I have been doing a lot decluttering lately. Just little stuff, not enough to write an entire post about. Getting rid of extra plastic to-go cups here, an extra coffee-maker there, and even adding a few clothing items to the pile as I do laundry or sort through winter clothes to put away till next year. I have been really inspired lately by Japanese Organization Guru Marie Kondo, who was actually just named on of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” this year. A dear friend of mine turned me onto her a few weeks back and I have been watching a few of her youtube videos and lectures. What most attracts me to her method is this issue of “joy.” Kondo argues that in order to maintain a truly organized and clutter-free life, we have to be intentional with the things we keep near us. Her approach is basically that each and every item must be taken in hand and assessed, “does this object/item/thing bring me joy?” If a particular things does not “spark joy” in your heart, simply be rid of it.
Spring, of course, is notorious for this impulse to freshen things up, reorganize, and to take inventory of one’s life. So this is exactly what I have been doing, SLOWLY, because that is how I roll. What’s not surprising is that waste-conscious living is much easier when you are not surrounded by clutter or wasteful items stored up in and around your house. When unnecessary things are gone it is easier to see the big picture– to breathe easier!
Here is a little update on what I have been either trashing (I know, I know), or dropping off to goodwill. Hopefully it will inspire some of you to start decluttering your space too!
- Extra/Unused Appliances
- Boxes that you hoard around the house for “moving things”
- Deep Dark Depths of your Clothing Drawers. If you haven’t worn it in a year, and/or if its not “sparking joy,” donate it to someone who can/will wear it
- SHOES! (Keep Reading)
- Books! Books! Books! We donated all of Corey’s old seminary books (4 entire shelves clean!), and several armfuls of my old tweenager books, unused cookbooks (because by now you know I don’t use them), novels/books/magazines that will not be reread
- Trinkets. We had a few weird prize giveaway type things, bobble heads, trophies, and odd ball trinkets. We are not collectors, so it was really easy to say goodbye to these wasteful things
- DVDs, because let’s be honest, you don’t watch DVDs anymore. OR get rid of the ones you know you don’t want to lug around the rest of your life, because NETFLIX, REDBOX, and the internet
- Extra kitchen tools, like extra measure cups and spoons, shot glasses, plastic silverware you purchased in bulk at one time, plastic cups, coffee mugs, and/or holiday additions of household items that only get used once a year (if you remember to take them out)
- Pictures! My mom sent me a box full of printed images that has been haunting our guest room for almost a year now. I finally when through it and threw away two thirds of them, most of which were doubles, blurry, awkward, not of me or anyone I remembered or cared to remember, etc. The last season in life when I printed pictures regularly was middle school, so you can guess how horrific most of these discarded images were.
This just about covers the last few weeks. I’ll probably post another update and another few images as the process continues! But finally I am getting to the heart and sole of this post.
A few months ago I donated several sandals and all of my Toms shoes. I had like 5 pair of Toms and if I wore them for 5 minutes my back was killing me, so I finally let them go. After these donations I was feeling pretty good about my shoe situation, and promised that for every new pair I purchased I would donate an old pair. Good idea, right? Welp, I had a change of heart/strategy.
Last night I put the Marie Kondo method to test– I took out ALL of the shoes I own and arranged them on our guest bed. I picked up each and every questionable pair and before putting it back into our closet I asked myself, “do I absolutely need these shoes? When was the last time I wore them– do they spark joy?” Some of the shoes I didn’t even need to pick up, I just left them on the bed. By the end of this declutter ritual I was able to donate 14 pairs of shoes!!!
I swear this method works, because it forced me to come to terms with the excess, while meaningfully reflecting on each item’s purpose and necessity. When I have tried to get rid of shoes in the past, I would think of shoes individually and in the moment, and of course would always default, “but I’ll need those some day,” or “I wear those when I go here, or wear this” (which turned out to be NEVER).
I am a little embarrassed by these images, but I am feeling so much better now that I am not cramming shoes into the racks in my closet. There is some extra space–room to breathe!