when we first dated. A scribbled sign he put in the windscreen of the car when we abandoned it outside the hospital: ‘Wife in Labour’. Notes my mother left me around the house; a sketch she made of my daughter.
I just couldn’t part with this stuff.
I’ve done a bit more research these past couple of weeks, since starting this quest to de-clutter. A great website on the subject – http://www.theminimalists.com/ – talks about not needing to hang onto all this stuff, that the memories we hold are enough. Easier said than done.
I decided I would keep the personal stuff, as it brought me joy to sift through it, but I consolidated it instead, placing items such as photographs in one box, which makes it easier to find them when I want to, and throwing away anything without any personal connection.
I’ve experienced some resistance on this quest at home, I have to add. My daughter’s keep taking things out of recycling or the bin; my husband is afraid he’s going to come home to an empty house.
At first, I was getting all worked up about that. I tried to convince them how great I felt, getting rid of loads of excess ‘stuff’. Then it occurred to me: I can only do this for me. It’s me who feels cluttered, both physically and mentally, not them. If they want to do this, they can, any time they like. I just need to concentrate on me.
Having read more on the subject, I’ve discovered Minimalism isn’t about having an austere space to live in, white walls and a single vase on the table. It’s about bringing more intention to your surroundings. Having space, both literally and figuratively, to unwind and relax, to enjoy what you have, to spend time doing what you love, with those you love.
I’ve found things I’d forgotten I owned, felt it less necessary to spend time tidying up after everybody and just spend time with them instead. Once I cleared a lot of the accumulated clutter, the mental clutter I’ve felt mounting up for some time started to clear, too. I felt like I could finally breathe, and it’s had a positive effect on the non-accumulation of more things I don’t need, too.
When I go out now, and think of buying an impulse purchase, I put it back, think it over. Generally, I realise I don’t need whatever it is. I remember that I have something similar already, and it isn’t necessary to have another whatever it is.
I definitely don’t live in an austere house with white walls. The various off-colour walls have handprints from my youngest daughter’s painting; my wardrobe door has pictures made by my kids blue-tacked to it still; and I have an overflowing pin-board of quotations and photo’s that make me smile.
But I feel clearer headed, more in tune with the things around me, more of a conscious consumer. It’s definitely something I would recommend if you’re in need of shaking yourself up a bit. Just don’t try to force the people you live with to come along with you!
Ps. I had some great news last week: I WON first place in the Flash500 competition! If you’d like to have a read, here’s the link: http://www.flash500.com/index_files/fqfp16.htm